Stranded with a Million Dollars contestant Alex Apple is writing about the show this season for reality blurred—and answering your questions. To ask him about strategy, survival, or anything else, comment below or send questions via this form, and look for answers next week.
And then there were six.
Episode three and camp three of Stranded with a Million Dollars brought the beginning of a Lord-of-the-flies-like environment where the Hunger Games of shelter continued and castmates personal rivalries deepened. Another cast member shoots their flare to leave the island, and days of rain push everyone to the brink.
The episode begins in exactly the opposite way of camp two. Everyone agrees on the group buy that the only purchase necessary is a $20,000 duffle bag to carry the money in.
Right before leaving camp two, I approach Cody and Chris to extend an invitation for more dialogue, and they both seem resigned to the fact that they were behind the eight ball when it comes to ever establishing a majority for group buys, so they seemed to appreciate the conversation.
I discussed the purchasing of the tent in my recap of episode two as securing a shelter advantage was a key strategic move in my game. Some people hate it; some people love it, but who wouldn’t spend $30,000 if it helps you to potentially win hundreds of thousands of dollars?
Chris rightly directs Cody and Makani to help build a decent shelter at camp three. For five consecutive days, the rain hardly stopped, and Cody decided that he and Chris should merely stand under a tree at camp two instead of building shelter.
Makani, who cried during the second group buy after failing to realize that the rest of us had come to play a game — not just enjoy a primitive survival experience, aligns with Cody, the king of asinine game play despite her decrying even the slightest strategic move at the second group buy.
Meanwhile, I continued to hold together a majority that consisted of me, Eilish, Gina and Alonzo.
The hardest part of surviving: down time
At day 10, none of us had more than two to three meals in our system since the beginning of the game. All of us were battling hunger mentally because our brains rarely let us go more than 15 minutes without thinking about food.
The hardest part of trying to survive 40 days on a remote island is the down time. On television, four days is compressed into one hour, so what is not depicted is the immense about of down time with which all of us dealt.
If you were not mentally strong during the down time, your mind would begin to wonder, and you could quickly land in a remarkably negative place that had you grasping for the flare gun to leave the island.
Both Chris and Alonzo were succumbing to the mental stress of the game. Alonzo talked about how his mom told him before he left for the show, “Don’t let yourself go crazy. Bring yourself home before that happens.”
That is why Alonzo was given the temptation: an overnight stay in a bed, food, shower, all the amenities of a “Hilton without the walls,” as he put it. For the first time in the show, a temptation is declined. Alonzo turned down the best one yet out of a loyalty to me, as he said. He consistently preached that loyalty was a big part of his game.
He proved it turning down the temptation and saving $15,000. Respect.
Mingling with the enemy
What the audience only saw small portions of at camp three was my interactions with Cody and Chris. I knew that strategically it was smart to keep a channel of dialogue open with the two of them.
I considered that at some point in the game, alliances may change, or it might be smart for Cody and me to team up at one point. If that time ever comes remains to be seen, but all three of us had several conversations at this camp.
I found a considerable amount of food for my alliance at camp three, and Chris helped gather supplies for our fire. As you can see in the picture, rivalries were not always so heated.
Furthermore, I knew that no one else in my alliance was going to reach out to Cody and Chris—too many feelings were too hurt, so I took on that task. As I put on Twitter, I really liked Chris as a person, and I’ve interviewed him below.
Meanwhile, Makani’s game continued to defy any sort of logic. From her perspective, she believed the rest of us were playing “dirty” at camp two when she went to cry in the stream. Then, she reversed course and decided that she wanted to get in on the action by criticizing the group buy that she declined to be a part of.
At camp two, it was clear she held personal hatred towards Eilish. While Makani claims she just enjoyed getting under Eilish’s skin by attacking her family, clearly a deeper resentment lingered beneath. Let’s take a look at some of the contradictions of Makani’s game and why it was so difficult to understand as a fellow competitor:
- She began the game claiming she was not there to win money.
She lost her mind when anyone spends any amount of money
- She cried at camp two because she did not want to play strategically.
She stole food at camp three.
- Sometimes she talked with an accent.
Sometimes she talked without an accent.
- She said she’s all about good vibes and zen.
She fought with Eilish at every group buy.
- She doesn’t want to go “camping,” likes sleeping outdoors.
She wanted to get in the tent.
From my perspective, her next moves were always difficult to predict.
In real life, I would have gotten along well with Makani. She has a kind soul, but the island led to some weird dynamics: like her pairing with the conservative, cocky male from Texas.
Say it ain’t so, Chris
On the third night at camp three, an incredible rain storm hits the island, and Chris and Cody’s shelter caves in like a wet sand castle.
I remember waking up that night and hearing Chris talking. I was not sure what he was doing standing out in the rain talking in the middle of the night, but I remember seeing a red streak of light shoot into the air. It was at that point that I knew he had bowed out of the game.
The biggest criticism I got on Twitter from real viewers—not from the fake accounts that Cody’s girlfriend is now creating (sad!)—was that none of us in my alliance got out of the tent to wish Chris goodbye.
While it was not showed in the one hour on television, I got out and told him he had my immense respect.
I interviewed Chris after the third episode aired to talk about shelter, his flareing out and what he would do differently. He continues to live and work in Boston.
Alex Apple: If you knew when you shot the flare that you were going to have to sit until morning and wait on the helicopter for evacuation, would you have changed your mind?
Chris Lacerra: The main thing is, it’s all about your mental state at certain times. You’re not fully there, and it’s not a physical thing. You get screwed up mentally, and that’s where I was because logically the next day, we were going on a journey; it was sunny out in the morning. So if I think about it logically, just staying would have made a lot of sense, in general. That was the worst it was going to get. It’s hard for the viewer to understand, but in my mind, I was like “f*** this, I want to leave even more now.”
How would you describe to the viewer how the game messes with your mental state? It’s hard for someone watching at home to understand how big those highs and lows are.
Chris: There’s always a risk going out there, so besides all the physical things that could happen when we’re going down wicked steep hills on journeys, the bugs, all that. Besides that stuff, you’re deprived of everyday essentials that someone within our age range 18-25 doesn’t usually live without. We had to do some adjusting when we were out there, to say the least. For people like me, I’m thinking going in — because we didn’t know much, I want to go do some competitive type stuff, but a lot of it is stagnant: you with your thoughts, and that can get to certain people. It was just mental, screwing with me.
I can only imagine being in your shoes. I understand how frustrating our having that tent must have been. That night, what was going through your mind as you considered the two situations?
Chris: Being 100 percent honest, I wasn’t having my mind on being angry. Cody had a drive where he thought, “shoot, I want to get back at them. I’m gonna screw them at my next opportunity.” And Makani has her motivation like she wants to be out there. That is how she lives anyway. What people don’t realize for me is that you, me and Alonzo were cool. People don’t realize that because the show is so condensed, several days into one hour. I didn’t really have some type of drive to get back at you all. Plus, I was just 19, had barely worked for a whole year. I just knew I was uncomfortable and hungry.
Would you do anything differently if you played again?
Chris: Oh, definitely. To say the least, I would say some other castmates take things pretty personally with each other. In my mind, it was just I got outplayed. I definitely would have been more conscious of my decisions. I was on the fence with so much stuff because I liked Cody, I liked you guys. I would have taken a clearer stance with more goals in mind.
Alex answers your questions
Sean asked: Prior to ordering the pizza in episode 2, had you really not eaten anything but coconuts for six days?
We had only eaten coconuts and had coconut water from inside. Gina and Michael had their temptation at camp two, but the rest of us had very little to eat. Hunger was quickly becoming a real factor.
I was really the only one on the island that had fire-starting expertise, so it was a welcomed sight when Alonzo and I started the first fire with a bow drill. We were able to eat some cassava then: a rooted vegetable that tastes a lot like bland potato.
Tia asked: Once an item is offered on the list (e.g. a hatchet) and it isn’t bought, will it be available again? Or is it no longer offered? Or is it offered again at a higher price?
The prices never change, and items are offered as much as you want them.
What frustrated me was that some cast members failed to realize that a $15,000 pot is more valuable when you have it for 40 days than when you have it for 30.
Cody and Makani were against purchasing items, but they sure did enjoy using the pot, machete and flint when they realized how much it benefitted them.
Tia also asked: Were you given any supplies? Like on Survivor how they have their medical box with medications or tampons for the women and sunscreen but that isn’t discussed on screen. Just wondering if you were afforded the same.
I do believe that women were able to take their birth control and use health products when it was that time of month, but unlike in Survivor, we were not given a bounty of supplies like they get on the first day when they jump off a ship with all kinds of items.
It was just us, our clothes, and drones. It was definitely a more difficult survival challenge than in Survivor.
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