What to Watch Verdict
A particularly underwhelming episode explores with demoralizing vividness what ti must be like to work on a boat, even a superyacht.
⛴️ David's disclosure about his survivor's guilt offers a sympathetic explanation for his efforts to connect with Lexi.
⛴️ Sandy's offer to bring in another stew is an overdue solution and a sidesteps of the problem of Lexi's performance.
⛴️ Lexi stinks as a stew, but this episode was really straining to have anything happen in it.
This post contains spoilers for Below Deck Mediterranean.
Check out our last review here.
If Below Deck Mediterranean qualifies as a reality workplace drama, “Brews, Stews & Management Blues” absolutely captures the tedium of the work involved aboard the Lady Michelle for the interior and deck crews. Halfway through their latest charter, everyone must band together to stage an Oktoberfest celebration for the charter guests, while chief stew Katie watches Lexi continue to perform her job with an absolute minimum enthusiasm, much less attention to detail. In this regard, the show closely mirrors actually being in one’s own workplace, and watching your coworker skate by while everyone else either picks up the slack or suffers. But because this show is supposed to at least sort of be about the exoticism of the crew’s job and the amazing setting in which they perform that job, this episode leaves much, much, much to be desired for viewers watching it from home.
So let’s catalogue the ways that Lexi sucks at her job, on the first day of the charter: she starts morning service by forgetting to put out plates for the guests because she’s photographing the sunrise; she does not finish turning over the guest cabins, leaves cleaning supplies in one of them, and forgets to restock towels; she takes way more time than is necessary laundering linens and crew uniforms; and when she finally gets around to replenishing those towels (after being scolded by Katie), she walks in on an undressed guest. Somehow, Katie feels compelled to invite her to join the rest of the crew while they are throwing their Oktoberfest celebration, but she declines, rightfully or not worrying that she’ll be asked to clean up after everyone.
Katie, meanwhile has reached her breaking point, and approaches Captain Sandy to discuss how badly Lexi’s performance has declined. Sandy’s baffling decision to “not give up” on Lexi is now actively causing Katie stress, but she offers her an unexpected solution: they have a standby crew member who just emerged from quarantine, and Sandy is prepared to add her to the team. This of course stresses Katie out even more, because she’s worried that Lexi will spiral out at the news that there’s someone rising above her in the pecking order; meanwhile, Courtney is off stewing at the fact that Lexi seems to be doing a worse job than ever, and Katie is giving her more attention and latitude as a result.
Still, Chef Mathew is in incredibly good spirits, and his cooking almost single-handedly saves the charter after pivoting away from Oktoberfest cuisine to something more sophisticated on the guests’ final night. As bosun, Malia quite likes watching her deck crew carousing with the guests and shamelessly goofing off to keep them entertained; she likes it even better when their careful pre-emptive works makes a hasty return to dock successful the next morning. On the other hand, Lexi screws up again and disappears to the laundry, leaving the character guest to mix his own drink — and complain about it while disembarking. That said, he ends up giving them the biggest trip of the season thus far: $23,585, which divides up to $1,965 per crew member.
After a preference sheet meeting, the crew polishes up the Lady Michelle and prepares to greet a new addition to their team. Everyone has uncertain but optimistic feelings, while Katie sits Lexi down to reiterate what she did wrong, and announce that she has eliminated stew rankings — the best decision she’s made so far, especially since Lexi has such strong feelings about the chain of command. It’s difficult to be optimistic given Lexi’s track record, but the male crew members gather in the jacuzzi for a low-key “lad’s night,” when she appears on deck and decides to join them for their quiet celebration. All three of them are apprehensive, but she proves to be “chill Lexi” instead of the volatile drunk who screamed at everyone just a few days before. And then, at the same moment that viewers are wondering exactly why they would be so nice to her, David reveals a tragic back story that left him with survivor’s guilt, and as a result prompts him to reach out to her when he sees her reaching out. It’s a nice moment.
The next day, Mzi decides to face his fears and volunteer to clean the hull, which means strapping into a harness and swinging on the outside of the boat; but before he completes his task, that new crew member arrives, setting in motion the next chapter in this unpredictable season. Let’s hope it’s more exciting than this one…
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.