Do the Alaskan Bush People get paid? We asked! Read our interview with the Brown family.
“Alaskan Bush People? I’m tired of Alaskan Bush People!”
Those were the words of my 5-year-old son when I started up this week’s ABP on the DVR. You know you’ve got problems when kindergarteners are bored with you.
Bam, Bear, Gabe and Matt are in Gustavus waiting on Stevie Wonder to get his bear wood-carving done so they can haul it back to Hoonah. Somehow they end up at some guy’s place. He has a trebuchet — a catapult for those who don’t parlez ze French — and some of the boys are immediately enraptured with it and want to take it home with them. “This trebuchet is a really terrible idea,” Bam says, still being the only one with any dadgum sense. “This thing is dangerous. It’s going to be hard to move. And it’s a useless toy.” Of course, Bam gets outvoted. The guy, who hasn’t used it for a few Independence Days (the holiday when drunk Americans launch stuff with catapults) is willing to give it to them for free. And so dawns the era of the Bush Roloffs.
Back at Brownton Abbey, Birdy’s in charge of building a heavily fortified coop to protect the chickens from being breaded, fried and slathered in buffalo sauce by hungry bears.
[DIGRESSION! Our neighbors raise chickens. Last year they had about 75 little chicks living in a plastic kiddie pool under a heat lamp in their garage. They invited me and my sons to come over and check them out. They were very cute and my boys loved them. A few days later, my neighbor informed me that while their garage was left open and unattended for a short time one night, some predator had come in and killed every one of the chicks. It didn’t eat the chickens, mind you, it just killed them and left them. Was it a coyote? The Hodag? A lion? They never found out. Cleaning up that mess must’ve suuuuucked.]
Meanwhile, Billy and Ami have been hand-wringing and fretting for two straight days over letting their grown-ass sons take the Integrity out on their own. “I don’t like splitting up like this. We’ll never do it again.” Billy says. Well, there goes half of the show’s story ideas. “They’ve never had to wear all those different masks that people in society have to wear to protect themselves,” Ami says. I assume she’s talking about the bad-ass facemask that Darnell Dockett wore:
After loading the wooden bear carving and the trebuchet on the Integrity, the boys are ready to push off the dock. The dock kicks the boat in the ass on its way out as if to say, “NOW STAY OUT OF GUSTAVUS!” Bam’s brothers are busting balls about his dock-ramming skills, and I fully expect him to go Dead Calm on them all.
But maybe the rough seas and a lousy boat will do them all in. The motor is making noise and running at half power. And then it doesn’t run at all. (DRINK for Boat Malfunction!) “They may have just run the Integrity into the grave,” says our dear narrator, who is never one to speculate or use hyperbole. The Integrity, like this TV series, is now dead in the water.
Back at Brownton Abbey, Billy is just tickled to dadgum death with the chicken coop. Noah declares it to be “The Chicken Mahal,” and that’s about enough we need to hear from you today, Noah.
Bam radios a call for help, and he gets a response from the Donna Ann. While they wait, they get to enjoy the back and forth and up and down and back and forth and up and down and so on from the rough water. Matt throws up over the side of the boat, not because of seasickness, but because he spent another hot night out on the town. Eventually the Donna Ann shows up and tows the Integrity to the dock in Hoonah. Assessing the engine trouble, it’s determined that “the line that connects the throttle to the engine is missing.” Missing? It’s not like stuff like that just goes missing. Could it be … SABOTAGE? Gabe fixes it with a shoelace. Then there’s a lot of playing with hoses and tanks, and Matt identifying various fluids by tasting them. There’s concern that there’s water in the engine, in which case they should just scuttle the boat. It’s the Hoonah harbormaster’s problem now. But, surprise surprise, the engine starts up again and the Integrity is homeward bound.
There’s much rejoicing when the stout crew of the Integrity returns, and there’s hugging and yada yada yada until Billy asks,”So, how’d it go?” He gets silence and blank stares for an answer. Bear then totally throws Bam under the bus, saying that Bam almost wrecked the boat about seven times. Jerk. I bet Bear stole the throttle thingamabob. We expect Billy to give the boys the Mother of All Tongue-Lashings, but this is the new Post-Seizure Billy, and he’s much more chill these days. “Normal trip in the bush,” he says.
Quick! Someone tell Billy about the trebuchet while he’s still in a good mood! “Dad needs to behold the AWESOMENESS of the trebuchet!” Bear says. And, yeah, Billy is actually quite dadgum tickled with this awful thing the boys brought home with them. It will be ever so fun on the Fourth of July when Matt gets accidentally snagged in it and hurled hundreds of feet into Port Frederick. They try to load the trebuchet onto The Skiff, and Matt and Bam have a spat (DRINK!) about how not to capsize it.
Actually, the trebuchet looks really cool on The Skiff. I like the idea of a weaponized Skiff. I like to imagine The Skiff leading a flotilla of ancient Roman galleys, or lobbing cannonballs at the Spanish Armada.
Back at The Chicken Mahal, Noah waxes philosophical about Chicken Existentialism. All this expense of effort and lumber to protect the chickens, and for what? Either the chickens will be bred to produce eggs or be an ingredient in a casserole.
But there’s a bigger issue facing Brownton Abbey than the futility of the Chicken Condition. Bears have breached the outer defenses, penetrated deep into Brown territory and scattered a bunch of the family’s junk around. With the bears advancing and the Integrity on the fritz, now seems like the perfect time for taking the whole family out on an “extended fishing trip.” The Browns fortify their defenses against the bears and head out on a boat held together by Gabe’s shoelace.
In the interstitial segment, we find Ami returning from a “life-changing” doctors appointment. “How about it, Mom? Let’s see it,” one of the boys says. Huh? See what? What is it? Boob job? No, it’s … new teeth! Ami’s got herself a nice set of dentures, and they really do look nice. Getting rid of Ami’s old teeth eliminates the other half of ABP story lines.
The Browns are doing some undoubtedly legal and licensed fishing for halibut. They’re baiting hooks and dropping lines deep in the water, letting the bait soak so it can attract the halibut. When it’s time to bring in the lines, there’s a lot of unnecessarily complicated and seemingly dangerous stuff happening. Gabe is standing over the side of the boat. He and Bam are arguing. Mellow Post-Seizure Billy tells Bam to chill. Gabe says he gets a little overzealous and hotheaded sometimes. “I guess just the pressure’s on. The heat of the moment,” he says.
Several fish are caught and punched. (These halibut aren’t really putting up much fight, and there’s talk on Twitter that the Browns’ fish, like their deer, are all pre-killed.) Everyone is happy. Bam and Gabe make nice with a fishy high five. “That is the slimiest five I’ve ever given,” Gabe tells Bam.
Billy is pleased with the catch and with all that has transpired. “The Browns as a family cannot be stopped. And we’ve proven it time and time again,” he boasts. Maybe a judge in an Alaskan courtroom or a Discovery Channel executive with a conscience might soon put a swift end to Billy’s hubris.
While the Browns are busy not getting stopped on their extended fishing trip, back at Brownton Abbey, a bear busts his way through poorly boarded-up windows directly in front of conveniently placed field cameras.
The last time I was this excited to watch bears destroy stuff was Super Bowl XX.