Below Deck Recap: Flirt Alert

Below Deck

James’ Big Cannoli
Season 8 Episode 13
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

Below Deck

James’ Big Cannoli
Season 8 Episode 13
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: Bravo

It’s a silly title, sure (and who ever said anything about big?), but this really is James’s episode. It opens back in the crew mess, where the man of the hour has just driven Elizabeth away after drooling over the “fit birds” on Rob’s Instagram. When a producer calls him on it during his confessional, he says he’s “loyal. More than Loyal. Mr. Loyale. Loyale with cheese.” Elizabeth entertaining Rachel’s shit-talking about him may have challenged James’s loyalty, but he adds, “Yeah, I’m an arsehole.” Ya think? As Ashling points out, you didn’t even ask how she was doing with her UTI!

Speaking of: Everyone is still sick as ever, but have no fear — Dr. Williams is on the way! Ashling thinks her stomach bug will be fine without a checkup, which feels a bit silly to me. If they’re bringing this doctor onboard, there’s no reason to play all strong and work through it. Take the appointment! Dr. Williams’s first patient is Elizabeth, who says she “could be” sexually active when asked. (Doesn’t it violate some sort of doctor-patient-confidentiality thing for Bravo to be filming this??) Elizabeth gets some sort of tablets for her UTI, because Dr. Williams came prepared, along with an answer that, no, UTIs are not contagious. Next is Rachel, who is going to need IV therapy for some bad gastroenteritis. She elects to put that off till tomorrow, which also does not sound like the best idea after hearing Rachel describe her liquid shits! But Dr. Williams has some pills for her in the meantime, too. We simply have to stan Dr. Williams.

Otherwise, the entire day happens in nearly a blink. We don’t even get to see lunch! Just Justin flirting with Ashling right in the galley (what’s he doing there anyway?) and Gigi the dog accidentally shitting right on the deck. I regret to inform you that won’t be the last time I have to talk about shit in this recap.

And that doesn’t include the shit James is stirring between Elizabeth and Ashling. As they’re eating in the crew mess, he makes some sort of a reference to Ashling filling in on lates for Elizabeth while she’s sick that doesn’t quite land for me, but it clearly registers to everyone in the room as James flirting with Ashling. Elizabeth promptly leaves but later asks Ashling to let her know if she ends up thinking James likes her. Just a casual little “Let me know”! Ashling confirms to both Elizabeth and us that there’s nothing going on, and during their chat, they miss a radio call from Francesca to help put the crew dinner away. When Elizabeth goes down to help, she talks about it with James, who goes off about how that’s “just” his “personality” and Elizabeth needs to “trust” him. Which is honestly quite a shitty response! You can stop flirting if you want to, James, and even if it’s kind of petty drama, Elizabeth isn’t wrong for calling you on flirting! “What man — boy, fucking whatever I am — in their right mind would flirt with another girl when there’s a girl they’re dating in between?” James wonders in his confessional. Him, apparently!

In other news, Izzy has been promoted to lead deckhand! Eddie suggested the idea to Captain Lee to recognize Izzy’s hard work after joining his team (and, let’s be honest, get some pressure off Eddie’s back), and Lee agreed. So Eddie delivers the news to Izzy that night, and she’s excited, if a bit nervous that the boys won’t listen to her. “That’s up to you,” Eddie says. One Malia White would certainly beg to differ.

Rachel is feeling sicker than ever, so she’s doing a simple dinner, which is still sure to impress the guests. The main is homemade pasta with homemade pesto and snow crab — which does feel kind of blatantly simple to me, but the guests are none the wiser and love it. They also love talking about the budding flirtationship between Ashling and that guest Justin, even though Captain Lee is right there at the table with them! But inside, Ashling has found herself caught in another relationship again, when Elizabeth walks in on James talking to Ashling in the crew mess and then promptly exits. She complains to Rachel about this during dessert prep, and it’s Rachel’s big “I told you so” moment.

Speaking of! Dessert is tiramisu cannoli, and they look divine. The guests love them, of course, and I’m left wondering, When was the last time I even had a cannoli? James, for one, has never had a cannoli, so Elizabeth — figuring she owes him another chance — offers to bring him a leftover one from the kitchen. But she makes the absolute rookie boatmance mistake of asking James to meet her over the radio! Eddie hears it loud and clear, and apparently so does Francesca, because James hasn’t even finished his cannoli before she finds them on the deck. Elizabeth gives some likely excuse about how she was just about to go relieve Francesca, and Francesca could’ve called if she needed help, but wasn’t Elizabeth on lates anyway? At one point, Francesca hisses, “Stop talking, Elizabeth!,” and I have to agree with her there.

You’d probably know what happens next even if you didn’t watch the episode: Francesca goes to Eddie, and Eddie goes to James to explain that he just messed things up for Elizabeth. But how many more times can this keep happening? “I stuck my neck out for them,” Eddie says, remembering how he kept Francesca from going to Captain Lee when James and Elizabeth made everyone play musical beds a couple nights ago. Even he’s over it now.

Anyway, it’s now March 9, as we inch closer and closer to the pandemic tipping point we all know is coming. But not yet, because there are still guests on this boat, and they are ordering eggs. Rachel makes six orders of eggs (and no one orders theirs over hard, thank God), but Francesca doesn’t hear her because she’s busy playing with Gigi. When Ashling picks up the food and heads toward Francesca, it leads to some confusion over which plates go to whom, sending them back to Rachel — who is now rightfully mad. That anger doesn’t really get resolved this episode, but it’s not the first time she’s had issues with Francesca’s interior, and I wonder if something’s building up there.

And that’s the end of the chapter on these generic guests! Minutes afterward, all I can remember is they were from Texas, they had a dog, and someone was named Justin. They’re fine tippers, too, leaving $17,000, or about $1,400 apiece. But the crew won’t get to spend that money at a bar tonight because they’re going to go clean up a beach! Lee has signed everyone up for an afternoon of service to keep Antigua’s beaches looking beautiful, and everyone’s down for it … except James, to no one’s surprise. Here’s a little exchange from his cabin as everyone gets ready:

James: Can we drink at this beach day?

Izzy: No. You’re fucking cleaning up a beach. Why are you thinking about drinking?

James: Because I’m cleaning up a beach.

Izzy: Think about doing something good for the world, you little shit.

That said, the beach cleanup seems to go well, and everyone else enjoys it! Shane would’ve loved this if he had a chance of lasting this far into the season. RIP. The day is pretty much over once the crew gets back — for Rachel, too, who took two bags of IV fluid while everyone was at the beach cleanup. Once everyone else is knocked out, Elizabeth and James decide to spend the night in a guest cabin yet again, like getting in trouble with Francesca once this episode wasn’t enough.

We wake up to another off day, and the deck crew wakes up to the news that it is not “Shit on Izzy Day” but instead Izzy’s first day as lead deckhand! And that first comment from James should be all you need to know about how well this is going to go over. My beloved, Rob, loses many points when he calls Izzy’s promotion “cute” and reminds us that he can captain a 20-meter sailboat. Good for you, but you just got here! On deck, the boys adopt that same patronizing tone that Malia’s deck crew gave her — “Whatever you say!” — and seem to have lost whatever common sense about their positions they’ve had. They make it a point to ask Izzy about every little thing, yet Rob has the nerve to call her a dictator! Between the boys’ club of season seven and the disrespect toward Malia (narcing aside) on Med season five, I am so positively over yachty sexism at this point. Like, get over yourselves and do your fucking jobs!

Meanwhile, Francesca is going to send Ashling to the doctor after she could not even finish a conversation without leaving to shit. But Ashling’s appointment isn’t till the afternoon, which means she overhears Izzy joking with James about his rendezvous with Elizabeth. Francesca hears something too and asks Ashling, who promptly spills what she knows. Because she is Over This Shit, Francesca just confronts Elizabeth in the crew mess during dinner in front of whoever might be there to hear. She gets to her question right away, to which Elizabeth replies, “We went into a cabin that was not made.” But did she sleep in the cabin? “Yeah, but I was up.” But did she sleep in the cabin?? “Um, we were in the cabin.” But did she sleep in the cabin??? “Uh, I wouldn’t say it was like sleeping.” BUT DID SHE SLEEP IN THE CABIN??? “Yes, I was sitting on the bed!” And we’re left with that baffling performance! Next week, the Queen of Versailles returns, and Lee might actually fire Elizabeth for this.


• Rob once had a dog named Kaia Rocky Falafel McFrodyface. (I think I got that right?)

• As far as COVID goes, this episode is weird. I can’t tell if Eddie is trying to keep six feet from Izzy during their meeting, which would be a super-futile task considering the close quarters this crew is in most of the time. Eddie also makes a joke about hand sanitizer to James, who says he thinks the virus will just blow over. LOL! And on top of it all, Captain Lee shakes hands with the beach-cleanup organizers. I know hindsight is twenty-twenty here, but come on!

• Yes, Rachel really was on America’s Next Top Model!

• I didn’t think sleeping in a guest cabin was such a big deal until Francesca explained that everything in the cabins is so expensive, and they don’t need extra people in there without the chief stew/captain knowing. I mean, Jess and Rob got permission to on Med, and that was Jess and Rob, but I get the feeling Elizabeth and James won’t be getting permission to do much of anything if they last.

Below Deck Recap: Flirt Alert