So we open on the toilet, where apparently chef Kevin Dobson dreams up all his best dishes. To contrast with footage of Kevin counseling himself through explosive diarrhea, chocolate pudding, and the selection of “very slower” progress anti-poop medication, we also see proof that Kevin is a very thorough hand washer. So diphtheria be damned! Good thing too, because some ‘I Do’ popping is the plan for the evening, and if there’s one dinner you can’t fuck up, it’s the one which will set the tone for the primary charter guest’s marriage.
While Kevin and Kate Chastain are locking forks over perfect service, Tanner Sterbeck is beachside, babysitting Courtney Skippon and the guests. Oh Courtney — she is Hannah Jr, searching for her 65 year old millionaire and guess what guys: Courtney is the only person in the world who doesn’t like to work! An anomaly! This future wannabe Real Housewife hates the beach and the heat, which is why she decided to work on a yacht as opposed to, say, the ski chalets in Whistler?
Courtney’s crotchety outlook on life has all the boys wanting to woo her. It’s not unlike being attracted to Maxine, the grumpy old lady from the Hallmark greeting cards, but I mean, even the miserable among us deserve love (and the penance of a thousand epaulets to iron).
As soon as the guests return to the boat Kate pulls Michael, the primary, aside to coach him through how to propose. Kate really needs to become a wedding planner. It’s hilarious to see Kate in softie mode, since she’s so disenfranchised about love. Kate is MTV’s Daria with a bouffant and lipliner. And also wine, because you know Daria would drink bourbon neat.
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Kate also prepares the stews for the double-dinner situation. Kate will take the proposal table, while the other girls can work their magic around the main table. And by “work their magic,” I mean don’t fuck it up. This all turned out surprisingly well despite Kevin’s [baseless] complaints.
Meanwhile, Ashton can’t believe his luck. Not only are the deckhandshardworking, fun, and capable, one of them (Abbi) is also incredibly hot.
Abbi is shaping up to be something of an idiot savant. Like she’s incredibly smart, but also disorganized and struggles with the rudimentary basics of dressing oneself. Seriously – Abbi thinks we should have one outfit to wear basically forever. Like a cartoonish character. But the serious actress in a Broadway play Abbi reveals that in college she was homeless and slept on a bench, changing on the train for work (so at one point she managed more than one outfit!). Yet despite all this, still, became college valedictorian, earning herself a full scholarship to law school. But, then, Abbi felt the wind in her hair and headed off to a life in the high seas. Like Pippi Longstocking! Basically, Abbi is a contradiction who knows what she wants until she doesn’t.
Also complicated is Abbi’s relationship status. She’s currently in an open relationship with her former Greek boat captain. “I think I am in love with him, but I just wanna have some fun,” she explains, which is code words for I just wanna be on TV. Where I will hook up with someone to get more on TV. What all this means is that Abbi has no qualms about sleeping with her boss.
Similarly, Ashton is focused on the job until 5 tequilas in. Then, he is focused on whatever ass is in front of him.
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But let’s not talk tales of tawdry love right now. Let’s talk diamond rings and pleasant things and love in the air. The theme of this dinner is “expensive” so Kevin is souveeing lobster tail (purely to annoy Kate with the beeping of the souvee machine).
Kevin is whisking himself into a frenzy about dinner service scheduling. And the more Kevin froths into an overly-beat meringue the more blasé and unaffected Kate appears as she leisurely mentions how the guests are on vacation time. Since it’s their vacation, Kevin’s plating will have to wait. Oh, technicalities! Technicalities like stews who don’t know how to assist with plating, or actually serve the food. Although Simone Mashile seems to handle service rather well. Even if she would rather be doing laundry. Constantly.
Kate also makes Tanner be her stand-in Michael so she can practice the proposal layout. Kate’s advice for any girl with manners who gets proposed to, “You say yes in the moment and break it off later.” That way you also get to keep custody of the ring which you can pawn to fund your Return To Freedom solo tour.
Sadly, the proposal table is tacky. All the more sad and inglorious next to the sparkling diamond ring Michael attempts to place on Samantha’s finger as Kate interrupts to clear. Nothing says tack-ier than accidentally dropping the ring in the smelly remains of supper!
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Proposals make Captain Lee weepy. They soften him right up like a smashed cupcake in a toddler’s grubby hands. After saying yes, Samantha immediately calls her dog to tell him the good news. He sniffs his butt on Skype, which I think is Goldendoodle for congratulations, but might have also been Goldendoodle for “You’re an ass if you think I understand human’s contextual nuances of lifetime commitment. I am only committed to things that smell of bacon.”
Then it’s the final breakfast and these guests are off. All in all a great group for the first charter: polite, unfussy, and completely easy.
Really wanting to give Abbi a chance to prove herself, Ashton trusts her with complicated docking role considering the wind position. Basically Abby has to throw the bow line onto the dock, but instead of really wailing it, she limply tosses it as if a $20 million dollar boat’s fate isn’t attached to this flimsy piece of braided polyester.
Then, of course, Abbi is not in radio communication with Lee or Ashton. So Ashton has to come running down with words of encouragement. Moments before I was about to witness Valor meeting an untimely death at the hands of Abbi’s hair being in her eyes so she can’t see the dock, contact was made.
Captain Lee is pleased with the way the first charter went. Then, Kevin pipes up that everything was great except service. Kate’s face turns to immovable stone. Her eyes the kind of faraway rage that simmers below the surface for a long, long time before congealing into a gelatinous ooze capable of mass destruction. And Kevin thought diarrhea was bad!
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Kevin is barking up the wrong tree if he thinks Lee will turn on Kate. Also, Kate is saddled with two girls who don’t know how to do anything. Well, Simone can do laundry and Courtney can do drinks, so… After the meeting Kate attempts to be professional by approaching Kevin about how they can work together better. He wants to sit down with girls to explain the particular ways he wants things done. He’s exhausting!
Before the crew night out all the deckhand boys obsess about how to impress Courtney. She’d be so pretty if only she could crack a smile! While I don’t think Courtney, or any woman, should force happiness to appease a man. I applaud Courtney’s refusal to cave to social pressures in a patriarchal society. She goes beyond resting bitch face to resting bitch demeanor.
While everyone is having fun in the club, partaking in far too much Thai vodka, Courtney doesn’t even bother trying. Stonefaced and stoic, sipping shaaaaaampain. Courtney’s soulmate is her phone. She doesn’t dance. She doesn’t happy. Courtney doesn’t socialize. She doesn’t Brian de Saint Pern. Definitely not that. No matter how much he wheedles. “I’m like an old woman,” Courts explains, “I like silence and a bottle of wine.” What is this unapproachable blonde Betty Draper of the high seas doing here?! And by “here,” I mean Below Deck.
Meanwhile, Simone’s happy place, other than the laundry, is the dance floor. She and Courtney are polar opposites. Brian cannot take a hint. He shamelessly propositions Courtney, begging her to be, well, Simone. Courtney would rather not.
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After observing Ashton make out with another girl on the dance floor, Abbi suddenly decides Ashton’s hot. She is outside on the beach with Tanner when she has this startling realization. Abbi storms back into the club, grabs Ashton on the dance floor, and basically propositions him. He obliges and then keeps drunkenly telling Abbi she’s his favorite, but that’s their secret. I think the vagina favoritism is obvious though.
When they finally all stumble back on board, Ashton decides what will unify the deck crew is a bunny pad sleepover. Brian and Tanner go up for a snuggle then trickle back to their bunk, meaning that Abbi and Ashton wake up in each other’s arms. Fully clothed, but Ashton knows this has crossed the line into unprofessional conduct for a boss.
Tanner has a preference for Kate, because cougars never cause drama. This preference for older women is explained in his very close relationship with his mother. As the youngest of 4, Tanner is babied beyond belief. And we’ve got another Colly on our hands with this one! When he calls his mom she lectures him to avoid Thai hookers and not get anyone pregnant. I actually thought Tanner was hilarious on the phone with his parents. I love them already, but Kate will not be his floating replacement mommy tender.
Everyone except Courtney is so hungover they can barely breathe. Kate literally conducts the stew meeting lying down with her head in her hands, practically speaking in tongues with her eyes closed. Courtney is not impressed and makes a mental note to issue Kate a demerit. Honestly, she and Kevin are probably soulmates. If only she can carry out his vision of service appropriately. And oh boy does he have a vision. A vision that he is God, Aka Kanye of the Kitchen.
Kevye calls a meeting with Kate and the stews to go over how they are to perform their duty in conveying his culinary vision to the guests. The guests who also must conform to Kevye’s platism. Kevins’s vision is “one team, one dream.” His dream, that is. Kevye needs to get off his palate of power. Kate dutifully sits through Kevin’s lecture about how the lunch menu will be posted, and how the breakfast service is to be orchestrated – like a finely tuned ballet – and the correct formation they are all to stand in, to await his plating instructions. Then Kate smirks that she is actually the chief stew. And she will fuck up Kevin’s food if she pleases.
After all his inappropriate attempts to thaw Courtney failed (he got dry iced!), Brian realized he was out of line and apologizes to Courtney. Which was nice, professional, and appropriate. Courtney accepts, but she will not forgive.
We also learn that Simone is 39, speaks 3 languages, and despite being from a very academic family wanted an unconventional job where she didn’t have to do the same thing over and over again. So, she settled on ironing at 30,000 leagues under the sea.
The second charter guests of the season are my favorite repeat offenders ever: Helen Hoey and Richard Fiore. You’ll remember them from last season as the woman who sexually harassed Chef Adrian and literally tried to kidnap him, a threat made scarier by the fact that her husband is likely a member of the mob. Yes, Theyyyyyyre back! She still fancies herself Morticia Adaams with a vibrator. And he still looks like the long-suffering undead husband.
This time Richard is chaperoning Helen’s girls trip. (Aka funding it). And the planned activities are fishing where they will catch what they eat, followed by a seafood extravaganza supper, and a beach picnic the following day. Kevin sniffs that he hopes service is up to snuff!
The next morning there is a crisis: Abbi cannot find her radio. But someone found it. That someone is Captain Lee. He calls Ashton for an answer on whose radio is lost. Then, he immediately demands a meeting with the deck crew. Lee hands Abbi the radio back with a stern lecture and an umbilical cord – literally a piece of bungee – and instructs her to attach it to her body.
As everyone scrambles into their whites, Helen & Crew come strutting up the walk. Well, Helen does, but her friend Brandy is stumbling and can barely see straight. No one seems to notice until she starts hyperventilating during the yacht tour and starts making lamaze sounds. Is Brandy birthing a hangover?
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Brandy is so whacked out that she can’t even stand up and is grunting into the sink before Kate gets her to lie down and offers her water. I think this is what Tanner’s mom warned him about…
TELL US – WAS ASHTON INAPPROPRIATE WITH ABBI? IS KEVIN BEING TOO HARD ON THE STEWS?
[Photo Credits: Bravo]