The date Esonica and Kareem go on looks like a f*cking postcard. They’re both dressed in shades of green and they wander hand-in-hand around a bucolic pond and their outfits match the trees that wave peacefully in the breeze. It doesn’t get any more adorable, certainly not on this show. Gavin and Mia spend the day tubing. Gavin screams constantly in fear and Mia giggles every single time. Mia seems like a lighthearted good sport! As for Dave, he’s thrilled to be taking Toneata, whom he has anointed Hottest Girl in the Villa, out on a date and he stops in front of a bush that has a few flowers growing off of it and plucks a flower for her to stick in her hair. “Aww,” every girl is supposed to say in this fully generic moment, though “There had better not be f*cking bugs crawling all over this flower” is actually what every girl is thinking. And by the way, pretty much every girl has endured that flower plucking moment and all this gesture does is once again prove how very basic Dave happens to be. “She obviously has a beautiful face,” Dave says solemnly, “but her body is incredible.” Then he tells her he likes that she’s pretty, which is clearly the first time any man in all of creation has felt such a thing, and she responds by saying she is extremely attracted to him too because questionable hair and morals aren’t on the list of Toneata’s Turnoffs. (I’m guessing lack of attention is.)
Kate and Dominique’s date involves sitting on a bluff and drinking wine. Their conversation involves more depth than the “You’re pretty!” “No, you’re pretty!” horsesh*t that is going on with Kate’s boyfriend at the moment. Kate and Dominique are instead discussing wanting to truly be in a relationship and feeling ready for children. Dominique says he wants to be the kind of father he never had and Kate, who seems starved for legitimately deep conversation, is starting to question whether Dave is the one for her. Ashley G. and Chris are having a way more silly date. They are pulling apart fruit and mixing up frothy cocktails before sitting down so Chris can psychoanalyze Ashley for our pleasure. He thinks this show was Ashley’s way out of her relationship and it’s stunning to me that she doesn’t immediately know he’s correct. I don’t think these two will end up together – Chris seems way too normal – but at least she’s not currently begging KB to allow her to grab his d*ck. Small victories, people.
And then we have Rick and Medinah and here’s why I like Medinah: She tells us that while she full on feels like she’s Rick’s girlfriend, she is also very aware that is absolutely not the case. She knows there’s a chance Rick could go back to Ashley because of their years of history. But Rick thinks he is changing. He says he cannot see leaving that island with Ashley and he doesn’t want the feeling he has with Medinah to stop. It’s a lovely moment these two share on a pier talking about their future and this same moment will undoubtedly provide an absolute sh*t show of hysteria when Ashley watches it back, first at the Bonfire and then on a loop in her mind.
Ashley H., who is wearing a jumpsuit made out of my Nana’s old sofa – aw, I miss you, Nana! – is spending her day flying kites with Ben and she looks almost at peace. And though Casey is enjoying a lovely afternoon fishing with Rachel and is waxing symbolic about waiting for something to nibble on the end of his, um, bait, he is still fully confident in his relationship with Ashley, a statement that begs two key questions: 1) Then why the f*ck did he convince her to go on Temptation Island? and 2) When exactly will Ashley blow Casey’s confidence to ash-flavored smithereens?
We didn’t have to wait too long, did we? As Ben and Ashley walk down a path, Ben turns Ashley around and finally plants one on her. And I realize – of course I realize – that my heart should be breaking for Casey, but instead all I can think is that I am finally right about one of my predictions! Hooray! I mean, not hooray for Casey and not hooray for Deac and not hooray for Ashley who was fully suckered by production into believing Casey doesn’t care about her, but screw those people! Hooray for me!
Back at the villa, Dave lets Samantha know that the threesome and their shower time was all kinds of fun, but he is going to focus all of his energy on proving himself worthy to his dear girlfriend. Oh, I’m sorry – that right there was a typo. Dave is going to spend all his time trying to charm Toneata into believing he’s not an assh*le and that sh*t takes work, so he can’t have Samantha clamoring for his time and attention. And like The Cool Girl Samantha is still pretending she is, she fist bumps the guy and swears she’s cool with having been used on television.
When the girls arrive home, Ashley H. takes Kate upstairs. With a grin almost splitting her face in two, Ashley tells her friend that Ben kissed her and nobody has ever kissed her like that.
“Am I being dumb right now?” Ashley asks Kate.
“I think your boyfriend was dumb for bringing you here,” Kate sagely responds.
But poor Casey. He went upstairs in his own house for one solitary second and came down to see Dave and Toneata and Rick and Medinah and, to a lesser extent, Gavin and Mia grinding one another in the kitchen. That’s where people eat! That’s where the tacos were prepared! Aren’t there bedrooms or external structures filled with cushions that grinding couple can head to instead? Can’t Dave go back to the shower? Why must all this dry humping occur where the utensils are kept? Samantha, however, isn’t concerned that the communal spatula will get sullied with bodily fluids. Her concern is that Dave is still kind of flirting with her and she’s pretending she’s not all kinds of flattered. How do I know she’s flattered? Because she repeats the line “I need a man, not a scared little boy” over and over to gaggles of people while appearing even giddier than Ashley G. looks whenever KB’s scrotum is near. And while we definitely see shots of Dave looking across the room – either at Samantha or at the leftover tacos, it’s hard to be sure – he happily takes Toneata to his room and tells her how much he likes her and he’s thinking of moving to L.A. to be near her. A reality show participant considering a move to L.A.? Join me, won’t you, in pretending to be shocked. Meanwhile, Kate is at a different villa fully freaking out about being the ripe old age of thirty-four and Chris tells her that choosing a guy six years younger who is craving time when what she is craving is a family is perhaps not the kind of thing that will work out in her favor.
Also: Ashley and Ben start kissing in the pool in full view of everyone.
Also: Ashley says Ben’s kisses are passionate while Casey’s are like little pecks.
Also: Ashley and Ben get into bed and he gets on top of her.
Also: That sound you just heard was Casey’s head exploding with regret for bringing his girlfriend on a televised vacation where the cruise director is an Executive Producer who is clearly out for blood.
Ashley is pretty happy the next morning even though there’s a Bonfire later and she knows what Casey is going to see. She didn’t have sex with Ben, but she knows footage of her kissing another guy will hurt like a motherf*cker. Still, Ben has made her feel something she’s never felt before. (For the record, I’d personally prefer to watch a montage that is scored to the music of Nickelback of my boyfriend kissing someone else for forty minutes straight than hear him say that the girl he’s with makes him feel way better than I ever did.) Regardless of how you quantify it, however, pain is pain and this will be all the more painful because Casey has not crossed any of the lines Ashley thinks he has and now Casey is probably going to retaliate and it will probably be with Payton. When one needs a quick ego boost, the first stop is often at the door of an obsessive psychopath – and it’s not like there are that many doors Casey can knock on. Sure, I’m praying he runs into Laidback Rachel first, but I fear Winky Payton will be camped out on the front lawn waiting for the guy.
The guys arrive at the Bonfire first and Rick is fully prepared to see images that prove KB and Ashley are a total couple. Rick doesn’t know KB has already determined that Rick’s girlfriend is way too much for him to want to deal with and that, this week, it’s Ashley who will be hurt far more by what plays out of that iPad of doom. Casey looks vaguely calm, poor thing, Gavin looks serious, and David is asked how he’s changed since this experiment began. I expected him to say, “I haven’t changed. I’m still an assh*le,” and he doesn’t exactly say that, but he also does not so much as mention Kate’s name, though he says Toneata’s twice. When the iPad is cued up for him, he watches Kate (who is in a hammock with Chris) tug on Dominique’s bathing suit and he appears serious even though he forgot to wear his glasses. It’s not easy for him to see that, he explains. Sure, he had a drunken threesome, showered with some chick, and has been discussing the rates of moving vans with Toneata, but that doesn’t mean he wants to watch Kate smile at another guy. Besides, the threesome he engaged in was completely devoid of emotion, so Kate shouldn’t be suffering from sleepless nights because of that. But he is willing to admit that he finally understands the power of emotional connections. And you know who taught him that lesson? Toneata! This guy sucks. Gavin watches the sequence where Esonica and Kareem walk near in pond in footage that looks like an ad for a fragrance I’d buy. It’s not fun for Gavin to see this. He misses Esonica and it’s looking like he wants to be with her, but if he cares for her so deeply, I have to wonder why he’d throw her into this kind of scenario in the first place, one where she would be forced to stare at video of her boyfriend’s tongue stroking the little piggy that got roast beef. When it’s Rick’s turn, he is thrilled – absolutely-f*cking-kiss-the-moon thrilled – to not see his girlfriend begging for another man’s d*ck. Instead he watches Ashley eating chips and looking straight ahead while she dispassionately chats with KB about how they probably have no real future. What Rick doesn’t know is that KB seemingly ended things with Ashley, but that doesn’t really matter because he’s excited Ashley is not out there swinging from chandeliers and living a life of bliss with some new guy. I don’t know how this revelation is going to impact what Rick has going on with Medinah, but I’d venture to say he will pull back significantly in a way that will seem jarring to her.
And finally it’s Casey’s turn and the producers and the editors finally got him. All those Bonfires where he would sit there and shrug after watching footage of Ashley shaking her ass and cuddling with Deac or with Ben clearly made those in charge annoyed, so they did what they needed to do. They made Ashley watch only the questionable comments he made and they left out the shots of him sitting alone in the hot tub while the rest of the group gyrated inside and they didn’t dare show Ashley the sequence where he spoke about wanting to marry her and the result became what Casey is about to see, which is Temptation Island’s version of a money shot: two people kissing for more than a few seconds and then one of those people on top of the other in a bed. Casey stares at the screen openmouthed, Rick looks down and shakes his head, and Casey’s eyes fill with tears and with rage and with shock. It looks like maybe he wants to say something – like how it was dumb of him to drag this girl on this show – but he’s not quite ready to use his words yet, so instead he pounds the wooden bench below him and it looks like it hurts. Someone please tell Payton to start preparing an ice pack for Casey’s hand. And while you’re at it, tell her to stop winking. Things are tragic enough.
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.