In Season 4, Episode 4 of Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People, “Growing the Wolfpack” (May 27), the Browns take advantage of an early spring to make progress on unfinished business. But a visitor from Billy’s distant past brings potential to undermine the future of Browntown and what means to be a member of the wolfpack.
Spring has come early to Chicago Bears Island. The Good Lord and drastic climate change have given the Browns an opportunity to catch up on various chores and projects that were neglected over the winter. This is good, because Brownton Abbey looks even more like a dump than usual.
First order of business, Matt has to clean the dead squirrel parts out of his house. Birdy’s cats, when they’re not getting lost or wedged between boat hulls, like to brutalize small woodland creatures.
[I realize it’s way too early in the recap for a digression, but DIGRESSION! A few years ago, a rabbit nested in our yard and had a kit of about five bunnies. This is a pain in the ass, as any homeowner knows. On more than one occasion, a rabbit chewed through the cables of my landscape lights while digging a hole. Not only did I have to worry about mulching bunnies with the lawnmower, I had to keep our dog from spazzing out every time he went outside. One night, I rescued about three of the bunnies who got stuck in a window well. The following night, my dog was very interested in smelling something in the yard. After much closer inspection with a flashlight, I discovered that it was a freshly decapitated bunny torso. At the back of the yard I could see the pointy-eared ghostly black cat with its two bright glossy eyes staring back at me. The rabbits were gone after that.]
Matt’s second order of business is to build the all-important Bush Telephone. It consists of some plastic tubing, some funnels and some wind chimes. Matt is very excited about this, because he’s a 5-year-old. Bam arrives and delivers the hard truth to Matt that this idea is terrible.
Bear decides to resume construction on his treehouse, saying he’s going to build it “as fast and as EXXXTREME as possible.” He ties his rope into what he calls AWESOME Knots, Overkill Knots and EXXXTREME Overkill Knots. All would make good names for metal bands. Bear explains how he’s building his treehouse in the style of the old trapper shacks. No, I don’t really care about that, either.
On the subject of dead woodland creatures, Noah is in his workshop. He’s sniffing glue, then using it to make Bush Hand Warmers by putting super glue in plastic tubes and mixing it with alcohol. Super Glue, or cyanoacrylate, produces exothermic reactions with a lot of different substances. I recommend going to Home Depot to buy all the components in large quantities, then sit at home and wait for the SWAT team to show up. Noah’s working on the crucial Bush Hand Warmers project because spring is arriving but WINTER’S RIGHT THERE!!
Gabe and Bam go to Hoonah to take care of some unfinished business with a dude named Trapper (not the M*A*S*H character). Bam’s carrying a large wooden fishing gaff, and I wonder if Trapper will be sleeping with the fishes tonight. But alas, Bam and Gabe are only there to help Trapper catch some king salmon. Back in the day, Billy bought a boat, fixed it up and then learned it was stolen from Trapper. Billy returned it to Trapper, and they’ve been Bush Buddies ever since. “You don’t meet that kind of people with that kind of integrity,” Trapper says about the guy who was just convicted for fraud. Notice all these Bush folks offering glowing testimonials of Billy’s honesty this season? Some people will say any kind of crap just to get on TV.
Ami and Billy go on one of their walks, which always means some serious doin’s are transpirin’. This would be so much more dramatic if they didn’t already promo the Billy’s Long-Lost Daughter storyline to death all season. Billy gathers the Browns around the fire to discuss Twila, Billy’s first daughter from his previous marriage. Everyone in the family already knows of Twila’s existence, so it’s not the bombshell we might have expected. Twila is now 44 and lives in Texas. After 30 years without any contact, Twila reached out and found Billy. (More on that later.) Now Twila’s coming up to Brownton Abbey to visit, and all the Browns act as though she’s coming to live there permanently, like this is something that’s going to ROCK THE VERY ESSENCE OF THE WOLFPACK TO ITS CORE.
Matt wants to honor the occasion with a Bush Barbecue, and he needs to find a grill. He visits Kenny (or the apparition of Kenny’s specter) at the Hoonah junkyard to find a metal grate to use as a cooking surface. “I think the reason that I love a good dump, is because of all the stuff that’s here,” Matt says, then everyone starts giggling. “I love a good dump!” Matt doesn’t find a metal grate for the grill, but he still finds a few random objects of use. “Straight from the Good Lord to the dump,” Matt says. “Ask and He shall provide!” rejoices Kenny. May the Good Lord bless your eternal soul, Kenny.
Back at Brownton Abbey, Bear is trying to turn himself into Batman by mangling a motorcycle jacket and installing saw blades into the sleeves. I do not need to express to you how impractical and pointless this is. Bear goes around slashing haphazardly at sticks. He calls himself Danger Boy, and Bam is Captain Respect the Danger. Danger Boy thinks he can “Decapitate a fish in one slash!” I like how Bam has become this show’s straight man, showing up just to tell everyone that their ideas are the worst. This is also why I am Team Bam. There is no way someone could wear Bear’s jacket without lacerating a kidney, but Danger Boy defends his innovation. “There are more EXXXTREME uses for it, like the fact that I look really cool with the blades coming off my arms.” Whatever. By now, nothing should surprise us.
So why did Billy leave his daughters (yep, there are two of them) way back when? “I was pretty much ushered out,” he says. “I wanted to leave Texas and take Twila with me. But it was made very clear that was not an option.” Well, that explains nothing. After leaving Texas, Billy roamed around Mexico, lighting campfires and listening to music boxes.
Bear hasn’t done enough B.S. already, so he and Gabe assemble the mechanical bull “bucking barrel” thing that we already saw in the season preview episode. “It’s going to make an AWESOME addition to Browntown,” Bear says, even though we’ll never see it in use again after this episode. They foresee lots of barrel bull-riding dates with girls. I foresee concussions, and appendages caught in those springs.
Rainy and Birdy have a conversation using Bush Sign Language while Birdy cleans her rifle. The subtitles give us an elaborate translation of what I’m sure are just a bunch of random gestures or signs stolen from the San Diego Padres.
Matt didn’t get a metal grate at Kenny’s junkyard. In fact, the journey was totally unnecessary. Matt already had a diamond metal grate window in his house to use as protection in the event of a zombie apocalypse. The Browns couldn’t keep a bear from ravaging their houses, so I’m pretty sure they’d be no match for legions of the undead. Still, the Browns would stand a much better chance than I would. I don’t even have a fishing gaff. But let’s save the discussion of Brownton Abbey vs. The Walking Dead for another time, or for an entirely new genre of ABP fan fiction.
The moment has finally arrived. Twila steps off the floatplane and … hey, is that Bret Michaels? Twila seems nice enough. She doesn’t say much, nor does she seem all that impressed with Brownton Abbey. She basically acts like every date one of the Brown boys have brought in. Billy shows Twila all the stupid stuff Matt’s built, such as his failed Hobbit hole. “He’s kind of like a dumb Yoda,” Bam says. Bam is totally en fuego with the zingers in this episode.
Speaking of Dumb Yoda, Matt’s cooking up Bush Ribs on his zombie-proof grill. He’s putting together a marinade consisting of what appears to be barbecue sauce and some spruce tips, kelp and sea water. Matt takes a swig of the sea water. “It tastes like the sea, but in your mouth.” Maybe Noah can rig up a Bush Dialysis Machine when Matt’s kidneys shut down.
Now comes the part of this recap that I’ve dreaded. You guys know how much I hate the parts of this show that I can’t make fun of. We know about Billy’s family dying in a plane crash, but Twila’s been through a pretty rough patch in life, too. “That catalyst for me wanting to know my family and wanting to know Billy Brown is my daughter passing,” she says. She was the only survivor of a truck accident that killed her 14-year-old daughter and Twila’s friend. Twila has another daughter that Billy hopes to meet and convert to the Brown Way.
Ami takes Twila out for a little heart-to-heart girl talk and shootin’ at the firing range. Twila lives in Texas but claims she has never shot guns before. IS THERE NO END TO THIS SHOW’S DECEIT?
And like that, Twila is back on a floatplane and headed back to the Lower 48. Maybe we’ll see Twila back in the Bush someday. “And who knows? We might go visit her,” Billy says. Eh. My guess is they already have.
So let us face the facts. Twila is Twila Byars. Clearly she’s been in contact with the Browns since at least 2011. Her travels to Southern California posted on Facebook late last year coincide with reports of the Browns also being there. So this heartwarming reunion between father and daughter as it is presented on this show is a fabrication. Dadgumit.
Next week, the Browns are back at it, trying to move some kind of a shack “until an accident ROCKS THE FAMILY TO ITS FOUNDATION.” Yes, the Browns will have to face the unimaginable prospect of Billy being unable to do work.