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Alex answers his Stranded with a Million Dollars critics

Stranded with a Million Dollars contestant Alex Apple is writing about the show this season for reality blurred—and answering your questions. Today, a Q&A-heavy edition of his weekly recap. If you have questions for next week, you can comment below or send questions via this form.

The journey from camp four was easily the most arduous journey so far as we near the day 20 mark on Stranded with a Million Dollars.

The fifth episode begins with our journey from camp four to camp five. Camp four was a small, bleak spot atop a large mountain on the island. It was not a particularly pleasant place to live, so we were all happy to know that we were heading back to a coastal spot.

On the journey, it seemed as if we were never going to get out of the river. I was always cautious not to injure myself because that was the fastest way to take oneself out of the game. A broken ankle or arm meant flaring out. The river was the one spot where an injury was most likely because we could not see where we were stepping, so God help you if you stepped in a hole.

On top of this, petty bullshit meant that I was stuck carrying the heaviest item which is fine—other than that it was a bad journey to get saddled with the worst item. I would have liked to see Taylor from the Bachelor lecture Makani on “emotional intelligence” during that journey.

Camp five was the best spot yet on the island. The waterfall was beautiful. The overlook where Alonzo and I went for the temptation was like something out of a movie. I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a more picturesque spot. When we arrived at camp five, we could see a small structure of some kind atop that hill, and I joked with Alonzo and Gina that I’d like to live up there one day. We assumed it might be a spot used by a villager on the island. Lo and behold, we got to see it up close two days later.

On the first day, I was over the arguing and recall telling Cody that he and Makani could buy whatever they wanted at the group buy. The next day, I started their fire for them, so Cody would not strike all the way through the flint. If he had broken the flint, then we would have been back to bow-drilling, so it was wise to start the fire for them (even if it was not the best strategic play). What drama!

“Strategical” Cody

Just before the group buy, Cody says that Alonzo is not good at being “strategical.” Another great nugget of insight from him. Then at the group buy, Cody tells Eilish that she lives in a trailer because she does not know how to spend money.

The hilarious thing about his freaking out is we spent $30,000 for four people, and he spent $15,000 for two. He then goes on to tell Eilish that she will never amount to anything, but he will because he thinks he knows how to manage money. This all comes from a Texas Tech dropout without a job. I just sat back and laughed during the exchange.

Cody also complained about our taking the $15,000 temptation. He seems to forgot that he and Makani did the same just 72 hours earlier. Which takes me to my next section…

Homemade temptation

I’m an ugly crier as everyone saw at the temptation. The producers sure knew what to tempt me with. While everyone that watches the show thinks of the money first, the most tangible benefit that I received from trying to survive was an appreciation for my blessings.

It’s cliche to hear someone say “don’t take that for granted,” but I realized that most people mean that on a deeper level than a 24-year-old normally grasps. I’m most thankful for my friends, family, and girlfriend, and I hope that I never lose site of the perspective that the show gave me for appreciating the great things in my life.

The most difficult aspect of the show continues to be handling the mental grind. However, we would go swimming or jumping in the waterfall, so the land provided its own natural reprieve from mental fatigue at this camp. That was a nice perk.

We’ve got a lot of questions this week, so I’m going to spend most of my time answering them.

Stranded is ignoring most of the actual survival

Jamie asked:
First off, thanks for this! I’m enjoying the show even more knowing I can come here and tread your info about it. Second… it seems like an awful lot of people are posting comments without reading what you wrote. Guess that’s the internet for you?

I wish the producers would go deeper into the reasons why people give up and quit. Sitting at home, it seems like they’re giving up way too easily. How cold is it when it rains? Isn’t that a tropical island? Is it that bad sitting out at night in the rain?

Thanks for sharing your information about the show!

Each episode condenses four days into an hour which leaves so much out. It’s an unenviable task to edit such a show, but in my opinion, major storylines and explanations have been left out in order to spend precious time showing a group buy that was so often an after thought.

For example at camp five, I told Cody to buy whatever he wanted in the group buy, so there was relatively little conflict about it.

On the other hand the show depicts almost none of our survival efforts. Yes, it was freezing when it rained. Yes, it’s a tropical island. I was starting fires for both my alliance as well as Cody and Makani. If I was so mean and heartless, I would not have been starting their fires, so they could eat.

I thought one of my best attributes was providing for the group and helping us tackle survival challenges. When we were short on food, nine times out of 10, I was able to find food for our group, then start the fire to cook it. I do not recall anyone else rising up as much to that challenge.

Unfortunately, the show is constrained by time, so a lot if left out.

What led to Makani’s transformation?

Itchy commented/asked:
One of the nastiest reality shows in quite some time. I’ll give Cody the credit for destroying the mood of the season right from the get-go, with his “alpha” male bragadoccio and his strategy of destroying any possibility of team spirit. A uniquely disturbed (and annoying to watch) individual.

It’s been interesting watching Makani’s personality devolve over the course of the episodes too. I’d like more information on what exactly sparked the conflict between her and the others.

As for the so-called “campers”… they come off as decent people who just aren’t equipped to deal with sociopaths like Cody (and Makani). I can’t really blame them for not wanting to share the goods with Cody & crew, since Cody’s entire strategy is based on making their lives miserable.

I guess this is more of a comment than a question, but I’ll say that the show is particularly rough at times, and I wish it showed our attempts at surviving. For example, I was starting fires for both alliances because I was the good at it and would not strike all the way through our flint.

As for Makani’s transformation, she came in not understanding the game at all, then going scorched earth. I’ve outlined the befuddling contradictions in her game before. Her strongest asset was she enjoys the outdoors and travels working on random farms, so many of the elements of outdoor survival came easier to her than to others.

On villainy, and why Eilish’s shorts are stained

Taylor asked:
1. While you were on the island, did you guys think the viewers would like you? Are you reading all the recaps online right now that ALL describe you as the villains?

2. Did you think Alonzo was a big wuss, since he was in the army and couldn’t even really handle eight days on the island, with a tent? He’s been wanting to leave for quite a while already. Dude was also homeless. Come on, this should be nothing.

3. When exactly did Eilish shit herself? It seems like she had the stains there since episode one…did she arrive that way?

Taylor, I’m glad you’re enjoying the show. I’ll answer these in order.

First, I did not know what viewers would think because it’s a new show and everyone comes into it with different assumptions about what their strategy would be. The actual surviving was tougher than the episodes show, and for me, all I tried to do was stay in the game.

It wasn’t easy. I made mistakes, but I played hard—and for most viewers, it’s making good TV. To be honest, I could not care less what people think of me. From the start of my career as a broadcaster until now, it’s never been something that bothered me.

The reality show is not a reflection of my actual reality.

Second, I originally aligned with Alonzo at the first camp because I figured he had a good heart and I could trust him. It’s impossible to foresee how people will react in times of stress, so the drawback of being in an alliance at times is you have to go with what the group wants.

At times, I didn’t agree. For example, sometimes I thought we were spending too much money on food, but if part of your alliance is struggling, it’s hard to deny them what they need to survive. The game is as much a mental test as it is a physical one, and I think Alonzo struggled with the mental side of the game most. But I have respect for anyone who has overcome homelessness and served our country.

Third, this question made me laugh. If anyone had arrived with crapped pants, I’m not sure I could have been around them for more than six seconds. Eilish sat on rotten palm fronds that stained her shorts. We gave her a hard time about it though because it did look like she had some dingleberry issues.

Why did the group exclude Makani? What are the game’s rules?

Susan asked:
1. You have justified leaving Cody out of the tent (and to some extent I suppose Chris ) but why did you exclude Makani from the decision to buy it and then prevent her from entering on the first night? It seems at that stage she was a friend and you treated her very badly. IMO she’s the strongest contender—seems like a major mistake to make an enemy of her. Later on the way she is bullied by your group is just despicable and very uncomfortable viewing.

2. Forming a majority alliance is in one way smart but you seem to have the weakest members in your group and it is costing you a huge amount particular in buying food. Did you try and persuade them to go without and preserve the money? Were there many conversations about money and how much each buy was costing you individually or out of the total prize—i.e. were you doing any maths – it appears like ‘the campers’ have lost all perspective on the prize.

3. Can you explain more about ‘the rules of the game’? It isn’t made explicit but there seemed to be something stopping you and Alonso physically taking the tent back from Makani (didn’t stop you trying to intimidate her though) and you later make reference to ‘within the rules of the game’ but it isn’t made clear what these might be. The only rule of the game the viewer is aware of is that group buys belong to everybody but that doesn’t seem to be happening!

Susan, we left Cody out of the tent originally because he was about as fun to be around as passing a kidney stone.

However, I’ll say that we made a mistake alienating Makani in the way that it happened. We were upset at the time that she bailed on us so quickly at the group buy. She was not understanding us, and we were not understanding why she was surprised we were playing a game. What the second episode did not show is that Alonzo told Makani the night before the group buy that he wanted to buy a tent, so she knew that conversation was coming.

Outside of the game, Makani seems like she has a good soul, but after the initial tent argument, her relationship with Alonzo and Eilish really deteriorated to where the three of them had feelings of real enmity. The three of them were always at each other’s throats, and since I was aligned with Alonzo and Eilish, I had to back them up to a certain extent.

I see the game from a more political perspective than most. I knew it was a mistake to burn a bridge, so in that regard, I’ll admit we played the situation with Makani poorly. For example, Cody and I had cordial conversation at at least a couple spots at each of the early camps. I’m sure we both thought that there was potential that we could use the other one at some point. Whether that ever happens remains to be seen.

Secondly in regards to alliances, I do believe it was smart to form an alliance. As with any reality show, there is a heavy social component, and I knew my personality positioned me well to use a social game to my advantage. When it comes to spending money, there were times when I thought we spent a little too much, but you have to spend what you need to survive. I was doing math in my head every day, and I knew that it was sometimes prudent to spent 10k, 15k if it meant I would still have a chance at a six figure prize at the end. When others in my alliance were struggling more than I was, that meant we purchased more than I would have liked at times.

Even Cody spent a handsome chunk of change: duffle bag, food, and temptations (of which he is the king….keep watching).

For me, the money was not my main motivation to go on the show. When I arrived, we did not even know if there was a cash prize. I was there to test myself and follow my zest for adventure. The way in which being stranded teaches you to appreciate your blessings is the most tangible benefit from the show. I could not be more thankful for my friends and family.

Lastly, the group buy does not belong to everyone. That’s not a rule of the game. In regards to the tent, you could not destroy a purchased item while someone was in it or using it. Slashing or stealing tents was essentially against the rules.

Having a sense of humor

Charles asked:
How is calling yourself heroes (and therefore the others villains) self-deprecating?

You have to make yourself laugh on the island. You can bet I laughed after that line. I don’t see any of us as heroes. We all played hard. All made mistakes. All had successes. A lot is left out that you do not see, so I’ll leave it at that. I don’t think anyone is actually a hero for starring in a reality show.

Thanks for reading.

Items purchased do not have to shared equally

John asked:
How come you didn’t follow the rules of the game that stated “Anything purchased with the community money is to be shared equally among all of the contestants”, and denied use of the tent to Cody, Chris and Makani? Is there a secret rule that states if players don’t vote with the majority they do not get to eat any of the purchased food or use any of the purchased equipment? After watching yourself on the show, what do you think of all the majority negative comments regarding your game play and actions? Why did you self proclaim yourself as “America’s Team”? Do you really think that your actions and the way you are playing reflect America’s values and garner its support? Inquiring minds would like to hear your perspective.

John, thanks for asking. First off, it’s not a rule that anything purchased has to be shared equally. I’m not sure why you think that. The only group buy rule was majority must vote for an item to purchase it.

As for negative comments, they do not bother me. The saying goes a lion does not concern himself with the opinions of sheep, but I also have the vantage point to know that a lot is edited out. I knew that some people would like me, some would not.

After all, how I made decisions in the GAME (i.e. competition) is not analogous to life choices I make every day. While I feel like some contestants took the game incredibly personally, I never did. It was a game we were all playing and once it was over, I did not harbor any resentment or feel a need to boast.

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