I had to give this one a think overnight. On paper and in the flesh, it was a pretty low key, and dare I say, boring episode of Swamp People.
The action was predictable, the quantity of gators negligible, and the cast of characters only slightly satisfying.
Thinking it through, the conclusion reached was this episode clearly marked a transitional moment in the series. It was one where you feel the torch passed (never stated, just energetically) between father Daniel Edgar and son Joey Edgar.
The moment was all brought home in the footage mashed up into the closing credits.
You might have missed it if you didn’t stay until the bitter end. But let me break it down for you.
Mr. Daniel is 70 years old. He grew up in the swamp, and his family is the be-all-and-end-all in life. His work ethic is as tight as his frame; he’s not let himself get big-bellied or soft.
He actually dresses neatly for the dirty occasion in crisp clothing that looks professional as far as a commercial fisherman look.
Joey has a bit of that too, he’s never slobbish or wearing the wife beaters that several seem to favor on the long-running series. Sadly, in 2018, Mr. Daniel lost his wife Juanita, the mother of Joey and Dwaine Edgar.
Personally, I believe he keeps busy with Joey and his business to keep his focus on life and work through his grief.
But on this episode, Daniel mentions over and again his age, that milestone of 70. Joey spends the entire episode fretting for his dad, who is hunting and pulling in 12 foot 600lb+ alligators by himself. Big Tee had a sick day.
Big Tee, Mr. Daniel’s partner, if we can be frank here, is in terrible health. He is far too young to have his mobility compromised, ruining his knees and the raging infections because his immune system is worn down, not to mention the other effects of carrying way too much weight.
He’s a fan favorite and likable sort. Mr. Daniel loves him like a son and vice versa; Tee loves Mr. Daniel like a surrogate father, his own we learned in the series passed away.
Swamp People has a pious cast of characters, god-fearing, gun-loving sorts. But Tee needs to get some food religion fast, or he will be a casualty before his time. Nobody wants that.
Daniel is out there, alone, at age 70, doing it all by himself. That is not advisable given how we have been hammered over and again that the gator population — especially the bulls over 11 feet — are out of control in these treacherous waters.
The irony is that the demand is high (hides and food source). However, the preponderance of farmed gators and overpopulation of the wild ones means the money is smaller than it has ever been to risk your life to go into the buggy muck of the bayous and kill one.
The Chinese Restaurant Connection
It was reported by the NY Times that Chinese Restaurants, the old school ones we grew up with, featured in films like A Christmas Story (the duck Christmas meal scene) are disappearing in America. Why?
The labor-intensive businesses cannot be handed down to kids who do not want them.
Through the sacrifice and hard work of their parents, this generation of Chinese-Americans has higher educations — doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs in business.
They aren’t going to work 18 -hour days, making sure the Moo Goo Gai Pan is to your liking.
And, in a similar vein, Swamp People’s episode last night and the morphing cast and kin that has walked away from the core cast is having a generational divide.
Yes, there’s teenage newcomer Brock, the most boring addition to the cast ever. And sure, the Landry sons Chase and Jacob go out there and help dad Troy, but they are scant and getting more so on the show.
Holey Boley, aka Holden, was our Landry great white hope, his scenes with his “nunky” Troy always fun, but he’s MIA too, this season.
You can tell Chase and Jacob have their vocational sights set a little less in the swamp than their dad, the King. Same for Daniel Edgar (save for Joey, his oldest son) with Dwaine, who spent all of 2017 complaining about working in the swamp with his dad Daniel.
Willie Edwards is trying his best to bring his son into the commercial fishing fold, but that remains to be seen how far it will extend. Willie himself is an elusive cat.
Even welcome newcomer Ashley Dead Eye Jones, the mother and Mississippi Queen who has energized the cast with equally delightful Captain Ronnie Adams, you know darn well that her kids are going to college and expectations will be high.
Hunting saved her life, according to our exclusive interview. It was a skill she had, and her love for it turned a hobby into a full-fledged profession.
These two are Swamp People gold and give me hope the series can continue to entertain.
Swamp People the recap:
Biloxi Marsh sees Ronnie and Ashley up at bat first. “It’s intimidating,” says Ashley as the two have to go through a lock system. It serves a purpose, to protect residents from the rising Mississippi river and high tides.
Does he? NO.
They get stuck in the mud then tangled in what looks to be the vestiges of an oil-finding explore — a fuse wire meant to do underwater blasting as oil companies look for new wells. It has to be unspooled carefully from his outboard motor blades.
But stop the presses, Ronnie’s main squeeze packed him a banana, and we learn that bananas are a curse for any sailor or commercial fisherman.
Bad juju for sure. They start losing gators left and right. “I hope this ain’t gonna be the future of what’s to come from here on out,” says Ronnie of the cursed banana fame.
Instead of eating the potassium-rich banana that would be essential if you are out there in 100% humidity and heat sweating buckets, Ashley shoots the bad unlucky banana dead because it had it coming.
Okay. Next up was teen Brock, the former baseballer and his buddy. His issue is a preponderance of lilies. Floating ones that choke up a bayou and that knock the bait off a line.
“We need something else to boost our luck,” he says as the plan is to move to another canal and try a different method — treble-hooking.
Then they snipe giants floating on the surface and manage to get one good one. Watching paint dry is more fun than these two.
Over in Bayou Benoit, Daniel Edgar, as mentioned previously, is flying solo. “I was born in the swamp…the swamp offers to the mind a relaxed settled position in you soul.. the swamp is a very special place,” says Daniel.
He’s too old to be out there wrangling bulls. Yet despite this fact, he bags a ten-footer and has a hell of a time getting the thing in his boat. Then after that, he nabs a 12 footer, over 600lbs.
Meanwhile, cut to Joey Edgar. “I’m still worried about him in the back of my mind,” he says.
He and Zak hurry up their hunting and head to a bull-rich marina, they pull in a gator maimed by a bigger guy, his legs were just nubs.
Joey and Zak are trying to get a big female, and they succeed, the two are paired well, as Zak is as exuberant as Joey is laconic… and always deep in thought.
In Violet, Zak and Joey have monsters appearing on lines everywhere. One pops the line, and now it’s personal for Joey. Then they watch one take the bait, and these things can lift themselves up out of the water like they are standing. It’s freaky.
Memo to those who retire in the south near bodies of water, alligators can climb fences too. You might want to consider Utah or Hawaii.
Back to Daniel, he says he is happy is loved by his children. He’s still alone. “It’s good to get that [love] back from my children,” he says, reminiscing about his dad.
He bags another 12-footer, over 500 pounds, breaks his winch, and somehow manages to get the beast in his boat, solo.
Daniel shares his philosophy and says: “If you are alone in the swamp, its a bit nerve-wracking.” He bags, tags and gets these monsters in his boat Willie Edwards-style (solo) and jerry rigs the winch to work with a strap.
Ashley and Ronnie’s jinxed banana is behind them, and they are on the hunt for the one that got away. They pop the gator good, call it a day and swear no bananas, ever again.
Back at St. Mary’s dock, Daniel unloads his enviable haul of dead gators as Joey helps out. He gets a bit teary, and you have to watch it through the credits.
You can tell Joey realizes how short life is, and his respect and love for his dad is a pretty palpable thing.
It was a sad moment of realization. This Swamp hunting life is changing, y’all. The kids don’t really want it, and the old characters we have come to love are fading away fast.
Where’s Bruce? Frenchy? Gee? Glenn?
Dey gone. No kin to replace ’em.
Swamp People airs Thursdays at 9/8c on History Channel.