Naked and Afraid, I tried to take a weekend off from you to celebrate my anniversary, but I still ended up watching the last ten minutes of the episode in our hotel room. But could you blame me? — the commercials promised a scorpion!
Let’s jump in to this abbreviated, a few days late, recap.
The episode hasn’t even started and I’m already humming the song by Taylor Swift. And — oh, look — right from the start, someone is worried that their partner is gonna go loco! Hooray for casting and psychological screening!
Age: 37 years old
Occupation: Survivalist and stay-at-home dad
Current Residence: Santa Cruz, California
Relationship Status: Married
Survival Skills: Master Improviser
As a child, Angel underwent a semi-N&A experience when he and his family lived on the streets when they first moved to San Francisco from Puerto Rico. Angel first developed a love of nature as a boy scout, and put his passion into practice when he left home at age 16 to survive on his own. Angel has spent his life cultivating a vast survival knowledge — skills that he shares with his wife and treasured daughters. It seems like Angel’s survival skills are put to use every day, so I think his practical skills will serve him well on this adventure. Other Naked and Afraid participants treat primitive survival as “something to do on the weekends,” but this man appears to live his life in a state of survival.
Initial Primitive Survival Rating (PSR) 7.3 out of 10.0
Age: 27 years old
Occupation: Nursing Student
Current Residence: Hanover, Massachusetts
Relationship Status: In A Relationship
Survival Skills: Shelter Building, Cold Weather Survival, Water Purification, Gutting/Skinning, Wild Edibles
Nicole has fearlessly explored the outdoors since childhood and continued to hone her outdoors skills by participating in outward bound programs, and involvement in Norwich University’s Corps of Cadets and Army ROTC program. Nicole is also a 4th degree black belt, a scuba diver and extreme athlete. (As a parent of two kids in taekwondo, I appreciate anyone who commits themselves to a life-long study of martial arts, and can attest to the mental focus that such pursuits require.)
Initial Primitive Survival Rating (PSR) 5.9 out of 10.0
Nicaragua is in the midst of a drought and the landscape is dry and crunchy.
And the survivalists will be fighting for water with:
Pica caballo (horse-biter) tarantulas
And did I mention that the jungle is hella-thorny?
After hiking for hours, they find the “lake” on their map, which is dried out and surrounded by dead fish.
It looks like their survival items are a fire starter, a teapot and a machete.
While Nicole struggles to make fire for a few hours, Angel builds a shelter, a fire circle and a few cups made out of leaves. And when he steps in to help his partner in the fire department, he summons fire as if sent from heaven. Angel is a stud. Now that they have fire, they can boil their putrid, green water and get earned drinks.
The water revives Angel, but Nicole, who claims to hate “Lazy people,” decides to rest.
Nicole is obsessed with raising the shelter off of the ground to get away from the relentless ants.
Angel spends his day constructing a sleeping mat, and getting water. Nicole spends her day lying on the ground.
Angel spends the morning searching for food while Nicole — you guessed it — lays on the ground! When Angel sees a giant iguana, the poor creature sees him as an angel of mercy and leaps into his arms, begging to be eaten. The “Slithering Savior” brings the meal back to camp, so Nicole can finally do something kill and skin it. And it takes her hours to get it done. And to Angel’s credit, he doesn’t say any of the passive aggressive things that I would have.
The only criticism that I have of Angel (at this point) is that he doesn’t know how to read his partner. While he’s making jokes and gently teasing Nicole, she takes everything he says literally and seems to get easily offended. With her background, she doesn’t seem like the kind of person who appreciates jokes. It’s more her problem than Angel’s, but I wish he wasn’t so blind to his partner’s lack of humor.
Nicole lets us know that she has tummy troubles. “It’s all liquid down there” she informs us. Mmm, thanks. But thankfully, a bout of the runs can be cured by a good lay-down. And guess what she’s doing … lying down!! While reposed for the millionth time, Nicole tells her partner that she’s doing Naked and Afraid to prove her mother wrong. In her intro, she revealed that her mom told her that she’s going to fail. Angel tells her to live for herself, and to move out of her parents’ house — great advice — in my opinion. But Nicole rolls her crazy-eyes and keeps lying on the ground. Moments later after a stock footage shot of a scorpion, Nicole is bitten by a scorpion! She’s not lying down for a nano-second! Instead, she’s standing when she lambasts her partner for failing to procure flooring for the shelter. The nerve of Angel! Hunting for food, fetching water and collecting fire wood but not installing Pergo flooring in the shelter?!? Obvs I’m joking, Angel is still a god who walks among us.
While “Darling Nikki” runs around camp thinking the sky is falling and her scorpion bite is surely fatal, Mr. Awesome tries to get his partner to chill.
Angel builds a fish trap that is to beautiful that it should be sold in a home goods store, but when he tosses it in the water, he realizes that their water supply is quickly dwindling. He and Nicole decide to move to potential new water source.
Angel and Nicole begin the long and hot trek to find a new camp. Because Angel is who he is, and hasn’t worn shoes in a year, he can fly over the rough terrain. Tender footed Nicole walks like the mortal that she is and delivers the best lines of the episode.
Nicole pouts: “What more do he want me to do? I can’t sprout wings and keep pace with him. I’m an extreme athlete; I’ve been trained to pace myself. I can’t go out guns blazing or else I’m gonna get hurt.”
She continues: “I’m not a Maverick. Mavericks get people killed … Look what happened to Goose.” Yes people, Nicole just reverenced Top Gun. And I salute her for it.
The survivalists arrive at a wetland paradise. The bounty of water is so inviting that they dive right in. And while Angel gets to work building a fire, Nicole checks out the ground of their new digs. Yup, it’s comfy.
Nicole hears the rumble of thunder and wants a shelter. Now. Angel doesn’t care if he has shelter or not, so he tells her to build it herself. Then he accuses her of growing up in the lap of luxury with a maid and Nicole goes ballistic. She doesn’t want to be known as a “poor little rich girl.” I get Nicole’s perspective; her family being comfortable wasn’t her fault any more than Angel growing up poor was his. Wealth doesn’t insulate someone from pain, sadness, rejection, abuse or drama. Angel may have gone a bit too far.
But perhaps more went on than was shown on TV, because Angel seeks counsel from show producers on what to do if Nicole becomes a physical threat. “Bandaids don’t fix bullet holes.” She knows taekwondo and you doesn’t want to be flying side kicked into a fire. The advice that Angel gets from the crew is to pick up a camera so he has documentation of any assault. Hey, camera crew, do your own jobs and get your own awesome footage of an assault! Angel, take my advice; if Nicole goes crazy, pick up a stick, or better pick yourself up and levitate the heck away from her!
When Nicole skulks out of some trees, she looks a movie bad guy. (and also totally cool, but also very terrifying.) Angel doesn’t want to be hacked while he sleeps, so he apologizes to Nicole for his comments. And hopefully her forgiveness is genuine.
Angel builds the world’s coolest figure-4 trap. It’s really a thing of beauty and ingenuity. Let’s gaze upon it for a moment…
Angel checks his trap and it’s been sprung, but nothing is inside. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t injured or p’d off a massive beast. Later, he and Nicole come down to the water to hunt for turtles. They work as a team (finally!) and Nicole catches a turtle. But their elation is short-lived because while giving Yertle a rinse-off, he slips out of her hands and escapes.
Back at camp, Nicole offers to tap out to make the experience easier for Angel. He tells her, “It’s doesn’t matter if you tap out or lay down. It’s the same.” Truer words have never been spoken. He tells her “Humble yourself and you will be exalted” and says that without him, she would have tapped out on the second day. Nicole storms off for a good cry, and when she realizes that her skill set wasn’t as strong as she wanted, she decides to get her head in the game. I call this her “Come to Jesus” moment.
I’d like to point out for a moment what while Nicole looks like she’s crawled through a doo-doo pile, Angel looks like he should be posing for a modeling shoot.
Over the next few days, and to the strains of motivational music, we see a montage of Nicole turning her life around. If Morgan Freeman were the show’s narrator, he would deliver the line, “And Nicole was true to her word,” with enough emption to make God himself cry “Hallelujah!!” Look viewers! Nicole wears sandals! She fetches water! She drags a stick! She builds a shelter! She throws a rock! She fetches more water! It’s like the scene out of a Lifetime Original Movie (Or my favorite scene from the NSFW film, Team America: World Police — have a SFW gander below)
And by Day 19, the student becomes the teacher when she finds and kills a boa. It seems like Nicole has been able to put her “Bout of crazy” behind her. She’s turned into a pretty decent member of the team. And they’ll need to work together during extraction.
Angel can’t wait to get out of Nicaragua and home to the women he loves above all others. The hike is going to be long, and thorny and when Angel struggles, Nicole shows her strength.
Over 21 days, Nicole lost 20 pounds, and Angel lost 33 pounds.
Nicole’s PSR rose from 5.9 to 6.1 and Angel’s increased from 7.3 to 8.1 out of 10.0
Naked and Afraid XL
This week Discovery revealed three lovely ladies who have accepted the Naked and Afraid XL challenge:
Alyssa Ballestero from Yucatan
Tough gun model Tawny, who survived Florida alone for 15 days after her partner went wack-a-doo.
One of my faves, Phaedra Brothers will be back! And she’s got a new hairdo! She offered an inside look at her Naked and Afraid: Udamphur experience in this exclusive interview.