Well, it seems those television executives are hungrier than ever for ratings (and the all-powerful Dollar they represent), and so have been so generous as to give us a late-summer ‘mini-season’ of everybody’s favorite shameless freakshow! Technically, I suppose this should be Season 2.5, but I’ve rounded up and filed it as Season 3 anyway. Enjoy.
We begin watching Jeff Mann, ‘exotic animal broker’, patrolling his 25-acre ‘ranch’ in Florida (ugh). He does this patrol tooling around on a Segway, which I don’t think we ever see him step off the whole time. Man, if you’re worried about the end of the world as you know it, better hop off the electric (therefore coal-powered, therefore unsustainable) machine and get used to walking!
It seems Jeff has turned this ranch into a right-proper Prepper Compound—which he calls The Colony (hey, just like that unfortunate soft-scripted prepper reality bitchfest)—complete with three easily-hoppable electric gates and shipping-container barracks!
Oh, what a surprise. You know this was filmed as part of Season 2, because their fear is one of economic collapse!!! Someone comments that this “will happen because we don’t know how to control our spending”—but I’m not sure if he’s talking about themselves, or the capitalist system in general?
But don’t worry, “there’s safety in numbers—he’s a doctor, he’s an engineer, he’s a hunter” (ugh, specialization is for insects), and Jeff has recruited others to help him rule his tiny Type I kingdom: ‘former Marine’ (say no more!) Bill Hennessey, and ‘professional survivalist’ John Milandred. That last title sounds made-up, but it’s just fancy-talk for ‘hands-on survival instructor’. Amidst all the macho, guns-and-gear bunker-dwellers we’ve seen on this show, John (and the few others like him) stands out as an example of the type of guy you really want on your side in a disaster–he’s down-to-earth and well-versed in low-tech living and so doesn’t seem afraid to live without the comforts and conveniences we associate with our fragile civilizational experiment.
I guess that with all their security enhancements hoarded astronaut food and junk (and the eight firearms per person), Bill thinks the Colony “is the place you’d want to be” when shit goes south (erm, Florida? I don’t think so.); because “this is where we’d make our final stand’ (remember, for professional Takers like Bill, life is war!)
It seems that for joining the Colony, each family gets their own shipping container, and gets to decorate it however they want? Oh, joy! Lipstick on a pig, much? It’s still a shipping container.
Apparently Jeff has a daughter and a son, and he’s trying to decide who he should pass the mantle of Colony Leader onto. I had expected we’d get a whole lotta father-son drama, but was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t go that route.
It’s funny, if you’re planning on supporting 25+ people, you’d think we’d see a big-ass garden and people working in it or something, but no, we just see a warehouse of food boxes and buckets (Mountain House and the like)…because gardening requires time and knowledge, but foodbuckets just require $$$.
Then we get to the Task part of the segment, in which we learn if young Colten can step up and do all the duties of Colony Leader.
First test—can he feed the whole colony if all of their livestock is gone?
Okay, first off—ditch the cows, they’re inefficient for the amount of pasturage they require.
Second—nothing happens suddenly. I can think of very few likely scenarios in which you will suddenly go from a menagerie of animals to zero. If you have chickens and a rooster, then you will have chicks. Ditto for goats. That’s how husbandry works.
Third—what are all the rest of the colony folks doing during this time? Is daddy Jeff currently responsible for feeding everybody?
Four—there’s more to having food to eat than hunting and trapping. Eat lower down the energy pyramid (go veggie) and you’ll have enough for everybody.
And so, John takes Colten to teach him “the survival trades that the rest of the colony doesn’t know”—wait, what? Are they consciously keeping the others in the dark? Have they taken in people with no survival skills? What’s their angle, hoping to play the savior?
They set out into the woods to find a wild hog, but you’d think if they were serious about hunting wild boars they wouldn’t go walking around unarmed in their blue jeans? I dunno.
They set up a giant have-a-heart trap, and the whole catching and dispatching of the sow suspiciously happens entirely offscreen during a commercial break, so I’m not convinced they actually caught it.
John shows him how to butcher it, but since this is NatGeo’s Doomsday Preppers, of course it’s played for the ‘eww, guts!’ angle, instead of how someone like Ray Mears would show it and actually demonstrate how to properly butcher.
Then there’s some dumbassery (this was probably the requisite producer-enforced stunt) involving shooting a tub of that exploding-target mixture folks on this show are so fond of, except the scenario involves Jeff’s son running up to a junked car, throwing the bottle in the car, hitting the dirt and crawling uprange back to the others, while they shoot automatic weapons over his head. Eventually Jeff shoots the car with his .50 cal, and sets off the explosion. Luckily no shrapnel (or anyone’s bullet) hits the boy.
According to the narrator, the idea is somehow to use junked-cars-with-exploding-stuff as some kind of perimeter defense. I don’t buy it.
Now we move onto the drama-with-larger-implications segment of the profile, in which we ponder post-disaster politics.
Someone suggests that in a disaster scenario, the colony will be run by a “city council that would govern…” Obviously, we’re dealing with civilized bluepills who have never questioned our culture’s mistaken belief that they need someone higher up on the pyramid to tell them what to do and give order to their lives.
Seriously, if your ‘colony’ is going to be in the 25-to-50-people range, that’s a textbook Band, so why not go with the only natural form of leadership for that size society—pure-democratic tribal law? Well, the ‘why not’ is easy—because Bill has grown up in a culture that’s been painting tribal societies as Wild Savages for the last eight thousand years!
And so, he suggests they establish a “punishment for crimes that dates back to Rome” (well, say no more!)—hanging! Yup, Bill has them build a half-assed gallows (couple of 4x4s stuck together), to symbolize the same old anti-tribal rule of Law we’ve been dealing with since ol’ Hammurabi, because as Bill intones, “We have to have a set of laws, people have to respect the law!”
Really! You can’t make this stuff up! This, from the pistol-toting, camo-clad-from-head-to-toe, former marine, colony’s ‘head of security’ guy—he couldn’t be a better posterchild for the Taker way if he tried!
However, John steps up as the sensible dissenting voice, suggesting that instead of executing them, post-collapse lawbreakers should get kicked out of the colony—y’know, expelled into the wild without the support net of the tribe. There’s some pissy drama—justified when Bill brings out the Taker’s ultimate insult and calls John a tree-hugger—that eventually plays out when Jeff’s son manages to broker a kind of peace between the two, though I think John really has disassociated himself from the Colony.
Anyway, this confrontation is an absolutely perfect example of the clash that has occurred at the frontiers of Our culture for the last eight thousand years. For another look at Taker-versus-Leaver philosophies played-for-drama in a survivalist television setting, see Dual Survival: Cody Lundin exemplifies the primitive, harmonious, and ultimately sustainable viewpoint, set against Dave Canterbury’s stubborn embrace of a civilized, military-industrial approach that sees Nature as an opponent to be eliminated, and which can only result in the extinction of the human species (while probably taking the rest of the planet down with it).
In the end, the group gets a new high score of 89 ‘points’ for 19 months ‘initial survival time’. Woo, Type I prepping.