Temptation Island

“Temptation Island” – Nell Kalter’s Episode 9 Recap

Johnny and Kady, meanwhile, check into a different hotel. This one doesn’t have a bobbing mammal in the lobby, but there are a bunch of cute little bungalows where they can spend the next twenty-four hours completely alone – you know, besides the camera crew and the producer who are surely along for the intimate ride. To prove his masculinity, Johnny wears a blue shirt and carries the bags inside, something I fear dolphin-smooching John wouldn’t even think about doing. Kady is struggling as the end of this process looms. She loves John and they share a life together, but she no longer feels the flicker of sparks. Does she feel those sparks with Johnny? Well, she’s not fully at the fireworks stage with him either, but there’s a chance he could make some part of her feel at least slightly flammable – and he’s got twenty-four hours to prove it, but no pressure.

Javen and Kayla’s date involves an awesome helicopter ride and an even better understanding. Javen only wants his girlfriend, Kayla knows and respects that, and the two are thrilled to simply be wonderful friends. And this scene is now officially the sanest three consecutive minutes ever shown on this sh*t-show.

As for Shari, she’s doing yoga under some palm trees with Justin and apparently working sweat ducts on a man are a huge turn-on for her. I don’t think she’ll ever choose anyone over Javen, but Justin is tempting her a bit. After the downward dogging is complete, the yoga instructor throws down some cards on the lawn and asks Shari to pick one. Before Shari makes her choice, the instructor makes clear that whichever card Shari picks will be picked for a reason. Doesn’t it seem like everyone even peripherally associated with this show believes (or pretends to believe) that every single one of their actions is due to the fact that all this sh*t was written in the stars for them sixteen zillion years ago? Does anyone besides me sometimes point at the screen at laugh because you just know they all feel this way because it lets them off the hook for behaving like assh*les sometimes? In any case, Shari picks a card about becoming discerning and she doesn’t think any other word could possibly define her journey on this show better because she used to live life according to what she believed her boyfriend wanted and through the process of, I don’t know, becoming discerning, she’s now about forging her own path. There’s some circular logic going on here, but I don’t particularly give a f*ck because Shari looks happy, we all know she’s sticking with Javen, and there’s not really a ton of dramatic intrigue going on here.

What’s that? There’s a far more interesting couple about to get massages on a veranda? And one of the people about to be rubbed is Brittany, Aquarius and Stare-Contest-Winner Extraordinaire? Maybe it’s because there are no televisions or books permitted while filming this show and Karl thinks, well, Brittany has to stare at something so it may as well be him, but Karl is not freaked out in the least by a woman who only throws out longing and knowing looks that are so pronounced that I end up snickering – and I mean f*cking hard – every single time the girl appears onscreen. Before the massages, the two share a few kisses. As a viewer who doesn’t know these people and also doesn’t particularly care about them, I see no problem with them smooching it up. Not only is Nicole probably ending things with Karl at the conclusion of all this, but Brittany and Karl have twenty-four hours to kill and there’s no way the guy can handle her just gazing at his face the entire time or he’ll lose whatever is left of his sanity. I’m both pleased and relieved to inform all of you that Brittany does close her eyes when she’s kissing, which means that, as a society, we should probably all band together to make both a plan and a vow that one of us should always have a tongue in that woman’s mouth. Do it for humanity!

Karl’s about-to-be-former girlfriend is spending her twenty-four hours with Tyler. She feels comfortable and relaxed with him, probably because she feels like she can speak her mind around Tyler in a way she often didn’t with Karl. He would like to keep their relationship moving forward after filming ends and I think there’s a good chance that’s happened. I don’t think Tyler’s going to propose to Nicole in the next millisecond or anything the way I’m sure Evan will propose to Morgan, but all that means is that Tyler and Nicole are in a more, shall we say, rational state of mind right about now and I’m all for being f*cking rational.

The only thing this process has done for Javen is make him appreciate Shari more. The guy is all in right now. Yes, Baby Girl is his certain future – and he’s so sweet about it that Kayla toasts to the happy couple – but there could be some misery up ahead. Seems Shari is quite enjoying the banter she shares with Justin and she never thought she’d grow as much as she has on that island. Has she outgrown the man she’s been with since before she got her first period? Hard to say, but I hope Kaci hasn’t hoarded all the tissues available in Hawaii because Javen may need a few dozen in the end.

As Evan and Morgan kiss on a boat and discuss how thrilled they are about the future they’ll share once Evan informs Kaci that their future is dead, Kaci and Val sit down for dinner. Kaci tells Val that she’s been wondering something: Did Evan ever really loved her? Who hasn’t asked that question after someone you devoted pieces of your life to ultimately betrayed you in every conceivable capacity? Who wouldn’t contemplate the notion that what you and someone else shared couldn’t possibly have been real if the guy moves on in a nanosecond? I’m thinking that what makes the Evan/Kaci thing feel more hideous and raw than the Karl/Nicole deal or the Kady/John thing is that those couples really came into this process understanding that there were true cracks in their relationships, while Kaci and Evan seemed only to battle about Kaci’s struggle with getting a proposal by a deadline. Other than what seems to amount to a scheduling issue, they didn’t seem to be a fractured pair the way the others clearly did and perhaps that’s why watching Kaci’s struggle hits me harder than what Karl is maybe about to deal with. But there is an upside here, friends! I used to only feel irritated by Val, but the guy is direct over dinner, he comes right out and tells Kaci that Evan is not worth her pain, and he has a very sweet smile. I wonder what his favorite mammal is…

Nicole is having a far better time than Kaci. She’s all about Tyler, which means maybe Karl should just go ahead and allow Brittany to eat him the f*ck up. Anyone want to bet that she eats with her eyes open? And since we’re fully into the night portion of all these dates, it’s time to see how Katheryn and John are doing. They approach a private table for dinner and I sincerely hope dolphin is not on the menu. Katheryn is into John. She finds it so attractive that he’s in touch with his feelings, but she wants to make sure he’s not with her at the moment because his real girlfriend is with someone else. I give Katheryn a lot of credit for coming right out and asking this question. I think so often we just want to be Cool Girls who are totally fine with absolutely whatever, and I commend her for worrying about the safety of her own heart here. John swears to her that she is not merely a rebound. In fact, he’s pretty much over Kady completely. He deserves better, he thinks, and he would like very much to walk through life with a new blonde who is willing to gush about his manhood in public.

Also: The line of flower petals leading to John and Katheryn’s bed looks somewhat phallic. Think that was intentional and meant as a way to validate John’s virility just one more time?

Though John is moving beyond the idea of Kady and even plotting both her eventual eviction from his home and the way he will confront her at the final Bonfire, Kady is still uncertain about her future. She likes Johnny, she does. But she loves John even though the sparks are not sparkly enough for her anymore. Johnny asks what she’s planning to do and she is pretty evasive and the two then acknowledge that this is the most they’ve ever spoken about the John situation, a revelation that is frankly stunning to me and one I’m not sure bodes well for their future.

Also: For a really long time I thought I was searching for a man with a sharp wit, a reservoir of internal strength, and the capacity for forever loyalty, but after watching this scene I now know that all I really want in life is a man who approaches me daily with an enormous tray of s’mores fixings like the one Johnny is clutching.

The next morning, Kady and Johnny wake up and they cuddle and they kiss, but Kady reveals to us that she spent some time thinking about John during her date. Now, Kady has no idea that John is rehashing in his mind all the terrible things she’s said and done to belittle him over the years, but at least this show is all about teaching us the meaning of dramatic irony! And at least Katheryn is asking John the tough questions, like what will he do if Kady tells him that cheating on him on national television was simply a mistake? Will he take her back? John’s not sure and Katheryn is right to feel vulnerable, but at the same time, isn’t it a wee bit strange that some woman John met three weeks ago feels betrayed because he may choose to stay with THE WOMAN HE ALREADY F*CKING LIVES WITH? I tell you, this show could drive me to drink…

As for Kaci, she wakes up feeling stronger. She’s no longer afraid to see Evan – not at this exact moment anyway – but she does want him to be haunted by the fact that he lost her until his dying day, a request that strikes me as more than reasonable, especially since I hope one particular man I’ve known will be struck down with impotence until the very last second of time.

The morning is tougher for Karl. He slept with Brittany and he wakes up early due to stabbing pangs of guilt. Brittany has no such regrets. She hopes Karl and Nicole break up and that she and Karl then naturally explore a relationship, which is perhaps the most normal thing Brittany has said since she landed on that island and refused to stop staring at peoples’ faces. Unfortunately for Brittany, Karl is still absolutely in love with Nicole. Unfortunately for Karl, there’s a chance Nicole has already forgotten his name.

Once the dolphin swimming and the massages and the hotel suite f*cking are done, the guys and their dates return to the villa and Mark shows up. Ladies, he basically says, this show doesn’t require your presence anymore. It’s time for the Tempters to say adieu because the final episodes will only involve the reunions of the original couples. Mark allows them all a moment to say goodbye and it goes a little something like this:

Kathryn begins crying because she is worried she’ll never see John again.

Brittany finally breaks eye contact when Karl admits that he doesn’t know if they’ll see each other again.

There’s no footage of Kayla saying goodbye because there was no will-they-or-won’t-they sh*t going down and she’s probably up in her room calmly packing her stuff.

But Morgan. Morgan is devastated upon hearing the news that she and Evan need to say goodbye so hastily. I don’t blame her for that reaction and I don’t blame her for feeling anxious that Evan will cave upon seeing Kaci. What I do blame her for – what I blame all of them for – is that they all seem to feel shock enveloping their hearts and their minds because suddenly a dawning of a realization has set in, one that really should have set in at least a decade ago when they tuned in to these programs while reclining safely in their living rooms at home: that appearing on a reality TV dating show in this day and age could actually end up being a seriously terrible idea.

Here’s a clip from next week’s episode where Karl says the wrong thing:

Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York. She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle. Also be sure to check out her website at nellkalter.com. Her twitter is @nell_kalter.

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