After being medically evacuated on Day 9 of his first Survivor season, Kaoh Rong,Caleb once again departed the island on the ninth day on Wednesday's episode of Game Changers — although this time, it was via a vote.
"I mean, I left vertically instead of horizontally," Caleb good-naturedly pointed out on the morning after his ouster. "That's always good."
Check out our full Q&A with Caleb to find out why he's upset with the edit he received, whether he was nervous to play again given his previous outcome, and his surprising response to people who question why he should have been considered a "Game Changer" in the first place.
Last time you played you didn't really get a chance to reflect on your game. But this time around, after being sent home with a vote, do you have any regrets?
Caleb: Not really. I just got dealt a bad hand. The switch is really what got me. I was outnumbered. just picked the wrong buff. I guess I would say if there was anything that I could possibly do different would maybe be to try to get in more with the women, maybe. I tried to talk my way through things, and I tried to do my best in being a social person and when it comes down to it, the women wanted the power. And it seemed like Brad Culpepper was afraid of me being another alpha male. I don't know. It was a rough time for me. I don't feel like I got to show any of that again this season due to the swap. ... I feel like I had done well, especially at the beginning of the game. I feel like I was in a good alliance. I had several alliances built already. I had what I felt to be a very strong beginning of a game. I felt like I was good in with several people and I was like, I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. And then, when the swap happened, I was like, oh, man. Now I'm back to square one, because now I have to convince five other people from a different tribe why I should stay. And it's hard to do. But I don't know. I guess when everyone sees you as a threat, you can't change their mind. I did the best I could.
It's ironic, because at Tribal Council you cited your loyalty as a reason for people to keep you around, but it was your alliance with Tai that actually came back to bite you in the end.
Caleb: That was the sole purpose of me leaving. They only have so much time to show so much and I know they have a story that they want to tell. I definitely wasn't happy with what they showed. There were several key points, in my opinion, that could have been shown. Especially in Tribal Council. It kind of made it look like I just powered it down, and I knew I was going home, so why even try? There were all these people on Twitter saying, "Wow, man. You acted like you didn't even want to play." You just laid down and waited to go home. And I'm like, no, no, no, no, no. That's not me. I fought the whole time. I looked for idols for hours when we lost that challenge. I was all over the place. When it's either you or Hali, you go look. I'm not the type to lay down and die. That's just not me. And I saw a lot of that last night and I was like, "No, bad edit" ... because they didn't show any of it. I was fired up at Tribal Council. I gave them heck at Tribal Council, the reasons why I should stay. I said a lot more than, "Well, Hali's easy to manipulate and I'm strong at challenges." I said a lot more than that. I was even on my feet.
Was there anything else that we didn't get to see, besides you looking for the idol and the additional Tribal Council footage?
Caleb: I just don't like how it looked like I just laid down and waited to leave. Because that's not me. I don't like that I was portrayed that way, because I did go out swinging. I was talking to people at camp. I was trying to save my life in the game. I was trying to switch people's votes. I was looking for idols. I was doing all that, but they have a storyline that they wanted to show and I guess they wanted it to look like, Caleb and Tai are back again! Oh, Tai stabbed Caleb in the back! Womp womp womp. I think that's what they wanted it to look like. For me, the biggest thing on Twitter was, "Wow, Caleb. You just gave up." No, I didn't give up. I was talking at camp. I was trying to change people. I was trying to flip the vote. I was trying to do that stuff, but they weren't having it. I was told I was good. Brad Culpepper told me I was good, and Tai told me I was good. I don't know. I just still had that feeling.
You didn't seem upset or even particularly surprised by Tai's betrayal, which it sounds like was much less of a storyline than it came across?
Caleb: Yeah, that's exactly what they wanted to show, is how it looked.
Were you nervous at all about playing again, given what happened last time?
Caleb: The only thing I was nervous of [or] afraid of, I would probably say, people are afraid of ... the unknown. People don't know what you're capable of, so maybe they don't even want to find out. That was one of the things that I guess I was worried about. I wasn't worried about my health. I was very healthy when I went out there. I was rockin' the dad bod when I went out there this last time playing. So as far as health concerns, I wasn't worried. I just was afraid that people were going to go, "You know, this dude got a hero edit. He looked like Superman the first time he played, and he's a very big competitor. Obviously he's a challenge threat. He's very likable. He brings a lot to the tribe. And then he goes home with a heat stroke." And a lot of people I guess can be afraid of something like that because they don't know what you're capable of. All they know is you're strong and everyone likes you. ... They looked at Michaela that way. And I didn't look at Michaela that way because I was in Michaela's shoes myself. That's how I got in good with Michaela, was I said, "You and I are in the same shoes, girl. ... No one knows what we're capable of, so you and I need to stay together." That can be scary when people are running around camp saying, "Well, we don't know what he's capable of. That's kind of scary." So that was really my only concern playing again, was, I didn't want people to send me home because they didn't know what I could do.
Were you surprised that producers asked you back?
Caleb: With how the edit went at the end of [my previous season], it was basically ... "Caleb prepares to return one day to Survivor. Blah blah blah." They made it look as if I would get to play again. I didn't think it'd be so soon. Because I got the phone call maybe five or six months later. They were like, "Hey, do you want to play on Survivor 34?" And I was like, "Yes." So, it wasn't long. I thought that I would get another shot. I just thought it would maybe be a year or two before they called me back.
Some people questioned whether you belong on a "Game Changers" season. Do you have a response to them?
Caleb: I really don't. ... In all honesty, I even questioned myself to why I was a game-changer. Jeff [Probst] even asked me. He's like, "Why do you think you're a game-changer?" And I was like "Ummm, because I gave it my all?" That's all I can really say. "On Day 9 I went out with a bang? I don't know. I mean, I'm willing to give it all I've got." And he's like, "You're right." He said, "No one's ever done that. No one has ever pushed themselves so far to play this game with so much heart and drive that they almost kill themselves. ... That was you. You're the first ever." And I'm thinking, well, in my mind, everyone plays as hard as they can. But they really don't. So, I even questioned myself, should I be considered a game-changer or should I just be considered a guy that just gives it all he's got? I don't really know. But I think for people that question why I was considered a game-changer, I'd just say, "I don't know. Ask Jeff Probst."
On a season with so many power players, who do you think is the biggest threat out there?
Caleb: I would say that Aubry is a big threat in the game. She'd done well in my last season, and although her name was thrown around several times at the beginning, I think that she's kind of overlooked a little bit. ... She's got this thing about her that keeps her around long enough for her to start making her big moves and then she makes things happen. Aubry's a big-time threat. As far as people I haven't played with, who are on the other tribes, Cirie's a big-time threat. But the thing is, everyone's a threat. Everyone out there's a threat. There's several dangerous people playing the game. You could see anyone at the end of the game. Me personally, I would like to see a strong, physical, likable guy at the end, or girl. I don't like seeing goats. If being a goat is how you get to the end of Survivor, everyone would want to be a goat. And if, like, people that really play, people that really give it their all, people that really try and play the game, leave early because, "Oh, he's a threat," if the object of this game is to suck at everything and to be easily manipulated and to just be there enjoying 30 days of starving, that's how you get to the end of the game, that would be the strategy of everybody. ... [But] I just want to say good luck to everyone that's playing. They all deserve to be there, and they're all game changers and I wish them all the best of luck.
Would you play again if asked?
Caleb: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I would play again. ... Everyone'll see me again, just give it a little time.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS.
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