This franchise has never introduced a new participant as well as it has Stephanie. She’s amazing. Where do we even start? She’s a self-defined cougar who focuses on her cat and running her business. She’s also eagerly trying to break the world record for hula-hooping. She also has a lot of money. Like, “own a giant portrait of yourself” money! We know this because one of her employees enthusiastically points at very real looking documents in her office and says “sales are high!” It’s good she’s rich because her fiancé, Ryan, is a 27-year-old who mostly ignores her calls and has a mom five years younger than Stephanie’s 52 years.
We actually hear from Ryan’s mom before we meet Ryan because Stephanie regularly calls his mother to find out where he is when she can’t reach him. Obviously, this is a huge red flag and it’s clear Ryan is using Stephanie for money. These are the stories on the show that risk being the most exploitive and gross-feeling, and that’s the case when Stephanie shares her struggles with her father’s bipolar disorder. She clearly holds some unhealthy concepts of love and probably just needs a therapist. It almost feels wrong to be entertained by her mess. But then… something amazing happens.
Stephanie calls her tarot card reader because of course she has a tarot card reader. It turns out Stephanie has her own secret and she’s worried that might be the reason she and Ryan are having issues. I was prepared to watch the producers tease the secret over the course of multiple episodes, but no, Stephanie just drops the bomb: during one of her visits to Belize, she and Ryan broke up and Stephanie slept with his cousin. She slept with his cousin! Not even her tarot reader saw this in the cards! Stephanie isn’t just some old lady being played, she’s also out here on demon hours! She still hasn’t told Ryan the truth and now, in an instant, her mess is my favorite mess this season. Thank you, Stephanie, for this brilliant introduction.
Mike and Natalie also got pretty dramatic this episode, but their issues still stem from the same problem: they don’t actually know if they’re engaged. I truly believe Natalie would’ve been happier with Mike saving that fancy hotel room money and using it to buy her some proper winter clothing and groceries for her first morning in America. I also think Mike would’ve been happy to actually take care of Natalie if he thought she loved her. Instead they’re in this weird stalemate where she doesn’t have a ring, but she wants ring privileges.
All Mike needs to do is take her to the grocery store to buy her own food and explain the concept of layers in cold weather, but it just blows up because they don’t know where they stand with each other. I’ve been harsh on Natalie, but Mike isn’t really giving her a warm welcome. Also, the girl is wearing Fashion Nova-quality clothes in the middle of a northwest winter, so I feel for her. She looked cold as hell and Mike just kept saying, “Well, it’s winter!” like Natalie doesn’t know indoor heating exists.
In a shocking twist, Yara and Jovi are the episode’s star communicators. First, kudos to Jovi because he actually can afford to give Yara the lifestyle she wants. That’s about all the credit he deserves, however. Yara is trying to create a home with her fiancé and he’s acting like a child whose mother is dragging him around to do errands. The store clerk was absolutely hilarious and correct to call Jovi out for being a jerk. Also, Yara, you should absolutely befriend her because she’s right: you need to slow down.
I’m glad Yara didn’t totally shut down and talked about what was bothering her. She also managed to get their living room cleaned up, and Jovi seemed to realize he messed up. I still think this relationship is going to blow up when Yara is left with Jovi’s mom, but for now, I actually have some hope for these two crazy kids. Also, I loved when Yara was weirded out by Jovi reading a book and I want to create a supercut of her calling him broke at the end of the season.
I’ve never doubted Brandon and Julia’s love. And if Julia is willing to feed pigs and do even one minute of farm work, she must really love that boy. It’s starting to feel like Brandon’s mom expects Julia to pay her back for everything through farmwork and Brandon didn’t explain that. Watching Brandon fail to stand up to his parents is so embarrassing. I groaned when he tried to give his dad more wine to convince them that he and Julia should be allowed to sleep together. He’s just so immature and Julia is going to run him over in their relationship. Brandon is just going to go from doing what his parents say to doing what Julia says and, honestly? It’s a dynamic that works for him.
Zied’s visa has finally been approved and his parents are worried he may fall into a similar dynamic with Rebecca. That’s just not the case, though, since Zied holds all the power in their relationship. It was so sad when Rebecca eagerly called Zied and expected him to be really excited about the visa, but he just kind of denied her affection and acted chill about it. Zied felt incredibly manipulative on Before the 90 Days and I think we’re seeing hints of that again. Eventually, Rebecca might realize she isn’t willing to do the things he demands of her, but I think we’re still far away from that day.
For Andrew and Amira, whom we only met last episode, that realization has already hit. Andrew guilted Amira into traveling during a pandemic and now she’s being detained in Mexico. Amira wanted to wait and was nervous, but Andrew probably didn’t want to waste the money he spent on the visa if it expired. Their plan doesn’t work, it’s the weekend, and, of course, Andrew barely speaks Spanish, so he’s of no use. I don’t know how Andrew is going to make this up to her, and he’s probably going to spend more money or lose her entirely if they send her back to France. It was a selfish decision to try and make the trip, but hey, the most entertaining moments on 90 Day Fiancé are driven by selfish decisions!