“The enemy isn’t Mother Nature, it’s human nature.” That was Netflix’s spot-on tagline for its adventure competition series Outlast. Over eight episodes, 16 type-A lone wolves were sent to the Alaskan Wilderness to see who could last the longest in one of the harshest environments on planet Earth.
In the end, this series didn’t come down to outdoorsy skills—it came down to interpersonal connections. The twist of the game was that the contestants had to finish as a team to win the $1 million prize pool. No easy feat for survivalist experts used to being alone with big personalities and even bigger egos.
Over three-plus weeks, the contestants proved they had the chops to not only survive but thrive in the elements. They built shelter, fire and working rafts, and hunted, foraged and fished their own food. No problem.
What the show boiled down to was the good-ole, age-ole issue of greed. What depths of depravity will people sink to for money? Ultimately, Outlast was about good versus evil.
In the finale, Justin escapes his wicked ALPHA teammates Jill and Amber for the greener pastures of the CHARLIE camp across the river, where Paul, Seth and Nick remain. After Jill and Amber’s immoral antics, the boys are supposed to be the good guys.
At first, they welcome Justin into their McMansion of a shelter; it has indoor fire, a working door—and good vibes. “Tell us some tales, Bro!” they implore their new guest.
“Amber follows Jill around like a puppy dog,” Justin tells them. “I didn’t want to spend one more minute in that camp.”
Meanwhile, back at ALPHA, Jill isn’t gonna just let Justin’s betrayal slide. She writes a note warning CHARLIE that Justin is manipulative (pot, kettle, black) and that he destroyed their camp before he fled. She ties the note to an arrow and shoots it Robin Hood-style over the river to expose the “truth.”
Nick finds the note and reads it to the boys. Seth is super skeptical: “They’re grasping at straws, they smell blood in the water.” But they pretend that they believe Jill and are fake outraged at his immoral game play. Justin admits he shredded ALPHA’s tarps before he left.
“It’s not the correct thing to do,” Nick says self-righteously. “It’s technically sabotage. We have to separate.” CHARLIE flips a switch, and they tell Justin he’s not welcome on their team.
It’s pretty rude, they already basically accepted him, and now they’re changing their minds and dumping him for a silly reason. But they’re not dumb. It’s coming down to the end and they want to go home ASAP and eat a cheeseburger.
Also, one more player means less percentage of the million bucks for each of them. CHARLIE used Justin’s defection to weaken Jill and Amber’s chances of winning.
Justin is heartbroken, but his karma isn’t clean. Let’s not forget he’s the one who stole DELTA’s sleeping bags, making Dawn and Joel nearly freeze to death. They do a walk to the gallows, where Justin is forced to shoot off his flare and leave the game.
On Day 35, it’s down to the final five. ALPHA versus CHARLIE. Boys versus girls.
It’s 16 degrees and snowing. Winter has arrived, and it’s a wonderland. “I’m gonna start crying,” Nick says. “It’s so beautiful here.”
Still, they all want and need to get the hell out of dodge. With winter conditions, finding food and surviving the frigid nights will be nearly impossible. It’s time to wrap this game up and go home. It needs to come to an end.
A helicopter drops a surprise: a compass and a map. The final challenge will be a race to the finish line, an arduous one-day journey to the tip of a peninsula. First team there, intact with every member, wins the million.
They’ll be going to the same destination at the same distance but with drastically different paths. CHARLIE will have to manage river crossings, while ALPHA’s route has elevation changes. Both trails are extremely dangerous and difficult, considering the lack of calories and energy both teams have.
The ending is finally in sight. Loyalty and strength will be tested. The girls are worried that the boys have a brotherhood that will take them over the finish line. The boys are worried that the girls have the mental toughness to beat them there.
CHARLIE sets out on a fast pace with Paul taking the lead. They attempt to take a shortcut not realizing how many more river crossings that means. Every time they bump into one, they have to take off their shoes to cross. They’re in the water knee deep, at severe risk of hypothermia, and the ice-cold water is causing severe pain in their feet, like knives stabbing. But they keep on keepin’ on.
ALPHA’s strategy is to be mindful, watch their steps and don’t overthink. “Let’s go home to our men,” Jill says. Hopefully not the one who shot Amber in the face. In the wilderness, navigation bearings can be deceiving, and the girls wander too far east. They change the degree mark on their compass a touch and get back on track.
The teams are neck and neck.
Even though Jill and Amber have been so evil the whole game, their real, loving bond is very touching. “I’m a survivor,” Amber says. “I wasn’t a survivalist until I met Jill.”
You find yourself rooting for this crazy duo to win, and it’s like, how? Maybe this game is about forgiveness, too, and knowing that there’s always more to someone’s story you don’t know about. Also, it’s very cool to see two women keeping up with the guys on such a demanding physical challenge.
So many themes, so little time.
Anyway… CHARLIE’s journey is out in the open flood plains, while ALPHA keeps coming across unpredictable obstacles in the forest. CHARLIE is deathly afraid of not being able to warm themselves. Their legs are frozen, and they have mud up to their ankles. Nick promises to give his boots “the worst review on Amazon. They suck.”
As they come to the final leg, pun intended, the guys are losing steam. Paul can barely go on. He’s seeing black spots and has to hang back and rest frequently. His boys keep encouraging him to press on.
Jill and Amber made one mistake but never got turned around.
Paul is in trouble, but CHARLIE cannot win unless they get him to the finish line. “Lord, give me strength,” he says. “I can’t catch my breath. I’m done.”
“Let’s go, Paul!” Seth and Nick urge.
Paul keeps putting one foot in front of the other.
Jill seems superhuman but suddenly her thighs start cramping.
The teams come around the bend of a lake and can actually see the finish line…
After 36 days in the Alaskan frontier, subsisting on not much more than slugs, salmon and crab… CHARLIE wins the game. By a hair.
Nick cries as he reads the note. “Your journey ends here you’ve outlasted all the rest.” They chopper out of Alaska, collectively $1 million richer.
Jill and Amber can see that the guys have beaten them and hold hands as they finish their journey together. “We were the underdogs, we were supposed to win,” Amber shrugs.
Jill desperatately wanted to win but has no regrets sticking with her survivalist soul mate. “Ask me today, tomorrow, in 20 years, I will always tell you, I will still choose her.”
More than anything, the lesson of Outlast is that we need each other to get through the toughest life challenges. Whether in the wilderness or at work or home, having someone on your team is less of a hindrance and more of a necessity.
Read more about Outlast:
- Meet the Cast of Outlast
- EXCLUSIVE Interview with Outlast’s Jill and Amber
- Episode One Recap
- Episode Two Recap: Hunger Pains and Pains in the Butt
- Episode Three Recap: Man Down
- Episode Four Recap: Hail to the Thief
- Episode Five: Burn it to the Ground
- Episode Six: The Loyalty Test
- Episode Seven: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
I Will never watch another episode of this crap. What are we teaching our families…….to cheat steal, be rude. This game is a horrible example of the lengths people will go to win. Ridiculous for this to be allowed.
Absolutely agree. The better team won but more based on the moral and ethical line that would not be crossed by Charlie team. Alpha had no problem jumping over that line. Not sure if I would watch another Outlast series if that kind of conduct is allowed or encouraged.