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Forged in Fire: Medical drama as contestant collapses, plus Katzbalger challenge

Forged in Fire starts off with four contestants, with the Katzbalger the final challenge

On tonight’s Forged in Fire on History, titled The Katzbalger, one contestant falls ill with chest pains and is taken away by ambulance as the three remaining contestants battle for the $10,000 purse!

The show pits third generation Alaskan bladesmith and “avid dancer” Paul, part-time bladesmith, and self-admitted super intense dude Jesse, full-time bladesmith Rashelle, and a former English teacher turned full-time bladesmith, James.

Welcome to the third episode at the Forge this season!

Host Willis and three experts will put the pedal to their metal tonight

Host Wil Willis brings the three experts out, master bladesmith Jason Knight, recreationist expert David Baker, and combat specialist Doug Marcaida. This trio knows weaponry!

The $10,000 kitty is at stake as two push knives must be made in round one. This is a first for the show.

The requirements are that they have 4-6 inch blade, one inch wide, with a full fist tang. Push daggers were created for concealment and meant to be easily palmed and used in a thrusting close-range motion. They will be tested for usability.

They get 10 minutes for their design period.

“The tang on these blades has to be a full-fist tang,” says Willis. “You need it have it very lean to fit it between the fingers,” adds David Baker.

The four-hour forging time is intense as each contestant has to do two knives. Then they have to be turned into fully functioning blades as a denim bag slice and a sheet-steel punch determines the best ones.

Jesse is already blowing it according to the observing experts.

James has a strategy, and it is working, he has at least made something resembling a knife.

Paul is making mistakes and has a problem, the thinness of the blade at the handle. The experts know and make mention of it.

Rashelle is killing it. Then part of the drill bit gets in her eye. She is checked out and cleared to continue.

Rashelle gets a drill bit in her eye, but keeps forging ahead

Meanwhile, Jesse is having physical reactions and sucks down water. “Everything is dizzy,” he says.

The brutally competitive nature of Forged in Fire seems like it made this guy collapse. An ambulance arrives and he is now officially out.

Jesse talks to a medic from the ambulance crew after collapsing.

The drama has subsided as Paul is cranking his second blade. “I’m high stepping now,” he says, grinning like he won it already. Then, his hubris is paid back as his blade snaps.

Former Army Ranger Willis is at the barking orders portion of his hosting duties shouting the remaining time limits.

Heat treat time! This the most important part of the process. Rashelle says: “I’m most concerned about the hardness of the tips.” A portentous statement if there ever was one.

James takes a different strategy and takes his time, and he goes to quench his second blade. Ack! He gets a warp. And then again.

Time is counting down. And we are shut down. “FORGING TIME IS OVER!” yells Wil.

The parameters of their concept to phase one are examined. Rashelle is up first. Her push knives are well-received by the judges.

James is next. Doug loves his blade. The experts all dig his stuff. The warp business is mentioned as the only flaw.

Paul is taken to task for his uncomfortable knife handle. He also gets some high marks though for the look of his blades. But the work is far from over. It’s anybody’s game at this point.

Attaching and refining the handles is next. Three hours to do this task, they must finish their weapons.

Timeout for the weird Forged in Fire expression of the night…What are ‘John Brown hind parts’, exactly? Wil Willis says James will be bitten there as he observes him working.

Well, perhaps time may be against him because of the intricacies of his design, but they all are in a version of that race.

As an aside, we learn that Paul has no flushing toilet or running water in his Alaskan home. “The world is my urinal,” he says. TMI Paul.

Disaster as Paul’s handle breaks when being tooled. He snapped a blade tip and now he’s redoing the handle.

The steel is made too narrow at the neck of the blade

Rashelle is said to be falling behind according to the experts.

Now they are in a race to strop their blades. Stropping puts the razor’s edge to a blade and is a long process considering the little time left for all.

Done. Now Jason Knight puts the blades through the ringer. Rashelle’s one blade did well, the other tip broke off.

Next is James, his blades pass muster. Handsomely.

Paul is nervous. Jason whacks his blades and he has a little edge deformation but the tip is okay. Paul says: “I really just want to do a jig.”

Sharpness test is next. Doug Marcaida has the most fun on this show. His whole gig is to be the end user of the weapons, testing for strength and durability, sharpness and kill test.

He tests the weapons with the specially-designed tasks, letting the weapons perform the task-work so all the experts can pick the best weapon presented for the final decision.

Rashelle’s blades slice and dice. Doug loves her blades and says “good job”.

Doug digs these blades, they performed well

James is next. Double reinforced denim bags are brutal. One blade does well, the other not so much.

Paul’s blades “feel good”, says Doug, adding: “Overall, your blades will cut!”

Final round time as we are all on pins and needles…or the knife’s edge of our seats. I’ll be here all week so do try the veal.

The expert’s dish about the blades. Paul’s get pretty good marks. James’s blades thrust well but one didn’t lacerate all the way through. Rashelle’s blades get dissed over the broken tip.

The smiths are brought out to hear the verdict. Rashelle is cut! The broken tip and general design were noted. She got weepy in her goodbye speech.

So it’s Paul versus James! The Katzbalger is their five-day challenge!

Behold the mighty Katzbalger, a shorter broadsword that did its fair share of maiming

These two head to their home forges to make this shorter broadsword used in Renaissance-era European wars.

The length must be 33-35 inches, a fully sharpened blade and design elements that make it true to the historical look of the original.

We head to Moose Pass, Alaska, as Paul shows us his gear. His place looks very Alaskan bachelor.

Paul’s home forge in Moose Pass, Alaska

Then we jet to Floresville, Texas, where James is using all sorts of exotic tools to imagine his broad sword.

You get the feeling he does renaissance festivals as a hobby. There are a ton of those in the Lone Star state.

James’ sword nearly done and looking authentic

James used a synthetic handle while Damascus hardwood is in Paul’s sword handle.

The final testing begins after the fifth day.

James’ blade withstands the bullet test. A tiny deformation but he’s clear!

Paul is aghast someone is shooting his blade with a gun. Jason says: “Almost identical damage, Paul”

Sharpness test gets handed off to Doug. James’s is up first. Doug says: “Your edges are razor sharp…your blade will cut!”

Paul is next. “I’m scared to death!” he says. Doug wails on the bag and…a laceration but not great cuts. He says: “Your blade will cut…but not as deeply.” A classic Doug burn!

The pig carcass test is next! This is for the kill. Doug takes James’ sword and…it totally kills!

The pig carcass after James’s sword left a big gash

Now Paul is nervous again. Doug takes his blade and…calamity time, no edge and no kill!

Paul’s sword does not kill, and leaves no mark

The winner will be James! The Texan takes it and Paul packs it up as Doug says: “You are one of six people ever to have their sword take a bullet.”

Paul uses his sign out speech to throw in that he is single and ready to mingle, so you Alaskan ladies who don’t mind a lack of indoor plumbing or a man with some dance moves peeing outdoors should head over to Moose Pass.

Forged In Fire episode airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on History

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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