Each season needs a good “to be continued” episode, and this season gave us Kate stomping off the boat with something between a large purse and overnight bag slung over her shoulder. But we all knew that she wasn’t going anywhere for good without a much larger piece of real luggage.
She’s fairly convincing when she tells the producer and cameraman not to follow her off the boat and down the dock into the 4 a.m. darkness, and when she tells Rhylee that she doesn’t want to tell Captain Lee that she’s absconding with her makeup and the iron will to ignore her phone for 12 hours. Tanner looks for her, but he’s too drunk to find his own feet much less another human being in a whole other room. Rhylee asks Ashton what happened with Kate. Apparently one face of “Smashton” is “Real Housewife of New Jersey,” because all he can think to say is that no one fucks with his family. Kevin passes out on a couch in the salon, and Tanner, whose bed is now empty and cold, probably crisp from his own sweat, kisses him good night on the face.
At 7:56 the next morning, the sun is up and so is Captain Lee, shirtless and padding through the boat in a pair of jolly red shorts. Rhylee can’t reach Kate. Simone can’t physically find Kate. Rhylee tells Courtney and Simone that Kate left last night after the blowout with Ashton. Courtney despairs, not because she feels like she’s lost the company of someone she enjoyed, but because she doesn’t want to do the work of one and a half stews.
In what may as well be an episode of Groundhog Day: Below Deck Edition, Ashton wakes and says he feels bad about something, but he’s not sure what he’s supposed to feel bad about because he drank so much last night that he can’t remember. He has done this after, I think, every team outing this season. So, in a managerial move that would in any other context be astonishing, he calls a team meeting to ask what he did the night before when he was so drunk he peed on the curb.
Rhylee says that Kate left last night because of their fight. Ashton says all he remembers is defending his family. Tanner, who also has the memory of a gnat, says Ashton is right — he definitely did defend his family. Maybe I don’t give Tanner enough credit, maybe what he’s doing isn’t Smashton idol worship, but an attempt to join the bru fold so he won’t have to practice tying knots ever again. After much staring at the table in puzzlement and the deepest thought this man is capable of, he decides to tell Lee that he’s the reason Kate is gone.
In the wheelhouse, Ashton tells Captain Lee, “Kate and I had words last night, about my family being brought up for some reason.” Captain Lee asks if Kate is present on the boat. Ashton says no. Lee concludes Ashton should be as panicked as he looks, then starts his detective interrogation. At what time of night did this all occur? Ashton says it happened on the way back. Lee gathers (as though this really needed confirming) that the events unfolded late at night when everyone was so drunk they were something less than human but not so drunk that they couldn’t make toasties.
While Captain Lee makes unanswered calls to Kate, the editors try to paint a scene of Kate-less chaos inside the boat. Courtney has emotionally steeled herself to iron, but she and Simone can’t find the bleach. Foamy liquid seeps from the washing machine, while Courtney sits at a table with her iron saying she doesn’t want to work. Simone, on the other hand, hopes Captain Lee brings on a chief stew who will teach her stuff. Courtney seems to know, though — can’t she just ask Courtney and then go do her work for her?
Before things get really crazy inside the boat, like a stained couch cushion going unretouched, Kate returns in last night’s outfit, hair and makeup freshly done. She takes Simone’s radio and says, “All crew, all crew, here I am!” Simone: “Fuck my life!” Kate walks past Kevin, who shames her for being in last night’s outfit. Kate concludes that she doesn’t have to try anymore with anyone on this boat, and will indulge her impulse to be a complete nightmare.
When she sees Lee, she apologizes for causing him to worry. He says he’s “terribly disappointed and pissed,” and likens Kate to his own daughter. When a producer asks Kate in her confessional if she regretted anything about the previous night, she says not leaving a note for Captain Lee. This is the problem with the Captain Lee/Kate dynamic on this show: Because they see each other as family, there will never be any consequences for Kate’s actions, even though she’s his subordinate. She claims she’s seriously considering “what’s next” for her, because being trapped on a boat with people who hate her is more miserable than being trapped on a boat with people who sexually harass the staff on pirate-theme day.
Ashton apologizes to Kate and Kate says fine in a scene that’s short because we’ve already seen it 20 times. Then Captain Lee holds a preference-sheet meeting where Kevin pays attention to about 30 percent of the preferences. We know the incoming guests will be terrible because they want a black-and-gold masquerade party.
The next morning, Rhylee asks Tanner about kissing Kate the night of Kate-gate. Tanner says he has no memory of this, which must be true because he’d announce it on the crew radio system if he did. As easy as it is to dislike Tanner, in this moment it was just as easy to feel disturbed by the exploitation of this cast’s drinking problem.
The guests come aboard in high-waisted slacks and flappy bra tops, looking like a sorority-house laundry bin on a Saturday morning. One of them is a chef and tells Kevin that she’ll be watching him, giving everyone fair warning of how annoying she will be. This riles Kevin, who thinks so highly of himself he’d fart on his food before sending it out if he had time.
One of the guests, Jamie, instantly earns her place in the Bad Guests Hall of Fame. “I was told I’d have, like, an actual room,” she complains. “I can’t share a full-size bed with another adult woman.” Somehow, even though she’s not a primary, she succeeds in kicking another girl out of the room and into the sky lounge.
While Kevin makes pizza, two of the guests are already drunk and wearing bikinis on deck. Ashton comes by and as he leaves, Miley says into her straw that she wants to have Ashton’s babies. She and her friends decide Ashton and Tanner are the hottest guys on the boat, which is funny given that they have the very worst personalities.
At lunch, Kevin fails to provide a cheeseless pizza, even though one guest said she preferred to not eat dairy. To be fair, her sheet had an obnoxious paragraph of red type of her long list of avoidances, including butter, Teflon, and GMOs, and she did say that some dairy would be fine. But Kevin is judged on his ability to internalize that red type.
Ashton helps the bikini girls jump off the bow of the boat. He says Miley is the kind of girl he would talk to at a bar, which is something he could say about anyone visibly presenting as a woman.
Tonight’s dinner is the masquerade theme, so Kate amps up the tackiness by using five for $5 Party City masks as napkin holders. Kevin serves matzo-ball soup (which he can’t pronounce) and lobster. For dessert, he serves rainbow cookies and ice cream, completely forgetting that the whole point of these people putting on masks to eat matzo balls on this yacht was two people’s birthdays. Since he hasn’t prepared a cake or put candles in the rainbow cookies, he and Kate take Tanner’s advice and serve the birthday people flaming shots of absinthe.
The next morning, the lady who’s been forced out of her cabin asks to meet with Captain Lee. She says she has no room, no bathroom to herself, she’s sleeping on the couch, there’s just nowhere to put her stuff. She’s in despair, can he help? Captain Lee sees her not as a spoiled millennial, but someone whose pain he feels as though it’s his own, and promises her that after she goes fishing, she will return to a boat with a room just for her. He then informs Simone that she must ready his room for the ousted guest. The man is a good boss.
The next morning, Rhylee gets to lead the guests on a fishing trip. Ashton seemingly only asks her to take the lead so he can use it against her when they don’t catch any fish. After Rhylee parks them in a spot where fishing is not permitted, they go back to the boat empty-handed, one guest complaining that she didn’t even “touch a fishing pole.” Ashton marches into Lee’s office to tell him how Rhylee failed. Kate defends Rhylee by pointing out that fishing doesn’t seem to be a big activity here. And honestly, who cares? These people probably just wanted a 7 a.m. beer and an up-close view of Ashton’s forearms.
After fishing, it’s time for breakfast. The guests order various egg dishes, and a handful of them decide the eggs were too salty. The chef goes into the kitchen to tell Kevin, “Like, chef to chef, you should probably go more upscale tonight. I mean, people are talking about your cooking behind your back.” She says the primary was happy, but everyone else wonders why they’re having pizza and matzo-ball soup. I hate to defend Kevin, but the reason is because the tip comes from Nicole and her partner? And as Kate keeps saying, the only reason Kevin and the rest of the crew suffer through people like this chef, Jamie, and their friends, is to earn that tip.
Next week: Rhylee might get fired (but probably won’t) and Tanner wears a really terrible shirt.