Last week’s Naked and Afraid was a trip — contestants bowing out and returns of fan favorites AJ and Lauren. Manicures, Mosquitoes and Machete-wounds, oh my! Will this week top the mayhem of last week? We can only hope. We’re off to Madagascar. Here’s what I know about Madagascar. It is an island. It has lemurs. Several adorable movies have been made about it, and based on those movies, the animals are friendly, congregate together, and simply can’t resist the song “I Like To Move it, Move It” by techno group Reel2Reel. That’s it.
Super-fun Facts about Madagascar, courtesy of Mr. Ominous-sounding Narrator
- Blistering Days and Freezing nights
- 80 species of snake, including the ground boa
- Scorpions, tarantulas, black widows
- Scarce food and water.
Sounds like fun. And the shots are essentially of desert so I don’t see a lot of shade or cover.
Let’s meet the Contestants…
Jeff Zaugch. Age 26. From a small town in rural Idaho. Married. Mormon. Likes to hunt, and seems ready to stab and poke his way through Madagascar. Game plan: fight mother nature all the way.
Eva Lynne Rupert Age 33. From Arizona. Wilderness guide. Lots of tattoos. Obligatory shot of her doing yoga on a mountain top, so expect tree-hugging. She’s a guide, so I’d expect her to have great resourcefulness and be great at navigation. Game plan: tread lightly. Respect nature.
Both survivalists have conflicting views about killing. Jeff thinks God put animals on the planet for humans to use. Eva isn’t a hunter, and wants to disrupt the ecosystem as little as possible. And, FYI, Jeff’s not there to hook up.
Bravo! Major points for Eva and Jeff for making their meeting not about their naked goodies!
Personal Survival item, Eva brought a knife, Jeff a fire starter. This time the fire starter is black, but it looks like the same “Quality” as last week’s orange one.
Jeff’s #1 priority, find water. And, maybe kill every plant and animal in Madagascar.
At the get-go, we learn their Primitive Survival Rating (PSR), a score created using a combo of factors including experience, social adaptability, and mental toughness. Jeff’s PSR is a 7.0, Eva’s PSR is a 7.2.
Jeff tried to protect his skin from the scorching sun and puts branches over his shoulders, milkmaid style. All it does is make him look like a dumbass.
As they crash through the wilderness, Jeff sees a bird’s nest that would be make fire tinder. Nature lover Eva doesn’t want him to “rape and pillage the landscape.” Jeff: “I have no problem raping if I’m in a survival situation.” Um, wha??
Jeff decided to leave the nest in the spirit of teamwork.
Jeff and Eva find an awesome cave with running water. Although the water will need to be boiled, it’s water. And based on the landscape, it may be the only water in the area. Also, the cave its filled with black widow spider nests, so that’s a slight inconvenience. I remember the movie Arachnophobia. Spiders and their nests are not my friends. Eva refuses to smoke the spiders out. And doesn’t want to “Eradicate” the spiders “Microcosm” and she uses a lot of air quotes.
But, the fire starter stinks anyway, so no fire for spider smoking. Eva wonders what they need to get the fire started. The answer: A bird nest. Oh, Snap! Back to the fire. not gonna happen without a bird’s nest, so not fire for you. And, since Jeff is devoutly Mormon, no cuddling either.
Back at spider central, no one is sleeping.
The next morning, Jeff admits that Eva’s warmth is something that he craved but he refuses to share body heat because his wife asked him not to. I admire that, but Jeff’s wife isn’t sleeping naked on the freezing ground. The next morning, Jeff is praying for warmth. I’d pray for shoes. And a blanket.
After some reconnaissance, they find dry tinder. I wonder if Jeff grabbed a few bird’s nests for his fire. Back at the cave…hooray! Fire!
They start boiling water and use tiny fairy cups to drink drops of water. MMmmm.
Eva is still reluctant to kill the spider nests, “I just want to be human about it, I don’t want to be animalistic about it.” I think using FIRE to BURN things it totally a human thing. That’s what humans do best!
That night, Eva thinks she’s been stung by something on her lip and then — holy scorpion — she was lying on a scorpion! That flips a switch in Eva, and suddenly, she’s ready to kill nature. Spiders, snakes, whatever. It’s killing time.
The next morning, with Eva’s blessing, Jeff burns the bajeesus out of the black widow spider nests. Why was no one afraid of flaming spiders leaping from the burning nests, hell-bent on revenge? Because I think a flaming spider totally leapt out of the burning nest in Arachnophobia. Isn’t that how the barn started on fire? Did I mention that I was really terrified by the movie Arachnophobia?
Jeff is hungry. He sees a lizard and catches its…tail. Eva sees a snake, and this new “let’s kill nature” warrior goddess is determined to catch it.
Back to the snake … when they flip the rock it’s under, instead of smashing its head with a rock, Eva bare handed it. Holy wowsers! Maybe communing with nature has made her a snake charmer!
Jeff “allows” Eva to prepare the snake. And totally makes sexist comments. “I hate feminists,” says Jeff. Um, Jeff, your feminist partner just caught a snake with her bare hands. They build a pretty bad-ass grill for the snake-B-Q and set to cooking Lord Voldemort. After a while, Eva decides that the food is cooked, but Jeff wants to keep cooking. Eva, in the interest of teamwork, demurs to Jeff. When he decides the meat is cooked enough, surprise! The snake meat is as hard as wood. Jeff cooked the snake meat past the point of edibility. Silly Jeff, your feminist can catch snakes with her bare hands AND cook. Maybe you like feminists a little now?
The lack of food is making them shut down. Jeff is woozy, and seeing spots. Eva is moving in slow motion, both are incredibly dirty, and they spend a lot of time and energy trying to throw small rocks at a big rock, thinking that their small rocks will somehow explode the big rock and kill a lizard. I think their brains are fried. Perhaps if they start singing “I Like To Move It, Move It,” to the lizard, he will dance out from under his rick and join a conga line with his lizard brethren. But they didn’t try that, so now we’ll never know if Dreamworks was actually giving sound survival advice under the guise of children’s entertainment.
Eva collapses and tearfully demands water immediately.
After 13 days. Mr. Ominous Voiceover guy informs us that Eva and Jeff have each consumed the caloric equivalent of half an apple. I am not sure how their brains are able to function, and perhaps their brains aren’t. Their speech is slowed. They’re forgetting to hydrate and they are making unwise choices.
Eva is still dehydrated so stays near the cave to rest and drink. Jeff heads out hunting and spies a lizard. It’s the same lizard at same rock that they tries to catch the day before! He spends nearly 3 hours catching the lizard. Finally, he pulls out the tiny beast and bites its head off!! What’s up, Ozzy Osbourne?! Madagascar makes people go crazy!
He brings this itty bitty lizard back to the camp and they are so excited it’s like he’s produced loaves and fishes.
Two-thirds through their ordeal and the narrator informs us that the survivalists have both lowered their survival ratings because of Eva’s reluctance to kill the black widow spider eggs and Jeff because of his refusal to share body heat and burning the snake meat. Can they get back on track and raise their PSRs?
Jeff is so delirious that he starts praying for specific kinds of food to catch. While they’re looking at a huge water spider, they notice a giant boa right next to them. Jeff catches it bare handed (What’s with these snake wranglers?) and chops off its head.
This time, Jeff and Eva have a better plan. Instead of overcooking the snake, they’re going to make a smoker. They built a nice fire, suspended the snake, and tied dried palm fronts around the snake like a smoke-catching teepee. Pretty solid design, right? All they have to do is sit back and let the fire do its thing, right?
Well, the fire did its thing, it started everything on fire. I did mention that they put dry palm fronds around the fire, right? So now their campsite is aflame, the snake is aflame, everything is aflame. Jeff and Eva frantically heave handfuls of dirt on the rapidly spreading fire to prevent all of Madagascar from being consumed by their hell-fire. Finally, the fire is out, and their snake meat is ashes.
Dejected. Eva thinks this might be grounds for tapping out.
Jeff is also dejected and starts digging through the snake skin and innards looking for the liver. He pokes the snake guts and out pops a baby snake from one of the innards’ sacks. It’s a snake egg. A disgusting, slimy snake egg. But, to Jeff and Eva, it’s edible. They cook up and eat the eggs, raving about how delicious they are. I bet the eggs would have been even more tasty with some snake bacon, or snakon.
Their final day. Jeff and Eva now have to hike 3 miles and climb a sharp sandstone mesa to an extraction point. Once they build a signal fire, a rescue vehicle will come get them. Easy, right? At least they’re not naked now, because Eva is wearing a snakeskin as a top and they have tied palm fronds to their feet. And, Eva might also be earing a thong made of rope of some kind, which looks totally comfy for a 3 mile hike.
As they start climbing the brittle sandstone cliff, I am immensely glad for some of the blurring that is being done as Jeff climbs. It is a lot of leg-spreading. Once atop the mesa, they build a fire with ease (‘cause they’re pros now) and a gleaming white truck appears on the horizon as if sent by the ghost of Henry Ford himself.
Safe in the bed of the truck, their ordeal is over. They survived.
Over the 21 days, Jeff lost 31 lbs., Eva lost 23 lbs.
Jeff has returned home to Idaho and his snuggle-forbidding wife.
Eva has returned home to her motley-looking dogs in Arizona.
Jeff PSR increased from 7.0 to 7.3 and Eva’s PSR increased from 7.2 to 7.4.
I think the modest gains in PSR is due to them not really surviving as much as not dying. They were a little bit like the Keystone Cops out there. Needless to say, I don’t have the guts to do it, so my hats off to them.
How do you think Jeff and Eva did? Would you have wanted either of them as your partner? At what point would you have tapped out? Would you have investigated the caves a little better?
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