Welcome to another week!
Who’s ready for another riveting episode?
If you’re still in the mood for truly American holidays, this is the episode for you. It’s the Fourth of July weekend and the Palins have left Wasilla for Dillingham, where they do commercial fishing for salmon in Bristol Bay. Track, the oldest son, is back from Iraq (which actually rhymes with “Track” in Palinese) and is preparing to take over the family fishing business – if he can prove to mom and dad that he can handle it. It’s nice when even nepotism has standards. Sounds idyllic, right? Not so fast. There seems to be possible tension amongst the family, and it’s unclear whether or not Track has what it takes to run the biz. He made it out of Iraq in one piece – I say let ‘im have it.
If Bristol Bay sounds familiar — you’re right! This is where world champion dancer Bristol Palin got her name! I’d always assumed Bristol, CT, so I’m glad I’m finally learning something from this show. Ooo… did you hear that Margaret Cho has it on very good authority that Bristol only did DWTS because Sarah made her do it? And that Sarah made her do it so that she could make up for that whole teen pregnancy thing ruining the election? Like now America doesn’t hate Bristol anymore, so they’ll vote for SP. Whatevuh, Maggie. That sounds like a streeeetchhhh. If DWTS turned things around for SP, I’ll be very disappointed in the American people. Won’t be the first time, I guess. See November 2, 2004 for exhibit A.
Even he’s disappointed.
Anywho, Bristol Bay is home of the world’s single largest salmon run. Now you’re learning something, too! Every summer the Palins head up there and hang out with Todd’s family, including his grandmother, Lena, who’s an Eskimo. She’s a cute old lady who’s good at giving an icy stare. And like many very old people, she looks a bit like an apple head doll. Also, Todd’s mom’s name is Blanche, which is an awesome name. If you have a name like that, you better be ready to smack someone across the face and storm out of a room. It’s just one of those good, sassy southern names.
Tripp’s also around, but Bristol isn’t. Ummm… she seems to spend a lot of time away from her kid….Todd explains that the price for salmon is nearly $1 per pound. And so “Track has a good shot at making some money. Catching some fish.” OK, now that we’re all caught up… Track is loading up his boat with gear and avoiding all eye contact with his father.
“As far as I know, my dad’s the best fisherman around,” Track says. “The only thing I can do is take what he’s taught me and try to meet those standards.”
You know, I appreciate him starting off with that qualifier. More people should do that. “As far as I know, I’m qualified to be president.” “As far as I know, my proximity to Russia means that I’ll be an effective diplomat.”
Track and his crew take off, hauling one boat toward the fishing spot that Todd has. Awhile later, as Todd and Sarah get ready to go, Todd realizes that there’s a problem — Track left the second boat on a broken trailer.
Yeah, that won’t work.
“Is there no other trailer in town?” SP asks. It just so happens that they are standing right next to a second trailer. I guess that doesn’t count because there’s already a boat on it??
Look to the right, genius.
Sarah says that, as a captain, every piece of equipment Track uses is his responsibility. So, Sarah and Todd talk it over and it’s never really clear what conclusion they come to, but they end up driving down to the water. Storytelling is not this show’s forte. According to the very effective time stamps the program insists on, though, there’s only a 15 minute time difference between when they discovered the busted trailer to when they were headed down the road, so it must have not been too big a deal. We do know, however, that these people tend to make mountains out of mole hills. I can’t tell what’s real anymore…
According to Sarah, Todd has the number one fishing site in the area. There are two kinds of fishing to be done at Bristol Bay: net setting and drifting. Todd’s a net setter, which means he sets nets up and waits for a school of salmon to swim into them. Their gills get caught in the net and they can’t get out. That’s when they get hauled in.
First rule of boating: avoid eye contact with everyone else on the boat.
While you’re sitting on the boat waiting, your nerves tend to get frayed, says Sarah. Speaking of frayed nerves…. I’m having trouble coming up with an accurate description of her voice. Yes, it typically sounds like a sheep speaking, but sometimes, when she wants to put emphasis on part of a sentence, it changes. It’s like a cross between the bray of a donkey and the croak of a bullfrog. Weird.
Anyway, while they’re sitting on the boat stressing out, it’s the perfect time to bring up the broken trailer. When Todd says the trailer was Track’s responsibility, Track has a perfectly reasonable response: “What’re you eatin’, Dad? You’re eatin’ M&Ms and I’m eatin’ fruit,” he says holding up a pack of Skittles.
Hold on to those looks, sweet cheeks.
They’re all you’ve got in this world.
Wow. That is the least sensical thing that’s been said on this show, so far…. We’re just going to move on…. Track needs to catch 3,000 pounds of fish during the small window that commercial fishing is allowed in Bristol Bay. When they pull in the net, they’re nowhere close to that.
You’re $2.86 closer to your goal.
Oh well. They live to fish another day. Back at the ranch, Todd’s fishing buddies stop by. There’s a lot of giggling and teasing as they try to figure out who got the most fish. You know. Typical male stuff. Fishing buddy Becker met Todd years ago when he accidentally cut Todd’s net with the propeller on his boat. Todd wasn’t mad, Becker says. He just had a grin on his face. One can only guess where this story is going next… but before it gets X-rated, we cut to Sarah and Piper who are baking a cake from a box. Sarah is confused by the Spanish *and* English directions on the cake box. Her first act as president will be to abolish bilingual pastry instructions. Right after Todd puts up a fence along the Mexican border.
Later, Todd plays with Trig. “Todd is like Mr. Mom,” Sarah says. “Because he loves kids. That was one of the things that attracted me to him.” She goes on to explain that Trig was born with Down Syndrome. That’s brought some challenges, but a lot of joy.
Later, all the women folk get together so that Grammy Lena can show them the Eskimo way to process fish. It’s Willow’s 16th birthday, and Sarah rubs it in my asking her what she thinks other kids are doing for their Sweet 16s.
I bet most of them don’t have murder on their minds…
Willow later tells the camera that none of her friends spent their Sweet 16s covered in blood and fish goop. Grammy Lena’s thrilled, though. And Sarah thinks it’s better that Willow be here than texting her friends or getting all hooched up and going out like those city kids down in the lower 48.
Nope. No reason to get all dolled up.
Hey, did ya’ll know that Sarah Palin has a new book out? In a commercial within the commercial we were already watching, TLC hawks her book. I hope they’re making a fortune in advertising in exchange for selling their souls with this one.
After the commercial-in-a-commercial break, we’re back at the Dillingham airport. Piper, Todd’s sister and Sarah take a flight to Ekuk, a little fishing camp where Todd’s cousin Ina is. Ina is an Eskimo and has an extremely thick accent I’ve never heard before. Even though Sarah says she loves to connect with the Palin side of the family when she goes to Dillingham, she obviously hasn’t seen them in ages. They all get introduced and shake hands and then get down to the business of smoking fish.
Population control: not a concern in Sarah Palin’s Alaska
Ina had a whole bunch of kids, too, and one also has Down Syndrome. Matthew has taught the family patience and a deep love, Ina explains. Piper and Sarah meet Matthew and Sarah gets emotional as she thinks about what life will be like for Trig as he gets older.
She says she hopes people will treat Trig just like one of the other kids and expect work out of him. Well, check the temperatures in hell, because SP and I finally agree on something. In fact, I’m not even going to point out how exploitative it is for her to trot out these backwoods relatives she obviously hasn’t seen in ages for her fancy TV show. I’ll let Matthew handle that.
You’re a fraud, lady.
The next day, and back at the Palin ranch, Piper is sent to the basement to wake up Track and Jake, his crewman. She has a tough time but manages to wake Jake up. Jake was sleeping in a chair without his shirt on, and as he moves his blanket falls revealing his pale, thin chest, much to Piper’s delight and she starts to giggle. I feel you, Jake. I’ve awakened to people laughing at my chest. True story.
The day Piper became a woman…
Track, meanwhile, has forgotten that his mom sold their family to TLC for the summer and is surprised by the camera.
Nope. It wasn’t a nightmare.
Track heads out to pull in another measly haul of salmon. Later, Todd — who has been talking a lot this episode — and Sarah and Piper head join him. As they boat out, Sarah tells Piper that there’s a lake around that’s one of only two lakes in the world that have a population of seal.
“Ask me anything! I’m the Cliff Clavin of Alaska!” she cackles.
You, madame, are no Clifford J. Clavin.
Todd is not comfortable watching someone else run his site and thinks Track should do things his way. Meanwhile Sarah scrubs the boat and sarcastically says “this is all diva all the time.” Man, she is really butt hurt about someone calling her a diva, huh? We’ll call her that for the rest of the re-cap.
You missed a spot, Diva.
While Diva keeps scrubbing, Todd shouts some more advice at Track. Much to Track’s disappointment, Todd ends up taking charge.
Back at the house, it’s July 4th and time for Willow’s Sweet 16 party. Grammy Lena says a prayer while Willow makes faces. Willow doesn’t like birthdays. All the attention makes her uncomfortable.
Somebody slap her, please. Not Meemaw. The other one.
There’s salmon for dinner, cake in Piper’s face, and gifts. Willow gets clothes and money, but what she really wanted was a truck and she can’t understand why she didn’t get one. She’s a good kid! I used to use that line all the time. And you know what? It was a lie.
Is no one going to say anything about the black Palin??
Later, half the family goes back out to check on the nets in the bay. Todd heads out with Track’s crew and they haul in the mother lode — about 3,000 pounds of fish. Unfortunately, Track is back on land because he promised Piper he’d do fireworks with her. Man, that hurts. I wonder if Todd kept all the money.
Willow and her cousin head out with fishing buddy Becker, who tells Willow how much she looks like Sarah when he met her 18 years ago. “I don’t remember which one was cuter, though,” he adds, staring at her. Ugh… creeper much?
So, here’s a weird thing I noticed. When Becker left the house to go fishing, he looked like this:
And out on the boat he looks like this:
“What?! The strippers at Great Alaskan Bush Co. love this look.”
WTF, people?! Where did all that hair come from?? What is going on? This is some shoddy producing… . Unless that’s some sort of toupe. Or fur-lined visor. So weird. I’m done with this show.
Back on land, as they’re setting off fireworks, Diva reflects on what a great few days it’s been and says that she hopes Piper can take over the fishing site from Track one day. Meanwhile, Trig goes nuts for the fireworks. Much like this episode, they’re underwhelming.
So… did Todd and Track work out their daddy/son issues? Will Track go on to run Todd’s number one fishing site? Does Becker have a scalp capable of growing a chia-like head of hair in minutes? Will somebody explain who the black Palin is? I guess we’ll never know because this is a terrible, terrible show. We can only hope for more dated sitcom references next time on: Sarah Palin’s Alaska!