Whether just mining drama or dealing with pandemic limitations, the show's extension of these crew battles makes for a hypnoting but unwieldy season.
- ⛴️ The deck crew is admirably full of resilient, mature individuals.
- ⛴️ Katie tackles the challenge of corralling Lexi with a degree of grace that her subordinate does not deserve.
- ⛴️ Sandy's leadership throughout this episode does not support her crew — especially its leaders — in the way they deserve.
- ⛴️ No matter how many details we learn about Lexi's pre-charter life, the containment of a boat is the worst place for her to work out her many issues.
This post contains spoilers for Below Deck Mediterranean.
Check out our last review here.
Season 6 of Below Deck Mediterranean is an unwieldy beast, and it’s hard to know if the protracted structure (both of the charters and crew downtime) is a result of pandemic production or simply in response to the drama that has unfolded. But at the beginning of “The Morning After,” it isn’t even the morning after all of the confrontations that occurred after the second charter; even after Mathew leaves the ship and pretty much everyone gets into a fight with Lexi, she continues to antagonize David while Malia retreats to a safe space to cry in front of Katie and Lloyd. Eventually, Malia beds down in a guest cabin while Lexi, still calling herself “Satan,” goes to bed alone in their room. But it’s not until things start to finally calm down that the rest of the crew even realizes that Mathew is gone, a problem that will need to be solved expeditiously the next day.
As the crew groggily recovers the actual morning after, Lexi encounters Captain Sandy before anyone else does, and to say that she offers a skewed portrait of the evening’s events would be a massive understatement, although she does at least acknowledge that she participated in the arguments that ensued. “Just apologize,” Sandy suggests. “I want to be authentic and I don’t know what I’m apologizing for,” Lexi admits. Sandy is right to encourage her to try to resolve the fights — whose motivation she does not know — but even in what must be a constant “make the best of it” type situation, she addresses this, and just about everything else that occurs, with a really lackluster display of leadership. And she hasn’t even learned yet of Mathew’s absence, which she learns from Marten, a member of the engineering crew.
Unfortunately, Katie seems to have some real anxiety about confrontation; she has talked about being easygoing in earlier episodes but that feels like only half of the story, especially when we see her slightly elide her responsibilities as chief stew to adequately discipline Lexi and further tackle the erupting conflict head on. When she does finally broach Lexi’s behavior to Captain Sandy, Lexi interrupts, and Sandy inexplicably invites her into join them for the discussion. Lexi continues to be unable to remember what she said — to anyone, including her attacks on Lloyd, David, Malia, Mzi, or Katie. Sandy’s solution is to hold a crew meeting to get everything out in the open, and when Lexi isn’t offering insincere, unspecific apologies, she’s being defensive. Worse, Sandy more or less leaves the meeting early, leaving the crew to work out the conflict for themselves. But that’s also when Sandy learns that the replacement chef she hired the first time that Mathew left the boat (for his “injury”) won’t finish quarantining for two days — and their next charter begins tomorrow.
Hilariously, Mathew returns with his tail between his legs and apologizes, again, to the entire crew, for his drunken behavior, much less for leaving them stranded. Sandy tells him she that she’s found a replacement but “lets” him stay for one more charter; the better play would be to make him grovel through the charter and then announce he’s being fired afterward. But the drama with Lexi still isn’t finished: after Lexi makes a halfhearted apology to Malia in their cabin, Malia speaks to Katie about the confrontation — and Lexi walks in on them. Malia ultimately wants to just move on, so Katie tries to make peace with Lexi in the galley while also telling her that her behavior is unacceptable. Lexi’s response is to quit, and to call her mother, who encourages her to stick it out.
After a devastated Katie cries herself to sleep, she sits down with Sandy the next day and tells her that Lexi has poisoned herself against the rest of the crew. Aside from not just listening to Katie and the elevating circumstances of Lexi’s incompatibility with the team, Sandy pivots by turning it into a learning experience for her chief stew, suggesting that Lexi deserves another chance — and even argues that she apologized convincingly — and Katie should showcase her leadership by wrangling Lexi into shape. The issue that Katie unfortunately fails to communicate and a problem-solving Sandy essentially completely ignores is that Lexi is insensitive, defensive, self-righteous, entitled, and quite frankly just an unpleasant person, and those are not qualities that can be managed, especially after she’s unleashed multiple mean tirades on her coworkers.
Still, Katie swaps bunks so she is sleeping with Lexi, and the rest of the crew prepares for their third charter, led by a woman named Athena. They quickly determine that Athena is “demanding,” but honestly, in comparison to some of the guests they’ve already had this season, her requests for her champagne glass to be constantly full are hardly transgressive on a superyacht. Regardless, the crew bands together to give her a great experience, while Mathew struggles to work out the first night’s meal from Athena’s contradictory instructions. But when Athena demands to eat while some guests aren’t yet ready for dinner, Katie seems poised to get into another confrontation, this time with their charter guest who’s growing unhappier by the moment waiting to be served.
An episode like this really showcases the way that good managers handle workplace conflicts, and especially how bad ones do. It also gives an indication of the unique kinds of circumstances in which boat crews find themselves, requiring a greater degree of flexibility — and a lot of forgiveness — to get through a charter, or a whole season. And honestly, this is almost too much drama for audiences; thus far Below Deck Mediterranean Season 6 has been a real roller coaster, and maybe it’s time for an episode or two where people just kind of get along in a beautiful setting.
Todd Gilchrist is a Los Angeles-based film critic and entertainment journalist with more than 20 years’ experience for dozens of print and online outlets, including Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly and Fangoria. An obsessive soundtrack collector, sneaker aficionado and member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Todd currently lives in Silverlake, California with his amazing wife Julie, two cats Beatrix and Biscuit, and several thousand books, vinyl records and Blu-rays.
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