Last week, I watched with intrigue after 14 normal American men were dropped on a deserted island. I’m a major fan of survival programs (I also recap Discovery’s Naked and Afraid) and have spent many a night watching shows where man (and woman) tests his mettle against the elements. Who can resist the lure of Survivor, Dual Survival, Survivorman, or Bear Grylls’ prior reality competition series, Get Out Alive? I’m constantly amazed that people are able to endure such tough circumstances. And on The Island, we’re getting a gritty look at survival without the polish and production of most other Reality survival shows (Man Vs. Wild and Naked and Afraid are pretty realistic are among the exceptions).
So far, the men haven’t been able to find fresh water, they accidentally tainted much of their remaining fresh water by mixing it with salt water, and extreme dehydration turned Taylor into a lunatic who was medevaced off of the island and out of the 30 day experience.
The men still haven’t found fresh water and the little bit of water that they have left for “Emergencies.” My thought is that 3 days without water seems like an emergency.
The men decide to form three search parties and head out in separate directions in search of precious fluid. These men are reaching a critical point where their bodies are becoming desperate for water. The coconuts they’ve been able to find aren’t enough to quench their thirst and Bear Grylls says eating too much coconut can have a diuretic effect.
Ernest, an Iraq War vet, who is built like a giant, is feeling the desperate need for water. Even Engineer Mike, who has been an early leader, is moving slowly due to fluid loss.
We learn more about Mike. I admit, in the first episode, I was turned off by his Boston-bravado as he sat in his snow gear beneath his tree. “What a jerk!” I thought. “I bet this guy is going to boss everyone around like a big bull. But when I learn a little bit about his backstory, I realize how wrong I am. 6 years ago, he lost his beloved wife to cancer. Now, Mike tenderly raises his two adorable daughters on his own. His toughness protects a truly gentle heart.
He reveals, “The toughest thing I’ve ever went through is losing my baby. The second toughest thing I ever did, was living.”
Rick and Buck make the decision to spend the night away from camp to conserve energy. Little do they know, they’re camping right near a fresh water source. Look around guys! Don’t you have water Spidey-senses?
Benji and Rob make the smart decision to search for water at night, when the relentless sun isn’t beating down upon them and they find a water wine. The few precious drops that they get from the vines feels like manna from heaven.
We also meet Trey, who is a bit apprehensive to tell his fellow cast members that he’s gay. I don’t think it’s really a big deal, man! These men are all interested in survival, they’re on your team — and your friends.
Benji and Rob rush back to camp where they share the news of their water vine discovery. The group is excited for a “Water Breakfast” and it’s evident that most of the men are facing crucial dehydration as many of them get dizzy when they stand up and lack the strength (Or motivation) do do much.
Benji, is one of the 4 cameramen embedded as part of the 14 men. Benji has worked on one of my favorite reality shows, Life Below Zero. And when you’re filming part of the show, you’re in no joke terrible weather. I don’t doubt that he’s a badass.
Rick and Buck find some highly suspect-looking water (it’s blood red!) but it’s the first fresh water they’ve found. They’re so excited that they’ve found enough water to help their friends. And quickly set about filling the empty water bottles with the brackish, but lifesaving water.
Over at camp, Mike is having a breakdown. He’s so dehydrated, that he can’t control his emptions. He asks the camera operators to turn off the cameras so he can maintain a bit of dignity. Some of the men comply, but others keep their cameras running. Mike has a knife and quickly turns violent, threatening to kill himself or anyone who comes near.
James, a retired police officer shows his cool head in times of crisis, but Davion, a firefighter becomes more concerned with getting the cameras away from his patient instead of getting the knife away from Mike.
The group decides that Mike is too dangerous to stay on the island, so they walkie-talkie for help and the safety and medical team come and take him away.
Rob, a stay-at-home Dad, is devastated to see such a powerful member of the team leave. They laugh through their tears and remember the inspiration that Mike brought.
Rick and Buck return to camp elated at their find, but sad to hear that Mike has left. The water is quickly boiled, and the men’s spirits are lifted by the sweet, sweet taste of the tea-colored water.
Once they’re hydrated, the men meet to talk about the extent of camera usage that happened when Mike got sick. Some of the men view the cameramen as “Them,” (ie the TV producers) instead of the “us” (the guys trying to survive).
We meet Graham, a documentary filmmaker who is excited to film the experience and be a part of the experience.
While a group of men heads back to the red water, another group tried to find water closer. Cameraman Rick stands in one spot too long and gets bitten but a bunch of fire ants. He starts not feeling well and has an allergic reaction to the venom in the ants. Trauma Doctor Buck gives him Benadryl from the primitive med kit and after a few harrowing moments where they worry that his airway may become compromised, the meds kick in, and he feels some relief.
Graham and Benji find closer water source and head back to camp. As night falls, their route leads them through the dark ocean water. They get totally banged up by submerged rocks, and contemplate leaving their camera behind so they can more safely navigate their way back to camp.
After less than a week (4 days actually), two men have left The Island, and it looks like in next week’s exciting episode, another survivor has a medical emergency.
What would you have done differently on The Island? Would you be one of the men who rushes out in search for water, or would you stick closer to camp? It seems to me that the men who aren’t looking for water don’t seem to be doing much beside lying in the shade? They could be looking for food, or collecting firewood, or bettering their shelter!