Another week, another episode revolving around Tumi and Natalya’s unnecessary and miserable feud. As much as I’d like to gloss over it and talk about literally anything else, the drama unfortunately takes up the majority of “Take It to the Bridge,” to the point where it feels like we’re going around in circles. The fact that neither of them quit or get fired by the end of the episode is a miracle.
We pick up with the aftermath of Tumi and Natalya’s argument over the messy salon. While Tumi tries to collect herself, Natalya unsurprisingly starts running her mouth to anyone in the vicinity about how much she can’t stand Tumi. When she rants to Jack, he tells her to try finding a way to work with Tumi because, as he says in a confessional, the whole boat’s vibe will drastically shift if not. A voice of reason! Finally! Although, points get deducted after he later admits he’s on Nat’s side solely because he’s a “loyal” friend.
When Kyle wakes up, he’s immediately subjected to Nat’s whining, and this is where the whole thing gets a bit interesting. After hearing what Natalya has to say, he realizes that his tendency to gossip has played a role in the situation. Kyle actually being self-aware? Am I hallucinating? While it’s great that he has finally recognized his toxicity, I don’t necessarily think it’ll stop him from continuing to spread information. It’s just his nature.
Captain Sandy eventually notices that Tumi’s stressed, prompting Tumi to admit that she feels Natalya doesn’t like or respect her. Sandy, choosing to take a step back for probably the first time ever, decides to let Tumi handle it on her own for the time being. Sandy tells us it’s natural for tension to exist between a boss and their subordinate but that she’ll only get involved if it continues. I agree, but Natalya has overstepped by continuously bad-mouthing Tumi. Tumi is the Chief Stew and she should respect that.
Today’s lunch will be a picnic at a stunning castle in Santa Margherita that overlooks the port. As we’ve learned from past Below Deck picnics, it can be a hassle getting up to the roof of these ancient buildings, especially when carrying loads of equipment back and forth in the scorching heat. It doesn’t help that Max always finds a way to do the least work possible, which rightfully pisses off Lara. He then has the gall to ask Luka for a break after Lara and Tumi did all the hard work. Um, no! He’s giving Culver (of Down Under fame) vibes in that he’s goofy but sucks at his job and mostly works out instead of doing what he’s told.
While the guests enjoy Jack’s poke lunch, Natalya volunteers to help Luka pack up the castle setup because she’s desperate to get away from the “Tuminator.” Before departing, she tells Tumi that she finished cleaning all the guest cabins, but Tumi soon notices that they’re still dirty. Tumi seems less mad about them not being finished than that Natalya lied about it, which is a completely reasonable concern, but of course Natalya’s ego isn’t going to let it slide.
Not thinking it will turn into a big deal, Jessika informs Natalya that Tumi pointed out the cabins weren’t clean while she was gone. Naturally, Natalya gets annoyed and confronts Tumi, who calmly and respectfully explains her standards for the cabins, while Natalya argues that she was just “freshening them up.” Jessika leaves the room to avoid the drama, which quickly escalates to a full-blown fight that can be heard from other parts of the boat.
When Captain Sandy is made aware of the situation, she calls them both to the bridge to talk things out. Natalya immediately exclaims that Tumi is the only person on the boat she can’t get along with, and Sandy thanks her for her contributions before stating that her behavior can’t be tolerated. Natalya then attempts to explain her “side of the story,” which entails Tumi “nitpicking” everything after a “really nice handover” and Tumi texting Kyle about how she’d fire Natalya. Tumi laughs, and Sandy tells her not to make fun of someone in front of her and that she’s ready to take them both off the boat if they’re unable to find a solution. For once, I’m glad to see Sandy get involved in crew drama, because this has gone too far. She ultimately lets them handle it on their own, though, and given where things end up, I wish she had tried harder to squash it at this moment.
Even Sandy’s involvement doesn’t help defuse the situation, because Natalya immediately continues talking shit. She also refuses to have a proper conversation with Tumi, choosing to instead communicate through Kyle as if she were a child. I’m truly baffled by Natalya’s nasty and immature behavior. The wildest part is that the key text message from Tumi to Kyle was grossly misinterpreted by the king of shit-stirring himself. Tumi never told Kyle she’d have no problem firing Natalya, she only said that if Natalya doesn’t stay in her lane then she’d walk off the boat. Should Tumi have sent that message in the first place? Probably not. But Kyle’s the one who told Natalya something completely different. I feel like I’m going insane watching Tumi’s words get twisted and blown completely out of proportion.
Having spent her entire time on the boat thus far dealing with an emotionally exhausting situation, Tumi tells us that her ability to set her emotions aside in order to do her job comes from when she found out her father was shot and killed during a ballet recital, which is absolutely heartbreaking. I’m glad that she at least has a few people in her corner, like Sandy and Jessika, seemingly the only person of sound mind in the interior. After being forced to listen to Natalya all day, Jess perfectly assesses that Natalya is a “mean girl” who’s hurt that she’s no longer chief stew. I agree, and so does Kyle, who warns that Nat is “one bitch you don’t wanna cross paths with.” So then why the fuck are you acting two-faced?
Elsewhere on the boat, the deck team packs up equipment while the Frenchman does the bare minimum. Later in the crew mess, Max explains to Luka that he doesn’t think it’s fair that he didn’t get a break before doing that “hard work,” which is hilarious considering he mostly just bounced on the swim platform and walked around while Lara and Haleigh did the heavy lifting. I understand that it’s a learning curve for him since he’s exclusively worked on boats in France, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s already being lazy.
Moving on: Tonight’s dinner theme is Caribbean, which means Jack is going to “jerk on everything.” He’s intent on giving the guests a perfect final dinner, but unfortunately it doesn’t go as smoothly as he’d like. For the sole vegan option in his family-style meal, Jack serves jambalaya, which Adjua immediately hates and rates a two. Mecca then asks Tumi to have Jack cook whatever Adjua wants, which is fried tofu and French fries. Sounds simple, right? Nope! Jack’s tofu isn’t to her liking because it’s pan-seared rather than deep-fried. Mecca asks for Jack to come upstairs so they can speak with him, and when he’s asked why the tofu isn’t fried he puts the blame on Tumi because she didn’t explicitly tell him to bread and deep-fry it. What a snake! Maybe he should blame his Britishness rather than throwing Tumi under the bus for something that isn’t her fault.
The next morning, it’s back to the Tumi and Natalya show as they decide to finally have a civil discussion. Tumi begins by saying she respects Natalya’s enthusiasm and feels that they have that quality in common. Then she and Natalya bicker for what feels like eternity over the same issues we’ve been hearing about the entire charter — mostly Tumi apparently not showing any appreciation for Natalya’s work as interim Chief Stew. Despite Natalya ultimately deciding that she’s fine working with Tumi but isn’t interested in being her friend, it still feels like zero progress was made when Nat immediately calls Tumi a “fucking little bitch” behind her back.
Natalya’s continued disrespect of Tumi is astounding, and it’s clear from this conversation that they’ll be unable to work well together for the rest of the season. It also speaks volumes that Tumi hasn’t insulted Natalya once despite Natalya bad-mouthing her to their co-workers non-stop. I genuinely feel bad for Tumi because she’s clearly trying to move forward but Nat isn’t budging.
While this is happening, cracks in the deck team start to appear as Max and Haleigh struggle to communicate on the stern during the boat docking. Max doesn’t quite know what to do with the ropes, and Haleigh gets so fed up that she tells him to “shut up.” It’s during this moment Sandy realizes that everything is going to shit. Now that the entire crew is in shambles, next week’s episode is sure to be a rollercoaster.