Kicking & Screaming recap: The chess champion wants to be the executioner at summer camp edition

Sam and Caleb talk big, but it’s all talk and no substance

There are nine teams left at the beginning of the second week of FOX’s new survival challenge show, Kicking & Screaming.

A few minutes into the episode, there are only eight teams remaining.

Remember how they let these “survival” contestants have bug repellant?

Turns out, Kirsten is REALLY allergic to DEET, that magical ingredient that keeps the skeeters away.

Last week, they shot her with an Epi Pen. But she wakes up just as swollen and allergic as she was the night before, and they don’t know what’s wrong with her.

Her partner Ras doesn’t want her to drop out, because that will eliminate him, too.

“That’s actually in a nutshell, a lot of what survival is. It’s how much can you take,” Ras the Rastafarian gives his Malibu Barbie partner a pep talk.

Kirsten toughed it out as long as she could, but fell to the bug repellant she thought was helping her

She tries to hang in, but by nightfall, she’s looking worse, so they bring in the medics.

Kirsten doesn’t want to go to the hospital initially, but she NEEDS to go.

But it’s okay because if the docs clear her, she can come back in the morning.

Say what? Wait a hot second!

When people tag out for medical reasons on survival shows, they don’t get to come back the next day. WTF?

That’s a little bit ridiculous. But this is a new show and they’re probably making up the rules as they go along.

Host Hannah Simone calls a meeting the next morning to announce that Kirsten dropped out for medical reasons.

“So Ras, you are also out of the game,” Hannah says.

Poor Ras. He probably wasn’t even using bug repellant.

Poor Kirsten, she looked positively miserable.

To the best of my knowledge, this hasn’t come up on other survival shows because they don’t let the contestants bring bug repellant.

Bummer to see her go so early. She looked entertaining. So did Ras.

Folks are getting hungry, and you know what comes next? Hangry.

It’s time to start scrounging for food.

They find taro roots, and there’s plenty of the potato-like food for everybody.

Nakeisha gets all dramatic about tasting the stuff they cook over the fire.

“I was having food phobia about plants and things,” she says. It was a little ridiculous.

“I’m not worried about the jungle. I’m worried about my partner,” John says. He doesn’t think Nakeisha can hack it.

Tamra and Max return from their elimination challenge, and she gets all dramatic about how, by choosing who goes up against the losers in the next challenge, they’re the first ones introducing negativity to the game. Sigh.

Tamra is too nice for a show with a cash prize – so she tells Max he has to be the bad guy

A little too touchy-feely for my taste.

Tamra is bummed that the only other survivalist likely to talk to plants has left. The rest of the pros are all military types.

She’s too nice for this game. But I like her for being true to who she is.

She and Max choose Caleb and Sam to go to the elimination challenge.

And that’s when Sam starts to change from the nice guy into the Angel of Death.

Sam says he’s happy to be “the executioner”

“At the end of the day, these challenges feel a little bit like warmup to me because you always have a second chance. The next one’s the real one, and I’m more than happy to play the role of executioner,” Sam says.

“Kitty got claws,” Baywatch Angelica says.

Sam and Caleb don’t compete in the prize challenge of the day.

It’s interesting learning the rules of a new show, as we go along. The power advantages are starting to make sense.

Today’s prize is food. Lots and lots of food.

The challenge involves breaking plates with other competitor’s names on them. When their plate gets hit, they’re out of the game. The last name left is the winner, and their team gets the prize.

“Give me 30 seconds, I’ll break them all,” John says.

But actually, it’s his food-phobic teammate Nakeisha who wins the game, beating Maxwell head to head.

“You saved our asses,” John tells Nakeisha. “I can’t tell you how proud I am here.”

Brady and Claire were the first team eliminated, but they’re also the lucky team the winners chose to share their feast. So they get the advantage of getting to eat before competing in the elimination the next morning.

Like with the tent last week, the prize is set up on a table right next to their campsites. I think that’s the worst part for the losers – watching the winners enjoy the prize.

Meanwhile, the other competitors are scavenging.

“Does somebody want this worm?” Tamra asks.

“Is it safe?” Max is totally serious.

“I don’t know if he’s been tested or anything,” Tamra jokes.

“Will you say a prayer for him?” Maxwell asks.

“Wormy was a good worm, Amen.” Tamra says a lighthearted prayer, and Max eats his first bug.

Sam continues his unfortunate relationship with the machete.

Last week, he almost cut off Caleb’s hand. Tonight, he got the blade stuck in a piece of wood.

Sam plays chess on the U.S. national team. Apparently he’s brilliant, and he’s happy to tell you so.

He seems to have some social interaction issues. It’s like he’s completely oblivious to people’s reactions to him.

“I would say I’m almost an encyclopedia of perfection,” Sam tells them all. He even has a Wikipedia page.

He’s many things. Humble isn’t one of them.

But he has a goal.

“I want to make a good name for chess players. We’re often portrayed as scrawny, socially clueless nerds… that have never seen a woman before,” Sam says. Not true. There are women who play chess.

But he’s already busted that stereotype because he’s a good looking man. He badly needs to work on his tan, but other than that, his looks aren’t his problem.

All of the participants are much friendlier with each other than on other survival shows.

This is totally summer camp. They hunt bugs together. They dance around and play.

Everybody’s into it except Sam.

“Do I look like I’m here to mess around?” Sam barks angrily, when Caleb tries to draw him into the circle of dancing campers.

“I make my living crushing people’s dreams. It’s what I do,” Sam says.


In all seriousness, there’s something off about this guy. When I made the comment earlier about him being socially off, I understated it.

Sam is creepy to listen to in interview. He’s all about being a “dream crusher”.

I think he’d actually hurt somebody to win, if he had to get physical.

And in interview, Caleb is starting to sound a little like Sam. #Scary

It’s a rock-climbing challenge. The novices have to repel down a short wall to kick things off.

Claire slips right away, but it ends up giving her the advantage. Until she can’t get unclipped.

Brady beating Sam in the rock-climbing elimination challenge

But then Sam forgot to take the key to the last part of the challenge from Caleb, so they lose. After all that smack talk. #Awkward

In their post-game interviews, Sam and Caleb are super buddy-buddy, like they’ve become besties. It’s just weird because that’s not how they seemed before they got picked for the elimination challenge.

Next week, John and Nakeisha get into an argument, and it’s the first time we see drama between teammates.

Best line of the night

When Jason tells etiquette queen Elaine that rabbit’s eyeballs are good for you because they’re full of electrolytes. Her face! Bahahaha!

Things we’re left wondering

So are competitors seriously able to leave for medical reasons and return? This is definitely the first challenge show I’ve seen where they allowed that.

How long will the warm fuzzies last? The dance party looked fun, but I was serious when I said this show looks like adult summer camp. They’re having a blast and the suffering has been kept to a minimum (pass the DEET, please).

Kicking & Screaming airs Thursdays at 9/8c on FOX.

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