Swamp People’s “big bad” Grande Noir is no more. After 16 years of taunting Daniel Edgar, and his 10 separate sightings and chances to kill him, the reptilian beast meets his maker in the premiere of Season 8 of History’s humid reality series.
The legendary gator, reportedly the fiercest, biggest alligator in Swamp People lore, is finally being processed into a handbag or pair of cowboy boots thanks to the father-son teamwork of Dwaine and his father Daniel’s stealthy hunting.
It wasn’t easy.
The opener shows us that these old men of the bayou who have featured in the series over the years are ready to hand the legacy of their family business over to their kin.
Except for Troy Landry, the notorious “King of the Swamp”, who might have to skip a generation based on the opener — revealing his son Chase is a bit of a slacker.
So begins the new season of Swamp People on History. We head to the most ethnically and culturally diverse part of Louisiana where Creole and Cajun mix it up and fearlessly jump in waters with man killers who are prehistoric throwbacks.
The Creole and Cajun people are descendants of French Canadian, Spanish and African refugees who settled in the swamp region of Louisiana over a few centuries. They call the Atchafalaya Basin their home and one of the regional businesses that they dominate is the competitive alligator-hunting season.
No college degree for this endeavor, as real-life experience and immersion into the swamp life is the only CV required.
This vocation has been handed down in many area families, except now a new threat is changing the economic outcomes for them. The marketplace is flooded with too many alligators, driving down the prices for each carcass.
This has everyone on edge. We learn that alligator breeding farms are cutting into their wild gator hunting action and that is a major concern this season.
The Landry family, the Molinere family, the Edgar family and all their relatives and employees are featured again in separate segments. Both of the elder Edgar and Landry men are looking to retire and have conscripted their sons to learn the ropes fast and take over the lead.
And like Gold Rush’s Tony Beets, the swearing dutchman who needs subtitles, so too do some of our cast of characters on Swamp People.
Cajun Troy Landry, of course, is the biggest example of this, whereas Creole Daniel Edgar is easier on the ears.
The two men are prominent in The Hunt Begins which shows the handwriting on the wall: Gators are plentiful and now buyers are shutting down early this year.
This reality sees Troy giving his son Chase a real chance to shine, as he is made the captain of his own boat with younger cousin Holden along as second mate.
Meanwhile, out in Franklin where the infamous Grande Noir resides in his hard-to-get-to mucky lair at Black Bayou, the prodigal son returns to join the family business. Handsome former baseball star Dwaine Edgar is back and now with his dad who is showing him the ropes as he did with brother Dorien.
Observation of Grande Noir and his habits has Edgar in the driver’s seat. A half of a dead male buck deer carcass floating in the water is a giveaway as dad Daniel tells Dwaine: “He’s [Grande Noir] always killing big animals, he eats big game”. He also notes that hanging a little dead chicken into the water will not draw him out.
They realize that their boat is inadequate to get into the lair and must go and get the airboat.
It is Edgar’s methodical and successful snaring of Grande Noir that dominates this premiere as his son Dwaine learns that legends can be cut down with an observant approach to understanding the routine of their scaly enemy. It took years for Daniel to understand the ways of his gator enemy.
The other major storyline is Chase Landry’s woeful work ethic, and how younger cousin Holden is emerging as a potential new star for troy Landry to pass on his legacy to.
Between lackadaisical attitudes about time, to napping on the job, Chase is not earning any points with his no tolerance for BS dad Troy.
Another family we follow is employee Tommy Chauvin, another late-bird, and his dedicated boss Jay Paul Molinere who do the most dangerous macho stunts in the chase for the gator.
Both men jump into the water to pull out snared gators, risking their lives to show how dedicated they are to bagging their quota. It is utter madness watching these white-knuckle scenes in this gumbo potboiler when they strip down and jump in the murky water.
Nature and reptiles give no f***s about your bravery and one of these days someone is being dragged down. The dearly departed Grande Noir ain’t the only big gator in the bayou.
Both the Edgars clan and RJ and Jay Paul Molinere have made the decision to utilize two boats this year. As mentioned, the lack of regard for schedules and appointed times is lost on Tommy, who realizes fast that Jay Paul’s patience is short. Now he must make up for the bad first impression.
Like Jay Paul, he also jumps in the water fishing the line and pulling up a gator. Lucky for him, that gator was dead on arrival.
Future episodes this season will show the antics of Glenn Guist, Bruce Mitchell, Ron Methvin, fan favorite Willie Edwards and the girl of the series, Kristi Boussard.
But for now, we can only wonder how the handing down of these family businesses will work out for the Landrys and the Edgars as Chase continues to disappoint Troy, and Dwaine rises (or not) to the occasion for proud pop Daniel.
It appears there is trouble in that clan too.
Swamp People airs Thursdays at 9/8c on History.