Below Deck Mediterranean
It’s time to talk about Captain Sandy. She’s been in the background for me so far, making some good choices (talking sense into Pete) and some annoying ones (watching Kiko over his shoulder), but nothing that really ever felt worth dwelling on. And so far, she’s run a pretty fine boat, especially when she kept things smooth with Lara during the first charter and without her during the second one. I tend to think she’s a good manager in general — more involved than Captain Lee, sure, but often for the better. Now that the cracks in this boat are starting to show, though, it all goes back to Sandy.
Kiko rushes to get those second dinner plates out of the kitchen, and the rest of dinner is a nonevent — the guests eat it and like it and are finally full. The next morning, Sandy is in the kitchen, telling Kiko he needs to be more organized. That’s true to some extent: Our lover chef moves through that kitchen like a whirlwind, at his whims, meaning that when something like a vegan guest throws him for a loop, everything else crashes. But I’m starting to think a bit of it is technical, too. How can a chef not know how to cook vegan, or check to see if their fish is cooked through, or know what a proper entreé portion is? Regardless, Kiko seems to do a fine job at making our vegan guest avocado toast with mushrooms in the morning. What is it with these mushrooms, anyway?
There are problems on the deck, too. For one, Rob’s toe is ripped open and bleeding, which just sounds gross. But Malia needs help with some flooding in something called the jetsurf, which doesn’t sound pleasant either! So Rob goes to fix his toe and Alex goes to find a manual, but neither of them are being quick about it, which (rightfully) frustrates Malia. When Rob comes back from smooching Jessica — oh, and fixing his toe — he notices some “tension” and “negative energies,” which exacerbates Malia’s stress because she just needs him to do his damn job. When they finish the job, Malia apologizes to her crew, even though she has nothing to apologize for, because she’s just great.
Kiko is making sushi for lunch, a total left turn from his style that I’m excited to see. He seems to know what he’s doing, except for when the primary asks him about ponzu sauce before the meal and he doesn’t know what it is. He asks for ponzu sauce again during lunch, and it seems like Kiko has forgotten to make it, which — like the vegan meals and undercooked fish yesterday — throws the whole meal off. Extra rolls are going out late, and so are extra dishes of tempura, so everyone’s still hungry. Even our vegan, who wants more mushrooms. Bugsy, for her part, is running the situation well, coming out to the guests smiling and reminding them how good the food tastes. Service is frustrating her a bit, she says, because she’s not chief stew so she can’t set her own system. I’m surprised Bravo didn’t pull out their favorite Bugsy clip right about now …
Lunch is just a rough spot for interior. Jess has been having this issue where she can’t tell what Bugsy is saying over the radio due to her South African accent. It happened during lunch setup, when she couldn’t hear the phrase “wine glasses,” and it happened again during service. Afterward, Jess asks Bugsy to speak clearer, and Bugsy says she’s already speaking as clearly as possible. They proceed to yell over each other until Sandy breaks things up, and really, there’s not much resolution. Sandy tells Jess to “adjust” her ears, without giving much hint at how one might do that. “We’re gonna figure it out,” she tells Jess, though I get the impression Jess finishes the conversation still unable to understand Bugsy. That said, it’s quite the battle for Jess to pick: Bugsy can’t control her accent!
Dinner is early as hell for this boat, at 7:15, so we don’t see much of an afternoon. And it’s Giancarlo’s birthday — good for him! I hope the morning’s juice was to his liking. Bugsy has decorated an elegant white table, and the mariachi band Hannah ordered comes right on time. Kiko serves a quinoa salad (again?) for the first course, and Sandy, sitting in the corner of the kitchen, watches him do it. I’d think letting the chef work would be better than pressuring him more, but I’m not a yacht captain. Second course is a surf and turf, but the shrimp are apparently a weird texture, so no one eats them. Our vegan gets pasta, but he didn’t want pasta, and while I believe vegans should be allowed to get choices in life, you also need to recognize that Kiko is working with some restrictions. Plus, what kind of vegan doesn’t want to eat pasta? Dessert is a bit more of a sin — Kiko makes a carrot cake, Giancarlo’s favorite, but has no vegan alternative, saying the vegan can just have ice cream. It feels a little lazy. Some of the guests aren’t totally pleased at the end of dinner, but they seem to forget about it when Sandy takes the boat on a nighttime cruise. They splash around in the hot tub, asking Bugsy if they can call any boys, as if they’re not stuck in the middle of the sea. They love Bugsy even though she tells them no.
The next day’s breakfast will make you forget about the previous lunch. Giancarlo says they’ll have breakfast at 9, but nobody’s on service for them until 9:25. Apparently it’s Jess’s fault, who didn’t radio Hannah. Kiko doesn’t have enough food ready, and Hannah is taking coffee orders as slow as she can. So Kiko hears it from Sandy about having more food ready to go, then again when she sees the truly sad cheese plate he’s assembled. Hannah and her stews (Sandy woke Bugsy up at this point) also hear it for not speeding up breakfast service and taking egg orders. It’s one of the most embarrassing moments from this crew in eight episodes — and yes, that includes all their drunken nights out. Sandy’s especially disappointed in Hannah. “What’s my chief stew doing?” she asks. “I don’t see her leading.”
Before the guests depart, Hannah has a little chat with Jess, ahead of her own chat with Sandy. Jess hasn’t done Sandy’s laundry and just seems off this charter, even with her braced finger. (Mind you, she couldn’t do much else other than laundry with it!) “Have you got anything else in you to give?” Hannah asks. Jess replies that she’s giving what she can, which is decidedly not what you say to someone in that situation. Hannah says that’s all she needs to know and shoos her away.
When the guests are finally off, Sandy lays it on during the tip meeting. When Captain Sandy opens with “I’m going to tell you where I think we failed,” you better start polishing your résumé. The crew is focused on themselves, she says, but she wants them to do better because she doesn’t want to fire anyone. They got a tip of $15,000, or $1,100 a person — which is even less than the previous charter, but I think they earned it.
Then it’s time for one of Sandy’s signature meetings, the kind where she reminds her staff that she’s not afraid to fire them if she needs to. First up is Hannah, who Sandy says seems “resigned” this season. In a confessional, Hannah says she’s just going to listen and let Sandy talk — because after three seasons, that’s what she’s figured out she needs to do. They seem to end on a good note (meaning that wasn’t Hannah’s looming possible firing), so it’s Kiko up next. Poor Kiko, who worried from the beginning about Sandy firing him, yet also really needs to practice his vegan recipes. Sandy says Kiko is nice, but she doesn’t care if he’s nice as long as the food gets better. Kiko agrees, but I just hope the pressure doesn’t turn him into a dick like every other chef who’s walked onto this show.
That’s where we end, and to be honest, I still think Sandy’s doing a better job of running this boat than a lot of fans have been giving her credit for. She needs to get out of Kiko’s way a bit and not be so quick to pull out the threat of firing when she’s talking to her crew — but also, she is managing. Everything that went bad on this charter, she took some level of responsibility, stepped in, and tried to fix it. Except for Jess not understanding Bugsy’s accent, because there’s only so much you can expect a captain to do.
Next week, Jess manages to turn laundry into drama, Kiko fries a bunch of things, and Malia saves someone after a jetski accident.
• When Bugsy’s on late service, the guests ask her who she’d shag, marry, kill on the crew. She says “shag Kiko, marry Alex, kill Peter,” which could double as a six-word recap of the boys on the boat this season.
• In the crew mess, Jess is wearing a comfy gown that she says “makes me feel like I’m not on a boat working my ass off.” “So does valium,” Hannah replies.
• I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me to watch Sandy letting Malia drive the boat on the final day of charter. Their mentoring relationship fills my heart!