Duck Dynasty recap: “Aloha, Robertsons!”

Is it that time already? Time for the last Duck Dynasty recap of the season? Afraid so, friends. But hey, look here, Jack, the Robertsons are getting an early start on their hiatus, spending the one-hour finale taking a family trip to Hawaii. It follows in the tradition of other fine sitcoms — can we all agree at this point that Duck Dynasty is a sitcom? — that have had Hawaii episodes, such as The Brady Bunch, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Growing Pains, Full House and Saved by the Bell.

But while this episode ends up in Hawaii, it starts off in the warehouse with Si lamenting to Jase how he was totally hoodwinked by the movie Ted, thinking that because it was about a teddy bear, it must have been wholesome family entertainment. He hated, hated, hated it, but ended up watching the whole thing because, you know, he didn’t want to waste his money. But that disappointment is nothing compared to when they walk into the office and see that their chairs have been replaced with standing desks (done up in camo, of course). Jep says Willie put them in to improve everybody’s health, but Jase and Si are, shall we say, perturbed. Si, however, changes his tune after he sees that the desks can rise and lower with just the touch of a button. But Jase ends up going to Willie to speak his mind.

Willie claims it’s the wave of the future, plus it might make the guys a little more productive. Jase changes tactics, deflecting the argument by getting Willie to try to remember the last time he had a day off, not an easy task. So that night as the family is all gathered at Phil and Kay’s house, Willie comes in and hands everyone a box. Inside for each person is a loud Hawaiian shirt, which nobody seems real pleased about. Jase plans to regift it while Si uses it to (unsuccessfully) wipe some barbecue sauce out of his beard. But they all get a lot happier when they learn the shirts are just clues to a bigger prize, that Willie and Korie are taking the whole Robertson clan to Hawaii!

Things get off to a rocky start when Willie’s baggage doesn’t make it on the plane. He understandably is upset and wants everyone to stay at the airport until the bag comes, then he grumps out at John Luke and Korie and threatens to sue the airline. Way to hang loose, Willie! Jase is convinced Willie courted bad karma when he packed things like his computer so that he could do some work during what’s supposed to be a vacation.

Travel headaches aside, the Hawaiian scenery is undeniably beautiful, giving Duck Dynasty an even more lush look than usual. Sometimes during those Louisiana scenes you can feel the humidity emanating off the screen. In this episode, though, you can feel tranquility in the air. Of course, that tranquility lasts as long as it takes Willie and Korie to check everybody in and discover that somehow Si’s room didn’t get booked. Korie automatically volunteers their room, a gesture Willie isn’t quite 100 percent behind. Si is, as usual, oblivious, as he’s busy debating whether “Hola, seniorita” was the right thing to say to the lei girls greeting him at the door. His geographical confusion persists as he tells the hotel concierge that he wants to see some Mayan ruins.

Phil and Kay are digging their room, and Miss Kay shares a poignant story about how this Hawaiian trip is like the honeymoon they never got to have. They were young and penniless when they ran off to get married, and the years since were spent building the business and raising the family. It’s a nice thought to think they’re finally getting to relax and see a bit of the world. Of course, Phil would rather kick back on the bed — which is totally way better than a Motel 6 bed, he notices — and watch a Jason Bourne marathon on TV.

Well, as beautiful as the natural scenery is, the downside of putting the Robertsons in Hawaii is the inevitability of having to see some scrawny, pasty limbs. Like Si’s, for instance. He’s decked out in a Detroit Tigers hat and Hawaiian shirt, mimicking Magnum, P.I. Or as he calls it, Magnum P.Si. But weird as the old coot is, he speaks for everyone when he disses Willie’s introduction of the vacation itinerary. Of course, Willie’s credibility isn’t helped by his sporting of a sarong, which looks suspiciously like a dress to the group. But Willie does persuade Si and Jase to go with him as he takes surfing lessons. They also force the kids to go with them, although John Luke and the boys excuse themselves so they can go meet some girls.

Sadie, however, proves to be a bit of a natural on the waves. This inspires Willie to give it his all, and despite his continuous falls into the ocean, he keeps at it. Si even jumps in, with about the same results. Eventually he ends up just lying down face first on the board. Willie barfs, so who’s to say who had it worse?

Surprisingly, we’re spared the sight of Willie and Korie having to share their room with Si. The next morning, Willie is still high on the itinerary despite everyone else’s profound disinterest in keeping to any set schedule. The ladies decide to have a spa day while the guys opt for a jungle adventure. Yet the adventure isn’t quite what Jase had in mind, as it takes place entirely on Segways. They do manage to get some entertainment from the “mechanical chariots” as Willie and Si each fall off spectacularly.

Much as he tries, Phil can’t stay in his room forever. Miss Kay goads him into getting a massage, and while he’s leery at first, he ends up admitting that it wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

Jase finally gets his way when they come upon a historical site out in the water that Si takes as validation of his “Mayan ruin” delusion, and Jase thinks they should all jump off it. While Willie is hesitant to say the least, eventually he bows to peer pressure and throws caution to the wind and jumps off. Itinerary be damned!

With that, the third season of Duck Dynasty comes to a close. The show is not only getting the best ratings of its entire run, but it’s also hitting its peak quality-wise. It broke the bonds of basic-cable mediocrity this season and has become a bona fide cultural phenomenon, with the cast members looking more comfortable than ever in their roles. But I dunno, there seems to be trouble on the horizon. Not just that pesky salary negotiation that has held up the greenlight for Season 4, but just considering the inevitable pattern of all things that get so popular, so fast. In short, there’s got to be a Duck Dynasty backlash coming. That’s just how things work. If not a full-fledged backlash, then apathy. Or perhaps enough imitators will come along to dilute the brand a bit, making it seem like a parody of itself. Then again, maybe I’m wrong. The Robertsons have defied just about any odds you can think of getting to this point already, so who’s to say they’ll travel the road of other reality stars that burned bright and faded fast. It’d be nice to have them around awhile longer. I look forward to a TV landscape where Duck Dynasty goes on while the Kardashians disappear.

Best Lines

Si: “Next thing you know, the Care Bears are going to start gangs. Then you’ll have Teddy Ruxpin doing drugs with Paddington. We got Winnie the Pooh sticking up stores. ‘Hey, hand over the honey, or the piglets get it!’”

Jase: “The beard is like the piggy bank of the human anatomy.”

Phil (describing a beach): “Hot white sand getting into every orifice of your body, no shade, half-naked women running around. Just this side of hell, sounds like to me.”

Jase: “Close your knees, this is awkward.”

Best Segment Title

“Feels Sarong It’s Right”

Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson Hawaii

Photo: © 2011 Credit: Gurney Productions

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