This recap covers the fifth week of Love Island U.S., episodes 28 through 34.
Remember last night when Love Island was on an hour early because America needed a suitable appetizer for the first 2020 Presidential Debate? I missed everything that happened after 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, because recaps don’t write themselves, although according to the blue bird website, it went down more or less as expected. Somewhere in here, there’s a tidy little analogy about undecided voters and how Love Island is looking like a beacon of electorate decorum next to the shriveled potato skins of American democracy, but we passed that turn 25 episodes ago. Instead, let’s talk about whether or not those eerily lifelike robot babies produce something resembling fecal matter or if the islanders just have to pretend the diapers are smelly! (If anyone knows, please sound off in the comments.)
Last week, we ended midway through Johnny’s elaborate proposal to ask Cely to the senior prom. I don’t really feel like giving this any more attention, but the supporting actors didn’t rehearse for nothing. In the tour de poems, Calvin gets two separate excerpts to read off his phone and still forgets to actually give Cely the used-underwear “token” instead of stuffing it back in his pocket for later. Carrington is not only off-book but actively workshopping some gestural choreo. This has got to be what all the ladies are talking about when they mention how surprising he is. A supportive partner? Eh. Someone you’d want to date in the real world? Not a chance. An unexpectedly earnest thespian with the kind of range that pushes him out of himbo territory? Now we’re talking. It’s all just a giant run-up to Johnny throwing down the “I love you” card, to which Cely’s first reaction is “Ha, are you kidding?!” before of course saying it back.
Meanwhile, Caleb is like, “I see your performative nonsense and raise you some genuinely romantic moments.” He sets up special times for him and Justine to be alone and talk about things that matter, like their childhoods, past relationships, and how Caleb helps Justine love herself. Not a single poem is recited, but Justine still manages to rag on Caleb for looking like the hottest server at Olive Garden. This must be what my therapist is talking about when she emphasizes that it’s important to find models for healthy relationships outside the bounds of our childhood.
Back in the land of chaos, it feels like the wrecking-ball challenge where Carrington kissed Lakeyn was months ago. I have 17 pages of notes, but the only thing I actually remember is that Bennett put on nipple clamps and Carrington did a lot of confused waffling between Laurel and Lakeyn. The takeaway here is that there’s a recoupling ceremony looming where Carrington and Bennett will ultimately decide which two girls are doomed to hit the bricks.
The recoupling itself starts off biz as usual with Johnny choosing Cely, Calvin choosing Moira, and Caleb choosing Justine. There are two separate book-metaphor speeches given and only one of them lands. We also get to see the talents of the postproduction team in building Carrington a real franken-edit of a speech where there are a lot of words said about experience and decisions, but exactly zero of them are shown actually coming out of his mouth. He eventually ends up picking Laurel, his eyes dead as the rat in my alley who’s been there since last winter, body flattened as it becomes one with the concrete. Anyway, that means Bennett gets to choose Lakeyn because he made a deal with Carrington to keep her around. Just kidding, I think he might genuinely be into her, and also, he doesn’t have any other options. Thus, the sun sets on Kierstan’s time in the Villa, and Julia manages to land a few more seconds of screen time because she’s included in the exit package.
There are still four remaining nights of content to fill, so it’s time to torment the islanders by making them guess the results of a bunch of polls that seven people voted in. You mean to tell me that Cely is the most loyal, Carrington is the fakest, and Caleb would make the best boyfriend? Shocking! However, America did vote Moira “most two-faced,” leaving her devastated and me confused about whether most people know that “two-faced” requires a certain level of calculation that Mo Mo does not possess. Calvin says that lions shouldn’t concern themselves with the opinions of the sheep, which is endearing, albeit incorrect in that the sheep are an important part of the whole winning-$100k-by-popular-vote thing.
Then it’s time to meet some new islanders. And by new islanders, I mean everyone’s friends and families who will be Zooming in via jumbotron to interrogate their loved one’s partner. Here’s where I admit that I’ve never gotten this far in any other Love Island season. Does it usually seem this bleak? The video-chat thing is just hitting different right now. I can’t help but think how familiar the entire exercise is — it’s both awkward and lovely and your brain says, “make it stop,” while something in your cold heart is like, “oh no, I think I actually need this.”
Personal existential crisis aside, Calvin and Moira’s parents are about as strange as they are. You know how we all have that friend who posts a photo of their boyfriend doing something totally normal like reading or walking a dog and the caption is “my favorite weirdo! <3” as if they’re genuinely quirky for just existing on the planet or wearing an accessory or whatever? Calvin and Moira are the antidotes to that behavior. They communicate with only their freckles and eyebrows. They lack even the slightest semblance of rhythm. They both seem completely in awe of the fact that finely shredded cheese does indeed melt atop a piece of warm bread. I have no other way to describe them besides weird, and I’m not even going to pretend to hate it.
Next, Laurel’s parents give Carrington a warm southern grilling, and then Carrington’s dad roasts him further for the date thing and the dancing thing. I can’t remember what was actually said because this show is turning me into a softie and also I was distracted by Carrington senior’s Howie Mandel soul patch. Lakeyn and Bennett are still in the Villa, so they too get a few minutes with the big screens, but overall it’s a missed opportunity since no one asks Lakeyn’s mom to walk us through her baby-naming process.
Fresh off their long overdue trip to the Hideaway, it’s Justine and Caleb’s turn. Justine’s mom and sister sing a song about how Justine is shining, then say they don’t just like Caleb, they love him. Caleb’s dad says that he’s proud of the example Caleb is setting for young men everywhere in terms of how to treat a woman. Caleb’s little sisters surprise him, and everyone is sobbing. Even the Lexapro-reinforced dam in my tear ducts lifts for a few seconds. It’s honestly magical. After that, Johnny gets a perfectly pedestaled stop in his redemption tour, courtesy of Cely’s family, and still finds a way to make himself the victim.
If you thought that was some real “living in a simulation” shit, just wait, because here come the robot babies! All of the guys finally put on the hats they contractually agreed to wear six weeks ago, and gear up to play house. The producers give Caleb and Justine twins to try to even the playing field a bit, but that was unnecessary because our boy Calvin has stepped up his game, ready to play the role of Parker “Peppe’s” dad with aplomb. We find out that Cely is disinterested in Johnny Junior III (and having kids in general, it seems. Props to her for being unashamedly open and honest about this), and also that it’s easy to accidentally pull off a baby’s leg if you’re still choking on the large tub of baby food you just slurped down in an attempt to win a challenge. Or at least it’s easy for Carrington.
Although everyone passes the baby challenge with the exception of Carr Carr, one more couple must get the ax before America gets to cast their final votes. This decision will be extra dramatic because the islanders themselves will vote for the couple they think is the least compatible. Except it’s not dramatic at all because Love Island abides by LIFO inventory methods for all contestants. Yes, this is the first and only time I’m using what I learned in business school ten years ago, but in the Villa, no matter how much internal handwringing happens, whoever arrived last is first to get the boot. Thus, Bennett and Lakeyn are sent packing. Someone, please make sure Bennie boy didn’t forget that earring. I’m convinced at least part of his soul resides inside it.
Dates All Around
Just when you thought that was it, it’s time to put that Caesar’s spon-con coin to use and cram four lavish dates into a single episode. First, Carrington sports some jaunty leather gloves and zooms around in a red convertible that I assume is worth more than my lifetime net take-home pay. It’s his dream car, the sexiest car. Oh yeah, Laurel is there too.
After that, it’s Caleb and Justine, who hop into a helicopter for a Grand Canyon picnic. They goof around a bit and then Caleb tells Justine how, even though he has no idea what the future holds, there are two things he does know: that he wants to find out and that he genuinely loves her. She reciprocates, emphasizing how she appreciates that there’s been no pressure for them to be anything except who they are and where they are. I don’t have any jokes here because it’s earnest and delightful and frankly, we need more of this on TV.
It’s a tough act to follow, but up next it’s Moira and Calvin in full glam, sitting on a couch that I’m at least 85 percent sure is under a valet canopy, with a bunch of candles and a string quartet 20 feet away. Calvin has never had an oyster before, but he’s heard they are an aphrodisiac, so Moira feeds him one. What follows is a series of grunts, sloshes, and dribbles that can only be described as a cultural reset.
Finally, Cely and Johnny go to a big empty music venue to eat tiny Caesar salads and rudely giggle through a very short private ballet show. Those dancers have quarantined for weeks, mastered a bunch of complicated lifts, and are probably on some soul-crushingly restrictive diets and these two have the audacity to nervously joke through their four-minute performance? No thank you.
Can’t wait to see how CBS stretches the tallying of votes over a full hour-long episode tonight! See y’all tomorrow.
Signs of the End Times
Carrington out of context:
“I can’t go back to my old life now. I was made for the pole.”
“I will visit.”
“In all honesty, that would never happen with a real baby — I would never run it through a relay race.”
Cely is considering running for president on the platform of “lowering the price of beef jerky.” Johnny doesn’t understand why it’s so expensive to begin with. All right pals, Amazon has already trained us into thinking that free two-day shipping is even remotely reasonable, we don’t need folks to undervalue beef jerky even more than it already is. It takes like a whole ass cow, a big plot o’ land, and tons of water to produce a single leathery nubbin. If anything, beef jerky should be more expensive.
It’s been five days and I’m still reeling from that Caesar’s promo for their beachclub-nightclub combo, Drai’s. It’s safe to say that most of us are here for Gucci Mane’s career renaissance, but it’s just too soon. The crowds. The sweat. The skin-on-skin contact. Someone, anyone, please read the room.
Running count of COVID references: 34