The series’ next episode (‘No such thing as a fair fight’) is the so-called ‘superbunker’ episode we’ve been hearing about, and I have to say it was certainly underwhelming. Like the last episode, this one also focuses on just two groups, which means I get a little bit more material to chew on!
We start with Brent Bruns, Sr. from Florida.
He’s working on an ambitious construction project somewhere in the Carolinas, where he has fifty acres of woodland—supposedly surrounded by another 1,000 acres (not sure if he owns those too)—on which he is building a 6,000-square-foot ‘castle’. Worried about an uncertain future in a world where everybody’s out to get America with EMPs, he wants a stronghold for his family that could last 100 or maybe even 1,000 years.
And why build a ‘castle’ instead of just burying a tube-bunker like everyone else on this show? I dunno, but he says that “castles are all rock—they can’t burn!” Plus, he thinks it will be able to survive earthquakes and “most other catastrophes”. Which is funny, because it’s not like he’s Michael Guyot, building an actual medieval-style French CASTLE in Arkansas, using centuries-old materials and techniques and letting visitors come and learn. From what we see, it just looks like cinderblocks and concrete, and the design seems pretty spindly compared to an actual Castle—where are the six-foot-thick walls and the narrow arrow loops/windows? Honestly, I see it coming down at the first sign of earthquake or hurricane (all those big square walls would catch the wind like sails).
And since we’re talking fireproof building materials, what’s wrong with Cob? Unlike an entire building made of Portland cement, a cob building actually could last a thousand years, as well as have a small carbon footprint.
Like I said earlier, he’s worried that Amerika’s enemies will use an air-burst Electro-Magnetic Pulse to destroy our vulnerable electrical grid. Like everybody else on the show, he’s not worried so much about the doomsday MacGuffin itself, as much as what happens afterwards: he recites the survivalist mantra about after three days the supermarkets are bare, yada yada yada, anarchy reigns supreme, and we all “go back to medieval days”. Right. Except for the crucial difference: back then, most people actually knew how to grow their own food, and/or how to forage.
Y’know, when the overwhelming majority of folks are worried about the same issue (a populace helplessly dependent on the civilized teat), you’d think we’d see folks start actively trying to solve the issue, instead of just buttoning up to deal with the consequences.
And the worst part about life without electricity? “There’d be no way to communicate with people!” Hey, medieval people got along just fine without the juice, and assuming the flashing lights of our gadgets haven’t completely robbed us of our humanity, there’s always letters, and this little thing called face-to-face conversation?
So, by the way, Brent has ten children from two marriages, aged eight to fourty-one. The personalities on display range from superficial (Ashley’s plan is to “grab my makeup, my tiny dog, and head out!”—dad says she’s “more of a primper than a prepper!”, ha!) to pretty reasonable (Dawn-Marie says she “doesn’t know if the end of the world is going to happen, but it’s better to be prepared than not.”). Brent has gathered all the clan together because he wants to set up a trust for them after he dies, and he doesn’t know who should be in charge of it; this means everybody’s spending the weekend at the unfinished ‘castle’ where he will observe them and decide who to pick. This makes for a damned-impressive cocktail of regrettable television: all the talking-to-the-camera, who-will-he-pick? drama of Bachelor Pad, with the challenges of Survivor, with a healthy dose of Fear Factor’s eating nasty things (once they break out the expired MREs). Also, lots of girls in tanktops and shorty-shorts (Buckwild?)
For their first test, Brent has the kids get together and try to assemble a framework for their solar panels. Wait, what? Solar panels? I thought this whole thing was about going medieval so you don’t rely on the vulnerable electric grid? Guess I’m expecting too much. Still, if you’re going to continue living with electricity, thumbs-up for the solar array and wind turbine.
They move on to testing the kids’ familiarity with firearms. Brent tells us that they’ve picked “police-type” and “army-type” weapons. Y’know, “something standard, that there are a lot of.” This boils down to an AK, an AR, and two Mosin-Nagants (yay, East Bloc love!). That’s fine, but if your criteria is ‘standard and widely-available’, why not get a variety of .22s? It’s by far the most common small-arms caliber; it’s cheap, plentiful, doesn’t kick, can be silent, and is perfectly deadly in the right hands.
First up is Brent’s oldest, Brent Jr., age 41. Did we mention this is his first time shooting a gun? So, we don’t see dad give him any instruction, just lets Jr. pick a rifle off the table. He grabs the AK, chambers a round, and proceeds to rapidly fire off about ten rounds. Without hearing protection. Then he tells dad to speak up, because his “ears are ringing!” What a surprise!
It starts raining so they try some kind of coordinated firing exercise in front of one of the big window spaces. I guess they were supposed to step up in pairs and shoot at unseen targets below? Well, it seems this is the first time shooting for just about everybody, because there’s lots of bad form and I kept waiting for somebody to get shot in the foot (thankfully, nothing happens). Again, I would’ve started everybody out with .22s and a basic gun-handling lesson; you can hand a slender girl a double-barreled shotgun for the first time, just don’t be surprised when it knocks her off her feet.
The rain keeps on coming, so they decide to practice bugging-in down in the basement bunker, only to find when the power goes out, the whole place is improperly insulated, and now there’s raw electricity arcing all over the place. Fun! Dad realizes that “we still need a lot of training.” Yup.
The experts tell Brent to get some new food because eating twelve-year-old MREs aren’t the best idea (unless, of course, you’re going for the real medieval experience, and want your castle to be ankle-deep in shit). I would agree, although earlier Brent bragged that he’s bought 40,000 heirloom seeds. That’s great, but how many has he planted? That said, take a minute to understand the differences between Sell By, Best By, and Use By dates on food (hint: except for baby formula, they don’t really mean anything).
The experts also give him extra ‘x-factor’ points for the “unique defensive structure” of his ‘castle’. Huh. Did I miss the star fort he was secretly building?, because it just looked like a concrete box to me.
He gets 68 points for eleven months’ initial survival.
And in the update, Brent informs us that he has built up the pillars to the final height and is now ready to pour a concrete roof? Wow. So, just waiting for an earthquake, then?
Looks like NatGeo has picked up Brent and his ten offspring for a late-summer spinoff series, “Doomsday Castle“. *eyeroll*…ohboy.