This charter’s guest, retired baseball player Johnny Damon, is a returner, so I went back to watch his two episodes from last season. Do you know how good we used to have it? The boat nearly flooding with shit, Jack and Aesha’s first date, Hannah’s flirtationship with Travis, Johnny Damon hanging out with snobby gynecologists, Anastasia being too scared to kill lobsters, that drunk yacht owner coming onto Sirocco to argue, João dragging that drunk yacht owner off Sirocco, Colin being too nervous to talk to June, Colin just being cute, and, of course, the beginnings of “June, June, Hannah?” — all in two episodes! With both Aesha and Johnny Damon back this episode, plus Bugsy and Malia already onboard, it’s starting to feel like Below Deck: Med: All Stars, trying to re-create the excitement of past seasons. (Except, you know, without the biggest all-star of them all, one Hannah Ferrier.) They don’t necessarily make something exciting, but it does end up being the first pleasant Below Deck: Med episode in a month.
So Aesha comes onboard with more energy than everyone else on this boat combined, as evidenced by her excited hugs to everyone — even Tom, who tries to shake her hand, and Bugsy, who, Aesha finds out later, is her boss and then shakes her hand. In the two weeks or so that she’s back, Aesha wants to get the praise from Captain Sandy that she deserves. She seems to be on track, since Sandy is happy to see her and Bugsy already likes her attitude. Aesha knows about Hannah and Bugsy’s past, but wants to make her mind up on Bugsy herself. She also knows that Hannah left the boat, since Hannah texted her about it, but she doesn’t know why. Bugsy trying to explain who all has come and gone so far this season really underscores what a shitshow it’s all been.
We’re going to Ibiza — sorry, Ibitha — to pick up Johnny Damon & Co., and everyone’s feeling some type of way about it. Aesha is excited since she was just in Ibitha a month ago, but Rob is in his head about it, since the playground of substances that is Ibitha reminds him of his past of addiction. Tom, meanwhile, is just trying to wrap his head around baseball, which he understands to be “fast-paced cricket.” And getting to Ibitha is its own adventure, with Sandy having to dock her huge boat in the tightest space ever for an audience of over a hundred onshore. She does it, because she always docks the boat no matter how nervous we get, with the help of the whole deck crew. Tom compliments Malia on “the, uh, maneuvers” afterward, like he’s never been on a yacht in his life.
The crew welcomes Johnny Damon and his guests back, and while he doesn’t have the gynos we remember in tow, he does have another familiar face: Adena, who’d previously joined the Queen of Versailles on her charter last season. How she ended up in Johnny Damon’s group this time is beyond me, but she is fully taking advantage of it, already drunk after less than an hour on board. Not drunk as in obnoxious charter guest — drunk as in, she falls over and cuts her hand on her champagne flute. She’s fine after Malia bandages her up, and I’m just glad to have her onboard.
Before long, it’s lunchtime, and the guests sit down at Bugsy’s sweet, if kitschy, baseball-themed table. Tom serves them burrata, salad, pasta, roast chicken, and grilled lobster, and they love it all. It’s even hot enough for Johnny Damon, who did not like one thing that Anastasia served him last season. “This is dinner,” one of the guests says of Tom’s excessive portions. Yet they somehow saved room for dessert, which is a cute white-chocolate baseball on top of a mint-jelly field. Tom Googled what baseballs look like right before, after he asked whether a baseball field is called a field or a pitch. The guests love it all the same.
The afternoon is consumed by the guests going down the slide, Johnny Damon’s wife Michelle freaking out over seeing some jellyfish in the water, and Adena sleeping off her champagne. But it also includes Jess mentioning that Bugsy is a better chief stew than Hannah, which gives us something to discuss. Jess is glad that Bugsy is actually giving her direction — in their pre-charter meeting, Bugsy put Jess on laundry for the charter, but also tried to push her to work harder. She complimented Jess’s morning tables and said she wanted to see more of that, but it’s not hard to see that she really wants Jess to prove herself to Sandy after that (minor) laundry debacle last episode. As much as I love Hannah, Jess is right: Bugsy is being a great leader.
Rob, meanwhile, is being a just terrible crew member. He’s been brooding and out of it so far this charter, and we soon find out that his ex-girlfriend — presumably the one he broke up with after he started talking to Jess — has been going through something and texting him about it. He doesn’t tell Malia and Sandy that in the crew mess when Sandy notices his demeanor, though. Instead, he literally just says he’s checked out. “I’ve never seen anyone not even fake it in front of the captain,” Sandy muses, while Malia says she’s nervous to have Rob on anchor watch tonight.
But we have a neon party to get to! Bugsy has given her stews neon tutus and set up face-painting for the guests, because she! loves! a theme! And Tom is making a more refined dinner, with scallops for the first course. The scallops aren’t hot enough for Johnny, though, and how could they be, because they’re just meant to be warm? It’s the same issue as the poaching last charter — Tom knew what Johnny liked and made something not scorching hot anyway. And we learn the food isn’t hot enough because Sandy came to watch the guests eat the first course and ask them about it, even after lunch was, well, a home run. Sandy goes back into the kitchen and suggests they put a bowl over Johnny’s next plate to trap the heat, which sounds fine, if extra. That is, until Bugsy drops the bowl and the whole plate, which felt bound to happen. This somehow doesn’t faze Tom, who turns out a new plate in a minute. Even without the bowl, it’s hot enough for Johnny. And it’s cod with clam chowder and Ibérico ham, in case you had any worry that the guests would go to bed hungry.
There’s no after-dinner wrestling for Johnny Damon this season, just cigars. And then we get our first guest fight of the season by my count, when Michelle’s friend Shanna yells about her wearing Spanx. Michelle replies, “Shut up because your voice is fucking annoying,” and it’s a Real Housewives of Below Deck: Mediterranean moment I’ve waited 14 episodes for. We later hear Shanna’s husband yelling at her in their room about how it’s rude to point out that someone is wearing Spanx, so Shanna goes back to apologize to Michelle. Michelle accepts it, killing what could’ve been a story line for the ages but saving her vacation.
The next morning, Jess finds out about Rob’s ex-girlfriend, as she was bound to, after an instant “Who’s that?” when he gets a text. She isn’t okay with it, and that’s that, as she leaves the room to start working. Bugsy loves Jess’s table decor, but Jess doesn’t care, because her mind is only on Rob and his ex. Soon Alex is roped in after Rob complains to him; Alex thinks the whole thing is an overreaction, which he later tells his friend Jess; Jess replies, “It’s invading both of our space.” I really regret to side with the bros here, but I mean, didn’t Jess invite it into her space? She could’ve left it as Rob’s problem! And Rob is right, he can’t control who texts him — plus, if there’s one thing I believe about Rob, it’s that he’s a person who cares about others’ feelings, like he told Jess. If there’s also one thing I believe about Jess, it’s that, as she tells us in a confessional, “Every now and then, demon Jess can submerge [sic].” She once … “destroyed” an ex’s house? Lucky for Rob, they make up before breakfast is over, and this turns into one big nonissue.
It’s an afternoon of fun for everyone. Aesha takes the crew to a crowded beach club closing party in Ibitha, and watching the whole thing now, during a fricking pandemic, makes my skin crawl. With the guests away, Sandy tells the crew to use the water toys, so they all enjoy sliding and jetskiing — except Rob, who’s just sleeping. But as Jess gets out of the water, her heart’s beating too fast, so she sits down, Alex gets her water, Malia calls Captain Sandy, and we’re left wondering what’s going on.
Clearly she’ll be fine, since next episode looks like it’s shaping up to be The Jess and Rob Show. Bleh.
• Good thing we have Alex, a true Bostonian, to be the one crew member excited about having former Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon onboard.
• I live for the guest who turned up to the neon party in sequins and was holding two glasses of wine before dinner.
• It’s another episode of Bugsy and Alex circling around their feelings for each other. Early in the episode, Bugsy tells Alex that she had a dream about him; later, while they’re jetskiing together, Alex gives a big speech about how much he likes being around Bugsy, to which she replies with a simple thank you. I just need them to go on one proper date before the season ends!