When he first showed up on Survivor for The Australian Outback, Colby Donaldson was a force to be reckoned with. He kicked butt in challenges, wrestled control of his own tribe away from Jerri, and then made it all the way to the finals (where he made the HORRIBLE decision to bring Tina along to beat him). So who the heck was that tentative and uninterested chump masquerading as Colby in All-Stars? That guy seemed like he would have rather been anywhere else in the world than back on an island competing for a million bucks. That’s probably because at the time Colby still had visions of acting fame and fortune dancing in his head. He appeared to be struggling with the concept of swallowing his pride to come back for a nice Survivor payday, and he didn’t hide it very well. Even Colby now sees that he came back as a shell of his former Survivor self. “I probably shouldn’t have gone,” he told me in Samoa right before Heroes Vs Villains kicked off. “I clearly wasn’t ready. I wasn’t prepared—physically, mentally. And as a result I didn’t do well in the game.” [Does Colby regret bringing Tina to the finals? And would he do it again in Heroes Vs. Villains? That, plus exclusive on location video, after the jump.]

So which Colby will we see this time out? Colby swears he has his head screwed on straight this time, and I kind of believe him. He seems to have finally come to terms with his place in the Hollywood hierarchy and no longer appears to be avoiding the stigma that goes with the term “reality star.” And I can tell you from watching him at the first challenge—he’s definitely invested. (I don’t know how much of it will make it into the episode, but there is a fantastic on-on-one battle between Colby and Coach that goes on forever.) But Colby was not only going full-out in a brutally physical challenge, he was also cheering on his teammates wildly when it was their turn to get knocked around.

But just because Colby’s fully invested this time around doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some huge obstacles in his path. For one thing, he’s now nine years older, and going up against a bunch of younger all-stars. He’s no longer the young stud who can simply show up and dominate. As Colby told me, “I’m certainly not the strongest, fastest , smartest. I don’t even rank in the top five in terms of that.” There’s also the social problem in that Colby simply doesn’t know or hang out with a lot of the newer, younger players. “Me and Jerri are the OGs around this place,” he said, referring to their season 2 status. “We are officially the old school at this point.”

The problem for Colby becomes, can he bond with some of these younger players, especially since he says he’d like for Jerri to be the first one gone? At my visit to the Heroes camp on day two, I did notice Colby and Tom bonding a lot, and they make sense as an alliance to me. If all the alpha males on the Heroes tribe (including J.T., James, and Rupert) align, that could be a devastating fivesome, but the bet here is that there will be some jockeying for position, and if so, it will be interesting to see where on the totem pole Colby ends up

Oh, and in case you’re wondering if Colby makes it to the end whether he would once again bring the deserving player (like Tina Wesson) over the one he knows he can beat (like Chef Keith), here’s your answer: “I gotta tell you, I’d play it the same way. I haven’t lost one night of sleep since Australia. The cool thing about this series is, we have a huge group of people that I believe are gonna play similar to that. We got guys in this group that I believe if given the chance will make the same decision I did.” No, Colby, they won’t. If Colby is truly as naïve as that quote makes him sound, then it’s hard to imagine him ever becoming the Sole Survivor.

To hear more from Colby and to see exlcusive video of him in the game, then click on the fancy video below. This is the 12th in a series of daily profiles on the contestants of Survivor: Heroes Vs Villains. If you missed our first 11 (including Russell, Boston Rob, and Cirie), there are links to all those players below the video. And to enjoy interviews with all the Heroes and Villains, head over to our super swell Survivor video hub. Up next tomorrow: Pearl Islands champ Sandra Diaz-Twine. Oh, and for Survivor scoop delivered right to you, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss. Okay, take it away, Colby…

Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS