Well Captain Lee’s house — yes, the one he actually lives in as a land-dwelling human when he’s not moonlighting as an aquatic star of Bravo — is decked out in Christmas lights. ’Tis, perhaps, a metaphor for this season of Below Deck, which infuses one’s spirit with more holiday cheer than the mulled wine that pleasantly surprised you at your significant other’s friend’s shitty holiday party.
For every chestnut roasting on an open fire, there’s a savage remark from Adrian about how his French chestnuts are here to challenge your sad, basic palate. Now in the latter half of the season, Adrian has emerged as one of the sassiest members of the crew, and it warms me like an ugly holiday sweater never could. When the new guests board the boat and request burgers and fries, Adrian shames them in his signature serene tone, like a radio personality of the classical station telling you about the upcoming Bach sonata. “I’m not overly excited to spend my evening frying food?” he says. “But hey, it’s their life.”
Then Rhylee sasses Ross over the radio in an exchange about setting up Jet-skis or something. “I have things to do, too,” she says with Captain Lee listening in. He calls Ross into his office to ask him why he’s letting her speak to him like that. He informs Ross that this isn’t a damn tugboat, which, frankly, sounds like a spinoff to me — it can be called, like, Love Alaskan Style, and it can follow Rhylee on a tugboat through the high seas as she makes out with hotties and slays halibut.
Adrian gets on with his night of using the deep fryer by promising to bring his French training and a chef’s kiss to the pathetic menu. He gins up food that looks like Christmas ornaments: stuffed lamb sliders, pistachio-breaded fish ’n’ chips, other things that are too long-winded and hyphenated to type. After Bravo’s editors make us think the guests hate it, they say it’s “amazing,” and Adrian has earned his right to be smug and sassy once more.
The guests retire to the top deck where the slide has been deployed for requested after-dinner use. Only one of the women wants to use the slide, but not alone, so she asks Kate to go down with her. Feeling “slightly bad,” she lies that she can’t go down the slide because she can’t swim. She asks the other crew members to go down the slide in her place, and Ross and Adrian jump at the opportunity to put on neon light-up glasses and slam their bodies into the sea. Adrian emerges from the water, his baggy, panted chef attire clinging to his waifish figure, looking like a cat who made a very bad mistake.
The montage of morning chores is especially boring because Chandler and Caroline are gone, leaving no one to make these simple duties dramatic and torturous. Adrian serves the guests truffled scrambled eggs, and their minds are blown because they’ve never had truffled eggs before, even though they work in yachting and are so rich and eager to exhibit said wealth that he leaves the boat wearing a particularly large Hermes H belt.
They leave a $17,000 tip, and, after the tip meeting, Kate and Josiah contentedly risk sullying their bunks with flavor dust until Lee calls Kate up to hear about her new stewardess, a yoga instructor who might have too much experience for this role. Which is hilarious because we know she’ll obviously be incompetent anyway.
The new stew is Laura and she arrives wearing a flouncy off-the-shoulder top and tiny trouser shorts. Josiah meets her and says, “You look nice,” which sounds like a vicious judgment because everything Josiah says sounds like a vicious judgment. She meets Kate and asks, “What’s your name?” like she has no idea what this famous reality star’s name is. She unabashedly scatters her commentary around the boat like unnecessary decorative shells: “White carpets! Oh NO.” “Who made THIS bed?” “It’s a bit STAINED.” “I’m just a DOER.”
Adrian’s verdict is that she seems remarkably ditzy given that she’s from Canada. Ashton’s verdict is that she is hot and he would like to have sex with her, prompting him to run off to do pushups. Kate’s verdict is that she’s annoying.
That night, instead of going out in public, Lee has instructed the crew to hang back and grill meats on the dock, which Adrian does snapping his metal tongs like he’s Sebastian the crab. The next day they get to go to Le Meridien and spend the day at the pool, where Adrian and Ashton engage in a complex mating ritual to lure Laura into their respective cots. Which means we are subjected to exchanges like:
Adrian: “I don’t drink much alcohol.”
Laura: “Me neither but when I do I do.”
Meanwhile, Ashton stands on a fake rock in the middle of the pool and calls out to Laura to ensure she doesn’t miss him wiggling his muscles. This prompts Adrian to tell her, “He was a male stripper” and that getting with women is “just a numbers game” to him. He keeps calling Ashton a snake, which is a metaphor that … I’m not sure will have the intended adverse effect on Ashton’s image?
Meanwhile, Ross gets drunk and realizes that the more he drinks the hotter he finds Rhylee. When they get back to the boat he goes into her room and kisses her while Ashton slips into the hot tub with Laura, leaving Adrian alone with his yoga mat and his man bun.
The next morning, Rhylee, all giggles, says she enjoyed Ross’s advances. I like how she gets worked up about things like getting out of a taxi, but making out with two of her coworkers can be totally drama-free experiences.
The new primary is Brandi, who has “wild girlfriends,” one of whom is gluten-free, all of whom “have requested tequila in their hands at all times.”
The new deckhand comes aboard just before the guests. His name is Tyler and he’s a walking stereotype. He subjects us to declarations like, “People definitely think I’m just the surfer dude — and they’re absolutely right,” and, “I’m an adrenaline junkie. I want to make a living jumping out of airplanes into forest fires.” The word “gnarly” was somewhere in there but my eyes were rolling too hard to transcribe the exact quote. Tyler has left sailboats to join the fast-paced, gilded world of motor yachts for a simple reason: “If you’re charting this boat, you have fucking money.”
Just before the guests come aboard, Laura makes a slow movement while carrying a full tray of empty champagne glasses, somehow sending them all tumbling the floor in a crash that resounds to the deck below, where Kate absorbs it with the resignation of someone about to spend the next few days serving tequila to a gluten-free woman wearing a caftan. She then shows Laura how to carry champagne glasses on trays without dropping them, and Laura is like, “I know,” and Kate is like, “I have to show you this after what just happened.” Actually, I enjoyed learning this tip as someone who couldn’t carry a wide, flat box of chocolates on a tray without dropping it.
The end of this episode comes quickly and dramatically, like one of those storms that’s always threatening to rain out their sloppy beach picnics. Ross notes that the new guy, Tyler, hasn’t had enough time to get a full safety briefing on how the boat works, which makes him nervous. It’s unclear to me as a yacht ignoramus if Tyler or someone else made a mistake with the lines when they left port or what, but somehow, in letting out the tender, the lines get tangled at the back of the boat. Ashton’s leg gets caught in the ropes and he gets dragged into sea, still tethered to the yacht. Rhylee calmly calls “man overboard” into the radio, sending Josiah and Kate, in a show of unfailing competence, into rescue mode and Lee into shock. Before we see Ashton — sweet Ashton! — emerge from the water, we hear a tortured scream, someone say “he’s drowning!” and learn the episode is “to be continued.”