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DEC
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12 MOS

'Survivor's' Caleb Bankston on His Blindside, a Tense Duel and Colton's Decision to Quit

The "loved one" talks to THR about his time on the island.

Loved One: Caleb Bankston, 26
Caleb Bankston

Caleb Bankston became the latest Survivor: Blood vs. Water competitor sent home after first being blindsided and then losing a close Redemption Island duel.

The "loved one" -- who is engaged to returning player Colton Cumbie -- talked to The Hollywood Reporter about his time on the island, why he kept going in duel and his what he makes of Colton's decision to quit earlier in the season.

Did you know you were going to be blindsided the night you were voted out at tribal council?

I kinda knew it was coming. I knew possibly it wasn't going to work out. When me and Hayden [Moss] talked to Tyson [Apostol] about getting Ciera [Eastin] out, I didn't feel 100 percent confident he was on board with it. If it wasn't Ciera, it was going to be me or Hayden, and I was hoping I wasn't going to be the one. I was hoping it was not going to be Hayden either. But watching my name come up, I was going, "OK, this is going to be it."

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Did you have any idea Ciera was going to betray you and tell Tyson of your plan to turn on him?

We thought we had Ciera in the bag. She was with us; we played the whole game with her. We told her out plan thinking she was on board with another big move, and maybe she thought because it wasn't her big move, she didn't want to be a part of it.

Were you surprised that she made such a big move at this week's tribal council, choosing to vote against her alliance and draw rocks?

I was. But she must not have realized that she had two-thirds of a shot of this not working out for her. Gervase [Peterson] was there saying, "Go to the rocks," but obviously, he had [an immunity] necklace. His alliance only had a 33 percent shot of going home. Those odds are not good, but they were in Tyson's favor. I don't know if Ciera thought that out. She did make a big move, but was it a smart move? I don't think so. I think it was the wrong move to make. But it make for a very interesting night being on the jury. I was thinking, "Dang, if this works out, Ciera is going to become a power player."

The Redemption Island duel was so close.

When my stack fell, I was like, "OK, I can keep working or I can give up." I’m not the type to give up, so I started over again. Watching it, it kind looks stupid. But in the moment, I thought, if mine fell, [Tina Wesson's] could fall an inch more than mine and I'm good. I felt like I didn't want to let Colton down by going home then; he'd want me to do the best that I could.

Earlier this season, Colton quit the game, saying you had a better chance of winning without him there. What was your reaction?

At the time, I was sitting there at Redemption Island shocked. My feelings weren't hurt. I wasn't upset about it. I always told him to go with his gut and live by that. If he was going toward a dark path and was going to be broken at the end of this experience, I'd rather not having him do it and have my fiancé when I get home instead of him changing. He's grown since the last time he played; he's a totally different person. I didn't want to lose Colton in him trying to play this game. I was at peace with him leaving and happy after he left because it took a lot of weight off my shoulders. I didn't have to worry about him anymore.

Do you think he's been portrayed inaccurately?

I do. It's a lot of time compressed down into a very short time. You only see a little of it. Obviously, if you take food way from somebody, and comforts, they're going to be a little cranky. The worst will come out. That was Colton running on fumes. He wasn't comfortable. On night one, I slept in the dirt, and he slept on top of me. If he wasn’t in the dirt, he was fine. I was taking care of him, and that was ripped away. He was either going into fight or flight, and he decided flight. He's a sweet guy; I love him, and nothing anybody says will change my opinion.

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What's the status of your wedding planning?

We're getting married Oct. 11 in Connecticut; I'm really excited about it.  We like the New England coastline, and the leaves are pretty and fall is our favorite time of the year. It's a country place, so it fits my taste, but it's upscale enough that it fits his too.

Would you play again?

Yeah, I think I would. I enjoyed the experience. But I wouldn't have played any differently; that was who I am.

So no regrets?

I was at peace when the ax fell; I was fine with it. At that point, I was thinking about hamburgers, sweet tea and ice water. If you look back and think, "If I'd done this differently, this might have happened," you'll drive yourself crazy. I don't really worry about it anymore.