Reader, I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard at a Below Deck episode. Regardless of what Heather thinks of that dinner, I say this is five-star service. So like Jake and Fraser, let’s waste no time diving in (underwear optional).
We’re back on deck, where Eddie continues to tear into his crew about all the shit that’s been blowing off the boat. “I’m sick of it all,” he declares, and he means it. Otherwise, the talk of the morning is Rachel’s breakfast (great, as always), the upcoming ’80s party (Heather is excited, even if she wasn’t alive in the ’80s), relationships (Heather is used to being away from her boyfriend, whom I forgot she had; Fraser is “craving male attention” and doesn’t want to keep being single; Jake wants Heather’s help to set up Wes and Jess), and Ronnie turning 75 (Alexander guesses he’s turning 81). Oh, and the trampoline, which Alexander can’t wait to jump on. I always worry when a big, surprising event gets teased to death ahead of an episode, but once again, the Emmy-nominated Below Deck editors know what they’re doing. It becomes a brilliant moment of foreshadowing — once I hear Alexander mention the trampoline and then see the crew setting it up, I know it’s eventually going to fly across the sea … just not when. Call it a Chekhov’s trampoline.
The first of multiple times I absolutely howled laughing during this episode was, of course, when the trampoline flew away. It’s just a perfect moment: The deck crew is talking about Jake shitting on his girlfriend (more on that below, obviously), and then everyone seems to scream “whoa!” at once, and we know what’s happened. And that trampoline FLIES! It’s almost equally comical to watch the crew rushing onto Jet Skis and the tender to save a trampoline, of all things. Jodi speaks for all of us when she says, “That’s so cool; somebody get a video of that!” And the best part is that no one gets in trouble because the wind was just too strong that it literally snapped the line keeping the trampoline in place. Captain Lee says he hasn’t seen wind this bad in 35 years of yachting. “It’s Mother Nature giving your ass a wake-up call,” he declares. Yes — to climate change!
In another bit of foreshadowing, as the crew is preparing for the ’80s party, Jake’s thong is so small and tight that his crotch has to be blurred while he’s wearing it. Fraser, in a confessional, says Jake is “just so effortlessly chic.” I should not need to tell you to put a pin in this! Also, before the party, the “5” balloon that Heather ordered for Ronnie’s 75th birthday flies off the boat. And once again, it kills me! I officially decide, in that moment, that inconsequential things flying off the boat is perfect comedy, and I will never tire of it.
Dinner seems to be a bit late, and the guests seem to be a bit impatient, but that’s all soon rectified once they see the heaping platters of lobster and crab that Rachel has prepared for her ’80s steakhouse dinner. The guests’ pleasure at all the food is lost on Heather, though, who is mad that the crew is bringing out platters of food without tongs. The deck crew, mind you, since at varying points during the height of dinner service, she has Jess and Fraser on cabin turndowns! Heather’s anger about the tongs leads to a bit of a tiff between her and Rayna, who should not be expected to know how service works; even when Fraser is back, he can’t find more tongs. And, to be clear, the guests could not care less, because they’re just enjoying their steak! Serve it with a fork if you have to! Heather says she’s mad that “nobody had the initiative to come up with a solution,” but I think she’s just asking for impossible, unnecessary things.
The crew goes balls to the wall — or to the thong, in Jake’s case — on their ’80s outfits, to Ronnie and the rest of the guests’ entertainment. Eddie in particular commits to his workout-coach-meets-wrestler character, which I love for him. And the guests, predictably, love the carrot cake! I’m ready to declare this night a rousing success, and the guests are ready for bed.
The morning goes off without a hitch as well, from breakfast to the docking. The only complaint comes from Rachel about health-conscious Todd ordering scrambled egg whites, which she calls “the bane of my existence.” Ronnie, meanwhile, declares this “the best three days of food I think we’ve all ever had.” And if you don’t believe him? Well, it’s hard to deny the $25,000 tip once again handcuffed to Alexander’s wrist. That’s right, twenty-five! I gasped. Rachel and Heather make it rain. And Fraser mopes, because Captain Lee praises Jess for getting out of her shell at the ’80s party — even though Jess is, obviously, the one who needs encouragement, and Fraser is a teacher’s pet bitch who’s going to do his job well regardless!
So let’s catch up on the complaints about Jess this episode. Fraser is mad that she didn’t notice the glass that broke when the balloon flew away and gave him attitude about asking to call deck. He’s also mad that she didn’t know which beds to strip during turndowns and which beds the guests didn’t use. And more than anything, he’s mad that she got her little gold-star moment from Captain Lee and he didn’t. Later in the episode, Heather goes to Eddie about this problem, telling him she’s happy that Jess is showing more energy but worried about how Fraser’s taking it. This is still all too much talk about Jess, and not enough things are happening about Jess. (It looks like that’s finally set to change next episode when Heather — cleverly! — puts Jess on service, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)
If there were ever a night the crew deserved to celebrate, it’d be tonight. So they pound shots, wine, and espresso martinis (the eternal favorite of Below Deck crew members) at dinner at another nondescript Caribbean restaurant. Jake is especially looking to celebrate — by getting handsy with a now-bare-chested Fraser at the bar. In a confessional, Fraser admits the obvious, that he has “a little crush” on Jake. “He is a full-blown man whore, but that doesn’t affect me,” he adds. “He’s straight and I’m gay. I’m not stupid.”
And thus, “Sean Cody Presents: Fraser & Jake” begins. Before long, Jake has stripped down to his underwear at the bar — barely, with his ass hanging out. Then, after a bit of goading from the crew, he pulls them the rest of the way off and decides he’s going to skinny-dip. “Come here; I want to see what it looks like, at least!” Rayna pleads. The poor bartender, meanwhile, does not. Jake indeed gets into the water, with Fraser too, who’s (unfortunately? Can I say that?) still in his undies. Jake’s nudity does not keep them from being all over each other in the water. As he gets out and dries off, Rachel catches the glimpse of Jake that Rayna was hoping to get and promptly yells, “Goddammit, I can’t unsee that shit!”
The van ride back is that fateful ride, which we’ve also seen teased to death ahead of this episode. But there’s new information here: Fraser and Jake kissed on a dare from Rayna (who decides after witnessing their quite passionate makeout sesh that maybe she should start watching gay porn). “I ain’t bisexual,” Jake clarifies afterward. “I’m straight; I’m just sexually comfortable.” This whole scene is just hilarious to me, too — maybe because Jake is obviously at least a little bi, and Fraser is promptly disproving everything he said about not getting involved with people on boats and not thinking he had a chance with Jake.
The rest of the night back on the boat can’t live up to Fraser and Jake’s escapades, but it gets close, mainly thanks to Eddie catching his hair on fire with a blowtorch (I cackled, again!) and the crew trying to figure out where the smell of burnt hair was coming from. It’s the next morning, though, that’s the cherry on top of this five-star episode. Jake is “fucking trollied” after the night before, and after Eddie asks, he says he doesn’t remember kissing Fraser. Jake doesn’t seem to mind the news (or be too surprised, for that matter), but Fraser does since he also doesn’t remember kissing Jake. His absolute shock is funny at first, but there is a tinge of sadness to it, with Fraser worrying that he’s messed up his friendship with Jake, who’s ostensibly straight. Mainly, it’s the fact that Fraser is the one who’s left feeling guilty here, as if he’s the gay man who corrupted Jake, when in reality, it was a dare, and one Jake was clearly okay with if he kissed Fraser again.
Regardless! Here’s hoping these boys put together more of the details next episode — and that Fraser’s worries don’t get in the way of our potential first gay boatmance brewing.
• Sorry for calling the trampoline a swim platform in the last episode’s recap — I just couldn’t quite tell what that thing was!
• After saving the trampoline, Wes feels like David Hasselhoff in Baywatch, or maybe the Rock. “A skinnier version of the Rock: the Pebble.”
• Yes, Jake once shit on his girlfriend, but he insists there’s more to the story: “So basically, I got out of the shower, and I thought it’d be funny to start like twerking on the bed. So I was naked on the bed, and I thought it’d be funny to push out a fucking really loud fart. And a fucking shit flew out, it flew through the air. Yeah, it fucking flew, just went pew!”
• Our Captain Lee–ism of the Week comes during dinner when Heather is serving him the steak: “Don’t be shy on the onions. I’m not seeing anybody tonight; it’ll be okay.”
• During their dinner out, the whole crew abandons Wes and Jess for some alone time at one point. They talk a bit, but it’s unclear where things go after that since we’re (rightfully) focused on Jake and Fraser. Will there be more overtures to recap next episode?