'Wicked Tuna: North vs. South' – "Yankee Invasion" Recap
The new spin-off of the popular National Geographic Channel (Nat Geo) Wicked Tuna series, Wicked Tuna: North vs South was filmed entirely on the Outer Banks, North Carolina, and the first episode premiered last night (Sunday, August 17), giving the local fishing industry, and particularly southern bluefin business, the national spotlight in what was an exciting, and maybe even educational, first episode.
(SPOILERS ahead! We advise you to not read this recap before watching last night’s episode.)
Fittingly titled “Yankee Invasion”, the episode opens with some beautiful locally filmed shots of many recognizable area landmarks, including the Bodie Island Lighthouse and the Wanchese Harbor water tower, before the first appearance of each of the three local fishing boats – the Wahoo, Doghouse, and Fishin’ Frenzy.
The episode effectively introduces viewers to the new cast of “Southern Captains” – Reed Meredith of the Wahoo, Britton Shackelford of the Doghouse, and Greg Mayer of the Fishin’ Frenzy – establishing each captain and their first mates in the early segments, as they take turns explaining a bit about how big game tuna fishing down South differs from how they’re used to doing it up in Gloucester, mainly because the fish of the Outer Banks swim near the surface, rather than deep under in the sea as they do farther north.
With North vs. South being a new series unto itself, the producers wisely take their time in the earliest scenes to introduce viewers to the fresh faces already familiar with the Outer Banks waters, but they are soon enough faced with the anticipated arrival of their Northern counterparts, including returning fan favorites like Dave Marciano of the Hard Merchandise and TJ Ott of the Hot Tuna.
When the northern invasion begins, it is Ott’s Hot Tuna that leads the attack, actually catching the first fish of the season, though not after a good deal of unanticipated difficulty.
Some serious drama surfaced onboard the Doghouse, where Shackelford is teamed up with a new first mate, Caine Livesay, and tensions rose as an early mistake on the dock at Wanchese Harbor caused and electrical malfunction with disasterous results.
We talked to both Shackelford and Livesay at the local preview screening Thursday night, and they seem to have made it through the experience with their real life friendship in tact, but we’ll all have to wait and see how it plays out on the show.
Meredith, with his brother and Wahoo first mate Banks Meredith, gets perhaps the most screen time of anyone in the first episode, as he makes a $5,000 season-long bet with Fishin’ Frenzy’s Mayer, and later narrates a 90-minute war his brother wages against one very determined fish. The Meredith brothers also finish the premiere episode in the lead.
It’s Fishin’ Frenzy first mate Nick Gowitzka who has the best chance of becoming the breakout star of the series, with some very funny lines that not only spoke the plain and blunt truth about the Outer Banks fishing industry, but are delivered in a native accent only a real local can truly appreciate.
When Nick broke out a bottle of champagne to celebrate the start of the season, I laughed out loud, but when he tossed it in the air and shot it to pieces with his shotgun, I fell over laughing. I can’t wait to see what Nick is going to do with his shotgun next.
The episode ends with a teaser promising that Paul Herbert is teaming with Tyler McLaughlin on the Pin Wheel, set to join the fun on next week’s episode.
What did you think of the episode? Did you see any of your friends on TV? How do you think the Outer Banks was represented? What are your predictions for next week, or the rest of the season?
Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Wicked Tuna: North vs. South airs on Mondays at 10pm on the National Geographic Channel.
You can watch our interviews with Outer Banks captains Mayer and Shackelford right now in the player below, and then scroll down to view over 50 exclusive images from the local preview screening in our photo gallery!
(Click an image to enlarge.)