Evolution 8: March of Tears
As we start the 8th and final episode of the show, lets do a brief review. In episode 1 we were introduced to the 6 instructors, all with special ops backgrounds, and the 30 candidates. During the past 8 weeks, we saw many of them drop for various reason. Many of them became fan favorites such as candidate #30. Unfortunately, he just could not handle the swim and dropped in episode 2. We saw the sisters, #8 and #9 also drop in episode 2. The show started with 7 female candidates and we saw the final female candidate #3 drop in episode 6. We were told of the backgrounds of some the candidates, ranging from a firefighter to OCR racers, and that the group consisted of various ages, with our oldest candidate, #11, being 45 years old.
We learned, though the interview segments of the episodes, what motivated each of them to do this. Many of them started out strong but just could not handle the mental and physical punishment they had to endure. When all was said and done we are left with 5 candidates going into tonight’s final evolution. If you want to read more about the instructors and candidates check out their bios here.
Because some of the episodes occurred overnight as we begin episode 8, we see it is day 10 of the selection. Candidates #2, #11, #12, #17 and #19 remain to face the final evolution. The candidates are told that this is is the start of FTX, Field Training Exercises. This will be utilizing many of the skills they have been taught in the past 10 days in order to successfully complete the evolution.
The candidates are loaded into a helicopter and are first told they will be dropped at a LZ (landing zone) but like a true mission, things can change in a moment. They are told there has been a change and that will be doing a helo-cast approximately 1 mile off shore from a height of about 20 feet. Awaiting them will be a zodiac to take them to the next portion of the mission. Now remember, while they did a couple of evolutions in water (both beach and pool) nothing really prepared them for a drop of 20ft into the ocean. In fact I thought they would have to swim towards shore, not get into the zodiac. So overcoming any fear of heights they all safely made the jump and got into the zodiac.
We see them next heading to shore where the instructor Haggerty is awaiting tells them they have 3 hours to build a hide-sight to conceal the boat and themselves. Failure at this would mean a drop for them all. They appear to do a good job at this and at this point we see an unknown person approach the group and tells them to move out and head over to a van where they put on blackout googles and a hood to be taken an undisclosed location.
Once they arrive they are promptly placed into wooden boxes, similar to the resistance exercise they experienced in episode 4. Candidate #12 was placed in a box by himself while #17 and #19 were put into a box together as were candidates #11 and #2. The goal of this portion of the evolution is to attempt to escape when the time is right. We see that candidate #11 has the ability to slightly lift his lid despite having a carabiner on the clasp holding it shut. He is able to unscrew the carabiner and after discussing it with his mates (they are talking in a low voice) they decide to wait for the proper time to escape.
After about eight hours of being in the box, and getting some rest, they decide that now is the time to escape. It is now day 11 and about 7am in the morning. While they had no idea where to escape to, they make their move. Candidate #11 is able to screw loose the carabiner and release his team mates. They are seen scurrying up a nearby hill when they are called back by Instructors Bowen and Kuntz and told to come back. Oh shit… What next?? Fortunately they are told that they completed this segment of the evolution. Next up is the evasive aspect of the evolution; they need to get out of enemy territory.
We now enter what will be, unbeknownst to the candidates, the final challenge of the episode; the evasive portion, which consists of a long distance ruck march. The candidates will be carrying 55 lbs. of gear on their back as they begin a march of undetermined time and distance. While we the audience are told that it is a 16.5 mile march with about 1000 ft. in elevation change that must be completed before sundown, the candidates don’t know this and this adds to the mental aspect of the challenge, the unknown. They have gone 27 hours with little or no sleep and the starting temperature for the march is 90 degrees.
As they start, they of course are looking strong and go out as a group. But soon the heat and distance starts to take it’s toll. There are checkpoints, basically ammo cans, along the route that each candidate must go to and retrieve a slip of paper with their number on it. Along the way there is talk about what to do with slow team mates, should they drop them? As they get farther along the group spreads out into 2 group; lead group consisting of candidates #12 and #19 and the trailing groups consisting of candidates # 2, #11 and #17.
About 12.5 miles in, the heat gets to about 104 degrees and they are facing a 1/4 mile climb of about 900 ft. to the top of a hill and checkpoint #4. An instructor is there to make sure they hydrate and to let them know that the toughest part is still to come. At this point candidates #2, #11 and #17 decide to rest a bit and re-hydrate. Here #2 is heard saying that he is going to keep going.. gotta try.
It is here that candidate #17 decides to turn in his patch. The heat and uncertainty of the march just was too much for him. He has done well, despite the issues he faced in episode 7 and receives some well deserved accolades from the instructors.
By now candidate #12 has moved to the front of the pack and you can see that he is struggling. At this point the instructors are wondering if they will have a “Black Class”, a class in which no one finishes. We finally see instructor’s Bowen and Kuntz on the side of the road as candidate #12 approaches. He is told to drop his rucks and you can see that he is wondering what is next. It is at this point he is told he has completed the Selection. The tears of joy are obvious on #12’s face.
Candidates #2 and #11 are seen struggling on the climb but finish that part of the march. And once again we see instructor;s Bowen and Kuntz on the side of the road, this time as candidate #19 approaches. He too is asked to drop his ruck. Candidate #12 comes over and congratulates him but he still does not know that the journey is over. Finally he is told that he has successfully completed the Selection. A look of shock comes over his face.
As the final 2 candidates make their ways to the end, doubts on the part of #11 start to set it. While he will not leave #2 behind, it appears that he just might quit. Candidate #2 keeps them both going and eventually we can see them as they near the finish. They both seem relieved to see the instructors and candidates #12 and #19 waiting for them. It is obvious by candidates #11 voice, when told that they have completed the Selection, that he is both surprised and shocked that it is finally over.
Lots of hugs and congratulation between the candidates and the instructors. As they finish the episode, and the show, we hear for the first time the instructors refer to the candidates not by a number, but by their names. Congratulations to the final 4 candidates;
#2 – Cliff Braun
#11 – Christian Griffith
#12 – Ryan Kent
#19 – Logan Nagle
And so their grueling 11 day trip to hell and back has finally ended. We have seen these 4 men overcome many demons, issues and doubts to make it across the finish line. Well done my friends. And a shout out to Christian Griffith, aka #11, “How Does It Feel Old Man?”
Read recaps of previous episodes here:
- Episode 1 Recap
- Episode’s 2 & 3 Recap
- Episode 4 Recap
- Episode 5 Recap
- Episode 6 Recap
- Episode 7 Recap
Watch the episodes here.
Final Words… I want to say thank you to the editors of Obstacle Racing Media for allowing me the opportunity to write and share the recaps and to A&E Networks and the History Channel for allowing me access to the episodes prior to their airings. And a big thank you to, the readers’. I hope you enjoyed them.
All photos courtesy of A&E Television Networks ©2016 A&E Televisions Networks
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it feels fantastic, john. Changed my life profoundly
You did an amazing job Christian! My fiancé and I cheered you along the entire season and we were SO happy that you made it to the end… even though we knew you would! 🙂 #11 and #12 were my favorites from the beginning and I am so happy for them for this experience. All of the men are beyond strong and brave. Its inspiring. I really hope The History Channel continues with more seasons of this show. Absolutely loved it!
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