'Love at First Night' sets the stage for future drama but lacked a lot of new energy for the long-running show.
- ⚓️ Mzi's maturity in handling his kiss with Courtney offered a welcome, grown-up moment on a show without many of them.
- ⚓️ You really have to wonder if a guest like Roy Orbison Jr. would be embarrassed by his thoroughly documented misbehavior on the show — but he certainly should, for his father's namesake if nothing else.
This post contains spoilers for Below Deck Mediterranean.
Check out our last review here.
The first off-duty night out for the Below Deck Mediterranean crew (on any iteration of this long-running show) will always tell you what’s in store for the season — or at least, how much drama to expect when these professional seamen and women cut loose while still rubbing elbows in such tight quarters. After enduring some good-natured ribbing for his injury prior to the first charter, Mathew is ready to move forward with a fresh start; but after clashing with him during the charter, and quite frankly, intruding where it wasn’t her place, Lexi is quickly becoming an opponent who can easily push his buttons. Before their autopsy of an earlier fight escalates, however, the crew returns to the ship for a celebration of Mzi’s birthday in the Main Cabin, where the young man unexpectedly gets a special gift: a kiss (several, in fact) from Courtney, who he’d been eyeing from afar.
The next morning, however, Mzi plays it cool, while Courtney revisits her behavior with mild horror. This feels like an instance where Mzi’s inexperience, his reluctance to rock the boat and follow others’ lead, pays off for everyone. Subsequently, the crew readies the boat for its next charter guest: Roy Orbison Jr., his wife and their friends. While Lloyd and David gently tease Mzi about Courtney, David confesses to the producers that he’s got a crush on Malia — which, given her bad luck with chef Tom during the past season, it’s probably good that he keeps to himself. Still, he reflects on how best to show he’s interested without crossing any lines, or risking creating an unpleasant work environment if she fails to reciprocate his feelings, leading to a funny moment later in the episode when she walks in on the three deck hands discussing the finer points of "boatmances."
Orbison Jr., his wife and their kids are well-known by Captain Sandy, but Roy starts drinking as soon as he gets on board, and eventually embarrasses himself by quadruple-fisting cocktails while his wife and their friends uneasily watch him get extremely drunk. During the day, at least, Malia distracts them by putting out the slide and jet skis for watersports, while Mathew continues to feel his confidence grow with each successful meal — that is, until he accidentally starts a small fire in the galley. Malia, however, is less eager to be shouldered with watching Roy’s son while his wife zips off on a jet ski, but the team player knows the value of doing whatever to takes to ensure the guests have a great time — and leave an even better tip afterward.
It feels inevitable for Mathew and Lexi to argue while putting away the grocery order, but Malia later discovers the depths of Lexi’s vindictiveness: the second stew carries around a “burn list,” where she assembles names of all of the people who cross her. Malia doesn’t share this information with Mathew, or to the audience’s knowledge, anyone else, but admits it makes her want to sleep with one eye open. On the other hand, Lexi develops a keen and consistent interest in what her fellow stews are doing, and offers a number of opinions about what she believes they should be doing. She’s still obviously reeling from the loss of her father, who passed away three months before charter season, so you can’t help but give her a little extra room to grieve; but this running commentary seems destined to cause problems later.
After Sandy announces that the ship will dock at night because of some strong currents, Mzi psyches himself up for another experience with the hauling line — stressful in any circumstances, much less doing so in the dark. But when Roy Jr. starts threatening to jump overboard, forcing his friends to intervene and his wife demand he go to bed, it’s one distraction that the crew doesn’t need at a moment when they’re already on heightened alert.
It’s hard whether to be grateful or disappointed about the fact that Below Deck Med has thus far done such a skillful job of minimizing the impact of Covid on the season — also, hard to know if that’s for the benefit of the charter guests or the viewers at home. (The only real acknowledgement of it in “Love at First Night” is when a band shows gets hired to serenade the guests and must socially distance themselves on a separate boat.) But truthfully, it would add a welcome new element to the series that it hasn’t had before, and may not again; because as it stands, the challenging guests and crew drama is all starting to feel a little familiar. With the exception of Lexi, these sailors are all a little bit boring, or too mature — so either lean into the tough road these folks faced to get back to the profession they love, or find some folks who, for our sake, make it tougher than it needs to be.
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