The premiere of Gold Rush Season 8 revealed right out of the gate just how much hostility exists between Todd Hoffman and Parker Schnabel.
Todd told us in a recent no-holds-barred interview that Parker inherited his fortunate place among the miners.
The big hook this season is that Todd bets Parker 100 ounces of gold (about $100,000) that his crew will mine more gold than Parker’s outfit. It is also the liberation of Parker from Tony Beets’ yoke of royalty payouts.
The opening exchange in Las Vegas was telling. Todd struggles to contain his language and perhaps his hands from throttling an “arrogant” Parker, who goads him relentlessly with that patented smirk.
The tone of this Hoffman and Schnabel exchange at a construction trade show in Las Vegas perfectly encapsulated the deadly sins of the series, one of coveting and pride.
Todd is dead sure that with son Hunter stepping up to the plate he will net the most gold because it’s “the best ground we’ve ever had”.
Parker drills him down. “That’s what you said last year, hmm?” Schnabel replies. “What are we wagering?”
“5,000 ounces,” says Todd. Parker is in. “Happy to take your money!”
Later Parker tells his crew: “We’re going to war and we’re gonna kick his ass…Todd thinks he will get 5,000 ounces, I don’t think he’ll get any…Todd may have started a war but we’re gonna f****** finish it!”
“That kid is arrogant,” says Todd. Mining since childhood, Parker still thinks Todd is a terrible miner. Cue mid-episode in this premiere, as we are shown a poignant flashback from six years ago where Parker is on Todd’s case about sifting dirt with his fingers.
Welcome to Season 8. Todd is convinced that his rigs, “Monster Red, Double Trouble plus three wash plants” will net gold, and “come hell or high water” he will “beat that kid” Parker.
Meanwhile, Parker is sandwiched between Todd and Tony Beets, who has snatched $2.5million in royalties from Parker’s pocket.
That will end this season according to Parker. Tony sees it differently.
“Nothing is gonna stop me now,” says Tony, whose rig in Thistle Creek promised to be a lucrative site.
Tony owns the land in the Klondike that Parker is skirting near at the Indian River claim. This will undoubtedly create a war with Netherlands-born Tony, who at age 60 shows no sign of cleaning up his language or cutting his Viking locks.
Important to note that the Hoffman crew “Turin incident” from last season was skirted over. What they focused on was Todd cheerleading his men to get pumped to beat Parker, and Todd’s 18-year-old son Hunter — another series hardworking millennial who is poised to be a new Gold Rush star. He wants to run Monster Red.
Todd clashes a bit with his eager beaver kid. “Dad! You’ve got to be kidding me,” says a frustrated Hunter. Todd wants to rebuild the conveyor and Hunter has other ideas and tells his dad “you may be good at eating burgers”. Cue the off-camera whooping. Hoffman crewman Andy Spinks comes in to salvage the build and make it all hum.
The father-son power shift dynamic is writ large this season. Since he was ten years old, Hunter has wanted to work with his dad in the washplants. He now wants to step up and Todd told us in our recent interview that he was ready to give his son a shot. Later in the episode, Hunter solves a leaky water liner issue with Monster Red with Double Trouble’s neighboring pond.
Back in the Klondike, Parker is building up to an epic throw-down with Tony. Instead of paying him a high royalty rate on what he mines, Parker wants to get his own claim and investigates how to make that happen.
Tony susses up another crewmate and yet another dredge to buy. “That’s quite a girl, huh?” he says. Then he tools over to where Parker is at Indian River and has a terse exchange with Parker when his surreptitious land deal is discovered.
Parker is back to business at Indian River despite Rick Ness forgetting to turn on the shaker deck. Then, after an attempt at a “nanner nanner” call to Todd and Freddie that they do not answer, calamity strikes Parker.
His loader burns up and his replacement vehicle is now isolated by a new raging river, and a “rock, paper, scissors” moment sees Rick have to cross the cold water to get it.
Later in the show, Parker scores a low royalty land deal away from Tony, and the exchange shows an older couple agree to only a 10 per cent payout even over the 5,000-ounce limit. Schnabel is stoked. He is now diversified from the Scribner Creek stake, but still has to manage Tony and keep him unaware of his new deal.
Tony allegedly has no idea that Parker is engineering his freedom away from his royalty machine.
Parker’s clean-up nets him 202 ounces. In Colorado, Todd’s crew pulls in 212 ounces. So far, his outfit is winning and Hunter’s gamble pays off as he wins a bid to run Monster Red.
Todd “nanner nanner” calls Parker and shares his good news then hangs up. “Obviously he’s bringing his ‘A’ game,” says Parker.
The fan reaction to the series is huge, and it comes down to which personality resonates with you: Tony’s take-no-prisoners unfiltered ways? Todd’s earnest Christian outlook? Or Parker’s maverick moves and admirable work ethic for such a young man?
See you next week.
Gold Rush airs Friday, at 8/7c on Discovery.