Every season of Below Deck has a misogynist on board and this season it would seem that person is Chandler. Normally producers make it obvious in the first-episode character setups which man has fundamental problems getting along with women because they are raging sexists, but this time Chandler’s personality defects don’t become apparent until this episode. Perhaps producers wanted to use much of the first two episodes to set up his deficiencies as a bosun. He doesn’t make the guests wear life jackets, which, not that I know anything about yachts, but judging by Captain Lee’s reaction is probably the equivalent of letting a 10-year-old sit in the exit row on a plane. But Lee is “really pissed off at the deck crew” for letting drunk Steve scoot around on the Jet Ski without the life vest. “It’s hard to have a good time when you’re dead,” he says, which ought to be either this boat’s bumper sticker or the title of his self-help book.
After Ross politely convinces Drunk Steve to relinquish the Jet Ski, he puts on a robe and wanders the boat in search of eggs Benedict. He waddles into the kitchen to ask Kate and Adrian what’s taking so long. Well, Adrian is busy cracking raw eggs into little egg bags and delicately tucking them into a pot of hot water, and besides, hollandaise sauce won’t turn into perfect little smears on long rectangular plates all by itself.
After the food is delivered and promptly Instagrammed, Adrian and Caroline have a moment in the kitchen, which has quickly become the confessional booth of the boat. Various crew wander in and out and unload on Adrian, who can’t leave the stove and therefore has to stand there and take it. When Caroline wanders in, he tells her she snapped at Josiah. Caroline says she’s hypersensitive about being dismissed and that this has something to do with her dad being a narcissist. Adrian may have been a Bachelor producer in a past life because he just backed Caroline into an emotional corner where the only way out was revealing more personal information than she may have been comfortable with. He then tells us she is “a fragile person” and will have a hard time on this boat because she can’t put her emotions aside.
The deck crew hopes to make up for Life Jacket–gate with a perfectly executed picnic on a black sand beach. After they flop ashore in their skintight blue rash guards, they decide there’s no way Drunk Steve will be able to safely get from boat to beach for lunch in the surf, so they cancel it. Steve, now wearing a flower crown over his baseball hat, goes to whine to Captain Lee: “I wanna get off the boat and have a luau party!” When Lee is like, “Too bad,” he says he’s going to jump off the bow of the boat, as if this is some kind of threat. He makes good on his promise and floats off with the current, prompting Kate to observe, “That looks like a dead body.”
After the guests endure eating lunch on the boat, it’s time for Lee to put on his long-sleeved top with a tuxedo printed on it and join the guests for dinner. Caroline tells Adrian his plates are beautiful, and he asks her if she wants to get in his pants. Because this is Below Deck, of course not — she wants to get in Chandler’s pants because no misogynist on this show is complete without a love interest or two.
Meanwhile, Rhylee’s trouble with Chandler is becoming pronounced. After sidelining her during the aborted beach picnic setup, Chandler won’t show her how to do things on the boat. This isn’t a problem she has in Alaska. “I’m a captain. I’m not stupid,” she says, and Ross agrees. After a dessert of chia pistachio crumble and pineapple-coconut mousse, the primary tries to bully everyone into going into the jacuzzi with him. He subversively pours some kind of dishwasher liquid into the hot tub, which produces a disturbing amount of bubbles. “Where are all these bubbles coming from?” asks Josiah, who’s there to babysit. Steve says, “They don’t call me the foam man for nothing!” After desperately asking everyone on the boat to get in the hot tub, he sits in there alone with his clothes on, drinking something horrible, the foam closing in on him like Captain Lee on his life-vest–less torso.
The next morning is Steve’s last aboard the boat. Adrian begins his day with lotus pose on the floor before serving a flawless lobster quiche. Chandler confuses starboard and port which has Lee infuriated and Steve in stitches because even he knows the difference, which is a sad commentary on Chandler’s abilities. Since Chandler is useless, Ross does the robot on deck to help Lee pull the anchor up.
Departing the boat, Steve makes a big show of putting the money in a bag instead of a dirty envelope. The crew is upset to learn that, after all his nonsense, he only left $15,000. At the tip meeting, Lee compliments just about everybody but Chandler, and tells them to go out and have fun without embarrassing themselves.
While Caroline pops all the balloons in Steve’s room, we learn Rhylee was engaged to someone who lived in Florida and got his Instagram handle tattooed on her arm. Then she slathers her body with lotion and dresses in a see-through white tank dress with no bra to go out to dinner. Her nipples are so visible that the editors have to blur them out. Ashton, wearing an acid-wash button-down shirt unbuttoned to flaunt his heavage, says, “You look hot!” and gives her a high five.
Chandler tells Rhylee that when they step off the boat, he’s no longer her boss, which would be a fine thing to say if he didn’t turn around and start acting like her boss the second everyone but him gets drunk and starts having fun. After Adrian mansplains paté to Rhylee at dinner, the crew hits da club. This is great for Ashton since being on the boat is making him horny and he’s ready to grind on some ladies. Soon, Chandler begins to sour. Maybe he feels bad about Ross presenting with better bosun mojo in front of Captain Lee, and thinks he has to overcompensate by getting on a sobriety high horse and trying to look mature. Well, guess what? You know what makes you look immature on this show? Having a petty fight with the people who work for you because you’re incapable of leading by example.
Chandler tells Kate that if the crew gets fucked up, they’re going to pay in the morning, because he’s going to have them up at 8 wiping stuff down. “Their choices reflect my leadership,” he adds, which is true! And why a boss shouldn’t get wasted with their subordinates. I know the rules are different on huge tacky yachts but every thinking manager knows you don’t want to be around when people get so drunk they’re crying and walking down the sidewalk without their shoes.
Once everyone is ready to go back but Ashton — who, mind you, did not whip out his shiny, pheromone-emitting heavage so he could go home early — Chandler starts fussing. Finally, Ashton decides to go back with everyone else. In the vans, Chandler tells Rhylee he’s going to make everyone get up at 6 a.m. Rhylee tells him that’s only going to make everyone resent him, which further angers Chandler, who doesn’t like the way he’s being spoken to, and tells Rhylee to stop talking.
Back on the boat, Chandler runs to the whiteboard to angrily write that the crew will start at 6 a.m Ross tries to tell Chandler he’s being unreasonable when Rhylee stumbles into their room. Chander tells her, “This is my room, get out.” Rhylee then goes in frantic search of chocolate to medicate her frustration, which honestly seems like a very healthy response to someone being a dick, especially if it’s something amazing and beautiful made by human fawn Adrian.
Rhylee tells everyone gathered round the crew mess that she feels like she “was disrespected by Chandler.” Chandler stumbles out of his room and she keeps talking, because this is a reality show and there’s no reason for her to give a fuck. Chandler blames Rhylee for “losing her shit,” and it all has the strong flavor of a man who doesn’t like women who assert themselves.
Kate, who is the voice of reason, says Rhylee isn’t going to last because she’s been “sassy” to her boss. Which is probably true. Except this is 2018, and in 2018, men don’t get to tell women to “stop talking” and expect them to just fall into line without a fight.