This recap covers the fifth week of Love Island U.S., episodes 22 through 27.
Can y’all believe it’s been five weeks of tuning into this turd circus every night? I know, I know — time flies, nothing gold can stay, this too shall pass, etc., but damn. Next Tuesday is the finale and somehow we’re left with not much in the way of solid couples competing for that sweet $100k. Instead, we’ve watched four separate dudes with lion tattoos come and go and still no trip to the Hideaway for Justine and Caleb. We’re running out of time! In the words of Connor, “penultimate!!” Let’s get to it.
We left off in the aftermath of a recoupling remix. As we patiently wait to see which couples America will vote to save besides Justine and Caleb, it’s frolick o’clock. Mackenzie spends an entire day moping around and telling everyone how sneaky it was that Connor’s speech in the last recoupling made it sound like he was gonna pick her when he ended up picking Moira. While an interesting tactic, the focus on “the speech” in her cross-Villa filibuster doesn’t exactly do much besides make Kierstan friend-zoning Calvin seem fascinating. They can put their veneers away, though, because the votes are finally in! America has decided that their top four couples in no order are: Moira & Connor (lol k), Justine & Caleb, Kierstan & Calvin (lololol k), and Cely & Johnny. That means Mackenzie & Aaron, Sher & Jalen, and Laurel & Carrington are left vulnerable, their dusty li’l toes hanging out of those rented gladiator sandals. Since four — yes four! — islanders will be leaving, they must again do that weird gender vote-split thing. The girls decide to save Carrington because they’ve heard him speak more than twice and the boys decide to save Laurel because they don’t understand that choosing Mackenzie is the only way to save The Villa as a whole from descending into boredom. With that, Aaron, Jalen, Sher, and Mackenzie are all sent packing. Connor sheds a single tear, and everyone goes to bed otherwise content with their decisions.
Overnight, the tooth fairy comes and the islanders wake up to three new boys in their bedroom. Noah is a home-health-care provider from St. Louis who is another example (miss you Jeremiah!) of how leading with facial hair isn’t always the best choice. Bennett is a Tom Sandoval bootleg who, according to the girls, also looks exactly like that guy from the movie Sleepover. They are not wrong. Bennie is fresh off the line from the Johnny factory ready to use his producer-mandated brunch date to sweep Cely off her feet.
And that he does. Cely, stoked by both attention and the incomparable high of seeing Johnny sweat, joins Bennie to giggle by the pool while her man watches from atop Carrington’s shoulders. Post-date, Johnny gets all aggro to Cely, trying to immediately strong-arm her into telling Bennie she isn’t interested. He says a lot of things like, “I don’t wanna be that guy,” and then is exactly that guy. Caleb and Justine tell him to cool it, and just as we think the Casa Amor situation will be dropped forever, it’s time for the Sucker Punch challenge, a Love Island late-game classic where tweets about the islanders are read aloud. Of course there’s one that asks when the islanders are going to tell Cely about what really went down at Casa Amor, since what Johnny said “wasn’t half of what happened.”
Thus begins Covergate 2020. Johnny has clearly spent hours talking at the guys, making sure they have their stories straight. Are the dudes even friends with Johnny? Either way, there’s a lot of debate about whether Johnny should have told Cely about the minutiae that went on when he pulled the covers over him and Mercades. Would the heavy-petting play-by-play really do much besides hurt Cely further? Justine says yes, details matter, and eventually Caleb gives Cely a relatively honest run of show. This goes on for what feels like four episodes until Noah confirms everything America saw in the edit: nipple whipped cream, hands under the covers, some grinding, that was it. But behind the scenes, the producers realize they are terrible at doing background checks, and for a reason that is probably sex-worker discrimination or just blatant biphobia, Noah is whisked away in the night, never to be spoken of again. The only thing this man did wrong was keep that goatee! And they think we’ll just forget about him post-deposition?
With Mackenzie gone, Moira attempts to fill the “agent of chaos” role. It’s a solid effort, but her entire personality is just this string of emojis: 👁👄👁, which is to say she has zero of that Scorpio witchcraft energy that Lauren leveraged to get the job done. First, Moira and Connor decide to just be friends. Shocking, I know. Then Calvin comes groveling back to try and get Moira to pick him in the next recoupling. She squints a bunch and throws around the word utilize as if it’s just a fancy synonym for use (it’s not). Moira later decides she’s actually really into Bennett and tries to steal him from Kierstan. She also tells Laurel how much she totalllllyyyyy lovedddd the tweet about her and Calvin and encourages her to go pull him. This results in Laurel and Calvin really “connecting on a deeper level,” because according to Laurel “we have lots in common.” Someone please explain what all of these women have in common with Calvin. I’m going to need a real interest, like birding or Magic: The Gathering or 1970s Land Rovers or collecting ferrets. Being young and hot and on TV is just not enough to count as “lots in common.” Anyway, Moira’s plan fails and since Laurel is a strong believer that “the grass grows where you water it,” she’s going to use Carrington’s deep puddle as an irrigation system for their shared farm of mixed metaphors.
Next up, it’s a recoupling spread over two nights because the editors refuse to give us any true sense of fulfillment! To start things off, Justine picks Caleb. They’ve already discussed trust and boundaries and lessons from previous long-distance relationships and Caleb has demonstrated that not even Michael B. Jordan would trigger the slightest whiff of toxic masculinity. I don’t even know why anyone else is still trying. Alas, Cely bounces up and chooses Johnny, because insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting that you’ll be able to change the way a 22-year-old canister of whey protein speaks to you just by asking nicely. Laurel picks Carrington because he makes her “feel like a child” (in case you were looking for signs that we’re all trying to chase joy wherever we can find it). Kierstan goes with Bennett because he’s wearing a jaunty earring from the George Michael x Forever 21 Mens Collection. Also because Calvin is boring. But that doesn’t stop Moira from giving him yet another chance, leaving Bennie and Connor alone to pack their bags.
After Calvin sobs his sunscreen off, Connor FaceTimes Mackenzie from The Villa. (This is a major update on the closed-circuit cell phone front! Was Connor given a day pass to contact civilization?! The hacking possibilities — someone show Cely the TikTok fiancé posthaste!) He asks if she’s willing to give him a second chance in the real world. Mackenzie says sure and invites him to come to Arizona with her and Gus. Best wishes to them all. I sincerely hope they take appropriate post-travel quarantine measures and make expedited arrangements for Connor to have bidet access.
The next day, it becomes increasingly apparent that they’re running out of drama. Can we FaceTime Mackenzie back into The Villa? I feel like she would have a lot to add to the Bennett situation. Cely teaching water aerobics is cute and all, but there are still at least six hours of prime-time content to fill, and since they refuse to just let us watch Jaleb engage in a fun, flirty, and healthy relationship, we’re gonna need something. Instead, it’s back to retreading old ground. Johnny remembers this is a competition so he turns his gaslight off and powers up the Bachelor Nation buzzword generator. He goes for a single tear + “starting to fall for you” combo, and in Cely’s eyes, he seems to stick the landing.
In actually interesting news, Bennett tells Kierstan he learned a lot from loving and living with his most recent ex for the last two years. That ex is Sommer Ray, an Instagram Face he met at a restaurant when he was her server. It was at this same restaurant where he was later walloped by Drake and Odell Beckham Jr.’s security as they looked on. To this, Kierstan says, “Her loss, my gain.” and I say, “Someone call Andy Cohen because we have found a replacement for Jax Taylor. Hell, we may even have the kindling for an entirely new Lisa-free franchise.”
At long last, it’s the best part of every Love Island season, the reward we get for sitting through last week’s baby birding: the “Hearts on Fire” challenge. Everyone wears heart-rate monitors while islanders of the opposite gender put on costumes and do their best Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers to get everyone physiologically turned on. Justine absolutely crushes it, and then, in what is perhaps the first time Carrington has ever done his homework before coming to class, we are gifted a truly majestic performance. Sure, he looks like Popeye shooting his first piece of OnlyFans content, but don’t let that blind you to the fact that he came ready with at least 37 percent of the Magic Mike choreo. If only there were an actual prize to be won instead of … oh, wait … two new girls stomping in!
Ready to lap dance their way to love, Julia and Lakeyn are both alpha females who “get what they want.” And it turns out that even though they missed his routine, they both want Carrington to take on a date. For Julia, this goes relatively poorly as she eats some middle-school-soccer-game sliced oranges and tells him that she gets down with fantasy (the genre in a broader sense — like dragons, not like a sex thing, but I guess that could also be a sex thing?). She’s probably too interesting for Carrington, so what luck that Lakeyn is there for date number two, where they bond over their love of EDM and have an earnest albeit clunky conversation about existential dread. This is bad news for Laurel. She’s been trying to connect with Carrington for two and a half weeks and Lakeyn managed to do it in 17 minutes. When they get back to The Villa, Lakeyn pulls Laurel and is all “like, omg you’re like the sweetest so I had to like, tell you it went well” and then Carrington gives Laurel a verbal shrug. These girls keep saying how surprised they are by Carrington’s wealth of intelligence, so it looks like the rest of us will continue standing by for any kind of sign.
I mean, we need some kind of suspense since the only other thing at stake is whether Cely will say yes to Johnny asking her to be his girlfriend in some kind of unhinged senior-prom-date scavenger hunt. Johnny makes the boys dress up like waiters and hold tote bags full of tchotchkes and read a bunch of poems or something. I don’t even know. Seems like he’s sort of overthinking this. No one wants to go through a horny version of the Stations of the Cross before embarking on an adult conversation about boundaries that they wanted to have three weeks ago. But, like Cely, we must wait.
Signs of the End Times
• The real question this week is whether Saint Louis, Missouri, is in the South or the Midwest. Noah first says he considers himself a southern gentleman, then later says he’s from the Midwest. Most maps say Midwest, but this dude’s weird accent and the legacy of the Missouri Compromise firmly suggest South. (If you don’t know what that is, do a Google. HBO prestige dramas aren’t the only TV properties out here sparking curiosity and filling in the gaps of our increasingly broken education system.)
• In a game of Would You Rather: Vin Diesel or Johnny, Cely chooses Vin Diesel. Dismayed, Johnny asks, “What if Vin Diesel were a normal person on the street and not the star of the Fast and the Furious franchise?” Cely still chooses Vin Diesel. Frankly, this should have been enough to trigger him receiving a “pack your bags” text, but I don’t make the rules.
• Carrington out of context:
“Who is Chrissy Teigan?”
“I feel like I’d be a pretty deep puddle.”
“I would not just go to the boonies.”
“[Her eyes], they are brunette.”
• Noah says, “I’m going to be putting most of my chips in her basket.” Nooooooooooo. My guy, if you have a metaphorical basket, it should be filled with eggs. If you have metaphorical chips, they should be used to place a bet. Hence, going all in. The only reasonable explanation for this twice-used brain worm is that Noah learned it from watching Moira earlier this season. Let this be a lesson to you all about how quickly false information can propagate!
• Running count of COVID references: 33