The super-sized episode regains some of the soapy excitement of earlier seasons, but exposes the fault lines in the producers' lazy chapter breaks.
- * The round of roasting and emotional reveals between the male deck crew members offered a lighthearted but appealing look at camaraderie that viewers don't see enough.
- * The reveal of Mzi's flowers for Courtney at the height of his drunkenness was hilarious and sad in all the best ways.
- * Mathew and Lexi's constant toxicity offers drama for the show but it also undermines the unity the team desperately needs.
In “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls,” Below Deck Mediterranean regains some of its dramatic footing, albeit by delivering an overstuffed episode; if the last two barely involved enough activity to fill the show’s hourlong time slot, this one clocks in at 75 minutes. But its extended length indicates (among other things) both the latitude that the producers have in delivering new shows, and also the chapter breaks that they think are the best way to break down the season’s sequence of events. And they manage to be right about those choices about 50 percent of the time.
The show opens with an unusually long recap of the events that led to the conversation between chief stew Katie and newcomer Delaney, including the (mild) deception that Delaney padded her resume and the kerfuffle that ensued when her arrival meant that six crew members had to switch rooms. All of this feels especially superfluous given the fact that after Katie makes her decision to say farewell to Delaney, she decides to relitigate it over and over with every person on the boat that she encounters. Nevertheless, Katie invites the young woman to join them on their day-off excursion to Krka Falls as some flaccid attempt to reward Delaney while mitigating her conspicuous sense of guilt.
Captain Sandy recognizes Delaney’s can-do spirit in the tip meeting after the end of the charter, but she also ruins Malia’s near-flawless docking record when she suggests that Delaney should join the deck crew. Delaney messes up the heaving line, causing delays to secure the boat, and after a rotor alarm goes off, Malia has to don snorkeling gear to make sure that nothing’s lodged in the propellers. Thankfully there isn’t, so the group dresses up and happily departs for dinner and in classic form promptly gets completely, unilaterally drunk.
In case you were worried that Lexi had somehow been lobotomized or had somehow transformed into a pleasant, agreeable team player, she disrupts David’s toast to the rest of the crew as he mentions Mathew’s phantom knee injury, and continues to trash talk him through the rest of their meal. Remarkably, she does not continue this once they’re back on the boat afterward, instead choosing to rifle through the galley pantries for food while everyone else changes into their swimsuits and plunges into the hot tub for an impromptu dance party.
Everyone is obliterated, and before David can make his play to hook up with Delaney, he falls out of the hot tub, badly bruising his thigh. Meanwhile, in between roasting David for his “smooth moves,” Mzi announces that he’s ordering flowers in order to announce his romantic intentions with Courtney while the rest of the male deck hands gather and goof on one another. How wonderful it would be if there were more scenes like this one; you get such a vivid sense of crew camaraderie, and the guys are alternately honest about their feelings and mercilessly funny about each other’s peccadilloes.
As the evening ends, Katie calls her mother, breaking down into tears for being on charter while her best friend is about to give birth; her mother’s observation is correct that “we all make choices,” but the moment prompts a minor existential crisis if working in this exotic industry is worth all of the important life events that she misses as a result. Meanwhile in the crew gallery, Mathew and Lexi bicker while the rest of the crew try to separate them, setting the stage for an epic showdown the next day.
Lexi initially doesn’t even join the rest of the crew for their watersports excursion, sleeping in while the rest of the group rides electric surfboards and Mzi overfills himself with liquid courage in order to proclaim his attraction to Courtney. In a thoughtful gesture, Lloyd questions Courtney about her “serious” interest in Mzi, and unfortunately there’s none; but his imminent concerns about the arrival of his crew mate’s dozen roses quickly get forgotten about when the group arrives and Krka Falls, and Lexi shows up just in time to get into yet another fight with Mathew.
Everyone except for Katie and Malia try to stop the two of them from throwing verbal jabs, prompting an interesting question about what responsibility these managers have to keep the peace while they are not on duty. But after Mzi’s flowers somewhat embarrassingly show up at dinner, this unresolved conflict between Mathew and Lexi spills over as they are divvying up the check; Delaney does herself no favors by breathlessly providing one piece of trivia after another to the group in order to offer a distraction and encourage people to be kind, and no one is in the mood for her after a very long day of way too much drinking. But after Lexi calls Mathew “retarded,” the gloves truly come off between the two of them — tragically prompting a minor panic attack from Lloyd, who ends the episode shaking quietly between them at the table while Malia tries to help.
And so, the episode ends with a real narrative cliffhanger, as well as a real note of concern for a crew member. Both Mathew and Lexi are immature, toxic presences on the boat and their volatility only causes problems for everyone else. But more importantly, if less visibly, Lloyd has come to embody the real victim of this kind of verbal sparring, quietly suffering because these two loudmouths don’t know when to shut up. For this episode, that’s a good thing, but it remains to be seen if Below Deck Mediterranean will be able to continue this dramatic groove after the unevenness of the season as a whole.
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