The Get Out Alive journey nears an ending with next week's episode. The penultimate episode brought the four remaining teams to a glacier high in the New Zealand terrain where each team would be tested the same as they've been tested throughout the series. Only the altitude changed. Jim and Austin won the survival challenge last week after failing in their task. Lucky and Louie failed in their shelter task but won the survival challenge. Nonsense eliminations continue, but at least the immunity teams earned their immunity.
Glacier episodes were among my favorite during Man Vs. Wild, mostly for Bear's pronunciations of 'glacier' and 'crevice.' Cold, icy and foggy conditions make for excellent photography. The grey and black color of the glacier contrasted with the white snow made for a nice looking episode. The growing skill and confidence of each team makes for better content. The shelters are still a flaw for every team. I sat on my couch thinking about the best shelter possible where they were at, but could not think of anything better than Lucky and Louie. I wondered if the teams could've dug ditches in the snow for wind protection and insulation. The snows did not look deep enough though. The food expedition went swimmingly. Jeff retrieved the food, though he drew criticism for doing it on a bum knee. Jim and Austin made a mistake by not putting Ryan at the end the rope as they traversed the glacier. Bear criticized Jim and Austin for trying to handle each task themselves. Jim and Austin never seemed in danger of elimination since they've been the most consistent team throughout the series.
I didn't think Bear would eliminate Jeff and Chris, not after Bear went to bat for Jeff in the series' most touching exchange last episode when Royce criticized Jeff for having a bad knee. Bear displayed a humanity I expected to see more of throughout the series, but the competition aspect of the series doesn't quite encourage a consistent display of humanity. Teams turn on each other, jump at one another's faults, so I'd like to think Bear wanted to set an example for how teams should treat each other as the final journey nears. Bear's message about shouldering an injured man recalled to mind "The Message" from Firefly, specifically Mal's line about 'when you can't walk, you crawl, and when you can't do that you find someone to carry you.' Bear's background influenced that scene (Leave No Behind). Jeff retrieving the food seemed a more important act than any liability concern. If one separates actual survival from the game then Jeff's act is a testament to his will, and his mental and physical fortitude.
Ryan and Madeline were consistently strong throughout the game too. They seemed like favorites in the second episode, but they were victims of the numbers game. Bear's nitpick of her panic attack on the turbulent helicopter ride seemed harsh. Ryan and Madeline performed really well throughout the challenges in the episode, but Lucky and Louie won immunity. Bear didn't see as much durability in them as he saw in the other teams up for elimination. Ryan's been an admirable figure in the series. He's never been cruel or harsh; he's been supportive rock. Ryan accepted responsibility for the slow fire building and didn't immediately throw the closest team into the fire burning before Bear. I thought Bear would've spared them for Ryan's acceptance of responsibility because it seemed like what Bear wanted since the journey began.
Lucky showed that Dad Strength never leaves a man no matter how grown a child is. The editing of reality TV episodes is misleading. Jim and Austin and Jeff and Chris seemed to have a clear lead until Lucky used his Dad Strength to haul the bag up the hill and guarantee him and his daughter a spot in the final challenge. Lucky's reflections in the early morning on top of the glacier about his daughter and how he'd carry her with him as a baby as she drifted to sleep was touching. I'm a sucker for parent-child relationships. (I'm rooting for Jim and Austin to win it all since I am a son.) The smaller group of teams and the quality of episodes isn't a fluke. I'd like to see season two of the show follow four or five teams figuring out how to survive without eliminations and prizes. Networks would never order that type of series.
Bear promised horrific weather conditions in next week's finale. I'd like to see a Tempest of Shakespearean proportions.