Below Deck Recap: New Girls and Old Problems

Below Deck

New Stew on the Block
Season 9 Episode 12
Editor’s Rating 4 stars

Below Deck

New Stew on the Block
Season 9 Episode 12
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Photo: Bravo

If there is one lesson to be gleaned from all of our reality-TV watching, it’s that people are complicated. That’s why so many of us would prefer to snoop on people’s real lives rather than watch fiction, right? Because (on a good reality show, anyway) those real people do the sort of things you just couldn’t write if you tried. So with that settled, let’s get something straight about Rayna: She’s a complicated person. No, she’s not My Seanna’s best deckhand, and if I ever start to argue she is, send me to the bridge for a talking-to from Captain Lee. But she also has emotions about her job, and they’re valid ones, even if and when she’s not doing great work. Both of those things can be true, and that’s what makes her a good reality-TV character! But to get something else clear: Reality TV aside, she deserves to feel accepted and welcome in her workplace regardless of her work ethic.

Anyway! Like me, everyone’s talking about Rayna at the beginning of the episode: Eddie and Lee are wondering what’s up with her moment on the radio, Fraser and Heather are comforting her and telling Eddie she was crying, and Rachel still needs her help to cut strawberries. Eddie finds Rayna, but she tells him they can talk later and goes to the galley to help Rachel. Fraser, meanwhile, runs into Wes, who told him “in code” that things are bad on deck.

FINALLY, Eddie can talk to Rayna for a second as they set up Jet Skis, and she wastes no time telling him that she can’t shake his (non)response to her telling him that Heather used the N-word. Eddie is on the defensive, talking about how he never said it shouldn’t bother her and saying it’s bad if Heather said it, reiterating that this is something Rayna needs to confront. If Eddie’s talking such a big game about how he would have shut anything down if he’d heard it, why hasn’t he so much as had a single chat with Heather rather than putting the work on Rayna? Eddie wants to keep unpacking what happened this morning, but Rayna wants to “talk to God first.” Fair!

So Eddie is back up in the bridge, relaying his findings to Captain Lee. He says Rayna didn’t mention much, except for “some issues” with Heather. “I need to find out what that is,” Lee says, staring out the window. (The only remotely funny thing about all this is the way Captain Lee treats it like a full-blown investigation.) Eddie FINALLY tells Lee about Heather saying the N-word, clearly treading very lightly as he explains the incident. It definitely seems like he knows he shouldn’t have kept it all from Captain Lee! “I personally find it offensive,” Lee says in a confessional. Now that Lee knows, multiple charters later, my next question becomes, Is he going to talk to Heather about this?

What’s happening on the interior during all this? Nothing much, except for some beach-picnic prep and the arrival of Kaylee, our savior with third stew’s stripes! Fraser tells us he’s “still the baddest bitch onboard,” while Jake, unsurprisingly, is quick to start flirting with Kaylee. Between it all, Fraser and Wes pull off one of the less dramatic beach picnics we’ve seen on this show. Still the baddest bitch, indeed!

Okay, that’s enough interior for now. Back on deck, where Rayna and Eddie are talking again! She states up front that she feels as if she can’t trust Eddie because of the way he brushed off her complaint about Heather, which makes a lot of sense! Eddie counters that he hopes she knows she can trust him — but really, what good is that without any proof? (He also says part of why he discounted everything was because Rayna brought it up after apologizing to him for her eye roll, which doesn’t quite add up.) Rayna says she’s fine still working with Heather, but “I’m not gonna be friends with ignorance.”

In the chronicles of interior continuing to kill it today, let’s take a moment to appreciate Rachel’s Japanese tasting-menu dinner. There was cucumber salad with snow crab, miso soup, poached eggs with caviar, rice cakes with something that moved (??), tuna tataki, and panna cotta with matcha ice cream. The guests loved all of it, especially Tony, who loves Japanese food and could not think of enough good words for all of Rachel’s dishes. (Poor Melissa, though, tapped out of dinner early due to some water in her ear making it painful to chew; Heather seemed a bit worried about that knocking their tip, but what can the crew do about it?) The vow renewal really puts the night over the edge for these guests, complete with Tony making it a surprise for the men’s wives. Lee kept his comments to himself (and he had them — “I still don’t know why anyone needs them,” he said in a confessional earlier) and officiated like a pro, and it was all really sweet to watch! “It’s probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” says Rayna.

Now, let’s take a moment for Below Deck’s Emmy-nominated editors, who executed one of the best clip replays I’ve seen in reality TV this episode. After the night’s festivities, Eddie is back in the bridge, telling Lee he feels “deflated” after what Rayna said to him. Eddie said Rayna was “accusing” him of not taking her complaint seriously before we revisit the full 35-second clip of his conversation with Rayna, in which he said she needed to “stand up for” herself and that her focus should be “getting the job done.” “I definitely don’t feel like I just brushed it off and was like, ‘Everything’s fine — don’t worry about it,’ like, ‘Ignore that,’” he tells Lee after. “I wouldn’t do that.” Can someone show him the clip??

Everyone’s tired the next morning, most of all Rachel, who lies on the counter of the galley and declares, “I’m tapping the fuck out!” (After that dinner, I say we let her!) Still, she somehow churns out chicken and waffles, bananas-Foster French toast, and seafood omelets for breakfast, which is to say she more than earns it when, in another of this episode’s sweeter moments, one of the guests, Claudia, presents Rachel with her Navy retirement coin as the guests leave. If that’s not enough proof of how things went, Tony again can’t find the words to say how much he loved this charter, so he hopes the tip will do. And at $25,000, it will! Everyone seems to have forgotten all about the preferences issue from the first dinner, most of all Tony.

I’d usually save something like Fraser and Heather talking about bidets for “Tips,” but when it’s my highlight of the whole damn episode, it deserves a proper paragraph. Fraser tells Heather and Kaylee about how he recently squirted one of the bathroom’s bidets right in his face while trying to fix it. He goes on to use the words foof, pudenda, and fish purse to describe the sort of body part he couldn’t imagine putting on a bidet. “You could lose your virginity on that thing!” he declares. Heather screams right on cue when he demonstrates the bidet, but what’s even better is that we get to see the clip of him getting squirted on the first time! Again, my compliments to the Emmy-nominated editing team!! “Could take your hymen right off,” he adds.

The crew night out is largely un-notable because, at this point, Jake wearing thongs and stripping and skinny-dipping is largely un-notable. It is full of more sweet moments, though, including:
• Rayna tells Rachel she wants to study cooking after all the time she has been spending in the galley.
• Fraser apologizes to Heather and Kaylee for being skeptical of Kaylee.
• Jake and Fraser have a good smoke break as mates afterward, with Jake declaring that “Fraser’s not a yachty twat.”

Aw! Let’s see if these good vibes carry into the final charter of the season next episode! Judging by the service issues, things falling off the boat, and [shuddersHamilton fandom on display in the teaser, I’m betting they won’t.


• Heather: “I’m gonna be decorating in the sky lounge if anyone wants to blow some things.” Rayna: “Jake wants to blow some things!”

• The Captain Lee–ism of the week comes after telling one of the guests he is drinking a nonalcoholic cocktail of apple juice and sparkling water at dinner. “And you thought I was pounding ’em, didn’t you?” he says.

• Here’s a conversation that organically comes up on deck once guests leave:
Jake: Me and Rayna are gonna shag on the internet.
Rayna: We’re not doing that!
Wes: You are going to do it!
Jake: No, we’re just going to do pictures of, like, my willy on her face, my willy on Fraser’s face.
Rayna: It’s gonna be great.
Wes: You guys go from different during the workday and then as soon as we get off, y’all are like, love triangle.

• Eddie to Jake after spanking him: “Why is your ass so hairless? It bothers me.”

Below Deck Recap: New Girls and Old Problems