Below Deck Recap: On the Rocks

Below Deck

Bourbon Buffoonery

Season 9

Episode 3

Editor’s Rating

4 stars

Below Deck

Bourbon Buffoonery

Season 9

Episode 3

Editor’s Rating

4 stars

Photo: Braco

There are many things I don’t understand about Below Deck charter guests. That’s a large part of what makes this show fun to watch, after all — laughing at the rich (but not too rich) assholes who like and do things that you just can’t imagine. Among the things I’ve never understood about Below Deck guests: Who would want to drink whiskey on a boat in the middle of the tropics? Whiskey is my alcohol of choice, mind you, but the last place I would ever want a bourbon on the rocks is while enjoying the sea and sun in the Caribbean.

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But that doesn’t matter! Because I don’t need to understand why this episode’s charter guests want to drink bourbon on a yacht to be at turns entertained and horrified by their whiskey-drunk behavior.

First, though, time to check in on some other heavy drinkers. The morning after their first night out, the crew is back to work — including Rayna and Jake, working hard to act normal in the crew mess (even though everyone on this boat has a good idea of what happened). “I kissed Jake; I mean whatever, who cares?” Rayna says in a confessional. But clearly she does! “Like the pulse of my coochie’s like, boom-boom, boom-boom, boom-boom,” she adds. Everyone spends the day talking about how drunk they were last night, including Fraser, who asks his new friend Rayna if he did “anything silly.” She says no, and the conversation quickly turns to her “smooch” with Jake. Fraser plays the role of GBF well, hyping Rayna up about how cute Jake is while listening to her talk about Issa, her other guy. She hooked up with him in Mexico, but he lives in Canada, and they’ve been talking ever since. So, she doesn’t want to “fuck” Jake, just kiss him. A boundary no yacht crew member has ever struggled to keep before!

After having their first proper conversation earlier in the day about Eddie’s deck crew, Rachel and Eddie have an evening chat in the sky lounge to iron out their tension from last season. Rachel is pretty direct to Eddie, saying his comments about her drinking and work last season were “alarming” and “viciously attacking,” and that she hasn’t been able to shake it since. Eddie genuinely apologizes for not directly confronting her, and that seems to be that. “Moving forward through this shituation,” Rachel says in a confessional, “I think Eddie and I can play in the same sandbox this season without stabbing each other with spades.” What more can we ask for?

The next day, before pickup, Captain Lee has a proper beginning-of-season meeting with the crew after arriving late to the first charter. “I’ve got a pocket full of plane tickets that I hope I don’t have to use, but if I do, it’ll be quick and severe,” he says. Rayna compares him to both her dad and a stale cookie: “hard on the exterior but very soft and mushy inside.”

Also before guests arrive, Heather tries to get her department in order (emphasis on tries). She yet again mentions how she worked her way up to chief stew before telling Fraser and Jess they need to work faster and “be a little fluid.” But this is not the problem! Fraser and Jess aren’t not working, and they’ve been receptive to getting tossed between service and cabins and laundry — they’re just being mismanaged by Heather, who isn’t pulling Jess out of laundry enough and is putting too much work on Fraser. As he observes, Heather isn’t really changing anything after the last charter.

And if any charter needs interior to be on top of their game, it’s this one. Our guests are Michael Durham, a real-estate broker from Seattle, and some real-estate friends, all of whom enjoy bourbon. They want Irish coffees, bourbon pairings with dinner, and a constant flow of whiskey at all other hours. “The crew has no idea what’s in store for them,” one says as they walk to My Seanna — after already splitting a handle of Tito’s, we soon learn (if their slurring and wobbling didn’t already make it obvious). They get right to business, with one of the guests, Justin, requesting a thermos for his bourbon. This is far from the end of my disappointment in my fellow Justin.

Eddie has spent the past few hours pestering Captain Lee about naming Jake the lead deckhand. And he has a pretty good case for it — Jake was a lead deckhand before, and Lee was impressed with his anchoring the boat. But Lee is still a little wary of promoting Jake too quickly, even though Eddie makes a good point about needing more leadership on deck so he can focus on his first officer duties. I don’t know what a first officer does, exactly, but that’s all the more reason to hire a lead deckhand! So Captain Lee finally caves and calls Jake to the bridge to give him the promotion. He’s excited, as is the rest of the deck crew. “What is he gonna do, yell at me? That’s not possible, he just kissed me,” Rayna reasons. Wes adds that Jake is a good pick because of his mustache: “That thing commands respect.”

The guests have spent the afternoon hitting golf balls off the boat and drinking, so by the time dinner (with bourbon pairings!) rolls around, they are sloshed. After struggling to find their cabins, the guests eventually change into their white-party attire and make it to dinner. When asked if he wants still or sparkling water, Michael replies, “I would like more bourbon,” which pretty much sets the tone for the evening. And poor Captain Lee is there too, soberly sitting through the burps and slurps of the soup course.

It’s Justin who causes things to go off the rails. Specifically, it’s his thermos of bourbon, which he’s brought to dinner despite criticism from the gays at the table. Then, he asks for tequila — once again to the chagrin of the gays (who are trying to keep this whiskey dinner as classy as possible, to their credit). So Justin leaves, and he takes his thermos of bourbon with him! Surprisingly, he doesn’t pull a Delores and cause any sort of unsafe scene — he’s just sitting on the swim platform with his feet in the water. “Fancy fucking dinner can kiss my ass,” he declares.

By the second course, a filet, the guests are “drunker than a herd of four-peckered goats,” in Lee’s assessment. After the third course, lobster, Terri keeps telling him how she’s also from Michigan. And meanwhile, on the swim platform, Justin is eating too! He’s requested his dinner there, so the crew brought a little table and chair down to keep him happy. They’re thoroughly entertained by all of it, laughing about Justin on the swim platform and crowding around Lee for an update after he finally leaves dinner. At this point, I’m pretty entertained, too — between Justin leaving and the other guests continuing to be capital-M Messy, there’s guest drama everywhere you look.

And just when you think things are going to quiet down, nope! A few of the guests, including a hiccuping Michael, decide to go to bed, but the guests who stick start arguing with Justin from the deck. After shouting to each other to fuck themselves, Terri saunters down to the swim platform to tell Justin to fuck himself to his face. Then, somehow, Justin ends up back at the head of the table to yell at his “friends” some more. (The crew is still enthralled; at this point, Fraser radios to Heather: “You’re gonna wanna see this. Come upstairs; we’ve got drama.”)

Eventually, Justin and Terri are the only two people left yelling at the table — and for the record, Terri is Justin’s co-worker. Also importantly, she’s become the drunkest of the group, barely able to get out a sentence that’s not “Fuck you.” Heather thinks Justin and Terri have some kind of sexual tension between them; I think Justin is just a dick (and a misogynist one). Once Terri starts crying, he aggressively tells her he’s going to walk her to her cabin. What he means by that is he’s going to bark, “Get your ass up and get the fuck down these stairs!”

The crew is still gathering to watch, but this is about the point where things stop being so entertaining. Justin tells Heather that Terri, now crying in the sky lounge, “needs to go away,” and the crew is starting to worry that Justin will hurt her. Heather’s niceness can’t diffuse the situation, but thankfully, Eddie is around to block Terri from getting close to Justin as he storms off. Then we zoom out to the boat, and that’s where we’re left — on our first proper cliffhanger of the season! Will Lee have to kick off a guest for the second season in a row? For the sake of the other Justins who watch this show, I hope so.

• I must know more about Jess’s mom, who’s “smoking a cigarette and gambling on my phone” in the garage when Jess video-calls her.

• Speaking of Jess, she’s starting to seem a bit frustrated in laundry? At one point, the cameras catch her singing, “I’m not happy”; at another, she’s annoyed at an ironing board. But she also tells Wes she doesn’t want to be doing service, so I’ll be curious if her frustrations go anywhere.

• If I were going to drink whiskey on a charter yacht, I’d want some exclusive, fancy shit. These guests, meanwhile, are drinking Bulleit!

• While preparing her Thai dinner, Rachel recounts an amazing pad Thai with “random street meat” she got from a vendor one night in Thailand. “Nothing says good times like the next morning when you have fire snakes!”

• Once, while drunk on whiskey, Wes tried to fight a Jeep. “It was parked. No one was in it. Kicked the tires. I was like, ‘Fuck you, Jeep!’” Now, Wes doesn’t drink whiskey.

Below Deck Recap: On the Rocks

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