Reality Steve

Temptation Island

“Temptation Island” – Nell Kalter’s Final Bonfire & Reunion Show Recap

Photo Credit: USA Network

It’s fitting that the last thing David bestows upon Kate is a glob of snot on her bare shoulder, but we’ll return to David’s errant bodily fluids in just a moment. See, first we need to get back to David’s pressing need to itemize for Kate all of the very many ways he humiliated and betrayed her during the last month, and he – like every garden variety sociopath who has come before him – will claim that he is telling her this information all in the name of honesty while conveniently ignoring the fact that retrospective honesty doesn’t f*cking count for anything. But because he believes he owes her the respect of telling her just how cavalierly he chose to emotionally gut her, here’s what Dave tells Kate for purposes of her own edification:

1. Toneata, a woman Dave has known for approximately thirty days, is not holding his whorishness against him – you know, the way Kate is doing because Kate is a Mean Lady – and that is a very big deal for Dave because now he understands what unconditional love really is.
2. He and Toneata had sex during the overnight date.

Mark continues to stifle his laughter as Dave once again proudly tells Kate how very transparent he is being with her because he respects her so massively. She just stares back at him with her mouth open because it’s very rare to witness such a flagrant mess of human being this close up in nature. When she is finally able to speak, she informs him that all she’s learning is that Dave was never actually committed to their relationship. What’s this? Another opportunity to gaslight a blonde woman? It’s like f*cking Christmas! Take it away, Dave!

“That’s not true,” Dave lies. “I brought you here because I wanted to work on things with you.”

Okay. Let’s forget what a smegma-coated d*ck this guy is for a mere moment and instead focus on the bullsh*t logic he’s now trying to peddle. This garbage person is actually maintaining that he brought his girlfriend on a reality show WHERE THE TWO OF THEM WOULD BE SEPARATED FOR A MONTH so he could “work on things” with her? Oh, you can’t follow such nonsense spewed by a tool who now fancies himself a Casanova because he was one of only four men in a villa with a bunch of bored and drunk women who weren’t allowed to leave and needed something to obsess over? Then let’s get back to David telling Kate that he has finally – finally! – come to realize what he wants in a woman: he wants someone who doesn’t question what he does. If he whipped out a machete and sliced off the cameraperson’s face right now, ate it, and then puked it up for sport, the guy still couldn’t look any worse than he does as he rationalizes his selfishness with a microphone strapped to his body.

“Thank you for showing me who you truly are,” Kate says with far more dignity and kindness than this guy is owed.

When it comes time for Mark to ask them their decision about how they will leave the island – together, alone, or with someone who will allow Dave to do anything he f*cking wants – Kate announces that she will be leaving the island alone. Dave, never missing an opportunity to behave like a schmuck, tells Kate that he cannot even describe the special connection he has with Toneata, so he will be leaving the island with her, and it has nothing to do with the fact that she will undoubtedly hook him up with the nice agent she says she’s got back in Los Angeles. Then Kate and David hug goodbye and he apologizes “if he hurt” her and proceeds to drizzle snot upon her shoulder, which production is kind enough to show us in close-up.

Once Kate, strong and composed, walks away, Mark asks David if he’s okay and David immediately starts spinning but even more bullsh*t about how he was in a relationship that didn’t allow him to be the best version of himself. Yes, his missteps were all because he wasn’t with his soul mate who also happens to be a model. By this point, Mark has had it. (Frankly, I give Mark major props for restraining himself from tossing this dipsh*t into the fire while swearing he just did it to use the grease in David’s hair as kindling.) He looks at David blankly after listening to him spouting his latest bit of nonsense and just mutters, “Okay,” because Mark – I hope – is being paid a lot to be on this show, but there’s no way he’s being paid enough to compliment a narcissist with sociopathic tendencies for finally realizing that he has been far too selfless in his past relationships. So before the host of the show requires an on-camera lobotomy so he can survive the next seven seconds with a man who is content to be simultaneously this damaged and damaging, Toneata is brought out. Who cares that the woman he used to live with just left an island without him? Who cares that he’s dumb enough to believe that being honest about horrific behavior excuses that horrific behavior? Who cares that he’s in his late 20s and defines a perfect relationship as one where someone doesn’t object to his hideous actions? Toneata doesn’t care, y’all! Because here she comes in a satin pink dress looking like a Peep and she is ready to accept this mental patient for the man he is! What’s the next step for them? Well, I’d recommend therapy, but Dave is all about hightailing it to L.A. and I’m positive we will see these two again, like in an upcoming season of Ex on the Beach or maybe covered extensively in chapter of a Sociology textbook that explores the comingling of personality disorders and the hellscape that is reality television.

Also: I know I’m being super blunt about my feelings for these two, but I can honestly say that I have never been less happy for two people in my entire life – and I watched the last inauguration.

As a viewer who watches this show the way I believe the producers want me to see it, I’ll walk away from the Dave-Kate-Toneata thing knowing that Kate deserves more and that Toneata and Dave have never once discussed anything of substance, not even by accident, like if Toneata ordered a Caesar salad one day and that led to the two of them discussing dictators. And if they did somehow create a meaningful connection out of absolute nothingness, it was intentionally not shown to us, so why would we root for them? But we were shown a nice connection between Esonica and Kareem and we were not made to view Gavin as a full moron, so I know I’m heading into the next Bonfire way more curious about the outcome and feeling far less rage spiraling through my mind. Gavin thinks he’s grown since being on the island, and aside from tonguing some toes, he didn’t cross too many sexual lines. But Esonica has grown too, and it seems she has real feelings for Kareem. She’s wise enough to understand that she knows Gavin way better than she knows Kareem and she also loves Gavin, but these two seem headed into the final Bonfire on very different emotional pages.

Then we have Casey and Ashley. Oy. So Casey is still claiming he brought his girlfriend – the one he had an awesome relationship with – on Temptation Island to prove to her that she could trust him. Me? I think the guy wanted to be insta-famous and convinced himself that appearing on a reality show would be the simplest way to achieve his goals because, as we all know, the cinematic landscape is teeming with former reality stars. I refuse to buy for a nanosecond that the prospect of temporary fame did not enter his mind or that such a thing was not a gigantic factor in his choosing to participate. Well, now Casey is famous. He has his very own crying montage to show his grandchildren one day, though I do not think those grandchildren will be calling Ashley “Nana” because Casey’s terrible plan backfired. I’m actually curious as to why I don’t feel worse for him. I am – I swear…ask my mom! – a lovely person who is quite capable of empathy. But maybe it’s because Casey’s motivations seem f*cking weird to me. Maybe it’s because Casey wields a thick layer of misguided arrogance that clashes with his natural nerdiness. Maybe it’s that this has been a long season and I’m just tired, but whatever the reason, I see Casey leaving the island alone and I think I’m fine with that.

I suppose the wood slamming that may accompany the proposal-gone-nowhere moment will have to wait because the next Bonfire is for Esonica and Gavin. Esonica looks sad about possibly having to hurt someone she cares about and Gavin looks terrified that this will be the last time he sees the woman he’s finally realized is right for him. The second he sees her, it’s clear he’s going to try with all of his might to keep her in his life. And he does try. He apologizes for not making her feel as special as she should feel. He admits he hasn’t been as sensitive as he could have been. He tells her he now knows he should have been a lot more supportive of her and more patient with her. The entire time he speaks, Esonica smiles slightly, but she doesn’t quite look at him. When it’s her turn, she reminds him it was his decision to go on Temptation Island and she tells him that being on the island gave her time for self-reflection. And what she now understands is that Gavin doesn’t really see her. Gavin swears he sees her now, but Esonica’s arms are folded tightly across her body. This woman has a wall up, it’s probably there for her own protection, and she is not letting Gavin back in. She would, however, like to know how it felt watching some other guy grow interested in her. Gavin’s answer is sweet, direct. He tells he it scared him and it made him want to try harder and do better for her. Mark jumps in then and offers up their three options for leaving the island and Gavin’s choice is clear. He knows how much he loves her and he would like them to leave together. Does Esonica agree? My friends, she does not. She would like to walk away from this particular fire pit with Kareem. Gavin wishes her the best, maintains his composure, and will probably do very well with the ladies from this point forth, what with his new emotional availability and the way he looks exactly like my treasured teddy bear, Mr. Gerber. (For those interested, Mr. Gerber is almost twenty-five years old, he lives in my closet next to my first Cookie Monster, he is cuddly and sweet, and he told me to make sure to make it clear that he would never so much as suggest that his Pound Puppy girlfriend go on a reality show to prove her devotion to him.) After Gavin leaves, it becomes very clear how proud Mark is of Esonica for being honest and for understanding her worth. He brings Kareem out of the shadows and wishes them a long and happy future, which is not exactly what he said to Toneata and David, but then again, Kareem and Esonica are not walking f*cking jokes.

For those keeping track, we have one couple (Ashley G. and Rick) leaving the island together and two couples breaking up, but we have yet to witness Casey’s touted sales acumen or see how such skills will lead to what he still thinks will be an accepted marriage proposal. It’s time to settle in; this show wants to go out for the season with an emotional massacre.

Ashley looks forlorn and teary as she heads to the Bonfire. Casey is confident that A) Soul mates exist B) Ashley is his soul mate and C) He will be engaged in the next half hour or so. The man’s willful blindness is staggering, as is the way he tells Mark that no, he is not in any way prepared for possible outcomes that do not benefit him. See, Casey is only prepared for the one outcome, the one he’s deemed is the correct outcome, and Mark just smiles slightly, nods with resignation, wishes the man walking the plank good luck, and then, when the cameras are off him, tosses a stream of holy water into the air meant to cleanse the immediate vicinity of self-inflicted insanity. Into this environment walks Ashley. She gives Casey a great big hug, though the power dynamic between them has so obviously shifted. Ashley is asked to speak first, so she tells Casey she has grown – and his mouth turns down in an exaggerated frown. She tells Casey she recognizes her self-worth – and his eyes crinkle up with tears. She tells him she’s not a scared little girl anymore – and he looks terrified. She tells him that he brought them there – and he looks down and begins sobbing. She tells him he put their relationship on the line for pure selfishness – and he begins to shake. Then she stares right at him with a look – it’s brief, but it’s there – of pure fury, and still this guy thinks he can change this woman’s mind. He calls her “baby.” He apologizes for never listening to her during the course of their awesome relationship. He says it was wrong that he made her feel like she had jealousy issues when really the issue was that she was “madly in love” with him and he didn’t honor that. (Notice the sales pitch meant to remind her of their once all-consuming love right there? The clunky and blatant one that’s apparently part of the repertoire of sales pitches Casey is so proud of having? Yes, so did everyone blessed with hearing and every one of those people rolled their eyes upon listening to it because it turns out Casey’s sales abilities are about as impressive as his ability to gage the temperature in the room before launching into a proposal.) But back to groveling! He is not the same Casey anymore! He is sorry he brought her there! He is sorry for so many things! He wants her to be his baby! Oh, and he’s got a really big question to ask the woman staring daggers at him who sits beside him on a wooden fucking plank, and he will ask her that question, but only after he bursts into tears, sinks to his knees, grabs her by the legs, ignores the loud “Uh uh!” sounds coming out of her mouth, and swears that she is the only woman he could ever love and how on the last date he went on with another woman, he went ring shopping and he would like her to be his baby-baby for the rest of his life so will she marry him?

Unless sudden toxic drizzle rained from the sky that came from angels with bladder infections and the host of this show suddenly whipped out a chainsaw and charged everyone in the area, this proposal could not be any worse. It could not be less romantic or less desperate or less about Ashley if Casey had tried. It is all about what he wants and what he needs and he looks, quite sadly, very very pathetic – and that’s even before he closes this lovely proposal with the beautiful sentiment that he wants to die next to her. And after Ashley silently reminds herself to change her phone number the second she gets back onto the mainland so she can fully and forever avoid the sad man who thinks a death pact is the sweetest part of a marriage proposal, she looks gratefully at Mark, who has somehow managed to convince Casey to sit back on his plank and stop kissing the knee of the woman who is so over him that she may as well be on an entire other planet. When it’s Ashley’s turn, she says she’s found someone who listens to her the way Casey didn’t and she will not accept that ring because she is going home with someone else. As you can imagine, this is the kind of pronouncement that brings forth a rush of “baby, baby, baby” from Casey and he tells her one last time that he has been crying since day one on that island, a fact that leads Ashley to snipe back “So have I.” And then Casey stands up, announces everything went down so much differently in his head – though, in his head, I think Casey also believed he could be a star, so let’s not look to this guy’s head for accuracy on much of anything – and he hugs Mark goodbye as he sobs. Then he gets into the limo and decides his relationship with Ashley is still not fully over because they will have to talk when they get home and he will win her back somehow and maybe he will toss the benefit of matching burial plots into his next proposal because Casey’s Magical Thinking is not going to subside because of a little thing like reality.

She held herself together well, but when Casey walks away, Ashley breaks down. She knew in the back of her mind that he would launch a desperation proposal her way and she’s furious. But she has found herself and her voice and she has learned to love herself, and part of that is allowing someone in who she thinks loves her for who she really is. And so here comes Ben and he does that pick-her-up move when he sees her and he tells her she looks stunning and the plan – as Casey dehydrates from the loss of water flowing out of his retinas – is for these two to spend the future together. Now, I don’t know if they really end up together – we have to wait until next week’s Reunion to find out – and I don’t know if Casey calls Ashley every Tuesday at 2:37PM just to say the words “baby-baby” a few times like some creepy incantation, but what I do know is that I really hope production booked two different hotels on two different islands for the night: one for Casey and his misery and one for Ben and Ashley. I just think it’s bad form for this new couple to have to hear whimpering while they happily bang as the sun comes up.

Page 2 has your Reunion Show recap…



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