The world of deep sea fishing is a wild one. At least thatâ€™s what the expansive subgenre of intense fishing reality shows will have you believe. Battlefish on Netflix follows four different boats as they try to catch as many albacore tuna during the season. Which crew will come out on top and which boat is in need of repairs?
Opening Shot: Intense rock musicÂ plays over filtered images of fishermen loading tuna into boats. Itâ€™s through this introduction sequence that Battlefish introduces us to the four boats this reality show will be followingÂ â€” the TNT,Â Oppor-Tuna-ty, Judy S, and Ashley Nicole.
After the introductory music ends, a narrator explains whatâ€™s going on. During the migration of the albacore tuna, the Pacific Northwest of the United States can be one of the most profitable fishing spots in the world. These boats will be battling the elements, luck, and each other to land the biggest haul.
The Gist:Â Netflixâ€™s latest eight-episode reality series follows the crews of four different boats during the albacore tuna season. Battlefish may focus on a different catch, but it has many of the same elements of other reality fishing shows like Deadliest Catch and Wicked Tuna. If a crew can catch enough, they have the potential to make enough money to last most of the year. If not, they may end the season with a huge gas bill and a broken boat.
As long as people keep eating fish, there will be a demand for fishermen to brave the elements. And this particular profession requires a lot more luck and killer camera angles than you may imagine.
Our Take:Â If youâ€™ve even flipped through Nat Geo or Discovery Channel, then you already know what Battlefish is. Thereâ€™s a lot of cursing, a lot of overly intense musical cues, and a lot of anger as different crews try to catch as many fish as quickly as possible. What sets Battlefish apart is, oddly enough, its focus on technique.
Each of the four vessels Battlefish focuses on utilizes a different technique for catching albacore. Led byÂ Captain Justin, Ashley Nicole is perhaps the most basic and the newest of the operations. The crew is shown largelyÂ staying away from reels, instead primarily fishing solely with lines and icing their haul as they go. As they reveal by the end of the episode, Ashley Nicoleâ€™s plan is to keep its costs and fuel usage relatively low and hope for a large haul.
Judy S, led by Captain Bill, and TNT, led by Captain Karl, take more modernized approaches to fishing for albacore. When the camera cuts to their stories, sometimes reels can be seen. TNTâ€™s blast freezer, a giant freezer capable of preserving fish quickly, gains special attention.
And then thereâ€™s the vessel that stands at the other extremeÂ â€” theÂ Oppor-Tuna-Ty, led by Captain Aaron. Whereas the other boasts are clearly fishing vessels, Captain Aaronâ€™s crew uses a faster sports boat. Theyâ€™re the play big, win big member of this crew. Whereas Ashley Nicole and TNT talk about keeping costs down, theÂ Oppor-Tuna-Ty often spends more on fuel and supplies, trusting that speed and luck will land them a higher-priced load in the long run.
Though it takes a while to get there, exploring the differing fishing techniques of these vessels is by far the most interesting thing about this series. Pair that with the crewâ€™s expectedly foul languageÂ â€” which lands even harder with Netflixâ€™s lack of censorsÂ â€” and the showâ€™s good aquatic cameraworkÂ and the first episode of Battlefish stands as a solid introduction into a fast-paced reality TV would.
Sex and Skin: Nope. This is about the fish, dammit.
Parting Shot: The announcer from the episodeâ€™s beginning chronicles each boatâ€™s catch. While Oppor-Tuna-Ty brought in 135 fish, Ashley Nicole had one of the hardest trips of Captain Justinâ€™s career. But the narrator explains these successes and failures hardly matter. This is just one day of a long season, and there are still seven more episodes for everything to change.
Sleeper Star:Â Andre, a deckhand for Judy S, is the first episodeâ€™s real standout. Instead of talking about the fish or insulting other boats (looking at you, Captain Karl), he talks about how excited he is to be on board because maybe this jov will give him some roots.
Itâ€™s a very nice moment. So later in the episode when Andre is struggling with his lines, itâ€™s hard not to secretly root for him, his understanding captain, and Judy S as a whole.
Most Pilot-y Line: At one point one of the crew members smears tuna blood on his cheeks and says, â€śItâ€™s called war paint.â€ť
Look, I know that fishermen will keep killing fish as long as we eat them, but playing with a dying tunaâ€™s blood is a bit of a bridge too far. Weâ€™ve already dominated this species. Letâ€™s not go overboard (pun intended).
Our Call: Stream it. Battlefish is a solid reality show to throw on in the background. But be warned that if you watch, you will be seeing a lot of dead fish.