Having missed the final episode of this excellent show earlier in the week, I caught up with it on 4oD, and within seconds of the show starting, I was mentally yelling at my laptop, “Ed! For the love of Pete, go home! Just ring someone and go home!”
Poor Ed was weeping most of the way through this episode; starving, emaciated and with a frighteningly low heartbeat, his strength was all but gone and his thoughts turning increasingly to his loved ones.
I cried right along with him when he opened and read a letter from his girlfriend Amanda which also contained photos of herself and members of Ed’s family. It was a very touching scene, one of many in this last episode, but for a while there, I thought Ed was – literally and metaphorically – going out of his tree.
Alternately laughing maniacally and crying desperately, Ed repeatedly talked about making ‘that’ call, the one that would bring people to collect him. He talked often about how much he missed the simple companionship of another person and having someone to talk to.
But in a rather Castaway-esque scene, Ed discovered the skull of a moose in the forest and, as the main protagonist in Castaway named a football ‘Wilson’ – and gave it a human persona – Ed named his moose skull Bruce. We saw him putting it on his own head and sympathising with it when one of its massive teeth fell out.
However, the rather worrying Talks-With-Skulls moment passed relatively quickly, but so did the optimism and boost that finding the odd companion gave Ed. And despite catching some sprat like fish and making a fish stew of them, the ever elusive salmon that he’d so hoped to catch throughout the shows remained just that – elusive.
So, Ed had to take what he could get food-wise, and that turned out to be, for the second time, porcupine meat. I watched from behind my fingers as Ed shot – and fair dos to him, he’s a good marksman – gutted and ate the porcupine. He did however take time out to tell us that he was going to cut out and throw away the porcupine’s anus, as apparently, it didn’t smell too good. Quelle surprise.
It soon became obvious that Ed simply couldn’t carry on, and I felt desperately sad for him as that realisation became more of an imperative that was less a choice than a life saving necessity. With Ed’s heart rate slowing so dramatically – bradycardia can cause sudden death – the production team dropped in emergency rations, about which Ed felt torn…
One the one hand, obviously he was pleased to have food, but on the other, by eating it, Ed had to admit to himself, and to us, that he simply hadn’t been able to achieve his goal; he hadn’t been able to survive, alone and unaided in the wilderness for three months. That said though, as Ed pointed out during this episode, if he’d been permitted to shoot and eat animals, such as the many deer and moose that he encountered, he’d have most likely been fine.
However, the laws of the land dictate that hunting is banned in that area of the Yukon, which is great news for those of us opposed to hunting, but bad news for anyone who wants to experience the full strata of food opportunities in the wild. So in that regard alone, Ed was stymied from the get go with this experiment.
Finally, on day 50, Ed made the call that brought the rescue plane which subsequently took him back to civilisation, but it was a bitter sweet moment. It was the final admission of defeat for Ed in many ways, and the end of his “dream”; but that’s the thing with dreams, they so often don’t turn out to be anywhere near as good as the fantasy.
But, in his hotel room, Ed was finding himself somewhat fish-out-of-waterish in his surroundings. And again, as is the way of these things, he was clearly wishing by then he hadn’t left the wilderness, but I guess it’s easy to think that way when you’re full up on cheese and chocolate and when you’re warm and dry.
I’ve no doubt that Ed will look back on his adventure with increasingly rose coloured memories but I feel sure he made the right decision to leave when he did. Frankly, I’d have never had the bottle to do it in first place, even though, like Ed, it’s been a dream of mine to do just what he did from being a young child.
At least Ed did it and gave it a very, very good go, so I hope he doesn’t feel now that he failed in any way that truly matters. I don’t believe he did and watching him on his adventure has been a rare treat. Everything about it has been riveting; Ed’s trials and tribulations, the stunning scenery, the wildlife, and everything inbetween.
Bravo Ed and thank you for sharing your magnificent trip!