'Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls' finale: Hearts on fire

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Image Credit: Jasin Boland/NBC

I’d hit the snooze button on Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls after checking in early on, but decided to wake up for the finale. Thank God I do not live in the wilderness — with Bear Grylls stalking me from a short distance — so I had GOTTEN OUT OF THAT RUT ALIVE. And the finale was rather rewarding! After seven “journeys” across New Zealand in which the contestants have drunk their own urine, gobbled up maggots, nearly fallen off mountains, and trekked across a glacier (pronounced “glah-see-ay,” I love it), we were down to just six players….

Suddenly (and I say that in reality TV terms, so after a commercial break and a LOT of dump-dump. dump-dump. time-sucking music) Bear Grylls was handing $500,000 cash in a sack they’d been lugging around this whole time to one of three deserving pairs of finalists.  (SPOILER ahead.)

The Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls winners are… Andrew “Lucky” and Andrea “Louie” Larson!

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Again, I’m not qualified to determine whether the father-daughter team (ages 58 and 24) from rural Illinois were the “right” winners. They certainly won the giant hair bow contest I had not realized was also taking place. Louie had that purple atrocity dangling from her head this whole time?! She looked like a cartoon character — her ears are too small for me to compare her to Minnie, but I’m thinking more like one of the female mice from Cinderella, with the bow at the end of the tail. Hey, good for her for sticking to a look. These guys are overall adorable.

This was such a feel-good hour of television, right up until the very end of course, when father-son team Jim and Austin and best friends team Chris and Jeff had to just good-naturedly walk off the set with zero money. After ALL OF THAT! Then again, maybe the experience was worthwhile in itself. So much free deodorant. I’ve never seen anything like it.

It was actually fun to try and gauge the group’s attitudes towards the high and mighty wildnernessmeister Mr. Grylls. When he first described their final journey, the contestants (survivors? racers? people doing weird sh*t on vacation?) were so cold and so tired that it seemed like they were seething at him. Just get me to the Procter and Gamble station and then fly me home so I can shop for all of my outdoor gear at Walmart! I was sure they were thinking.

But no! These people were radiating warmth and appreciation and newfound self-confidence toward Bear and ultimately each other, as Journey 8 forced them to work together as a team. I say “forced,” but the group task seemed like not only the best way to cap off a competition that isn’t a race, but something the players were glad and grateful to do.

Still, there were obstacles, like an angry-looking river they had to float down (“These are, like, the kind of rivers that cause fatalities,” Lucky pointed out almost nonchalantly), soaking-wet/nonexistent rainforest “campgrounds,” and the presentation of a deer heart for dinner offered up to the survival gods by Bear Grylls himself. All six of these warriors were scarfing down that heart like it was nothing! Because they had heart, and they were the heart of the competition to have made it this far!

“Then we turn around and there’s two bodies floating down the river.”

Not to worry, Austin and Jim (who’d gotten caught up in driftwood, STILL ALIVE). It’s teamwork to the rescue! “Stretching the rope across that river was like such a… common bond,” said Lucky in an upbeat voiceover as everyone looked more miserable than ever, but miserable together. Lucky and Louie are seriously like the new national spokespeople for positive thinking. I can’t help but think “What’s the catch?” with them. It’s not the bow! That bow has been solid throughout the competition!

There’s no catch, though. All six of these fire-breathing survival-bots are not scary machines but just darn good people who work hard and encourage each other. What the heck? These creatures have no business on reality TV!

After some touching letters from home (can’t believe they waited for the finale for this?! those are always such a hit on Survivor) and, more importantly, CAKE! — it was time for Bear to FLY BY ON THE OUTSIDE OF A HELICOPTER, as he does…. then eventually hold up the dreaded/coveted cash sack and announce “This symbolizes half a million dollars.” Symbolizes?! Have they been carrying around worthless paper?! Unacceptable!

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So brutal.

Goodbye, money! See ya never.

Were you satisfied with tonight’s outcome, and the season at large? Is anyone nervous that Bear Grylls might actually fling his kids into the jungle, just to see what would happen? (I’m not, really.) Discuss!

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