Last episode spanned more or less 12 hours, from Hannah’s morning firing to Tom’s dinnertime meltdown, meaning we’re about to breeze through the rest of this charter — without much drama, if you couldn’t guess. The first sign comes during that dinner, after Tom gets mad at Malia and Bugsy, curses to himself, and regretfully pan-sears his poached lobster. The guests love it, because of course they do. They love the steaks too, which Tom slices and serves at the table like a consummate professional, and that pain-in-the-ass birthday cake, which is single-handedly prettier than anything that ever came out of Kiko’s kitchen (but not Kiko).
Because this is what happens: We’re hooked in with the promise of drama, like guests complaining about their food and a chef crashing on his first day, but usually, it all ends up being … fine. This is another one of those episodes. After dinner, Bugsy brings out six Tito’s and sodas for the guests (who called her Roxy) while Tom complains to Malia about not knowing the kitchen yet. The kitchen where he has cooked all of two meals.
The next morning, we’re preparing for a beach picnic, which tends to be Below Deck shorthand for “shitshow.” I’m eager to see how the crew pulls it off down a stew, especially when that stew is Hannah Ferrier. Tom doesn’t seem fazed after last night — he’s making eggs Benedict for breakfast like it’s nothing, and he’s prepared the heaviest picnic menu I’ve ever heard. Scotch eggs on a beach! The main drama seems to be over on the deck where Alex, Rob, and Pete are having some fight over who’s going to the beach and how to set up the boat. But it’s hard for me to discern what they’re actually fighting over. It sounds like Rob said the others couldn’t go to the beach and had some trouble with the tender boat, which doesn’t seem like too big of a deal to me, but was a big enough deal for Alex to now deem Rob “sensitive.” Oh, and Dad is somewhere on deck too, calling Captain Sandy “pretty” and talking about his “Russian snow pony” girlfriend.
The only other issue with the beach picnic comes when Malia topples one of Tom’s glasses of shrimp cocktail while taking a tray to the tender. To be fair, like she told Tom, he should’ve thought more about plating. But he fixed it, and that was it, and now I’m here writing about some spilled shrimp cocktail because nothing entertaining is happening during this day. They get to the “beach,” which is a generous term for that rocky shore, and the guests sit and eat and shotgun Coors Lights. Dad goes over to some rocks away from the shore to take nudes of his Russian Snow Pony, because he thinks it’ll be a more private area. Give a raise to the cameraperson who zoomed out to the gathering of boats just off the shore.
Back onboard, Alex is helping Bugsy set up a table, because he is the MVP of this charter. He’s also taking it as a chance to make a move on Bugsy, asking when they’ll actually go on a date and feel out what’s happening between them. And I’m wondering the same thing — give me a couple I enjoy on this boat! Bugsy brushes him off, and in a confessional, she says she’s worried that Alex is just joking about all of this. It sure doesn’t seem like it to me, and I really hope Bugsy sees that before the end of the season!
Elsewhere, Rob is struggling to put away the slide with Pete (not because of Pete, for once), and ignoring Malia’s directions. When Rob asks Malia about a comment she made about “defiance of a direct order,” she replies, “About you two fuckers just doing that?” She’s in the right — Rob did try to figure the slide out on his own — and it throws Rob, who hates conflict and somehow decided to work on a charter yacht. So he brings it up when they’re eating dinner later, they being him and Malia with an audience of Captain Sandy. He doesn’t “appreciate” Malia’s anger, he tells her, nor being called a fucker, and Malia smoothly replies, “Don’t be one, then.” Sandy calmly suggests that Rob makes a suggestion, rather than stepping over Malia’s orders, and Rob leaves for the night. It’s just annoying to watch Rob during these fights, because it’s never a worthwhile cause, but it’s also never something unreasonable enough to become entertaining.
Bugsy has ordered the guests a belly dancer for their “Arabian Nights”–themed party, and of course Dad gets up to dance with the belly dancer. They love their first course of scallops with dashi broth, but Tom makes the mistake of serving them poached chicken next — after already conceding that “they don’t have refined taste buds.” One of the guests complains that his chicken is “pink like a motherfucker,” and honestly, Tom should’ve known that this would’ve happened after the lobster. At least he throws less of a fit over recooking this chicken. They forget about their troubles once Alex joins the belly dancer in an iconic post-dinner performance (after he’d helped Jess with cabins again). Like I said: MVP.
Jess looks like she’s been working this charter: refilling drinks, setting tables, always where the guests need her. But we learn after dinner that she’s been neglecting laundry, which blows up the next morning for precisely two seconds when Sandy notices the messy laundry room and confronts Jess, then Bugsy. We’re treated to an assortment of scenes from previous charters when Jess wasn’t doing laundry, and yes — the girl doesn’t do laundry. But they’re down a stew! Jess throws some stuff in the washers and this doesn’t turn into a bigger problem than it needs to be, save for Jess’s complaining about the laundry. Tom, meanwhile, is making some amazing-looking huevos rancheros for breakfast, which Bugsy struggles to pronounce but the guests enjoy.
And there go the Martinezes! When Isaac hands over the tip, he says the food has been the best they’ve had on a yacht — raw lobster, crunchy oysters and all. It’s a hefty $20,500, which splits to $1,680 per person. The crew is staying on the boat tonight, Sandy tells them during the tip meeting, because they’re crossing to Ibiza to pick up their next charter. And that’s what this episode kind of feels like too, a crossing toward something bigger that’s about to happen, especially with Sandy’s news that their new second stew will arrive the next morning.
I haven’t mentioned the Jess-Rob story line playing out this episode because I just don’t want to dignify that whole thing with more than a paragraph. But now that they officially love each other, Rob spent the episode deciding whether to join Jess in Bali after the season, and of course he decided “Yes.” (Jess, for her part, wanted Rob to go to Bali because their moments during the days kept getting interrupted — not like they had work to do or anything.) He tells the crew he wants to surprise Jess, who is away getting her now-healed finger looked at, with the news, and Bugsy immediately jumps at the opportunity. So she makes a scavenger hunt for Jess that ends with Rob showing her his ticket to Bali, and then they share some champagne and the rest of the crew comes in to ruin their romantic moment. I know I’m supposed to feel something from all this, and maybe I’d like their relationship more if I didn’t just hear them complaining to each other all the time, but hey, I guess that’s what Bali’s for.
Early the next morning, our second stew savior comes walking down the dock, and sure enough, it’s season four’s Aesha Scott. Let’s see if our favorite bush pig can inject some much-needed life into this show.
• Rob calls one of the other deckhands “bru” during their argument, and I have a terrible flashback to Below Deck season seven.
• I really didn’t need to see Dad wearing a scanty elephant loincloth.
• The belly dancer: “You have the soul of a belly dancer, no?” Alex: “No.”
• As they’re cleaning up the dinner table, Rob asks Malia about their earlier argument, and Malia brings up Pete: “I don’t like how Pete, every time I say something, he does something over it, you know?” she says. It’s the first time I’ve wondered if we’re missing part of a storyline after Pete’s been edited out. Considering we’re on episode 13, that just shows how inessential he’s been to the show lately.
• After Rob reveals his plane ticket to Jess and the rest of the crew comes out to celebrate, Alex says, “We’re all going to Bali!” With Kiko gone, he just might be my new favorite.