Captain Lee said it best when he was describing being back in the Caribbean. Watching the premiere was like putting on your favorite pair of blue jeans, or like going home again. Home is where the heart is, and mine will always be sewn tightly to the original Below Deck.
Seeing the beautiful waters around Antigua was a sight for sore eyes, and my eyes were definitely sore after the salt water spray from the Med. The pristine beauty quickly devolved though into what seemed like the opening to a post-apocalyptic saga. As Eddie wandered around an empty boat, I couldn’t help but hark back to the opening scenes of The Walking Dead with Rick Grimes wandering around an empty hospital after waking from a coma. Eddie seemed just as baffled and knew instinctively that something was wrong. Boy, was it ever. He phoned Captain Lee only to discover he was in the hospital after a nasty fall in the shower. It hurt my heart to see our stalwart Captain in pain. What a way to start a season. A script writer couldn’t have summed up 2020 and what was to come any better than reality did.
Eddie did a great job organizing the exterior in the Captain’s absence. And Francesca hit the ground running with the interior as well. Department heads can make or break a team and it looks like this season that we’re in for a treat with both of them appearing to not only have a firm grasp of their roles, but the initiative to carry them out without any helicopter blades whirring over their heads.
My first impressions of the rest of the crew are obviously subject to change. It was hard to get a good bead on so many new faces and personalities in one episode. So, if you promise not to beat me up too badly if I wind up being wrong, I’ll take you on a tour of my mind as I “met” each of them.
James, in my opinion, is Ashton-light. Having just re-watched last season the posing and flexing in front of the cabin mirror told me we’ve got a guy who loves himself quite a bit. Hopeful the light part will be that he isn’t a raging drunk.
Elizabeth reminded me of Kristen from Vanderpump Rules with a little Shannon Beador from RHOC thrown in. Mystical and a little wacky, but so far the vibes are good.
Avery doesn’t have a direct comparison in my head. Maybe an Eddie Jr. feel. He seems to know what he’s doing and I like his positive attitude. I always enjoy someone who knows their job and has no problem doing it without whining.
Izzy is a world of too much information. Definitely a mini-Aesha. At least she seems like the fun kind of crazy and not the kind you want to fast-forward through. I have a feeling she’s in the running to give us some of the best quotes this season.
And then there’s Shane. With zero intention of offending anyone who attended Berkeley, he’s exactly what I picture when I hear that college mentioned. Hacky sack on the green and a surfboard rack on top of his eco-friendly automobile. Definitely a free spirit, which can be admirable, but only if it’s balanced with a good work ethic.
Last but not least, we have Rachel. A female chef who doesn’t appear to make pancakes from a box. I saw a lot of praise for her last night on Twitter. She is funny, but I kept seeing a flicker of something behind her eyes. I think she might be a roller coaster waiting to happen, but we shall see.
While waiting for Captain Lee to return the crew got down to the business of readying for a charter the next day. It seemed to be going well aside from Shane wandering around the boat and not looking for his bosun. And then there was the bidet shot to the face that Izzy took. That elicited a bigger chuckle from me than in it should have, but she took it like a champ. I have to think while she was on her knees wiping her face that she was also praying that it’s not what she’ll forever be known for.
A moment of pure relief arrived when the van carrying Captain Lee pulled up to the dock. While it was hard to see him in pain, we all know the tough stuff he’s made of, and I have no doubt that he will successfully navigate us through the rest of the season. You’ve got to love the fact that he holds himself to the same standards that he holds his crew to and told himself to, “Suck it up, cream puff!”
At the crew meeting we quickly found out that Cap is not about to endure anymore nonsense akin to last season’s. He made it crystal clear that respect is key and he will fire someone mid-charter if the situation calls for it. He kept that same momentum with his private discussion with Francesca and told her that if she had a problem with someone, that she needed to take it to them first. Could you imagine how different the Med season would have been if Sandy had required that of Malia instead of jumping in and backing her play in any and every situation?
Francesca took it in stride and I really think she’s going to be a good fit. She’s got Kate’s dedication to the guest experience, Bugsy’s attention to detail, and Hannah’s sass and accent. I have to say, I’m really digging her so far. Even if she isn’t quite sure if snails have hands or not. For the record, they don’t, but they do have a foot!
The morning of the charter dawns and weird doesn’t begin to cover it. Shane is doing yoga out in front of the bridge and I can almost guarantee that the last thing Captain Lee wants to see first thing in the morning is the backside of Shane’s downward facing dog. And speaking of backsides, what in the my-eyes-can’t-unsee-this heck is the deal with James and the booty shorts? This ain’t Chippendale’s, buttercup. And as for cups, how the hay long does it take to make one filled with coffee and a bowl of multi-grain Cheerios? Apparently in Izzy’s world it’s a whopping 32 minutes. Somebody call Susan Powter and Stop the Insanity!
We find out that the first primary is going to be Charley, of the no demand can be met too quickly clan. I had a vague recollection of him, but it took nary a few moments of him oddly talking about each crew member’s eyes for it to all flood back in like a sewer pipe had broken. The 2020 hits just keep on coming. I’m guessing he’s got espresso martinis on tap at home, because his patience level was nil. I also have a feeling that Izzy’s going to wind up calling the laundry room home if this is the pace she intends to coast at. Even though she was all but sloth-like, I found it rude of him to go behind the bar to do it himself. I’d like to see him try and do that with Rachel in the galley. Her wallet may have been stolen, but she’s still got her knives.
After what looked like a delicious lunch, the guests enjoy time on the jet skis and treat us to more jerkwadery as they ride them way too close to their friends in the water. Eddie looks like he’s about to go apoplectic and falling into the drink while bringing them in only added to his anger.
While all of this is going on, we found out that Avery’s grandma who is 86 has taken a turn for the worse. What they had assumed was pneumonia is much more serious and I couldn’t help but wonder if it wound up being corona-related. He makes the sad, but proper decision to head home immediately. As he filled Captain Lee in, we saw grace in adversity from the Captain when he encouraged Avery to put family first. With bruised ribs and all he gave the disheartened Avery a long hug goodbye and wished him well. That is the captaining I love and why he’ll always be number one in my book no matter how many franchises they produce. Take a lesson, Sandy. This is how it’s done.
From the previews it looks like we’re in for a wild season. I’m grateful to all of you who take the time to join me by reading and tweeting. Looking forward to breaking it all down with you here and on the podcast. Cheers!