Dearest Naked and Afraid XL Fans,
I’m back! My semi-annual trip to the Television Critics Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour is over and have sadly left behind the never-ending parade of bacon, alcohol and tchotchkes, and was finally able to watch Naked And Afraid XL, Episode 5. the Summer and Winter TCA Press Tours are where all of the networks, cable outlets and out of the box networks (like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu) present their fall/winter schedules and us TV writers get to interview lots of people.
Othe than recapping several TV series, I am a full-time writer for Channel Guide Magazine, and TV Weekly, so for for me, and writers like me, this is a big, very busy, and very, very tiring deal. Sorry for the delay, but thank you for your hilarious insight that made me laugh out loud.
It’s Day 21 and we’re just over halfway through the world’s most intense survival experience on Naked and Afraid XL, Episode 5. On a normal episode of Naked and Afraid, our two survivalists would be hopping into the back of a truck at an extraction point and heading home, but in this super-sized series, the misery fun has just begun!
Over in El Bosque, what’s left of “Team Alpha”- EJ and Jeff have met up with “Team Dysfunctional” — Shane, Alana and Danielle — as the duo treks from their original starting point to Piranha Lake. Shane is starving for protein and attention and wants to join the men. It doesn’t take EJ and Jeff long to feel the tension between Shane and his teammates, particularly Alana. EJ invites Shane to join them and he’s “stoked.” It’s about time for Shane to leave the cancerous situation. “Two cowboys rolled into camp,” muses EJ, “and tomorrow we’re leaving as a trio.” “The Alpha Dogs picked up another dog!” (Much barking.) It’s nice to see Shane a part of this male bonding, he’s been so alone up until to this point. I hope that a little camaraderie will soften his abrasiveness.
Over in Cano Verde, “Team Nuts and Butts” is taking a team swim in search of a fishing ground. Eva and Laura teach Chris and Luke how to fish using Dani’s mosquito net. They catch a few minnows, but it’s not enough for everyone, and they know that their camp’s protein resources can’t sustain them much longer.
The next morning, Shane leaves camp with EJ and Jeff. Alana is glad to see Shane Leave camp. Their route is to walk 7 miles across the savannah, completely exposed to the equatorial heat.
The Heroes and Sheroes are “enjoying” their mango ration. Although we’ve seen them eat a few minnows, most of their diet is unripe mangoes that they cook to soften. Chris reveals that the acid of the unripe fruit’s acid has caused ulcers on his tongue and once this experience is over, he doesn’t think he’ll ever eat mango again. I wonder if the unripe fruit is dehydrating them — I recall reading that unripe fruit can cause diarrhea.
The Canyo Verde group sun-dries the remainder of their mangoes to prepare to trek to a better campsite. Their destination — Piranha Lake! We’ll see how the area’s resources are strained when 8 people are competing for food.
It takes the alpha males over 7 hours to hike across the savannah. The heat and wind have completely dehydrated them. Once they reach the lake, they have a good man-cry out of relief. But they can’t stop now, they’ve got to take a page from Abby Lee Miller — the person least likely to participate on this show — and save their tears for their pillows and start rehydrating their bodies. After they drink a gallon of water each, then they can have a refreshing boo-hoo. That exhaustive march forged their friendship and now they’re a galvanized group. (Can you believe that I found a way to bring Dance Moms into Naked and Afraid? Nail’d It. (That was also a show.) LOL
That night, Chris shows off Laura’s bee-sting collection. Ouchie! And over in man-land, the gents hear heavy breathing and grunting outside their camp. “There will be blood,” promises Jeff. Jeff, be careful what you wish for, you’re paired with EJ who is the master of disaster and accident-prone. There is still plenty of time for EJ to accidentally chop off a digit or impale himself onto something.
The team of 5 packs up camp and heads 6 miles towards Piranha Lake. Chris is on high alert for Anacondas, but everyone else seems more concerned with roasting to death. How come Luke hasn’t fashioned cool sandals like he did when he was on Naked and Afraid the first time? They worked pretty well and even survived a flood!
EJ, Jeff and Shane have set up a camp and EJ and Jeff try to fish to replenish their bodies. Shane hunts for vines to make a fish basket. While Jeff fishes, Eagle-eyed EJ spots an eel in the water. And it’s huge!!! Jeff hops into the water and stabs the massive beast with a spear. After getting shocked a few times, EJ springs into action and tried to hack it with his knife. Of course, the pissed off eel isn’t going quietly, and unleashes massive shocks that can be fatal. EJ is on the receiving end of a massive blast. “1500 volts in my body!!” he screams, with a wild-eyed look on his face. He literally looks shocked. I guess I wasn’t paying attention to his hair before, but now, it might be standing on end!
Shane heard the commotion and runs into help his team. Jeff warns that the shock, “is like a horse kick to the chest,” but electrician Shane is able to land a few good cuts and before long, they’ve hacked the beast to death. There is much celebrating. And screaming — these guys love a good primal scream.
The men are so excited to eat that their eel-kabobs can’t cook quickly enough. Before they eat, they pray, thankful for their bounty. And just as EJ says “Amen,” the other group arrives! D’oh!
It’s time for the world’s most useless form of measurement (other than the furlong, which is pointless), the XLR. Each week, the Naked and Afraid XL producers pick arbitrary numbers and assign them to the teams. Let’s see what they say this week.
EJ and Jeff add Shane to team Roca Diablo and raise their score from 7.6 to 8.5 out of 10.0
What’s left of El Bosque, Danielle and Alana, “stayed put” and are collecting resources and their XLR rises from 5.8 to 6.0 out of 10.0 (Seriously, are they still on this show? Now that Shane is gone, their approach “Survival has to be lazy,” is terrible TV.)
The mega group of Chris, Eva, Dani, Laura and Luke are out of resources, so their PSR dips from 8.2 to 7.5 out of 10.0. I dunno Producers, they made load of mango chips, hiked across the Savannah and were given a pretty sweet welcoming party. That seems like #winning to me.
Dusk is falling as the other camp arrived, but I would have loved to have been better able to see their faces. I’m sure they’re priceless. But even in the dark, Shane is obviously not thrilled. I can see him drooling but with every person who walks into camp, his portion gets smaller and smaller. I’m sure that EJ, Jeff and Shane aren’t thrilled to share their hard-caught meal, but they do, because they’re good people. And the weary travellers are happy to accept their hospitality.
After the quintet leaves to make their own camp for the night, Jeff suggests to his group that they implement a, “you kill it, you eat it,” rule. How do you feel about this? It’s easy to say when you’ve got a full belly and you’re riding high on the adrenaline of a successful hunt, but I wonder if they’d feel the same way if Eva had caught the eel and she’d shared with them? Hopefully Piranha Lake will have lots of food and everyone will enjoy hunting success and be able to share as graciously as the guys.
That night, a brave jungle cat walks into the men’s camp, lured by the smells of the cooked eel. Did the men make a rookie survival mistake and eat where they sleep? I don’t think you want food debris anywhere near where your bed is for this very reason! Next time, be careful fellas!!