The third season of Discovery’s smash series Gold Rush, which has been averaging 4.85 million viewers (P2+) and winning the cable race on Fridays, wrapped up tonight with a live two-hour finale that may or may not have set a record for use of the word “smelting.” Discovery has confirmed to EW that the show will definitely be back for a fourth season, so it makes sense that tonight’s finale contained its very own mother lode of bombshells to keep viewers interested while it is away.
Sure, we got the gold totals — the Hoffman/Turin crew took home 803 oz. of gold, worth $ 1.28 million, while Parker and Fred’s smaller teams found 191 oz. and 163 oz., respectively. Not too shabby! Remember in Season 1 when no one even made it to 20 oz.?!
But the biggest revelations of the night were all about the future. Viewers learned that Todd Hoffman has been prospecting for gold “down South,” and that he may not be returning to the Klondike at all. Plus, we learned that Dakota Fred plans on mining a new, almost-impossible-to-access glacial claim, and that Parker Schnabel has been planning a whole new adventure with Tony Beets. But what do all these developments mean for the future of the show? We talked to Gold Rush executive producer Christo Doyle to get the scoop on what to expect in Season 4.
Here’s what’s happening with the leader of each crew:
“Todd has had a rough go of it this year,” claims Doyle. “As a result, he has decided that he is going to look at South America.” That’s right, the show that was once called Gold Rush Alaska is about to get a whole lot more international. “Todd is taking a trip that will be captured in an off-season run of episodes we’re calling Gold Rush: The Off-Season,” explains Doyle. “There will be six episodes there in the summer, and it will be Todd and crew prospecting in three different countries looking for a spot that he thinks holds more gold.”
What does that mean for Dave Turin and the rest of the Hoffman crew? Well, it’s unclear at this point, though, as we saw, Dave will be joining Todd on his trip below the equator. “Todd feels like he can have more gold per yard in South America and he’s willing to take that risk… and we don’t really know what’s going to happen with the Klondike,” confesses Doyle. “We don’t know if Dave’s going to go back to the Klondike or not, but [Todd] wants to continue hunting better gold so he can finally strike it rich and give all these guys the pay day that he thinks they deserve.”
The retired construction worker-turned-dedicated miner won’t be stopped on his quest for gold any time soon. “Dakota Fred is like a dog with a bone,” jokes Doyle. “He is dead set at finding that ancient waterfall at the bottom of the glory hole, and he’s going to continue to do that.” Still, the new beat in Fred’s journey will come from a claim he’s secured above Porcupine Creek called Cahoon Creek. “It’s where a glacier used to be, and it’s now all this green, lush, beautiful area. He feels like the glacier has receded and directly underneath that, you literally can just walk around and pick up gold…. this goes back to 1898. This is the way they mined way back when with pick axes, breaking rocks for gold.”
But the drama of Fred’s storyline isn’t just the new claim. It’s how he’s getting to it. “The problem here is that there’s no road up there. The only way to get up there is a helicopter or a brutal hike. You can’t get any heavy machinery up there,” says the EP. But considering we’re talking about Dakota Fred here, it should come as no surprise that he’s going to take on the challenge anyway. “He is learning how to fly an ultra light plane to get up there every day,” says Doyle. “It’s insane, and it’s going to be absolutely brutal to cover for our poor camera guys, but it’s too good a story to pass up.”
PARKER SCHNABEL + TONY BEETS
Young Parker has some big changes ahead, too. As he revealed on the live finale, he’s skipping college for now and headed North to the Klondike. “He’s done the best he can at Big Nugget, but he’s really run out of ground,” says Doyle. That’s where the producer’s favorite until-now minor character on Gold Rush comes into play.
“Tony Beets is going to be a bigger part of the show,” he says. “He’s really taken a liking to Parker, so I think he’s going to become a mentor to Parker up in the Klondike.” Though the camera crews are familiar with working in Klondike conditions, Tony presents a whole new set of challenges, says Doyle. “The thing about Tony is that he’s such a badass that he doesn’t give a crap about the cameras or any of us, so it’s always a challenge to even get him on camera, but he has agreed to try and give us more time.”
Doyle does make it clear that nothing about Season 4 is set in stone just yet.”It’s insanely complicated. We’re doing the off-season show as a way to kind of test the waters to see how things go for him. And depending on how things go, that’s going to dictate the future of Gold Rush.” Does that mean Friday night favorite could look very different? Well, yeah. “I’m not opposed to the change,” says Doyle. “I feel like the success of Gold Rush depends on it evolving season to season, so I’m all for things being different. Now, Todd has thrown me a gigantic curveball, and we just have to follow it and see where it goes.”
What did you think of this season of Gold Rush? And are you excited for the changes ahead?