Recap: Naked and Afraid XL Episode 1

Naked and Afraid XL Kellie Freeze

Naked and Afraid XL

When I heard that Naked and Afraid was mixing up its magic formula of “2 people, 21 days, no clothes,” to “12 people, 40 days, no clothes,” I was both worried and thrilled.

Of course, my worry was that for the last 4 seasons, an ominous narrator has warned us that the human body can survive for only 21 days without food, so I’ve always felt pretty confident that even if the survivalists catch nada, they’re probably not going to die. But now that the length of stay has been almost doubled, they’d better catch a lot more food or someone’s going to get eaten.

But of course I’m excited to see characters people that we’ve grown to love (and love to hate) return for a second experience.

The promos have said, “These 12 survivalists have survived the Everest of adventures,” but one has failed her 21-day survival challenge (*cough* Honora).

On to Colombia! (Notice how I spelled it right this time? You can teach an old dog new tricks!) We’ve been to Colombia before, but the Oranoco river basin is a whole new kind of hell. It’s a diverse place plopped right near the equator. And the daytime temperatures can reach and extra-toasty 120 degrees. And since it’s Colombia, there are snakes, caiman, and biting bugs galore. Yay for biting bugs!!!

A local expert muses that the survivalists may be able to survive for 15-20 days, and thinks that most of them will tap out. Let’s see if he’s right (I’d love to let’s see an episode of Naked and Afraid with native/aboriginal people who show us how to thrive in an environment.)

The survivalists begin their experiences alone, although some are dumped inserted close to others, while others must search to find their teammates. The 12 participants are divided into four specific areas, which are in close proximity to each other. Perhaps they’ll eventually find each other, and maybe they won’t … that’s part of the fun.

Naked and Afraid XL Episode 1
Naked and Afraid really upped their blurring skill this season!

Jeff, Hakim and EJ begin their journeys in Roca Diablo (Devil Rocks), in a barren area covered with volcanic mountains. These three alpha males are some of the past participants who seemed to relish their Naked and Afraid experience the most. Any of these men would make fascinating hosts of a wilderness survival TV show.

Jeff and Hakim quickly run into each other (The show has really upped their blurring skills this season) and are pumped. They’ve become pals outside of the show and is pleasantly surprised to see their partner is a man.

Don’t worry fellas, there are more surprises in store for you.

EJ prances around on the fiery lava rocks too and makes short work of a barrel cactus to get a bit of early moisture. It’s not long before Jeff and Hakim spot EJ doing naked recon atop a mountain and the three are giving each other giddy, naked, bro-hugs. “Three heads are better than one” says EJ. I might add, so are three fannies.

Five miles away, in Rio Negro (Black River), Laura, Eva and Dani are scattered amongst the scrubby desert. Eva and Laura are thrilled to see each other; they’re pals too. The elite survival community is small, and the Naked and Afraid circle of alumni is pretty right, so it’s likely that most of them know or know of each other.

For the first time, we hear about survival items. I had asked Naked and Afraid’s casting director how survival items were going to work in XL and she demurred. So now, here’s the low-down: each participant has chosen one survival item, and is given a machete and a map. I’ll keep a running list of the items below.

Meanwhile, Dani is lost and wandering through the scrubland alone.

A few miles away, is the swampy jungle of Cano Verde (Green Canyon) where Jesus’ foxy-twin Luke, Fisherman Chris and Super-sleuth Honora may or may not find each other. Honora and Chris find each other and Luke joins them a short time later. Chris isn’t about to let Honora ride his coattails, so she’d better prove that she can hang and not fry herself in the sun like an ant under a magnifying glass (‘cause she brought one to Brazil).

Miles away in El Bosque (The Forest), bad-ass Alana, EMT Danielle and Insane in the membrane Shane amble towards each other. Danielle and Shane meet up and already; Shane is at odds with his partner (but looking extra-buff and tan)! Alana arrives a short time later. Of the four groups, they have the most initial tension.

Now that we’ve met everyone, let’s get down to brass tacks.

Night 1
In El Bosque, it’s hot. And buggy.
Loner Dani hears crazy stuff. “If that’s an anaconda, I’m going to lose my sh!t!” Me too Dani!!

Naked and Afraid XL Episode 1
Poor Dani’s eye!!!

Day 2
Dani is alive! But her face is massively swollen, which makes me think that her mosquito netting may have a few extra holes in it. Smarty heads to the reliable SalveDio tree, and hacks a chunk of the medicinal bark to soothe her peeper.

Over in Rio Negro, there are many bugs. Eva’s fanny has been feasted upon by buggers and she and Dani want to find a better campsite and a better source of fresh water.

In El Bosque, Shane is hard at work chopping a shelter while Alana and Danielle rest in the oppressive heat. Remember how Shane was a sexist jerk in season 1? He hasn’t changed. But, he also seems like he’s prowling for some lady-love. And may be truly unstable. He says “I like people … but I don’t like the human race,” which doesn’t make sense to me and he also boasts that he’s thiiiiiiis close to being a serial killer. “Gulp!” thinks his two partners.

The alpha males in Roca Diablo are sweltering and look for a place to get cool and build shelter. They build shelters like a boss, but quickly get dehydrated and Hakim suffers from massive cramps.

Juke, Chris and Honora catch, cook and share a cockroach and a lizard, which is the first protein we’ve seen anyone catch. Mmmm.

Day 3
Laura and Eva decide to drink water from the murky river. So they try to make fire with Laura’s Bow drill kit. It isn’t long before Eva slashes her finger down to the bone and after two hours without the bleeding stopping, medics come in. Eva needs sutures, but she can either get stitches without anesthesia or quit the experience and head to a hospital. Tough-ass Eva opts for field surgery and takes the sutures with nary a wine. But now she has to keep her wound clean, because an infection could cost her a finger … or worse.

Dani is still alone and digs a Gypsy well to get water. Basically she digs a hole and is going to drink anything that seeps in, which means it’s clean-ish. She crosses her fingers and takes a sip.

Hakim is still cramping and EJ is horribly sunburnt. Why is he already peeling so badly? Hakim is thinking about tapping out, but Jeff tells him to wait for 24 hours and se how he feels. Jeff hopes that he won’t regret his advice.

Danielle has a fever and is sick. She needs food and Shane abandons his wood chopping obsession to try to get his team some nourishment. He climbs the world’s most flimsy tree (uh dude, put your wood chipping skills to work here!) and promptly falls out, crashing to the forest floor below. Cut to black, insert agonized moan and cue commercial. Curse you TV!

New to Naked and Afraid XL is the XLR, the survival rating of the team, which will adjust as the teams find success and failure. At the start of the adventure:

EJ, Jeff, Hakim merit a 7.9 out of 10.0
Eva, Laura, Dani are granted a 8.2 our of 10.0
Danielle, Alana, Shane measure a 7.6 out of 10.0
Luke, Chris, Honora tally a 7.8 out of 10.0

Back to the show and back to Shane. He’s not hurt, (thank goodness!) and I wonder if Naked and Afraid did a bit of TV trickery and used his moan from when he rolled down a hill and broke a few toes in Season 1, Episode 1. Shane takes a moment to pray for divine assistance and he’s able to climb up and get the fruit to help his partners. Which is really kind, but then he gets a little strange again by telling his partners “I’m going to go play with my bow.” Shane is such a tough person to figure out. There’s a heart somewhere inside that chest-full of bitterness. And, Danielle was super ungrateful when Shane brought them mangos, which I hope is just a temporary fever of bitchiness.

Day 4
Hakim still feels like garbage and is suffering from heat exhaustion. He makes the difficult decision to tap out of the survival experience, for the sake of his long-term health. I feel bad for Hakim, especially because although he’s in excruciating pain, they force him to ride out in the bed of a bouncy pickup. Can’t he sit in front, or get a helicopter medivac?

Survival Stuff
Jeff: Unknown
Hakim: Magic ninja blade
EJ: Unknown
Laura: Bow Drill kit
Eva: Pot
Dani: Mosquito net
Luke: Unknown
Chris: Unknown
Honora: Unknown
Danielle: Unknown
Alana: Unknown
Shane: Bow & Arrows


  1. Alana was extremely jealous and resentful of Shane. It appeared that she was trying to compete with Shane for the vegetarian’s affection. I don’t even know why the vegetarian wanted to be on Naked and Afraid. She was pretty useless but enjoyed being “kept” and attended to hand and foot by Alana. Sick. And Alana, she came across as more man than…well, Shane. Shane loved to cry and show his feminine side. He stands 6-feet 5. It made me sick. I had to leave the television set occasionally to go in the bathroom and throw up. Hakim had to leave the show early due to menstrual cramps. And after just four days? Come on! Dani did well on her own, and I don’t know why she didn’t stay that way. She didn’t really need the other six or seven. I live in New Hampshire and have up until now always liked Laura because she is one of our own. But unfortunately Laura got caught up in the “let’s not share” crap, and I lost the respect I had for her. “Mine, mine, mine.” Shame on you, Laura. And the crap you gave E.J. about being disrespectful before killing an eel. Really? You only said that because you knew you couldn’t kill one yourself. What pettiness! Jeff was the star of Naked and Afraid XL and the strongest survivalist, hands down. The scores of the other eleven combined couldn’t equal Jeff’s. E.J. was too passive in that twosome, yet he envisioned himself as the leader? The cheerleader, perhaps. But Jeff was the leader by example. In everything and in every way, he was the true leader. Chris and Luke were very passive too, almost intimidated by the misfits in their group. Honora clearly needs some professional help, running around in the jungle with her machete and vowing revenge. I thought for a minute I was watching a remake of the original movie Halloween. You know, a female version of Michael Myers. Eva, came across as a bit sappy to me. She gave me the creeps wanting to “clear the air” with Jeff near the end of the forty days. First anger, then tears. Yuk. All dirty little tricks women use against men to try to become their equals. I hope I haven’t slighted anyone by omission. Bu if I have, I apologize.

  2. just finished the last episode. comments are based on what the producers allowed viewers to see. Stage I: environment is food deficient, especially in protein, except for luke, chris and honora who lands in a place where they have more food vs. the others, everyone struggled. with this hindsight, the optimum strategy is to endure, and to reserve energy. sorry shane, but your teammates were proven right. even the alpha males get very little for their massive efforts, barrel cacti, anyone?

    Stage II – Piranha Lake: everyone migrates for better resources. Now its the 3-man alpha male team (redundant) vs. the clan. Despite the editing that implies that the clan continue the endure and reserve energy strategy, i am giving them the benefit of the doubt and that they DID try hard to get food. unfortunately, they are poor hunters. anyone notice that Chris, the commercial fisherman, did not catch an eel or much of any seafood (can’t remember if he caught a little fish). except for chris, none of the clan’s skillsets lend themselves to find animal protein. without the generosity and skill of Jeff, most of the clan would have tapped out. the clan received a huge amount of eel, over 25 lbs at least. An aside, i understand why the clan did not give EJ some of their ray since they were so depleted, and looking out for themselves. but it is hypocritical of them to get bent out of shape when they are told that jeff and ej decided to go it alone. did the clan become so dependent on jeff and ej that they became so angry at their plans to go it alone? clan numbers are not as important as the quality of the members. the clan have very little survival skills (endurance is not the same) and their teamwork produce minimal results (even after Jeff teaches them how to fish). in contrast to the alpha males, Jeff is the MVP. he always nails his eels with the first attempt. not surprising, he is a big game hunter, and understood the optical illusion of a fish’s location in the water (light rays get deflected). why chris, the commercial fisherman didn’t understand this is puzzling. EJ, as far as the editing showed, did not do much, but he was positive. as far as i can remember, he didn’t even strike an eel and yes he got shocked when he was approaching the first eel, but he never took a swipe at it or at any other eel. Shane made the killing blow of the first eel. Shane, physically and mentally depleted from his wrong strategy in Stage I, and internal battles with his teammates, eventually succumbs to malnutrition (producers mentioned protein deficiency in his joints, something the clan avoided thanks to Jeff). but not before he contributed with his “gypsy well” and even tested it for his team. I wonder where the clan got its water? i wouldn’t be surprised if Shane’s well was shared or maybe Dani created another one for the clan. (the producers may not have wanted to highlight her contribution since it would detract from their emphasizing Dani’s conflict with the rest of the clan). Jeff, not only did he catch all these eels, he catches the last one by himself. quality not quantity.
    Stage III: extraction. Yes, the clan did cross the finish line first, but IMO, that does not matter. the clan took unnecessary risk in crossing the river with their floatation device. i wonder if they knew that if they encountered a deadly situation, piranha, eel, snakes, etc, that the camera crew would have come to the rescue (remember the medical assistance who came to suture a wound). high risk if successful, results in high return, hence they won the race. Jeff and EJ took a more prudent and much safer approach and built a boat. on a risk adjusted basis, their strategy was superior. last note, during the discussion on whether the clan should share their gator, not once was it mentioned (or was it purposeful editing) that they should give them food since Jeff was so so generous with his eels. many of the clan members, based on my read of their faces/body language would have been happy to not share at all.

  3. I would really like to see a psychologist or therapist analyse and talk about the participants personalities and the conflict. I thing the tweeny bobber girls were a living nightmare. “we have to stay as a group”…. 16 year old mean girl syndrome grow up. I was wondering who was going to be the next target. The 6 were blind to their own faults. Luke where were you? Being a wilderness therapist you had to know the crap going on was wrong wrong wrong. Yet you stayed silent. I would want to depend on you in the long run.

  4. I agree plus Honora deserves credit she got mangoes the guys were ungrateful i understand why she freaked out. Then after she tapped out probably to save her sanity those jerks ate mangoes and they seemed to get their feelings hurt when they shared them with the girls. New Jersey boy didn’t want anyone to ride his coat tails but he got mad at Ej & Jeff for not helping the group. I mean Jeff shared his eel when your group got food you didn’t share. At least that’s what the viewers saw. It’s possible in between filming your group shared. I agree Ej & Jeff should have welcomed Dani those 3 would make a kick ass team I’d give them a psr 10.0 really like the show I’ve learned new survival skills thanks

  5. Luke and Chris should have stood up for Danni. These two guys aren’t survivalists, they’re moochers. They didn’t even offer E.J. a single bite of the sting ray their group caught, or the squirrel. This after E.J. and Jeff fed them not once, but twice. The three women that are left are scumbags for what they did to Danni. It was Danni who found Luke and Chris’s camp, it was Danni’s mosquito net that allowed them to catch minnows, it was Danni who had nothing but a positive outlook and complete honesty about the challenge and kept it in perspective. The things that Chris said about Danni are a flat out lie and she should have called him out, not that it would do any good arguing with a lying POS from New Jersey that has brain cell deficiency syndrome. Why did Chris suddenly jump in and stir up the drama the two other women were fomenting against Danni? Chris is chump. E.J. and Jeff should have taken Danni in like they did Shane, because Danni was the one who was maintaining SANITY while the others in her group were LOSING their minds.

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