Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People recap: Fight or Flight

In Episode 4 of Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People, “Fight or Flight,” premiering Tuesday, May 27, the Brown family is faced with another life-altering decision when gunshots are fired on their land. The Browns suffer yet another hardship and face an uncertain future.

RELATED: What happened to Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People?

Alaskan Bush People Season 1 Recaps: Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | The Wild Life

Season 2 Recaps: Episode 1 | Episode 2Episode 3 | Episode 4Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7 | Episode 8  | Wild Times | Episode 9 | Episode 10 | Episode 11 | Episode 12 | Episode 13 | Episode 14 | SHARK WEEK! | Episode 15 | Episode 16 | Lost Footage | The Wild Year

Alaskan Bush People

So after last week’s episode in which the locals decided to come build the Browns’ cabin and sing “Kumbaya” and celebrate the spirit of Alaska, now we get people shooting guns at them and death threats aimed at the Browns and the show’s crew reported to us by ominous onscreen titles.

And then this show goes totally wheels-off.

We’re told that someone, angry about the Browns bringing TV cameras with them, opened fire on them. We’re given few details about what happened next. Did the authorities get involved? Was there an investigation? Look, I know law enforcement is probably pretty stretched in these parts, but I think death threats and someone shooting at you is probably enough to get a visit from Alaska State Troopers (a whole different show!) in the very least. And why did they stop production on the show just when the FIRST AND ONLY INTERESTING THING IN THIS ENTIRE SERIES just happened? It just doesn’t make any damn sense. [Update: Zaz Hollander of Alaska Dispatch has some excellent reporting on this incident and how the production impacted Copper River Valley residents.]

We’re told the Browns just decided to pack up, sell the land, sell the SUV and go back to Southeast Alaska by boat, thereby making everything you’ve watched so far utterly pointless. It’s like the producers said, “So, Billy, this cabin-building thing was great and all. But this stable home stuff, it’s just not good TV. And, you know, it’s a lot colder up here than we thought it was going to be. And the crew’s already sick of Grizzly Pizza. Here’s an idea: How about we pretend you get forced off the land in dramatic fashion and we go back to Ketchikan and show some whole new and exciting ways for you and your family to always be on the brink of death? We’ll get picked up for another season, and we can get someone blonder and perkier to play the part of Birdie. How’s about it?”

The Browns get a rickety old boat and live out of it for a few days while they travel back down the coast. Billy was a commercial fisherman for a long time, so he’s no stranger to the sea. The family sets anchor on an island in a national forest and establishes a temporary camp. The island is pretty. There’s lots of moss. I half expect them to discover the remnants of the Dharma Initiative.

“Meanwhile, a thousand miles away …” there’s this really jarring jump to an in-show commercial for Siberian Cut, the show that’s going to be in this time slot next week.

We’re given a little more backstory about Billy. He’s originally from Texas. His parents and his sister were killed in a plane crash, which must have been a horrible ordeal for him. How much that event influenced Billy’s decision to live in the Alaskan bush isn’t really clear.

Things on the island are kind of dull. “I’m bored. There’s nothing to shoot at. There’s nothing to do,” Bam says.

But wait! Rainy has a toothache. Normally, they’d just yank the tooth with pliers (or have Bam shoot it), but Rainy gets the privilege of actual medical treatment. Billy knows a dentist that will accept a barter, so they sail into town. The receptionist at the office is a little annoyed that they don’t have an appointment and that this child has a name like Merry Christmas Catherine Raindrop Brown. The dentist is accommodating, though, and accepts some fresh-caught salmon in trade.

Bear, Bam and Birdie go salmon fishing in a shallow river, using their “bear fishing” technique to grab the fish by hand and then have Bear punch them in the head. Bam is terrible at bear fishing. He should’ve brought his gun.

Billy catches a ride with a bush pilot to scout for a new place to live on Prince of Wales Island, where he knows this guy Animal Dave who lives on a floathouse. These things are actual homes floating offshore that are built from random parts of boats, trucks or whatever can be scrounged up. People live on them without dying, apparently. It is here that we take a solemn moment to memorialize “Insane” Duane. And then we meet Peckerhead, the seagull who is Animal Dave’s best friend. All of this appeals to Billy, and it sounds like the Browns’ next adventure will be building a floathouse. And then the Browns will be forced off of it by a jealous, vengeful Peckerhead.

So then things really go bad. The incident wasn’t caught on camera, but we’re told that Billy’s boat hit something, suffered hull damage and took on water. He was able to bring it to the dock and get the family to safety. We’re left with the image of the family standing on the dock with their boat and everything they own submerged at their feet. The family vows to press on.

How you feel about this depends on how you’ve bought into everything you’ve seen so far. You might be heartbroken for the Browns, a family who just lost everything and is at a crossroads. Or maybe you’ve just seen a harrowing cliffhanger written for the characters of the Alaskan Bush People docudrama. [UPDATE: FAKE FAKE FAKEY FAKE FAKE]


Obviously, a lot of the debate in the comments is about the show’s authenticity. Are the Browns for real? Are these situations real or are they contrived? Most of all, why does someone who truly desires to live off the grid in the Alaskan wilderness even want to be on a reality TV show in the first place?

And it is, after all, a TV show. The very fact that there’s a camera crew present alters the “reality” of the Browns’ every situation. It’s further manipulated by someone who has to edit this reality and create some kind of cohesive story for our entertainment. This and every “unscripted” TV show warrants some degree of skepticism, and I’ve had plenty throughout these recaps. Some of you have been able to simply enjoy the Browns as a family as they’re portrayed, invest in them emotionally, and admire if not embrace what they stand for. That’s fine. Again, it’s a TV show. Others doubt everything about the Browns, their lifestyle, their motives, their history, and the very idea that they’re even a family and not actors. That’s fine. Again, it’s a TV show. It’s that polarization of opinion about this show that has made it more fun to discuss than it is to actually watch. Either way, you’re watching it and you’re interested enough in it to come to here, so the Browns must be doing something right.


Photo: Credit: Discovery Channel

About Ryan Berenz

Star Wars nerd. Adult Fan of LEGO (AFOL). Father of two. Husband of one. I write about sports on TV because I am bad at sports in real life.
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129 Responses to Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People recap: Fight or Flight

  1. I really like watching this family. They are hard working a very loyal to each other. I wish them luck on their new venture. I certainly hope that DSC is paying this kind and loving family for showing the Brown’s families life and their UPS and downs. You need to help them pay their debts and fix the boats. Ami I just love you. Don’t worry about your family that is trying to make problems for your family. I think that they think you are making much money from the show,”which you should be” and they think they deserve some. Wish you all well and good luck on your new venture and that the boys find love and a woman that deserves them. They do work hard. Would love to hear from you. Just an old woman who enjoys your journey’s and family life. God bless you all. Beverly A Conant.

  2. Rebecca Bialucha says:

    I cannot believe the negativity that is on this site. These comments that are horrible towards this wonderful family is a sure sign of what “society” has done to us. Hateful, negative, and not elated that this fallen world still has such purity such as this family left here, is beyond me why you are all talking about this beautiful family is disturbing to me. With all the murder, rape, child molestation going on in this world and you all damn or condemn the only show in my opinion that is pure, honest, heartfelt and good “family” television. I have access to over 700 channels and can’t find a show like this on any of them. I love this family and the show and pray it continues so my grandson can see something pure can still be seen on television. God bless the Browns…..

  3. sc says:

    Great show, some clips might be planned.But you can’t fake the love that this family has for God, and each other. I also wounder how to send mail to the Brown family.

  4. The normal person says:

    Sweet a show about incest

  5. NoLeNa says:

    Is it true Billy has other daughters from another marriage? If so, I feel awful he is neglecting his other children and that he has moved on with out them. I still love the show. The kids are great. This is about as wholesome as a show gets now days. I hope they keep this show on for many years to come. Billy, visit your other daughter! ……If that’s true.

  6. S Holloway says:

    Well first of all I do realize this is a “tv” show an maybe all of it is’nt just as it seems. That being said I do like it that its about family sticking together and that they believe in God and don’t mind saying so and that ever other word coming out of their mouths does’nt have to be bleeped out. And again for not all real parts, 1 thing that seems to be true is Bear and his tree climbing, I don’t think they brought in a stuntman to do that for him. LOL I don’t get what they did to the state of Alaska to get all the charges brought on them. But if it has to do with money the state wants for something, best go on and pay them few can fight the government an win. One more thing and I will get off my soap box, I do hate they let whatever run them off after getting cabin built, until then I sure did’nt take them to be people who would’nt fight for what was theirs and what they thought were right. So if it stays on tv, I’ll still watch and know that all I see my not be just as it seems.

  7. Joan Trabucco says:

    Could you please turn down the “background” music so we can hear them talking. Have music when they’re Not talking.

  8. Love the show. Just curious how much Discovery Channel pays people to do a documentary like this?

  9. Jennifer Nipper says:

    Love the show Browns!… You guys are so awesome, they’re isn’t many ppl who could do what you do and survive.. Even tho they honestly think they could.. I can only imagine what its like to live life in your shoes, & that much further away from modern civilization, & cozy comforts… I’ve lived in the country alot growing up, and went camping every chance I could.. Always had a passion for Mother Nature, the land, waters, animals, and sky. I particularly loved fishing the more than anything, hunted when could with my father. Outdoors was one place where I could breath comfortably and be care free of my health issues & concern’s…. There weren’t alot of ppl. And could breath freely without wearing masks, and fear of germs. Growing up with childhood Cancer and other issues after it wasn’t easy or always good times. The leisure’s of the out doors helped things and situations out alot.. Cancer Camp was a major impacted on my life as a young child and opened my eyes to freedoms of Mother Nature… Good Luck, God Bless, God Speed Brown Family.. If Gabe, Matthew, Bam, Bear, or the girls even would be interested in being old fashioned pen pal’s that would be so awesome!… If that’s something you would have interest in.

  10. RD says:

    Is anyone else getting tired of the old “bears are gonna kill us” on all DC’s Alaska shows. It’s like very minute or two you have to be told about the bear threat. But on Gold Rush….over in the Yukon it seems to be a “bear free zone” for DC.

  11. Pamela Jones says:

    I like the show, it’s entertaining. That being said, I know they are being paid to do the show. Where is the money Billy has made from his book sales? It was also mentioned they had Brown Publishing, I assume they make money from that as well. They really should all see a dentist and use good oral hygiene. You don’t
    need toothpaste to brush your teeth.Love the family and show.Its nice to see close family ties. Good luck!

  12. Chris says:

    “No one is going to stop the Browns.” Lol.. Great show…

  13. Sharon says:

    I absolutely love this show. I want to live like they do.
    I tell people all the time I want to move to alaska and live off the grid, no one takes me seriously they think I’m kidding but I’m not. Seeing all the obstacles this family has had thrown at them and they never give up, they fought to get back to the life they love. I wish them all the best and can not wait to see what adventures lie ahead this season. They are an amazing family.

  14. sharebear says:

    This family entertains me abundantly! The different personalities of the characters are awesome. They are nothing like city people or hill folk. They are the bush people of Alaska and I want to see more of them. The accents, mannerisms, and family culture is fun to watch. Being separated from the world shows what we might act like. I was amazed to watch the older girl still plays dolls with her younger sister! Oh my gosh, but what other kind of entertainment does she have? Might as well role play with your dolls imitating your 5 bush lovin brothers. The boys-well really men-fight like teenagers who haven’t discovered women yet. Not enough to get married and settle in the bush to raise their own um…Bears and Bamm Bamm’s amongst the squirrels and deers. I would love to see the boys-um men- start courting, if that is what their culture calls it. I do not know if they would recognize the terminology “dating”. Time to create offspring and add to the bush clan. Where is the bush women for them? We need bush women. These men can teach them to climb trees, bash fish to a pulp, and barter beautifully. Get these guys women! Love this show!!!

  15. Jon Hester says:

    I wish I could live like that Texas has nothing of me I’m traying to get some friends to move withe to Alaska and live like that

  16. jane doe says:

    I love you guys!!!!! you are so spiritual, plus God’s on your side, so you can’t lose. You are not fake, you are not on drugs, or alcohol, you are pure. They have a show on National Geographic, called Drugs inc. and that show is absolutely wicked, and to think N. G. would degrade themselves and lower their standards to allow it. It feels good to see a feel good show on T.V. …….. But way toooooooo many commercials!!!!!! I miss too much of this show, I wanna see more of the Bush People, and I wish them all the luck. I hope it goes so far as to all the kids getting married, and live happily ever after. You all deserve it, God Bless.

    • Dolly Fields says:

      Keep dreaming, honey!

    • Thomas King says:

      You’re really not that naïve, are you? You do realize that they are getting paid quite a bit of money for doing the show, and, that quite a bit of each show is blocked out by the producers (blocked out means there is a plan to each filming session).

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