First, don’t forget that there will be a new episode of Dual Survival on tonight, 9:00pm EST. The new one is titled “Into the Frying Pan” and the description says:
A diamondback rattlesnake is eaten; Joe attempts to get out of an abandoned mineshaft.
Those two highlights were on “Unbraided”.
And now, on to “On the Menu”.
This is the second episode that Cody and Joe filmed together (we haven’t seen the first one, yet). I think they were still working on their relationship. It also seemed to me that this one was geared to trying to highlight Joe’s military skills.
[Note: obviously, Joe has really extensive military experience. It's really pretty hard to portray that in non-combat situations, so about all they can do is rather hint at it.]
The scenario that is the set-up in this one is that they are in South Africa among the game reserves and their vehicle runs out of gas so they have to walk back. But there is a secondary set-up when they run across a poacher’s nest and have to evade them. I call it a set-up because I am suspicious.
Remember when Bear Grylls was caught spending his nights in inns when he was supposedly out on a Scottish moor? (And using a hidden safety rope when supposedly free-climbing down a tree?) Shortly after that, Discovery changed their warning/disclaimer at the beginning of their shows. Here’s the one that was used for Dual Survival when it was Cody and Dave Canterbury.
The operative part of that was the line
On some occasions, situations are presented to Dave and Cody so they can demonstrate survival techniques.
I finally twigged to just how often those situations were presented in Dual Survival Deception. There I noted how the supposed map they used did not depict the area that they filmed in (and, in fact, according to their map, they would have had to float upstream to go from their put-in point to their take-out point). This was also the episode in which they just happened to find a massive tarp that they then used to build a boat to go further downstream (which to me was a really dumb decision when 1) they had a map showing a road they could head to; and 2) why risk getting wet in the river again, which they did).
Anyways, even though I enjoy the show, I’ve been suspicious ever since and realize that most of the situations are probably highly set up. Also, of course, there is a whole film crew there. If nothing else, the film crew gets plenty of support.
I’m just a bit suspicious about the poacher’s camp that they came across at the beginning of this show. I think they are “demonstrating” how one might raid such a camp, and I think it is part of the set up to allow Joe’s military evasion skills to be demonstrated. But I do suspect that it was put there by the producers.
By the way, the warning/disclaimer on the show now is a bit less obvious about demonstrations, but it’s still there. And I suspect they still do it.
Why do I think so? The stuff they found and pulled from the camp was a bit convenient. On this trip, Cody and Joe didn’t happen to have their knives along (Huh? NCIS Rule #9: “Never go anywhere without a knife.” And probably survival rule #1). But they find a Shangan axe, so get to demonstrate how to use it, and how to use it to make other tools.
The other thing that seemed awfully convenient was finding the potassium permanganate and sugar (salt? no sugar). This is one of the firemaking methods we’ve not yet seen on the show, so including that gave Cody a chance to demonstrate that.
Speaking of which, if you Google it, the usual trick is to use potassium permanganate and glycerol (anti-freeze), but I bet it would be harder to justify putting anti-freeze in a poacher’s backpack. But sugar might be there as a food item. (But would a poacher really not have matches?) Anyways, with sugar, from what I’ve read (having never tried it), a bit of water on the sugar will start the chemical reaction. Instead, Cody made a fire drill, mixed the potassium manganate and sugar in the proper proportions, and started drilling. It did ignite that way (after a bit of mess) but I wonder if adding the drop of water would have helped.
Back to the show and Joe having his day in the sun, so to speak. There was a big flare-up between Cody and Joe over speed and how Cody’s bare feet affected that.
To Joe, in this situation, “speed is security”. He wanted to get as far away from the “poachers” as quickly as possible. Cody does go more slowly with his bare feet, but there were also good operational reasons to go more slowly, too. There was a long conversation on the issue. I’ve included it below, with my comments interspersed. Also, the conversation was split (and maybe re-arranged a bit) by a commercial.
They’ve already agreed to go a bit slower, and put Cody on point to set the pace.
Joe: Hey, Cody.
Joe: Could you just pick up the pace just a little bit, please? Dude, I could walk backward faster than this.
Cody: That’s not the freakin’ point, is to walk faster. Didn’t we have this conversation already? We’re in predator-filled country. I know you want to go. This isn’t fun.
Cody: I want to go, too. But there’s the mechanical things with the thorns; there’s the animal things; and there’s dehydration and hyperthermia. And that’s strike four, we’re out.
Joe (aside): We’re not in freakin’ Arizona. This is not a stroll through one of your survival classes.
Joe (talking to Cody): All I’m doing is I’m weighing one evil with another. I understand hyperthermnia . . .
Cody: I clicked off four evils. And they’re exacerbated by going too quickly through terrain we don’t know about.
Here’s where the commercial was.
To some extent, they are talking past each other, tinted with Joe’s frustration with Cody being slower. Cody might have gotten through to Joe with a more military example: If Joe were in Afghanistan and knew there were enemy patrols about but unsure just where they were, would Joe really go charging along? Or would he slow down so that he could keep an eye out for an ambush? Because accidentally walking up to a rhine without seeing it might be the African equivalent.
As one who hikes barefoot, it does tend to be slower. You do need a bit more foot placement awareness. But I can go faster, if I need to (and do, for instance, on the O’Meara O’Vencha hikes. I thought Cody justified the slower speed with his four concerns.
Back from the commercial . . .
Cody (aside): We can’t just run out of here. One, because that attracts things that chase you. Two, because it heats up your inner core and you die of hyperthermia. Se we have to go slow and methodical and smart. And if I need to rein Joe in, then I’m going to do that.
Joe: If I was here by myself, I’d be home by now.
Cody: On what, a plate?
Joe: I would be out of here. On they way, yes, I may get eaten, but my whole philosophy right now is to get the hell out of here as efficiently and as quickly as we can.
Cody: What happens if a thorn goes through your boot?
Joe: I’m going to have to deal with it.
Cody: Tell me how you take off that boot.
Joe: Dude, the bottom line — you probably don’t take it off and just keep going. You suck up the pain. Bottom line.
Cody: Suck up the pain.
Joe: That’s right.
Dude, I got hit by a ricochet in Iraq right here.
Cody: I left my violin in the truck.
Cody is really missing the point here with his violin comment (showing lack of sympathy). It’s actually a bit insensitive. And he doesn’t understand that that can be a survival strategy, too.
Cody has never had military training. (Neither have I, but my son is a Marine, and he has shared stories with me.) One of the big things boot camp does is train you to keep going through pain. You realize that you can fight through it and keep going. Heck, the whole point of the Crucible is for the recruits to demonstrate that. There are stories told of recruits finishing the Crucible with broken legs by sucking up the pain.
So “sucking up the pain” really is a viable survival strategy (and it’s how the military gets a lot of really nasty but important stuff done).
Continuing . . .
Cody (aside): I’m always concerned about what’s on the ground. I’m fuckin’ barefoot.
Cody: When you have spines that can penetrate a car tire, I don’t give a damn what you have on your feet, but it’s the awareness about foot placement that matters most, and I have a Ph.D. in that.
Joe: I don’t know if I should give you a medal or send you to a psychologist for walking around barefoot here, man.
Cody: I mean, half of Africa’s still barefoot.
Joe (aside): Cody cannot keep up with me because of the shear fact, and I don’t care what he says, I have boots on — he’s barefoot.
Cody: Prevention is what I’m looking at. We’re in heavy predator country and to go like a bat out of hell, being on the food chain, is stupid, and I’m not going to do it.
Joe: That’s why I want you at point and walk at the pace you’re comfortable with.
Cody: And that’s what I’m doing.
I think Cody’s right on this one. There are his four reasons. And it really is the case that a spine could penetrate Joe’s boot if he is not careful. There are plenty of hospital cases in which nails have penetrated shoes, and then the subjects get worse infections because of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa that resides inside the shoe.
And then later, Cody and Joe find the snares and nail-boards “set up” by the “poachers” (I’m suspicious about those, too). If Joe had stepped on one of those nail-filled blocks, the nails would have gone right through the bottom of his shoe (unless there was a steel plate in there, which I doubt).
There is one rather cute scene later on, when Joe finds and goes after the catfish. He’s standing there on lookout, not even looking at the water. But if you look closely, you can see the fish swimming along before Joe spots it. It’s nearly at the surface because the river is so shallow.
There was one more bit of dissension; in this one I think Cody is the one who is wrong.
The first night Cody wants to spend the night in a tree, while Joe wants to set up a shelter of sorts surrounded by thorny branches.
Here’s Cody’s reasoning:
Cody (aside): Joe’s concerns about being up a tree are completely valis. Lions can climb; leopards can climb; snakes can climb, etc. But an elephant’s going to go right through that bush shelter. A rhino’s going to go right through that bush shelter. A hippo’s going to go right through that bush shelter. All of those critters are going to have a hell of a time reaching me up in a tree.
Yeah, but it is not part of an elephant’s or a rhino’s or a hippo’s normal behavior to go rushing through thorny brush. They stay on the paths as best they can. (They also don’t do a lot of wandering around at night.)
The funny thing is, for the second night, Cody is perfectly okay with a bush shelter.
By the way, when Joe is building his shelter, he explains what he is using.
Joe: I specifically chose this bush. This is the buffalo thorn bush. This is the nastiest stuff out here. These barbs here do not break.
How does Joe know this? He’s never been there before.
He knows it because the team consults with local survival experts. They do their research before heading to a place and find out the good stuff and the dangers so that they know what to look out for.
That’s an extremely important survival skill that I think they could make more of: Before you head out to any new area, do your research.
It counts even in the littler stuff. Before I went out to Yellowstone with a Boy Scout troop (and I was responsible for some hikes), I made sure to research how to deal with bears, for instance. And it came in handy.
I’m still enjoying the show (despite the little niggles in the back of my mind). Some of the arguments seem a bit forced, and they are argued a bit too forcefully; they could be more of a discussion.
But I guess they way the do it makes for better “reality” TV.
Anyways, don’t forget “Into the Frying Pan” tonight.