‘Alaskan Bush People’ Episode 4: ‘Bush Below Zero’ (RECAP)

Billy Brown, Alaskan Bush People
Discovery Channel

On Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People episode, “Bush Below Zero” (September 13), the Browns build livestock shelters before a cold front comes through.

Last month’s Palmer Fire burned close to 18,000 acres, destroyed families’ homes and ranches, forced evacuations in Loomis and surrounding areas, put firefighters’ lives at risk, cost millions of dollars, and diverted valuable assets and resources that could’ve been used elsewhere.

Officials have said the cause of the fire is human, though specifically what human or humans are responsible has yet to be disclosed.

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Of course, the Browns, Park Slope and Discovery Channel have been busy posting about the fire to hype the new season of the show.

The Browns have been playing the victims, even though they don’t actually live on the mountain and only lost a bunch of set pieces. (Reportedly, they also lost some livestock, mostly chickens). They’re also playing heroes for the camera, acting like they’re helping their community through a disaster. Knowing all this, it’s tough to find humor in anything to do with Alaskan Bush People. But I’ll grin through gnashed teeth and pound out this recap of the completely forgettable “Bush Below Zero” episode.

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Birdy and Gabe are planning to have a meal around a small campfire. They discover that their loaf of bread is frozen. Normal people who don’t act like idiots on TV would probably figure out that setting the loaf near the fire for a few minutes would sufficiently thaw the bread. Instead, Birdy decides to put the loaf in her clothes and then run around, creating the even-more-disgusting-than-it-sounds pastry known as “sweat bread.”

The show finally acknowledges the existence of Gabe’s daughter, Sophie. I was planning to give Raquell the name “She Who Will Not Be Seen,” but Raquell has finally reappeared to do absolutely nothing.

Mother Ami loves the grandbabies, so she and Father Billy make a live appearance to talk some ridiculousness about planting seeds on the mountain and creating a whole forest full of half-witted, howling descendants.

It’s late December on Brown Star Ranch, but WINTER IS RIGHT THERE!

Billy has said his thing, so it’s time for him and Mother Ami to retire to the storage unit until next week.

The Browns laugh about being unprepared for winter every year. It’s like they’re incapable of learning new concepts. People who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it or recap it for 12ish seasons.

There’s some Fake Weather in the forecast, which lends itself to Fake Urgency and Fake Construction. Bone-chilling cold and subzero wind chills are predicted. There is also a strong chance of “wind shear,” in case someone feels like landing a Boeing 787 Dreamliner on Brown Star Ranch.

The Browns have failed to protect the livestock, and they don’t want to risk losing their security deposit on the rented animals.

The Brown kids decide that they will remedy this problem by building a few ramshackle structures out of materials salvaged from an old shed that their neighbor wants demolished.

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Cast member Bear Brown confirmed the reports.

The kids pry a bunch of boards off the wall and find some old maps “hidden” behind the boards. For a second I think they’re about to embark on some fake Bush treasure hunt, but since there’s no X on the map, the treasure hunt storyline will have to wait for Season 34ish.

Their haul of materials is small, hardly even worth the trip. I guess this whole scene was simply an excuse to make fun of Noah. I can accept that.

Asa, our dear narrator, informs us that the impending cold spell “could destroy much of the ranch.” That’s not how cold works. It’s not like, say, for example, fire.

Let’s take a look at weather data for Loomis, Bushington, for December 2019. Not seeing a lot of ranch-destroying temperatures there.

“Oh, but they’re on a mountain! It’s colder there!” you say? The highest elevation on Palmer Mountain is about 4,200 feet. Loomis sits at about 1,300 feet. This ain’t Mount Everest.

There are several scenes of poor construction and the Browns pretending that putting up small walls built from scrap wood, old windows and magically appearing lumber will keep the ostriches, horses and Longhorns from becoming permanent residents of the freezer section.

There’s a dumb subplot involving Bear doing a half-assed repair on the windmill’s broken push rod. Since Bear is unable to accomplish anything without juvenile theatrics, he pretends he’s a “Bear Spider” and demonstrates thusly:

Bear babbles on about how climbing the windmill is like climbing the mast of a pirate ship, and the repaired push rod is like a peg leg, because pirates and mixed metaphors are definitely EXXXXTREME!

There’s finally an interstitial segment that doesn’t involve someone eating 10 jars of rancid mayonnaise. This one involves Bear making some Bush nunchucks and whipping them around.

He whacks himself a few times, which is only inevitable when dolts handle nunchucks.

A second subplot involves Birdy adding an old water heater and bathtub to the exterior of her house so she can wash her kitties. Yeah, her cats will LOVE that.

Birdy needs a bathtub, and Noah knows lots of people that have old crap like bathtubs lying around. She offers Noah a strange barter: If he can get her a bathtub, she’ll trade one of her Star Wars collectibles. Say what now?

Birdy’s into Star Wars cosplay or something, because she’s got some Jedi robes stashed somewhere we’ll never see. Of course, Noah’s main interests include robes and acting like a mystical warrior/monk, so he accepts the barter.

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Birdy gets her bathtub, and she proceeds to wash herself and her clothes simultaneously. She plans on washing her dishes and her cats, probably also simultaneously.

Noah, She Who Will Not Be Named and son Elijah play dress up and have a lightsaber battle with two wooden poles. Even when there are large sticks being swung around, She Who Will Not Be Named refuses to put the kid down somewhere safe.

[DIGRESSION! I love Star Wars almost as much as I loathe Alaskan Bush People. For a brief moment, I forget the intense rage this show induces. Then Billy starts talking and I remember.]

Billy’s too tired to deliver his usual long-winded spiel, but he wrote down the main talking points and has Gabe say most of it.

Here’s Bear fighting to survive during the Palmer Fire. He’s whining about having to stay at a hotel.

I am comforted by the thought that very episode brings us one more closer to cancellation.

Alaskan Bush People, Sundays, 8/7c, Discovery Channel