With the help of my friend Gavin, we’ll outline exactly what went wrong for the most recent boot from Survivor: Game Changers. Since this is a season with returning players, we’ll also take a look at their span of games and if that influenced their demise. Which is 100% likely. Also, not that I need to mention this, but there are definitely spoilers ahead.
Caleb “Beast Mode Cowboy” Reynolds
Honestly, I’m still surprised that Caleb was voted out. I was so sure that he was a guarantee for the merge at the very least. The guy is helpful around camp (probably) and is an asset in challenges. Plus, he’s not this undercover strategist either! The guy is a piece of meat and will be loyal to you. Just take him with you and have an extra vote. Simple. Yet here we are, talking about what happened to good ‘ol Beast Mode.
Though to really understand what went wrong with Caleb, we need to have a look at his previous season(s).
Yes, for those of you that were unaware, Beast Mode Cowboy first graced our screens back in Big Brother 16 that aired in the summer of 2014 (which feels like a lifetime ago). He was, to put it lightly, an oddball. His one-sided love affair with cast mate Amber went to a weird place – a place where his gift to her was a pickle inside a banana peel, some metaphor that went above everyone’s head. After Amber was targeted and evicted from the house, Caleb became America’s goofy friend. He was very loved by the audience for his “judo chop” and just goofy manner. He ended up in fourth place and was seen a loyal follower to Derrick and Cody.
BMC was then thrown out on the islands of Kaôh Rōng for Survivor: Brain vs Brawn vs Beauty. As part of the beauty tribe, he got along well with his tribe mates and never saw the tribal council set for the first three votes. However, on Day 9 after a grueling reward challenge for spices, Caleb needed medical attention and
died shortly thereafter was evacuated. We never saw his strategy in Kaôh Rōng, but got a lot about his relationship with Tai (fellow Game Changer).
And this brings us back to Survivor: Game Changers.
Caleb started out as part of the Mana tribe, forming a tight bond with Tony very early on. Quite honestly, that’s probably a big part of his downfall. With Tony being everyone’s #1 target, his right hand man Caleb was the second name thrown out (by Ciera). However, with Malcolm also on Team Tony, the target shifted to Ciera, sparring Tony and Caleb. There are two reasons the target shifted away from the Tony/Caleb duo; the new tie-vote rule and this being an all-star season (people are afraid to make moves early).
Let’s unpack the tie vote rule, shall we? Previously, if a vote resulted in a tie, there would be a re-vote, where players may only vote for one of the players in the tie and those players would not vote. If that vote results in another tie, the group either has to come to a consensus of which player would leave or draw rocks. When drawing rocks, the players involved in the tie would become safe (along with any Individual Immunity holders and any players that payed a Hidden Immunity Idol). The person that draws the single discolored rock is out.
With this new rule, we are basically cutting out the middle re-vote option. Now in the result of a tie vote, players will discuss and either come to a unanimous decision or draw rocks. Essentially, it eliminates the option for players to change their vote in order to avoid a rock draw scenario and becomes a dangerous option to split votes.
Hence, the target shift away from Caleb.
In Mana’s second tribal council, Caleb survived because Tony was the sole target. He even threw his vote that way, letting us know he knew it was over. I will give him props, he tried to switch the target to Sandra and made a decent play to Michaela and Varner to keep the tribe strong. People must have been too focused on Tony’s antics (and there were a lot of them) to switch though.
We get to the tribe swap and Caleb finds himself in a 4-2 minority with Hali (someone that he doesn’t have a working relationship with since because of the Tony vs Sandra thing). However, he does find himself with two former Kaôh Rōng players and one of those players is his best buddy Tai. This seems like it’s a gift to Caleb, but it’s actually a main reason he is targeted (along with being in the minority).
You see, as we discussed in the Episode 3 Recap, having Tai as an ally can be either very good or very bad. And most times it’s very bad. But we’re dealing with Caleb, someone who has not shown much strategy outside of trying to flip an early vote (and failing), and he thinks having Tai is a godsend for his game. So he makes the biggest mistake you can make while playing Survivor… he does nothing.
Caleb puts all his eggs into the basket labeled ‘Tai’ and is hoping it’ll pay off for him. We see him coming back from the challenge talking to Tai and then looking out onto the beach. That’s it. We hear a bit from Hali, who knows she’s in trouble and knows the three former Kaôh Rōng players could be in trouble. But we can nothing from BMC. And once we get to Tribal Council, where it’s definitely too late to start making pitches to keep you around, Caleb gives a last ditch plea to work hard in the challenges for the tribe and not be an easily manipulated player like Hali.
Nice job, dude. Really smooth.
Caleb is voted out 5-1. Even his BFF Tai votes him out, though we see Caleb doesn’t take it hard and why should he? He did the same thing to Tony just three days prior. Caleb’s parting words are heartfelt and nice (also a little sad since he’s played Survivor twice and has left on Day 9 both times), but I think it’s the last we’ll see of Beast Mode Cowboy. And that’s alright by me.