On last night’s season premiere of Discovery’s Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls took Jake Gyllenhaal into the snow-covered mountains of Iceland during a blizzard that shut down local airports for two days of adventure. Gyllenhaal wasn’t as much of a walking quote-machine as Will Ferrell was in 2009 (relive those highlights here), but he was arguably even braver. Below, the top 5 moments:
• Jake and Bear cross a freezing river shirtless. Man vs. Wild fans know that Bear has no problem stripping down for such crossings — that way he can keep all of his clothes dry and put them back on after doing some nude calisthenics. It seems to me that if the situation didn’t warrant full disrobing, they probably didn’t need to get Jake shirtless. Though I suppose it could have just looked a bit unnecessary because the water never came above their waist and no one fell in. (How cute did they look holding hands?) “It takes balls,” Bear said of the crossing as they redressed, shivering. “Well, they’re right up in my throat right now,” Jake answered.
• Jake confronts his fear of heights by pulling himself across a 150-ft. deep river gorge on a tightrope. “Holy [bleep],” Jake said upon seeing the line. I’d love to know how much time it took “legitimately scared” Jake to mentally prepare for that, let alone do it. It was perhaps the most tense, terrifying exercise we’ve ever seen on the show. How do you balance yourself on a rope, in the wind and snow, and pull yourself that length — which even Bear said he’d never done before — when you’re exhausted and hungry? “That was a moment I’ll never forget in my life. It was incredible,” Jake said when it was over. The awe on his face was beautiful. “Fear plus excitement equals enjoyment,” he said, summing it up perfectly. By the time he and Bear left the wild dangling below a helicopter, his fear of heights seemed to be gone.
• Jake and Bear make a snow cave — and Brokeback Mountain jokes. They dug a hole into a wall of snow for shelter. “I just found Will Ferrell frozen in there,” Jake cracked. The idea of getting out of the wind made them both punchy. Jake was on his knees in front of Bear digging out snow and Bear joked that it made him think of a few scenes in Brokeback Mountain. “I sure hope not,” Jake laughed. Then Jake turned around, sat on his butt, and joked that he was going to shovel snow out from between his legs into Bear’s face. Did he mean that to look as dirty as it did? If so, I love him. We also found out that Jake loves digging holes — he dug his own foxholes during the making of Jarhead — and wonders if he was possibly a gopher in another life. I’d like to have seen more of their conversation in the snow cave. I’m sure they were exhausted, but I doubt they could fall asleep right after they made hot chocolate by candlelight with some contraband Jake brought from his hotel and Bear worried that Jake would get their water and pee bottles mixed up during the night.
• Jake is lowered into a hole to cut apart a dead sheep. Apparently Jake has gutted animals before. Who knew? But because one of the legs fell off in his hand and he lifted the carcass, Bear determined the meat would be bad so it was all for nothing. (Unless you count another tense moment when Jake walked through a snow tunnel that could have collapsed to meet back up with Bear.) The only protein Jake and Bear got during the episode was a worm the next morning for breakfast. I’d give Ferrell, who ate a reindeer eyeball, the edge on best gross-out moment.
• Jake takes the lead — and a pee. Because visibility got so bad, Bear had to tie a leash on Jake and send him trekking ahead in a whiteout. That way, if Jake fell through a crevice, Bear would be the one left on the surface to pull his partner to safety. I found myself uttering a concerned “Jake… ” throughout the episode, but this was the first time. At one point, Jake did fall through the snow and you had to gasp. Luckily, the hole was only waist-deep. Jake had to pee after that. Since it was so windy, he had to kneel in the snow. “Always pee downwind. That’s lesson one,” Bear joked. Jake said he spelled out “BG” in the snow.