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Swamp People premiere recap: ‘Never Surrender’ tees up the Cajun Cartel, but there’s strife

One of the very few gators bagged on opening day

Holey moly! Season 9 of Swamp People began with the usual suspects, the Landry clan in Pierre Part, the Molineres in Houma and so on — but there’s a real smell of rot in the air and it’s not the fetid chicken these commercial fishermen use to bait the lines.

An industry and way of life are really dying, thanks in great part to alligator farms driving down the price of gator. They can’t compete…or can they?

The end of the two-hour premiere showed us how the patriarchal leaders of all our beloved families, Troy Landry, RJ Molinere, Daniel Edgar and Bruce Mitchell will band together this season making it a wholly unique Swamp People run. The “Cajun Cartel” will unite or perish.

But getting there was a painful exercise in fraternal strife, not enough money to pay deckhands, forgotten chicken bait, carelessly tended boat motors, a handy Tupperware of barbecue pork chops, alarm clocks slept through and pervasive negativity expressed from every core cast member.

A hard way to make a living has ratcheted up the pain to make it even more a fool’s errand.

Troy knows his sons. Jacob is a dutiful “follow the rules” kind of a kid. Chase is not. Chase has been given enough rope by Troy to hang himself this season and it begins right out of the gate.

Chase Michael Landry
Chase has his positive traits, but on the premiere, you will see his very bad ones emerge

So in the Swamp People Season 9 premiere a lot happened, and very little happened…if that makes sense.

Each boat crew commiserated about the low prices, the money and profit cut in half, the importance of working hard and the worries that come when all you know is being devalued and made obsolete.

We broke the premiere down into the major moments to discuss.

Chase and Jacob: It’s biblical now, y’all

Jacob Landry
Jacob is done — and doesn’t hold back in saying so

The premiere sees Troy set in motion a Catherine Wheel of bone-crushing animus between Jacob and Chase.

With the older brother now a deckhand, Captain Chase completely cocks up the preparation work one would absolutely need to do to set out on a murky isolated gator and gar infested river.

Oh yeah, it’s on — and the entire premiere was an escalating crescendo of f*** ups on Chase’s part that made Jacob fume.

They got few gators mainly because of mechanical failure. Not once but twice their boat broke down, thanks to no tuning up prior to use.

Chase Landry
This is Chase when his boat breaks down the first time, as Jacob just shakes his head
Chase Landry
And when the boat broke down yet again in the rain, a flare had to be shot

At one point, they had to set a flare gun to be towed in. Once at the dock, Chase’s immature pettiness raged.

Jacob accidentally broke his tail-light while backing up the truck. Chase took it personally and then bashed in Jacob’s light, saying an “eye for an eye”.

Chase is a grown ass man, or is he? There was a reason Holden was picked to accompany “Nunkie” Troy to Florida for the Swamp People: Everglades two-part special.

The Holey Boley and Nunkie Troy Show

Make no mistake, the Landry heir apparent is Holden Landry, aka Holey, aka Ho, aka Holey Boley or sometimes Holey Moly.

Ho and Troy killed it on the premiere, snagging a boat full of precious gators and despite the uh-oh moment when Holden didn’t get enough bait for their outing, his improvisation of chicken juice, fat and moss worked, earning him some respect.

Troy Landry
Cajun cutup Troy has Ho on a timer making lines

Troy’s a hardass and had Ho on a timer as he prepared the new lines. Troy wanted him to do it in four. Holden sweated bullets and knows his Nunkie is a tough customer.

Troy and Ho pull in a good haul, but it would’ve been better at last year’s prices

Troy knows his business and he’s teaching it to Holden. Holden is a fast learner and the kid — at age 19 — exhibits more emotional intelligence than Chase, who is easily 10 years older. The two have great chemistry and work together well.

Daniel Edgar’s deckhand dilemmas

Daniel Edgar
Daniel loves to send people into the swamp to fetch gators

Daniel Edgar is hilarious. Not only does he bitch a blue streak if you don’t get the shot immediately (he hasn’t the strength anymore to hold the line, understandably) he actually urges his deckhands like Dorian his grandson or his new deckhand Big T to go out of the boat and into the murk and, you know, find and pull the hidden line.

A deadlier game than “pull my finger”.

Dorian’s last kill with grandad Daniel, before announcing he’s headed back to Texas

Dorian is woke to the fact that the fishing and gator hunting business is NOT how he’s going to pay his bills, so after a day of meh gator hauls, he tells his grandad he’s heading back to Texas.

Daniel took it hard but then found the son of a dearly departed old friend who hunted with him.

Enter Big T.

Large of frame and as polite as they come, Mr. Daniel now has a sharpshooter on board his rig. Not to mention a man who travels with barbecue pork chops at the ready.

Big T
Big T is a legacy gift to Daniel, who has barbecue at the ready

Daniel came down hard on T when he missed a gator and the beast got away, then redeemed himself when they hauled in a 12-footer he killed.

Molineres be jacked, but swimmers they ain’t

RJ Molinere
RJ is musing on life and when his time will be up doing his life’s work

Okay, so the mesomorphic father-son team of RJ and Jay Paul is a testament to genetics and the gym life. Early in their segment RJ got philosophical about “the life” and when his time was over doing what they did.

These God-loving Houma boys are also quite worried about the scant gator haul they have and the bad profit margins. During the premiere Jay Paul has his dad drive the “Cadillac” of airboats, and then when out on the open water a true disaster happens — the wind caught the tag box!

Cut to a u-turn and frantic Jay Paul jumping in the water to retrieve the box. Steel toe shoes and dense muscle mass nearly drown Jay Paul, who is just fished out in time. RJ was dutifully thanking the good Lord.

Bruce Mitchell’s mama is his consigliere

Bruce Mitchell
Bruce has a good one in his sights, but it was a lousy first day

After a lackluster day with Ron Methvin out on the swamp, the disappointing haul has Bruce worried. Ron too, as the men see there is no way they can sustain their costs of hunting with the money they are getting.

Bruce heads to see his mama, who is his advisor on all things weighty and important. He laments he is knocking on 60 and is scared it’s all going away.

Mrs. Mitchell, Bruce Mitchell
Mama Mitchell gives Bruce some comforting advice and an ear

It’s good to note Ron’s inquisitive dog Gunner was not on their boat like last season, where he nearly became gator bait.

That wrapped it for the two-hour premiere, folks. See y’all next week as a plan is afoot and the former competitors become united by fear of loss. Can they work together to keep their industry alive?

P.S. You WILL be seeing Willie Edwards, Kristi Broussard, Frenchy Crochet and Gee Singleton this season too, later on down the road.

Swamp People airs Thursdays at 8/7c on History

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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