‘Alaskan Bush People’: ‘Head Above Water’ (RECAP)

Discovery Channel

In the Alaskan Bush People episode “Head Above Water” (September 2), disaster strikes as floods plague the region, and the Browns must balance the fate of their new community with the success of their homestead.

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A look back at Alaskan Bush life and Billy's Grand Vision for the future.

“Head Above Water” is numbingly dull. The only thing worth watching:

That’s it. That’s all you really needed to see, and we already saw it two weeks ago. You can keep reading if you like, but don’t expect anything better than that.

Birdy is busy pestering the wildlife again. She’s catching frogs at the pond and kissing all of them (except the dead ones). She hopes one will turn into a prince. I hope the frogs tell Birdy to kiss their amphibian asses.

Brown Star Ranch is progressing. But water from the record snowfall melting in the mountains is causing flooding that could threaten to jeopardize Billy’s dream of the family’s future forever!

The area for Billy’s Big Barn Build is almost cleared, but there’s still plenty of bickering and screwing up left to do. Bam tries to start up the bulldozer, but she won’t turn over. It seems someone (Bam!) left it on overnight and drained the battery, and now it won’t start. Bulldozer Malfunctions are the Washington version of Boat Malfunctions and I’m already sick of them after two episodes.

Matt wants to take the car batteries from his Bush Welder and plug them into the bulldozer. Bam wants to remove the battery from the bulldozer and take it back somewhere to recharge it overnight. Matt wins this argument, because they claim they don’t have the time for Bam’s idea and this is the season in which Bam is made to look foolish. (This explains why Billy and Bam were butting heads over storylines all spring.)

Matt fetches his batteries and starts hooking them up, but the terminals don’t quite fit the leads from the bulldozer. Bam says they shouldn’t mutilate a bulldozer that Billy “bartered” to rent, but Matt is hellbent on making it happen his way. Let’s take a view from the Alaskan Bush People Bulldozer Cam:

Funny that statement would come from a guy who is named after a cartoon character. Matt says it’s all good because he’s attached “metal to metal” and that’s all it needs.

But Matt’s plan works, because of course it does. The bulldozer fires up. Someone with much better knowledge of earth-moving machines than I observed that the bulldozer was in gear the whole time, and that’s why it wouldn’t start. I believe that the bulldozer is being operated with close supervision from someone who actually knows what the hell they’re doing, and this entire Bulldozer Malfunction is a fake plot device. Like the case last week when avid motorcyclists noticed that Noah didn’t know how to change gears on his bike, there’s always someone out there with the expertise to call out this show’s B.S.

Elsewhere, Birdy wants to go out on a solo exploratory turkey hunt, you know, to reconnect with her Bush self and get some food for the family in case the nearby town is shut down because of flooding. After some very colorful target practice blasting paint cans with her new shotgun, Birdy heads out for the hunt.

She slathers herself in mud to camouflage her scent. I bet now she smells terrific! Birdy goes around with this little wooden device that makes a turkey call sound. She hears a turkey reply, but also something else…

It’s the ghost of Sabrina! Of course, if Birdy truly could communicate with animals, she would know what the cow is saying to her.

Birdy did not dress appropriately for the weather. She’s overheating, and probably now smells like death itself. Maybe the wool socks and winter boots were a bad choice.

Birdy doesn’t bag a turkey this time. Looks like it will be hot dogs, fire-roasted Spam on a stick and whatever Mother Ami’s Magic Bowl produces for dinner at Brown Star Ranch tonight.

Noah continues his descent into madness by descending into Oroville’s thriving thrift shop scene.

Noah sits down and tickles the ivories, producing something resembling music. At least he’s not ripping off Air Supply tunes this time. Or is he? I can’t tell.

His audience is appreciative.

But stirring the souls of second-hand store proprietors is not the purpose of Noah’s visit to Oroville. He has come to collect materials for constructing his new laboratory.

While perusing the clothing racks, he comes across a vest that would make a nice addition to the 30 other vests in his wardrobe.

The shopkeeper likes the vest, but thinks it may be too hot outside to wear today.

We’ve already seen too much of Noah’s bare torso this season, and I am relieved we don’t have to see shirtless vested Noah. He’s going to have a pretty big haul of merchandise to pack on the back of his motorcycle.

Let’s stick with Noah, just to get him over with. Back at Brown Star Ranch, Noah is setting stuff up for a new laboratory in his tent. He’s got all kinds of random Noah knickknacks, and lots of terrible ideas for projects. He is excited to once again have an outlet for his creative juices to flow. Gag.

One of Noah’s ridiculous plans is attaching an office chair to this junked motorized wheelchair and slapping some ATV wheels on it for off-road capability. His goal is to get even less exercise by slowly cruising around Brown Star Ranch and the Omak Walmart in this thing.

Bear doesn’t have a lot to do in this episode, thankfully, but he does appear in an obviously scripted scene that the producers added just as an excuse for Noah to show off his buff physique again. Noah had surgery to remove his gallbladder—the minimally invasive procedure is formally called laparoscopic cholecystectomy—but Noah says the doctors “cut everything.”

Yeah, that was a real hatchet job there, Noah. I’m glad they stitched you up before all your creative juices spilled out. Those stretch marks must be from Noah carrying around all that extra ego weight. Enough of you, Noah.

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Bam, Matt and Gabe drive into Loomis and discover the road is flooded out. They go wading into the rushing water—always a safe thing to do—where Gabe has his crotch-smashing moment of disrespecting the danger.

The boys return to Brown Star Ranch and inform Billy of the dire situation.

Billy’s first reaction is to moan about how this flooding is going to delay his Big Dream.

Shut up, Billy. I’m pretty sure something like the destruction of homes and property in the neighboring community won’t threaten to change the future of your family forever and derail your dream of reclaiming your life in the Bush.

Turn that frown upside down, Billy! Why not use someone else’s plight to propagandize your self-proclaimed faith and generosity? Billy’s willing to put his Grand Vision on hold for a few hours so Matt and Bam can go into town to get filmed filling and stacking sandbags for folks in Loomis.

I have written before of Billy’s faith and how it is merely a set prop in his whole Alaskan Bush People charade. The more he self-righteously spouts off about the Good Lord and how he’s guided by faith, the more his hypocrisy shines through. It’s all part of his act. It’s just so easy to con people when you appeal to their faith.

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People want to believe. People want to believe that the Browns really live like they’re portrayed on TV and that they’re a good Christian family that sticks together through everything. People want to believe so badly that they completely ignore the facts that Billy served time for defrauding the state of Alaska, that the entire premise of his show is a sham, that his family is fractured and dysfunctional off-camera, and that his only motivation is strictly maintaining this facade of Bush idealism so he can keep his Discovery Channel gravy train on track.

Stop pushing your pretense on us, Billy. Your lies are insulting to people who have true faith.

Bam and Gabe get back to the business of bulldozing, and they’re yanking tree stumps out of the ground with a chain like a dentist pulling out a bunch of Mother Ami’s rotten molars. There’s one stump that’s being particularly pesky, and it will require all of the knowledge they’ve gained from 30 years of living in the Alaskan wilderness to remove it.

But first, what’s that smell?

Gabe claims that a cat peed on his leg. And cat piss is important enough to delay progress on Billy’s Grand Vision? Upon closer inspection, Gabe realizes that he accidentally got some of Noah’s creative juices on his pants.

The stump is removed. But the horrors we have seen today will remain with us forever.

In the interstitial, we find Birdy and Rainy sitting in the dirt and sticking things in their mouths.

It’s just a little plastic turkey diaphragm call device, but Birdy and Rainy put the whole thing in their mouths and pretend that it’s an orthodontic retainer. This is about as close as Birdy will get to fixing her snaggletooth.

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