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Below Deck Recap: Plating and Bowling


Photo: Bravo

It would be exciting to think of this episode as the calm before the storm, but I fear the end of the season will more likely be a drizzle. Speaking of drizzles, the main drama again is Paris and Fraser micromanaging the chef with their plating suggestions. (More on that in a moment.) Before the charter even starts, Ben and Dylan are too excited about the primaries’ daughter and her friends who aren’t old enough to rent a car. Sunny briefly shuts down their ogling and comments with a curt “Enough.” Thank you, Sunny. Dylan gets the honor of being first to talk to the girls. He’s the closest to their age and proves it by seizing the opportunity to make an STD (St. David) joke while adjusting their umbrellas.

Fraser is happy to have a family onboard because that’s what he’s used to working for. He assigns Paris to run service for the beach picnic and specifically tells her to manage Nick. As Nick preps the lunch, Fraser suggests plating the sushi, but Nick declines since it’s more work. I’m confused about what the alternative is if they don’t serve it on plates, then realize I’m an idiot who doesn’t deserve to be a luxury-yacht guest; plating of course means individual servings, whereas Nick has prepared everything family-style. On the beach, Paris makes individual plates out of this, and they don’t look particularly nice, though her tablescape is actually pretty. Nick, annoyed, lets her do what she wants and leaves before the main course to get back to the boat. He gripes that he has three stripes to her one but doesn’t pull rank. Nick has a defeated, smoking–Ben Affleck–meme energy about him.

We see a few phone calls home in this episode, and two are sweet. Barbie tells her mom about Kyle, and he pops in to say hello. Barbie’s mom digs the accent. Xandi video-chats with her little brother, the most important person in her life. She says she took care of him growing up when their parents fought. The third phone call feels more like a producer wanted a check-in from Sunny. Sunny explains to a friend that Ben forced her to take a step back in their relationship, but it feels easy and fun now, not worrying whether they have feelings for each other. She’s done plucking metaphorical “He likes me, he likes me not” petals every day. This emotional breakthrough emboldens Sunny to make out with Ben on the clock. Ben thinks the space between them has worked in his favor and is starting to genuinely like Sunny. “Space” must mean realizing he doesn’t have any other options.

That afternoon, Nick tells Kerry how Paris changed the plating plan at the beach. Kerry later asks Fraser if there was some confusion over the presentation. Fraser says there wasn’t, but Kerry can tell he’s being coy about it. Fraser had no problem complaining to the captain before, so it’s unclear why he chooses to lie now.

Dylan serves the girls Sex on the Beaches, which raises my suspicions that these guests can’t legally drink in the U.S. He tells Sunny he has his eye on Sarah, the daughter of the primaries, though he doesn’t know her name. His flirting game continues to be unmatched. Alone in his room, Dylan psychs himself up by rapping about taking her to his cabin and his big dick. I never thought I’d miss the mantras.

Tonight’s dinner is casino themed. Paris thinks the octopus needs a green drizzle, and Nick says she can do it herself. I have to say, it does tie the plate together. For the brioche and bread-and-butter-pudding dessert, Paris tells Nick he needs more gas in the whipped-cream canister. He ignores her and the cream comes out a bit soupy. Nick goes into his cabin to scream. Nevertheless, the guests and Kerry love the food. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

After dinner, the girls go to the hot tub and play truth-or-dare with Dylan. They dare him to take off his shirt and do his best dance for them. His dance moves are cringey, but dousing himself in water gets him cheers. Dylan tells us in an interview that he decided to play it safe and not hook up. To be clear, nothing seemed to suggest it was a legitimate opportunity. He does get Sarah’s Instagram, and they make vague plans to party in LA. It’s a nice little win for Dylan and much more realistic than hooking up when her whole family is right downstairs.

The next morning, Nick is cooking crêpes for breakfast when Paris has the gall to tell him which heat setting to cook on and says he needs more butter. I’m appalled. Until now, her suggestions have been seemingly in line with Fraser’s instructions and presentation focused, but telling a chef “low and slow” is outright insanity. Nick is 100 percent right in thinking she needs to back off.

Above deck, it’s windy, and Kerry is nervous about docking. The boat next to their slot has a dinghy out that makes it a tighter space. In typical Below Deck fashion, the music amps up like we’re in a heist movie and they pull it off. The crew makes out with $25,000, which seems like a super-generous tip for a one-night charter. Is it possible a night got edited out? Barbie says she’ll put the money toward clothes and isn’t worried about her dad cutting her off because she can resell her stuff and be fine for a couple of years. As a parting gift, co-primary Rob offers to host everyone on their yacht in Newport Beach and be their crew. Maybe he’s too generous for his own good.

Kerry calls Paris up to the bridge to discuss the beach picnic. He says it’s not her place to argue with the chef, and she points the finger toward Fraser: She assumed he and Nick had discussed plating before. Kerry agrees it’s between the chief stew and the chef, not the rest of the team. Kerry reminds Paris to stay professional and not be dragged into it. Dragging is questionable — I’d say Paris leaped into it willingly, but Fraser definitely encouraged the behavior. When Paris returns downstairs, Barbie asks if she got fired. This makes me wonder if there’s more going on that we haven’t seen. Next, Kerry brings in Fraser and Nick to address the communication breakdown. He lays down the law: The stews shouldn’t be telling Nick how to do his job, and Nick needs to be more assertive. There’s only one charter left, and Kerry won’t let it fall to shit. Fraser suggests they go through all the menus beforehand and he’ll run all services going forward. Nick agrees with this plan, which isn’t the strongest start to being more assertive but it seems promising.

We get a preview of next week’s guests at the preference-sheet meeting: The primary, Michele, is a recently separated pediatric dentist from Maryland bringing her girlfriends for a freedom tour to celebrate her 50th birthday “Beyoncé style.” I have a nightmare vision of Ben and Dylan doing the “Single Ladies” dance and hope it doesn’t come true.

Earlier, Kyle and Barbie were sneaking stairwell kisses, and all seemed well until the crew’s night out. Kyle wears a kilt, which Barbie thinks is not hot at all and wants him to change. She gets that it’s a “heritage thing” but is nervous that he’s not wearing anything under it and likes to show his “situation.” It’s not the worst look of the night by far; Dylan wears a bow tie with a short-sleeved button-down, and Nick wears a tie that looks lonely without a jacket. It would be one thing if they were going to a fancy dinner, but they’re going … bowling.

Kyle loves that he’s winding Barbie up over the kilt. He decides that if he wins bowling, he’s flashing. He does indeed win and delivers on the promise. Barbie’s embarrassed. As usual, she fears her family’s reaction. She thinks they’ll have a heart attack and gets Kyle to stop flashing the cameras. He doesn’t want to make her uncomfortable and knows he’s in damage-control mode now. Barbie says, “I still love you,” to which Kyle replies, “Same.” Earlier, she used the L-word more jokingly, but now I question whether we’ve missed a big relationship moment if they’re throwing it around already.

Back on the boat, Xandi is proud to be going to sleep sober. Go, Xandi! The couples opt for their usual sleeping arrangements. Cuddling, Kyle says he’s wrapped around Barbie’s finger. She hopes the end of the season won’t be the end of them, but she’s still scared that they’re so different. Barbie says she’s starting to fall in love, which is total Bachelor-speak but does reassure me that we didn’t miss the first proper “I love you”s. She has changed a lot in her time on the yacht, but it’s TBD if she can love — let alone date — “somebody who doesn’t wear pants.”


Emma Soren , 2024-05-14 04:00:24

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