Welcome back to Deadliest Catch, the best reality series out there! Last week saw the end of king crab and tonight marks the beginning of Opies. We’ll see the departure of Freddie and Steve (hopefully it’s explained) from the Cornelia Marie, we’ll see Edgar’s departure from the Northwestern. Other shifts in crew include the inclusion of Eddie’s son on the Time Bandit as well as Travis Lofland (previously on the Wizard). Plus, we’ll see a new captain for the Cornelia Marie, longtime Cornelia associate Tony Lara. From everything I’ve read, he seems like a cool guy who has a no-nonsense approach but without degrading Phil’s memory. And so the episode begins….
We open in Dutch. A new season….crew members are seen off. A challenge. Pain. Reward. Some guy with a great voice singing. Opilio. Freddie with a very bloody face (as there are others). Then the oh so familiar “Wanted Dead or Alive”. Seriously, they need to have Jovi at Catch Con sometime performing this song as the captain’s and crews come in. Would just be way too fitting.
As I said, we’re in Dutch. January, a harsh month weather-wise. Sig says he doesn’t think he’s ever run it without Edgar and it would be a hard pill to swallow without him. Edgar also says in order for him to leave people have to find their way quick. Keith hates being a tyrant and wants to find a way how not to be. Josh had big hopes and dreams, no one likes to fail he says. January. Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Fall has given way to winter and with the change in seasons, comes a new hunt for crab. You never know what will happen with Opies. Across the fleet hands are prepping for launch. Matt Bradley is back! On the horizon, weeks of pain and an uncertain fate.
On the Time Bandit, John and Andy talk strategy. The annual changing of the guards unfolds in the wheelhouse. Johnathan gives up the chair to Andy. They banter back and forth, with Johnathan giving it up somewhat reluctantly. On the deck the crew rolls out the welcome carpet, for Travis Lofland from the Wizard! Travis says your app is still the same no matter the boat, it’s just a different group of guys. Eddie’s son, Eddie Jr. is joining the crew as well. They always add an extra guy for Opies by the way. They show him how to do things, Eddie cautioning his son on what to do and what not to do on deck.
Across the dock on the Northwestern, Edgar is there. For the past 15 years he’s readied the boat for launch. He’s going over things with Norman and Jake now. This season he’s prepping the crew for his departure. Sig says he has the knowledge of what goes on with the heart of the boat and they have to find their own way. With Edgar gone, Jake Anderson gets his chance to move up the ladder, if he can handle the climb. He and Sig go back and forth on who’s cooking this time around, it’s jokingly of course but Edgar says they’re doomed.
Just down the harbor, veteran deckhand Freddie joins the Wizard. This breaks my heart but I respect Freddie too much to criticize. He appreciates the chance to join the crew, and the crew/captain greets hi m warmly. Monte shows him around the inside, and he says it’s nice there, good sized boat. It was time for him to move on to a different boat, it was hard to do. He says he’s made less money with Phil but always got love and respect. He couldn’t afford it anymore so he had to step up and take a higher paying job.
On the Cornelia Marie, Josh sits in the wheelhouse. We flash back to Derrick admonishing the boys and berating Phil’s memory. Josh says things jut didn’t work out, derrick didn’t mesh with the boat. There’s a different way of things, tired of playing the victim role though, Josh is, and wondering why it happened. He says it did, now it’s time to settle the score and do the things Phil wanted him to do. Another flashback to Derrick’s tirade about Jake on drugs and such. Josh says he’ll step up if Jake can’t b/c the boat has to stay in the family and they have to turn a negative into a positive. Says they have a great group; Chief is the engineer, Dale as well and on deck. Ryan’s still with them and Jake’s flying in. Tony Lara is captain, they say hired by Josh but the real Cornelia did too. And just then Tony comes up to the wheelhouse. He says right off the bat it’s not an option, you can’t work with someone hopped up on drugs. If Jake has an issue, he can’t go out fishing, people can get killed. It’s just not tolerated. He says a very scrutinizing drug test is coming. Did anyone else notice the plaque inside the wheelhouse? It said “The Phil Harris Memorial Wheelhouse”.
Jake arrives, along with others. He’s greeted warmly by Tony and he looks great. Tony tells him for insurance purposes they have to do the drug test. Jake is fine with this. The test is issued, Ryan says Jake is trying and realizes the options in front of him. Something as small as this test can change things. The crew talks, Jake comes out and he’s passed. Tony hugs him, says good job. Jake is clean. Hear that doubters?!?
So, we’re back. Dawn breaks on the fleets last day in port. On the Time Bandit, on the crane guard in big red letters is a tag from the Seabrooke. I like the SB, but man, what a rookie move. You don’t mess with the Time Bandit! While the crew celebrated their final hours on solid ground, the Seabrooke marked their territory. Johnathan says he’s the expert, they need to buy every egg in town. And they do, they buy 1500 eggs!!!! Justin Tennison says this is for you. They call in the Northwestern and a few other guys, they all gather on the TB. Eddie says you can’t outsmart the older guys, you don’t’ mess with the Hillstrands. The Time Bandit draws near the Seabrooke, and Junior sees them, says they’re giving me the look. He calls out to them and they launch all 1500 eggs at the boat. It’s an fantastic slaughter!!! Junior yells for them to take cover as Andy directs them to cover every window on that boat. Derek, the deckhand on the SB, got creamed!!!
Then, the inevitable storm warnings come in. Keith is on the Wizard says that 48-96 hours out is the biggest storm he thinks he’ll ever see in his life. The winds and seas are projected to be huge, Nick Mavar says they’re headed for misery. Junior on the SB says he’s leaving 10 pots in town to be safe. In 36 hours an Arctic hurricane is bearing down. Sig’s goal is to get there asap before the weather. Andy on the TB calls for them to cut it loose, as does Bill on the Kodiak.
Is it telling that we haven’t seen the RR yet? The only thing between the men and their share of the bounty is the fury of the Bering Sea. Bill says this body of water will show you how to be humble and afraid.
On the Cornelia Marie, final pots are loaded. Freddie is there! I LOVE IT! He’s come by to bid them goodbye. He hugs them all. Freddie says he loves them and they will always have his heart. Josh says bros for life, Freddie says to make their dad proud. Jake says no matter where they go PhD’s there. They bid each other a fond farewell and Freddie leaves.
Edgar is set to depart, Jake looks very somber. Nick says to enjoy his first birthday home in a long time. Sig bids him goodbye, as does Nick. They hug. Nick is in tears and Jake is on the berg of tears as he hugs him. Edgar says they’ll be fine, Sig says to keep his phone handy. Edgar says full pots, fair seas. With that, Edgar departs the Northwestern. As the boat pulls away we see Edgar watching them. This show, seriously has the best score. Freddie stands at the end of the dock as the CM pulls away, the crew waves out to him and Freddie does an I’m not worthy bow. What a great f’ing show.
318 miles northwest of Dutch, the Wizard arrives at the grounds while the storm closes in. Keith says the seas will be abnormally high. The crew readies for the launch. Keith hopes to get his gear in the water before the storm but he’s not sure if he can. Captain Keith has a small window to get the pots off deck. Freddie immediately climbs on the stack. Keith says there’ll be obvious slowdowns b/c of the greenhorns, two new ones. Change of pace for Freddie too. Everyone is falling in rhythm. Keith says Freddie likes a brisk pace and that’s the type of guy he loves. Keith calls out for the ready from Soper who gives the roger. The first pot launches. The first buoys are thrown, Keith wants to remain calm in this chaos. More pots launch. His goal is to catch as much as quick as he can with everyone safe.
35 miles to the south, my boys on the Time Bandit prepare to drop pots on MacGoo! These are his proven Opie grounds. Andy says it’s been very good to him before but with the storm showing it’s teeth the crew keeps watch on Eddie Jr. Andy says if anything happens to Jr. Eddie will kill him. The first pot goes out. The crew cheers. The seas are definitely picking up and just four pots in the seas have grown to 28 feet. Andy says they’re going to be right in the eye of it. Just then, the pot comes loose from the crane and narrowly misses several crew members. The hook came out and Justin was in the bite, he very nearly got caught by the pot. Eddie Junior gets a Bering Sea warning. Scotty says every time they try to move the pots around someone gets hurt.
323 miles northwest of Dutch, the CM is skirting the southern edge of the storm. Josh says it’s time to learn things about running the boat. Jake says in about 24 hours they’ll be pulling full pots. Tony says it’s tough to set right before a storm, but they have to get the pots off the boat. He’s starting at the rockpile, and we flash to Phil so of course I start crying. He’s taking a page from Phil’s spot, saying it was his bread and butter. Tony says he has the boys there and he has to teach them some of their father’s legacy. The crew sets to work, the first pot is in the launcher. Tony clears them to let it go and they launch it. Tony says you cover a lot of depths, they’ll catch something.
59 miles to the southeast, on the Northwestern, Sig says weather is coming in tomorrow and it’s not good so they have to make it happen. In 10 hours a 1300 square mile hurricane will rip into Sig’s fishing grounds. His guts are telling him to launch the pots asap, as soon as they can get that stack off the deck he’ll feel better. To keep the boat stable the crew needs to bait and set 150 pots and do it minus one key player. Sig says without Edgar everyone’s positions have changed. Jake says this could be enjoyable, they don’t have their good buddy and brother Edgar yelling at them. Sig says Jake has to step up a notch, and knows he wants to so that’s good but it’s dangerous trying to do more with less experience. Then, Matt is back, but on thin ice and without Edgar he doesn’t have his safety net. Matt says it feels good to be home and Jake says he’s glad that he’s back. To pick up the slack Sig has picked up a former skipper, Kevin Blakely. Jake says there’s a Northwestern tradition, to bite the head off a herring and the new guy has to, so Kevin heartily bites into it. They’re ready to dump the first pot. Sig says it’s always nice to hit a few crab right off the bat if you can but they’re prospecting right now. The first string is always nerve wracking because you just don’t know. Only 2 pots into the set…Sig’s already swearing. Tangled shots are slowing the crew down. Sig says if there’s a snarl, it’s because they undid the line but looking at it further messes it up further and you can see the snarl is messing things up. With the storm moving in, Sig’s plan to fish in clear skies is a long shot. Sig can’t make up the time and now with the weather there he has to haul in it…he says you just can’t win.
Back to the CM and they’re on the edge of the hurricane. But Josh is just excited to be there. Tony is fishing cod for hanging bait as the other pots soak. He says it’s a little nautical today, they’re gusting 45-50 at this time. Tony says good way sot tart the opie season, hauling cod is usually the easiest thing on deck but with 30 foot seas every job becomes a grueling test. Tony says the tide might be switching and if that’s so they may have to wait a bit. You can tell how it’s picking up by the way the pot was swinging back and forth and then they take a HUGE wave. That pot becomes a flying missile as it swings on board. Tony checks to see if everyone’s okay and they call up that they’re fine. The crew laughs it off (I’d be pissing myself). The force of the 30 foot wave launched the pot on deck, nearly taking out Josh Harris. With more deadly weather on the way, The skipper shuts down fishing. He calls them all in. Smart move if you ask me. Holy crap seeing it again, Josh was within INCHES of being taken out, hardcore.
Oh god you just couldn’t go without showing the RR could you Discovery? Captain Greenhorn Neese is doing repairs at the dock, he’d rather have the work done sooner than later though. He’s told the repairs could take up to three days though. The rookie captain’s mission to prove his worth will have to wait. Neese says it’s to the point where you have to say hey, enough’s enough, you have to go fishing.
The storm has arrived and the Northwestern is getting slammed. Jake says it’s only going to get worse. Sig approaches his first pots of the season in the heart of the hurricane, lamenting these are the cards they were dealt. This is his first haul without Edgar, but not his first storm. The crew calls out the ready and they approach their first pot. As it’s thrown a huge wave hits and Matt misses it. The pots comes up and there’s not that much in it. Norman looks miserable already, there wasn’t even 100 in that pot. 100 keepers is a dismal start. More huge waves slam into them, and as the storm makes landing pots nearly impossible, it’s barely worth risking the crew. Nick says Sig has to watch it because of the weather, not sure what he’s seeing but as Nick looks he sees them and DANG, the crew almost got taken out by a massive MASSIVE wave.
We go northeast now to the Time Bandit, who’s starting in the same conditions. Eddie Jr is asked how he feels to be there for the most epic storm as of late. Andy says they have four days to load the boat, they have to get through the gear, they can’t anchor up b/c they don’t have time. The waves are way bigger than the boat and the first pot comes up….again with the fantastic score, I love this ominous music. The pot haul is pretty damn good, they got 325, no sand fleas and clean crab. Fishing looks good but in 40 foot seas and 60 mph winds, there’s no time for celebrating. Andy says the guy shave taken more spray this year than all of last year.
Going north to the Wizard now and Keith is in the battle. The first pot is coming up. As it his the rail, and swings a bit, the haul isn’t bad. Freddie is working hard. Keith says this is one hell of a way to start the season, but then a massive waves hits them.
Then we go back to the Northwestern and all others, across the fleet they haul under heavy fire and every skipper has to make a choice. Music plays as we see the guys battling the waves. Then Sig stops the fishing and calls them in. In fact, all the captains are calling their guys in as the episode ends.
I liked this episode, it seemed a bit like older seasons, even with the crew shifts. We don’t have a Where’s Waldo picture again this week and I think the airtime was more evenly spread out. So definitely no complaints from me, well done Discovery Channel!
But there’s one final thing to attend to, as always…..
Rest in peace Phil. Fair winds.