After last week’s demoralizing arguments, this week’s episode starts on a high note. During a quiet campfire chat, Pasquale seemingly agrees to stop ordering the other explorers around like a dictator.
For perhaps a single day, the expedition hums. The terrain is forgiving, the weather is comfortable, and spirits are up. Mireya and Benedict even have time to flirt a bit, albeit in an understated, professional manner. For the first time in quite a few eps, people are smiling. Everyone’s set for a fun night of celebration in Tabora, an ancient trading center and bustling marketplace where Stanley himself let loose.
But Africa has a sardonic sense of timing.
Just as the team rolls into Tabora, Benedict’s blindsided by malaria. Now, I was assuming malaria meant game over. I figured a helicopter with a History Channel logo would thunder in and fly Benedict to a world-class hospital where he could be pumped full of antimalarial drugs. But that’s not the show we’re watching.
Instead, a local doctor comes out in a Range Rover, hooks him up to a saline IV, and gives him what appear to be a couple Lorazepam tablets. That’s it. Benedict suffers through the fever for 36 hours or so, and then it’s back to work.
It’s inspiring, to say the least. I, for one, am completely knocked out by a stomach flu for about a week. This guy had malaria, which kills 100 million people every year, and he was back to carrying a fifty-pound pack across the savannah in a day. Most of all, I never saw a trace of fear on his face, only a look of bitter disappointment that he might miss out on the rest of the trip. Mireya’s maternal instincts were touching as well. Pasquale even stopped scowling for a bit.
After such a serious brush with Africa’s deadliest killer (about half of the human beings who have ever died on earth were killed by mosquitos), you’d think the power struggles would stop, that compassion and mutual appreciation would spread through the team like wildfire. It was a touching sequence, and it looked like some old wounds may have been healed.
But then? Hungry hippos, stagnant water, and Pasquale.
Head over to the History Channel or Hulu to watch full eps of Expedition Africa, or tune in Sunday nights at 10/9c.