After jettisoning its engine for interpersonal drama, the show settles into a mellower rhythm as the crew tries to get through its second to last charter.
- - Whatever there is to say about Captain Sandy's sometimes unpredictable management style, at least she seems to be self-aware enough to know when to apologize.
- - It's good that Mathew is also self-aware — not just of his insecurities, but the thin ice he finds himself on after his shenanigans during the season — but he's old enough that he should actually do something about them.
With Lexi finally dismissed from the Lady Michelle, Below Deck Mediterranean's latest episode, “All I Need Is A Miracle,” opens with drama between Sandy and her bosun Malia, the latter of whom failed to notify her captain that deckhand David injured himself. Sandy is angry at Malia to an unexpected degree, but not long after instructing David to file his injury report, the longtime colleagues reconcile and Sandy even apologizes for raising her voice.
Nevertheless, the bigger concern is the imminent arrival of the ship’s next guests, led by Anthony, a cheerful former athlete whose preferred libation is “Sprite with grenadine,” otherwise known as a Shirley Temple. After some minor delays for a few guests while their COVID tests come back, the Lady Michelle gets underway with seven guests and only two stews. Katie expresses confidence that she and Courtney can handle the work load, claiming “to work better when she’s running around like a headless chicken,” but the two of them end up working a 16-hour day while the rest of the crew attempts to provide support.
The big excursion for the charter is a picnic on a Sibelik beach, or more accurately, in the ruins of a former movie set left behind after the production ended. But what this means for the deck crew is that they must carry all of the chairs and tables and cutlery and food up a steep hill — and then back down again after successfully serving a make-your-own Ahi poke bar to their awestruck guests. When Malia and Mzi are tasked with carrying all of the chairs, tables and other accoutrement up a giant hill for the picnic, Malia observes (if only in an interview) that Delaney, who was deficient as a stew but had deck experience, would have been helpful in this scenario.
Afterward, the guests return to the boat for some fun with watersports, including the jet skis, which Malia explicitly tells them not to take any closer than 300 meters to shore. For some reason, they decide that this admonition does not include going under a nearby bridge into a bay, and Malia has to take the tinder to go and retrieve them before their vessel gets a ticket for violating local regulations. Meanwhile, Courtney is quickly reaching the point of exhaustion, while David assumes some additional duties to help the stew team in a half-successful effort to perform labor that is less taxing to his ailing leg.
Since Lexi’s departure, Mathew has been in high spirits, but he has inexplicably pivoted to seeking nonstop validation from Katie about his culinary choices, which she believes he should be making by himself without a gold star every time. To alleviate the growing pressure of Mathew’s neediness, Katie occupies herself by innocently flirting with one of the guests; to motivate Courtney, she hints at the possibility of making her second stew — as if there’s anyone else around to occupy the role.
David recommends Lloyd for a job he later learns that he did not get, and though he seems mildly disappointed, the opportunity mostly underscores just how happy he is among his teammates on the Lady Michelle, who have repaired some of the damage done by the mysterious past experience that he had that left him emotionally scarred.
Mathew knocks it out of the park with a three course Italian dinner, which the guests invite Sandy to join them for. But even though Sandy tells him that the food was mostly terrific, her one note — that he shouldn’t serve guests brown fish, which she received too much of — strikes a much deeper chord than the rest of her comments. In a later interview, he acknowledges that she was right, but over the course of the episode, he proves almost comically neurotic and, even if he got along with Lexi like oil and water, her presence may have given him something to distract him from these niggling insecurities.
On the final morning of the charter, the deck crew just isn’t on its game. Mzi experiences his first morning shift and fails to put out the paddleboards, one of which a guest wants to use when she wakes up at 7:30. But as the ship heads towards its harbor, Lloyd forgets to take down the signal that they’ve docked long after the ship weighs anchor, and Malia is distressed to discover that the ropes that tie the boat to the dock upon arrival are in disarray. But with just one thing left for Mzi to do — throw the line to his counterpart on the dock — he sends it into the water instead, bringing the docking to a modestly disastrous close.
This episode and its predecessor exemplify the juxtaposition that Below Deck Mediterranean has struck over the season, juggling lots of feelings along with workplace tedium that the show’s exotic locale hopes to elevate. And quite frankly, the exit of Lexi feels like a genuine relief after watching the way that she exacerbated (and sometimes instigated) conflict on the boat; but with just one charter left to go, it’s important that the producers don’t let go of the core elements that make the show so entertaining.
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