Was Lara ever really on Below Deck: Med, or was she just a figment of our imaginations? She lasted just one charter aboard The Wellington, leaving because she couldn’t handle the boat — but at the end of the day, the boat couldn’t handle her, either. So let’s start this recap with a toast to a drama starter bar none, someone who felt lab-made for a Bravo series. Lara, wherever you are, I hope you watched this episode with a big glass of prosecco. (And if you’re looking for work, have you ever thought about moving to California?)
The episode opens with Sandy sitting down to talk with Lara, after Hannah took her away from her cereal. Sandy spent her last charter as a Lara apologist, but it doesn’t take long for Lara to change that. After Sandy mentions how she and Hannah used to have drama, Lara makes a snarky remark. So Sandy lays down the law, telling Lara she needs to respect the positions even if she doesn’t respect the people. Everyone apologizes, and for a second, it feels like we could turn over a new leaf. Sandy tells Hannah she wants Lara doing second-stew work next charter, and for a brief moment, I’m excited to learn how strong she makes her margaritas.
The crew cleans this massive yacht before getting ready for their first night out. Somewhere in between those two tasks, Jessica lays out on the deck in a bikini and to read The Secret History. “Based on the stereotype that you can’t be smart and pretty,” she says, and that’s all she says, because she’s not smart enough to remember the rest — although she is pretty enough to distract the testosterone-fueled deck crew.
This episode would’ve lost a star if the crew didn’t get tapas for their first night out. Malia orders like a pro and Hannah asks for a heavier pour of wine. She’ll need it for the discussion that’s about to take place at the table: Alex is saying it’s “refreshing” to work for women as captain and bosun, and Pete agrees, because once he worked at a Domino’s that was owned by a woman. That pushed him to work harder, he says, “‘Cause if she can do it, like, you know what I mean?” Malia’s facial expression speaks for me.
As the crew heads to the club, Pete tries to head to Lara’s heart, or at least her pants. He’s giving her massages, he’s telling her his “dick is called Peter,” he’s saying something about teams and wood benches and chain links in his confessional. When he leaves to go to the bathroom, Hannah shit-talks Lara, who is sitting two spaces away, with her new best friend Malia. And Lara can hear them! So much for that new leaf. Malia later talks to Lara, who says she hasn’t gotten a chance to know Hannah outside of work. Malia tells Lara she would fire a deckhand who wasn’t listening to her — and then tells Hannah everything Lara said. I very much support this friendship. I also support the budding relationship between Jessica and Rob, who gives his girl a flower in the club. Aw! I do not support Kiko telling Hannah he has a girlfriend (who is also a yachtie), because he has just been getting cuter by the episode. I mean, he plays guitar!
Lara and Pete get a van to themselves on the way back, which means a drunk, cute Kiko can scream, “Lara is a bitch!” out the window of the other van. When the crew gets back, Pete wants to give Lara a goodnight hug, but turns away from her bunk when he’s greeted by a topless Jessica. He’s sad, because “it wasn’t even gonna be sex, we were gonna make love.” There’s still room for firsts on this show.
At 5:56 a.m., Lara gets out of bed, and not to get an early start on her workday. Alex, meanwhile, is 11 minutes late to his 10 a.m. deck shift (after taking a big shit, he tells the crew). After Malia tells the crew to be on time, they clean, because I guess there’s more boat to be cleaned. Inside, Hannah is searching and radioing for Lara, who wasn’t in Jessica’s bunk. As Hannah and Jessica search, Alex asks Rob who he’d want to fuck between two pop stars: Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus? Beyoncé or J.Lo? The show cuts between the two scenes in a moment of camp genius. Then, a voice comes over the radio. “Captain Sandy, Captain Sandy, Lara?”
Lara asks to meet with Sandy on the dock, so you know what’s about to happen. She says she doesn’t feel comfortable continuing to work on the boat, which is surely about Hannah talking behind her back after they tried to patch things up. But I don’t blame Hannah, because this was bound to happen sooner or later, and she might as well get her new second stew sooner than later. Sandy has Pete pack Lara’s things just to salt his fresh wound, and he puts his business card in her bag. She says she might call him, but she won’t (and shouldn’t!). Pete spends the afternoon brooding after having known Lara for, by Alex’s estimate, 12 hours.
Our first guests A.L. (After Lara) include Roy Orbison Jr. and his wife Åsa, who are apparently a Swedish power couple, along with their children, nanny, and friends, among them Ulf Ekberg of Ace of Base. Skål! The first few hours of charter are a blur of sippy cups, bad weather, seared fish, the slide (in, out, in, out), and one tipsy nanny. Eventually, we haul anchor and go back to the dock since it’s too windy, but Roy Jr. is just happy to be here.
Kiko is finally making a true Spanish dinner of eight tapas dishes, and gets paid visits by Hannah, Sandy, and Ulf along the way. In a way, it’s the perfect meal for our lover chef, because tapas are about whatever you’re feeling. Not to mention, it’s just impressive! At some point, the musicians Hannah ordered for the meal — primary’s request, of course — arrive, and she sends them to wait in the crew mess. She’s down a stew and scrambling, and doing a damn good job at it (even if I don’t notice a centerpiece on this table). Midway through dinner, Hannah calls up the musicians, who she’s forgotten. Roy Jr. & Co., some of the most easygoing guests I’ve seen on this show, are living for it.
The next day, Sandy calls Malia to a lunch meeting on the bridge to check in about the deck crew. They get to talking, and Malia mentions the misogyny she’s been experiencing. Not only is Pete still calling her sweetie, but the crew has been questioning her decisions (with the slide) and deferring to Pete (with the anchor and cleaning the boat). But it’s the “sweetie” detail that sets Sandy off, and justifiably. “It’s just blatant disrespect, and on the vessel I run, I’m not going to accept it,” she says in a particularly passionate confessional. So she calls the boys for a meeting right now, telling them she’s not their friend, she’s their captain. “Plus, I fucking hate that,” she says of the “sweetie” comments. While the crew should be respecting their leaders in the first place, I’m glad Sandy is addressing the problem so soon, lest she end up with a crew of dicks like Lee did last season. The episode closes with Sandy daring the boys to leave the boat if they don’t want to respect women, as she should.
Hannah said Lara’s departure was like an ecstasy trip: “You have a really high high, but the comedown’s going to be bad.” I’m left hoping the same thing doesn’t happen to this season. We lost our best drama starter just two and a half episodes in — and even if someone like Pete picks up the mantle, he’s probably not going to be pairing up with our best drama finisher, Hannah. Lucky for us, a new second stew is on the horizon next episode, and it’s someone who Hannah’s worked with before. While my heart just wants a good worker like Anastasia or Aesha from last season, the producer in my brain wants another chaos agent, like Bugsy from season two. Hopefully whoever it is can still fold those circular blankets.
• Rob tells jokes specifically for me and my broken brain. “What’s brown and sticky? A brown stick.”
• Hannah calls someone to order “a booster seat, and a crib,” along with “two musicians,” and I just want to know where she’s one-stop shopping all of that.
• Hannah and Jess struggle to put the crib together, but Pete — who, I must remind you, is a father — can get it up in no time. Watching him play with the kids fills my heart a bit, even if he is a sexist jerk.
• “The ’90s are back in,” Roy tells Ulf while they’re lounging on the deck. Sure: The best album of the year is by Fiona Apple and there’s new Dixie Chicks on the horizon. “It’s a good time for you,” Roy adds. Not so sure: Can you name another Ace of Base song besides “The Sign”? (If you can, maybe you’ll be interested in their upcoming 11-CD box set, out July 3.)