First, don’t forget that there will be a new episode of Dual Survival on tonight, 9:00pm EST. The new one is titled “Castaways” and the description says:
Joe and Cody are left stranded on an uninhabited island in Fiji, and as they brave tropical storms, shark-infested waters, limited resources and other unpredictable odds, they show viewers how to survive and make it back to civilization.
And now, here are some thoughts about last week’s show, “Belly of the Beast”.
In “Belly of the Beast” Joe and Cody were in Romania, in the Apuseni Mountains, part of the Carpathians. Their scenario starts with them inside one of the many caves in the region, with their lights out, and only a bit of light from an inaccessible shaft. And Joe is soaking wet, from a flash flood that trapped them in the cave.
Here they are, assessing their situation.
That’s a carbide lamp that Cody is holding, which is really rather cool. I’m sure it’s hard on these survival shows to come up with something different, and carbide lamps were new to me. Adding water to the carbide rock produces burnable acetylene.
However, they are out of water, so Joe has to descend into utter darkness to get some from below, where they hear some gurgling.
They have to resort to an infrared camera to show us what goes on.
Cody’s bare feet don’t get mentioned much any more. (Yes, this is related.) I think Dave was a bit more contemptuous of them, but Joe seems to, as least a few shows in, have seen how they work for Cody.
The reason I bring this up here is that it might have made more sense for Cody to have gotten the water. Yes, this is more of military-type thing to do, and more natural for Joe. (And from the producers point of view, a chance to highlight a more natural Joe skill.)
However, in utter darkness, you really want to use all your senses. I’ve mentioned before that when I explain barefoot hiking to others, I will often say
We go into the woods to see the sights, hear the sounds, and smell the smells, and then we turn off our sense of touch. Well, I don’t turn off my sense of touch.
In this situation, the sense of touch in the feet really is important. It is pitch black—you cannot see a thing. You want all your senses working. As it was, Joe was just as handicapped in feeling what he was walking on as he would be feeling the cave walls wearing thick gloves—with a rigid plate covering the palms and fingers. Bare feet are much better for probing the ground around you.
As you can see, Joe took a tumble.
I’m not saying that wouldn’t have happened if he had been barefoot. But it would have been less likely.
So, maybe this task should have been done by Cody—or Cody should have really encouraged Joe to do it barefoot himself.
One thing that drove me nuts (and a lot of other viewers) was that they lit both lamps once they got the water. Hey, dudes, you don’t know how far you have to go to get out. Conserve your light!
(Of course, as they filmed of course they new how far they had to go, and what they needed. And I bet Joe’s lamp conveniently went out when it did just to add drama.)
So then they made it out.
I love it that they went to Romania. That is really pretty territory.
(Joe and Cody are little specks at the middle-right, having just emerged from the cave.)
It is good that the producers are trying to find new places of interest.
At this point, Joe is still wet in 40° temperatures. As he said later,
That was the coldest I had been in years.
I’m sure he was equally cold in his military work, but that had been a while. Having Joe be the wet one is a subtle reminder for us of his military background.
They did work pretty effectively in getting that fire going (even if there were a few “sparks” that Joe apologized for later). Yes, Cody is a bit slow there, but under those conditions, proper preparation of the kindling is an absolute must.
One thing I was surprised that they didn’t do, since Joe was wet while Cody was dry, was redistribute Cody’s clothing. As was stated, you lost heat 30 times faster when wet than when dry. So Joe should have taken off his wet clothes, and they should have then distributed Cody’s clothing (at least his top part). Of course, I’m just armchair quarterbacking—it’s easier to think of these things in the comfort of a warm room than out in the field.
They also demonstrated stone boiling: heating up rocks and putting them in their heavy plastic bag.
This is always a very neat and impressive trick, and well worth showing again and again. They also added some evergreen boughs, which not only protected the bag, but flavored the water. They didn’t seem to be impressed, but as they said, there was also a strong plastic flavor to their water. “Tastes like evergreen bag!”
I thought Joe and the overnight observation point was ridiculously dense. He phrased it in terms of the “mission”, “to get out of here,” but didn’t ask, “how much does this further the mission”. After all, what were the odds that somebody would be traipsing through that location in the middle of the night?
I suspect that this was a producer set-up to highlight Joe and the military, since those in the military are quite used to “pulling surveillance”, as Joe put it. Yes, it’s a textbook observation post, but what the heck is there to observe? It’s a little different than a situation in which the enemy is looking for you and you really need an observation post.
Meanwhile, Cody was making a shelter under those large spruces, and using his bare feet for their sense of touch.
As he says about the spruce needles underfoot,
It’s dry. I can feel it with with my feet.
And then they work on rescue by using their Mylar to make a balloon.
You know, that was really cool. It is really neat that they could do that, and it was great fun and great television as they went through building things (and Cody pointed out how useful conifer sap was, and how to heat it up for glue). I really enjoyed watching it.
But seriously, what are the odds of somebody finding that balloon wherever it came down? What’s the population density? Are they near any place with enough people? Like I said, it was cool, but why not use the strategy they’ve used in so many other shows of continuing downstream to find civilization. (They even mentioned it when they found the stream, but then somehow abandoned that at the meadow.)
And by the way, there were probably sheep tracks in that meadow they could have followed back to a farmhouse.
But that wasn’t what the producers wanted to demonstrate on this show, so we had fun with the balloon.
And lo and behold, the shepherds that discover them have found the balloon! Actually, I have my doubts; what were the odds the balloon came down in the right spot? My suspicion is that the producers wanted to “demonstrate” how the balloon could have worked. But all they really had to do was hand the shepherds another Mylar blanket, right?
Look, I enjoy the show. It’s good stuff. But part of my enjoyment also includes analyzing it (and maybe some of what’s going on behind the scenes). I hope other folks enjoy that too.
Anyways, don’t forget to watch “Castaways” tonight at 9:00pm. And you can catch the rerun of “Belly of the Beast” right before that.