There’s really nothing more to Lee’s conversation with Francesca — Elizabeth isn’t getting fired, no matter how hard Francesca tries — but we start the episode there nonetheless. Back on the beach, after the guests leave their picnic, Izzy and Elizabeth go for a swim to make Elizabeth feel better about Francesca and Ashling going for a swim. Have I mentioned enough names in these first two sentences yet? Because after her meeting with Lee, Francesca is flirting with Rob on the aft deck. She’s talking about the “fish” in the water (although that sure looks like a shark to me) and asking him if he’s ever fly fished. And Rob’s supposed to be the awkward one.
Then, finally, a bit of plot! We’re prepping for the guests’ Vive la France party, which is also the ten-course dinner, meaning this is going to be a trial for both Rachel and the stews. As Francesca and the team decorate the dining area, the guests do some weird puzzle with tiny pieces, and I want to shout, “No! Go enjoy your vacation! You’ll be doing plenty of those in like a month!!” But then they get ready for dinner and arrive at the table with a new lineup of silly costumes, this time en francais. I’m just glad they’re having fun. (And Francesca looks almost just as silly with her bob-beret-wig-hat-combo.)
Rachel is ready to kill this dinner, because Lee has gone into the galley to remind her that her reputation is on the line (and unlike a certain Mediterranean captain, Lee never goes into the galley). More specifically, she says later on she wants “to fuck this ten-course meal in the mouth.” And she does! The guests enjoy every bite, which includes: foie gras, French onion soup, salads with fancy freeze-dried strawberries, duck eggs, white asparagus, sea bass, petit filet, duck with crepes, some berry thing, and chocolate pots de crème. Rachel doesn’t just not flinch, she barely sweats throughout the whole meal. It’s art. It’s performance. It’s the biggest reason yet not to get rid of her, in a whole charter full of them.
That’s pretty much the end of the night, aside from a few of the guests skinny dipping in the hot tub (ew) and James and Elizabeth talking about boatmances (less ew, but still). The next morning, Rachel makes fancy crepe-omelets with avocado and smoked chipotle, which still manages to impress me after everything else from this charter. Up on the bridge, Captain Lee is nervous about docking in Falmouth Harbor, which is apparently an extremely packed and difficult harbor. Eddie is nervous too! So he diagrams it out for his deck crew on a whiteboard, using an eraser as the boat. For some reason, it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen? This guy drawing out a docking like a football-coach-meets-math-professor! Guess that’s what an adventure education degree prepares you to do.
Some sort of an alarm goes off while Lee is docking, and for a second it looks like the boat is going to knock right into the dock, but — nope! Because these dockings always get us worked up for nothing. Anyway! Bryan, our primary, personally thanks Rachel in the galley, before thanking her again in front of Captain Lee as he hands over the tip. If only he knew! After all the guests’ requests, it’s a properly weighted tip of $25,000, in large part thanks to one Rachel Hargrove. Lee tells the crew that they’ve all stepped up, especially deck, but he also kind of weirdly confronts Rachel in front of the whole crew? Whatever, she’s earned her spot back in my book.
The crew has done so well that Lee is treating them to [checks notes] a visit to a donkey sanctuary! After donkeys worked in the sugar mills in Antigua, some are still on the island, he explains to us. I think he puts it better later on: “I’m taking my jackasses to see their jackasses!” Nothing really important happens, but everyone seems to love it and the donkeys are fun (supremely underrated animal IMO), so that’s enough for me.
Now that the fun’s out of the way, Francesca has to demote Elizabeth. And she seems pretty distraught over it! She was meditating and pacing while the rest of the crew was off petting donkeys. But whatever performance she gave ahead of time couldn’t match Elizabeth in the moment: the shocked expression, the hand on the chest, the concerned eyes. What kind of a show would we have gotten if she had been fired? “I feel like this demotion is personal and not business,” she tells us, before taking her commentary to other current and former third stews Izzy and Ashling. Once Elizabeth shares the news, Izzy pretty much takes over, calling Francesca a “fake bitch” and “two-sided” and saying Elizabeth is “more likable” than Francesca. And I knew Izzy disliked Francesca, but not this much! I for one don’t get the Francesca hate — I may be disappointed that she’s a boring chief stew, and may not agree with her wanting to fire Elizabeth, but I don’t think she’s like, a hardass. She has high expectations, as a manager should in a luxury industry! Anyway, Francesca overhears part of it, because she always manages to, and she kind of gets mad at Izzy for talking to Elizabeth? It all starts to feel kind of childish. At least when Francesca tries to tell Rachel about it afterward, Rachel says she doesn’t want to get into it. She learned.
As the crew sits around waiting to head out for the night, Izzy opens up to Eddie and Rob about being assaulted and having “a breakdown” afterward. “I feel like I’m the type of person that can fend for myself, so to have that control and that choice taken away is just a really fucking shitty thing,” she says in a confessional, tearing up. “I don’t ever want to feel so out of control, like that, again. And I think it’s good to talk about these things because it’s not your fault, but it’s such a hard thing to get over.” Proud of you for sharing your story, Izzy!
The crew’s night out begins with another one of those dinners where everyone’s talking over each other and outdrinking each other and it all blurs together very quickly. On a normal night out, James flirting with Elizabeth would be the major plot point, but normal nights out do not feature Rachel getting drunk off her ass. I have no idea what she’s talking about, and before long she’s annoying Eddie and talking to strangers (separately). She doesn’t do anything terrible, but it’s definitely embarrassing. Between the leaving before charter and this, I do worry about her hiring prospects in the future!
After an uneventful stop at a club, the crew is back at the boat and turning in for the night. Except for James and Elizabeth, who decide to take their ulterior motives for a dip in the hot tub. Before long, they’re making out — feign your surprise. I’m just surprised it took nearly halfway through the season! They think they’re the only ones up, but really, a trashed Rachel is rummaging through the crew mess and eating stale bread. One producer deserves a major raise for that last scene, going back and forth between James getting all over Elizabeth and Rachel saying, “that’s a good fucking bagel.” I expect to see an Emmy nomination for editing in 2021.
Later this season: Turtles! Eddie talks to James about “keeping work and pleasure separate.” James is flirting with Ashling, too? Lee gets emotional about charter guests whose young daughter died because his son recently died. Rob is, in Izzy’s words, “a fucking asshole”? Rachel drinks too much yet again and upstages a band! That guest finally jumps in and gets Lee to cancel their charter! The situation in interior turns to “war.” Everyone’s crying about coronavirus. And “a situation” that Lee’s telling the crew about?! Like a ten-course meal, I say keep it coming.
• Rob has a tattoo of a“pegasorn — “a pegasus-slash-unicorn” — riding an orc, riding a dragon. He also enjoys Settlers of Catan!
• What is Eddie’s deck crew doing while Francesca demotes Elizabeth? Just having a beer after finishing their work, like people who like each other!
• Francesca, to Ashling, at the club bar: “What do you want?”
Ashling, in reply: “Corona.”
• The best Rob line of the night comes as he and Francesca try to flirt at the club: “I’ve always been … quite … aloof.”