“Survivor” Premiere: Is Colton Cumbie On The Path To Redemption?

 

Colton and Caleb Survivor

Survivor: Blood Vs. Water  may sound like a gory new edition of Mortal Kombat, but let me assure you it’s actually grittier than that.

This new Survivor pits veterans of the show in one tribe against their loved ones in a second tribe, and that means every immunity challenge is an emotionally charged, bittersweet event. If you win, you’re sending your beloved husband/wife/niece/brother/dairyman to Redemption Island, which is back in play. On this first episode, returning season-one vet Gervase’s niece Marissa Peterson earned a ticket to the Redemption Death Circle for what I’m interpreting as absolutely no reason. I liked Marissa! She was straightforward and competitive. But because Gervase was cocky when his team won immunity, her team took out their collective shame on her. Maybe we’ll see her again after Redemption Island, but she has to contend with the two challengers already thrown there: Candice Cody (whose team of veteran players elected her to leave the tribe on Day 1) and Survivor legend Rupert Boneham (who took up Jeff Probst‘s offer to replace his voted-out wife on Redemption Island, and therefore also gave her his spot on the veteran team).

Should be a wild ride and I’m psyched to recap it, even it means putting up with the clearly dimwitted Brad Culpepper, who has already uttered the immortal line, “We [his alliance] already have five guys. We have four guys and a gay guy.” Yes, because being gay excludes you from your own gender. Thank you, professor. Go back to your happy football thoughts and never emerge from them.

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Today I’m really here to talk about the strange, emotional, and all-around headscratch-worthy journey of Colton Cumbie. He returns to the game with his fiance Caleb Bankston, and as you may have seen in my interview with the both of them, they’re pretty compatible chaps. That’s a good thing. Caleb is so self-contained and unfazed that he at times seems like a guardian bear cub angel sent to wipe Colton’s tears with a steady paw. He’s like Alanis Morissette as God in Dogma, sweeping down to Earth in a sweet glow and healing with his silence.

Premiere

But of course, we’re talking about Colton Cumbie, so the road to recovery can’t be completely un-rutted. He started off the game soberly on last night’s premiere, chalking up the racist, judgmental, and otherwise incendiary comments he made on Survivor: One World to “insecurity.” I guess I believe that. I also think people overcome insecurity by saying hurtful things they actually mean, and Colton acknowledged that in our interview. But to be honest, seeing Colton at the show, it was clear he wasn’t the same. Maybe he wasn’t much wiser, but he understood exactly how his comments and actions came across — and he wasn’t proud of it.

Survivor coltonThen the duo joined the game, and once it was apparent that Colton and Caleb would be separated, Colton devolved. He didn’t lose his bearings, but you realized that Colton was counting on Caleb to help him stay sane in the game. He’s aware he can lose control at any moment. And that he did, during the immunity challenge when Kat screamed at him to paddle harder. Colton’s response? “Shut up before I hit you in the face with this f*cking paddle.”

Ugggggggh. Kat’s response? “Oh, hell no!” My response: Colton has the maturity to explain his actions and behaviors (if not justify them), but when challenged or threatened, he becomes a child. His response to Kat felt like a child’s temper tantrum with no ambiguity about it. Later, after his tribe miraculously pulled through with a victory (thanks to bad-ass Tina Wesson puzzle skills), Colton wept because it meant he was potentially eliminating Caleb. Caleb whispered that it was all OK, and God, if this season doesn’t prove redeeming for Colton, at the very least it might introduce us to the serenity and humbling cubbiness of Caleb.

My rash prediction for the whole season? Hayden Moss, the Big Brother champ whose girlfriend is Kat, takes it all. He is crafty! Bring it, tawny stud!

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Where do you think this season is headed? And do you already fear we’ve seen the last of flawless Marissa?

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