This week on Criss Angel BeLIEVe, it was time to combine two potentially lethal things - a medieval torture device and a horde of hungry alligators - as Criss headed to Florida. Here are five things we learned from the very appropriately titled "Alligator Torture Escape."
01) Sometimes, you've got to take the show on the road. This is the first episode of BeLIEve in which Criss performs outside of the Las Vegas area. Vegas might have sharks (at Mandalay Bay) and tigers (Mirage), but it doesn't have alligators. The one location with both the necessary reptiles and enough space to handle the demonstration is in Florida. This means the entirety of Team Angel and a lot of equipment must head cross-country. If you think flying on your vacation is expensive, take a second and consider how much it probably cost to move an entire magic team, the TV production crew, and everyone's gear. It's a reminder of just how big a scale these folks work on every day.
02) The devil really is in the details. Let's give a shoutout to production designer John Farrell and fabricator Doug Malloy, who really are the backbone of Team Angel. It's these two gentlemen who have to create whatever is needed for Criss's ambitious ideas, and as we saw this week, sometimes they have to do it with not very much. John designed the torture device - the central piece of this demonstration - based on a single reference photo. Then Doug had to manufacture it based on that design. And after that, they've got to put their heads together and talk about things like height and lock position. Or, later on, how high in the air the crane needs to be so the alligators don't make lunch out of their boss. This isn't just a trip to Home Depot and two hours later. John and Doug are the two guys who handle the practical so that Criss can focus on the magic, and for that, they deserve a huge round of applause. And hugs. And some aspirin.
03) If you're going to be a professional magician, physical fitness is a must. After John and Doug build the device, they have to test it with Criss, and that's where you get a glimpse of the physical toughness that's required in this line of work. It's not a surprise - if your job is digging yourself out of a cement grave, you're obviously not hitting the Luxor's fantastic buffet everyday - but it's another thing to see it and realize that yes, there is pain involved. Successful magic isn't just having the guts to pull off something insane, but you've got to have the rest of the body, too.
04) There's no difference between street and stage. That's what Criss tells us during one of the smaller segments this week, and it's worth remembering. We've already established that magic doesn't need to be a huge stage production to be epic. And the best magicians shouldn't have to be protected by a stage to make something happen. In each episode of BeLIEve, we've seen Criss pull off tricks in a variety of everyday settings. If there's anything that baffles us, it's not how he does it, but how he can't seem to go anywhere without having to do it. Can you imagine constantly being put on the spot like that? It would drive us crazy. But that's another reason why Criss is cooler than we are.
05) Even Criss Angel gets nervous on occasion. There's a great saying that goes, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." We saw it in "Bullet Catch," but we see it again here that just because Criss makes a living putting himself in harm's way, that doesn't mean he's no longer a human being. He has nerves and apprehension like anyone else; the difference is that he's able to work through those feelings in order to accomplish his goals. "What am I thinking?" he asks aloud at one point. We have no idea what he's thinking - but we tip our hat to him for having follow-through when most of us would run screaming.
The next episode of Criss Angel BeLIEve airs next Tuesday at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike. For more about the show, you can check out BFTV’s in-depth chat with Criss Angel.