On Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People episode “Shots in the Dark” (June 17), the wolfpack is on high alert after mysterious shots were fired causing property damage on the shores of Browntown. The strength of the family is tested as the Browns struggle to finish a salvage job shorthanded.
It’s spring in Brownton Abbey, and there’s a lot of work to do. For Matt, this means it’s time for another half-baked, half-assedly executed and totally unnecessary project. Matt builds a raft out of an air mattress, and he uses a modified weed whacker with a propeller on it for the raft’s engine. Since most weed whackers aren’t built to spin anything heavier than a spool of that nylon string, Matt burns out the engine. And if he hadn’t burned out the engine, how long would it have been before Matt weed-whacked the mattress and deflated it?
We return to the Hoonah dump, where Noah is browsing the aisles for old discarded things that can be turned into new things that don’t work. “It’s important to have an open mind whenever you come to the dump,” he says. Indeed, I always walk through dumps with a mindset of wondrous possibilities and not deep, crushing despair. Noah spies a few items of interest, including a junked security camera that he hopes to turn into night vision goggles. Not to spoil anything, but I have a hunch that some night vision goggles might come in handy later in this episode. But where’s the ghost of Kenny during all of this? Even he has better things to do.
Springtime means that Hoonah-area folks are desperate to have their useless crap hauled from one side of the island to the other. Matt accepts a job from one such desperate soul to transport some boat fenders — large bumpers that prevent damage from boats running into the dock — which Billy could’ve used on multiple occasions. Never forget:
Elsewhere in Hoonah, Billy’s buddy and apologist Trapper Trout is having his boat dry docked to make repairs. Bam and Gabe are there to help him out, because helping people out is the Bush Way and the Browns have to pay Trapper back for all the nice things he was forced to say on TV about Billy. We’ve seen it before, but Trapper’s boat is a real POS. After pressure-spraying the outer hull, they find a few small and not-so-small holes in it. They fill the small holes with waterproof putty, and the bigger holes get covered with plates of scrap metal. “I can’t count the number of times in the past that my family has needed help like this, and somebody has swooped in and saved the day,” Gabe says. Yeah, funny how that works, isn’t it?
Billy catches wind of Matt’s boat fender job, and he has his concerns. “It’s never how it seems,” Billy tells Bam. It’s funny how the combination of Billy Brown Syndrome and torn ACL have turned Billy into a wise old soothsayer. Billy’s next scamming job could be as a Bush Psychic Medium.
Matt should be preparing the Integrity and its crew for the hauling job, but he chooses instead to dick around with his mattress raft. He’s giving up the mechanical propulsion idea in favor of a sail to “harness the solar wind.” Solar wind? Sure, dude. Whatever. I’m done arguing with you. His sail is made of a space blanket, which is basically a sheet of mylar plastic, the same stuff they use in those balloons and that they used to wrap porno mags in, back when people read such things for, you know, the articles. Matt’s calling this vessel the Queen of Hearts, because he built it out of a queen-size mattress and he put a lot of heart into it. Ah, I see what you did there, Matt! Very clever! “Basically I see myself as an explorer and as an astronaut,” Matt says, insulting both explorers and astronauts. After some fumbling around, Matt catches enough wind in the sail to get his raft to float out into the bay. “This is just a perfect example of Matt’s madness kind of turning into mad genius,” Gabe says. Gabe doesn’t have much faith in Matt’s seamanship or the seaworthiness of his craft, so he yells to Matt to bring it back in. “OK, I guess it’s time to go home. … I don’t really know how you do that,” Matt says. And Matt was never seen again.
That night, the future of the Brown family will be changed forever when a gunshot rings out in the distance. Wait. Haven’t we seen this before? Yes! A gun-toting boogeyman way back in Season 1 ran the Browns out of Chitina, or so the story goes. “When you hear a gunshot in the night, there’s no doubt it’s the number one priority is keeping everybody safe,” Billy says right after telling all of his boys to go out and investigate. After a lot of Zero Dark Thirty Bush SEAL Team Six drama, they call off the search.
In the morning, Bear puts on his Nikes, grabs his rifle, and goes running off into the woods sniffing for clues. “When you’re dealing with people, they’re the most unpredictable animal of all,” Bear says. Meh. Everything I’ve seen from these people has been very predictable.
Bam and Bear take the skiff to inspect the Integrity for damage. “I really hope it was just somebody goofing off or being an idiot or whatever,” Bam says. So have we ruled out Matt as the culprit? After some investigating, they find that there’s a hole in the mooring buoy, the basketball-sized orange floaty thing that makes it possible for them to locate the permanent anchor. They take the buoy to show Billy. “It looks pretty obvious it’s a high-powered rifle,” Billy says, sticking his finger into one of the holes. Oh, yes, it’s OBVIOUS that hole is from a gunshot. Let’s not mention how that buoy looked severely damaged from the sun and the sea and was probably very brittle. And what about that other hole just inches away from the bullet hole? What’s that from, eh? The guy who just minutes ago said “It’s never how it seems” is now quick to jump to the silliest conclusion. I give the show’s producers credit for continuing to amaze me with bullshit.
Birdy, Rainy, Gabe and Matt take off for the boat fender job, and they spend the journey talking trash about Bam. Matt says that it’s nice not having Bam along for this job and that he intentionally excluded him from it. I hope they all get shipwrecked and marooned for failure to respect the danger. They arrive at the spot where the boat fenders are “stored,” and it’s just like someone abandoned these three massive things in the woods years ago. Much like the Suzuki Samurai from earlier this season, the Browns are just hauling away someone’s garbage. Nobody needs these boat fenders, especially not by “the end of tomorrow.” The entire process of rolling these things into the water is kinda dull, except for when Birdy and Rainy start throwing elbows into each other. “You’re not sumo wrasslers! Stop it!”
Bam Gabe scolds them. I thought of a Birdy vs. Rainy sumo Photoshop that would probably be inappropriate, so just use your imagination on that one.
Billy does his weekly welfare check on Noah, whose latest creation is a night vision helmet. “Is it supposed to look like an alien head?” Billy asks. Noah has transformed a hard hat, a welding helmet, a security camera, a security camera monitor and a piece of a yoga mat into this … thing. Noah says the helmet allows him to see about 40 feet ahead in the dark. Does that 40 feet include the length of the power cord?
“With this thing, you’re the predator,” Noah says. Alien or Predator? You decide.
Of course, this thing is not true night vision. The helmet doesn’t amplify small amounts of light. It produces its own light with LEDs, which isn’t at all stealthy and totally defeats the purpose. This is why SEAL Team Six operators don’t wear mining helmets. When you break it down, Noah essentially has created a heavy, cumbersome, less effective, less mobile and less efficient flashlight. Bully for him.
Back at the boat fender job site, the third fender is lodged pretty deep into the trees. Matt’s going to tie it up to the Integrity to yank that sucker like pulling one of his mom’s teeth. But the tide is rolling away Otis Redding-style, and the shallow water warning goes off on the boat. URGENCY! They have to hurry before they run aground and wreck the Integrity and Brownton Abbey will be ruined and the future of the wolfpack will be changed forever! But nothing happens. Stuff is fine. The boat fenders are delivered to Gregarious Greg at the dock, and everyone goes on their merry way.
Poor Bam. He’s all by his lonesome, forced to contemplate his upcoming month of ankle-monitoring, and resigning himself to build a swing out of pallets and “spare boards” he pulled off of his house. This is the saddest moment of the series, on a number of levels. “When I signed that admission of guilt, it was heartbreaking. Because I’m admitting that I’m a thief, I’m admitting that I didn’t live in Alaska and I’m admitting that I was guilty, and none of it was true,” Bam tells us. Ugh. It’s hard to like Bam when he talks this bulljive. Let’s remember that Billy and Bam’s plea deal and admission of guilt was REJECTED by the court. [Correction: The plea deal from fall 2015 that would have avoided jail time was rejected. The guilty plea in January 2016 was accepted.] This stuff should have been edited out, but the producers are sticking with the heroic throwing-themselves-on-a-grenade-to-protect-the-family angle.
On the journey home, Rainy, Matt, Birdy and Gabe take back all the mean things they said about Bam. They realize the job could’ve been a lot smoother if they had Bam with them, and Matt actually has to show some responsibility when Bam’s not there to take the pressure off of him. “We take Bam for granted, I guess,” Birdy says. “Matt can only really be Matt when Bam is on the job.” Now I am even more pissed off at Bam for allowing Matt to be Matt.
There’s a little more time to kill in this episode, so let’s see what else is going on. … Not content with one stupid invention per episode, Noah is rigging up an alarm system on the Integrity using motion sensing lights and a record player that spins opera tunes when the sensor is activated. “The main reason that I wanted it to be music to be played is that I could expose more people to opera,” he says. So when intruders come to ransack the Integrity, at least they’ll be a little more cultured in the process. “Opera is kind of like moss. It grows on you,” Noah says. If you have moss growing on you, consult a physician. There will be plenty of false alarms, of course, but it won’t matter since no one at Brownton Abbey will be able to hear this thing.
And there’s a little more time to kill. … Sad and bored Bam patches up the mooring buoy with a piece cut from a bicycle tire. I’m no ballistics expert, but there are way more holes in that thing than could be caused by a single gunshot. “We’ll never know who came out here or why they did what they did,” Bam says. True, because whoever came out here and did what they did didn’t come out here to didn’t do what they didn’t do. Contemplate that while spending 30 days in Juneau.
Um… OK… What else? … Bear built a zipline to get from his treehouse to his parents’ porch. But this isn’t just your standard, rational, compos mentis one-way zipline. It is EXXXTREME! “My superior EXXXTREMEness allows me to actually be able to pull myself up the zipline, even carrying stuff,” Bear says. “It’s a good workout. But I just like to be more EXXXTREME, so going up a zipline backwards adds EXXXTREME points.” I think Bear has accumulated enough EXXXTREME points to earn himself an additional X in EXXXTREME. Introducing … EXXXXTREME!
Really? This show’s not over yet? Couldn’t they have just shortened this episode to 40 minutes or something? Well, here goes. … Sad Bam is busy cleaning his pistol when Matt comes over to disturb the peace. Matt basically tells Bam that he actually missed him on the boat fender job, and blah blah blah they’ll all miss him when he’s doing hard time in a house somewhere in Juneau. And finally, we’re done here.
This was actually one of the more tolerable episodes I can remember. We got a bunch of stupid, unnecessary, impractical and non-functioning creations by Matt and Noah. Bear said EXXXXTREME a lot. I could relate to Bam’s existential crisis as a symptom of the human condition. There was barely any Ami, and Billy was mostly covered up in an Alien/Predator helmet. I found this episode transcendently bad and absurdly funny, like watching a 7th grade production of Waiting for Godot.
Coming next week: JUDGEMENT DAY!
[DIGRESSION! Sorry this recap is a little later than usual. I had a busy weekend with the family, and I’ve had a little case of Ryan Berenz Syndrome. I’m getting lazier than Billy, or the people behind the fake Twitter accounts that post nice things about the Browns:
I've really gotten into #AlaskanBushPeople. Let me meet some of those kick ass, wild, single Alaskan brothers. WHOOOO!!!
— Calzona Team Italia (@ItaliaCalzona) June 16, 2016
I've really gotten into #AlaskanBushPeople. Let me meet some of those kick ass, wild, single Alaskan brothers. WHOOOO!!!
— CURVYLADYPROBS (@CurvyLadyProbs) June 16, 2016
But what do my thoughts matter, anyway? I’m just a “hater,” and haters gonna say it’s fake.
— Tori Hinojosa (@torihinojosa4) June 13, 2016
As always, much love to you guys for checking out these recaps.]