Survivor Analyst Russian Roulette: Caleb Reynolds

Welcome to Survivor Analyst Russian Roulette, where the authors of this site are randomly assigned contestants from the upcoming season of Survivor: Game Changers and must give an honest assessment of what to expect from them. Next up: Caleb Reynolds.

From what we’ve seen, Game Changers has a very strong cast. So I was excited when we were drawing players for this assignment. Would I get to write about Tony? Sandra? Cirie?

Oh, you want me to talk about Caleb? Well then…

I don’t watch Big Brother (except for the few times I’ve left it on after Survivor), but Caleb Reynolds rose to fame in that show’s 16th season, placing fourth numerically and #1 controversially. He had an obsession with a castmate, had a stupid nickname (Beast Mode Cowboy), and espoused some less-than-enlightened views. So naturally, CBS wanted him on Survivor as well.

Caleb came into Kaoh Rong and immediately proved everyone nervous about his inclusion, well, “rong”. He got along well with all of his tribemates on the Beauty tribe. He performed especially well in challenges. And even formed a bromance with everyone’s favorite Season 32 player, Michele. Oops, sorry, I meant Tai.

Unfortunately, the SEG weatherman (Editor’s note: Survivor Entertainment Group, the production company) took the day off on Day 15, and the show nearly lost three players due to heat stroke. Scrambling for second place in a reward challenge, Caleb tried his best to win, but succumbed to the 115 degree weather and was medically evacuated after almost dying.

Hey guys, let’s not do this again.

All that to say, we don’t really know a lot about how Caleb will play. He’s this season’s cast member with the least data to go on.

Best-case scenario

To beat his last performance on the show, all Caleb needs to do is A) not die and B) make it past the fourth episode. Not a high bar. So let’s say he continues his positive social game, plays off established relationships with other Kaoh Rong players, and proves to be the physical threat we know he is as a young, buff male player. Then what? He Beast Modes his way into the final tribal council with Tai, wins, and asks Tai to marry him at the finale.

Worst-case scenario

He gets attacked by Fijian wildlife and has to get medevac’ed once again. That, or he scorns Tai’s kiss and is voted out on Day 3.

Most likely scenario

Jokes aside, I can see Caleb making it past the merge while the former winners eat their own pre-merge. He then wins a few immunity challenges until he’s seen as a physical threat with an emotional backstory (see: Jay Starett), and is cut at the first chance the rest of the tribe gets.

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Mark

A Survivor fan since the end of season one, Mark hasn’t finished One World, but still thinks Kim is overhyped.

Top 5, Baby: Cambodia, Cagayan, Heroes vs. Villains, Pearl Islands, and Palau.
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  • purplerockandy

    Best case: the people in power keep him around as a loyal vote and meat shield a little too long, then get burned when Caleb goes on an immunity run (we have no idea what kind of individual challenge performer he is. And before you say that those challenges don’t favour guys like him, explain to me Mike Holloway or Joe Anglim). This gets him to the finals with little blood on his hands and a possible underdog sentiment. Would a returnee jury reward this? They probably would have for Keith.

    Worst case: He winds up a tribe that values strategy first and foremost, which puts him on the bottom. While they keep him around for a bit to help in challenges, they worry that his clear outsider status makes him a strong threat to flip at the merge, and thus throw a challenge to get rid of him before it happens.

    Most likely: Kept in the pregame for strength, targeting in the immediate post-merge for the same.

    • My take:

      Best case: He ends up on a tribe that values his loyalty and willingness to follow orders, and since he barely appeared in Kaoh Rong they don’t fear him stealing camera time. He gets through the merge for a vote or two, then people turn on him for being too closely aligned to one specific player.

      Worst case: People fear the unknown, and since they don’t have any idea how he’d even perform at a tribal council, they want to cut him in a hurry. They also see him as a potential solid ally for Tai, and want to prevent solid voting blocs that could later turn against them. He gets cut just after a swap.

      Most likely: He goes just before or just after the merge, because he manages to keep his mouth shut and be helpful around camp and in challenges.

      • Purplerockmatt

        My take:

        Best Case: An alliance of the damned where all the meat shields realize they would be targeted post-merge and team up together. Caleb happens to be more likable than the Ozzys and Brads of the world and rides this far. Maybe he even gets to the end and wins.

        Worst case: No one is keeping strength, they are keeping loyalty and Caleb is loyal to the wrong people. His allies go quick and then he is isolated and voted out pre-merge.

        Most likely: He goes just after the merge as people look for an easy vote and he is a challenge threat (they assume) and has enough social bonds to seem like a threat

    • Alycia Swift

      Joe and Mike were also quite good at puzzles … and Mike trained himself before even going on the show quite heavily. .While we have not seen it, my impression is that Caleb would not be.

      • purplerockandy

        We can assume, but we have no proof.

      • I don’t think Caleb ever won a BB mental challenge and those challenges are dumbed down quite a bit.

  • Am I the only one who knows his Big Brother game around here? Because I am willing to talk about it if I need to.

    • Purplerockmatt

      go for it

      • So, Caleb’s Big Brother game is kinda interesting because he essentially played in the Redemption Island of Big Brother seasons where he was basically a more physically dominant Phillip to that season’s Boston Rob, Derrick (who was one of the cops that was recently featured in the Investigation Discovery OJ show). However, he was not as consistently awful as Phillip was. The first month and a half, he was obsessed with a fellow houseguest named Amber to the point that she was peer pressured into going on a date with him. After she left, he became a critical cog in the machine to fuel Derrick to victory. But, his strategic game is not very strong because…well, look at the guy. What also didn’t help him was that he was convinced to get rid of his closest ally Frankie Grande (Ariana’s brother) by Derrick because Derrick was scared of having Frankie in the final 2. If I am missing anything vital, fellow BB fans, please let me know.

        • Maritimer

          The only other thing I would note is that he was basically in an all male alliance with….pretty much every guy in the game. So a meat shield alliance would likely be something he would go for.

          I’m also curious about your RI analogy…does it make Cody Natalie Tenerelli?

          • No, Cody is Grant and Victoria is Natalie Tenerelli.

          • Black Dynamite

            The Cody/Grant comparison is pretty accurate. The Victoria/Natalie comparison just feels insulting, though I’m not sure to which one.

          • Probably more so to Natalie, but they both seem to be genuinely nice people.

            If you draw the Redemption Island comparison out, Nicole is Andrea, Hayden is Matt, Donny is Mike, Christine is Ashley, and Frankie is Russell (because he’s the worst).

          • Black Dynamite

            Co-sign big time on Frankie being the worst.

          • And he started out so promising, too!

          • roger leblond

            Matt is a useless blimp of a player. To compare him to insulting is hugely insulting to Hayden. Hayden would have never played the idiotic game Matt did.

            And social outcast Donnie to Mike the hugely respected leader of Zapatera who beats every single person in thh game in a jury vote, even Grant, Rob, or Matt, is also not a good comparision IMO.

          • Valid points. I guess I was going for the good ole boy with both Donnie and mike. Maybe Donnie and Ralph is a better combination.

            As for Hayden and Matt, the only real reason why I compared them is they were both part of a showmance, but the majority alliance targeted the male instead of the female.

          • roger leblond

            I think Donnie is more like Steve. Quiet, reserved, respected, athletic, not socially totally in and really ever a threat to go to the end and win.

            The majority alliance in BB did not target Hayden. Nobody did in fact, including people he wasnt aligned with like Rachel (HH that week), Brendon, Kathy, etc… Everyone wanted to split them by having Kirsten go, and was oblivious at that point to the danger of Hayden.

          • I was talking Surfer dude Hayden, not Winner Hayden.

          • roger leblond

            Not really. Derrick took Cody to the end. Boston Rob did not take Grant to the end. Boston Rob did take Natalie to the end. So the Cody = Natalie is more apt. Grant is the Caleb would be more accurate, both strong but kind of clueless players who had a delusional view in their relationship with the leader who was always planning to boot them before the end Cody is the Natalie in that they were both useless pretty bimbos, who were the top ally of the leader who were dragged to the end for their uselessness and inability to win. Who would lose to everyone in a jury vote except a F2 with Victoria and Phillip and neither had the balls to vote out their crush/master (Derrick/Rob) even if that scenario existed as Cody proved with his ridiciulous F3 vote.

        • Diego Armando

          That seems about what I expect from this guy. I would legitimately love to have a Caleb on my side: He will never question your decisions or plot against you, but is not so dumb as to completely blow up your plans, he can keep Immunity away from others, and seems deathly loyal.

          • I am a little doubtful about the “not so dumb as to completely blow your plans”. So, at one point towards the middle of the season, Derrick and Cody decide to get rid of Frankie so they get Caleb on their side. At this point, there was two Head of Household who would each put up two other houseguests for nomination. At that point, the four would compete a challenge. The winning pair would be safe and dethrone the Head of Household. Are you still with me?…..Great! So, Caleb was discussing that he would be throwing this competition to ensure that Frankie would go home enough that supposedly Production fixed the challenge to be won by one person (in fact, it was similar to the challenge that Cydney barely beat Debbie to send Brains to tribal in KR).

          • sharculese

            So where does the BMC thing come from?

          • In order to boost up his confidence, Derrick gave him the nickname since he is quite good in challenges. In a weird way, it is very similar to Rob giving Phillip’s Stealth-R-Us credence.

          • Diego Armando

            I don’t know Big Brother so I trust your judgement. I was just trusting the same instincts that told me Peter from Kaohsiung Rong would be an douchebag and that Figgy would be the next Parvati.

        • Hornacek

          Going on “a date” when you’re trapped in a house and cannot leave for anywhere from 10 to 300 days (seriously, I have no idea how long Big Brother lasts) seems very odd.

          • First of all, traditional Big Brother runs about 90-some days (they keep starting earlier and ending the same night at the fall Survivor season premiere). Secondly “dates” are just having the backyard to yourself.

  • Caleb is the only one of the 20 to have never attended a Tribal Council, right?

    • purplerockandy

      Right

      • I am calling it now: Caleb is going to be a combo of Brandon Hantz and Keith Nale at his first tribal council, especially if he knows that the votes aren’t going his way.

        • purplerockandy

          That is the big missing piece in our data. No idea how he performs in that arena.

          • Yeah and because he was part of the majority alliance on Big Brother, he never got blindsided. Also, Big Brother tends to a show where the contestants want these 11 people alliances for some awful reason.

    • Other Scott

      How many players in Survivor history have never attended a tribal council?
      Jonathan and Wanda
      Dana
      Caleb to this point
      Any more?

      • Black Dynamite

        Kourtney Moon

        • Other Scott

          Thanks that’s a good one.

      • That sounds right, unless you want to count the Palau pick em as a tribal (I don’t).

      • Good catch, BD! I also checked Survivor Wiki and Papa Smurf from Fiji never attended TC (his tribe went voluntarily after his quit).

        • Other Scott

          It makes sense that those were all either medevacs or people who got so sick that they just wanted to leave to get medical help. It’s hard to imagine someone wanting to quit before they even got to experience tribal council.

      • Hornacek

        They are all the anti-Denise.

  • Alkanarra

    After his harrowing near-death experience, I assume Caleb has been on the beach for months, knees in the sand, pouring water over his head, and chanting “what is dead may never die” to psyche himself up.

    • Purplerockmatt

      pour one out for the Drowned God, Beast Mode Cowboy

      • Alkanarra

        He’ll call himself Beast Mode Greyjoy now, but will ironically be awful at all the swimming challenges. He’ll be medivac’ed again after having nearly drowned.

        • Mike Hirsch

          He answers to Reek now.

    • Diego Armando

      What is snuffed can never be snuffed.

    • Hornacek

      He’s walking to Vegas saying “My life for you!”

  • Black Dynamite

    I think Caleb sticks around the first few days as the camp provider and strong challenge performer. Based on his BB history and the beginning stages of Koah Rong, not a strategic player. I think it mostly quiet stay for Caleb before is gutted right before the merge.

    My Prediction: Pre Merge Boot

    Previous Predictions:
    Varner- Post Merge Boot
    Andrea- Winner
    Tai- Pre Merge Boot

  • jersey_luck

    Caleb is the easiest prediction this far. Either he is taken out right before the merge or immediately after he loses immunity the first time. Caleb is probably going to most pointless player on this season. Personal opinion: Pre Merge Boot.

  • Mike Hirsch

    If the rest of the players think, “oh, Caleb’s only here out of sympathy due to him dying that one time,” they could vote him out quickly due more to his story than anything. Also, they would probably want to break up his alliance with Tai, regardless of whether or not one even exists this time around. But the likeliest scenario would be cut either just prior or just after the merge.

  • HBO CEO of Tits

    I have no opinion on this person, other than the obvious, that calling yourself “Beast Mode Cowboy” is among the dumbest things I have ever heard.

  • Diego Armando

    I think Caleb will be in this for the long hall, unless he has Cambodia Woo’s tribe drawing luck or gets medivaced again, why would anyone take him out early? He also seens the correct amount of strategically inert for a potential goat. I would not be surprised if he makes it to Day 39, but will need some “I like this guy” or underdog shine to win.

    He is in my Unlikely, But Not Impossible Winner group.

  • SpicyMayoJaySimpson

    So according to r/Survivor, Troyzan was on an Instagram livefeed and either hinted or outright said that CBS would announce the cast on Wednesday. Four weeks out from the premiere seems about right, slightly leaning to too much.

    • God, CBS should be watching Troyzan’s social media since he spoiled that he would be on the show in the first place.

      • sharculese

        I’m sure they tried that and everyone tasked with monitoring Troyzan’s social media quit in disgust with a day.

        • I’d quit midway through a sentence that began with “We need you to monitor the social media feed of Troy-”

          I’m out. Thanks.

          • Mike Hirsch

            “-Aikman.”
            “Dammit.”

          • Good point. Monitoring the social media feed of someone who almost definitely has brain issues related to the obscene amount of concussions he has received probably would be more fulfilling than monitoring Troy from Survivor.

          • Black Dynamite

            *radio voice* Yay Football!! Patriots vs Falcons this Sunday. Big plays, massive hits, watching player’s quality of life diminish right before your eyes. Don’t miss it!!

          • sharculese

            Ive got 3 lbs of peanuts waiting to go in the crockpot. Gotta figure out what else Im making. Possibly roasted chickpeas.

          • Black Dynamite

            I’m hoping to Falcons win. Mostly a combination of wanting to see someone new be champs and a hatred of the Patriots that has only grown more intensely with Brady and Belichick’s Trump support. Fuck those guys.

            Thumbs up on your food setup.

          • sharculese

            My roommates are crazy Falcons fans, like, season tickets, dont miss a game, wore costumes to the playoffs crazy, sooo, theres gonna be a definite shift in the atmosphere after Sunday.

            I just like the part where I get to cook for people.

          • I’ll probably watch the Super Bowl, but it’ll be the only NFL game I’ve watched this season. I still watch college football, even though it’s filled with nearly as much corruption and awfulness as the NFL.

          • Black Dynamite

            I’m slowly distancing myself away from football. Between player’s rapidly declining health, billionaire owners fleecing taxpayers before fleeing cities and the continued lack of care toward women, the NFL is not fun anymore. The NCAA is also competing to be the worst.

          • Alycia Swift

            Not a fan of either. Didn’t this always go on? Its just more public now.

          • Black Dynamite

            Yeah, this has always gone on. I think more people are willing to talk about it and call the league out on their shit. Personally, I never thought about this when I was a little kid or a teenager. Football was just entertaining to me. Only in the past few years did I start to really contemplate all of the issues surrounding the game that I’ve watched closely for nearly two decades.

          • Yeah, I really hate what NFL did to certain cities….not that I have a bias or anything….St. Louis brought you the Greatest Show on Turf…how dare you NFL and horrible Rams owner!

          • SpicyMayoJaySimpson

            I haven’t any football this season beside playoffs games. Even that seems excessive.

        • I hope he gets the Vytas treatment for the reunion.

    • Shit. That means I’ve got to start getting fantasy stuff set up. (Although at least I set up the draft spreadsheet already, which is farther along than I usually am at this point.)

      • sharculese

        Ah, the sinking feeling in John’s stomach as he realizes he has to do work.

        • You get me, boo.

      • forever1267

        ….and There’s my answer! Thanks, Caleb! (And John too!)

    • Maybe they might start Survivor early if Hunted is not doing well. Is Hunted doing well?

      • SpicyMayoJaySimpson

        I can’t speak to its quality (but I think Andy’s watching it). But it’s only being outperformed in the same time slot by Lethal Weapon. The Goldbergs/Speechless are close behind in third. So ratings aren’t amazing, but it’s not close to being a preemptive cancel.

  • Maritimer

    This really is not a season they should have used to bring Caleb back. Should he have come back? sure, but not in a heavyweight(ish) season like this. More suited for a FvF or one returnee per tribe season. He will be overshadowed and way, way outmatched with this group

    • SpicyMayoJaySimpson

      I doubt that he’d be back for a one returnee season because those kind of seasons require the one returnee to be competent enough in the game to be an asset to their tribe. I know Bobby Jon doesn’t quite fit that, but I’m basing this more on RI/SP/Philippines since the best data is recent data. Maybe FvF since those seasons have been so incredibly lopsided that production would want greener returnees, though I can’t imagine you could find ten of those and make an interesting cast.

      • I think a Caleb vs. Terry Deitz season could be interesting considering that their experiences were cut short in recent seasons. While Terry Deitz has a bit more experience than Caleb, Caleb does have the Big Brother experience.

        • SpicyMayoJaySimpson

          Obviously this depends on how this season goes, but I like this idea and I definitely think that’s possible. Though if Colton can appear on two seasons, then I guess anything is possible.

      • Maritimer

        A Philippines style season might be okay for him. Caleb v Kourtney Moon or some such

    • Conspiracy theory time: Apparently Caleb was a lock because supposedly CBS had to bring him back as soon as possible in order to avoid a lawsuit

      • Maritimer

        I’ve heard this too. But I never understood the whole “I nearly died, let’s do that again” aspect of it

        • Especially not so soon. At least it was 3 years for Russell Swan.

          • Hornacek

            Russell S (wasn’t he called “Black Russell during Samoa?) collapsed because he pushed himself to the limit by working all the time at camp when it was raining instead of staying dry n the shelter. Hard to blame the show for that.

            Caleb collapsed because the show put him into a challenge in super-hot temperatures that required him to dig in the sand for 30 minutes. Easy to blame the show for that.

          • I was not blaming the show at all. I was just saying that Russell had the worst medevac before Caleb’s and he still had 5 years until he came back.

            Meanwhile Colton came back a year and half later (probably because Probst was convinced that he wasn’t really sick) which was a mistake for the show and for his legacy. The only good thing he brought to Survivor was Caleb bankston (RIP).

          • Hornacek

            Oh I wasn’t saying that you were blaming the show. *I* was blaming the show. They should have known better than to hold a challenge that requires that amount of digging on that hot a day. I don’t blame the show for Russell S’ or Colton’s medevacs at all.

          • Didn’t they also make the challenge harder after the Practice run was completed too early?

          • Hornacek

            I think I heard something like that. I mean, this was season 32, they should have known that a challenge which required digging up bags in an area that big could have taken a long time. They should’ve known better.

          • Oh yeah, hands down. But then, look at most of the challenges in Cambodia. Almost all of them involve standing in one place for long periods of time, so the fact that only two people passed out is a small miracle.

          • Hornacek

            Two? Don’t forget Debbie! Although the rumor is that her collapse was due to watching Nick in action.

          • I was talking about the Cambodia tall pole IC during Joe’s boot episode. How could I forget that a Brawn, a Brain, and a Beauty went down in the same challenge?

          • Hornacek

            Right. That’s the problem with describing something that happened on Survivor by using a location – you can mean the season name or actual location.

          • I get that. I just feel like Cambodia deserves to be called Cambodia rather than Second Chance because a brand new location deserves to have the first aired season with a locational name tied to it.

          • SpicyMayoJaySimpson

            I can appreciate this from a mid-school naming convention (see: S16, officially named Micronesia and not FvF). But I also wish production would save some names for future seasons, especially if they’re only going to be filming in the Philippines/Fiji. Does S34 need to be Survivor: Game Changers, Mamanuca Islands? Choose one subtitle (probably Game Changers) so that Mamanuca Islands can be used for S35 or S36 when you’re in Fiji but with a new game mechanic. Or at the very least, demote one of those to a catchphrase and not an official subtitle (like Survivor: Worlds Apart, whitecollarbluecollarnocollar).

          • Yeah and rumors are that they are looking to go back to Fiji for 35 and 36, so they can have easily saved Mamanuca Islands because Mamanuca Islands is a good name for a season.

      • Diego Armando

        Yeah that’s what I was thinking. “We love you Caleb! You are a beloved fan favorite and we are prominently featuring you in our promotional materials for our Game Changers season. Please don’t sue us.”

        • It also doesn’t hurt that there is a lot of cross over between BB fans and Survivor fans.

    • Roswulf

      I’m not following; I feel like returnees in one-returnee-per-tribe seasons have to carry a lot of narrative weight. Here, Caleb can safely by “one of the boring people” and Survivor can rely on the ten-or-so legit stars in the cast to make the TV show work. Granted there’s always a risk that the boring people take over- the Caleb/Sierra/Sarah alliance of doom…but ultimately Survivor has to have faith that at least some good players will make things work.

      But then I’m thinking of Caleb as “bland guy who you have to ask back.” If you really want a Caleb centered season, I agree with your comments, but also, WHY?!?!?

      • Maritimer

        I guess I was talking more in a fairness to Caleb sense….a season where he could blend in with newbies since he would be closer to their level. I wasn’t really thinking about season narrative. Though I think Survivor would happily exploit the “guy who almost died” thing as a narrative in a one-returnee per tribe season though (a la Russell Swan).

        • Roswulf

          That makes sense. I do not care about being fair to Caleb.

  • forever1267

    While not the brainiest of players, to give him some credit, he does seem to have expanded his horizons and views on Gays and Women since before Big Brother happened. His obsession was creepy, but he is very, very loyal to his allies, so he should be placed under “New and Improved”.

    Oh, and he’s Hawt. So there’s that, too.

    • That is a relief, but I always wonder if he has done that in order to make himself look better for potential promotions. Remember that he was convinced that he was going to a big star and meet Justin Beiber during his stay on Big Brother.

      • forever1267

        True, but every season seems to have someone who thinks that being in that house will give the same career as Meryl Streep / Tom Brady / Madonna / Lin-Manuel Miranda / (insert celebrity at top of game here). While “Survivor” actually has made legitimate stars, “Big Brother” has mostly made niche stars, if they’re very lucky.

        Caleb is learning the system of being a CBS Reality Star. If he pulls off a likeable performance, we’ll likely see him and … Tai / Frankie Grande / Someone on this same level soon on “The Amazing Race”.

        • Very good point. Supposedly CBS loves that season so much that they wanted Zach and someone like Devin or Caleb to do Amazing Race, but Zach didn’t want to do it with them (and also, due to the fact that Zach became the one who really bought into the idea that he was a fan favorite, his attitude sucked), so they redirected Caleb to Survivor