Below Deck Recap: Who Ordered the Penis Cake?

Below Deck

Let Them Eat Penis Cake
Season 7 Episode 17
Editor’s Rating 4 stars

Below Deck

Let Them Eat Penis Cake
Season 7 Episode 17
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Photo: Bravo

This episode opens with a beautiful sight, and no, it’s not Kevin popping fried crickets into his mouth like they’re honey-roasted peanuts. It’s Captain Lee, shirtless and bejewelryed, slamming the boat’s double glass doors in his crew’s face. Everyone shuffles off to bed upon his command in their own unique state of misery. Kate cries in her bunk because the men all ganged up on her again. Brian’s exasperated because Courtney won’t unite with him in a crusade against Kate. Ashton hates both Kate and Rhylee. And Tanner has to go another night without having had sex with Kate. In lieu of a non-bru love interest, he kisses Ashton and Kevin and tells them he loves them before tucking himself in for a nice, greasy sleep.

Rhylee, who comforts Kate, says, “I would rather have explosive diarrhea than work with these fuckers.” The next morning, Kate decides she’s going to be the “bad guy,” since she’s already viewed as the bad guy. Kevin greets Simone with, “Good morning, beautiful,” which annoyed me for its subtle belittlement, especially because it wasn’t said within earshot of Tanner.

Captain Lee calls a meeting for the crew to tell them they’re brats and need to stop acting like the little shits they are. Make no mistake, he says, he has no problem firing any of these doofuses with three days left in the season: “Jesus Christ, I could eat a shit sandwich every day for two and a half days. If I could do it, you guys can do it.”

Next, Ashton calls a meeting for the deck team, only Rhylee either ignores it or doesn’t hear the call, so she wanders through the crew quarters instead of attending. Of course, this only reinforces Ashton’s belief that Rhylee is out to sabotage him. His first season as bosun has been really hard, he says, and Rhylee needs to stay as far away from him as possible. Which is an insane thing to say (1) about someone on your team who’s responsible for your success, and (2) on a boat!

While the general white noise of the turnaround chores continues, Tanner invites Kate to a smoke. She plops down on the dock and Tanner crouches next to her and says, “Hey, listen. We’ll set a sex date.” Kate is obviously turned off because this is the kind of shit married people who hate each other do and then blog about on HuffPost — not people who want to have a random, lusty two-day affair. “You know what — let’s just let it happen organically,” she says, before swatting Tanner away like a mosquito.

Courtney and Brian still haven’t resolved whatever it is they’re doing that doesn’t include sexual intercourse. Courtney says Brian doesn’t want her to have opinions of her own, and views her independent thinking as disloyalty. During a chance encounter in the crew mess, she asks Brian if they can talk about what’s going on between them.

She says she doesn’t know what she did that was so offensive. Brian says she knows exactly what she did — “sticking up for Kate.” Courtney says that shouldn’t affect them. Brian says her storming off affected them. Courtney says she had to go cry in the van and expected Brian to come comfort her. He blames her for making a fight his fault again, and they part with him saying, “I can’t be a nice guy all the time, bru.” Yes, he reduced Courtney to the pronoun reserved for Ashton, Tanner, Kevin.

Courtney goes to the kitchen in tears and Kevin comforts her, which is a two-faced move because he’s part of the reason their relationship is crumbling in the first place. If he really cared, would he have gone out of his way to tell Brian the things he overheard Courtney telling Kate about their relationship when she was in distress?

At last, the next group of guests breeze aboard for the ninth and final charter. Jemele Hill, the primary and sports journalist, is surely the most accomplished and intelligent person to have chartered the Below Deck boat. She and her friends quickly agree Captain Lee is “really hot.” So already, they’re the perfect guests.

Jemele’s friends pull Kate aside to tell her they brought décor for the bachelorette party they plan to hold that night to celebrate Jemele’s engagement. Kate is happy they brought decorations because that’s ten fewer paper dicks to make Courtney cut out.

Simone is thrilled to have Jemele aboard because she’s an accomplished person who takes interest in Simone. Kevin is also thrilled to have them aboard because they come with no dietary restrictions and love just about everything he cooks, including their first lunch. Kevin also loves his lunch because Kate didn’t serve it.

Kate returns to service to ferry away empty glasses and take drink orders as Jemele says they’ve been experiencing some “interesting service issues in Thailand.” Admitting it’s a “stern observation,” she calls Kate over to address things with her directly. “Are we getting on your nerves?,” she asks. If I were on this show, that’s the exact question I would ask every single member of the crew, because isn’t that the whole point of the show: who gets on whose nerves? This angers Kate, who runs off to complain to Rhylee. Simone loves the guests even more for making Kate feel bad.

For dinner, Kate and Courtney set the table with iridescent purple scarves, the kind you see at toddler story time at the local library. They set up the salon for the ’90s-themed bachelorette party to follow. The sign Jemele’s friends brought says, “Drink Up Bitches,” and Kate says, “Let’s say bitch instead of bitches.” Never mind that they did her a favor by bringing their own banner.

Kate does dinner service in her glasses, her hair less done than it usually is for dinner, as though to spite them through personal grooming. The guests, once more, love Kevin’s food — banana-leaf-wrapped snapper and chocolate-peanut-butter pie for dessert. “Orgasmic,” was the word used, which probably further irritates Kate, who doesn’t want Kevin to succeed.

At the party, the little paper cutout dicks are enjoyed, shots are slurped. Then, Jemele pauses the merriment to apologize to Kate. “I judged you prematurely,” she says. Kate appreciates the apology and says she can only assume “a bitch recognizes a bitch.” Perhaps, for the sake of stomaching Captain Lee’s shit sandwich, the same concession should be made for Kevin. When they all go to bed, Courtney has to stay up late picking all the tiny dicks up herself.

The next morning, it’s business as usual: Captain Lee eats his cereal in solitude, Tanner talks about having sex with Kate, and Jemele asks for a shot of bourbon for breakfast. Courtney stands in the galley eating one of Kevin’s muffins when he says to her, “I’m nervous about this cock cake.” Courtney, pretending to care, asks why. Kevin has never made a freestanding penis cake before, and he needs Courtney to tell him he’s brilliant before proceeding.

As they load the tender up for the beach picnic, Tanner goes, “Good organizashe!” Then the deck team talks about who’s going to endure going to the beach and coming back with the stuff, and Tanner’s like, I’d rather stay in the shade. And Ashton just lets him.

In the kitchen, Kate and Kevin argue over which dishes to transport the lunch in. Kevin wants to use the same sort of garden-variety glass baking dish that plebeian home chefs make casseroles in. Kate says it looks like shit (it does), and Kevin calls her — word of the episode alert — a dick.

Lunch is on an idyllic little beach with shade and masseuses. The guests seem to appreciate the experience more than any guests have so far this season. Back on the boat, Kevin beats eggs while Tanner, who has nothing to do, observes, “Eggs are gross.” Then, they make a bunch of dick jokes including: “Go Betty Cocker on it” and “This is harder than I expected.” When Kate gets back to the boat, Kevin is coating the cake in melted chocolate. “Your dick looks amazing,” she tells him. “Takes one to make one.”

Before dinner, Courtney and Brian silently eat soup next to each other in the crew mess, and Brian says he wishes things would just go back to normal between them. It’s his fault things are terrible between them right now, so if he really likes Courtney, why doesn’t he apologize?

Kevin’s penis-cake anxiety aside, he likes these guests and wants to do a good job for them. So he makes crab ravioli and Wagyu skirt steak and busts out some gold foil to accentuate the penis dessert. Captain Lee joins dinner, and Kate marvels that the primary is still up after starting her day with a shot of whiskey. She and Lee bond over being from the Midwest, as Kevin puts an excessive number of garnishes on the penis cake, not finishing until it resembles nothing short of a centerpiece from the camp-themed Met Gala. Three camera phones are held aloft in the galley to photograph it.

Only, before dessert, the primary goes to bed. Kate sees this happen and is explicitly informed that Jemele won’t come back to the table for dessert. She says nothing to Kevin, and suggests, instead, that he finish off his upright penis cake with sparklers. Fully knowing the conversation has taken a serious turn — Lee tells his rapt audience about his ambitions to help needy children — she pushes Kevin out the door. “Wow,” say the guests. “Wow.” They were having a grown-up conversation and then a big edible penis interrupted that grown-up conversation, and now they’re all being filmed at the same table as that edible penis and the man who created it. Kevin wonders where Jemele is, because Kate didn’t tell him that she went to bed or that it would be perhaps tonally off to produce a large chocolate penis cake at this precise moment in the evening.

The episode ends with the implication that the moment never becomes light and humorous but just results in Kevin’s total embarrassment. I’m not against it, but if they’re all suffering through this experience to make as much money as possible, wouldn’t the best strategy be to help the chef create the best possible food experience rather than sabotaging him?

Next week: Kevin may just have to eat his penis cake alone in his kitchen, steeped in shame.

Below Deck Recap: Who Ordered the Penis Cake?