Backpacker Reviews "Stranded With a Million Dollars": Week 5

The contestants argue a lot, spend too much money, and inch closer to glamping than ever before.
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The contestants argue a lot, spend too much money, and inch closer to glamping than ever before.

Welcome back, devoted survivalist wannabes (aka, four of Jackie’s sorority sisters)! Episode 5 of our favorite crack TV show aired on Tuesday, so let’s discuss. (Get a refresher on past episodes/recaps here.) SPOILERS AHEAD.

At the beginning of episode 5, we’re 16 days stranded with a prize pool of $190,250. No one flared out last week, so 6 contestants remain.

When the episode begins, the contestants are at a bit of an impasse: They must decide whether to continue spending their prize money on food or to wallow in hunger. There’s, of course, a third option that no one mentions: Start foraging! Why is no one fishing, or hunting small game, or combing the area for edible berries and roots? It’s as though we blinked and missed the part where millennials grow up to become problem-solving adults. Oh wait…

Alex and Alonzo, ringleaders of the majority alliance, decide to get Makani out of the game. The hangry campers plan to invite Cody, Chief Frat Star, into their alliance, essentially leaving our klepto friend out to dry. They tell him, basically, that if he wants a $3,000 burger each day, he must switch alliances. Cody says he’ll think about it, then tells a camera in a one-on-one interview that he thinks he’ll do it.

Stop. Hold the phone. The game’s best sur-thrivalist now thinks he needs money to survive in the woods. Like a disheveled Saddam Hussein drug out from a spider hole, the defeated Cody no longer seems quite so threatening.

And with that, the iPad dings, and it’s off to camp #5. MTV flashes us a quick glimpse at the tablet and look close because the last line of the instructions says, BE MINDFUL OF THE LAND, AND LEAVE IT THE WAY YOU FOUND IT. <3 <3 <3 LNT cops around the world start to feel a hot, prickling sensation behind our eyes.

The team as 2 hours to travel 1.8 miles to camp. Our favorite, not-at-all-helpful map suggests that the kids will be moving through a dense jungle, marshlands, and a prairie—and will face at least two river crossings. Our man Cody declares it a “ball buster.”

The contestants immediately start arguing about who should carry what, not unlike any other group backpacking trip. By our recollection, they have a duffel bag of money (maybe 15 pounds?), 2 tents (probably 6 or 7 apiece?), a stockpot (not heavy, but awkward), a machete (not heavy, also awkward, definitely dangerous when wielded by the wrong person), the briefcase filled with flares (maybe 10 pounds?), and other negligible items (fire-starter, not a burger, not a deli sub, etc.). If they’re each carrying a peanut butter jar filled with water, that’s another 3 or so pounds apiece. We’re going to say—once again—that we here at BACKPACKER strongly believe you can carry roughly a quarter of your bodyweight comfortably, so . . . yeah.

But then MTV flashes this breakdown in front of us (bodyweight percentages are from us):

Alex: Tent + Flare Case = 27 lbs. (~15-18% bodyweight*)

Alonzo: Backpack Full of Money = 18 lbs. (~10-13% bodyweight**)

Cody: Duffle Bag of Money = 38 lbs. (~17-20% bodyweight)

Eilish: Machete + Tablet = 12 lbs. (~7-9% bodyweight)

Gina: Pot = 6 lbs. (~4-5% bodyweight)

Makani: Tent = 8 lbs. (~5-7% bodyweight)

We clearly are not aware of how much money weighs, and while we’re dubious of the accuracy of some of these provided weights, let’s assume they’re legit. If so, then this is the way we at BACKPACKER would do it (also known as the right way):

Alex: Give tent to Eilish. --> Adjusted: Flare Case = 19 lbs. (~11-14% bodyweight)

Alonzo: Stay the same. --> Backpack Full of Money = 18 lbs. (~10-13% bodyweight)

Cody: Give some wads of cash (equaling 6 lbs.) to Gina to carry inside the pot. --> Adjusted: Duffle Bag (Mostly Full) of Money = 32 lbs. (~14-17% bodyweight)

Eilish: Receive tent from Alex; give Tablet to Makani. --> Adjusted: Machete + Tent = 14 lbs. (~8-10% bodyweight)

Gina: Receive wads of money from Cody. --> Adjusted: Pot (containing 6 lbs. of money) = 12 lbs. (~8-10% bodyweight)

Makani: Receive Tablet from Eilish. --> Adjusted: Tent + Tablet = 14 lbs. (~10-12% bodyweight)

OK, wow, now I need a break. That was a lot of math. But this just goes to show you that I’m an incredible trip partner.

* * * One—err, two—PBRs (hey, I’m a millennial) later. * * *

Back in the jungle with mismanaged, but still not overheavy loads, our millennial heroes are descending a slope in the jungle and mumbling cruelties about one another not really under their breath. They hit the first river, which they must wade through downstream, à la The Narrows. It’s not deep, but it’s tough watching them bumble over the river rocks. We take side bets over who’s going to break an ankle first (Gina and Eilish have the best odds), but no one calls it: Scorned Alex busts his shin open Naomi Watts-style before Alonzo falls onto his wrist.

What better time for a nice aside from Cody than now? “Not only is Alex being an idiot about the way that he carries his items, but he’s also being a complete baby. Drink a can of man, step up to the plate, and accept the challenge and push on.” This closes our first segment of Inspiring Wisdom from Cody.

With barely a minute to spare, the contestants cruise up to the pile of money. The new total is $275,250 (less the $15,000 that Makani and Cody used to eat/eject during the last Temptation).

We’ll spare you the following 10-minute segment, but it’s basically a compilation of entitled millennials arguing about who is in the right and who’s not. For a brief moment, we’re privy to Alonzo’s investment strategies, which is quite riveting, but the main takeaway is that Cody will not be joining the campers/ Team Spend Money, which is a relief. Not having Team MaCody in Stranded With a Million Dollars would be like not having the Nazis in Casablanca.

The resounding crickets from my co-millennials here in Boulder have me thinking perhaps that’s not a relevant enough simile. Would you guys prefer this? Not having Team MaCody in Stranded With a Million Dollars would be like not having the Empire in Star Wars.

Still no? Not having Team MaCody in Stranded With a Million Dollars would be like not having a conscience in Fifty Shades of Grey.

ANYWAY. Alonzo is at his wit’s end and starts bringing down the rest of Team Spend Money with negative groupthink. Alex and Gina are suggesting that they’re ready to go home. The only camper who doesn’t suggest that it’s time to evacuate is . . . Eilish? In fact, her only reservation about the game is that she’d have to deal with Makani alone if everyone else ditched her. (Eilish earning back some points she lost when attempting to fastpack in skinny jeans. Nice.)

But, alas, we’re saved by the bell once again, and before another person can start shedding tears, it’s time for another Temptation. Alex is selected and he offers the second spot to Alonzo, predictable bro that he is.

The Temptation is mostly like all the previous ones ($5,000 for snack food vs. $15,000 for a full-on meal), but in this instance, the more expensive option also includes video messages from home. Our hangry, homesick millennials opt for door #2 and it’s time for tearful messages from loved ones. The videos from Alex’s girlfriend and Alonzo’s mom leave the duo crying into their French fries, and we admit it’s pretty touching. CATCH THE WAVE AND BRING IT HOME, BOYS.

Cody meanders over to Team Spend Money’s camp to find out where they stand with . . . spending money. (Hint, hint: They’re all about it.) He deduces that the contestants are on pace to bring home less than half a million bucks if the current spending habits continue. He’s irate for approximately half a millisecond before Alex tells him that he and Makani can buy whatever they want and Team Spend Money won’t vote it down: In the most shocking collapse in U.S. history that didn’t involve a pantsuit, Team MaCody splurges on a sack of rice for $4,000, a dozen carrots for $2,000 (sure hope those aren’t baby carrots), and a jar of peanut butter for $7,500. That’s $13,500 in one swipe. (More math! Look at me go!)

Team Spend Money adds: 2 jars of peanut butter for $15,000, a deck of cards for $1,000, 2 hamburgers for $6,000, and 2 pizzas for $10,000. Another $32,000 down the drain.

The s*** talking commences and it’s dirtier than ever (we’ll spare you the details), but suffice to say Cody has reestablished his throne of d*****baggery. We agree with him about some of the spending habits of the lot, but he and Makani indeed contributed in proving, once again, millennials should not have credit cards.

The damage: $45,500. The remaining total: $229,750.

Current rankings
(Reminder: the scale is 1-10, where 1 is “just barely surviving” and 10 is “totally sur-thriving”):

Alex: 6 (He showed signs of wearing for the first time this episode, but he also got a pep talk from his ladyfriend.)

Alonzo: 4 (He’s still in the alliance with numbers, but he’s uber-negative. We kinda prefer his mom, tbh. She seems like a stellar trip partner.)

Cody: 9 (He’s #winning.)

Eilish: 5 (She’s not thriving, but she’s not complaining. But someone please take the sat phone away from her.)

Gina: 3 (Every week Gina remains is another week we lose our side bets.)

Natalie “Makani”: 9 (She is basically Cody’s female counterpart, both in terms of sur-thrivalism and cattiness.)

Ashley: 0

Bria: 0

Chris: 0

Michael: 0

Tune in next week; the sixth episode will air on Tuesday night at 10 p.m ET/PT. Follow up on our Stranded With a Million Dollars review page to read our next recap on Wednesday.

* Don’t judge us by how much we’re assuming each contestant weighs.

** Also, don’t judge our math skillz if something is off. We went to journalism school, not freaking MIT.