You know, we've been watching Criss Angel BeLIEve for six weeks now, and we thought the one thing that was missing was a medieval torture device. Or possibly several hundred flesh-eating alligators. Okay, that was a joke, but those things actually exist in this week's episode. We might have had some laughs with Shaq, but it's time to turn the heat back up on the Magician of the Century.
[SPOILER ALERT: If you don't want to know anything about tonight's episode of Criss Angel BeLIEve, stop reading now. This preview contains some general spoilers.]
This week, we go back to the 'Escape' category of magic, as Criss attempts to get himself out of a medieval torture device that his idol Houdini never even tried to tackle - and just to spice things up a bit, decides to perform this feat while suspended over a pit of two hundred and fifty reptiles that would be happy to have him for lunch. It's even more harrowing than "Cement Grave," because unlike in that episode, the audience can see every single moment of what unfolds - and we never lose sight of what's directly underneath.
Again, we don't think we're spoiling anything by saying that Criss doesn't get chomped to death in the course of this demonstration. If that had happened, his death would have been public knowledge by now. So if we're not concerned about his survival, where does the suspense come from?
It comes from not asking "Does he do it?" but "What does it take for him to do it?" and, of course, the eternally popular "How does he do it?" The purpose of BeLIEve as a series has been to show us the inner workings of Criss Angel, and with this episode we get further glimpses into various aspects of the production.
A particular amount of time is spent with Criss's production designer, John Farrell, and lead fabricator Doug Malloy. It's their job to design, build and test the torture device. We're privy to their discussions about things that have probably never crossed your mind. But those are things which are crucial to the success or failure of this demonstration, and in this case, the result of failure is likely death. "Alligator Torture Escape" sheds some well-deserved light on John and Doug's process.
For those of you watching from a purely entertainment standpoint, there's plenty of material in watching Criss suspended in mid-air over a pit of hungry alligators. We might not have to worry about them killing him, but that doesn't mean they're not still uncomfortable to watch as they hover expectantly. And because this demonstration takes place where it does, you get to see exactly how he attempts it. There's no smoke, no mirrors, no way out except to either complete the task or lose consciousness.
It's not the showiest thing we've seen this season, but it's worth noting that of the six episodes that have aired, three of them have featured demonstrations with no illusions whatsoever. That means half the time, what you're watching is just Criss Angel putting himself to the test.
"Alligator Torture Escape" may not be the biggest or boldest episode of BeLIEve, but it's still watching something that most of us would never even think about. Of course, after medieval torture devices and alligators, where do you go next? A sharknado? Now that's something we think even Criss would avoid.
Criss Angel BeLIEve airs tonight on Spike at 10 PM ET/PT. Be sure to check out BFTV’s in-depth chat with Criss Angel about the series, and follow Criss on Twitter (@CrissAngel).