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'Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls' Review: 'Living On The Edge'

July 16th, 2013 9:03am EDT | Christopher Monigle By: Christopher Monigle favorite Add to My News

Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls

Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls' second episode is exactly like the first episode. The teams don't compete in the valley. Instead, Bear challenges the team to climb a mountain, trek across the summit, find food below, set fire, and then make slingshots in the survival challenge. The challenges continue to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of each team. Personalities are revealed through the challenges, which was welcomed. Last week's premiere boxed the teams into one-dimensional archetypes. Yes, some team members had sad stories, but the editing did not make any one much more than a sad story. Bear watches from afar, ever the Prospero.

Mountain episodes of Man Vs. Wild were usually entertaining because Bear can climb any mountain range. I think he's climbed Everest twice. Bear makes the act of climbing look ridiculously easy. The teams learn that climbing is not ridiculously easy, though the heights they must climb don't appear too daunting. A helicopter brings the teams to the starting point. The teams climb. Some people are slower than the others. Esmeralda continued to struggle. Tolerance and support from other people isn't widespread. Most are quick to tear down someone rather than help, say, Esmeralda, through her struggles. Conflict is what reality television feeds on. It's better for the product if Canden insults her mother in front of the entire group or if Esmeralda’s called out for being slow and 'mentally weak' as Madeline and Spencer accused her of being.

Esmeralda and Domenick are sent home by Bear at episode's end. Esmeralda never pulled herself together after vomiting last week. I rooted for Esmeralda and Domenick through tonight's episode. Esmerdela looked achingly sad. I felt sad watching her. She's barely looking at the camera during the asides. Perhaps her dark eyeliner made her look sadder than she was. Bear drew her attention, and she apologized for her trance-like state. The challenges revealed how unprepared the girl is for the wild, but the challenges also revealed the strength of her relationship with Domenick. Domenick didn't berate her during her struggles, which is what every male from MTV's The Challenge would do to a female partner. Bear commended Domenick for what he showed during the challenges in supporting the woman he loves, calling him a rock. Get Out Alive focuses on the survival element. If you fall behind, don't listen to instructions, then you'd die in the survival. I liked that Domenick was with Esmeralda until the end, unwavering in his love for her.

The humanity of "Living on the Edge" is the most engaging element of the episode. The challenges aren't interesting. The post-production team seemingly agreed--the challenges are edited horribly. One can't get a sense of the distance the teams travel, except for a map which looks unreliable. Anyway, mountain climbing and mountain trekking takes a toll on Mama Donna. She struggles to keep up with the group. Canden, her daughter, attacks her rather than help her. Alicia tells Spencer that she could cry listening to how Canden talks to her mom. The audience is reminded of Alicia's mother's chances of not walking again. At camp, Alicia sits with Mama Donna to tell her she'd feel sad if Bear sent Mama Donna and Canden home. Donna's support helps Alicia. Their conversation is cut to a few seconds in the episode. Get Out Alive would be aided by more time spent between individuals, focusing on the important mental aspect of survival. Bear barely settled down in Man Vs. Wild, but Survivorman Les Stroud would give himself a boost playing his harmonica and looking at the stars.

Bear stresses the importance of following his directions. Teams need to accomplish their tasks, eat what he advises them to eat, and help each other; however, the feast pit affects the set-up of the series. The object of the game is to survive until the end. The teams learn what it takes to survive on a daily basis. Any one lost in a forest somewhere in the world right now does not have the luxury of winning a game and enjoying a feast pit. The feast pit is a refuge from the game, an equivalent of Stroud's harmonica. The feast pit bolsters a team's morale, and the mental and physical energy of the team. Get Out Alive includes the feast pit because it's a game show. The best team should be rewarded. Sending the teams into the wild on a Survivorman-like test of survival would not work on television, or it'd resemble Survivor. (Yeah, it'd resemble Survivor).

Of course, Bear is the Prospero of the South Isle of New Zealand. If teams don't follow his instructions, he'll eliminate those teams one by one. Bear used to stress the importance of keeping the mind in a healthy place during a survival mission, but those that make someone else feel worse for awhile tend to last in the game more than someone like Domenick, who was a rock of love and support. I realize Bear ultimately decides on whether a team would die in the wild, but the feast pit is a reminder that it's all a game. Bear's insistence on the physical element of survival coincides well with the more primitive view of nature, i.e. that it's an unfeeling beast that'll take you from this planet at any second, and if you don't take care of your body then your body will not take care of you. The body will die regardless of the mind's strength.

Photo Credits: © NBCUniversal, Inc


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