I think if I’ve learned one thing from Below Deck this season, it’s not to assume that a session will be about eight episodes long. Here we are at episode 14 or 15 or maybe 875, I’m not sure, but it’s the finale and we made it, which means we can get through anything if only we stick together and we believe.
Previously: Ashley came to visit Kyle! Kate tried to hit perfection while Emily and Sierra could not keep track of their jobs or their radios! Wasted crew members destroyed part of the master suite! Nico blamed Kate for all the things! Kate took away breaks because of slacking! This boat is like living in a powder keg and giving off sparks!
We rejoin the crew at the moment where Kate takes away breaks and Sierra bizarrely stares at Kate’s back while folding a washcloth. Sierra says it’s bullshit that Kate says she’s not perfect. The guesties head to Virgin Gorda. Kate has a talk with Emily, and Emily agrees that they should smash it. Also Emily wants a good reference. Sierra comes back and Kate brings up more tasks, saying they’ll just power through. Sierra is many things, but a power through type is not one of them.
Ben says Kate is being insensitive because Ben wants Emily to mostly get foot rubs for her job. Kate tells Sierra to do the windows and Sierra gives her a HUGE lipstick rage-smile and OK, yes, I see why other people on the boat have been calling her scary.
On Virgin Gorda, Kyle and Nico gets the guesties set up and recommend a good spot for snorkeling.
On the boat, Sierra says this is bullshit and crashes around in the kitchen. Emily pulls her aside and gives her a hug and says yes, there’s going to be a lot of work over the next couple of days, so don’t take it personally. Emily, who has social skills and human insight, interviews that this is the time of the season when everyone is stressed out and there’s a lot to do, so you have to try to keep it positive.
Sierra is not on board with the insight thing. She says she and Emily are kicking ass and Kate is just looking for things to criticize. Nico and Kyle eat lunch and transparently rehash the season. Kyle says Sierra was the worst part of the season for him, and she’s an idiot. Nico calls him on that, saying that Kyle was all over her when he started. Kyle counters that it was only because she had blonde hair and big tits and he was being superficial. OK, Kyle, that’s 10 points for self-awareness, but minus 30 for being gross. Kyle says that once he got to know Sierra, he realized she’s a waste of skin. OK, so then maybe don’t schedule a 17-hour first date next time?
I’ll say it again, Sierra may indeed have some crazy going on, but Kyle nursing this minor scratch so angrily is pretty damned unbalanced too. Back on the boat, Kelley and Lauren chat about how they can hate the work sometimes, but now they’re sad and will hate to part ways. Laurens says that no matter what, the deckies have each other’s backs.
Back on land, Kyle is still bitching, saying Sierra is selfish and nobody’s friend. Jesus, dude. Nurse that grudge all you want, but don’t make the whole crew listen to it. Nico essentially tells Kyle just that, saying that his problem with Sierra has nothing to do with Nico and nothing to do with Nico and Sierra’s relationship. Kyle says it’s the same with Nico and Kate – Kyle likes Kate, but knows that other people don’t like her and won’t say it to her face. (What would be the good in saying it to her face on a small yacht?) Also: Kyle gave us a speech about Sierra’s table manners last week, saying that dinner was terribly important to him. He is currently talking to Nico with his mouth full of sandwich. Nico says he shouldn’t try to make Kyle dislike Kate, and Kyle shouldn’t try to make Nico dislike Sierra. Kyle agrees. That was well maneuvered, Nico. Almost as benevolently manipulative as you accused Kate of being.
In the galley, Ben asks Emily if she’s in it for the long haul with no breaks. Emily confirms that she doesn’t need a break, since they’re out of there in 24 hours. Ben says he’s going to be very naughty. Emily interviews that this is getting a little weird. She’s said that she’s not really into a big relationship, but she and Ben will be spending more time together.
Kelley leaves to get the guests. Kate lets Ben know so he can have food waiting for them. Ben wonders if they’ll get back and then go downstairs to change for half an hour. Kate says it would be great to have some food waiting since they haven’t eaten much all day; Ben says he’s protecting the quality of the food. Kate tries again, saying it would really wow the guests to have food ready. Ben says that based on his experience, they will want to shower, change, and have a cocktail. Then he says “I’m sorry that I have so much experience,” which is just kind of needlessly ugh, and Kate wonders why he’s getting so aggro with her.
JESUS CHRIST. JUST PUT OUT SOME GRABBABLE LIGHT APPS FOR THE GUESTS. Apparently, there will be only quesadillas instead of five apps.
Ben runs the argument by Emily so she’ll agree with him, which is just shitty. She does not want to get in the middle of this. Ben lectures Kate on how she should back down and agree to whatever he wants even though he’s already just doing what he wants. They are ready to murder each other with shrimp forks.
The guesties return and Kate literally hands them cocktails as they step on board. Kate says they have quesadillas, and asks if the guests are hungry.
Yes. Kate takes this as a life win. Ben gives in and tells Kate to put forks out for apps. Kate walks past Captain Lee and asks him how many hours are left. Sixteen.
Kate serves quesadillas to the happy Good Life Gals. They ask to invite the captain, and Kate conveys the primary’s request to keep the food coming to Ben. Ben is so annoyed to have lost this argument. He says that in the past, Kate was lovely to work with and he misses that person. Captain Lee gets his dinner invitation and sighs like he’s been asked to help birth a calf in the pouring rain. Kate assures him that the guesties are lovely.
Nico cheers the final dismantling of the slide. Kelley talks to a visibly bored Lauren about how much they’ve grown this season. Kelley hates to lose the crew and the family and the team, but he says those bonds will stay with them. Group hug!
Kate enters the laundry room and asks Sierra how she’s doing. Sierra gives a completely insincere “Great!” Then she says “Can I ask you something?” in the universal tone of voice for “I’m pretending to be innocent, but I wish to stir some shit.” She asks Kate if she thinks Sierra and Emily aren’t working hard enough. Kate repeats that she was disappointed when she went to the Master Suite and saw full trash cans and no toilet paper. Sierra says that she filled every single roll. Kate points out that this is not possible – we’ve seen her pick up the full trash cans and near-empty rolls – but Sierra toughs it out with a snotty “I’m not lying.” Has she never had a job where someone mentioned that tone of voice can get you fired too?
Kate rolls into a patient explanation of the boat having been heavily used for six weeks when Sierra, who yelled at Kelley for interrupting her, repeatedly interrupts Kate. Who is her boss. Yech. Abandon her on a coral atoll and be done with it. Kate says she’s always complimented Sierra on her work, so let’s finish on a good note. Sierra retreats into wooden snottiness and says she completely understand where Kate is coming from. Sierra interviews that now that Kate is “being mean” to her, Sierra just wants off the boat. Seriously, all Kate did there was calmly and accurately answer a direct question about Sierra’s job performance instead of giving her a tongue bath. She didn’t raise her voice or anything. Sierra is being a twatcake.
Kate directly brings up Sierra’s insincerity and asks if she has anything she wants to talk about. Sierra lies that they’re cool. Kate correctly interviews that Sierra is being rude.
Sierra, still pouting because she is not being called Queen Stewardess of the Universe for once replacing the toilet rolls back in 1957, sets the final dinner table with Emily. The guesties ooh over the lovely dinner table and tell Lee he looks handsome. Lee wants to be eating a quiet meal while reading a good spy novel so badly you can see secret agents in his pupils.
Dinner is served! Ben is “throwing the damned book at them,” which is not what he means, but OK. Meanwhile, the guesties ask Lee questions he does not wish to be asked, so he answers them using the least words an English-speaking human possibly can.
We learn that he has five (!) kids and is from Michigan. The guesties bombard him with questions about how big the boat is and has anyone ever jumped off it and what does Lee do for a living in six different alternate universes. It’s a pity there isn’t an under-the-table shot, because you would see Lee carving out his own liver to keep himself polite and focused.
Kates says the guests are always happier having dinner and cocktails with Lee, even if he doesn’t like it. The guests love the meal, so Kate and Ben are happy, which means they’re back to affectionate banter. Kate says she never knows which Ben she’ll get, and he says he’s 50 shades of Ben. No, there’s no real joke in there, but we’ll forgive him.
Kate says dinner is going well and the guests are happy and Kate is happy because she never has to do another platter service. Kelley says the juju is good again because Kate is smiling and being nice. Kelley says Ben and Kate are confusing. Kate says that she and Ben at their worst day are better than her best days with some of the other chefs.
Kate and Kyle are hanging out in-cabin. Kate admires Kyle’s two-toned white and tan legs. She suggests a chat. Kyle asks what’s up with the stews and Kate says she feels disrespected. Kyle says he’s a great believer in saying things to people’s faces. He helpfully tells Kate how much Nico and Lauren dislike her. KYLE. What are you doing? What good can come of this? Kyle has a tendency to get to talking about Kyle and not think about who gets hurt en route to his point. Kate genuinely seems a little hurt by this. Kyle says they’re defensive because Kate has been there when Nico and Lauren have screwed up. Kyle says he doesn’t grass people out, and when Kate hears that that means snitching, she says she doesn’t either.
Kyle interviews that Kate has always had his back. Kate also clarifies that Lee walked in when she was trying to fix the damage that Nico and Lauren (and Ben) had done to the bathroom. Kate isn’t thrilled with them talking behind her back and questioning her decision-making. Kate says she’s made them a bunch of money and been a good chief stew and doesn’t need to hear what the one-stripe people are thinking. Daaaaamn.
Morning of the last day of charter! Kelley and Nico are happy! Kate tells Ben they only have two hours and 26 minutes. Ben says he’s already mentally back in his apartment. Time to weigh anchor for the last time! Lee says that delegating to Nico is good motivation to Kelley.
Ben says he’s on fire, like a matador. So is Kate. They say they love working with each other.
Kate asks Kelley to be sure there are towels by the Jacuzzi, since she’s seen guesties in it. Kelley says the towels are already there. Nico bitches that Kate was so awful as to suggest that. Lauren and Kyle are putting the pumps away and Kate has suggestions on how. She interviews that she hates being the bad guy. Lauren tells Sierra that Kate is hating on her this morning.
Time to dock! The deckies decide to make it good. Lee says “Let’s shut this bitch down from the last time.” Speaking of that phrase, Lauren and Nico are pointlessly bitching about Kate. The guesties are leaving! Emily says they were lovely, but let’s get off this boat.
They all head to the crew mess for the last tip. It’s $16,000 to divvy up. Each tipped crew member made $13,500 over the season. Lee says they need to bust ass the rest of the day and leave this boat in better shape than they got it.
Kate radios Nico and Lauren to turn in their epaulet shirts. And then she asks them to have a seat. NO, KATE, DON’T DO THIS. Kate interviews that she has no option but to give them bitchface back. (Kyle, do you see what happens when you shit-stir? Do you see?) Kate says she hopes this doesn’t ruin their impending night out – KATE!! NO!!! – but she’s heard what they’ve been saying about her. Kate says she didn’t say anything about the Master suite thing and that Captain Lee found it on his own. We see footage see Lee inspecting the damage and asking Kate if she knew what happened and her telling him that she knows the deckhands and Ben were in there. So she didn’t go to him to tattle, but she did fill in the information when she was asked. That’s a bit of a fine line.
Nico starts in, but Kate keeps going and says she doesn’t like it that she was generous enough to let them use the Master suite and then everyone immediately assumes the worst. (Also she doesn’t mention that they got shitfaced and left damage in the suite and a mess for the stews to clean up. Nico says she’s right and stomps off and angrily says he’s glad they cleared the air. I’m not sure why specifically Nico is angry, since she did give him a chance to speak after that. He is perhaps angry that she made a good point. Or he as just decided that Kate is always the villain. Lauren sticks around. She admits everyone just assumed that Kate told Lee about the bathroom. She apologizes. Kate feels like she has won a moral victory, but I’m wondering if that will stick after the footage airs.
Up on deck, Nico hits new heights of pissiness.
Nico has a little problem with anyone having authority over him. That’s going to be a problem if he’s going to keep working on ships. Kelley interviews that Kate is a terrible enemy to have and he’s not stepping into that one.
Ashley arrives as Kyle is having a speedboat lesson. She’s annoyed because she says he knew when she was coming; Kyle claims he didn’t. Kelley laughs at the bickering. Kyle likes that they communicate directly and call each other assholes.
Primping time! Ashley helps Kate. Emily says the end-of-season night out will always be one of the best. Ben says this is a great time to make amends with Kate, especially since they’re not working together anymore.
The crew seems to hit the same restaurant they always do. Kyle tries out some of Ashley’s makeup.
Hey! Let’s add a bunch of alcohol to the situation! Ben and Kate chat while Emily looks contemplative. Kate excuses herself to smoke and Ben follows. Emily says it’s weird for her because they’re best friends again and she doesn’t want to get in the middle if there’s still something there.
Sierra pulls Emily aside to get Emily to talk about Ben and how she feels. Sierra, who knows so very much about people, tells Emily to give Ben a chance and talk to him and get it out there. Emily interviews that she has to say something to Ben about what’s going on. She comes back to Kate and Ben smoking and bantering in a two-person swing. Ben starts a thought to Kate with “If you were a man…” and Kate jumps in with “Are you proposing if I was a man?” Ben says “No, I’m just proposing” with the gentle tones of the drunkenly affectionate. Kate deflects, but they’re still close when (Editing!) Emily walks up and asks to talk to Ben.
Ben walks away with Emily and tells her she’s sexy. Emily asks about how Ben’s relationship with Kate switches so rapidly. She tries to explain both the fact that it’s hard to hear Ben viciously attacking her boss and also that it’s weird to see Ben and Kate’s palpable sexual chemistry resurface, but she’s not quite able to express it all, and Ben’s not tracking. His point seems to be that of course he and Kate are fondly flirting again because they’re no longer working together, which isn’t really either of her points. Ben asks Emily if she wants him to just hate Kate forever, which isn’t what she’s been saying at all. Ben says he’ll go back to the bar and be really mean to Kate just for Emily, which is nowhere near what she was asking. Can someone listen to Emily for once on this show?
Ben, still missing the point that Emily is freaked out by his history with and affection for Kate, declares that he understands now that they are better as friends than as colleagues, and Kate doesn’t get that. Emily makes the what-the-fuck face of a woman whose point has been entirely steamrolled and is now at a loss as to how to get the discussion back on track. Ben says “I was actually hoping for you to have had a better grasp of the situation,” which manages to be shitty and condescending at the same time. And, to be clear, is a statement that shows he has no idea what Emily was actually trying to talk to him about. Emily chooses this moment to leave the conversation, and good for her. Emily interviews that she’s confused, and needs to think about whether she’s willing to be treated this way. Follow that umbrage, Emily. You’re too good a catch to get ignored and talked down to.
Kyle tells Ashley that she’s the reason he is where he is and who he is. And also that she’s drinking his fucking beer. Kyle asks Kate if she has a ring. She does. She informs him that it was two thousand dollars. KATE. Why are you wearing that out to an island bar? Kyle offers Kate a thousand for it.
Kyle interviews that he has proposed to Ashley before, but she threw the ring back at him the same night. Kyle, I want you to think about what you just told us and what you’ve said before about barreling ahead with women and… No? OK, do what you need to do. Kyle says he’s got Ashley in a prime location for proposing: She can’t run away, and if she says no, she’ll look like a dick. Jesus Christ, Kyle. We need to have a talk about proposals for non-arranged marriages and how “unable to flee” should not be uppermost in your concerns.
On the other hand, this is pretty much every proposal that happens during an improv show or halftime at a basketball game: They almost never show any thought about the woman beyond “she’ll have to say yes here.” (By the way, I have been in an improv show where there was a proposal from one member of the audience to another and the woman, it’s true, couldn’t say no, but she also couldn’t bring herself to say yes. It was essentially an entire room full of people hoping to be hit by a meteor so that the discomfort might end. For the love of all that is good, do not do this to each other.)
Kyle romantically says Ashley would not have come all the way out here if she didn’t give a shit. Then he kneels and stuffs Kate’s ring on Ashley’s finger.
Ashley says “Aww!” and then whispers “Why would you do this?” Kyle wants to know what her answer is and she says it’s yes, obviously. The crew cheers. Kyle and Ashley suction each other’s faces off. This would be strangely romantic were it not for the knowledge that some producer nudging probably went into this and also that Kyle and Ashley have since broken up. But at least it was a happy moment.
Kate asks how Ben’s walk was. Ben says fine. Ben, the women in your life will always be two steps ahead of you. Make your peace with it. Kate asks if Ben is OK, because he obviously isn’t. Kate can’t believe the sudden change, and hands Ben a drink that he swallows angrily. Ben tells Kate that he doesn’t like working with her anymore. BEN. THIS WAS NOT EMILY’S POINT.
Kate quite reasonably says that they finished work today, so… Ben quickly rolls through “we’re better as friends,” but then decides to go with angry because things with Emily aren’t perfect and reiterates that he doesn’t like working with Kate anymore. Kate, who has had a bit of a long day of being cast as the villain, says she doesn’t like working with him much either and doesn’t care how he feels. Kate accurately interviews that Ben and the booze are both talking. Ben says he’s pissed off that Emily just “grilled” him about his relationship with Kate. First, no Emily didn’t, and second, which part of that is Kate’s fault? Kate tells Ben that that was incredibly rude and becomes the second woman to walk away from Ben while he’s being a dick tonight. Kate interviews that Ben is so self-destructive it’s embarrassing. What the hell, Ben? The crew has a quiet tender ride back to the Valor and Kate wonders what the hell happened to what was supposed to be a fun night. (Hint: Poor listening skills mixed with 13,000 gallons of alcohol.)
The newly engaged Kyle takes a guest cabin with Ashley to “go to sleep.” I hope the producers are paying for a clean-up crew.
Ben crabs about his night to poor Lauren, who has spent so much of the season listening to other people bitch. Emily and Sierra bid each other a fond goodnight!
Morning! Kyle tells Ashley that he’s thinking about Ashley’s name tattooed on his leg. Oh, well, see, that’s what happened. Forsake all superstitions in your life but this one: A relationship tattoo instantly dooms the relationship. It never fails.
Emily packs. Ben walks into Kate’s cabin with a sincere and thoughtful apology. Interview Kate isn’t having it. She thinks Ben tends to assume he can talk his way out of anything. In-life Kate accepts his apology, but Interview Kate doesn’t think they can salvage that friendship.
Lauren compliments Nico for ten minutes and says they’re rock-solid soulmate best friends. She says it’s not a romantic thing. …But who knows for the future? NO, LAUREN, NO. She says her goodbyes to Lee, grabs her wad of cash, and leaves.
Kate passes through the galley in front of Nico, who calls her the wicked witch. Classy. Kate asks Sierra if she had a good season. She interviews that it takes a thick skin to work on boats and Sierra doesn’t have that. She and Sierra say an awkward goodbye. Sierra says she’s proud of herself for keeping a positive mental attitude (Um…) and that the season has taught her that she needs to toughen up… And not be so nice. That’s you’re takeaway, Sierra? OK, go make useless health juices in peace.
Kelley says he hates to leave Nico. Nico talks about their brotherly love/hate relationship. Lee says Nico has a good future in yachting. The music sprawls out as Nico says that if he could have done one thing differently, it would be make out with one of the stews. Nico. Lauren was a deckie, true, but she was eight times more levelheaded than Sierra and she was RIGHT THERE.
Kyle pays Kate for her ring.
He interviews that Kate is his kind of person and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She says she’ll come to the wedding. Kelley and Kyle do an elaborate hand-jive shake.
Kyle interviews that he learned a lot about himself this season: He’s very loyal and stuck his ground and was honest. He’s happy to be engaged to the woman he loves and he’s eager to go home and see his daughter and have a bacon sandwich.
Kelley says that he tried to emulate Kate’s leadership. Kate says he did a great job and she’ll miss him. Kelley heads up to the wheelhouse to say goodbye to Lee. Kelley hopes he has redeemed himself. Lee asks him how he thinks that went. Ouch. Kelley says he thinks he did better than the season when he ended up pole dancing but has things to work on. Lee says Kelley has definitely progressed and he would work with him again. Kelley says he’d work with Lee too. Aww. And now Kelley is off to fish in the Bahamas.
Ben finds Emily to apologize. He says he thinks he was rude and feels like a bit of a dick. Yes and you betcha. Emily also interviews yes. She accepts the apology and Ben says she’s the last person he’d ever insult. Oh, sweet Neptune, Ben still has those flowers. He sets them up for Emily to see.
Emily and Kate high-five over the season and hug. Ben and Emily say goodbye and they’ll see each other soon. As Ben says he’ll try to make a go of it, Emily selects a couple of flowers and heads on her way. Ben and Kate stalk around the boat packing up. Ben says it was a lot to be on the boat working and also in a relationship, but he thinks he did well.
Kate and Lee say a fond goodbye. Kate interviews that she wants to have a normal life and get a dog and a condo. As she leaves, Lee tells her she still looks like a guest and not a chief stew. Kate says she started yachting to never have a dull moment, and now she wonders what’s next.
And here is Lee to sum up. He says this year was exceptionally tough with a lot of obstacles thrown in their way, but in the end the guests were happy and they made a ton of money. And that’s what they’re here for. He says it’s still the best damn job in the world.
Well, there you have it. The season was seventeen years long, but we all made it through. May your seas be calm and your trash cans be properly emptied.