Boot Camp: Who's Getting the Boot? Episode 8: The Gauntlet Beginsby David Bloomberg -- 07/10/2002
And so, the Gauntlet begins.
This episode’s intro spells out some of the details of just what the Gauntlet will entail. It is a 48-hour marathon where recruits Whitlow and Wolf will compete for 13 dog tags from their fallen comrades. Stage 1 involves seven grueling mental and physical events named in honor of the dismissed (voted off) recruits. Whoever wins each event gets the tags taken from the recruit for whom that event was named. Stage 2 involves the six other recruits who were discharged. Five of them (Pupo, Hutak, Yaney, Brown, and Moretty) were pulled off by the person who had been voted off, and they never had a chance to say anything. The sixth is Thomson, who was discharged for medical reasons. They all pledge their tags to either Whitlow or Wolf. Katherine, the one who didn’t even make it through the the first episode, doesn’t have a say in anything – as it should be since she never even got to know anybody (heck, she doesn’t even have a last name on the show!). Whoever has the most dog tags at the end wins $500,000.
Before the show begins, we get a recap of what happened in the previous episode. Usually, such recaps don’t tell us anything new. This time, however, they actually explain quite a lot! Last episode, we saw Whitlow and Moretty talking about how they wanted to get rid of Wolf. Then they voted for Moretti instead, and we were left scratching our heads wondering why. Well, now we find out as they show more of the interview with Whitlow in which she had said she wanted Wolf gone. It turns out she continued by saying that she wouldn’t vote for him because she had made a pact with him early in the game and she was sticking to it. So instead, she and Moretty voted for Moretti in the hopes that he would pull off Wolf. Obviously, it didn’t happen that way.
Okay, now we can finally get into this episode, which is the first of two parts (I erroneously thought that it would be a single two-hour final episode, rather than being split over two weeks). As indicated last episode, the Gauntlet began immediately upon the removal of Moretti and Moretty – the last two recruits to be removed from the game. The Drill Instructors (D.I.s) stick around and they begin immediately with Event 1: “Lauder’s Last Stand.”
The D.I. mentions that when Lauder, the oldest contestant, was done with physical training, he always had time standing up. So in his honor, the first event involves doing just that – standing. Wolf and Whitlow are presented with a square containing two elevated footprints and are told to step up on them. The one who falls off/steps down first loses.
It should be noted that the temperature is only 39 degrees Fahrenheit, they don’t have jackets, and they are wearing their full packs, which weigh about 30 pounds.
As the two of them stand in a challenge that certainly won’t help their defense in the Survivor suit claiming they are a copycat show (there have been challenges like this one in both Survivor series), we hear a voice-over of a Whitlow interview in which she says she may have cost herself $400,000 by sticking by her pact with Wolf because she knows he is strong and will be difficult to beat (so I guess second place here, like on Survivor, gets $100,000 – another point that won’t help in defending the lawsuit). Hmmmm. A contestant sticks by a deal to bring another person into the final two and it may end up costing them first place. Where have we heard that before?
As they stand there, Whitlow tries to maintain eye contact with Wolf, but he keeps avoiding it because he’s afraid his knees will give out (I’m not sure what eyes have to do with knees, but that’s what he said). As we continue to watch, the hours tick by. After three hours, they are still standing there and the temperature has dropped two degrees. At four hours it’s dropped another degree. At five, another, and Wolf looks like he’s about to pass out. The D.I. says he is amazed that they are still there – he could see the ache in their eyes, but they’re still doing it.
At five and a half hours, a tear drips down Whitlow’s face. Ten minutes later, she can’t take it any more and steps down. Now that he’s won, Wolf half-steps and half-falls down to the ground. He later tells us that he almost cried from relief when she gave up and that this single event was ten times harder than everything else at Boot Camp.
This event ends with the D.I. telling Whitlow that she’s no less of a recruit just because she lost this event, and that she should be proud of herself. Um, yeah, I’m sure that will thrill her. He seems to be forgetting that these people aren’t here because they want to join the military – they want the money!
Day 29 begins 11 hours into the Gauntlet with Coddington’s Crossing (they didn’t get to sleep in between these, incidentally). This is a two-mile long obstacle course in which they have to run through sand, crawl under barbed wire, go through a mud pit, run through tires, climb a rope over a wall, and kayak across a lake.
Wolf figures he has to win at least six of the seven events going into the final vote, because he doesn’t know how many votes he can count on – people who left early didn’t really get a chance to know him, and those who left later, well, did get to know him and therefore might not side with him. Hmmm, he’s screwed either way, I guess. In any event, this pushes him to give it his all.
And he does. He attacks the course and is already a half minute ahead of Whitlow by the time he gets to the mud. He’s over a minute ahead as he gets to the wall. D.I. Taylor notes that Wolf looks strong as he attacks the wall, but that Whitlow can’t muster the same strength.
When he gets to the kayaks, he’s over two minutes ahead. He ends up beating her by two and a half minutes. But then he gets the bad news – this race wasn’t the full event. They will run the same course tomorrow, and whoever beats their time from today by the most wins the event. Wolf rightfully feels like he was robbed. He put his all into it and notes that since Whitlow was losing by so much, she might have slacked off and therefore may be able to pick it up better next time. He, however, can’t do that so easily. Not much he can do about it, though.
At 4:00 that afternoon, they face Haar’s Heartbreak. Viewers may remember that Haar had to dig deep inside to finish a 1.5 mile run in the first episode. Well, now Wolf and Whitlow have to make that same 1.5 mile run again, and their times will be compared to their times from that initial run. The person with the most reduction from that original time wins Haar’s dog tags. Wolf is afraid that because he played the “hero” back at the original run and finished first among the squad, that will come back and bite him now.
He’s right. He had run it in 10:05 the first time. This time, he does it in 8:55. A good increase, but not enough. Whitlow had run it in 12:40 and now runs it in 10:58. Her reduction is more than his, so she wins the tags. But the twist is that the D.I.s don’t tell them who gets these tags. They won’t find out until they get to Dismissal Hill the next night.
As a preview of what will happen on the Hill, we hear from a few of the discharged recruits who will take part in the vote. Yaney says he is not at all surprised that Whitlow and Wolf are the final two, because they have been plotting together since the beginning. Thomson says he realized Whitlow was working with Wolf when she voted for Meyer instead of Park in the first episode. Brown says when she did that, Whitlow came back and told the other women that she had accidentally voted for Meyer instead of Park. Accidentally? This wasn’t a butterfly ballot – how could she have made a mistake like that? How could the others have even considered believing her? Moretty says she doesn’t know which is worse – being the ringleader like Wolf or the lame assistant like Whitlow. Well, the final vote at Dismissal Hill ought to be interesting with comments like these!
Getting back to the Gauntlet, they are 21 hours into it and it’s night 29. They have to face Park’s Peak as the next event. For this one, they need to run up a tower, rappel down, stop at a box holding a quote, memorize it, come down, and write it on a board. If it’s wrong, they have to go back up again. There are three quotes with three different parts of the tower, and the one with the overall lowest time to do it wins Park’s tags.
The first quote is:
Never take counsel of your fears. The fact that you are attacking induces the enemy to believe you are stronger than him.Whitlow goes first and has to go through the tower eight times before she gets it right, taking almost fourteen and a half minutes. She does play it smart and only tries to memorize parts at a time, but she kept inserting an extra “that” between “believe” and “you,” costing her at least two trips.
Wolf, however, needs only three rappels and takes five minutes, forty-five seconds. It would have been shorter but he actually missed the “that” that was in there.
The second quote is:
Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.Whitlow takes five rappels and nine and a half minutes for this easy quote – she misspelled “your” and “Kennedy.” Wolf, on the other hand, does it in one, taking a minute and nine seconds.
The final quote is from an unusual source:
It’s easy to see one’s true colors, so a good leader must be true to themselves. Raising morale can be done without saying much. It is not necessary to scream.This rappel is more difficult because they’re kind of hanging in mid-air. Whitlow makes what the D.I. calls “sleep deprivation errors” and ends up smacking herself around on various hanging bars during this run. Overall, it takes her six rappels and almost eleven minutes. Wolf only takes four, for five minutes and fourteen seconds, and the D.I. notes that he’s amazed Wolf can do it as fast as he is. Overall, Whitlow took almost thirty-five minutes; Wolf took a little more than twelve. He easily gets Park’s tags.
They return to camp to rest for a little while at three in the morning. They have gone 44 hours without sleep at this point. Shortly thereafter, they are brought in for the next test – Moretti’s Memory. This one is a completely mental challenge. D.I. Rosenbum explains that they are shown (individually) a series of slides, one a time, for 15 seconds each. They then are each asked identical questions about that slide, and have 10 seconds in which to answer. Some examples of the slides include a group of parked trucks, with the question asking how many red crosses can be seen. Another shows several signs on a fence with the question asking what the exact wording on the white sign is. Etc. Neither of them do particularly well, in part because the questions are not easy or obvious, and in larger part because they haven’t slept in two days! D.I. Rosenbum says they are pretty much smoked right now and simply running on adrenaline. D.I. Francisco says that both of them did horrible at the test, but Wolf ended up with five right out of 18, and Whitlow had only three. As with the 1.5 mile run, they are not told who won or even how many they got correct.
On day 30, they get to do morning tasks at five in the morning. The D.I. notes that both of them have been pushed mentally and physically beyond what they have ever done before. As the D.I. is talking to them, asking them if this is better than any vacation and things like that, Whitlow starts cracking up and can’t stop. The D.I. actually allows a sense of humor to come in as he talks about the hamster in her head having taken a bit of a vacation. As Whitlow says, “Recruit Whitlow has lost her mind, sir!” The D.I. tells us that he doesn’t know if she can make it.
But an hour later, they leave camp as Whitlow still can’t contain her laughter. At 7:00 they arrive at their next event, Meyer’s March.
That event, however, will have to wait until next week. We close out this part with Whitlow and Wolf talking about who they think will (or won’t) vote for them, and, in comparison and contrast, we hear from the discharged recruits on what they’re thinking.
Wolf is obviously worried that he will do extremely well in the events and have everybody vote against him. Indeed, that’s pretty much what Whitlow is hoping for. She thinks Hutak will vote for her out of loyalty, but Hutak isn’t so sure. Wolf hopes Pupo might vote for him because they’re both from Philadelphia (what a reach!), but she says she wasn’t in the game long enough to really form opinions about either of them, so it’s a toss-up.
Thomson thinks Whitlow didn’t contribute as much as Wolf did. Wolf figures Brown doesn’t trust Whitlow, and he seems to be right on that score. But Whitlow thinks Moretty will be loyal to her while Moretty herself isn’t so sure. Wolf thinks Yaney always had respect for him (he seems to be forgetting that most of the squad, including Yaney, probably believe he was the one who took Yaney’s harness in episode 4, and that might come back to haunt him). Yaney says he got along with Wolf but didn’t like the way he persuaded people to vote his way (um, isn’t that kind of what the game is about?).
Brown, as always, seems to have the most to say. She adds to her earlier comments by noting that Wolf was constantly playing both sides, but Whitlow would also pretend to be friendly and then immediately pass everything along to Wolf. But, she admits, everybody came in with a strategy and everybody did things like that.
We end by hearing more from Moretty as she wonders whether being the ringleader or follower is worse. Wolf was openly a weasel, she says; Whitlow was a weasel in disguise.
So, no snakes and rats in this show, just a bunch of weasels. But we won’t know which weasel wins until next week, when they finish off the Gauntlet and then find out who gets enough votes to put them over the top.