Last week, we listened to Ryan vomit in stereo. And in the tease for this week, when Ryan said he was in “9 out of 10 pain,” I thought I saw the door of his shelter opening. An uninvited guest? His teammates? A lion?!? Tonight, Naked and Afraid XL Episode 7, opens to the sounds of a female in the same excruciating pain.
An ominous black screen informs viewers, “The following events take place over a 24 hour period.” My blood runs ice-cold.
Ryan is sick. Very, very sick. He’s in so much pain that he relents and calls the medic. Fearful that he’s suffering from internal bleeding or kidney disease, the medical team evacuates him. If you had asked me to pick a survivalist least likely to leave Naked and Afraid XL, Ryan would have been at the top of my list. But then again, he did leave his group and try to survive solo, so I guess the odds of him getting eaten by a lion were significantly increased.
In the Tsonga Basin, the large group is preparing to hike to the Mkuza River and meet up with Ryan. This migration has been a long time coming, and Steven and Phaedra are still disappointed and resentful that Ryan left the group to have his solo experience.
The group finds the same Wollecaper (I have no idea how to spell this) fruit that Ryan ate on his own trek. And they pick a load of the sweet and sour fruit. Stacey remembers how the wild cucumber made her sick, refuses to eat the foreign fruit.
They also find the head of the monitor lizard that Ryan killed. They know they’re following his tracks and they hope that they’re close to the river. And when you’re close to the river, you’re close to lots of prey… and predators. Massive lion tracks and the dying sounds of a warthog remind them that they’re in perpetual danger. South Africa is no joke.
Jake and Steven scout for a good place to camp, while the rest of the group sits along the river and eat fruit. Darrin figures, “It’s one of those risk and reward situations; we either have nothing, or we have something.” Jake and Steven find and kill a puff adder, which is a snake that is no joke, but still – it’s a kill, so this location is looking better already. Then find Ryan’s camp. We know that it’ll be empty, but the two men are puzzled. Ryan’s blade and gear are there and he’s not, and it’s the heat of the day, when Ryan would normally be resting. The watch his diary cam and see his struggles the night before.
And in a moment of gut-wrenching clarity, Jake realizes — it’s the fruit. He takes off at a sprint to the group yelling, “Don’t eat the fruit!!” He tells them what was on the video and as expected, everyone starts feeling nauseous. If you were one of the survivalists, would you force yourself to empty your stomach?
Poisonous fruit aside, they still have a shelter to build. Darrin feels strongly about not building camp along the river, so he and Kim head out to look for a better place. While they’re gone, the rest of the group starts boiling water, cooking the snake and collecting wood. But Jake vomits and lies down to rest while Phaedra and Stacey watch Ryan’s intense video.
Darrin and Kim think that Ryan’s shelter has the potential to be a great starting point for their group, and propose building there. And Darrin notes that Ryan’s lizard is woefully undercooked. They return to the group to share their findings and ideas.
Everyone but Jake eats snake meat, and is glad for the protein. But I wonder how many people will be throwing up their meals later.
Jake gets sick again and his face is as green as I’ve ever seen. It is cartoon green. He’s too sick to help the group, and Phaedra stays with him. It isn’t long before she’s sick too, and it’s the same panicked writhing as Ryan experienced. A producer of the show calls in a medic for Phaedra; she’s desperate to stay, but they want to move her to the safety of Bush Camp for an IV and observation.
Over in the new group camp, Darrin puts himself in charge of building the new shelter. Alyssa rolls her eyes at Darrin’s self-appointed chiefdom and self-importance. But everyone just keeps working. This isn’t the time for a power struggle, this is the time for desperate work.
They see medics removing someone on a stretcher and are shocked that it’s Phaedra when Jake staggers up to the group. Kim sums it up best, “What the F@#$ is happening?”
Up in bush camp, the medics give Phaedra an IV and painkillers and vow to watch her for a few hours before deciding if they need to evacuate her to a hospital. Back in the group camp, Jake can no longer take the pain and a medic is called for him too. The medical team thinks that Jake, Phaedra (and Ryan) may be suffering from gastritis from eating fruit infected by the saliva or feces from monkeys or bats. Eew. When Jake and Phaedra’s cots are set next to each other, they grasp hands. They’re both in agony; but they still reach out comfort each other. I love them!
The strange part of this illness is that others who have eaten the same fruit may be okay, as long as the fruit that they’ve eaten is clean. We’ll have to see if anyone else gets sick. Back in the ever-shrinking large group, Stacey is very proud of herself for not eating any of the fruit. But I bet she’s going to find herself in serious Florence Nightingale territory if she has to nurse the rest of the group back to health.
I wonder: are the producers not immediately evacuating Jake and Phaedra because they want to limit the number of tap outs? It wouldn’t be good TV if three (or more!) of the strongest people tapped out within a few hours. They may also have the benefit of insight into Ryan’s illness to know that this is something that can be treated in the bush. Or is this an action fueled by cost-cutting? … Hospitals aren’t cheap…
As the sun sets, we check-in on our sick survivalists. Jake and Phaedra are getting the luxury of cots and pillows and hydration, so if they can control the pain, this may not be all bad…
In the wild, the group has worked tirelessly to build their shelter. This seems to be the closest they’ve been to apex predators in this experience. But the massive task has been slowed by worry for their teammates and their own roiling tummies.
In the field hospital, Jake is able to rest, but Phaedra’s pain only gets worse. The series EP, Steve Rankin, makes the tough decision to evacuate her to the hospital. She’s devastated to be leaving Jake, but her life has to come before her pride.
Back in the large group, Kim starts to feel sick and the group calls for the medic. Her screams sound like labor contractions, and that’s not how you want to feel when you’re surrounded by lions. The medics come and recommend immediate evacuation for Kim. It’s especially tense because it’s dark, and Kim is loud. If I was a hungry lion, I’d be interested in what was going on. They load Kim into Phaedra’s ambulance and both women are taken to the hospital. And Jake’s not out of the woods either; he’s still in excruciating pain.
In the group camp, Alyssa, Kim, Steven and Darrin know hungry beasts are actively stalking them. And hopefully, their fragile and hastily made shelter can protect them.
By the looks of next week’s previews, the lions become even more relentless. And Jake is noticeably absent from the clips. :,-(
I hate to take any pleasure in the pain of others, but was the most exciting episode of Naked and Afraid I’ve ever seen! And I’m exhausted and terrified and can’t wait for next week. Do you think that everyone else is out of the woods? Is Jake’s absence from the preview clips foreshadowing, or clever editing? Is anyone hungry for some monkey poop fruit?
A note of little importance.
The XLR of the group falls from 5.9 to 3.9 out of 10.0.
Here’s my thought on the matter of XLRs…
Primitive Survival Item. Each survivalist brought a blade each trio was given a cooking pot, and each of the dozen survivalists was allowed to bring one primitive survival item. I’m keeping track here:
Jake- Spool of snare wire (Learned in personal interview)
Stacey- Fishing hook and line (Learned in Episode 1)
Clarence- Unknown -left in Episode 2
Phaedra- Paracord? (Used in Episode 4)
Alyssa- Fire Starter (Learned in Preview Episode)
Tawny- Casting Net (Learned in Episode 2)
Kim- Bow & Arrow (Learned in Episode 1)
Carrie- Unknown -left in Episode 1
Darrin- Buck Skin (Learned in Preview Episode)
Angel- Fire Starter -(Learned in Episode 6)
Steven- Sling shot (Learned in Preview Episode)
Ryan- Spool of 100-lb. Fishing Line (Learned in Episode 1)
More Naked and Afraid XL
Recap: Naked and Afraid XL Episode 6 “Deadly Consequences”
Recap: Naked and Afraid XL Episode 5 “Rock Bottom”
Recap: Naked and Afraid XL Episode 4 “Too Many Chiefs”
Recap: Naked and Afraid XL Episode 3 “Human Prey”
Recap: Naked and Afraid XL Episode 2 “Man on Fire”
Recap: Naked and Afraid XL Episode 1 “Lions at the Gate”
Naked and Afraid XL Season 2 preview
Interview With Jake Nodar
Jake Nodar’s 4 butt-kicking survival tips