If you’re anything like me, you’re currently doing five things right now:
1. Looking forward to Kate impaling Dave with a pointy piece of firewood at the final Bonfire.
2. Quickly throwing together a betting pool so you can win some money if you happen to guess with the exact gallon of tears Casey will shed when his “sales pitch” to become Ashley’s husband doesn’t work.
3. Paging through Psychology textbooks to make sure you clearly understand the symptoms of “delusions of grandeur” because you think it’s very important to properly diagnose the people you write about in your recaps.
4. Including “Never go on a f*cking reality show” in your growing list of New Year’s Resolutions. To be fair, such a creed has been on that list for well over a decade, but so has “Stop swallowing gum” and sometimes you falter a bit with that one.
5. Coming to terms with the idea that there is no way this episode will not end on a cliffhanger. Sure, we will get some satisfaction, but we will have to wait until the show’s final episode to really know what will happen with the four couples who arrived on this island together and then betrayed one another in every conceivable way possible.
Oh, and if you’re really like me, you are also wondering how anyone can possibly think it’s a valid argument to blame editing for how you come across on a reality show. This form of programming has been part of our collective consciousness for well over twenty years; every person blessed with basic cable knows full well that editors splice sh*t you say into anything that can become a storyline. Know the best way to avoid such a mishap you will then claim caused you to be misrepresented? Don’t go on a reality show. But since none of these people took heed of that particular lesson, we begin this episode with the women reuniting at the villa where everyone besides Ashley G. looks like they recently got themselves good and laid. Ben and Ashley H. giggle about being really tired, Kate says she had a “gooooooood” time with Dominique, Esonica appears more relaxed than she has in weeks – and into this happy atmosphere walks Mark with some news: it’s time for the women to say goodbye to the men they spooned with last night because it’s almost time for them to face their actual boyfriends at a flaming inferno that will be equipped with microphones to catch their every scream and whimper.
The couples appear stunned that this moment is upon them (did they not watch last season very carefully before they agreed to be on this show?) and Esonica and Kareem say goodbye first. They’re in matching shades of coral, they speak sweetly and honestly with one another, and Kareem reminds her that she is different than when she first stepped onto the island so she should make her final decision about her relationship as this new and strong person. Kate cries as she spends her last moments with Dominique. She appreciates how he helped build her confidence during their time together and he in turn tells her that this is not goodbye. Ashley H. is swearing to Ben that she will not allow Casey or his tangible desperation talk her into marrying him. (Yes, she has guessed Casey’s plan and she expects he will pitch the idea of forever to her the way one would pitch a weight loss program to someone feeling bloated right around January 2nd.) As for Ashley G. and Jose, we don’t even get to see their goodbyes and I think it’s because Ashley and Rick getting back together is just a certainty at this point. That they will continue to drive one another stark raving mad is yet another certainty and we all know it.
The partings that will take place over at the guys’ house will likely be less fraught with tension and tears. While Medinah still has feelings for Rick, she knows being with him right now isn’t an option and it’s not as though Payton or Rachel have a ton of feelings for the men with whom they just spent twenty-four straight hours. But poor Toneata and Dave! Toneata has yet another flower Dave plucked from a tree shoved behind her ear and now she has to say a temporary goodbye to such a wonderful man who is clearly capable of remaining devoted to a woman he claims to love! (Yes, that was sarcasm – and if you didn’t read it as such, you’re probably currently wearing a flower in your hair.) But before Mark can make his entrance, Casey proudly shows the group the engagement ring he idiotically purchased and everyone pretends to smile at the crazy man sitting before them because it just seems safer that way. Then Mark arrives and Medinah and Rick go sit outside to say goodbye. I actually got a little choked up when Rick said, “Thank you. Thank you for helping me grow” and she responds, “I’m really going to miss you.” This woman deserves someone fantastic. Payton, whom I do not believe has changed at all, compliments Gavin on how much he has changed while Rachel spends her last moments on that island telling a guy clutching an engagement ring how absolutely fine he will be should he leave the island single. As for Dave and Toneata, they discuss how they are totally planning to be together after Dave officially breaks up with Kate, and though I realize the pickings were seriously slim in that villa, I cannot for the life of me understand how Toneata looks at Dave and sees someone who is not fully willing to f*ck her over – in high-definition.
Also: I would love for Medinah and Rick’s vow to keep in touch to be something that actually happens, but I don’t see Ashley allowing that contact. I hope I’m wrong. I think Medinah might actually make Rick a better boyfriend for Ashley.
Also: Toneata knows Kate and Dave live together and she also knows that Dave intentionally and casually put Kate through this madness.
Also: Toneata is not at all worried because she can just tell what an honest man Dave is.
Also: Toneata is either a f*cking moron or this show is willing to pay more if you are willing to utter absolute nonsensical bullsh*t while smiling for a camera with a flower plucked from a bush shoved behind your ear by someone greasy and very very basic.
Now that all the Tempters and Temptresses are off the island – or now that they’re hanging out in some nearby hotel room so they can be whisked to the Bonfire at the last minute should they be “chosen” – it’s time to get to the actual couples who are about to see one another for the first time in about a month. Yes, it’s only been a month that these people have been separated, but toss in producer machinations and enforced daily confessionals and some steamy hot Bonfires and multiply all that sh*t by a lot of alcohol and escalating human vulnerability and that one month becomes thirty days in which anything can happen. Only two reunions will take place during this episode and Ashley G. and Rick are up first. We see a montage of the time each spent on the island and we learn that Rick wants to grow as a partner. We learn Ashley hoped to prove her capacity for loyalty by coming on this show, an intention she promptly tossed out the proverbial window and into the simmering pile of symbolic garbage that is KB, who, of course, is the Captain of this recap. Ashley is hoping Rick still wants to be with her and every bit of me believes they will A) End up together and B) Throw everything that happened on this island into every argument they have for the rest of their natural lives. I’m not so sure they’ll be unhappy, though. I think this may be the life these two want. So should Ashley land that coveted ring, I will send her something nice for their new home, though that something will not be a set of steak knives because I’m not insane. But a lovely toaster could soon be coming their way!
Kate and Dave will be the other couple at the Bonfire this episode and Dave reminds us that he convinced Kate to come on Temptation Island because he felt the experience would allow him to become more open with his feelings and he also wanted to prove to Kate that she could trust him completely. In other words, Dave lied to Kate, he lied to himself, he is looking forward to a sunny future where he can lie to Toneata, and he sucks stringy balls. But Dave swears he has changed! He has become more open! The only problem is that the person he opened up to was Toneata and that could maybe be a depressing thing for Kate to learn, but her sadness will almost certainly be assuaged when this series airs and she’s able to see that “becoming more open” means Dave felt bold enough to tell a blonde model that he thinks she’s really pretty. Growth! What it seems is actually happening in this Dave-Kate-Toneata situation is that Dave spent his time before coming to the island gaslighting Kate into believing she was far too insecure, even though she obviously had things to feel insecure about where their relationship was concerned. Once he got on the island, he felt up Samantha, slipped Payton the tongue, and professed his devotion and willingness to relocate to Toneata, all the while telling us that he wasn’t sure what he would do in the end and telling us continually in his confessionals that he was just trying to be honest while lying to everyone in his orbit rocking a working pulse. The man is a horror show of a human being and Kate is worried that the moment she sees His Evilness, she will crumble in exactly the way he probably expects she will. Listen, we all have walking pieces of kryptonite in our lives. These people somehow impact us the way nobody else can, but when that kryptonite hauls your ass onto a reality show so he can betray you while a weekly audience stares at your pain, it’s time to tell that kryptonite to f*ck the f*ck off.