Hi everyone — hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year! Did you get what you wanted? I got some nice things, although my letter to Santa clearly said that I am in need of either a Samoan rugby player or a tall, sexy computer nerd, and I got neither. What I did get was lots of food and my incredible family. Being the supportive, nosy people that they are, they offered to watch this week’s episode of Sarah Palin’s Alaska with me.
Who could resist this?
They started off enthusiastic, but 10 minutes into the show their eyes started to glaze over. 30 minutes later, they’re all in the kitchen eating more ham and I’m left alone in front of my parents’ TV, which has been broken for years. It does this thing where every normal-looking image has a sort of green half image right next to it. So you see Sarah Palin and then half a green Sarah Palin right next to the original Sarah Palin. Like a hologram. We’ve asked them to replace the TV or get it fixed, but they say as long as they can still sort of make out what’s going on, they’ll just squint their way through football games and episodes of Law & Order.
Hmmm… this is not good. I’ve been sidetracked and we haven’t even started the re-cap. As you can guess, this was not a very good episode of Sarah Palin’s Alaska. As opposed to the other episodes, which were also not good at all. This week’s episode is called “Logging” which tells us that everyone involved in the show has given up at this point and isn’t even bothering to come up with clever episode titles anymore.
Early on, Sarah tells us this episode is all about letting middle daughter Willow know that she’s “in the driver’s seat.” Later, this will happen literally, but you will have to wait until the end of the re-cap to find out what I mean. Are you excited yet??
It’s morning at the Palin home. On the counter sits a coffee cup with the words “Piper for President” on it. If only this family’s ambitions were limited to novelty mugs…. Piper looks like she’s been up all night and needs a couple cups of coffee herself. When you were little, did you ever ask to drink coffee, but your parents told you it would make you stop growing? I’m pretty sure that was a lie and this po’ chile looks like I felt the day before New Year’s Eve, when I went out without properly hydrating and carbo loading ahead of time.
Today, Willow also wants to go to the DMV. She just turned 16 and the girl wants her license bad. When she asks Todd to take her, he says he’s not sure. Sarah tells the camera that parenting a teen is a big challenge. Especially when you’re busy exploiting them for fame and fortune at really vulnerable points in their lives.
Because she excels in parenting, Sarah has decided to take Willow to a logging camp in southern Alaska. Willow isn’t interested because there’s no cell service there. She probably has AT&T. Horrible coverage. Because she’s only 16 and can’t drive yet, Willow has to go where she’s told, so she, Sarah and Todd head off into the Alaskan wilderness. On the car ride there, Sarah tries to explain away her latest bout of stupidity.
“Oh jeez,” she says, looking at her Blackberry. The internet is abuzz because she used the word “refudiate” in a tweet. She claims she mixed up the F and the P while she was typing, although those letters are clear across the keyboard from one another. She also says English is a living, breathing, changing language. I’m not sure what her defense here is. Did she purposely make up a new word? Or is she just a crappy typist? She’s just awful, isn’t she? Why not just cop to not knowing the right word and move on with it? Don’t blame it on the English language. You’re not qualified to change it, lady.
“Those elitest liberals hate when I talk gobbledy-gook.
I refudiate myself from the English language.”
OK, back to logging. Sarah likes it because she thinks Alaska’s economy should be diversified, which is why they’re going to a camp where loggers and their families live. At the camp, they meet Janelle and Ron who will be their guides. They also meet Tim, the camp cook. He is tall, thin, very pale and ghostlike. Sarah tells this man who they just met they he’ll be spending a lot of time with her 16-year-old daughter, and she volunteers Willow to help him out.
“Oh good, a child. The flesh of children is what has kept me alive, lo, these past 300 years…”
Willow is too busy checking for cell phone service to notice she’s being sized up by a vampire. Seriously, though, if vampires were real, that’s what Edward Cullen would look like.
The family is taken to a cabin where they’ll be staying and Sarah is honored to be treated like any other logger. Soon, she and Todd are headed for the logging site. They leave Willow behind because kids aren’t allowed at the site. They’re told how dangerous logging is and then suit up.
Sarah says she’s nervous, but hopes that she gets a chance to help out. We know she loves to destroy things that are living, so I’m pretty sure she’ll dive right into this activity. Sarah and Todd meet Pat, a cutter, who is standing near a ginormous tree.
“Name’s Pat. I got a lotta wood.”
Pat explains how they cut the trees down, cranks up a chainsaw, gets a cut started and hands the chainsaw over to Sarah. “Would you like to help me cut a tree down?” he asks seductively. Sarah tries to play it cool, glancing over at Todd before saying “sure” with a shrug.
“Dear 8 pound 7 ounce baby Jesus. Thank you for sending me
this man and his chainsaw. Thank you for creating these trees
so I could wreak havoc on their bark. Amen…”
Pat tells us that cutting down a tree can be really dangerous because when the saw hits a knot, it can bounce back at you, sending the tip of the saw flying at your face. Sarah works through a knot, but no tips go flying at her face and eventually, the tree slowly crashes to earth.
“That was all me!” Sarah squeals. I’m guessing that was sarcasm given that she cannot start a chainsaw, determine where to cut a tree or get the cut started. They’re turning this tree into a 36 foot, 10 inch log. Pat cranks up the chainsaw for Sarah again, and then she cuts the tree up.
Then this next part starts to get uber creepy. Pat and Sarah clearly begin to flirt with one another while Silent Todd stands silently by.
“This is so hawt.”
Their conversation is laden with innuendo… breathiness… lust. OK, probably not lust, but it’s fun to think about Sarah starting a torrid love affair with Pat The Logger. It’s a storyline that’s ripe with potential for euphemisms about trees and logs and stuff….
This guy knows what’s up.
That’s why his hat is shaped like a penis.
Pat asks Sarah to sign his chainsaw, which she does. Pat says he’s going to retire and put the chainsaw on a shelf where it will gather dust. This one has big dreams. Look out.
“Let me just get on my knees here and sign your big, manly chainsaw…”
After destroying some trees and giving Pat enough fantasies of wood and retirement to last him a lifetime, the Palins head back to the camp to pick Willow up. They’re going to join some local school children in reseeding areas where the trees have been cut down because, as Sarah helpfully explains, trees are a renewable resource.
Thrilled to be here…
As they start planting, Sarah starts hollering at Willow who ignores her. Sarah decides to fight passive aggression with passive aggression and tells the little kids working around her that Willow has selective hearing. If I grew up listening to that voice, I’d learn to tune it out, too.
“What do I look like, lady? Your freakin’ therapist? Quit talkin’ and start diggin’.”
Later, Sarah and Willow go for a mother-daughter walk on the beach. Sarah practices her latest campaign speech on Willow, going on and on about wood, renewable energy, hard-working Alaskans, eye-fucking with Pat and obtaining important job skills. Willow silently skips rocks. This one takes after her dad.
Sarah asks Willow how she’ll function if she doesn’t know how to cook for herself or others. And Willow says she’ll survive on frozen food. Silence. They stare each other down in one of those classic mother-daughter stare offs. You know the kind – where you don’t know if your mother’s just going to shake her head and walk away in disappointment or totally flip out on you.
“Aren’t you glad you put us all on TV?”
Sarah goes with hollow threats, saying she’s going to throw Willow’s cell phone away. I know this will hurt Willow, but I imagine her parents paid for that phone. I think she should come up with a better punishment.
The next day, the Palins send Willow to the kitchen to work with vampire chef Tim. They warn her not to spend the entire time on her cell phone, which never got thrown out, I guess. Sarah and Todd are headed back to the logging site to learn what happens to the trees after they’re harvested.
After the trees are cut into logs, a giant, crazy-looking, grabby machine lifts them onto trucks.
Looks complex. Let’s get someone with no experience on in there.
This is a complicated piece of heavy machinery that takes practice to master, but soon Sarah is climbing into the driver’s seat accompanied by Rocky, who ordinarily drives the grabby doo-hicky machine. Rocky says you learn to operate the shuttle logger by using it; but it’s incredibly dangerous because the logs can come swinging through the windshield.
She has a better grasp on heavy machinery than on the English language.
Sarah manages to pick up a log and drop it onto a truck. She says she wanted to do well in order to impress Todd, who’s the mechanical one in the family. Not to get too Psych 101 on ya’ll, but I think she has some sort of disorder that compels her to be really competitive. This explains her high school nickname Sarah Barracuda, which I never liked because everyone knows nicknames need to be ironic or alliterative. Sloppy Sarah or Shady Sarah or Brainiac. Those are real nicknames. Sarah really enjoyed her turn at the log grabber machine, but what she really wants to talk about is people who have offended her in some form.
Today, her target is environmentalists. She tells the camera: they write me complaint letters on their pretty little paper with their pretty little pencils. And that stuff comes from trees, she informs us.
Who uses pencils and paper to write letters anymore? Maybe my grandma who pays all her bills by check and in person. Maybe my grandma is writing Sarah Palin on paper with a pencil. I think she’s the only one who would do that.
What else happens when you harvest timber? Well, the next step in this very fascinating process is dropping the logs into the water so they can be loaded onto ships that will take them all over the world. Sarah and Todd get onto a little boom boat, which Todd drives and they sort of round up a bunch of stray logs and push them into a big bunch. Sigh. Yes. I just watched Sarah Palin move a bunch of logs around.
I kind of hoped they would do some of those competitive lumberjack activities. Have you ever seen Lumberjack Days? I learned about it when I lived in the Midwest. It’s like the olympics of lumberjacking. They do things like climb up trees with spikes on their shoes and saw wood. What’s really cool, though, is the log rolling where two people get on a log in the water and run on it and the person who stays standing longest wins. Falling off those logs looks sooo painful. That’s what they should have done on this episode. Let Sarah and Todd run on logs. Whoever makes it out of the water alive without a concussion wins.
Eventually, Sarah and Todd head back to the loggers’ camp where they are pleasantly surprised to find Willow in the kitchen with pale, lithe Tim. She slowly cuts up lettuce. Her hands must feel strange to be doing something besides texting. She squints her eyes, which aren’t used to such bright colors. She’s like a little mole person who has come up from underground for the first time, exploring a colorful new world. A world without LOLs and OMGs.
That kid’s got a future so bright, Tim had to put on some coke bottle glasses to see it.
As she watches her daughter slowly cut lettuce, Sarah says she is really proud of Willow. At this point, one of my cousins had wandered back into the room and — around a mouthful of ham — announced that Sarah Palin’s threshold for pride is extremely low. Agreed. I think most of her standards are low.
Because her threshold for shame is actually quite high, Sarah gathers the loggers’ families in one area for a game she calls Eskimo Bingo. The Palins have brought a bunch of gifts wrapped in tissue paper with them. They put the gifts in the middle of a large room and everyone forms a circle around the gifts. Each person rolls the dice and whoever rolls doubles gets a present from the pile. The presents are a random assortment of things. T-shirts, soccer balls, Barbie dolls.
“Dance for our trinkets, peasants! Crawl for them!”
Maybe I’m not understanding the point of this game. Everyone gets a gift, but the gift may not be appropriate for the recipient. Normal grown men shouldn’t be participating in any game where they might be receiving a Barbie doll.
“We’re leaving this place with a whole bunch of new friends,” Sarah says. That’s exactly what I like to do with new friends – make them sit in a circle and play stupid games for crap my personal assistant picked up at Target. Sounds like a rewarding end to an easy day’s – oh wait, the episode isn’t over.
Now the Palins are taking a helicopter over to Kodiak Island. That’s where they have a raceway where people drive old beat up stock cars. Sarah says stock cars aren’t big boy toys. They’re incredibly dangerous, especially when they catch fire. That’s why she makes sure that her teenage daughter puts on a fire suit before they put her in one of these dangerous, deadly machines.
“Love you, sweetie. Try not to die a fiery death!”
So, Willow and Todd are going to be racing. Each one will drive three laps and they’ll compare the best times from each lap.
Todd does his laps in 25 seconds, 23 seconds and 24 seconds. As he drives off the track there’s smoke pouring out from under the hood. Willow’s up next and drives a pink car onto the track. She immediately freaks out, screaming and weaving all over the track. As the sound of her terrified screeching rings out across the track, Sarah says she hopes that Willow beats Todd.
She does her first lap in 30 seconds, her second lap is in 23 seconds. On the final lap, she loses control of the car and goes plowing into a hill of dirt. A man runs out onto the track to find out if she’s ok aaaanddd… commercial.
Girl crashes pink car; does nothing for stereotypes.
Of course she’s OK because the tabloids haven’t had a cover that reads “Willow Palin Crashes Car After Learning of Pregnancy?” See, I put the question mark in there, so you think I made a statement but I’m not liable in court for anything…
Willow is, indeed fine, and is laughing hysterically as she climbs out of the car. She finished the lap in 20 seconds and is the victor in the Great Palin Race ‘Round the Dirt Track 2010.
Alright! A drama-filled end to a drama-less epi – oh, ok, the episode isn’t over yet. Because they’re on Kodiak Island, they have to go see some Kodiak bears. They hop on yet another helicopter (I’m sure the environmentalists grabbed their pencils and began furiously scribbling on their pretty little paper when they saw that!) and go to some lake where there are a ton of Kodiak bears.
“From the plane we counted three or four bears, so we knew we were in bear country,” Todd helpfully tells the camera. Um. Bear country only has four bears? Maybe those environmentalists are onto something….
A guide has come with the Palins to show them the four bears of bear country. He says he doesn’t have a gun, but he does have bear spray. This announcement is met with stony silence. He adds that bear spray is more effective. Sarah is not happy that nothing will be shot today.
“You’re not welcome in bear country!”
They pull out some lawn chairs and sit down to watch the bears playing and fishing in a nearby river.
Notice how the real mama bear is not endangering her cubs in any way.
“When I watch a mama bear in her natural habitat protecting her cubs I get it. I know exactly what it is that she’s thinkin’. She’s gonna do all that she can to protect her cubs….” Sarah says.
So, the Palins head back to Wasilla, having spent lots of quality time with their middle daughter who learned that hard work is rewarded with trips to stock car racing, and that if she participates in her mom’s vanity television project, her cell phone won’t get thrown away after all.
And that was it – the second to last episode of Sarah Palin’s Alaska! It was all about seduction, ambition, phalluses, danger and the evil people who care about our environment.
Sorry the recap was so late. I had a hell of a travel week and just because planes, trains and buses promise wi-fi doesn’t mean they deliver! Don’t worry — I’ll have to make up for it next week when they air the two-freakin-hour long finale. Pray to the little baby Jesus for me…