After a few episodes without a lot of excitement, this episode hints at the slight breakdown of the crew as the season winds on, exacerbated by the arrival of Delaney.
- ⛴️ Mzi and David are endlessly good sports about entertaining the guests — although the guests seem only too happy to flirt with them.
- ⛴️ Lloyd's inventive solution with the slide highlights just one of the skills that these crew members don't get to use often enough.
- ⛴️ Captain Sandy's tough-love approach to Katie and Malia belies a growing indication that she keeps herself at arm's length, doing an ultimate disservice to crew harmony.
This post contains spoilers for Below Deck Mediterranean
Check out our last review here.
The unwieldy shape of this season of Below Deck Mediterranean continues to wreak minor havoc with the momentum of the show as “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” opens in the middle of the tropical storm Malia was caught in, with lightning crashing over her head. Via talking head interviews or their actions, the crew doesn’t make a great effort of clarifying the inconvenience that a storm causes while they’re on a charter, other than to their plans to get out watersports or allowing guests to otherwise play outside. The moment feels like a missed opportunity for the show to maximize some (literal) naturally-occurring drama — which would be a welcome alternative to the ginned-up question of whether new trial stew Delaney will stay or go.
Katie meets with Captain Sandy to explain how she chickened out on firing her, and Sandy rightfully puts the decision back on her chief stew. Katie fears she’ll be considered a “total bitch” if she fires the young woman, but she never seems to ask the right question in the decision-making process: is she doing a good job? What’s clear is that Delaney is at the very least making up half of the effort that Lexi isn’t putting into the job, something Lexi appreciates seemingly more than anything because she can give Delaney orders, and also habitually mispronounce Delaney’s name without it bothering her. But Katie quickly becomes so consumed with anxiety over the prospect of firing the young woman (which is honestly an overstatement — she’s just not retaining her after trying her out) that she starts doing her job poorly, which makes for a perfect storm of disharmony, albeit one not as seemingly violent as the actual weather hammering the Lady Michelle.
Malia and Katie enlist Malia’s male crew members to entertain the guests, so Mzi and David don fireman’s outfits for some lighthearted stripteases before challenging them to a game or two of beer pong. The subterfuge distracts the guests from having to spend a day cooped up inside the boat, but after one of the guests asks Katie for an individual entrée for dinner instead of the family style options that Mathew has been providing in an effort to accommodate all of the guests’ various, very particular dietary requests, she apparently fails to relay the request to Mathew. Although Courtney has been doing a bang-up job on guest service during the charter, neither she nor Katie seems to hear the guest’s subsequent complaints, leaving the woman unsatisfied while they wrap up a long and semi-challenging day feeling as if everything is going perfectly.
Well, with the guests at least: Mathew is deeply unhappy that Delaney is aboard, and not only will he have to move rooms in between charters if she stays, he’ll have to share tip money with another person for the rest of the season. He somewhat rightfully blames Lexi, who repeatedly demonstrates that Delaney’s presence allows her to space out, goof off or literally nap on the job. But Katie is so wracked with guilt already about the decision that she doesn’t want to hear his protests, which grow tiresome and relentless while she’s just trying to get through the rest of the charter.
The weather the next morning is thankfully glorious, so Malia and the deck crew gets out all of the water toys for a fun day in the sun, to culminate with a luncheon provided by the stew crew on a nearby beach. After some problems earlier in the season with the slide, Lloyd uses a pair of bumpers to elevate it on the side of the boat, providing a better angle for the guests to slide down into the water; but his ingenuity gets undercut but David’s gaffe with the jet skis after he fails to properly apply a plug that ordinarily keeps them from sinking. Malia attempts to deflect criticism from Captain Sandy on David’s behalf (though it’s not clear if she is certain that David was the perpetrator, or if there truly was a phantom “plastic bag” that might have been sucked up into the machine), but it ultimately draws more heat onto the bosun as Sandy suggests it plants seeds of doubt for her about Malia.
As the end of the charter feels imminent, Katie is more nervous than ever, which may explain why she doesn’t seem to notice the same guest continuing to be less and less happy with each successive meal. But while Mathew continues to beat the drum for Delaney’s termination, Lexi indulges in the luxury of the extra help she provides, underscoring exactly why Lexi, and not Delaney is the one who needs to be terminated. Nevertheless, the episode ends as Katie calls Delaney to meet for a conversation, with its contents presumably to be revealed next week.
Firing a crew member is exactly the kind of drama that fuels this show, but the decision to end on another cliffhanger while the charter is still going feels like the producers are desperately to extend the season for as long as they can, whether or not the events that unfold actually merit doing so. Below Deck Mediterranean is justifiably a cash cow and ratings hero for Bravo, and particularly given its travel elements, it’s understandable that some adjustments would need to be made during a seemingly never-ending pandemic. But those adjustments are continuing to come at the expense of the show’s more familiar rhythms, and as a result it feels less satisfying overall in Season 6.
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