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?

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

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.

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

  1. Rosetta says:

    Who is their family in Ketchikan? I’m from there. All these places that this tv crew are willing to go are not in the middle of the wilderness. These are populated areas. I wish that these “reality” tv shows would actually be “REALITY” give me a break and people still believe we live in igloos smh people we have gangs and iPhones iPads all the same crap any other state has but we have even more. Not like this crap they show on tv

  2. Kim Brown says:

    will their be a new season?

  3. Kim Brown says:

    im wondering like everyone else is there going to be a new season of Alaskan bush people?

  4. mike says:

    wtf is wrong with you people. is your life so shitty you have to pick on these people the people that don’t want nothing to do with you leave them alone what the fuck. the one reality show on TV thats real. that’s America for you. america can’t tear itself apart fast enough.

    • Rosetta says:

      This show isn’t real. These people are being brought up on charges for fraud in Alaska. If they were true born and raised in Alaska they wouldn’t be looking at jail time for lying on a Alaska application for our yearly PFD these people put in a few applications per so called family member. You can only put in ine application. It’s not a job application.

      • Talkeetnachris says:

        You do not have to be born here to get the PFD. You can file for your minor childern but both you and hey have to meet residency requirements. You can loose it even if you are born here if you don’t meet the calendar years requirements. The same holds true for hunting and fishing licenses. I have a feeling the Dept of Fish and Game will be looking into this family for those requirements also. Usually if you don’t meet PFD you won’t meet residency for fish and game. It’s not lookin good for these frauds. I have lived here since the 70s and have lived remote and spend some summers rafting and canoeing the wilds. I have even camped in weather of -30 and I don’t think the Browns have what it takes to really survive the wilds of Alaska.

  5. Chris Rockhold says:

    I find it interesting some people cannot see the resemblance in the Brown children. Bear & Bam look alike; Gabe & Noah look alike; Birdie & Rainie look like Ami while Matt looks like a combination of his brothers. All of the kids bear the same speech pattern / accent in varying degrees which is normal. I love the show & hope they bring it back. I believe it is an honest representation of their life in Alaska. If you don’t like it don’t watch it & leave it to those of us who do!

    • Rosetta says:

      We don’t like our state made out to be a sick joke. These people were living in a subdivision. You do know what a subdivision is right? How about you let them camp in your back yard and say they are living in a wilderness? Oh because it wouldn’t be? Ya well they weren’t living the way the director tried to make it seem real. All of you need to get on line and look up Fairbanks anchorage Ketchikan educate you’re selfs because some of these comments are out there

  6. Thomas Burcher says:

    When the family so hurried built the house, they cut green posts to hold the house up, and put the posts in the bare thawed out ground. These posts will season, and move. In two or three years, rot will set in, and you will have a nice crooked floor and house. I thought Billy knew better than this.

  7. Judy Hayes says:

    I love the show, but I think it’s strange that none of the kid’s look alike, and they don’t talk alike since they all were home schooled by the same person ( mom ), And I do think they have been deprived of the modern world which the kids say they would never leave the bush I think they would if they had a chance to experience it, I do think dad is lazy and I have never seen mom do anything either, but I think that’s why dad put a stop to the show he was afraid the kid’s would leave, but I do love the concept of the show, It’s about family and sticking together, PLEASE bring the show back.

    • Rosetta says:

      They got kicked out because they trashed the property that they rented in a subdivision wasn’t because he thought they would leave. Oh and his whole “brown” family and what ever their real names are, are being brought up on fraud charges

  8. Judy Hayes says:

    I really love this show, how the family sticks together and work together, but I find it strange that none of the kids look alike and dad don’t do to much work, and I have never seen mom do anything, And if these kids were introduced to modern life would they stay in the bush, I would really like to see how it progresses hope they continue the show.

  9. John says:

    Love this show! The dad is FILO BETO the lead biker in the Clint Eastwood movies. When the boat sank, it reminded me of Giligans Island. They could fix and create anything, except patch a hole in the f&@?$g boat! It warms my heart to think when the cameras turn off from that days filming, they all get to pull out their I phones and drop the accents …. Ps: maybe next season they can talk dolphins into getting under the boat to plug the hole and make it float! The girls can dress like the little mermaid, the parents can reenact the scene from titanic in the front of the boat!

  10. big dick says:

    they should be careing about those girl men in the wild would fuck those girl and they are not baby

    • Michael says:

      Please invest in some grammar..English lessons before attempting to post anymore comments to ANY forum or website. Please..I noticed the name was “big dick”..and not “big brain” Sorry…:-

  11. Bob Hill says:

    Sorry; I don’t find the Brown family interesting or entertaining. But, I wish them well. I will not be watching them.

  12. Julie Malavotte says:

    I really enjoy the show Life Below Zero I realize that there are aspects that are created for our viewing pleasure. These people are subsistence survivalists the weather could easily kill them but they live what to them is a great life. Now the Brown family, they don’t seem to know much about survival for people that have lived in “the bush” most of there lives. They have pierced ears, tattoos and they know seem to know more about life in the city than life in the bush. They could at least make them look a little more intelligent

  13. David Brae says:

    What kind of moron punches a fish?

  14. Vickie smith says:

    Is the show coming back or not?

  15. Vickie smith says:

    Is Alaskan Bush People coming back on?

  16. Ann Ceppaglia says:

    I liked to watch the Brown family. I hope I get to see more of them. I really don’t watch reality shows but I watched this one and the Alaskan Frontier. these are the only ones I watch. Keep up the good work.

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