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Man Vs. Wild Season 4: Urban Survivor Recap

Posted on 02/03/2010 by Gina in Man Vs Wild

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by Vin Convertito

In this very unique episode of Man Vs. Wild, Bear Grylls takes everything he knows about surviving in the wild and applies it to an abandoned urban landscape in Eastern Europe. In what Bear considers to be the ultimate challenge, his goal is to "show you how to survive urban disasters like 9-11 and hurricane Katrina."

His adventure begins just above icy waters as he prepares to make a daring jump from a moving boat towards the suspended netting of a nearby crane. As the boat draws closer, Bear informs us that "the key is to not grab the net, but to punch through it." The advice proves worthy as Bear succeeds in his efforts and immediately begins his climb up the rope towards the peak of the crane. His descent down the crane is just as quick as Bear finds himself on dry land where his survival session begins.

Because survivors may be on their own for several days after an urban disaster, Bear is concerned with equipping himself with as many resources as possible. His first move takes him cruising about a rooftop where he reminds us that just like the jungle and wilderness, "you need to move with both speed and balance." Relying on the accessibility of an old vent system to enter the locked building, Bear makes a torch from some slow-burning roofing felt and readies himself to look for survival supplies.

"Entering this vent system is like entering unexplored caves," admits Bear who likens this urban terrain to his previous challenge in Guatemala. After navigating through a maze of ductwork, Bear is inside the building and is in search of survival essentials like medical supplies or canned food. Such places can be "treasure troves," says Bear as he transforms some old newspapers into "a club when folded right." Along with his makeshift weapon, Bear finds gauze, bandages and potassium magnetite which can be used as an astringent for a wound or as a colorful marker as it turns purple when mixed with water.

As food is scarce in this barren wasteland, Bear decides his best bet may be to set a rat trap. After identifying an area where rats are certain to be travelling to and fro, Bear uses some welding rods and a small rectangular piece of solid steel to make his trap. Knowing that the rats will not come out when a human is around, Bear uses his time away to search for this evening's shelter.

A turned-over car presents itself as ideal lodging. Bear prepares for a cold night by cutting the foam out of the car seats explaining that, "the body loses heat to the ground faster than it does to the air above so insulation below is critical for staying warm." And the foam will do just that as Bear lays the padding down as his mattress. With a fire now going and darkness growing, Bear returns to his rat trap only to find a trace of rat guts remaining nearby. Bear's conclusion involves a fox or wild cat that has beaten him to his kill. Luckily for Bear the dark has brought out some wood lice that are carefully prepared over the fire. The protein-rich wood lice are much healthier than a dirty rat and they taste "like shrimp," says Bear as he listens to the "popping sounds" of them cooking.

With morning comes an explosion. A man-made explosion engineered to get Bear into another locked building. Using his Special Forces training, Bear reminds his viewers that this move is especially dangerous and should not be practiced by anyone other than a professional. "Fingers in ears," warns Bear as he takes refuge behind a dumpster as the charge detonates. Once inside a forgotten building that is about 4 football fields long, Bear realizes, "it's not just the wild that could feel vast and intimidating."

Amid a "forest of metal" that needs to be traversed and climbed with care, Bear searches for food once more. This time, pigeon- rather pigeon egg- is on the menu and Bear is on the climb. Just as "wild birds choose cliff tops... their urban cousins choose high, inaccessible locations" for their nests. Having made his way to the remote top of the building, Bear's breakfast includes one raw pigeon egg, shell and all, to be chomped on. After his "nutritious meal on the go," it's time to look for a way out of this forsaken territory.

Sewer systems provide the escape route that Bear needs to reach civilization. But first, an emergency self-igniting torch will be made, MacGyver-style, from bandages and anti-freeze to light his way. Airborne illnesses are a serious risk in this smelly underbelly, just as typhoid and cholera can be contracted from making his way through the soiled water. "These tunnels run for miles and in all directions and exits are few and far between," worries Bear as he wishes for a way out. Prayers are answered as Bear follows a "cold air flow" coming from a storm drain, but danger is still eminent; "my torch is using up all my oxygen and replacing it with noxious fumes."

But before we lose Bear Grylls to a tunnel below, the light coming from a man-hole cover means he is moments away from rescue. Now safe on the city streets, Bear laughs at the thought of getting hit by a car and smiles, "all I want is to get cleaned up and go home!" With the worst behind him, Bear concludes, "using my wilderness skills, I showed you how to survive the urban jungle."


Man Vs. Wild airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on Discovery.


(Image courtesy of Discovery)



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