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''Survivor'': When is a reward not a reward?

On ”Survivor,” sometimes a reward is not a reward: Gregg wins a night on a luxury yacht but loses the main event

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Gregg Carey, Survivor: Palau
Gregg Carey: Monty Brinton/CBS

”Survivor”: When is a reward not a reward?

”That little trip that they took may cost them big.” —Tom (a.k.a. Robosurvivor)

Funny, I said the exact same thing the second Gregg, Jenn, and Katiee (I mean, Katie) took off for their little reward-challenge overnight getaway. Then I realized I was talking to myself, so I shut the hell up. But seriously, when has going on one of these rewards ever turned out to be a good thing? The answer? Never! It’s a bad thing — a bad, bad, bad thing! Never, ever separate yourself from the tribe and give them a chance to strategize against you. And if you do win it, for Probst’s sake don’t take an ally. Remember how that turned out for Burton and Johnny Fairplay in the Pearl Islands? They left that wacky Boy Scout troop leader for a few hours, and look what happened. She flipped like freakin’ Mary Lou Retton!

All of this came as a result of what people on the Survivor crew refer to as a ”f— you” challenge. A ”f— you” challenge is basically one in which players are forced to take other players out of the game. ”F— you” challenges rule, because they always end up either opening players’ eyes as to where they stand in the pecking order or creating rifts that didn’t exist before. (Yes, Katie and Ian, that would be you.) Personally, I couldn’t care less about Palau trivia, but watching Gregg make a deal with Katie, then ask permission from Jenn to pull her switch (it’s not what it sounds like), then get called out by Jeff Probst for asking permission, and then turn around and break his deal with Katie was all pretty fantastic stuff. And for what? A stupid overnight stay on the Palau Aggression II?

But as if Gregg — who until this episode I always pegged as a very cunning player — didn’t screw all that up enough, he then invited his girlfriend and Katie to go along with him. ”I’ll pay you back,” he told Tom and Ian. ”No, we’ll pay you back,” replied Robosurvivor. And, oh, they did. Now, I know there has been a lot of Haterade being consumed by some of you Tom naysayers out there, but you have to give Ian and him props for not only dominating every single challenge but also recognizing a developing threat and immediately neutralizing it. The only person that smacked Gregg’s ass harder was . . . well, Gregg’s best friend, Greg.

The whole Tom-Ian-Caryn alliance had me excited. Partly because I don’t want to see Jenn and Katie in the finals. But more so because I was pumped for a little colored-rock action. We haven’t seen this little hellion since Marquesas, and as anyone who — warning: shameless plug approaching — read Jeff Probst’s article in EW a few months back knows, that time it wasn’t even done correctly. So I was all fired up to see someone get Paschaled into oblivion. But then Mr. 10-Foot-High Dolphin Trainer had to go and tell Katie, thereby sending the colored rock back into its lonely little sack.

That’s not to say tribal council wasn’t entertaining. I don’t know what was more gratifying — seeing Jenn’s look of horror after her main man got the heave ho, or watching Coby ham it up in the jury. I will say this for Gregg — he may have an extra consonant at the end of his name, but he reacted like a pro. He realized he’d been outplayed, and he didn’t take it personally. He was a big man about it. A big man who made one big mistake. Hope it was worth it, dude.

What do you think? Did Gregg blow it? Can anyone stop Tom and Ian? And is Jenn toast now that her bread and butter is gone?