Sound the foghorns, for Below Deck has officially been franchised!
With Below Deck: Mediterranean, we’re treated to the stuff we’ve grown to love (crew hookups, obnoxious guests) in a new corner of the world – the Greek Isles! Besides the scenery’s obvious eye candy, Bravo has assembled a hot new international crew, including Captain Mark Howard, to navigate these waters. Returning fan favorite (or maybe I just speak on behalf of my own shameless crush!) Chef Ben Robinson is back to see how far he can take in on-board shenanigans without breaking too many hearts along the way.
Joining Captain Mark and Ben are new cast and crew mates Hannah Ferrier (Chief Stew), Julia D’Albert-Pusey (2nd Stew), Tiffany Copeland (3rd Stew), Bryan Kattenburg (1st Mate), Bobby Giancola, Danny Zurelkat, and Jen Riservato (Deckhands).
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Our yacht this season is the beautiful, yet aging, Ionian Princess, which Ben boards first, and is greeted by Captain Mark. Since Eros, Ben has continued to cook, and feels that the older he gets, the more he has to give. I’ll bet he does. Hannah arrives next. With tons of experience in the Mediterranean, Hannah originally hails from Australia. She also meets Ben’s chief requirement in a Chief Stew: she’s pretty.
Ben and Hannah are told immediately that they’ll be turning the boat around in one day for the arrival of their first charter guests, which is not music to Hannah’s ears. As she checks out the ship, Bryan the Bosun arrives, and sets up bunks with Ben. An American, Bryan has worked his way up in the yachting world and feels he’s gained the respect of his superiors along the way. Along comes Julia – a Brit – next, who joins Hannah in her rounds. They are shocked at the gaudiness and run down state of the ship, which looks like “Liberace’s gone mad and vomited all over the boat,” according to Hannah. Get out the Swiffer Sweepers, ladies! Because the
Euro Trash guests are inevitably on their way this season!
Next we get to know Captain Mark, who’s been a captaining yachts for over 30 years, a bit better. While he’s no Stud of the Sea Captain Lee, Mark says he loves his job, and he seems no-nonsense. His first decision is to promote Bryan from Bosun to First Mate, which a shocked Bryan accepts immediately – on a probationary basis.
Meanwhile, Tiffany – an American – has climbed on board and is introduced to Hannah and Julia, who she’ll be working with closely. As we know from former seasons of Below Deck, the Chief Stew sets the tone for her stewards, and Hannah says she’s all about those good vibrations. Her specialty is relationships! According to her. But people have accused her of being patronizing in the past. If people aren’t idiots, she says, she won’t treat them like idiots. So, she’ll be channeling Kate Chastain, then? Good!
Danny and Bobby, both American deckhands, arrive next. Both are somewhat new to the yachting scene, and will be bunking together. Bobby was a firefighter and is a self-proclaimed nerd, though Hannah thinks he looks more like a Greek God. Danny is fresh-faced and trying to see the world while getting paid for it. These two give off the air of owner and pet (with Bobby as owner) right away, but it could play out differently. We’ll see!
After a quick crew briefing, Ben notes that Captain Mark is kind of an odd nut. But all captains are crazy in his estimation, so no worries! The crew start stocking, cleaning, and pitching in together to spiff up the Ionian Princess for the next day. Jen arrives during preparations, revealing to Bryan, Bobby, and Danny that she has seven years of deckhand experience – more than the other deckhands combined. Also an America, Jen wants it to be known that she’s no “token female” on this deck. She knows her sh*t. Bryan gives them a weird pep talk about doing their jobs so he doesn’t have to be a d*ck, while Jen smirks knowingly at her new First Mate.
Hannah gathers her crew to assess their experience. Julia has just finished three back-to-back charter seasons, while Tiffany has only been stewing for a little over a year. “I’m not that detail oriented,” confesses Tiffany, to the horror of both Julia and Hannah. Tiffany is a marine biologist who wanted a break from cold winters in dredge boats, so she was like, no thanks Deadliest Catch! I’ll be moving on over to Below Deck: Mediterranean, now. Mmmkay? Thanksabunch. She now aspires to be a captain of her own yacht one day.
Hannah is not happy about this Tiffany situation. If she’s not here to work hard, there will be problems. Detail oriented is a must for Hannah as well, who wants the towels washed at 90 degrees. Period! Meanwhile, Jen the deckhand will fill in as temporary stew because she’s got a crush on the Jennifer Lawrence (with “giant boobs and a bigger ass”) lookalike, Hannah, which she confesses to Julia while they’re turning a guest room over together.
Tiffany isn’t the only ones with dreams of outgrowing her role of stew. Julia has ulterior motives – or bigger dreams, to be fair – as well. She’s got a fashion label back in the UK that needs funding, so stewing brings in the cash to get her from here to there. She also has a boyfriend back home, so she’s not up for on board romances. Although my crystal ball tells me that the dudes will zone in on her, regardless of her wishes. Jen laughs that the guys on this ship basically have no chance with the crew, however, as half the women are gay or taken!
As Tiffany struggles to lamely arrange flowers, a frustrated Hannah wonders when Tiffany is going to scrub the floors, goddammit!? Because: priorities, people. A high school dropout, Hannah worked her tail off during her very first charter season to prove she wasn’t a failure. She made chief stew in only her second charter season as a result. Thus she takes her duties, and her career, seriously to this day.
It’s 15 hours before charter as Captain Mark briefs Ben, Bryan, and Hannah on the guests. The primary female guest, Christine, impresses Ben: “Is she real?” he muses, drooling over her photo. Captain Mark informs them that she is a a health conscious person who launched her own skincare line. She wants the food to “reflect her skincare line,” which is kind of hilarious, and a teensy bit obnoxious. But Ben will do whatever is necessary to please this crazy woman. He will melt face paste into the balsamic reduction with aplomb! For her part, Hannah needs to find cable access to a Pittsburgh Steelers game while the guests are on board. In the Greek Isles. So, face paste and schmear wins the #easytask award in the end!
It’s charter day one! The crew assembles on deck to greet their guests, with special props to Hannah from Captain Mark on miraculously turning this ship around in 24 hours. After guests are greeted, Hannah takes them on their requisite yacht tour, including a shout out to the hot tub
of shame. The guests seem pleased with their accommodations, but Bryan is a still a bit unnerved about having a woman on his deck crew. He can’t yell and punch her in the arm, so how’s he supposed to interact with her!? Since it’s 2016, Bryan valiantly figures his gender relations sh*t out in time for them to successfully undock.
As Jen and Tiffany cackle below deck about their non-interest in any of the guys on board, Bryan and Bobby slobber on deck over the unicorn/babe that is the dark haired, blue-eyed Julia. Bobby went through a bad breakup with his almost-finance, so he’s ready to find some lovin’ on the sea.
Also interested in a bit of a flirt is Christine, who coyly tells Ben, “you can feed me whatever you want.” She’ll gladly drink his bathwater, basically. Ben seems pleased with this arrangement, leaving Christine to perform some bizarre railing yoga that gets the deckhands into a tizz. Breaking this spell is a flabby, white-arsed man a few yachts over, who is getting his naked snorkeling on. As the crew stops the vomit from escaping their mouths, everyone redirects their gaze at Christine to refocus. #GreekIslesRealityJustGotReal
Hannah is scurrying around the ship hoping to find a way to stream a football game on board, which Captain Mark has never heard of being done before. She discusses it with charter guest Bob, who reiterates that the Steelers game is a non-negotiable! Hannah looks at the random, useless wires in Bob’s hand with the growing knowledge that their tip is in jeopardy, and all over a lousy Steelers game
which they’ll probably lose and I can say that because I’m from PA, dammit! 😉 Dang Steelers. They even ruin Greece!
Defeated for now, Hannah moves below deck to learn about Ben’s plans for dinner. On the menu: saganaki, a lightly battered and fried Greek cheese (which is soooooo good!!!) and moussaka, eggplant and ground lamb in a white sauce with tomatoes. Hannah seems impressed, if a bit clueless about these traditional Greek dishes.
Above deck, Captain Mark has now been tragically reduced to resident AV technician, as he tries in vain to stream an American football game to a TV on a yacht in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. No prob? Prob. Bryan joins forces with Captain Mark, asking Bobby for a computer to aid their crisis. They apparently abandon this work to do their actual jobs outside, though, as we see Bryan directing Bobby in docking and tethering a ferry boat (that is not the right word – what is that thing called!?) to the yacht. In any case, Jen isn’t taking this Bryan/Bobby bonding moment lightly, seeing Bryan’s attentions toward the less experienced Bobby – whether TV or ship related – as a personal slight to her, the more experienced deckhand. Or is it sexism? She thinks so.
The guests assemble for dinner and are told by Hannah that their first course will be a local cheese soaked in brandy. With a wink, she’s off to harass Ben about why this course isn’t ready yet! He’s been a bit distracted chatting up the female crew mates, apparently, but plays catch-up quickly and serves up the saganaki. Which the guests predictably lurrrrrv.
Tiffany, meanwhile, is not so in love with her fate: cleaning toilets and making beds. Didn’t you hear? She’s got a degree in marine biology! This work is below her! And just like that, the theme of Tiffany being “too good for the world of stewing” emerges. She will play last season’s petulant Rocky (albeit a more educated, less psychologically unhinged version?) to Hannah’s fed up, Type-A Kate. The stage is obviously being set for a stew showdown.
Next course up is the moussaka, which, okay, does look vaguely like shepherd’s pie. And which Hannah describes as something “with beef and vegetables…and I think it’s got a cheese on top!” The guests, uh, do not drool over the meal set before them. Instead, they pick at the beef-and-veggie-with-cheese casserole (as pitifully described) with all the interest of my kindergartner when I serve her brussel sprouts. Suffice to say: this dish is not a win. And most of the table sends their moussaka back either untouched or horribly mangled to the kitchen below.
While Hannah handles the dinner crisis, Tiffany maddeningly goes off to bed. Hannah has no time to deal with Tiffany though, as she informs Ben that the guests were not thrilled with their meal. She then admits her description may have been…a little off. Ben advises her to learn the menu better next time and maybe do a little more PR work in selling the food to the guests.
They agree to communicate better in the future, but Hannah takes note: Ben is taking NO responsibility for his failure here, while she’s taking 100% of the blame. Even though she doesn’t think she was necessarily in the wrong, she keeps it moving rather than getting into a throwdown with Ben on their first charter. Wise move, I’d say. But will it pay off in the future?
Tasked with “incorporating the skincare line into their desserts,” which, eww!, Ben serves up a green tea panna cotta with coffee ice cream
and a Botox chaser. The guests are all, Yay! The shepherd’s pie incident behind them, they forgive Ben easily, which will hopefully result in a good tip for all.
It’s day two, and the crew awaken for another schlep through customer service on the high seas. Danny and Jen were chosen to wake up at 6am for the early deck shift, which Jen thinks is ungodly. Danny describes himself as the father figure of his family back home and is ready to do whatever is asked of him on board. Well, maybe not everything! Because when Jen asks Danny to lie for her about not being late to join him this morning. He agrees not to bring it up to Bryan, but he’s not here to be lying on Jen’s behalf, yo!
Still fretting about the Steelers game, Hannah vows to go into town and pay off the Greek mafia to get this game aired if she had to. Julia is stressed too, but says she’s more adept at hiding it, having grown up on the stage. She watches stoically as Hannah boards the ferry with their guests to town. She’s on a fool’s errand, perhaps. But she’s not giving up without a fight! And I kind of love her for that.
Like a turd always floats to the water’s surface, so does the truth about Jen’s late arrival on deck this morning. When Bryan straight up asks Danny about he and Jen both arriving on time, Danny decides that snitches get stitches, and he’s no snitch. So Bryan addresses Jen directly, who blows off his concern. She was there “just a few minutes” late, after all. Bryan barks that 6am means 6am! Jen just smirks, which will not win her employee of the year. She also doesn’t understand Danny’s moral code, which doesn’t involve snitching or lying. She’s not sure how he gets through life – as this is her primary M.O.?
As the guests and Hannah de-board on the beautiful island of Santorini, Hannah hoofs it from bar to bar, hoping to find an American pub willing and able to broadcast the Steelers game. She’s turning up empty at every stop, though, beginning to fear that American football is not, er, on the agenda of any of these fine Mediterranean establishments.
We’ll have to wait until next week to see how this pans out, however, as we’re left hanging for now. This season’s previews reveal a lot more drama – and a little on board romance – in our viewing futures too, so cheers to the trip ahead!
TELL US: WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE PREMIERE? WHO ARE YOUR CAST FAVES SO FAR? AND WHO’S BOUND TO BUTT HEADS?
Photo Credit: Bravo