Below Deck: Better To Lose A Stripe Than Your Job

Even though we’re taking a week off from the podcast for the holidays, I’d never leave you all completely hanging with your butts in the breeze. So let’s get to blogging about this episode, shall we?

We pick up, as usual, where we left off with Cap and Francesca discussing what can be done about Elizabeth. It’s clear that Chess wants to fire her, but Captain Lee explains the reality of the situation. They are halfway through the season and the cream of the crop as far as replacements go are gone. In his mind, sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. In my mind that means you could get rid of Elizabeth and wind up with Lara. Accidentally creating mustard gas isn’t as bad as potentially being assaulted as long as you survived the gas already. Chess accepts the logic, but it doesn’t really solve her problem and you can tell she’s disappointed when she leaves the bridge.

Ashore, the beach picnic is wrapping up and Eddie shuttles the guests back to the yacht so they can get ready for their 10-course tasting menu. (And no, it didn’t escape me that he of the classy unicorns said he was glad they were in the water because he had to go number 1. So chic.) Izzy decides to encourage Elizabeth to go for a swim while they’re supposed to be cleaning up. I admire the part of Izzy that feels the need to “fix” people, because she has broken parts inside herself she can’t repair. I think that’s relatable to a lot of viewers, especially me. I don’t agree in any way shape or form that Francesca is an evil sheriff and that the interior is like a prison. I’m guessing Izzy’s never watched 60 Days In. You’re getting scads of money to do what hotel workers get paid minimum wage to do daily. Have a little perspective.

Back on the boat, half of the guests look like French mimes minus the face paint. Berets are apparently required attire as well. At least they didn’t have their names sewn on them like in National Lampoon’s European Vacation. I am a little baffled why Chess had that mess of a wig on, but the table at least looked festive. It even had a mini Eiffel Tower as a centerpiece. Captain Lee has been in the kitchen more since Rachel quit than I’ve ever seen him in all 8 seasons combined. He points out that he doesn’t trust that she won’t get a wild hair up her rear and go nuts again, and I understand where he’s coming from. Eddie is still holding a grudge as well and is in no hurry to have his deck crew assist her when asked.

Rachel absolutely pulled the dinner off with aplomb, so the worry was unnecessary. Aside from giving Ashling the most nerve-wracking of food tasks (removing the shells from the delicate duck eggs) Rachel really showed rock star skills with this meal. The guests were wowed and even gave her a round of applause at the end. All’s well that ends well, in this instance anyway.

I wonder if it was originally called Foul Mouth Harbour because of all of the swearing while docking?

The next morning is the drop off and Captain Lee is bemoaning docking in Falmouth Harbour. After seeing the overhead view, I can completely understand why. Not only is it beyond crowded, but they have to do a Med-Tie mooring technique where only the stern is tied and the bow is kept in place by the port and starboard anchors. There is little room for error and a lot of opportunities for it. There was a bit of a close call when an alarm went off and Cap couldn’t hear Eddie’s instructions, but any crisis that might have happened was averted. That, my friends, is why Cap gets paid the big bucks.

The guests depart and Bryan absolutely lauded Rachel’s food. As annoying as she is, it was clear that it was her skills that earned them an amazing 25,000 dollar tip. That works out to $2250/person for 3 days. Were it not for my Titanic-phobia and propensity for seasickness, I’d almost wish I would’ve known about this career in my youth.

At the end of the tip meeting, Captain Lee lets the crew know that there is a day trip to a local donkey sanctuary that’s been arranged. It’s not mandatory, so Eddie, Francesca, and Rachel all choose to stay behind while the rest of the crew and Captain Lee opt to commune with the Equus asinus. Or as Captain Lee put it, he was taking his jackasses to meet their jackasses.

The sanctuary houses 150 donkeys and some goats as well. Every donkey has a name based on their story of how they came to be there. Izzy was in her element as she had a horse growing up and has some bizarre affection for the smell of dung. James and Elizabeth tightened their bond by cuddling a baby goat and Captain Lee looked as relaxed as I’ve seen him all season. Given the choice I’d opt to be around the animal form of asses over the human form all day, every day too.

So, can you cook or be a second stew? Because I’d much rather work with an a$$ like you.

The outing comes to an end and it’s back to work. While everyone was at the sanctuary, Francesca spent some time getting her zen on with some weird rapid breathing that looked like a combination of hyperventilating and a lamaze class rather than yoga. She’s been trying to come up with a way of lighting a fire under Elizabeth without firing her. After pacing and pumping herself up to come up with the right wording, she completely botched it when she took Elizabeth aside and let her know she was demoting her back to third stew. Chess showed far too much exasperation and far too few examples of why she was demoting Liz. I can understand why Elizabeth thought it was personal, even though it’s obviously based on her lack of performance. Just from this charter alone she could have pointed out the extra work she made for Ashling by changing all of the sheets, or the rose’ debacle. Clearly communicating would have left less room for assumption.

Elizabeth, true to form, takes her whining to her crew mates. Ashling is shocked by the demotion, but is in 100% agreement with Francesca for doing it. She doesn’t feel like Elizabeth is pulling her weight. Izzy, however, who hasn’t had to deal with the extra burden placed on the other stews by Elizabeth’s tortoise-with-ADD style, thinks Francesca is jealous because Liz is more likeable. Izzy also goes on to advise Liz to speak to Captain Lee because he knows how to manage people and Francesca doesn’t. For good measure, she also throws in that Chess is a twat. And you guessed it…Francesca is in earshot of it all. She offers for them to discuss it with her instead of behind her back, but none of them take her up on it.

As if that weren’t awkward enough, now they all have to go out for a night on the town together. Before they leave, Izzy shares with Eddie and Rob that she had a breakdown last year after being the victim of a sexual assault. She and I may not agree on Francesca, but that girl is a survivor and a warrior and will always have my respect. Between Guillian-Barre and now this, she’s faced more hardships than many and keeps fighting on. Beyond admirable.

Dumpster mouth gazing upward at what I can only assume is her home planet.

What isn’t admirable is Rachel getting trashfish drunk yet again. She was downing drinks like a camel preparing to cross the Sahara. It also doesn’t help that she’s not a fun drunk. She’s an obnoxious and embarrassing drunk. I could feel Eddie’s cringing through the screen as she rattled off profanities and wandered from table to table striking up drunken conversations with total strangers. I personally would have left her there, but the crew is classier than I am and they brought her along to the club to dance. Or in Rob’s case…to move your feet from side to side. He really is the most socially awkward crew member that I can remember, but it’s more entertaining than embarrassing at this point.

They head back to the ship and almost everyone chooses to call it a night. James and Elizabeth decide, however, that the chemistry is too magnetic and they can no longer resist the pull. So, it’s hot tub hook-up time. Mind you, this is the same hot tub that Bryan and his naked friend used the night before. Now James and Liz are adding their fluids and I’m gagging my face off. There’s not enough chlorine in the world, people. Just no. Thankfully that’s where we end the show and my dinner stayed down. The previews for the rest of the season look pretty good, so I hope you’ll join me in the New Year!

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