Love Island Recap: Play With Monopoly, Not With Me

Love Island U.K.

Week 2 (Episodes 7-12)
Season 8 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating 4 stars

Love Island U.K.

Week 2 (Episodes 7-12)
Season 8 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Photo: ITV2

This recap does not cover Episode 06 — Unseen Bits. 

Hello, Islanders!

Now that we’re all gathered ’round the firepit, I’d like to say that while this season got off to a slow start here in the Villa, things are finally picking up. It is still early days, but I can’t wait to see where this journey of love takes us all next.

To catch us all up, previously … In the first episode, the voting public in the U.K. paired Gemma with Liam, Indiyah with Ikenna, Amber with Dami, Paige with Luca, and Tasha with Andrew. Because we can’t have an even number of Islanders for too long, that evening we are introduced to Davide — a block of muscle with a face attached and an aggressive Italian accent — who we are to understand is extremely good-looking.

In the next few days, the following things occurred: Davide re-coupled with Gemma, then Luca re-coupled with Gemma; Davide re-coupled with new girl Ekin-Su; Liam self-eliminated; Paige and other new girl Afia were left single. I know it sounds like a lot, but life moves fast in this Villa. Alright, everybody ready to crack on?

There are a lot of things I want to get to but first, let’s talk about Ekin-Su (pronounced in the Villa as *Super Smash Bros voice*, Ekin-Suuuuuuu). I feel like the editing wants to frame Ekin-Su — a 27-year-old woman who self-describes as Turkish delight — as a villain, which naturally would incline me to root for her if she weren’t so difficult to root for. Ekin’s problem isn’t really that she’s a villain; it’s that she doesn’t understand the rules of engagement here. There is a set of unspoken social codes that only exist within the confines of this show that most Islanders catch onto pretty quickly. Things like no kissing newcomers when you’re already coupled up, no stepping on your friends’ toes, and you should give every new relationship a little time to warm up before getting to know other people. But Ekin “Nobody’s Exclusive in Here” Su is not following the rules. More importantly, she’s not being discreet about her rule-breaking.

Heavy, highly audible make-outs notwithstanding, it should have been clear that she and Davide were doomed from the start. For one thing, nobody believes Davide would still have chosen to couple up with Ekin-Su if Luca hadn’t coupled up with Gemma first. It’s also clear that Ekin is the only one initiating things, the only time Davide remembers to show her attention is when a new boy starts chatting her up. You can see Ekin really putting in the work here while Davide gives her nothing back, telling the other boys she was “trying, trying, trying” in bed, which he seems to find irritating.

Then the day arrives when all the guys present their partners with morning teas and coffees … except Davide. Ekin-Su breaks down in tears. This is understandable! She’s being ignored, and she doesn’t know why, which is a truly awful feeling. Davide straight-up sucks for making her feel that way. She says she feels like she’s been “weak.” Ugh, baby girl, you deserve better.

In the real world, Ekin-Su would be perfectly within her rights to blow off her boyfriend of a week who’s been ignoring her to crack on with other guys. But this is not the real world. In this world, Ekin-Su is partnered up with Davide, which means telling Jacques (pronounced Jax, for some reason) on his first day that she’d prefer to be sleeping with him, is bad form. It also makes all of those Jay shenanigans (we’ll get to him) look pretty bad. Don’t make me side with Davide, Ekin-Su! Please!

Meanwhile, Luca, who is more insecure than an eighth-grader in gym class, is physically clutching onto Gemma as if she’s about to escape. The man is hanging on to her for dear life, begging for kisses, and planning elaborate future vacations to Greece. Gemma tells him to chill out, but he doesn’t.

So, of course, of course, the next arrival would be Jacques, a puckish professional rugby player and Gemma’s literal ex-boyfriend. Luca treats this like a personal attack, and his anxiety is now elevated to a full-on crisis. Staring glumly into the middle distance as Gemma departs to, like, wash her hair or something, Luca tells Andrew, “and now my jumper smells of her,” and offers him a sniff of his sleeve. Clearly panicking that if he lets her out of arm’s reach, Gemma will run off, Luca is sort of playfully shaking her by the shoulders when she accidentally calls him “Jacques.” It was inevitable. This leads to a minor meltdown from Luca, which is not at all helped by the fact that Jacques is the first person to comfort Gemma after he storms off in a huff.

In fairness to Luca, I am deeply suspicious of Jacques from Cumbria (“ya know, like near the Lake District?”). The morning of his arrival, Paige and Afia get texts that they will both be going on a date. “Pray for Paige!” Paige tells the confessional camera brightly. Girl, I am. Paige and Jacques immediately hit it off, which makes sense. They both have that same kind of winsome, apple-cheeked attractiveness. But, I don’t know, I’m not sold yet.

Here is my evidence that Jacques is trouble:

  1. Jacques told Afia that his relationship with Gemma did not end well and that she would be the one to be mad at him, immediately raising the question: What did he do?!
  2. Jacques insists he’s not trying to get Gemma back, but he does seem awfully keen to remind everyone that he “still cares for the girl.”
  3. Paige says she’d like a guy to treat her nicely and take her out to dinner, and Jacques suggests the pub. Twice. You’re a professional athlete, dude; buy the lady a nice meal.
  4. Jacques seems to subtly take a dig at Gemma when he tells Paige that he doesn’t want someone who “just looks good” because that’s what he’s gone for in the past.

Or, for instance, that game of Never Have I Ever. Either he doesn’t actually know how this game works or he’s just pretending not to, because when you say “never have I ever,” you’re supposed to name something you’ve never done. But Jacques seems to want to embarrass Gemma on purpose and says things like, “Never have I ever fancied my girlfriend’s mum,” while grinning directly at her. Maybe I’m reading too much into this. But also maybe I’m not. On the other hand, Gemma seems to be going out of her way not to trash talk Jacques to Paige. The worst she says about him is that he’s “kind of a lovable shit.” Look, I’m not casting judgment yet, just casting doubts. Anyway, I’m running out of time, and we haven’t even gotten to the real good stuff yet.

Elsewhere in the Villa, Andrew and Tasha are essentially married and are rewarded with the very first hideaway session — forever the creepiest element of this show. The Islanders applaud as Tasha puts on her sexiest lingerie, and they escort the lovebirds off to their sexy bedroom, like that scene in Game of Thrones immediately before the red wedding. The bed is covered with rose petals beneath a neon sign reading “lust,” with a drawer full of sex toys and Playboy bunny ears. Tandrew chat and kiss for a bit, and then, suddenly, we’re just watching them have sex. That is what it is like to watch this show. Everything is nice and normal and fun and then suddenly somebody is visibly aroused or trading bodily fluids on camera, and you and I both have to make our own peace with that.

They are still the most adult and emotionally healthy couple of the bunch. Andrew, are you bothered that some guy is trying to hit on Tasha? To Luca’s unending bewilderment and frustration — not a chance, mate. Andrew tells Tash that until she tells him otherwise, he’s choosing to trust her.

Things are not going quite as smoothly for our other coupled-up pairs, Ikenna and Indiyah and Amber and Dami. Amber and Dami did get one date — they played tennis — but Amber didn’t seem to be picking up Dami’s flirtatious vibes. As for Indiyah and Ikenna, I’m frankly not sure why Indiyah has put in as much energy as she has. Ikenna says he’s “relaxed” and “chilled.” But there’s “relaxed,” and then there’s just nada. Indiyah finally follows Ekin-Su’s advice and just goes in for the kiss, but nobody seems super excited about it, least of all Ikenna.

Side note: It is telling to me that Davide, Dami, and Ikenna have all, at various moments, resorted to making their girls breakfast — the traditional Love Islander Hail Mary move and a telltale sign that a relationship is on the rocks.

Oh fook, I forgot about Afia. I mean, didn’t you? Jacques picked Paige at the next re-coupling, and Afia was hereby dumped. Farewell Afia, you were too good for this world.

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for, it’s time to discuss the two new boys. They are Remi, a 22-year-old model and aspiring rapper, and Jay, a 28-year-old financial manager and agent of chaos. Right away, this man is throwing daggers left and right. Nobody is safe. Everybody thinks women are catty, but here we have Jay doing his best to dismantle this sexist stereotype single-handedly. Feminism!

Here are some opening lines from Jay:

  • “I’m not here for seasonal boyfriends.” (This one he definitely practiced.)
  • To Jacques: “You’re a bit small for a rugby player.”
  • To Ekin-Su: “Davide is all talk and no chat, bad presence, arrogance can’t be ignored. And I think you can do better.”

Ekin-Su is immediately obsessed and laser-focused. Here is where Ekin-Su begins to fall off from the range of acceptable Villa ethics.

The following day, Jay is crouched on the sofa like a big-game hunter, scanning for targets. Jay tells Remi that most of the girls in the Villa are too afraid to take a risk, but he spies three he thinks he can break up. “Tasha wants out of that relationship,” he tells Remi confidently. Remi mentions Indiyah, and Jay says, “If you go all-in on Indiyah, and I’m not saying that’s a bad strategy, but if you shoot and you miss, then the other girls might not like it.” From a strategy perspective, that makes sense, but from a human perspective, don’t talk about potential love interests as strategies. Ya know?

Our two new boys get this season’s three-course meal dates. Remi has selected Indiyah, Paige, and Ekin-Su, but it’s clear he only really has eyes for Indiyah. Which is good, I think. Indiyah deserves to be aggressively flirted with. Ikenna, for some reason, has barely lifted his eyelids. If this guy has a personality beyond barely-sentient, I have yet to see it.

At the other table, Jay has chosen Amber for starters, Ekin-Su for the main, and Tasha for dessert. He tells Amber that she’s clearly the one with the “highest emotional intelligence” that he can see (ew, dude, I hate you). Next is the date with Ekin-Su, which takes place under Davide’s watchful glower from the balcony. Ekin-su has made spaghetti, and Jay suggests they try the Lady and the Tramp eat to the center of the same noodle thing, which they do, causing Davide to flip. “Oha my dayz!” he moans. “Play wiz Monopoly, not wiz mee!” Buddy, you didn’t even like her an hour ago.

On the other hand, Ekin-Su is clearly doing the most, knowing that Davide is watching the whole time. This is what I mean by discretion. It would be one thing if she just went on the date and hinted that she’d like to move on. This is a performance put on for an audience of one. But it’s the next day when she really loses me. This is when Ekin-Su begins summoning Jay to the terrace for secret tonsil hockey rendezvous, crawling on the floor so the other Islanders can’t see them above the railing like some kind of deranged romance bank robber.

But, subtlety not being Ekin-Su’s strong suit, everyone immediately knows what’s going on. In one instance, Dami asks Jay straight up if he and Ekin-Su had just been kissing on the terrace, and Jay has the stones to lie directly into his face as though Dami had not literally just watched Ekin-Su signaling with her sex eyes from across the yard.

Davide confronts Ekin-Su, explaining that people saw her go up to the terrace to make out with Jay.

Ekin-Su: “Why do people care where I fucking am!”

Davide: “I! I care where you are!”

Ekin-Su: “Oh, so now you care!”

Davide, hilariously: “EH??”

The episode ends on an actual “Vaffanculo!”

This is such a mess. I love this braindead show. I love my sexy singles.

Other Bits and Observations

• Who wants to talk about Gemma’s favorite vacation spot being Dubai? Because I sure do.

• It took 11 episodes before Ekin-Su said “Italian stallion,” and I think that deserves a round of applause.

• Gemma truly thinks Luca will stop being so clingy because she brought it up with him. She’s definitely wrong about this.

• The challenge this week was the men as stripper mechanics. Most of them stuffed their underwear for this and Dami was voted sexiest.

• I’m pleased to announce that we have a new sex metaphorical conceit: “Talking science.”

• Remi does a freestyle rap and Luca gives the camera a The Office-style side-eye.

• I need these Brits to understand that teeth can be too white. Luca, your mouth. It’s blinding.

• Davide doing the lord’s work of keeping jeggings alive.

• Dami said he’s “pretty proud of it, to be honest,” with regards to kissing his male best friend, and I love him.

Our Current Couplings

  • Tasha and Andrew
  • Luca and Gemma
  • Amber and Dami
  • Indiyah and Ikenna
  • Paige and Jacques
  • Davide and Ekin-Su

This Week’s Dumpings

  • Afia
Love Island Recap: Play With Monopoly, Not With Me