'Love in the Wild' eliminates Jess Debolt and Derek Leach
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/28/2011
Love in the Wild eliminated Jess Debolt and Derek Leach during Wednesday night's fifth episode of the new NBC reality dating series, which features singles attempting to find love in the Costa Rican jungle.
"This experience has been unlike anything I've ever been a part of my whole life, and through all of that, Derek has been like that rock that I can always go back to and I know I can count on him. I am so happy and grateful that I was able to come here and meet someone like Derek. He has helped push me to my full potential that I didn't even know I had in me. It's nice that it's not the end for us. There's that spark. There's that little something that it's hard to put your finger on but it's there. It'll be cool to see where we take that," Jess, a 24-year-old travel executive from San Francisco, CA, said after her elimination.
"I came back [after I was treated for my foot injury] for Jess. I really did. I like her. I do. I like Jess, and I absolutely would like to see something come out of it. I couldn't be happier that I came here. I had an incredible experience. I do not want to go home, but I did meet a great girl and I would love to see her again. There are a lot of aspects she has that I like in a woman. I'm not closed off to the possibility of love, so could this be a long-term relationship? Absolutely, and I mean that," Derek, who was automatically eliminated for being unable to physically compete in future adventures, said following his ouster.
Love in the Wild host Darren McMullen then met with the remaining six single men and six single women who are looking for love while undertaking a series of adventurous activities in the hopes of winning luxurious rewards.
Darren explained that each man and woman who paired up during last week's episode at the season's fourth Couples' Choice Ceremony must test their relationships and discover whether absence really makes the heart grow fonder. They were required to switch partners for their fifth jungle adventure and sleep in their cabins together at night, however, they would later get the option to stay in that new match or change partners based on the order they completed the adventure.
Darren added that unlike prior adventures, the couple to finish their adventure in first place would not be guaranteed a switch at the subsequent Couples' Choice Ceremony and could therefore be eliminated like everyone else in the competition.
The men were allowed to pick their new partners first following a random draw. Skip Sullivan, a 30-year-old loan underwriter from Milton, MA chose Jess, while Benjamin Hooker, a 27-year-old MBA graduate from Charleston, SC picked Samantha Woods, a 23-year-old wedding planner from Huntington Beach, CA.
Steele Dewald, a 24-year-old pro golfer from Scottsdale, AZ opted to compete with Heather Pond -- a 26-year-old public relations professional from Sonoma, CA who was worried about the excursion because Steele had been known for his last-place or next-to-last place-finish curse in every adventure -- while Derek asked Erica Scherle, a 24-year-old self-employed songwriter manager from Nashville, TN to partner up.
Mike Spiro, a 29-year-old commercial real estate broker from San Francisco, CA, selected Theresa Trujillo, a 24-year-old Hooters girl and real estate agent from San Jose, CA, while Miles Haefner, a 28-year-old client services manager from Saint Louis Park, MN, chose to take on the season's fifth adventure with Brandee Dillehay, a 25-year-old mental health specialist from Nashville, TN.
The couples were instructed to follow a track where they'd find a wooden box secured with a three-digit combination lock -- of which they only knew one of the numbers -- that contain a map which would lead them to numerous other crates.
The pairs then needed to transport their crates via mule to a lost canyon and then upon reaching their destination, they were required to open the crates using crowbars, gather and dress in their equipment, and then rappel over 200 feet down the canyon. Once the couples landed, they were instructed to retrieve a wooden artifact and carry the heavy idol all the way to the finish line.
A few couples struggled to open the lock on the wooden box at the beginning of the course, but the rest of the adventure progressed easily for the pairs. However, Derek -- who was physically exhausted from all the walking -- allowed his artifact to slip down from his shoulders and drop on his foot. The incident left him with a broken big toe and an open wound susceptible to infection.
Due to Derek's injury, Derek and Erica stopped and the other teams were allowed to catch up. Jess and Skip passed Derek and Erica along the route but then decided they did not want to come in first place because they didn't want to win the adventure's first-place prize -- a night alone together at the posh Oasis resort.
Samantha and Ben then managed to finish the adventure in first place, and they were followed by Skip and Jess, Derek -- who limped to the finish line -- and Erica, Mike and Theresa, Steele and Heather, and finally Miles and Brandee.
While Samantha and Ben enjoyed their time together at the Oasis, the rest of the couples spent time with each other in their less plush cabins, or bungalows. Samantha and Ben realized their relationship did not surpass a friendship, while most of the other couples returned to their previous partners they had before the fifth adventure and reconnected.
Samantha was longing to be matched up with Mike again -- whom she had been paired up with throughout their entire Love in the Wild experience up until that point. However, Ben didn't seem as thrilled to re-establish his relationship with Brandee. Brandee felt Ben showed little interest in her, as he had yet to even kiss her, and feared their connection was not growing to become anything special.
Darren gave all six couples the same instructions as last week except for the one twist that the winning couple did not receive immunity. He then announced the women would be given the option to stay with their own partners or switch and get to know someone else better first, because the men were given the ability to pick their partners for the adventure.
All the remaining couples' members were given the opportunity to decline a request to pair up with any castmate, but would risk elimination if not selected by another man or woman afterwards as the last man and woman without a match would be eliminated.
However, Darren explained that Derek -- who had yet to re-join the competition after leaving for treatment of his injury -- was being eliminated because he was no longer capable of competing in the future challenges. Derek then appeared and said he felt had formed a strong bond with Jess he felt it was necessary to say goodbye in person, tell her he cared for her, and suggest they should reunite following the show.
Jess admitted she felt the same way about Derek, and then both contestants acknowledged how they could see a long-term relationship working out between them.
Most of the couples chose to return to the partner they had prior to the big mix-up. Samantha reunited with Mike, Skip chose Theresa, Erica picked Steele, and Heather selected Miles.
Jess, left without Derek, decided to put herself in the unmatched zone because she felt it would be wrong to breakup any of the remaining couples just to stay in the competition when she knew she only had feelings for Derek. In addition, Ben wanted to reunite with Brandee but she declined his offer because she was not convinced he really cared about her.
Brandee's decision left Jess, Ben and herself all in the unmatched area, and it was then Ben's turn to decide what to do since he had completed the adventure before the two women.
Ben, rather than ask Jess for partnership, begged Brandee to give him another chance -- claiming she was a beautiful girl and he thought they were getting along great.
A hesitant Brandee then had to decide between "sticking it out" with Ben for another adventure or being eliminated, so she chose to give Ben another shot. Jess and Derek were then left as the last individuals standing and departed with the hopes of having foundLove in the Wild.