Well, it only took seven episodes but Below Deck season seven has finally hit its stride. All it took was bringing on guests horrible enough to subject the crew to a pirate-themed day and Jell-O shots. Thank you, casting directors, for digging the dredges of humanity out of the swamps of Florida and depositing them onto an isolated vessel for further study.
Before they come on, though, the crew has to get its morning-after mumbo jumbo out of the way. It opens with a fabulously random shot of Captain Lee in shorts and a white Nike shell top, like he’s strolling between SoulCycle and Whole Foods. Ashton, who is “tired of working so hard to get [his] dick sucked,” pads around shirtless. He says he doesn’t know how he ended up kissing Kate, but “that wasn’t me. That was Shmashton.” Which is the same idiotic shit João pulled with his Jezabob “alter ego.” Why do these men think their harass-y and embarrassing drunken behavior will be excused if they blame it on a shadowy night version of themselves over whom they profess to have no control?
Tanner chose to sleep his illness off instead of going out the previous night and is back on deck with a spring in his step and a hose in his hand. Over a table of folded towels, Simone tells Courtney that she’s in love with Tanner. Kate tells Simone she gets to do the late shift on this charter. She asks Simone what she wants to work on and Simone doesn’t know because all she’s ever done is fold washcloths, so Kate goes, “How are you at opening a bottle of wine?” And then spends what seems to be half an hour teaching her how to do just that.
This boringness is thankfully interrupted by Captain Lee calling the preference-sheet meeting to discuss the Floridians about to slither onto the boat. The primary is Michael Blackton, who has a helicopter charter company and brags that he met most of his friends while attending Florida State. The group’s requests include normal stuff like a beach lunch, and really tacky Florida Man stuff like Jell-O shots, a “college style” party with Florida State colors, and a pirate-themed day including “pirate lingo.”
The day ends with Captain Lee having to iron his own shirt because Courtney and Simone can’t figure out how to turn the steam function on. It was sweet how, instead of getting mad at them like he would a davit-breaking deckhand, he shows Courtney and Simone the best way to iron his floral man blouses, as though he were Kate teaching Simone how to open wine.
The next morning, Brian’s knee starts looking like it might explode. Beef jerky, leis, and Tito’s vodka arrive on the boat, followed by the guests, who are disturbingly older-looking than everyone thought they’d be. “We’re getting lit every night!” cries one middle-aged man as he approaches Valor. Mixed in with the men are some women, two of whom are getting divorced, all of whom Ashton thinks are hot. Their outfits — including a neon-orange bikini and white crocheted cover-up, a ruffled striped romper, a gold tassel earring, and novelty sunglasses — look like a 2012 time capsule of Forever 21. One divorcée starts talking immediately about how badly she wants Ashton to de-shirt. One of the men reveals himself to be a Trump supporter. Another orders a vodka Sprite. And, in an exchange about the size of their rented boat in comparison to other boats around them, one goes, “Peasant bitches can’t kiss kings.” I hate them so much and I am so glad they’re here.
Less glad they’re here is Simone, who has to pretend to be an excited participant in their odious repartee. “All these drinks — I’m gonna be SIMONE-ing over the toilet tomorrow!” one of the Trumpy man-children says to her. I know Kate was on her case about not conversing enough with them, but no wonder she doesn’t want to even ask them if she can refill their Sprites!
In the kitchen, Kevin is trying to figure out what to feed people like this because he’s not previously been exposed to stereotypical college culture. He decides to make meat and beans and goes, “Michael is fantasized by American kind of steakhouse.” Which the editors caption — viciously — to draw attention to his woeful misunderstanding of how to properly use the word
fantasize in a sentence.
Out on deck, Tanner says to Brian, “So, you gonna text Courtney to marry you?”
The divorcées ask Simone when the deckhands go topless, which I’m beginning to assume they may be craving as a visual antidote to the primary stumbling around the boat with the hairy, sunburned figure of a throw pillow.
The following exchange then quickly takes place between two guests:
Girl: Aren’t cucumbers pickles?
Guy: I didn’t know that.
Girl: You didn’t?
And then Captain Lee and Ashton have this flawless conversation about Brian:
Lee: What happened to his knee?
Ashton: That was actually how hard he fell for Courtney the other night.
Kevin decides to put on one of the tight deckhand tops, even though he does not have tight deckhand abs, because he doesn’t trust Kate to serve his beach picnic and must wear this to venture to shore. While Kevin busies himself with foisting his vision and presence on the beach picnic, the guests load into the tender and go, “BOATS AND HOS!”
Kevin presents them with his ribs and beans, which my husband argues is a bad beach menu because it’s heavy and hot. I disagree because these people don’t want fish tartar fresh from the sea before them — they want fried gator nuggets on a plastic tray lined with newspaper and Mountain Dew served out of a pimp cup from Hot Topic.
Courtney says that even though she hates being the laundry girl, she’s fine with doing it this charter because with these guests, “It’s like they’re at a frat party, but they’re, like, 40. It’s pretty sad.”
Back on the boat, while Courtney makes yellow Jell-O shots and Brian’s knee comes closer to exploding, Simone and Tanner have a romantic flirtation over the view and shared memories of their grandmas. Wistfully, Tanner says he lived with his grandma for three years after college, “drinking and chain-smoking, playing cribbage.” You know, grandma stuff.
They part ways, and the deck team tells Tanner that Simone has the hots for him, while Kate expresses disgust that Simone had that whole conversation in earshot of the guests, which is bad enough on its own, and even worse when their Sprite is nearly dried up. She half-heartedly decorates the table with some Florida State–themed neon crap, and the guests emerge for dinner in jewel-toned cutout dresses and collared shirts. Kevin feeds them pumpkin risotto and more meat, figuring they’re so wasted they’ll enjoy eating anything. During dinner, Captain Lee goes to visit Brian in his bunk and decides that his swelling knee is “going to be a pain in my ass.” For dessert, Kevin serves the guests a legitimately amazing-looking cheesecake with an Oreo crust and chocolate-covered pretzel pieces that made the chocolate chip Trader Joe’s ice-cream sandwich I was enjoying look like SnackWell’s dug up from the garbage.
Kate tells the guests they have beer pong and a two-story beer bong waiting for them on another deck, and the women decide to go change outfits again — not into Florida State T-shirts and basketball shorts, as would befit the occasion, but into fancier nightclub clothes and diamanté cuffs. The shirtless primary is drunk enough to put the clear kayak onto the slide, a situation that Ashton has to undo. Once the guests leave, Ashton pulls the slide up by himself as sweat rains from his forehead, proving those elastic pulleys we used to get to watch him use in his cabin really do a lot.
Overnight, Brian writhes in pain, but gets up in the morning and wraps his knee tightly with a bandage so he can help. Captain Lee, making yet another fashion statement, looks out the window wearing his slacks and no shirt. Kate has accessorized her polo with a bunch of bad necklaces in honor of pirate day, and makes drinks with a hook in one hand. Kevin wears a pirate hat, and Tanner has a plastic pirate machete tucked into his belt. Kate makes Courtney find a pirate accessory of her own, and reminds Captain Lee that today has a pirate theme. He replies, “Them’s that die be the lucky ones.”
“Totally!” says Kate. Did she also order a fake plank for Lee to march the boat’s most annoying people off of? Because these guests are dim enough to do it!
Next, we find out that the new deckhand is RHYLEE, which is incredibly exciting. If these drunken monsters don’t froth up the drama enough, she definitely will. The trailer for upcoming episodes includes her trying to bang Brian, Courtney crying, Captain Lee angrily shutting doors, and sad, lonely Kevin running drunkenly through the boat shaking up an espresso Martini for one. I can’t wait.