Kaci’s ill-advised-and-clearly-assembled-through-a-tsunami-of-emotion plan is to tell Evan how badly he’s hurt her and then inform him of all he will be losing if he says goodbye. Evan’s plan is to gut Kaci in the quickest way possible so he can get to whatever hotel Morgan’s chilling out in and then call her “Girl” six zillion more times. What I’m saying here is that the plans these two have are not really matching up.
Kaci arrives first and she looks like she could collapse with fright at any time. Evan shows up next and consolingly claps his hand on her trembling knee. And Mark, realizing he has to get all this done before Kaci faints, tells her she is the person who will get to speak first. Summoning her courage, Kaci says many things – that the Bonfire footage she saw was hard to watch, that they seemed so strong a couple when they first arrived – but the only thing that really resonates is when she tells Evan, “You threw our whole life away for some random girl. You’re a piece of sh*t scumbag and you really broke my heart.” I know this woman still wants to be with Evan after saying such things, but I’m also not going to deny that I stood up and cheered when she strung those particular words together. She ends her speech by telling him how in love with him she still is, how sorry she is for placing all those ultimatums on him, and Evan in turn looks miserable at how badly he’s hurt her. But then he begins speaking and it all goes a little something like this: He went on the show to prove he had the fortitude to resist temptation, and sure, he wasn’t able to do that, but it wasn’t a light temptation that he and his d*ck fell into. No, what he experienced on that island was clarity and it told him that he should open his heart to another person.
Also: Evan’s nickname for Kaci is apparently “My Little Bird,” and sure, I suppose I could make fun of such a thing, but being that one of my boyfriends and I called each other “Mushball,” I don’t really have so much as a mushy leg to stand on here. The first time he calls her the bird thing at the Bonfire she looks relieved; there’s an indication of intimacy. But the second time he calls her that – right after he tells her he’s about to move on from the life they built together – she interrupts and tells him not to call her that before her tear-filled eyes search for a rock or perhaps a pointy stick that she can quickly thrust directly into his scrotum so he can, maybe just for a moment, feel the same agony she’s been feeling for three weeks.
By the time Mark tells them it’s time to decide if they want to leave together, leave alone, or leave with someone else, the silly slasher film I thought I was watching turns instead into some torture porn type sh*t. Listening to Kaci say human things like “I want to go home and see what we can fix” and “This is our life” feels very much like how I felt when I watched that girl in Saw 2 land face-first in a vat of hypodermic needles and then proceed to get stabbed by about sixteen of those pointy suckers every single time she tried to stand or move. There is nothing but torture being shown to us right now. Kaci is tortured because the axis of her entire world has just shifted sideways – and it appears to be staying in that position. Evan is tortured because causing Kaci pain hurts him, but he will not go back on what he told Morgan he’d do. And me, dear reader? I’m being tortured because I understand that relationships sometimes end yet I still feel that I have been left entirely clueless about what it is that Evan sees in Morgan, and for that I blame the editors and the producers of this show. But the torture I’m experiencing is not exactly paramount. What is important is that Kaci announces she’s committed to Evan, to their relationship, to their history, to their f*cking dogs, to proving that she can be the person Evan wants her to be, and Evan announces that he’s committed to Morgan.
At some point during this hideous circular discussion, Evan and Kaci seem to slip into a conversation conducted entirely in code about the ways in which Kaci hasn’t been there for him and the casual viewer watching this relationship implode whilst eating some nice chips and dip doesn’t really have any idea of what it is he’s complaining about or what it is that she’s promising him. And just when you think you can’t possibly take one more second of this confusing misery, Kaci begins begging him to stay with her. Evan shuts her down quickly because the guy with a soul filled with self-proclaimed demons now fully believes that a woman he basically met yesterday will be the one person in the whole wide world who will fully accept him and that she is capable of loving him in a way Kaci cannot. Is he right? Who the f*ck knows. I’d never profess to say the guy doesn’t deserve happiness and I think he is ready to move beyond his long-term girlfriend, but there has to be a another way for all of this to end besides through shock and massive humiliation.
Mark truly impressed me during this finale – like, I’m so impressed by the host’s calming nature that I’m going on record to say that he totally deserves to fully survive this slasher film – and he tries to touch Kaci consolingly as she stalks away, but the girl is walking abject fury right now. She is a whirling cyclone of disbelief and cyclones do not enjoy being touched because a simple conciliatory gesture is not going to do a single thing to make anything right for her right now. She turns around once, informs Evan again that he’s making a mistake, and I’m left wondering how all of this somehow devolved into Evan deciding it was Kaci who had wronged him when he was the one feeling up some girl since the fourth day he landed on that island.
“He threw our whole life away for someone he doesn’t even know,” Kaci tells the unfortunate producer sitting in the SUV with her, and I’d like to once again recommend to anyone so much as contemplating whether or not to appear in the sequel to The Temptation Island Massacre to watch this scene twice and then book an appointment with a licensed therapist instead. Meanwhile, the Bonfire is still raging and Evan is illustrating some remorse for hurting the woman he has long considered his best friend, but he makes sure to add that he has no real regrets for his actions because he has finally found someone who – at least in this sort of rarified and totally constructed universe – accepts him unconditionally. And speaking of Morgan, she is just down that path over there! Evan flees to her, the one girl who understands him, and there Morgan waits until they can fling themselves into one another’s arms and whisper words of devotion while telling themselves that the unconditional love they feel for one another – the one that hasn’t had to endure any conditions thus far besides that pesky girlfriend who needed to be ditched – will indeed burn as eternal as the Temptation Island Bonfire, the one they don’t realize is being extinguished at this very moment by some low-level P.A.
Also: The intensity with which Evan looks at Morgan makes me feel f*cking nauseated because it strikes me as more about consumption than about devotion.
Also: Should these two actually make it down the aisle, I’ll send them a lovely gift. I don’t want to spoil the surprise right now, but I’m deciding between three options: a mirror so Evan can stare instead at himself for a while and see how creepy it looks, a gold-bound thesaurus so he can find something other than “Girl” to call the supposed love of his life, or maybe a nice gravy boat because Thanksgiving is something even piece of sh*t scumbags celebrate.
Also: There’s really no way to look at this relationship as anything other than two people who really enjoy f*cking one another. And if anyone including the happy couple disagrees with me, they can first blame the editors for only including footage in which the two of them constantly climb on and attempt to ravage one another before going back to listen to Evan’s sound bytes in the car wherein his entire focus seems to be on how charged their chemistry is and not at all about how well their lives and their goals and their morals and their hopes and their dreams line up.
And now that those two are off and banging at some hotel paid for by other people, it’s time to reunite Shari and Javen, the characters who left the slasher film premise behind and instead cast themselves in a sweet little romance picture. Javen greets her with a barrage of compliments and Shari is as reserved as she’s been so far, but they tell each other how much they feel they’ve each grown and how much they value one another. Javen explains that he met some wonderful people, but not a single one made him feel anything like what he feels for her. “I’m leaving here with you, Baby Girl!” he declares – but this show would like us to believe for a second that Shari may not fully be on board with the Baby Girl Plan. See, she’s grown a great deal. She wants them to each have their own lives. And just as Javen’s face falls a fraction of an inch in maybe-despair, Shari tells him that she wants to leave with him! She wants him to have female friends! She wants a guy friend or three for herself! And this couple, the one whose demise I so casually called, turns out to be the only couple to leave that island without possibly requiring an immediate prescription for some mood stabilizers.
Also: Javen and Shari get engaged!
Also: The company that provided the lovely ring gets an even lovelier product placement!
Also: I’m totally buying these two a blender!
Now, it would seem that a happy ending such as this one just went and f*cked up my Temptation–Island-is-like-a-slasher-film analogy, but if you aren’t still waiting for the jump scare that’s coming up, you need to go watch (in this order) The Strangers, Friday the 13th (the original!), and The Ring. Because though the official island journey is now complete, those making this show know what we want, so let’s head into the epilogue and make sure you’re prepared to be seriously disturbed.
Six months later, and Shari and Javen are planning their wedding. They hope to get married before the end of the year and I think these two will not only make it down the aisle, but I also think they might really be happy.
Not particularly happy is John. When he and Kady returned to Texas, he was (still!) willing to give her another shot and, according to him, she was reciprocating those emotions. Or she was acting lovey dovey until the day came when she informed John that Johnny had bought her a flight to New York so would John please take care of her pets while she went and got nailed by a chiropractor on the east coast? That was the moment when John finally had enough and Kady is now fully out of both his house and his life. Kady, settled in her own apartment and rocking a brand new set of extensions, dated Johnny for a little while, but the distance complicated things so they decided to just stay friends. As for whether she has any regrets about anything she’s said or done, well, the answer to that is no. And it appears she’s currently single, so if any men out there are looking forward to the day when they can become a Dictator/Father, maybe go ahead and give Kady a call.
Karl is back in Chicago and his reappearance on this show gave me my first full-on wracking belly laugh that I’ve had in ages, so thanks, Karl! See, Karl is making music now and his lyrics are all about not giving in to temptation. That said, he looks good, he’s moved out, and he’s moving on with his life. Nicole is also back in Chicago. She’s about to buy her first home, she’s doing really well, and she’s still in touch with Tyler.
But we all really want to hear from Kaci and Evan, so the first thing to know about Kaci is that she’s now a brunette. The second thing to know about Kaci is that she chokes up when swearing that Evan’s absence in her life is a true blessing, so take from that what you will. Evan has been in touch with her. Our compassionate prince sent her an emotion-chocked DM that stated, “I’m sorry for the way things have shaken out.” Aww. (And yes, “aww” translates into “Man, does this guy f*cking suck or what?”) Evan returned from the island, picked up his dog – who is perfectly named “Ghost,” – gathered his collection of sleeveless tank tops, and hightailed it to Morgan’s lovely apartment in Washington, D.C. so rest assured, sweet readers, that we now have yet another selfish prick residing in our nation’s capital.
As for Morgan’s family, they seem very sweet and supportive and they arrive at the restaurant soon after Evan proposes. Yup, Evan and Morgan are now engaged, something I predicted would happen a month ago and something that was then confirmed when some guy who was at the restaurant that same night leaked photos of the proposal on Twitter – you know, the proposal that, according to this witness, was performed several times so the cameras could get it just right.
Morgan’s hand, now half-covered by a pear-shaped diamond, is one of the last images we see during season one of Temptation Island and the image sort of reminds me of Carrie’s hand, the one that comes shooting out of the grave at the end of Carrie, providing a great jump scare and leaving the audience with a mental hangover. But may these two wind up happy. May they never sign up for a season of Marriage Boot Camp. May they never ask whomever Kady ends up procreating with to babysit. And may the groom in this equation treat his new true love with far more f*cking decency than he did his last true love.
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.