After a month on the Palau islands, the crew of castaways on "Survivor: Palau" is getting skinny and loopy. Episode 12 was full of insider strategizing and bizarre commentary, primarily from the firefighter and the dolphin trainer.
Everyone played the coupling game, but the king and queen of Palau, young Jenn Lyon and Gregg Carey, got split at the last minute, proving this wouldn't be another Rob and Amber story.
This forced breakup only came after some tsunami-sized table turning. Tom Westman, the brawny NYC firefighter, recognized that his buddy Caryn Groedel seemed lined up for a torch snuffing. He didn't quite put it eloquently.
"Caryn's more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs right now," Tom said.
But by that point, no one in the group of six was quite playing for themselves: We've got that Gregg and Jenn "thing;" Caryn's been depending on Tom; Ian Rosenberger and Katie Gallagher have an alliance that only grew stronger when Katie's sister's partner (apparently one of her closer friends) visited and Ian told him he'd watch out for Katie.
The first challenge of the day proved the domineering power of the first union. In a trivia challenge, each team member to get a question right got to yank another's chain, which would lower their buoy into the water. Getting sunk meant sailing out of the game with no reward.
Not only did Gregg and Jenn never yank each other's chains, but also due to their constant boosts to each other, they were the last two standing.
But at one point during the trivia challenge, Gregg made a pact with Katie, convincing her to leave his chain alone. But when his turn came to pay her back, his only other option was to lower Jenn's buoy. He asked Jenn something like "will you hate me" if I pull your chain? She narrowed her eyes into slits and gave the scowling look any small child or grown man is likely all too familiar with. Let's call it "don't you dare."
"Wait, Gregg, did you just ask permission?" the show's host, Jeff Probst, asked.
A mix of groans and knowing laughter came from the other castaways.
When Gregg won the Palau trivia challenge, he was presented with the ability to bring a guest. It was obvious. They got to pick one more, and this choice paid back Katie.
The two young ladies and alpha male embarked on a luxury cruise of the Palau islands, massages, fluffy bathrobes, cocktails and all. If the trip away from being castaway could get better, the trio each got a surprise from home.
But while Katie, Jenn and Gregg swam with dolphins (where was Ian, the dolphin trainer?), the other three sat on Koror island and chiseled some solid strategy.
Likewise, the cruise recipients strategized. But they strategized like the yuppies they are: around a wobbly plastic table over frosty mugs of beer. Perhaps all the luxury made Katie feel safe as a third wheel?
Back on the island, Ian realized the new "vote Gregg off" strategy would force a tie that evening, and it could come down to drawing stones. "This is kinda like taking a bag of potato chips from a fat man," Ian said, oh so quotably. "You gotta do it quick, or he's gonna turn around and sit on ya."
For immunity, the challenge compiled past challenges, including a land version of the, a rope challenge puzzle, an and a .
It showed the weakness of the ladies that Jenn, a former nanny and meek California girl, beat out the other women. She even kept up with the guys on the baloot-eating contest. Nevertheless, Ian won immunity.
The three twosomes were now split into two threesomes: The boat crew, poised to vote out Caryn, and the land crew, who pledged to vote for Gregg.
Mr. Alpha had no clue, though. He and Jenn took their time to secretly gloat at their power, scoping who to pick off next after Caryn like a team of snipers.
As if Gregg wasn't deceived enough by having the group of three plotting against him, right before leaving for tribal council, Ian pulled Katie aside to tell her the plan.
"What happens if it's a tie?" Katie asked.
"We choose marbles," Ian told her.
So Katie chose not to take the chance of playing a game of chance.
Four votes came in for Gregg, and his torch was snuffed before the bewildered look settled into his face. More surprised: Jenn. After all that, he didn't even hug her goodbye.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't totally surprised," Gregg said. "You got me, and you got me good."
To find out how Gregg really feels about Jenn — and the rest of the castaways — tune into Friday's The Early Show.
By Christine Lagorio
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