‘Alaskan Bush People’: ‘Call to Duty’ (RECAP)


In September 9’s Alaskan Bush People episode, “Call to Duty,” Noah invents an ingenious device to rid their homesite of moles. Billy gives daughter Rain major responsibility as barn construction goes full bore at the ranch.

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Full bore indeed.

Bear has been exploring this new alien land called “WASH-ing-TON” and cataloging its many heretofore undiscovered animal species. He is like Charles Darwin of the Bush, and Brown Star Ranch is his Galápagos. Bear makes several keen observations, like how wild cows roam freely throughout the countryside and the snakes in the Lower 48 don’t have arms or legs. His zoology degree from Mother Ami’s HomeSkool of Bush Learnin’ has served him well.

Snakes don’t have arms. That’s why they can’t wear vests!

Construction of Billy’s Barn of Dreams is two weeks behind schedule because of the severe flooding around Loomis. Billy doesn’t much like natural disasters and other people’s problems interfering with his Grand Vision.

Still, Billy has enough time to finally teach Gabe how to drive a car. Of course, residents of Hoonah have seen Gabe driving cars already, so this is all hogwash. Gabe pretends to not know where the “make-it-go” pedal is, but he has mastered the skill of inadvertent windshield-wiper activation. Gabe makes funny faces as he haphazardly winds the SUV through the dirt roads while Billy yells gibberish at him. And then the lesson mercifully comes to a stop.

Gabe explains how driving a boat is much different from driving a car, even though both vehicles have a circular steering mechanism. Also, boats travel on the water while automobiles generally travel on land, for the same reason snakes do not have arms and legs.

Wax on, wax off, Gabriel-san. Gabe calls the driving lesson a success.

Not true. A part of me dies every time I watch this show.

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Let’s see what freaky-deaky stuff the Sisterhood of the Green Sweatshirt is up to today. Last week it was turning turkey-call whistles into Bush orthodontic appliances. This week, they’re having a much more disturbing exchange about how they envision their futures at Brown Star Ranch. Birdy can’t wait for her and Rainy to move into “our” house, while Rainy informs Birdy that there’s not going to be an “our” house.

Birdy tells Rainy that she always thought they would live together and share a room, and their husbands would be totally cool with sleeping in their own separate bedrooms. Rainy tries to hide her laughter, because even she knows this is beyond ridiculous. They did 1,000 takes of this scene, and this was the best one.

Based on the number of pervy comments posted about Rainy and Birdy on the internet, I’m sure there are more than a few creepy dudes getting in line for such an arrangement. I’d be worried about Birdy’s mental health if I didn’t know this whole scene was just bad theater.

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I like how Mother Ami’s role on the show has been reduced to a one-minute scene in which she acts like some kind of wise oracle explaining to Billy what the theme of this week’s episode is all about. She is like the Trash Heap on Fraggle Rock.

This puts Billy in Bush Existential Crisis mode, as he realizes he won’t be around forever and Brown Star Ranch will belong to his kids, so they’d better be prepared for the responsibilities of this lousy inheritance he’s forcing them to build. I think Billy can find solace in the fact that he and his family will be abandoning this place in a year or two and none of this will matter.

With the all-important driving lesson out of the way, it’s time to get to work with the hole-drillin’. Some guys who know what they’re doing drill a water well on the property so that Matt can enjoy mason jars full of murky fluid instead of the few drops of pure water his puny Bush Distillery yields. Mmmmm, that’s good sediment!

Rainy hasn’t had much to do this season, so this becomes the “Look What a Capable Young Woman Rainy Is!” episode. But why is she incapable of buttoning her flannel shirt to an appropriate level?

Drilling the post holes for the barn’s structure is a task that requires precision and mastery of a heavy-duty skid steer auger attachment system, so Billy gives this responsibility to Bear.

Yeah, Billy’s right. Bear’s too EXXXXTREME. Let’s give this crucial task to a 15-year-old girl whose only real skill is posting photographs of her tongue on Instagram.

Billy might be dumb enough to allow Rain to do this, but this show’s construction crew isn’t. With the help of some camera angles and crafty editing, Rainy gets the job done. She hits a snag when the auger can’t bore through a large tree trunk buried beneath the ground, so the crew puts on the hydraulic breaker attachment and she hammers through the obstruction.

Ah, yes. Good times.

Noah’s still around and doing stuff. Noah’s project du jour is ridding Brown Star Ranch of its pesky mole problem. Moles burrowing underground can create surface soil instability, and, like, you know, a cow could get, like, swallowed up by the earth or something. “The No. 1 way to do it is to shoot them or poison them,” Noah says, completely ignoring the most entertaining and effective method of mole control:

If he can’t poison them, shoot them, whack them or blow them up Caddyshack style, he’s going to “invent” some kind of sonic deterrent device that will annoy the moles much in the same way Noah’s nasally voice irritates us.

Noah can’t accomplish anything without boasting about how brilliant he is, but now he’s doing it with JAZZ HANDS!

Of course, none of Noah’s creations have to function beyond the three seconds the camera crew catches it doing whatever it’s supposed to do. This thing Noah just built is just a battery-powered motor that flips up a lever. When the lever drops, it strikes a metal cylinder, producing a sound and vibration. And for this, he proclaims himself Noah da Vinci.

The only person who’s ever told that to Noah is Noah. He’s like da Vinci, except Noah doesn’t paint. He prefers to be the subject.

Noah has compared himself to the likes of Tesla, Edison, and da Vinci before, but now he’s doing it with JAZZ HANDS!

If you’re so damn omnipotent, Noah, why can’t you use your mind powers to force Rhain back onto your crappy reality TV show? You pompous, bloated, gallbladderless Renaissance fair cast reject.

With his fake work completed, Noah says, “I get to go home and have a really good sleep tonight.”

I hope the moles devour Noah in his sleep.

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Elsewhere, Bam and Gabe are on a mission to get some supplies for when Bam decides to build his own house on Brown Star Ranch, far…far…far away from the rest of his family. You’ll may recall that Bam tried to do the same thing back at Brownton Abbey, but then he had the good sense to abandon it all so he could be with Allison in the Lower 48.

Bam finds an old bathtub he plans on converting into a worm farm to produce natural fertilizer.

Ah, so that’s how Noah got his creative juices from last week’s episode!

Bam and Gabe drive back with their load of junk in the trailer. Gabe says it’s getting dusty outside, and Bam puts on some dark goggles. This whole scene just turned into something out of Mad Max: Fury Road.

Somewhere between the Citadel and Gas Town — right on schedule — their farm truck has a breakdown. Gabe’s not sure what the problem is, but he checks under the truck anyway, because it’s always good to get your vehicle serviced by a guy who just this morning learned where a car’s “make-it-go” pedal is.

I hear ya, Brotha Bam. As Brown Luck would have it, one of the Browns’ “neighbors” happened to come along the road with his truck. The neighbor — whose face did not appear on camera — somehow towed the farm truck and the trailer loaded with Bam’s junk all the way up to Brown Star Ranch.

I call total B.S. all over the place.

With that Unnecessary Drama out of the way, the Browns can finally deal with the construction materials that the Lower 48 Lumber Fairies delivered. But I’m not sure that this truly is lumber. Does anyone know?

I like how this show doesn’t even attempt to do stuff the Bush Way anymore. Production is just too lazy to pretend that Matt built a sawmill to cut 1,500 board-feet of lumber in 24 hours. Now they just “barter” for bulldozers, get water wells professionally drilled and have their building materials dropped on their doorstep. OK, almost on their doorstep.

You’re probably looking at 90 percent of this season’s production budget right there. The next step is getting the lumber up to the construction site. You’d think that working together as a family for over three decades in the Alaskan Bush would give someone a sense of how to lift heavy things as a team, but this still has not sunken into the mind of the incredibly dense Gabe.

After slathering herself in mud to hunt turkeys last week, we get more of the Dirty Bird this week as she starts rolling around in the soil excavated by the auger. She claims to be cooling herself off like a chinchilla. I claim she’s just thinning the herd of guys who might still find her attractive. Ditto with her desire to bathe in concrete, though an hours-long soak in a hole full of concrete mix would probably do Birdy some good.

In the interstitial, we find Gabe, Rainy and Birdy playing a game of Throw the Rock in the Hole. It’s a mashup of golf, bocce ball, horseshoes, basketball and lawn darts, and the object of the game is to be the first to throw a rock in a hole. Here’s the view from the Alaskan Bush People Hole Cam:

Despite being unable to understand the rules of the game, Gabe wins this round and he goes as giddy as a schoolgirl at a One Direction show or a grown-ass man getting behind the wheel of his dad’s SUV for the first time.

Finally, it’s time to call it a day. The Brown kids sure had a busy one. They learned about herpetology. They learned about big holes. They learned about worm manure. They learned that anything is possible through faith, family, a crew of competent construction workers and a cable TV network with diminished content-quality standards.

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Billy is incredibly pleased with how the kids managed to do all that stuff, and still have time to cement and brace all these posts into the ground before dusk.

Billy’s also pleased that his kids seem to have inherited his braggadocio.

Hundreds of years? Landmark? Yeah, families should probably start planning their 22nd-century trips to historic Brown Star Ranch now because it will definitely be a popular destination. This barn will be lucky to survive the wildfire that Bear is sure to start next spring.

Next week, the Brown family is on the brink of another separation…again. Who’s leaving this time? My money’s on Matt…again.

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