I’ve never been a big fan of lions. The early ejaculators (sex only lasts 1 minute and that’s on a good day) are not as graceful as the other big cats and I’m not too keen about them hunting in groups. I just think all big cats should be solitary creatures, not because it’s more advantageous to survival, but because it looks a lot cooler when they hunt. Think about it, most lion hunts are just a bunch of lions repeatedly biting an animal much bigger than them. After repeated bites the animal is finally brought down. While effective, it’s not cool. The coolest hunts are when big cats take one bite and crush the neck of their prey. The stuff you see with leopards, jaguars and tigers. That kind of killing makes for better animal documentaries and ultimately that’s all I care about — the animal’s long term survival means nothing to me.
Well, as fate would have it, lions are gifted with the one of the prime spots in the “Deserts” episode — the opening segment. Think of Planet Earth like a 4 x 100 meter relay team. Strongest runners run the opening leg and the anchor leg. Same thing here. Best segments are the opening and the closing. And for a brief moment I thought this lions segment was gonna be all kinds of dope. Here they were, desert lions (and desert lions are much cooler than regular lions because the desert backdrop does wonders for their coat. Really makes that shit pop), having to hunt an antelope without any sort of cover at all. Out in the open the lions have to rely on their speed to catch the antelope. Well, either those antelopes are really fast or the lions were stoned and had no motivation to run, because those lions weren’t anywhere close to those antelopes during the hunt. They were as close to catching those antelopes as Tim Tebow is to catching a venereal disease. And after failing to catch the antelopes the lions turned to the giraffes. And if you can believe it, that hunting attempt went worse than their one with the antelopes.
The deserts episode doesn’t have those flashy, epic wildlife scenes you see in the jungles or the grasslands. The beauty in this episode is the understated elegance of the deserts themselves. The sweeping shots that shows you structures you’ll see nowhere else. The rains that give way to floods that shape this harshest of environments. And if you’re high while watching this, this episode is epic for those reasons.
But even the deserts have some animals and maybe none of them is more impressive than the Harris Hawk. To the person who treats Planet Earth like the World Cup — only watching a nature documentary when its Planet Earth — the Harris Hawk is completely new; something they’ve never seen before. But to the rest of us who fuck with nature documentaries year around, the Harris Hawk is well known. It’s the only raptor that hunts in packs, spending its time in the desert hunting squirrels. What makes the bird special is not the group hunting — although amazing as that is — it’s the ability to stalk their prey on the ground. If their prey ducks under a cactus so it’s not out in the open, Harris Hawks take to the land and kill ’em that way. It doesn’t matter how many times you see them hunt, it’s always awesome.
As cool as the Harris Hawks are, I was quite impressed with the Butcher Bird. This bird uses the cactus the way a butcher uses hooks. While impaled on the cactus, the butcher bird dismembers it’s prey and feeds it to its children. I’m sure viewers were a little shocked that a small bird would behave in such a manner, but the butcher bird has nothing when it comes to shock value like the locusts.
When you’re name is synonymous with destruction and death of biblical proportions, it makes sense that your scene in Planet Earth would terrify viewers. And that’s exactly what the locusts did in this episode. I mean, I’m writing this almost 24 hours after it aired and the mere mention of the word “locusts” makes my skin crawl. The sheer number of locusts in this scene is outrageous, and that’s not even mentioning the destruction they reek on the land. God really wasn’t fucking around when he created these animals. They were created with one purpose in mind: FUCK. EVERYTHING. UP.
I know I say this every week — and I mean it every time I say it — but the scene with the locusts this week might be the best thing Planet Earth 2 filmed.
After we get our minds blown by the locusts we return to the Namib and watch sandgrouse fly 200 meters to a watering hole in order to get some water for their newly hatched children. The watering hole is not a safe place however as predatory hawks await the grouse. This whole thing made me think of how pointless it is to have children. These sand grouse are risking life and limb for their kids. If they never had kids they would not be risking life and limb. Maybe the sandgrouse don’t wanna have kids but because condoms are not available to them, children are just an unintended consequence of having sex. Whatever the case, I pity the animal that has to have kids. You open yourself to such danger all for the life of another.
From the Namib to Nevada. Mustangs don’t get much love when you think of wild animals that are dope and I understand why. There was a time when horses were exotic and cool but we’re past that. It’s all about the big cats now. Nonetheless, mustangs get an opportunity to show what they’re all about in this episode. Two males fight over a watering hole and while that’s cool, the best part was hearing what happens to the loser of the fight. See, each male mustang has a group of females who follow him around. But these females are only loyal to the mustang so long as he provides access to water. No water, no females. So the male that loses the fight, also loses his females to the male that wins the fight. I don’t care for the male mustangs — they’re kinda dumb — but I really respect the female mustangs. Fuck being loyal to a male who can’t even provide a basic resource like water. Leave his ass and find you a male who can get shit done.
The episode concludes with beetles scaling large sand dunes for water. It’s pretty incredible how they the extract water from such an arid place. This episode, like every other one, is phenomenal. It’s just phenomenal in a different way than the others because it lacks those flashy confrontations we see so often in other regions. Still, its great and worth multiple viewings.