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Welcome! I’m Saint Clare, your patron saint of Whale Wars. It’s good to be back for season 4. A lot has changed with the Wars since we last convened to watch this spectacle. Let’s jump right into it!
Day 1 of anti-whaling season takes us to Hobart, Tasmania, where Captain Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd fleet are preparing to disembark. Watson is giving a press conference, as confident as ever in his abilities and his moral rectitude. Not only is Sea Shepherd stronger than ever, he tells us, but they have a new goal for the season: they plan to prevent the whalers from killing a SINGLE whale. As the reporters respond with a stunned silence, Cap’n Watson waddles over to his flagship, the Steve Irwin, and the season officially begins.
While the Irwin leaves port, the show quickly goes over all the new characters and ships we’ll be watching this season. Last year was all about Sea Shepherd’s ambitious expansion from one ship to a full fleet of three vessels, which created as many problems as it solved because the other two captains, Chuck Swift and Pete Bethune, were either incompetent or reckless. (Or sometimes both).
Well, Sea Shepherd’s long-range ice-breaker ship, the Bob Barker, returns this season with a new captain, a guy named Alex Cornelissen. He’s a Sea Shepherd veteran who’s presented as a capable, veteran sailor. And they’ve replaced their demolished interceptor/scout vessel, the Ady Gil, with a faster, sturdier trimaran named the Gojira, (Japanese for “Godzilla”). Now commanding the Gojira is Paul Watson’s old first mate, Lockhart MacLean. They paint him as not only competent but a sailing GENIUS.
This is shaping up to be the most boring season of Whale Wars ever.
And with that, the fleet settles in for the hunt. We see Captain Cornelissen in action first. He’s discovered a press release from the whalers announcing their intent to head in west to hunt, which he interprets as a clumsy attempt at misdirection. Instead, the Bob Barker will be heading east. And…after one commercial break, the whalers are in their sights. It looks like they haven’t even set up their harpoon for whale killing yet. Maybe Paul Watson’s dream will be realized.
This is the earliest in the season they’ve ever found a whaler. Gone are the days of the Sea Shepherd crew spending half the season wandering around the Southern Ocean, jazzing themselves up by repeating declarations of their sincerity over and over and over to the Animal Planet cameras. Now it’s only like half an episode of that.
They’re not engaging the whalers this week, though; instead, it’s a lot of waiting and positioning. The Steve Irwin steams south to find the other whaling ships but can’t deploy its helicopter because of bad weather conditions. The Gojira crew prepare the spud gun. Without Pete Bethune in the mix, this is handled calmly and professionally, with only some mild cheering when they test the gun out. On the Barker, one of the engineers smacks his head on the hull, bleeding all over the place. Finally, the Irwin spots a second whaling ship, and that’s the end of this week’s episode.
Looks like the shit storms will have to wait. Check back for the full recap on Monday, including a more detailed update on what’s happened over at Sea Shepherd between season 3 and season 4, and what’s become of our two favorite Sea Shepherd captains not named Paul Watson: Chuck Swift and Pete Bethune. The show completely ignores that story, but I’ve done some investigating, and let me tell you, there are some goodies to talk about. See you then!