Welcome to our newest recap spot, for Deadliest Catch. Two new boats join the fleet this season; the Seabrooke, helmed by 36 year old Scott Campbell Jr. and the Ramblin’ Rose, led by 28 year old Greenhorn Captain Elliott Neese. But let’s not forget our tried and true veteran boats; Northwestern, Time Bandit, Wizard and Kodiak. Plus, the Cornelia Marie, who as you remember suffered the tragic loss of their skipper, Phil Harris, last year. Rest in peace Phil, fair winds and following seas. Join us in our forums for all things Deadliest Catch.
The season fittingly opens with Phil’s voice:
“Life certainly had it down times, tragedies and black moments but also has it’s great times…..” ~ Phil Harris. “You have an awesome season or you come in number one, you know, I mean it makes you feel good…” “If those kids stick with crab fishing and stay on a piece of boat, learn something, yeah they’ll have a great life, it was great for me”…..
We see the boats all surrounding the Cornelia. A pot with flowers tied to it, Phil’s urn is set inside. The tide will carry Phil wherever he wants to go, his son Josh explains. As the crew toasts him, the pot is lowered and Phil is given back to the Bering Sea. Everyone salutes, shoots off guns and fireworks, wishing him safe journey….Josh and Jake hug, Phil’s father is on board too. Then we hear the infamous opening notes of “Wanted Dead or Alive”…..and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that they still have a shot of Phil in the credits.
It’s so funny to watch the boats prepare for King Crab, considering the Time Bandit and Northwestern only agreed to be on the show a few days before the season. Elliott Neese makes his debut by saying he goes out on deck to help and none of the “older” captains do that. (Ed: Whatever there young buck, you’re a greenhorn captain). We see Sig and Jake Anderson talking about the crab grounds, with Sig asking Jake what he’s thinking as to where to fish. Jake says they’re going to the “deep hole” or somewhere around there. Sig doesn’t think so, says they’re going up above the hole, according to the survey there’s more crab than ever there. Sig also shows Jake how he makes his decision on where to catch crab.
On the Time Bandit, Johnathan says he’s decided to go to the same spot as he had for the last four seasons. Andy says it’s a bad move, but Johnathan wants to try it again. No guts, no glory. On the Wizard, Keith has reached his southern grounds and is executing his strategy which is to follow his instincts instead of the herd. They’re going to the Black Hills. A major storm is headed their way.
The crew of the Cornelia Marie is now shown at Dutch Harbor meeting with the new captain, Derrick Ray. The two heirs to Phil Harris; Josh and Jake Harris, along with the crew prepare the boat to set sail. This is something their late father usually did, but the crew is seen working hard to get it done. Before the season started, the Harris boys approached Derrick about running the boat. He agrees but says he needs them to step up too, and it’s going to be done “his way”. As of this time, Josh and Jake are attacking their duties with vigor, but it’s not just the boat that needs to be ship shape. Cpt. Derrick has to make sure that Jake Harris is doing 100%. We flash to the previous season, when it was revealed that Jake Harris battled with drug abuse. Keeping his word, Jake went to rehab. With the crew’s lives at stake, the skipper asks for hard proof, e.g. a urine test and Josh states if he fails then Jake can’t go. He also says if Phil were there he’d say the same thing. An hour later, a man is brought on board to test Jake’s urine. Jake is then shown urinating, as everyone and their dog watches on…..the device is shown drawing up urine and screening for drug metabolites. As the results come up, it’s shown he’s clean. Jake wants to hang it on the fridge, and he does.
On the Time Bandit, the weather is a major concern. Only 36 hours into the season, a 600 mile wide storm approaches. Keith talks about the area they’re going to, and how the storms travel in and out from Bristol Bay. How it affects the sea and the tides as well. Not good stuff. On the Northwestern, Sig is concerned about the focus of his crew, yet the crew is left wondering where Edgar is…we flash to Edgar last season, and his discussion (and voice-over) about his future, about how he needs to walk away soon. As the crew readies the first pot, Sig wonders where his little brother is. With that, Edgar pops out on deck. Sig says Edgar always threatens to leave and he always comes back. This is Edgar’s 23rd season. Before the first pot can splash, they have to carry out the tradition of biting the head off a herring. This year, the new guy, Mark Peterson gets the task and does so with vigor (he’d previously fished with Sig as a teenager). The pots are set to soak and we get our first glimpse of the new boat, the Seabrooke Capt. Scott Campbell says he has a faster pace than the old dogs, and says the vets have a mindset that’s stuck in what they’ve always done. He talks about his style of fishing, and says you have to have big kahoneys to go where he is. He has two unproven greenhorns, one of which is the captain’s little brother, as well as the son of the deck boss. Before he sets, the captain goes on deck for a safety ritual to honor a fallen comrade. He shows them how they lost a previous crew member, and how to prevent that same tragedy from happening again. Two years ago, Seabrooke deckhand “Moose” got caught in the bite and was lost at sea. Capt. Campbell saw it occur, but was left unable to help. He blames himself as he was the captain. He wonders what could have been different, and is left to say it was a pure accident, but they have to remember that this is the most dangerous job in the world.
Johnathan, determined to find the mother-load as he has the previous three years on the same grounds, returns to that same spot. Andy tells him not to do it, but he’s done it anyway. As always, Andy and John display their unique brand of co-captaining, where when one is captain, the other doesn’t question. And we get the first shot of Justin Tennison, second cousin to Eddie, a seasoned deckhand on the Time Bandit. As you recall earlier this year, Justin unfortunately passed away in his sleep on February 21st. The Time Bandit’s flag has taken a beating already, and Mike Fourtner and Scotty (son to Johnathan) climb up to switch it. Amazingly, Mikey climbs up on Scotty’s shoulders to change it over!!!
The first pot goes in, and the weather has kicked up. “Mother Nature is going to spank us, and we’re going to spank her by taking some of her crab” ~ Johnathan. The weather is hellish, and Johnathan notes how important it is to watch his guys. The pitching and rolling is playing hell on Johnathan’s stomach too. More MONSTER waves come through, and what would send most of us running draws laughter from the crew of the Time Bandit, with remarks that they wouldn’t’ expect anything less. Remember that flag? Shredded already. As we return from break the final pots are being launched from the boats and it’s now a waiting game to see if their strategy has paid off…….
Back in port, we see a shirtless guy on top of his boat, and we see Elliott Neese on the Ramblin’ Rose. Please note, from pre-season interviews I already don’t like this guy so my bias could peek through. He does note that what he does and decides will affect his crew. He decides to go way north to blue crab grounds. This is a high risk plan that could make or break his reputation. The crew prepares for a party, the birthday of Kevin Davis. Here’s a flashback for those who’ve watched from the start. Kevin Davis was the guy who went overboard in the early seasons, and then wrenched his ankle in a later season. This is a young captain with a young crew, what Discovery has called the “floating frat-house”…but honestly, from this first glance I’d say they’re a lower grade version of a wannabe Time Bandit. Meaning, they want to be Time Bandit, but those are big shoes to emulate too. Neese notes that he has to draw a fine line between driving them hard but not too hard.
Back at Dutch, we see the Cornelia Marie as the crew prepares to launch with Captain Derrick Ray. He needs all hands on deck, but Jake and Steve went to get a key for a Post Office box and are late getting back, at least in Captain Ray’s mind. After standing by for more than an hour, Derrick goes hunting for Steve. He’s just realizing Steve is with Jake, apparently said for two hours, but it’s only been an hour by Mike Rowe’s narration. The rest of the crew prepares the pots, and Capt. Ray laments “Where are the two f’ers at?”. Then he goes to older brother Josh and says that Jake is a ¼ owner and needs to act like a profession, not run around like a (words bleeped out). Captain Ray gets more and more angry as time goes by, and 2.5 hours later they return. Derrick asks them why they were gone for so long, or Jake rather, but doesn’t say much to him.. as Steve returns however, he immediately launches into Steve and Steve returns the barbs. Seeing as he probably can’t launch into his technical boss (Josh), he takes it out on Steve, saying he doesn’t have enough self respect to stick around for the boys. They yell back and forth, with Derrick saying he has no respect, that it goes both ways. Derrick’s argument is Steve needed to be there, Steve’s argument is everything was good when he left. Derrick wants respect so he can give it back, then saying “Phil’s not here, he’s f’ing dead okay?”….with Phil’s son in earshot. As Steve tries to walk around Derrick he gets chest bumped, with Jake pleading for them to stop. All is not well on the Cornelia Marie and as a fan I would have to say that Phil would not appreciate his lifelong friend (Derrick) treating his crew like that.
We come back to the Wizard now. As Keith states his wishes for a 20 or 50 average a call comes over the radio of another boat who has a crew member who’s suffered from a broken neck. Holy god! It’s a giant container ship that this happened on. Holy god! The Coast Guard is seen flying to the ship for the rescue, remember that the DC crew keeps a camera crew the Coasties to shoot any rescues. The ship is the size of a small town but the only suitable landing spot is a 10X15 foot spot on the bow. The seas are rolling too….15 foot seas and 40 knot winds. Not friendly for a chopper to land during. The severity of the crewman’s injury leaves no time for delay. A rescue swimmer is seen deployed to the ship as we go to break….back from break and the swimmer is being shown lowered again. Keep in mind, he’s being lowered to a barge in 40 knot winds. That’s not easy at all. In fact, you can see from his helmet cam as he gets pushed into the giant containers. Then you hear the crew on the chopper calling to the rescue swimmer, and it showed again how he got slammed into the giant container HARD. Status is requested with no answer. Finally you hear him stammer that he’s fine, shaken but fine. The swimmer is shown being taken into the ship, asking what happened…they show his leg busted up, totally crushed. Apparently his neck was broken and leg crushed from a falling engine block. It was a bloody mess from what they showed us. The injured man is raised up to the chopper and the rescue swimmer is retrieved. For anyone that thinks this show is faked, or amped up for dramatic affect….I dare you to say that after this!
Captain Neese states that anyone working out there you have a respect for and it’s always a bad deal when someone gets hurt. I’d say so there Captain Obvious.
Back to the Northwestern, they’ve reached their underwater storage spot where they keep extra pots. The plan is to move these pots to the grounds where they’d set their other pots, and as Edgar states in his Edgar way, they saved themselves a lot of hours with that. Jake Anderson spent the last year in school and classes, to get certification for captain. Captain Sig talks about Jake trying to get his license, and he’s so eager to do well but when he doesn’t he has a tendency to fall apart. Which is true, but this is one ambitious strong kid. Jake has now set his sights on lunch, cooking for the crew and stating that you have to learn everything on the boat. His mission is simple, cook for five hungry crewmen before the last pot is stacked. It’s then told that he has his Mate’s license, not quite the Captain’s license, but a step in the right direction. He furiously runs around, from the deck to the galley in order to get the cooking done and then we see a pot being drug across deck….the whole line is stuck between the spool and the drum, and for once we see Norman on camera! The whole line was being drug, as he described to us (keep in mind Norman HATES the cameras). The crane is now stuck, no crane, no fishing. Jake then uses the repair time to finish cooking. We see the rest of the crew furiously trying to do the repair, with Edgar at the charge and he successfully frees the snag! That’s Edgar for ya, he is THE Mr. Fix It of the Bering Sea. Sig remarks that with Edgars’ ability and Jake’s ambition, if you combined them you’d have the perfect crewman and I agree.
On the Seabrooke, and the captain has a rep for working his crew hardcore, he wants to try and get ahead of the impending storm. However, the crew has a way of slowing him down, and they’re shown leaving dribblings of coffee. This will take him longer, because he has to make a new pot but he states that he’s only going to push them harder. I’m not disliking this guy like I am with Captain Neese. The first pot’s in sight and as it gets pulled up we’re going to find out just how good this guy is. As the pot comes up, we see……….about a quarter full. Nothing to sneeze at for a 17 hour soak! 49 crab in 17 hours, that’s an average of nearly 3 an hour, three times what they like to see at least. The next pot is the same, with 48. The hits just keep on coming, as he pulls in close to a 50 average per pot. As more pots are pulled the crew is energized with each successful haul. The count climbs at one point to 61. However, the skipper’s little brother is green around the gills and is seen giving in to sea sickness. Great puke shot, thanks Discovery, I haven’t eaten MY dinner yet.
Back to my personal favorite boat, the Time Bandit. Johnathan hoping that with his scallop bed theory, and setting his gear on the same grounds for the fourth year in a row he will still be successful. As the pot is raised, we see nothing, nada, zip, zero, empty. If the first one comes up blank, as Johnathan said, you pretty much know they’re all going to be blank. Guess lightning didn’t strike for the fourth time. There are a few crab in the next pot, but not the type of count they normally look for. Johnathan’s grounds have run dry. This is bizarre, he hasn’t bombed out like this in a long time. Anyone wanting to criticize him, however, should keep in mind that it’s not like he ate a magic Tic-Tac and got to be captain.
Back to Bristol Bay, and the Wizard. The storm has moved north of the crab grounds finally, and Cpt. Keith heads to his first pot of the season. As that pot is raised Keith speaks of how if it were hot fishing there’d be ships around and there are none. But the pot comes up and there’s some in there….it’s a sign of life, but a mixed bag. There’s some keepers, but also some juvies. There’s 14, not what they want. Not terrible, not great either. Suddenly a foreign noise is heard, but it’s not a good noise. Something has gone under the boat! As the pot splashed, Keith drove over the buoy line causing it to be sucked into the propeller. If he can’t free it, the Wizard will be stalled from fishing. The captain decides to put it in reverse and hope it gets freed by force. As he does so, the line clears and the crew returns to fishing, but the pot is lost. The next pot comes up blank. The lost pot cost Kieth a thousand dollars, but the blanks means he has to move to other grounds. These first pots are much like what the Time Bandit experienced, blanks and nothing much.
Back in Dutch Harbor, the men of the Cornelia Marie are finally loading pots and moving on. Steve says he’s fine, everything’s good. 24 hours after their fight Derrick says they had dinner the other night, he’s going to leave him alone and let him do his thing. They may never respect each other, Ray says, but they’ll let each other do their jobs. The boat prepares to leave, it’s finally time for the Cornelia Marie to shove off for the first full season since Phil’s death. Jake says they’re going to “kill them”, the blue crab. Quarrels aside they set out to sea, the final destination is the legendary blue crab grounds. The Cornelia Marie is only one of four boats fishing for blue crab this season, Capt. Ray is excited for Phil’s boys to experience this type of fishing.
Back to the Ramblin Rose as they steam towards the blue crab grounds and the storm that hit the other boats is headed their way. With a giant pot stack threatening to destabilize them, Captain Neese takes shelter at St. Paul harbor. A night off in port means no crab caught. The captain worries, wanting to prove himself to anyone that has doubts about him. He heads off to sleep but his crew takes advantage of the downtime, whooping it up on board. There’s canned beer on board, btw, with the new captain yelling at them for leaving a giant mess in the galley. That being said, this is the crew’s way of challenging the authority of the 28 year old skipper. He deems it unacceptable to make a big mess, go buy beer and make more of a mess. In short, he’s ticked. He demands to know who instigated this, threatening to fire someone, whoever got the extra beer. The crew in the wheelhouse throw the crew member not there under the bus, as Captain Neese threatens to fly him out of there. That crew member is called to the wheelhouse and called out for the mess left. He’s also told his attitude sucks, and he’s thusly fired. As the fired crewman heads down, he confronts the rest of the crew. The captain says that just because he’s young, you’re not going to get away with that. (And the crew not fired laughs at the crewman who was fired as he confronts them). Yeah, this captain, not liking him and not liking his crew either.
For the first five days of King Crab, most crews battled a vicious storm. When hauling started, however, most of the veteran skippers struck out. 400 miles north of them, the Cornelia Marie has arrived at the blue crab grounds. Captain Ray wakes the crew. Ryan starts the season with his own breakfast of champions…a pop tart. They’re all ready to go and in good spirits. This is only the second time these grounds have been opened in over 10 years. As Captain Ray wishes them a safe season, the Harris boys call out to their late father for a great season. As the post are set, suddenly an albatross flies around the boat. This is a good luck bird to fly by, and Jake Harris remarks that his old man is smiling down on them.
The Ramblin’ Rose joins the Cornelia on blue crab grounds. They get ready to set the first pots of the season. As we watch his crew scrambling on the stack to unleash the pots, Neese reminds us that this is the most dangerous part of the job. The crew is jolly, and the skipper joins them on top of the stack to help. Neese has left his boat on “auto-pilot” as he does this…and I guess he’d know more than me but no way would I do this. Neese remarks yo won’t see most skippers don’t do this and he is up there to show that he got there by ability and not by just knowing someone. Yeah, because the other captains are just hapless turds with no idea of what they’re doing, okay there.
Just south of them, we’re back at the Cornelia Marie. It’s sink or swim time and they have some weather. The winds are blowing 35 NE, no ice but it’s not comfortable by any means. They give a moment of silence for Phil, to honor him before pulling the first pot. Freddy says “Sweet, Phil Harris baby, we miss you.” The moment of silence passes as Freddy, the Ninja Hookman, throws it out for the first pot. As it’s pulled in the credits roll, Freddy cries this is for you boss and the episode ends. We get to see next week what that first pot brings.