Finally! An episode of Below Deck Mediterranean with a happy ending! No one calling themselves Satan. No one lashing out and attacking every single one of their crew members. And one throwing out uneducated, racist language before shoving someone else across the galley. Just an episode that felt so good, I may or may not have gotten a teensy bit emotional there at the end. I don’t know about you, but the closing moments of this week’s episode went right to the center of my ice-cold heart. And it’s all because of Lloyd Spencer. Sweet, sweet Lloyd.
But first, we must discuss the rest of charter number three. All of which boils down to a single issue: success coach Athena Lucene and her 10,000 disappointments. OK, so maybe that’s more like 10,000 issues, but if you watched the episode, you get what I’m saying. We trusty viewers of Below Deck Med are surely used to demanding charter guests. It’s half the fun of the show. But this primary was just a different breed. She was cool and calm, but had no problem letting the crew know she was displeased. With any little thing. And in a voice dripping with so much disdain it could melt ice. Block out the sun? Just make you feel like you’re absolutely terrible at your job? Maybe all of the above.
The first thing Athena’s upset about is dinner being served approximately three minutes after she demanded it. First it’s the timing — and before all the guests are even seated, let alone have been served water and wine. Then doesn’t like sitting at the end of the table and demands Katie Flood literally move her chair in the middle of serving the first course. And then she decides to request a salad that wasn’t on the menu…in the middle of dinner service. When everything has already been planned out and prepared. She’s already thrown Mathew Shea for a loop by requesting calamari “but only the circle parts,” and also not calamari, and surprise her but make sure everything is perfect. The audacity of this lady. For once, she actually has me sympathizing with the chef.
By the end of the meal, she calls Mathew up from the galley. Without betraying a single facial expression, she declares the meal was somehow up to her standards. I’m not sure how, considering she complained the entire time, but the chef is more than happy to take the win. Especially since it’s his last charter before being booted from the boat. The whole vibe of the evening is just…off, though. A storm rolls in and Lloyd gets reprimanded by Captain Sandy Yawn for abandoning anchor watch (even though he was explicitly told to do deck checks.) The usually sunny Courtney Veale is frustrated at having to switch cabins with Lexi Wilson on a pick-up day. Meanwhile, Lady Michelle’s resident she-devil is happy to be back on service — and the guests love her — but the atmosphere on the boat is still thick with tension.
The next morning, everyone wakes up in beautiful Zlarin ready to put the weirdness behind them and start fresh. Except oops, things are kind of awkward between Malia White and David Pascoe. As his boss, she needs to let him know she’s not interested, but wants to let him down gently. So she decides the best way to handle her subordinate’s crush is to just not acknowledge it at all. Because that way it will certainly never get brought up again…right? At least Malia gives David the chance to drive the yacht out of its anchorage when Captain Sandy decides to head back to the dock due to bad weather. I guess driving a 180-foot super yacht isn’t a bad consolation prize.
Athena’s big request for day two is a pair of cakes from Chef Mathew. They’re supposed to be in celebration of her clients’ success as…financial managers? Get-rich-quick capital investors? Members of some self-proclaimed “millionaire’s club”? Who really knows. She’s just very specific in her instructions about what the cakes need to say and how they should be decorated. Except there’s one slight problem. Like most yacht chefs in seasons past, Mathew is not a pastry chef. It’s a completely different skill set — just ask the pre-made wedding cake he ordered during the first charter. So Mathew’s ability to re-create a vaguely Wall Street-esque company logo from icing and fondant is probably not up to Athena’s sky-high expectations.
The chef recruits Courtney to help, but the third stew’s attempt at writing “Happy Birthday” just ends up looking sad and childish. So, they improvise, printing out the words and attaching them atop the cake using sparklers. Problem solved, right? Wrong. When Athena comes down later for a preview of the cakes, she’s far from impressed. Surprise, surprise. But honestly, Mathew‘s sort of past caring at this point. It’s the last meal of his final charter. So what if the primary doesn’t like his cake decorating skills? But wait, there’s a twist! The other guests love the cakes when they’re brought out. Even despite Athena’s loaded and condescending question of “Do you like it?” before it’s even served. So all’s well that ends well, right? Let her eat cake.
Day three is finally drop-off day, as well as Chef Mathew‘s much-deserved send-off into the sunset. After all, Captain Sandy has another handsome and scruffy chef named Luka waiting in the wings. But now she’s feeling conflicted. Because Mathew hasn’t had a single complaint about his food all season. His problem is just his erratic, unreliable personality and wildly concerning mood swings. After getting Athena and her entourage off the boat as politely as possible, she calls the chef to the bridge for a sit-down. She’s decided to give him another chance! Just like Lexi! Apparently this season, everyone gets a 10,000 chances and there are absolutely no consequences for terrible behavior. Cool. Obviously Mathew’s overjoyed; I’m still mad about Hannah Ferrier.
At the tip meeting, Sandy officially welcomes Mathew back into the crew’s good graces. Because she’s totally committed to
not looking as bad as she did last season after firing Hannah and Kiko Lorran finishing with the crew she started with. She also shares that the crew made a $15,000 tip. This totals out to $1,244 per person, which is a low tip, even for a shorter charter. But consider it just one last way Athena could express her dissatisfaction. (On that note, was I the only one who felt so terrible for sweet Courtney when the primary couldn’t even remember her name?)
An afternoon drop-off also means one other thing: a night out for the crew. Everyone gets dressed up and heads to Sibenik eatery Bronzin hoping that the night will go better than their last night off. Even Lexi is determined to rein it in by speaking as little as possible. Over dinner, the crew gets into an unexpectedly deep and vulnerable conversation about some of the discrimination they’ve faced in the traditionally white male-dominated yachting industry.
Malia‘s certainly had her share of obstacles as a female bosun. Mzi Dempers shares that he faces racial discrimination, competing with other totally green yachties for a foot in the door, all of whom happen to be white. And Lloyd hints that the last captain he worked with had a disgusting habit of calling him gay slurs and all kinds of degrading names on deck. As the latter explains via confessional, hiring comes down to the discretion of each yacht owner, so in this industry biases can fly ugly and free.
Returning to Lady Michelle, Lexi shockingly pulls Malia aside to (kind of) apologize for attacking her in their big blow-out. And the bosun claims it’s all water under the bridge and agrees to give Lexi the second chance she never gave Hannah last season. Cool. Instead of hot tubbing, the crew heads to the main salon for a dance party. As Courtney and Mzi continue to dance around their season-long flirtation by morphing into their alter egos, David decides to seize another moment with Malia. For some reason, he decides to broach the subject while shirtless and spinning around in circles, but hey, at least the guy is being up front about things. However, as a horrified Lloyd and Katie look on, Malia plays the “I just want to be single right now” card to reject her employee as gently as possible.
Then suddenly, the vulnerability from dinner comes crashing back as Lloyd starts opening up to Katie. Drunk and emotional, he explains that the reason his old captain’s derogatory words cut so deep was because he’s figuring out where he sits on the spectrum of sexuality. Lloyd may call himself “90 percent straight,” but it’s something he’s never opened up to anyone but his closest friend about, and certainly not on national TV. Before we know it, he’s in tears, surrounded by Katie, Malia and David, all of whom are nothing but completely loving, uplifting and supportive. (In solidarity, Malia even admits she “swings both ways,” and has since college.)
Eventually, Mzi and Courtney join in on the moment. Even Lexi is there — definitely not offering any hugs, but at least silently observing. And the episode ends feeling emotional, cathartic and most of all, real. Coming out in any way you need to and being your whole, authentic self is the most important thing one can do in life. So the crew is right — the world would be a better, kinder, braver place if everyone was just a little more like Lloyd.
TELL US – ARE YOU SURPRISED SANDY ASKED MATHEW TO STAY? WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THE CONVERSATION ABOUT DISCRIMINATION IN YACHTING? DID MALIA HANDLE DAVID CONFESSING HIS FEELINGS FOR HER CORRECTLY? HOW SWEET WAS LLOYD’S COMING OUT MOMENT?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]