The only thing better than a new episode of Below Deck on Monday nights is Sarah D Bunting's Tuesday morning power rankings. Click here for previous Below Deck power rankings.
Below Deck S07, E17: "Let Them Eat Penis Cake!"
After a stern "let's just get through this" lecture from Captain Lee (involving some shit-sandwich imagery we all could have done without), the Valor crew resolves to get through the last charter no matter what. A tall order, given that 1) Brian and Courtney's relationship has basically fallen apart, leaving Courtney in tears in the galley; 2) Tanner still thinks he has a shot with Kate, and is an overt weirdo about it; 3) Kevin is determined to cast Kate as the problem in their working relationship; and 4) Rhylee still feels like she has to take her meals in her room.
...Oh, and 5) the guests.
And actually the guests are, on balance, pretty rad. I love Jemele Hill anyway, and never more than when she's the hard-partying bachelorette primary on a charter she probably didn't pay for, asking for a shot of bourbon for breakfast and stirring the pot by asking Kate if she's getting on Kate's nerves. And realizing she's too drunk to manage and bailing on dessert -- which is a horrifying erect-penis cake Kevin spent hours stressing over, then debuts during a meep-and-deaningful amongst the other guests and Lee about life goals -- is a boss move, doubled down on by Kate, who knows full well the audience for the cake is passed out in her stateroom.
Who's a risen souffle, and whose cake got left out in the rain? Your Episode 17 power rankings...
1. Courtney. I flinched when she enthused about the '90s, then remembered that she "was, like, five" during the decade, but I can't argue with her handling of -- or refusing to handle -- Brian. He's determined to feel hard done by, and there's really nothing else for her to do but let him project his issues elsewhere. [Last week: 1]
2. Rhylee. Supportive to Kate when she's rage-crying about crew-wide misogyny, and manages to stay focused on work and not give in to her frustration. ...Okay, she has a couple of verbal eye-rolls at Tanner, but who hasn't. [Last week: 2]
3. The guests. I mean: a shot of bourbon for breakfast. My hero. I can't imagine that it was Jemele's idea to start in with Kate's "coolness," versus the producers', and even if it was, she in vino veritas-ed a solid apology. Also, Jemele's friends are hilarious ("some Captain Lee groupies up in here"). [Last week: 6]
4. Kate. She seems to have let intra-crew drama affect her service -- or maybe it's the hangover? Whatever the case, while I'll never disagree that Kevin is a controlling pill, it is the last charter; maybe just figure out what it is he really needs from the argument over the beach-picnic serving "narrative," and do that? As far as Peniscakegate goes, I still can't decide whose side I'm on with that (after all, it's really Jemele who screwed him by going to bed early, so Kate didn't have to do anything to undercut Kevin, really). [Last week: 5]
5. Captain Lee. As usual, he's a pro with wasted guests, but as usual -- at least this season -- I'm disappointed that he didn't take the opportunity to crack down on the junior-high bullshit Ashton's allowing to go on. [Last week: 4]
6. Kevin. Ugh, Kevin -- he has his moments, is the frustration. When he plaintively asks where his flower crown is? And sings to the breakfast bacon, rhyming "heaven" and "Kevin"? Even his neurosis about the penis cake is kind of funny and relatable, but then he always has to ruin it by snotting off about Kate not having his back, or being unprofessional, when the issue is that these two are really not that much different but just don't know how to communicate productively. [Last week: 8]
7. Simone. The open rooting for Jemele to declare war on Kate is not a great look...but I will give her credit for only venting to Kevin about Kate now, given how obvious Kevin has made his disdain over the course of the season. Still, again, it's not Kate's fault that a) Tanner is a dingleberry; or b) Simone couldn't open a bottle of wine without instruction. [Last week: 3]
8. Brian. Brian's comment about his friends growing up always having one another's backs because their parents weren't together anymore is telling, and sad...and needs to get dealt with in counseling, maybe, and not by overreacting to every perceived slight. [Last week: 7]
9. Ashton. I thought maybe he could clamber up a couple of notches in these rankings, simply by dint of not doing much this week...but then he's making beleaguered pronouncements about how he's tried to do things "Rhylee's way" all season, like, you know there are cameras on y'all, right, brü? [Last week: 9]
10. Tanner. Ugh. [Last week: 10]
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Sarah D. Bunting co-founded Television Without Pity, and her work has appeared in Glamour and New York, and on MSNBC, NPR's Monkey See blog, MLB.com, and Yahoo!. Find her at her true-crime newsletter, Best Evidence, and on TV podcasts Extra Hot Great and Again With This.