Fans of ‘Deadliest Catch‘ know that as Captain Phil Harris was fighting to recover from a stroke, he wrote a note to his favorite cameraman, Todd Stanley, who was standing nearby, shooting video of the tough seaman in his hospital bed. “We need to give them a great finish to this story,” said the Cornelia Marie captain. Well, last night that great finish began with the airing of an all-new episode of ‘Deadliest Catch,’ the first of four unsparing, emotional shows focusing on the end of Harris’ life. He would be thrilled to know it drew the highest ratings of any ‘Deadliest Catch’ episode ever, an audience of 5.4 million. The episode showed his initial stoke, Harris collapsed in his tiny stateroom, the quick action taken by his sons – Josh and Jake – and the rest of the crew to get medical attention, and the effect of the news on the close-knit Cornelia Marie crew. For a refresh, take a look at the clips below.
According to a NY Times story, Harris’ son, Jake, approved of the way the network has handled these episodes, and neither he nor his brother asked producers to remove any of the graphic, highly emotional scenes, opting to keep it as real as possible. That seemed in keeping with the wishes of Harris, who reportedly had spoken frequently with his cameraman about the possibility of a tragic ending, possibly in the frigid Bering Sea. If that were to be the case, he wanted the cameras to keep rolling. “We always talked about having a beginning, a middle and an end,” Stanley told the Times. “Without one of those three things, you don’t have a story.”
They definitely have one. Did you watch last night’s episode? Will you continue to watch?
Here’s the breakdown for the rest of the season.
DEADLIEST CATCH: Episode 12 – Tuesday, June 29 at 9PM ET/PT
The rest of the fleet begins to hear the unsettling news of their friend and fellow skipper. Captains Sig Hansen, Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand and Keith Colburn all react with stunned disbelief while still keeping an eye on the turbulent waters, as the Bering Sea stops for no one.
DEADLIEST CATCH: Episode 13 – Tuesday, July 6 at 9PM ET/PT
Josh and Jake Harris continue to watch over their dad at the Anchorage hospital. They are joined by Johnathan Hillstrand as well as Phil’s inner circle of biker buddy friends. Ever the stubborn fighter, Phil rallies in the ICU.
DEADLIEST CATCH: Episode 14 – Tuesday, July 13 at 9PM ET/PT
Despite small signs of encouragement, Captain Phil loses his battle. He passes away surrounded by family and friends.
AFTER THE CATCH (SEASON FINALE): Tuesday, July 13 at 10PM ET/PT
The fleet wraps up its time at the French Quarter’s Blue Nile bar in the season finale of ‘After The Catch.’ Captain Phil Harris is remembered in true ‘Nawlins style as fans pour onto Frenchmen Street for a traditional, raucous Jazz Parade. The celebration brings together all the captains to pay tribute to their friend and colleague.
DEADLIEST CATCH: Episode 15 – Tuesday, July 20 at 9PM ET/PT
The news of Phil’s death reaches the rest of the fleet. Captains Keith, Johnathan, Andy and Sig all struggle to come to terms with their friend and colleague’s passing.
DEADLIEST CATCH: CAPTAIN PHIL HARRIS REMEMBERED – Tuesday, July 20 at 10PM ET/PT
A special one-hour look back at the life of Captain Phil Harris, skipper of F/V Cornelia Marie. The special includes never-before-seen footage, interviews with fellow captains and deckhands and memorable “Phil moments” from the past six seasons of ‘Deadliest Catch,’ from behind the scenes and fan remembrances recorded at CatchCon 2010 and Phil’s public memorial service in Seattle.