WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Last night after suffering through the premier of Doomsday Preppers I was almost scared to watch Doomsday Castle thinking that it would be just one more show I would have to sit and tear down minute after minute. The show truly did have the basis for being horrible, extremely horrible. Let’s just look at what it has going against it:
1) The Carolina Mountains – This just leads to jokes about rednecks and idiots
2) It’s a Castle – Who in their RIGHT mind builds a Castle?
3) The Family Dynamic – I was honestly thinking Hardcore Pawn meets Deliverance
4) The Origins – The family first appeared on Doomsday Preppers, not a great pedigree
So many of you must be wondering; Why did I even watch it?!?! The answer is because I had to watch it. Not only because I have loyal followers and fans that expected me to, but also because I, just like most other humans, cannot help but sit and watch the train wreck as it happens. I can’t avert my eyes when I see the crash coming, call it human nature or some flaw in my personal makeup, either way, I had to watch.
The show opens with a brief introduction of the father, Brent Sr and then each of the five children he has with him working on this endeavor. You get the feeling that this family isn’t The Waltons or the Brady Bunch and that perhaps there are some substantial divides between some of the members. Personally I liked the intro because it really did seem like each of the kids wrote their own unfettered introduction as opposed to something canned from a script writer.
Once the introductions are finished and everyone is gathered at the base of the unfinished castle, which looks a lot like it did during the airing of the family’s Doomsday Preppers episode, we find out that Brent Sr not only has a huge family, but he also has that twisted military humor that takes joy from rolling a canister of CS gas into a barracks at 0300 hours. (Yes, Drill Sgt. Ford, I’m talking about you).
Brent Sr welcomes the family and then drops a bag of goodies at their feet while a very large band of marauders lays siege to the castle. The father planned this one perfectly. It was a classic frontal assault with diversionary white smoke followed by a pincher maneuver that brought in supporting forces from the flanks. The kids didn’t know what hit them, although some of them certainly made valiant attempts to survive or flee. Most of the marauders carried realistic weapons while some carried paintball guns. I am sure this added to the fear when you saw a real gun and then felt the punch of a paintball hitting you in the gut. I did notice that none of them attempted to fight, and only one of the sons actually stepped in to provide his sister with a diversion to get away. To me this helped to underscore the idea that maybe some of these kids aren’t the best of friends and it definitively drove home the point that the shit can hit the fan a lot faster than most people think.
Once the smoke cleared all of the kids had been captured and detained. Although the show didn’t go into greater detail on it I would think that for the daughters this had to be a very sobering realization of what could have happened if this were a real event. All the talk in the world can’t really prepare you for the feeling of being over powered and taken captive, even if you know deep in your heart that it is training.
The Work Begins
After the excitement of the assault wears down Brent Sr starts assigning each child a task. At first I thought he was just randomly handing out jobs but after closer inspection, there seemed to be reason behind his choices. The choice of Brent II to be sent with the girls to clean the bunker on the surface spoke of disrespect or shunning, but after seeing the reaction and learning a little about Brent II, I get the impression Brent Sr was not only unsure of his son’s abilities but also trying to teach his eldest a bit of humility.
Several of the other girls were sent to clean the bunker as well. This probably wasn’t a sexist decision, which is what I thought at first, but is most likely another well planned attempt to teach a lesson and force his “girly girls” to get their hands dirty. The nail painting and screeching at rodents and spiders seemed to be replaced quite quickly by feelings of accomplishment that their homemade rat trap saw a successful application that first evening!
I won’t review each individual event from the episode as I would like to leave some things for my readers to see for themselves, but I do want to hit on a couple more things real quick.
I may be reading into the story a bit too far but it does appear that Brent Sr has devised this castle building project not so much to protect his family physically, but to bring them together emotionally. It’s obvious listening to Brent Sr that he has a very good grasp of military tactics and planning, which means he would know as well as I do that a castle is realistically not a very good strong point.
The walls are 8″ cinder blocks reinforced with concrete and iron rebar. This would stop most commonly used small arms but a 50 cal would chew through it pretty quickly. Aside from that there are a lot of other weaknesses in that design when facing fortified vehicles used as rams or even small explosives. I don’t believe that the “security” he is building is in the walls of his castle so much as in the blood, sweat and tears that are being shed and the bonds that are being strengthened working together to build it as a family.
The Family Dynamic
When I first saw this family on Doomsday Preppers I was not impressed. There were jokes all over twitter about the crazy father and his “hot” daughters and I don’t think too many people took them very seriously. While watching last night’s episode I was very happy to see what appeared to be real, genuine interactions between the siblings as opposed to the canned and scripted family drama you get with a lot of other reality tv shows. The clever remarks and silly competition issues that all families have were played out for everyone to see and it was actually entertaining without being overtly staged. Yes there were still a lot of comments on twitter about the crazy father and I am hoping for his sake he wasn’t paying attention to all the tweets about his daughters, but the prepping community seemed to be looking at the family through a different lens this time. I sensed respect and a bit of admiration from a lot of the people tweeting. That was something nice to see.
Generally I love making fun of shows like this because it helps me gain more followers on Twitter and gives me a platform from which I can point out mistakes and problems with the choices being made on the show. Doomsday Castle may end up being different though. I actually enjoyed watching the show and the mechanics of the preps were spot on and functional, (aside from the wall thickness statement). I am anxiously awaiting episode two and I am going to suggest to all of my followers that they watch this show not only for it’s entertaining banter and solid preps, but also for it’s message about a father trying to bring his family together even if it means the world thinks he is crazy.
Kudos to Brent Sr. Good luck, Sir.