Discovery Channel ‘Alaskan Bush People’ Recap: ‘Browntown Boom’


In the Alaskan Bush People episode “Browntown Boom” (Jan. 18), Billy’s dreams of self-sustainability are put to the test as the Browns embark on the beginning of their biggest project to date, while Matt and Bam decide to help the expansion of Browntown with a different venture on their own.

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Whether you live in the dreadful Lower 48 or the remote wilderness of the Alaskan Bush, we can all agree that it’s no fun having a soggy arse. But the Brown family can rest easy, because Bear is a crusader against swampass. He is cutting up those 40-year-old wrasslin’ mats to use as seat cushions for whenever they sit on those wood benches by the fire and listen to Billy’s proclamations. Bear cuts up these mats—which were filth- and mold-ridden even before they sat around Brownton Abbey for over a year—with his mom’s kitchen knife. After mounting the mats on the benches, Bear executes a Slip-n-Slide dive across one of them and falls face first into the mud. “That is EXXXXTREME! I love it!” he exclaims, proving once again why he’s the biggest one-trick pony in reality TV history.

It’s early autumn on Chicago Bears Island, but WINTER IS RIGHT THERE! The Browns have a lot of pointless projects in the works, and they’re burning through their fuel at an unsustainable rate. Gas or diesel fuel is one of the things they can’t get from the Bush’s bounty, unless they plan on having Noah construct a Bush oil rig and a refinery. Billy wants to build a wind turbine that would produce electricity and cut down on the need to burn fuel with generators. Makes perfect sense, and I’m just going to assume that the Browns went though the entire wind-energy permitting process at the local, state and federal levels. So let’s slap together this thing that Billy has been talking about building since forever!

“The good Lord gives you something and you can turn it into electricity and never have to go to town again,” Billy says. Even though that’s never going to happen, I’m sure that the people of Hoonah would be thrilled with the idea of never seeing the Browns again. Billy imagines a wind turbine about 25 feet tall that can hold about 1,000 pounds, so that when it falls over on someone, it kills them instantly and the Browns won’t have to take them to a hospital. There is a lot of wind in Brownton Abbey, especially in a place nicknamed “The Blowhole.” Here’s where it’s located on a map:

“To have the Good Lord power our electricity, it doesn’t get better than that,” Billy says.

The Browns are hoping the Hoonah junkyard can produce a wind turbine just as efficiently as Ami’s Magic Bowl produces food. Matt and Bam are Rental-Skiffing it into Hoonah, which now takes three hours in the Integrity. We’re told that the Rental Skiff can complete the journey in 90 minutes. Never mind that the journey to Hoonah used to take only an hour, but that was under the old Season 2 standard of Bush Chronometry.

KENNY! I thought we might never see Matt’s old drinkin’ buddy again! Matt and Bam are supposed to be looking for engines, alternators, or blades for the wind turbine, but Matt gets distracted by a junked garage-door opener and a motorbike, and he suddenly gets the idea of turning it into some kind of a saw to mill lumber at Brownton Abbey. Bam knows this is a stupid, “farfetched” idea and he says so, which has basically been Bam’s primary job in the family. Then Matt gets all Noah in the head and compares himself to Edison and the Wright Brothers and … Paul Newman?

Damn straight.

Matt takes a junked fire extinguisher and makes Kenny’s dump even more of an eyesore.

Back in Brownton Abbey, Noah is a cheery, jolly bastard. This can only mean one thing, and Bear senses it. “Growing up in the Bush like I have has given me a real enheightened [sic] sense of everything,” he says. “I can hear birds. I can hear even mice at night.” He can even hear the cries of the wretched souls who are watching this show. Noah is in love again, which means he’s maxing out the insufferability meter. Let’s meet the new potential uterus for Ami’s grandbabies:

Yes, Rhain, not to be confused with Rain, who is Noah’s sister. We don’t see or hear enough from Rhain to know anything about her besides that she’s from the Lower 48, Noah met her in Hoonah, she has a very protective father and she likes to say “bejeebers.”

You don’t yet know the meaning of “bejeebers,” my dear. Here’s the kind of stuff Noah has in his “laboratory.” It looks like a Slayer album cover in there.

Bear wants to meet Rhain and have Noah bring her to Brownton Abbey, but Noah seems to have wisened up. “There are a few of my siblings that would possibly scare away a potential interest. That’s one reason why I don’t like to introduce anyone to my family,” Noah says. The siblings aren’t the issue. It’s his crazy mom he should be worried about.

We get a scene of Noah trying to impress Rhain with his command of fourth-grade level English (“simular”) and his idea of what tai chi looks like.

I guess we’ll see how long Rhain’s Alaskan adventure lasts before her story arc is over and she heads back to the Lower 48 to do something worthwhile with her life.

Matt returns to Brownton Abbey without any parts for the wind turbine. But wait! He’s got something so much better! Matt tells Billy about his sawmill idea, and Billy is keen on it. Not only could they use Matt’s milled wood to build dumb stuff around Brownton Abbey, they could also sell or barter the wood to people who can pretend to need the wood. You want wood, right? Sure, you do!

But before I buy stock in Matty B.’s Lumber & Plastic Wrap, Inc., I’d need to see a more solid business model. First, how the hell is Matt going to get permission to do commercial logging in the Tongass National Forest? Conservationists would be all over him, and he’d face hefty fines. Even if he could do it, the costs of cutting down the trees, transporting the trees to the sawmill, cutting them with flimsy junkyard machinery, and transporting them to market with the Integrity would vastly outweigh any revenue he could generate or anything he could receive in barter. Plus, who wants poorly milled, untreated lumber from an idiot?

Back to Billy’s quixotic quest to harness the power of the Good Lord’s Blowhole. There must be some kind of CGI or camera tricks going on here, because we see BILLY WORKING! Call the Vatican! Miracles abound!

And showing all of us your backside. After cutting timbers to build the tripod stand for the turbine, the Browns have to dig holes deep enough to anchor the timbers. But as they dig, they hit big rocks. Time for explosive demolition! Yeah, you know this was coming:

Bear says he has blown up a lot of stuff: snow, ice, dirt, rocks and … spoiled milk? Also, Bear once punched a fish so hard that everything kind of “exploded out the backside.” Ew.

Bear is very excited about the chance to blow himself up, so he gets to build the explosive and detonator. I don’t know how to make explosives and I’m not going to do a Google search for instructions, but I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to assemble them and then roll around near an open campfire.

There is Unnecessary Drama while we wait for the Browns to make the big ‘splosion for our entertainment. I don’t why the hole in the ground is smoking before they light it up, but whatever. There’s a nice little blast and dirt and stuff flies all over the place. Everyone is safe, because some qualified demolitions guys probably did this while the Browns were in Hawaii.

The Browns then rig up some ropes and pulleys to hoist the tripod into place. Gabe works a chainsaw winch that would’ve come in handy a few dozen times before on this show. When things seem to stall, the Browns get underneath the timbers to prop them up with some wood supports that don’t look like they could hold the full weight of the timbers if they had to. But the tripod is lifted into place, and no Browns are crushed in the process. You win this round, Browns.

Matt is going full-nutcase on this sawmill. He’s got his assortment of junkyard parts mashed together. I’m surprised that someone would’ve junked that motorbike, engine and all. A close-up shot reveals that it might not have come from the junkyard. Who puts a new tire on their cycle before scrapping it?

It seems the same Bush elves that delivered a new generator from the junkyard in Season 1 also work on motorcycles. Matt is able to sort out some initial engine trouble, and finally gets the saw fired up. He cuts two inches into a log before the saw blade pops off. Bam advises Matt to stop with the silliness, but Matt is stubborn. “The new me is the guy who doesn’t get so tunnel-visioned that I find I’ve put all this time into something that just won’t work,” Matt says. I miss the old Matt, who would abandon something because of a spider. After a few adjustments and some more tension on the saw blade, Matt gets this thing to cut through a log.

And then Matt gets all philosophical about it. “I reinforced the fact that the different parts of me can still be put together to make something that works,” he says, dumping a big steamy load of schmaltz all over it.

In the interstitial segment, we find Rainy and Birdy playing with Cupcake, who they say acts like a human child. “Like, he acts more like a human than Bear does.” Like, totally! I know, right?

Next week, Paul is offering the Browns the opportunity to own the Rental Skiff. And someone lets Kenny tug on Sabrina’s teats. This should be terrible.

Alaskan Bush People, Wednesdays, 9/8c, Discovery Channel