The next morning as Deac continues to complain that he wasn’t anointed with his own national holiday because of his flower displaying skills, Ashley G. sits in bed with Ashley H. and bemoans allowing herself to initially fall for a man who clearly only cares about himself. “I did everything wrong,” she says. She realizes Rick is a man who honors and respects her and she wants the guy back. She would also like to experience no repercussions because of her actions. I’m not so sure Ashley will be able to overlook Rick’s actions, but something tells me these two will end up together and Rick will spend his future telling Ashley she’s pretty 802 times a day. And you know what? Maybe that’s an existence that will bring them happiness. If it is, I’ll hop on board.
Also: I state here and now that I will not be hopping on any similar board when it comes to Kate and Dave reuniting. My understanding nature only goes so far and the perimeter of that understanding does not include forgiving total dipsh*ts.
Casey is in a reflective mood on this new morning. He’s writing in a journal as tears stream down his face and it’s sad for sure, but again, he’s the one who wanted to be on a reality show. Someone way happier is Dave. He gets to spray sunscreen on Toneata! He gets to bask beside her on a lounge chair! He gets to make and listen to small talk about absolutely f*cking nothing! It’s like living a dream, so long as your dreams involve superficiality and men with terrible hair.
Also: I know some of you think I hired that bird to take a sh*t on the Temptresses, but do not be silly! First, I kind of like three of the girls who almost got soaked with bird sh*t. Second, had I hired that bird, it would have sh*t only on Payton.
When Casey crawls outside to sit near the fun the others are having, Rick sweetly stays by his side so he can be there for his friend. And though Medinah wants Rick to come join her in the deep end, Rick remains put and I am more certain than ever that Rick is going to wind up back with his Ashley in the end.
Feelings and friendship are nice, but since this is a reality show, what we really crave is conflict. That need is fed when Mark appears and tells the ladies they can send any of the male Tempters home. KB is the obvious one who will get the heave-ho, but Deac is also about to be pushed out the door. After all, Deac’s been complicating Ashley’s new happiness by moping around and muttering that he’s going to ghost a person he currently shares a kitchen with, and that sh*t is just bad form. When it’s time for Ashley G. to address KB, she tells him that his energy feels toxic to her. In turn, he takes responsibility for his actions and wishes her the best for her future. And listen, that’s a nice way for the guy to go out, but not for a nanosecond do I believe his anger will not bubble over viciously the very next time he feels like he is not being worshiped properly. As for Deac’s exit, he swears he’s not bitter (he is) and Ashley H. says she wishes she could feel more for him (she doesn’t), but no bloody platelets are left coating the walls and there are no references to wigs of any kind, so things are cool and calm, at least for the moment. Over at the guys’ house, the men decide Samantha should be the one to leave, which means those of you raised by the adage that participation in a threesome will get you forever friends are now probably feeling gobsmacked.
Before Mark leaves, he tells the guys that it’s officially Record a Video for Your Girlfriend Day. Yes, this right here is an annual holiday on Temptation Island where one has the option of speaking consolingly or desperately to an actual significant other for thirty whole seconds. You also, however, have the option to not record a message at all, and the would-be recipient will only realize you didn’t do it when he or she opens a box and sees nothing inside but literal lack. This is Casey’s chance! He will be able to sob into the lens of an iPad and win Ashley back! Will he be able to do it? I say no, and I also say the only question that matters here is if any of these people choose not to send a message at all and instead skewer a person they once claimed to love while pretending the choice isn’t about being a total coward.
Also: Before any of the messages are recorded or are not recorded, there’s a lovely moment where Ashley G., Ashley H., and Kate sit watching a sunset while talking about their self-worth. Though not a bit of me buys that they needed to suffer humiliation with cameras in their face in order to achieve such growth, I’m glad they have the support of one another.
The guys decide to throw a party that evening for the female Temptresses, and since every f*cking fiesta on this show has to have a theme, this is a Black and White party. The glorious part is that Gavin has been able to snag an iPhone, so the party becomes a photo shoot and you can almost see the droplets of drool covering the floor when these girls lay their retinas on a piece of handheld technology so elusive on that island that it’s basically digital contraband. As people are posing downstairs, Medinah and Rick are getting into it for real upstairs. I’m a Medinah fan, but she doesn’t come off very well when she tells Rick he should have spent his time with her in the pool instead of consoling a shell-shocked Casey. I do not care for the way Rick yells at her to make his point – were men of this generation simply never taught to use indoor f*cking voices? – but I think the eventual result here will be Rick choosing to see this moment as evidence that proves he and Medinah do not belong together, which will then clear the path for him to reunite with Ashley. However all this ends up going, at least Rick has stumbled onto the understanding that he fights a ton with Ashley at home and he’s bickering with Medinah on this island, so maybe the problem linking both scenarios is that he doesn’t listen all that well. Aw, look at Rick growing up!
When Video Day arrives, things go as follows:
Ashley G. heads to see her video wearing the oddest, well, let’s call it a shirt, that has ever been fashioned by a has-to-be-blind fashion designer. (It involves a turtleneck, it’s beyond cropped, it has sleeves and yet no shoulders.) But the big story here is that Ashley is relieved as hell to get a message from Rick. His message is about how he’s grown, how he’s no longer a boy but a man, how he hopes she’s changing also, and he ends it by telling her he loves her and he’ll see her at the final Bonfire. After what she’s done to this guy, Ashley should dance into that villa and force everyone, including the camera crew, to join her in a f*cking conga line, but she’s feeling too guilty to dance right now. She does say that her heart really needed to receive that message.
The message Rick receives is straightforward, and though it ends with Ashley saying she loves him, she comes off as cold. My guess is the woman is simply so freaked out that she’s turned her insides into popsicles in order to avoid weeping uncontrollably, but a little bit of warmth might have helped her. Rick thinks her icy demeanor means she’s moved on.
Dave’s message to Kate begins with him saying that he loves and misses her (puke), that he wanted to go on the show because it would make him more deep (which is why he has hourly conversations with Toneata about the weather), that he swears he’s grown exponentially on that island (which I think means he’s referring to his d*ck getting hard when he’s around other women), and that he really hopes she’s enjoying her time (as she is forced to stare at him having a threesome and chatting with another girl about relocating so he can be near her).
Kate’s video for Dave is a master class in F*ckYouIsm, which is a new philosophy I shall patent tomorrow so I’ll have time to manufacture graphic tees emblazoned with indignant expressions that will be ready to purchase in time for the holidays. Kate looks clear eyed and beautiful and she says she’s glad she’s there, she now knows her own worth, she has handled herself with nothing but dignity, and it’s a shame the man who loves her cannot say the same. Properly chastened by her evidence of class when he has shown none, Dave breaks down in tears and I finally believe those tears are motivated by (momentary) regret.
Esonica looks outwardly calm, but she says her heart is beating wildly as she presses play to listen to Gavin’s message. He tries to reassure her that his feelings have only grown stronger, but she’s not sure anymore about what she wants. I guess emotional vacillation is one side effect of being talked into going on a reality show where you are asked to reflect every fifteen minutes about your ever-shifting feelings.
Gavin’s message from Esonica is all about how she is evolving and that she’s now aware her possibilities are limitless. Though he is happy to stare at his girlfriend’s face, he finds the words coming out of her mouth to be more than a bit concerning.
Ashley H. seems to know full well that there will be a message waiting for her. The only thing that’s unclear is whether hearing from Casey will be helpful or lead her to more confusion. Since her immediate reaction to listening to his message is that she appears to be choking back vomit, I’m going to venture that Casey’s video (filled with unreleased but clear sobs, sprinkles of forgiveness, gobs of desperate love thrown about, and a hint of a marriage proposal) sickens her. Now she hears all this? Now? He had to bring her on a dating show so he could beg her to stay with him in a thirty-second video message? Ashley is over it – and she doesn’t regret a single thing she’s done.
But Casey is not done, not by a long shot. He’s terrified Ashley didn’t record him a message (she did) and he’s crying before he even presses play. The torture playing across his features only gets more pronounced as he listens to a chipper Ashley say that she thinks of him every day and she has grown more confident and she’s happy he brought her there and she doesn’t regret anything. More than her positive demeanor, Casey realizes she doesn’t say “I miss you” or “I love you” even once and here he sits, depressed and despondent, and she is living it up in some tropical villa with some other guy.
Casey’s pain? It’s palpable.
It was also probably avoidable.
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.