Reader, some life advice: Find someone who cares about your happiness as much as I cared about the baby iguanas in first episode of Planet Earth II.
Eighteen minutes in, the episode visits one of the Galapagos Islands, where marine iguanas—the world’s only seagoing lizard—are entering the world. Newly hatched, they crawl out of the sand in the island’s interior, and must make the dangerous trek to the coasts, where they can feed. One does so, and in its wake, a snake follows. Then two. Three. Soon, dozens of Galapagos racer snakes pour out of the black rocks at the hatchlings, slithering across the sand and into your nightmares.
Every shot and musical cue heightens the tension. The racers wait in gangs, heads raised like a mythological Hydra. They come at the baby iguanas from all directions. One youngster emerges to see another being constricted mere feet away. It tiptoes past. It freezes to avoid being detected. It makes a break for it—and is caught by a racer lying in ambush. All seems lost, but somehow, it manages to slip through the ensnaring coils. Predatory jaws snap at its legs and tail, and every strike is a narrow miss. It is free, and millions of viewers finally exhale.
The iguana run is just one of several extraordinary sequences that fill the BBC’s latest landmark wildlife series—the highly anticipated sequel to its equally groundbreaking predecessor, Planet Earth. When that series was first broadcast in 2006, it was the most expensive nature documentary ever produced.