Let us stumble forth from our eggnog-induced stupor, our bellies a little softer, our Christmas trees, and perhaps our souls, a little deader, and try to remember what the hell has been happening on Below Deck. Bravo left us for the holidays, cruelly, in the throes of a really bitchy fight, and it is this really bitchy fighting that will get us through the horrors of existing in the month of January.
Kate has had to usher new stew Laura to the bottom of the spiral staircase to absorb her anger out of earshot of the guests, who probably couldn’t hear them anyway over Helen’s moans for Adrian’s food. Laura is mad because she’s “had enough” with Kate, her boss, who possessed the audacity to check and see if Laura picked the towels up off the floor of the guest bathrooms like she’s supposed to. Laura tells Kate she has “no right” to do such a thing, adding, “You’re fake and I’ve had enough.” The outburst is so millennial and unnecessary it may as well have been a jar of oat milk in a co-working space.
“Do you want to quit?” Kate asks evenly, regarding Laura with the same enthusiasm as a nail clipping.
“I want you to check yourself!” she shouts.
This season has been so off the rails that I thought for sure this would be the end of Laura — that she would be canned or dive off the boat and swim away in fury. But amazingly, when she’s done shouting, she scuttles off to do laundry. Kate walks in agitation to Captain Lee to report that Laura turns down cabins with the dexterity of a tornado, leaving dirty laundry and (the horror) full trash cans in her wake. Furthermore, she had the nerve to try to yell at Kate near the sacred guest dinner table. If Captain Lee doesn’t explain the hierarchy of the boat to Laura, Kate will quit! Captain Lee, who seems more and more reasonable as the season plods on, knows he has to save Laura because he can’t be “pulling stews off fig trees.”
At the dinner table, Helen, the wife of the round hairy man the crew has decided is in the mob, enters into a disturbing sexual relationship with Adrian’s food. When Kate presents the Kahlua-infused sponge, Helen beckons Adrian from his kitchenette.
“Adrian, I wanted you to witness, like, the first bite,” she breathes, spooning the sponge from table to mouth, a long journey over her mountainous bosom.
Adrian acts uncomfortable with this affection, but we know he loves it. We know he views this as retribution for Laura choosing Ashton over him. And he returns to his kitchen to brag to Ashton about how badly Helen wants to enter a red room of pain with his sponge. And maybe it does bother Ashton a little bit. Because Adrian can offer women good food, but all Ashton can offer women is bad sex in a van.
Kate goes to bed angry. The next morning, Laura acts as though nothing happened the previous night. She has to carry a case of water upstairs, and gets caught behind Kate, who purposely walks slowly in order to make things harder for Laura, who, remember, is a yoga instructor. Laura accuses Kate of “doing this on purpose.”
Lee calls Laura to his office and Kate tells her to let her serve the Nespresso while Laura is away. Lee says Laura’s problem is that “she let her mouth write a check that her ass couldn’t cash.” Which apparently is an expression, and one I probably don’t know because I’m also a dense and horrible millennial.
Rhylee has the same conniption she has every episode, which is that the boys get to unroll the slide and futz with the anchor but she doesn’t. She witnesses Ross praise Tyler for wiping down equipment and then compliment his shapely calves, and becomes infuriated.
The husband of Adrian’s paramour Helen settles into the hot tub, and there’s a shot of him with wet body hair, which we’ll never unsee. Helen relaxes with a glass of Whispering Angel, and I have to believe this brand mention is sponsored content because if this is truly a five-star yacht they can’t possibly serve Whispering Angel as their go-to rosé? One of the other woman guests regards the slide with “heart palpitations.” Tyler decides that, as a chest-slapping adrenaline junkie, he doesn’t like these guests, whom he sees as wimpy but are probably just old. He says on his last boat “my nickname was throttle.”
Rhylee then has an outburst at Ross after he asks if she needs help carrying something big and heavy. Through clenched jaw and overly articulated consonants, she berates him for offering to help her, and essentially pigeonholing her as a woman unfit for physically demanding chores like futzing with the anchor and slide. Ross may be guilty of that, but it may also be that he has Rhylee do things that she can do alone versus things that need to be done with other people because she’s so unpleasant to do work with. The fight concludes with her organizing sodas in a mini fridge and telling Ross to “fuck off.” Ross goes to Ashton to say that he wants to fire Rhylee, and they’re both like, “Sweet!”
Then it rains (the horror) and Tyler has to pull in the Jet Skis, slide, and Instagram floats I never noticed until this episode. As if this boat’s tackiness weren’t ruining the Tahitian horizon enough, they have to deploy unicorn floats for babies? Is this how you keep the rich happy today? A pool float from Target on which to lounge with a glass of mediocre rosé? This prompts Rhylee to feel like Tyler has more rank than her even though she’s been on the boat like 15 days longer than him.
Helen visits the kitchen wearing hot pants and a cleavage-revealing satin pirate blouse. She looms over the cooking, her hair so long that it grazes the counter, and begs Adrian for something to do. Obviously Adrian is too in love with his own cooking to have her do anything important, but he gives her some cauliflower to chop. Before long she’s just standing there with a glass of red wine, staring at Adrian like he’s a hot piece of duck confit.
Then Rhylee and Kate have a moment on deck. Kate decorates the table with twigs as she tells Rhylee that she really shouldn’t be so stressed out about her job because if Ross doesn’t want to give her a lot of work she should … enjoy not having a lot of work. She inspires Rhylee to go apologize to Ross, who tells her that the tasks he assigns to her are more important than the tasks he assigns to Tyler. I assume this conversation resolved nothing and Rhylee will have the same outburst every episode until the season ends.
After dinner, Ashton, Ross, Tyler, and Laura “perform” for the guests with palm fronds tied to their bodies. Ashton shakes a Core water bottle filled with rice and recites a story that he wrote with the other crew members as they act it out? I don’t know. This is supposed to qualify as yacht dinner theater and I just feel embarrassed for everybody.
Before bed, Ashton and Laura canoodle next to an anchor. Ashton is like, “Don’t put your foot there!” and Laura is like, “IS IT DIRTY?” And Ashton is like, actually it’s an anchor and it could kill you, which I guess is what passes for valor on Below Deck because Laura then agrees to sleep with him in the crow’s nest.
The next morning, Helen & Co. leave a big tip, and the usual montage of frantic wiping and complaining commences. Then the crew tries to find going-out clothes. As they primp, Adrian tells Laura that Ashton grinds on anything that moves when they go to clubs, and she’s nothing more than a notch in his bedpost, which she takes incredibly seriously because she’s not someone who hooks up with random guys. Because this reality-television romance was nothing if not full of promise from day one.
When they get to the club, Rhylee and Tyler get down, but Tyler pretty quickly looks for additional women to dance-hump. This is because, he says, “I have one speed when I go out and it’s, like, 200 percent,” and, “I gotta sit in a rocking chair when I’m 75 with some fucking stories.” This is how you know he never does any activities that are actually cool and interesting — because if he did, he’d be talking about those when he’s 75 instead of all those women in tank tops he danced with at nightclubs.
Ashton does similarly shitty things to Laura, who is being cold to him because of what Adrian said. When they get back to the boat, Rhylee falls into bed with Tyler anyway because she’s “in the mood for sex.” Tyler is drunk enough to spank her.
Ashton and Laura have a conversation on the dock with the stray dogs Caroline used to feed. Laura tells him she’s not going to be a tally on his checklist and that he’s “laid his bed.” And that he’s wasted and this is stupid. Yes, this is stupid, but you, girl, are also wasted. And expecting a reality-show cast member to be exclusive with you at a nightclub after knowing you for four days is like expecting Tyler to lead a life in which he is not obnoxious.
Next week! More horrible people with Instagram accounts board the boat and my soul is coming back to life just thinking about it.