‘Alaskan Bush People’: ‘Weight of the Wolfpack’ (RECAP)
On the Alaskan Bush People episode “Weight of the Wolfpack” (July 19), as Ami awaits treatment options, the kids prepare to join Matt in Alaska to begin packing up Browntown. However, after an accidental explosion that leaves Matt injured, Bear, Rain and Bird must begin the difficult work on the homestead shorthanded.
Matt is all by his lonesome in Brownton Abbey. He’s is the proverbial solitary man of whom Neil Diamond sang. He even dresses the part.
Back in California, Bear is hot, and he doesn’t want to frighten the neighbors by wearing a loincloth. It was once said that Bear wore nothing but a loincloth for an entire year, and he spent another year wearing just a tuxedo. Bear decides to rip his jeans and make some EXXXXTREME jorts. He has officially entered 1989. “I mean, you look at the thermostat, and it just says ‘heatstroke’ on it,” Bear says. Bear doesn’t seem to understand the difference between a thermometer and a thermostat, but you could fill the Grand Canyon with the simple stuff that Bear doesn’t understand.
Like what kind of gift to buy your mom who has late-stage cancer. “You think she might want a cool belt?” Bear asks his sisters. Bear, Birdy and Rainy are at Hidden Treasures vintage clothing shop in Topanga. After some screwing around, they settle for a blanket with polar bears on it, you know, for those chilly nights when Bear cranks the thermostat down to 40 degrees.
Finally, we get to see Kenny from the dump. Kenny visits Matt at Brownton Abbey to make sure he hasn’t blown himself up yet or been mauled by Lost Footage of bears. “Anytime that I want to go do something crazy, he’s the ultimate Bush neighbor and one of my best friends,” Matt says. After Kenny offers his heartfelt consolations about Ami’s illness, Matt tells Kenny that they’re abandoning Brownton Abbey and that Kenny has dibs on anything he wants.
That’s funny, since 90 percent of Matt’s stuff probably came from Kenny’s dump. It cameth from Kenny’s dump, and unto Kenny’s dump it shalt return. Flares? Oh, yeah, need those. Axes? Kenny will take two, one for each hand. Jesus spike? Um…sure, take it in the event of crucifixion.
While Matt has Kenny’s ear, he’s going to tell Kenny about all his fears and anxieties. “I might make it till about 10:00 at night, then this panic sets in,” he confesses. Hmmm. Maybe Kenny shouldn’t leave Matt alone tonight. Or maybe Kenny should just get the hell out of there ASAP.
We knew Matt would have to say goodbye to Kenny some day, and that day has come. And for us, the viewers, we will now have to suffer through this series without its only likable character. Words can’t really describe how this great Bush Bromance ends, so we’ll let this video tell the story:
Farewell, Kenny. I’ll see you in the Lost Footage of my dreams.
And then, the Black Screen of Doom.
We finally get to the part where Matt blows himself up. They’ve been previewing it all season, so the only surprise was when they were going to get around to showing it. If you haven’t seen the clip, it’s here on Discovery Channel’s ABP site.
Let’s recount ABP‘s version of events as depicted onscreen before we present some alternate versions of the story. At around 9pm, there was an explosion in Brownton Abbey in which Matt was injured. The Discovery crew in Hoonah was notified of this explosion, and a boat with paramedics was sent to Brownton Abbey. Rescuers encounter Matt on the floor just inside the doorway to the cabin. He has his head wrapped in bloodied towels. The rescuers remove the towels to assess the injury.
Matt is presumably put on a boat and transported to Hoonah—they don’t actually show the boat en route to Hoonah—where he’s put in an ambulance.
We know that ABP is intentionally vague about real incidents, because it saves them from having to tell the truth. There are more than a few things that don’t add up, but let’s start with the big ones. Who notified the crew in Hoonah that there was an explosion? Matt’s all alone at Brownton Abbey, right? No, we’ve seen in past Lost Footage that there are crew members living and working in trailers near Brownton Abbey. One of them could have called the crew in Hoonah, but that’s not explicitly stated. Are we also to assume that there were no other boats docked near Brownton Abbey—not so much as a skiff—that could’ve transported Matt directly to Hoonah? Matt could’ve bled out in the time it took the boat to make that round trip from Hoonah. Why did they call the film crew and not some professional first responders who could’ve gotten him to the hospital much faster? It doesn’t add up. There’s more stuff that doesn’t add up coming later.
Also, Noah is with Matt at the hospital in Juneau because Noah lived in Juneau with Rhain for much of the winter and spring. Noah was not flying to California like he said he was a few episodes ago.
With Matt out of commission, the job of dismantling Brownton Abbey falls on Bear, Birdy and Rain. Bear is insufferable in this episode, so of course he gets most of the screen time.
Bear starts in with his EXXXXTREME B.S. before he’s even off the skiff. He runs around the woods like chimp on meth.
He climbs things. He punches things. He rips up grass by the roots. He chases away bears with his foul stank.
Bear notices the spent gun shells all around the fire pit, surmising that Matt had to repel a massive bear invasion, as thought it were like Custer’s last stand.
Bear feels the weight of responsibility on his shoulders. It will be up to him to clean up this sty they’ve been befouling for the last three years. At least he has his sisters to help him whenever they can tear themselves away from their all-important seaweed duties.
Birdy wants to bring a bunch of seaweed back to California to give to their mom. Ami can make candles, molds or shower curtains with the seaweed. Or she can use the time she has left to do something that isn’t so lame.
[DIGRESSION! I hate shower curtains. They are evil. My wife has some kind of shower curtain obsession. Whether it’s buying new decorative fabric curtains, fighting the scum that forms on the plastic curtains or replacing the rings that attach them to the curtain rod, she is constantly tinkering with the shower curtain. Plastic shower curtains start getting gross after about a week of use, and they are damn near impossible to clean. My wife asks me why I am not bothered by a disgusting shower curtain. My answer? I am very nearsighted, and I wear glasses. Because I do not wear my glasses in the shower, I do not see that the shower curtain is a biohazard. Because I do not see it, it does not exist and is therefore not a problem. I could totally go for a seaweed shower curtain, because it’s disgusting right out of the box and you’d just accept that it’s gross and not worry about it. You wouldn’t have to clean it, and you could just toss it back into the sea when you go to pick up new seaweed to make a replacement shower curtain. I am moving to the Bush just for the shower curtains!]
Jeez. Sorry. This whole show is nothing but the Browns wasting time. Bear thinks that the most important job for them to waste time on is bringing down the precious wind turbine. Get this: He wants to take the turbine down so it can be transported to Brownton Abbey 2.0. “It’s literally bringing the heart of Browntown with us,” Bear says. You mean that stupid contraption that you just got last fall, haven’t even used once and doesn’t work anyway is the heart of Brownton Abbey? It’s fitting that the center of the Browns’ universe is just a useless TV prop.
Bear destroyed the first turbine they attempted to put up, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how he ruins this one while trying to take it down.
We’ve barely had any Billy in this episode, and I am grateful for that. In California, Billy takes Ami to UCLA Medical Center for some more consultation on her cancer treatment options. They come back, and the news is not good. Billy asks the show’s executive producer, Sheila McCormack, to explain the prognosis to Bam, Gabe and the audience.
Ami has stage 3B cancer, and it’s spread beyond her lung. She will undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Ami’s also down to 94 pounds, and she’ll need a feeding tube if she loses another five pounds. Her situation is not good. Billy asks for the cameras to leave them alone for a bit. Then Billy has to remind us that the Browns always get through because of faith and family. Unfortunately, the Alaskan Bush People producers can’t change the script and make this challenge magically disappear like so many Boat Malfunctions.
Bear has a terrible plan for taking the wind turbine down. It involves him climbing to the top of the turbine with a rope secured tightly around his neck. I say go for it! Alas, Rainy and Birdy convince him to try a different, less EXXXXTREME approach.
Bear starts playing with the ropes and cables supporting the turbine structure, and he hooks up the electric winch and has his sisters grab some ropes. Unnecessary Drama unfolds, and the turbine crashes to the ground. That should surprise no one. What is surprising is that the turbine somehow survives this fall, at least as far as Bear can tell just by looking at it. Again, Bear is not a smart man, so don’t trust his assessment.
Also, don’t trust Bear’s ability to consume a whole stick of butter. Birdy comes out of the cabin with three sticks of butter, which I assume are old and rancid because they were churned sometime last fall when they still had the cow around. Birdy challenges Bear and Rain to some competitive butter eating, and it’s incredibly revolting. Bear and Rainy nearly retch, and I feel kinda queasy just watching them.
Birdy declares herself the winner, though everybody who participated in or witnessed this game has lost part of their humanity.
The episode wraps up with the uncomfortable post-explosion reunion of Matt with his family in California. Matt first encounters his younger brother and old nemesis Bam, who seems pretty chill these days, having grown accustomed to the sensual delights of the Lower 48.
I like how Bam gets right down to brass tacks with Matt.
Matt says he got nine staples in his head. So what in the hell was he thinking or doing when he went kablooey? He says it was a combination of the solitude, the pressure and the bears.
Dude, tell me about it. The Bears are terrible. They’re my favorite team, yet I hate them so much. Every September, I feel like blowing myself up, too.
Our Dear Narrator says that Matt’s injury was the result of “unintentionally detonating an improvised bear deterrent made of black powder.” Bam says that Matt just got “a little overzealous with the gunpowder.” Yeah, maybe just a little.
Which brings us to the alternate versions of the story. Matt’s incident occurred in late May, and TMZ had an early report stating that some explosives that Matt was keeping in a mason jar in the refrigerator blew up.
I reached out to my media relations contact at Discovery Channel, but she had no comment. There were rumblings on Alaskan Bush People Exposed that TMZ’s story was not completely accurate and it may have been leaked by someone involved in the show’s production as a smokescreen. I contacted a source in Alaska and was told that Matt was “in the bathroom ‘playing’ with powder” and that Matt “was f***ing with the stuff at the time it exploded.” Matt was not the victim of an accident while heroically trying to deter bears so much as he was the victim of his own careless stupidity. Matt’s head injury was reportedly caused by an object that fell from the refrigerator, not by a blast from inside it.
I seriously thought this would be the last we’d see of Matt, since he was supposedly deemed uninsurable and couldn’t film any more. I guess that restriction has been lifted, but we won’t see Matt playing with guns, flares, powder, sharp sticks or anything else that isn’t childproof. So Matt is back.
Can we have Kenny back instead?