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'Deadliest Catch' season 6 premiere: Big tempers, heavy hearts, sinking stomachs

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Image Credit: Rick Gershon/Getty ImagesDiscovery’s Deadliest Catch returned last night for the premiere of a season dedicated to “all souls sacrificed to the sea.” The one on fans’ minds, of course, is Capt. Phil Harris, who we’re watching fish his final season aboard the Cornelia Marie. The season could not have gotten off to a more tense start with Phil’s sons, Jake and Josh (pictured), fighting so badly that Josh was looking for a job on another boat. Phil and Northwestern captain Sig Hansen decided to swap Jakes (or, as Phil called them “cocky and cockier”). Had we not known that Jake Harris was missing time with his dad, maybe we could enjoy this idea more. It’s interesting to see the challenges of switching boats — Jake Harris already got clocked between the eyes because the cages on the Northwestern are different, and Jake Anderson fell into the tank on the deck of the Cornelia Marie and owes the crew a case of beer. (“Did you hurt your girlish figure?” Phil cracked over the intercom, laughing from his chair.) It’s also nice to see Jake Anderson feel so comfortable being himself around the Cornelia Marie crew. But you know, I worry about him getting as attached to Phil as he is to Sig, only to lose him. Thinking back to Jake finding out on the Northwestern that his sister had passed away still breaks my heart.

The other big drama that took place before we even left the dock: A massive blowup between Time Bandit captain Johnathan Hillstrand and Wizard captain Keith Colburn. Johnathan had heard that Keith was trying to poach crew members, and after a bleep-filled conversation with his co-captain brother Andy, confronted Keith at the captain’s bonfire. It was Phil who got between them after Johnathan shoved Keith to the ground. That battle ended with Johnathan saying, “You know what, don’t even f—in’ call my boat unless you’re f—in’ sinkin’.” On the one hand, that’s cold. On the other, it shows that even if you hate someone, you save them on the sea. Kinda spooky that Johnathan later heard the distress call for the capsized codfishing vessel Carly Renee. They were too far away to help, but, thanks to a cellphone camera, we got to see the Guardian rescue the four crew from a life raft. That voice on the footage realizing the Guardian was the only boat there to rescue them? As chilling as watching the faces of the Carly Renee crew change the more they talked about how they didn’t know what had happened: One minute they were smooth sailing on a calm sea, the next they were swimming. (“This weather here is storybook. I mean, this doesn’t ever happen to us. This is the flattest king crab season I’ve ever had,” Phil had said. “We’re gonna pay for that.” Said Sig: “This is pretty unexpected. The weather’s been unexpected, you know, the temperatures. What is this, some omen or somethin’?”)

Things to watch for this season:

• How many Capt. Phil quotes will end with him saying “I wouldn’t trade it for the world”: Last night, we got two: “If you want to be stressed out, if you want to be cranky, hungry, tired — run a crab boat. The funny part about it is, I wouldn’t trade it for the world” and “You can watch things happen, make things happen, or wonder what the f— happened. Now, we’re makin’ things happen. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” Try to remember that — and his bonfire quote, “I shouldn’t be bitchin’, I should be livin’ life” — when he has his stroke and you hear one of his sons saying, “Dad, they gotta check your pulse…. Don’t worry, dad. It’s gonna be okay.” I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t show us that footage — just played us the audio. It’ll be equally gut-wrenching — maybe more so, because we’ll feel even more helpless.

•  How Wizard greenhorn Joel Ziele will do? “Greenhorns are like toilet paper on the Wizard, man. They go quick,” Keith said. His take on Joel: “The guy just looks like he came out of the joint, man. Got that ax murderer look goin’ on.”

• How long Russell Newberry, who was fired from the Time Bandit and the Wizard, last on the Kodiak? Also, how will Capt. Wild Bill Wichrowski’s greenhorn son, Zach Larson, fair?

• How lucky are the Hillstrand brothers? The Time Bandit is gambling fishing the same secret spot for a third straight year — which you don’t do.

More Deadliest Catch:

Deadliest Catch returns: How soon will Capt. Phil make you cry?

Capt. Phil: More great stories from and about him

Remembering Captain Phil Harris

Capt. Phil told Deadliest Catch to keep filming in the hospital: ‘We need a great finish to this story’

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