May 8, 2016
'Alaskan Bush People' Returns, Brown Family Opens Up About Criminal Case

The Alaskan Bush People returned to the Discovery Channel on Friday, answering some questions and raising a few others. The new season picks up a few months after the harrowing close of the series' third season. When things wrapped up previously, it didn't look good for Billy Brown or the Brown family's dream of life in the Alaskan wilderness.

The aging patriarch repeatedly suffered from seizures. Meanwhile, the Alaskan Bush People stars were forced to cope with constantly having their home invaded by bears. Both situations -- but especially Billy's health -- culminated in the painful decision to walk away from their Alaskan home.

The premiere opened with the Browns finally returning after a tense three-month period "in the lower 48."

Faithful viewers were promised that this season of Alaskan Bush People would acknowledge the family's oil revenue fraud scandal. The show dived right into the controversy, giving us the situation from the Brown family's point of view.

According to Billy, the family was charged with stealing money from "the dividend," or Alaskan citizens' share of state oil revenues. It's implied that much of the problem came down to the Brown family's unique lifestyle and associated lack of a paper trail as homesteaders. Still, the Browns insist their 30-year history of homesteading in the state made them Alaskan through and through.

Billy Brown admitted that when he first learned of the charges against himself and several family members, it "broke his heart."

The Alaskan Bush People star suggested he ultimately pled guilty and agreed to a plea deal because otherwise the entire thing would have dragged on for years in the Alaskan court system.

The family patriarch seemed to feel very strongly that the system was out to make an example of his family, refusing to yield to his plea to bear the full weight of the charges alone. At the insistence of prosecutors, another family member would have to be jailed. His son, Joshua "Bam Bam" Brown stepped up; as of the filming of the show, both men understood they would have to leave their home and spend about a month behind bars. Although Bam Bam argued for the right to share the brunt of jail time, his father still worried that time in prison would affect him for the rest of his life.

As we now know, the fears expressed in this premiere are now unfounded. Alaska Dispatch News now reports the two men will not be headed to prison at all. Instead, they'll be electronically monitored. They may still have to serve their time away from Browntown, but that's likely something we won't know for a few more episodes.

Another mystery on the horizon is the story surrounding Billy Brown's eldest daughter, Twila Wilson. People broke news that the Alaskan Bush People would reunite Billy with his estranged daughter this season. If you were tuning in hoping for a glimpse of her this episode, you'll no doubt be disappointed.

However, there was certainly enough more than drama to keep viewers occupied.

Noah had only just found himself independent of his trademark cane. The youngest Brown son's long-time injury was aided by the lengthy amount of time he spent in Seattle. Unfortunately, not long after returning home, Noah found himself with an injury to the same foot that was previously hurt. Previews for upcoming episodes of Alaskan Bush People suggests that injuries will remain a major issue.

That aside, love is also in the air, with Noah hoping to woo a potential new love interest. It would no doubt be welcome news as the family stares down a period of prolonged separation.

We also learned that in addition to working hard to rebuild their home, the family must also get their hauling business back on track. That meant almost everyone (Noah chose to remain behind) would be aboard the Integrity.

Next week's show promises to show us whether the vital hauling business will get off to a promising start -- or if it's dead in the water.

The theme of the Alaskan Bush People remains that it is, in Billy's words, "every American's God-given right to live however they want to live." It will probably be a message hammered home every episode despite the looming trouble. Ratings will dictate whether or not enough people are sympathetic to the message and dream of the Alaskan Bush People cast.

Are you happy that Alaskan Bush People has returned? Do you believe the Browns' version of the story? Share your thoughts on the new season below!

[Image via the Discovery Channel]