‘Survivor’ Caleb: “I Feel Like I’m the Most Loyal Player on this Season”

Caleb Reynolds (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Caleb Reynolds
Age: 28
Hometown: Hopkinsville, KY
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Kaoh Rong” – Medically Evacuated
Best Known For: The first person to play a second time who didn’t attend Tribal Council his first time.

Gordon Holmes: I understand you’re now a married man. Congratulations.
Caleb Reynolds: Thank you. I married my best friend.
Holmes: Does it feel different?
Reynolds: We walked a straight line. We didn’t live together, even when we were engaged. We waited until marriage. About eight months before we got married we made the commitment to not have sex until we got married. We committed that to one another. Those things are different. I get to sleep at the house and I get to cuddle with her. I get to spend all night with her. We get to have the intimate moments with each other and not have to worry about that sin in the back of my mind. Or my mom yelling at us or her mom yelling at us. That’s pretty much the big difference.
Holmes: I got married last August and…
Reynolds: Nice!
Holmes: Thank you. But I assumed it would just be kind of like super dating. This is the person I date forever. But, it’s very different. Every decision I make takes two people into account.
Reynolds: Yeah. The big difference is I have never put anyone on my bank account. When I put my wife on it…wow…she has access to everything.
Holmes: Yeah, I own a house in Delaware that I’ve been trying to sell, and now she owns a house in Delaware. You’ve got this partner in everything. It’s awesome.
Reynolds: Yeah, now it’s two of you talking through everything. Heck, I can’t even buy cologne without her feedback. Or like buying a car, I’m the one saying yes, she’s the one saying no.
Holmes: Is she the one winning?
Reynolds: Yes! I don’t think I’ve grasped that just tell her she’s right stuff. Everyone tells me, “Just tell her she’s right.” That “Happy wife, happy life,” stuff. I just have a hard time being like that.
Holmes: Like “Survivor,” you need to pick your battles.

Holmes: I’ve been coming here since “Survivor: Gabon” and we run a lot of challenges. For my money, digging is the most exhausting thing. I think that’s because you don’t know where it ends. If I’m running to a post, I know how much I’ll have to push to get there. Is there any fear of pushing yourself too hard again?
Reynolds: Yeah, I guess in the back of my mind a little. In a way, that’s a good quality. That’s just me. When I’m out here I want to be myself. I just want to win. I think everyone does. There’s going to be come a point in time where I realize I can kill myself. I almost lost my life that time because I wanted to push that hard. But, in the heat of the moment you don’t think. I think the big thing from me is separating reward challenges from immunity.

Holmes: What was your first impression when Jeff told you the theme was Game Changers?
Reynolds: Oh man, I thought to myself, “Why am I that? What have I done?” Many of these people, they know why. The winners, they know why. People who made big moves, they know why. I was just nice to everybody. I treated everyone with respect. I worked around camp and I busted my butt in challenges. We had interviews with Jeff and he explained it as, “There’s only been one of me on this show in the history of ‘Survivor.’” He said, “We’ve never had someone go out leaving it all at the challenge. And you did that at every challenge. That’s why you’re a game changer.” So, I just accept it.

Holmes: What are your thoughts on this cast?
Reynolds: We’ve got some great winners. We’ve got one or two winners who I don’t think should have gotten the title. And we’ve got a few people who I think should have gotten it.
Holmes: Who shouldn’t have won?
Reynolds: I think Sandra. In “Heroes vs. Villains” when she was playing with Russell Hantz and “Boston” Rob, it should’ve been Russell Hantz. She floated through, she may have done something here or there. She didn’t win any challenges, but the jury was so bitter. They were so mad at Russell that they gave it to her. And I know Russell Hantz, so I want to ask her, “What makes you a game changer?”
Holmes: Did Russell give you any advice?
Reynolds: He just reached out to me and said he liked my character. He told me some people that he thinks I can trust. The ones that he’s played with that stabbed people in the back. He gave me his opinions on each one of them. He loves Tai and thinks we should stay close even though people are going to want to separate us. But he didn’t give me any gameplay advice. I haven’t watched “Survivor” from way back. So, the people he spoke to me about, I said, “I don’t know anything about them,” and he gave me some tips. But heck, I wish I had more info.

Holmes: Anyone you’re hoping to work with?
Reynolds: Maybe Sarah, she’s a really strong girl. She was faithful to the people she gave her word to like Tony. She kept that on her badge, that means something to her. When she says, “I swear on my badge,” she meant it. And of course Tony didn’t. You can’t play this game alone and if you play with all the guys it’s going to get picked up really quick. As far as the guys, possibly Ozzy or Malcolm. They’re strong, physical players like me. I think two or three strong competitors can go a long way. Heck, I might make an alliance called “The Athletes” at the merge and win them all.
Holmes: I’ve always said the one thing “Big Brother” does better than “Survivor” is the naming of alliances.
Reynolds: I might pull one of those up this season.
Holmes: The Bomb Squad.
Reynolds: That’s right! All of us pretty much made it to the end except for Devin because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut.
Holmes: Anyone else you want to work with?
Reynolds: Cirie, she might be the best strategic player to ever play this game. So, with that being said, I’m not the biggest strategic player. But, I bring some cards to the table. I think we could get together. I’ve heard she likes me. She likes that I’m a veteran. I think I’ll reach out to her and let her be the strategic mind.

Holmes: You’re one of four Kaoh Rong people out here. Does that work to your advantage? Does it put a target on your back?
Reynolds: Tai’s my buddy and everyone knows that. He was at my wedding. I went out so early with the heat stroke that not a lot of people realize what I’m capable of. And I think that unknown is better than what is known about a lot of these people. Everyone that’s playing right now they’ve shown their cards, they’ve stabbed people in the back. I think I have one of the smaller targets.

Holmes: We don’t know anything about Michaela and Zeke. How do you approach them?
Reynolds: Neither one of them looks physical. Which for me kind of scares me because that’s needed at the beginning of the game. Yeah, you’ve got to set up your pawns right, but all of that is unnecessary if you’re not winning challenges. So, if they’re not bringing much to the challenges, they may get picked off early.

Holmes: There’s always talk of pre-game alliances in returnee seasons. Have you done any of that?
Reynolds: As far as calling people…a couple of people have reached out to me. And I just said, “Sounds good.” I didn’t get to play much last time and the last thing I want to do is jump the gun and align with people I don’t know.
Holmes: Who reached out to you?
Reynolds: Am I supposed to say?
Holmes: Nobody’s going to see this until January, so it won’t hurt your game.
Reynolds: Sandra, go figure. Andrea…and Sierra Dawn. They all heard we were playing again. And I’ll say this, they didn’t pre-game with me. Sandra did. But the thing they said was, “If you got the call, let’s chat.” That’s the last time I heard from any of them. But, I was really surprised. I figured a lot of people would. I feel like I’m the most loyal player on this season.

Holmes: You’re under lockdown, but people smile and wink at each other. Have you been doing any of that?
Reynolds: Oh man…Brad Culpepper winked at me. Troyzan did a little thumbs up thing. I think that’s it. I winked back and gave a thumbs up back. I play the game. But I don’t know any of these people. Well, Tai. Of course I wink at Tai. We do everything.

Holmes: Alright, I came up with some reasons people might use to get rid of you. I’d like you to defend yourself.
Reynolds: Oh, OK.
Holmes: Caleb almost died in Kaoh Rong. He’s going to have a lot of people’s sympathy if he gets to the end.
Reynolds: I’m definitely not going to get sympathy. I did that to myself. I pushed myself harder than anyone there. I think as far as challenges, you don’t want to get rid of me early. I’ll get you to the merge.

Holmes: There are four people from Kaoh Rong here. There’s no way they’re not working together. Let’s trim their numbers and get rid of Caleb.
Reynolds: Two of those people were in the end of the game. And if you don’t think they can get there again, you’re mistaken. Tai stabbed his own alliance in the back more than once. He’s a flip flopper, you can’t trust him. And Aubry, she’s probably one of the smartest people here. And Debbie, you’ve got a fruit loop there. You’re not going to find anyone that’s more loyal and as physically fit as me.

Holmes: Caleb is a challenge machine. I don’t want him to go on a winning streak after the merge.
Reynolds: Getting to the merge is the first thing you’ve gotta do. Why would you get rid of the person you need the most this early? If you have to get rid of me at the merge, I understand. But right now I’m an asset. And it’s true, I am a challenge beast, but you also have Malcolm, Ozzy, JT, Troyzan and others. Ozzy has won five out of six. Go after him first. I’m not even that big of a threat. Last time I was in a challenge I ended up under IVs.
Holmes: You probably never had to defend yourself in Kaoh Rong because you never went to a Tribal.
Reynolds: No. Not once.

Holmes: Any guesses for possible twists?
Reynolds: Um…heck man…you never know. They may throw in Redemption Island. There may be three tribes, two tribes…they may have a final two, they may have a final four. In “Big Brother” they throw in something different every year. It could be anything. I’d like a loved one visit with a lot of people.
Holmes: More than one loved one per person?
Reynolds: No, with more people left in the game. That gives me a better shot at seeing my wife.
Holmes: She’d love Fiji.
Reynolds: She would!

Holmes: Alright, I have a deck of cards featuring your opponents. Well, everyone except Zeke and Michaela because we don’t know them yet. I’ll hand you three at random. You tell me who gets voted out first, who you’ll work with but eventually eliminate, and who you’ll take to the end.

Round One: Ciera, Ozzy, and Troyzan
Reynolds: I’ll work with Troyzan he’s kind of a cool guy. He seems down to Earth. And, he’s a strong guy. And I don’t think people would think we would work together. Ciera, I’ll vote her out because I don’t know her and because she’s a girl. The last thing I want is an all-girl alliance. And on this cast there are quite a few who have tried to start one. Ozzy to the end. Let’s he and I win every single immunity challenge.
Holmes: How do you beat him at the end?
Reynolds: Because I set up the alliance.

Round Two: JT, Sandra, and Debbie
Reynolds: Sandra, I want to vote her out. Watching her season, she’s just kind of rude. She’s just a mean person. She threw Russell’s hat in the fire. That’s someone’s personal property. That’s too far. I’ll go to the end with Debbie. She’s an easy beat when we get there. Her standing next to me with her trying to tell the jury why she should win, I don’t think it’ll hold a candle to why I should win. And I’ll work with JT. He’s a country boy, I’d think two country boys can stick together. And he’s a good physical challenger.

Round Three: Brad, Jeff, and Sarah
Reynolds: I’ll send Varner home. I don’t have a reason, a big reason. I didn’t watch his season. I don’t know him. But, I know he didn’t make the merge either time. Maybe he doesn’t bring a lot to camp and doesn’t bring much to challenges. I’ll take Sarah to the end. I know she’s loyal. She’s a police officer, so I can benefit from that with me being a veteran. We both wore uniforms. We have something in common. I’ll work with Brad. He’s another strong guy. He works at camp. And I know he’s cool with veterans. I’ll show him a little southern hospitality and win his heart over.

Round Four: Andrea, Malcolm, and Cirie
Reynolds: I’ll work with Malcolm because he’s like me. He’s a likable guy, he has a great personality, he’s funny. I think he and I will click well. He’s a strong physical player. I’d get him to a certain point, but he’d be a tough person to beat. I’ll take Cirie to the end. She’ll be hard to beat. She’s the best strategic person we have. She’s likable. And if you win her heart, she’ll be loyal to a fault. You can hide under her wing while she’s putting all the pieces down. She’ll protect you. And I’ll vote out Andrea because she’s gotta go. The times I’ve watched her, she seems like a snake in the grass. I think it’s her way or the highway. She’s always attracted to the good-looking guys. She’ll snuggle with them and try to win them over, and if you don’t buy into that, you’ve gotta go.

Round Five: Tai, Hali, and Aubry
Reynolds: I’ll take Tai to the end. He’s just a good soul. He deserves to be there. He fought his way last time, he started working on day one. And we were talking about voting him out on day three. It doesn’t matter if the palm tree is a thousand feet tall, he’ll get to the top to get you coconuts. And I think he’ll be loyal to me. Our personal connection trumps everyone else out here. I’ll work with Aubry. We’ve played before and going in, maybe I could have that advantage over everyone else. She was pretty much loyal to the people she was loyal to. She’s the type that guns for strategic players first. I don’t think she’d see me as a threat. I’ll vote out Hali because she’s sort of in the ballpark of Andrea. She’s down with all-girl alliances. She’s down to go against the guys.

Holmes: We’ve got two left. Work with one and boot the other.

Round Six: Tony and Sierra
Reynolds: Oh man…these are tough ones. I’ll work with Tony, he needs a safehouse. He’s got a big target on his back. I believe that he’s going to be looking for a home. I think he’ll try to stay as close as he can to those people. I’ll vote out Sierra because I see her with the all-girl stuff. I hear her saying, “Yeah, girl” and staring at the girls. On Instagram I see her at the reality events and I know she’s friends with everyone. I know this is a game, but a relationship outside of the game makes it hard to cut someone’s neck.

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

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