Holy moly, Naked and Afraid casting people, you need to get your act together! This is the second week in a row that a participant went coo-coo!! I won’t get too far ahead of myself, but dang!
Feel free to read my two interviews with the casting director of Naked and Afraid (Interview 1 and Interview 2) and please apply if you are confident that you are not going to try to harm your partner. That being said, let’s take a gander at this week’s TV trainwreck.
Age: 30 years old
Occupation: Professional adventurer, Mountain guide, and Lecturer
Current Residence: Stockholm, Sweden
Relationship Status: Engaged
Survival Skills: Positive Attitude, Endurance, Mental Toughness
Nicklas calls himself the “Swedish Viking,” and credits adventures in the wild for turning him from a shy, unathletic boy into the confident man he is today. He has taken part in some incredible survival adventures and he has a charm that is infectious. And he has a biting wit that I can only describe as “Swedish.” Nicklas, calls Naked and Afraid “The ultimate revenge” against people who used to underestimate him.
Nickals’ Initial Primitive Survival Rating (PSR)is 7.3 out of 10.0.
Age: 47 years old
Current Residence: McAllen, Texas
Relationship Status: Married
Survival Skills: Shelter building, Cordage making, Water collection and purification, Team work mentality, Fire making
Laura is a former member of the Air Force and did survival training during her enlistment. She calls herself an eccentric loner and is hoping to make a lifelong friend with the “poor Son-of a bitch” who is stuck with her
Laura is given an Initial PSR of 6.1 out of 10.0
In the days before insertion, Laura has the conundrum: to shave, or not to shave? Thanks to generous N&A genital pixilation, we will never know her decision.
Nicklas spends his pre-insertion days eating cheese. Nicklas, I feel you bro — I live in Wisconsin. If calories weren’t a consideration, I’d eat an entire wheel of cheese.
This week we’re exploring virgin territory and heading to an entirely new continent, Australia. (Am I correct that this the first time N&A has gone Down Under? I can’t recall the series ever going there before, but please correct me if I’m wrong.)
Grab your didgeridoo and get ready for:
Hot days and cold nights
Intense storms with flash floods
An arid and unforgiving landscape
Brown snakes (Which are visually uninteresting, but incredibly deadly)
Inland Taipan (also gonna kill you)
Poisonous Redback spiders (yup, you’re gonna die)
Primitive Survival Gear. Each participant is allowed to bring a single primitive survival item, and the production gives him or her something else so they don’t die. Laura brought a fire starter, Nicklas brought a machete, and they were given a cooking pot.
Laura and Nicklas walk across the steamy outback and find the skeleton of a Kangaroo, which they bring with them in case it can be used for tools. I think it makes a better mascot, because I can’t think of great uses for a kangaroo skull. Their first storm arrives while they make a hasty shelter and attempt to make fire. They spend their first night, wet and shivering.
The next morning starts warm with promise. And sunshine. And Nicklas thinks his pasty Swedish fanny is bound for a burning. He and Laura butt heads over how to redesign their shelter so they’ll stay dry, and he tells her to do something else. But their “New” shelter looks equally crappy and still allows the rain to pour in. They are so cold and miserable that Nicklas cries as they huddle together.
One of the big problems of such an arid environment is that the leaves of the trees are small by design to prevent evaporation. Great for the tree, but terrible as a roofing material. Nicklas is desperate for fire so takes over the fire-making task while Laura clucks in the background. Nicklas has to hold his tongue at every comment and criticism and suggestion that spews from Laura’s mouth. And when he is successful at making fire, Laura seems resentful.
Laura cries alone because she’s frustrated. She doesn’t feel like she’s an equal member of her partnership, but feels like she’s been relegated to “woman’s work” of collecting cordage and bedding. It’s not true Laura, you had a chance to use your fire starter, but you didn’t succeed. Your partner simply asked for an opportunity and happened to be successful. Be glad that you’re warm!
Laura’s frustration simmers over the next few days and mixed with no sleep turns into a dangerous slurry.
Laura doesn’t seem like she’s slept the entire time she’s been in Australia. And no sleep makes this Zena look-alike very cranky. And clumsy, as seen by a few hard falls that she takes while taking a walk to clear her head.
When Laura returns to the camp after her fall-about, Nicklas is resting and refuses to give her the knife. Then Laura goes crazy. Completely and utterly crazy. I’ll try to rehash, but you can watch it here.
Laura says, “I swear to God, one day, I’m gonna kill you.” The sensitive Swede takes offense, objects to being killed and decides to leave camp. When he confronts her, and says that he’s going to move, Laura refuses to let him take a coal because, “then I won’t have anything.” Laura, just because he has fire, doesn’t mean that you don’t have fire. Fire isn’t all or nothing. It can be shared.
But Laura seems blinded by insanity and starts throwing water on her fire to extinguish it. Nicklas calmly walks around her and picks up a smoldering log and carries it away to his new camp. Laura chases him like a loon, grabs the log and goes full-on Honora and throws it into the river. And then throws another log into the stream. But when she heads back to the stream to get more water to douse every coal in camp, Nicklas sneaks in, grabs a coal and flees to a safe area to nurse his coal into fire.
Laura’s threat has caught the attention of the crew and they force Laura out of the survival experience. But before she leaves, she has time to douse every coal to leave the “Evil, selfish, condescending, vindictive man” with nothing. I had to laugh when she used those words to describe Nicklas, and not herself.
Now that Laura’s gone, Nicklas returns to his original camp. When he finds Laura’s walking stick, he says, “I will burn this. I will burn this as a symbol of my freedom.” So maybe he’s a tad vindictive. But it’s completely warranted. And it’s good firewood.
Nicklas wakes cheerful as usual. He cheers, “My favorite breakfast … water. Woo!” I love his attitude. Now that he doesn’t have to focus on his partner, maybe Nicklas can focus on building traps.
And let’s take a moment to note how much Nicklas looks like British comedian and actor Matt Lucas. AmIRight?
Nicklas resorts to eating ants. “Tastes like citrus,” he informs us. I wonder, what foods do Aussies grow in their country? The only “Australian” food that I can think of is Vegemite and it’s basically used yeast that’s been chewed by someone and spit into a jar.
Nicklas sees a venomous brown snake near his shelter. He’s not thrilled to see something so deadly near his home. Why didn’t he kill it? Past N&A participants have dined successfully on Fleur de Lis snakes and other deadly critters.
Nicklas is thiiiis close to catching a rabbit in his snare. But doesn’t. Wascally wabbit.
In the arid Australia climate, Nicklas’s skin is cracking and burning from lack of moisture. Nicklas likens it to a giant hair dryer.
Miracle of miracles, there is a rabbit in Nicklas’s trap. He weeps with joy; he admits that he’s not a hunter or trapper, so this is an unexpected gift. If he’s not skilled at hunting, how did the producers of Naked and Afraid expect him to find food? It’s not like he could have found a coconut palm or a banana tree and found fruit.
Nicklas leaves on his extraction hike at 2:30am to avoid the heat of the day. But leaving in the dark exposes him to hidden threats like snakes and spiders. It’s a risk he’s willing to take because he wants out of the Outback.
In a fashion note, Nicklas has fashioned the rabbit fur into a single, fuzzy, bunny slipper.
Nicklas is off to a brisk start on his long extraction hike, but stops to do some warming calisthenics. “Pain is temporary, glory is forever!” he chants. I’m amazed that Nicklas as been able to maintain his positive attitude despite the highs and lows and hunger of his 21-day experience. Finally, he finishes his hike, climbs a steep hill and is “rescued.” It’s a little underwhelming, because it’s another disappointing episode of Naked and Afraid. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
After 21 days in the Australian Outback, Nicklas has lost 22 pounds.
His PSR rose from 7.3 to 8.1 out of 10.0
Because Laura was removed from the survival experience on the 7th day of the 21-day survival experience, her PSR was lowered to 4.9 out of 10.0.
For the second week in a row, Naked and Afraid has failed its participants by casting someone who has a mental breakdown. I don’t know if Laura had mental instability in her past, or if the lack of food and sleep drove her to a bout of psychosis, but it wasn’t safe for her or her partner. Is the show, in its attempts to find harsh environments, choosing areas that are unlivable? Are they intentionally choosing people who may be unstable to make a “better” show? Is this what is considered “Good TV?” Are we entertained?
During the breaks of this episode, the first three participants of Naked and Afraid XL, Season 2 were revealed. Discovery announced the series last week and I’m not surprised by any of these choices.
Darrin Reay: the Thailand “Lord of the Rats.”
Kim Kelley: who survived the Panamanian Jungle by herself for 17 days.
Carrie Booze: who found clams and caught flack after she survived Cambodia.