Colton Cumbie Caleb Bankston
Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

He is perhaps Survivor’s biggest villain — not for anything he did strategically in the game, but rather for the way he treated his fellow One World tribemates on a personal level. Many viewers called him a flat-out racist for his comments towards African-American tribemate Bill Posley. And yet despite all that — or, more likely, because of it — Colton Cumbie was asked to return to play Survivor: Blood vs. Water, and bring his fiancé Caleb Bankston with him.

However, Colton claims he is a changed man, and says his new lease on life will result in a very different character this time around. “I’m a lot happier and I’m a lot more at peace going in than I was last time,” Colton told me when I spoke with him the day before Blood vs. Water commenced filming. “Last time I was completely erratic and filled with hate and anger and I had kind of adapted this mentality of bite before bitten. And I think a lot times my lashing out at people for whatever reason…it was out of fear and the way that I had been treated. And I thought that I’ve got to come across as the bitch or people will walk right over me. And I realize now that that‘s not an effective method in Survivor, or in life in general.”

Is Colton a changed man? Well, we’ll see about that when Survivor: Blood vs. Water premieres Sept 18 on CBS. To hear more from my pre-game interview with Colton and Caleb — including Caleb’s take on Colton’s biggest weakness — click on the video player below.