Love Island U.K.
Week 8 of Love Island U.K. is available to stream now in the United Kingdom on ITV2; it will be available in the U.S. on Hulu starting the week of August 30. This recap does not cover episode 48, “Unseen Bits.”
Let me just say: I had my doubts about this season. Watching Brad fumble over his words during that first week, I felt like I was having some sort of homesickness for Tommy and Molly-Mae, or Siânnise and Luke T. I thought we wouldn’t get another really solid OG couple, and I was right — we didn’t! But this week — seeing all these couples progress with babies or declarations of love, while Liberty took charge of her life and relationship — was different, and better in some ways. It was more real. With only two days left, we’ll probably only get the happy stuff from now on, but this week completed a really interesting maturation for the show, a development that makes Love Island, of all things, feel more genuine and honest than before.
We have a lot to cover this week, so I’ll go quickly, but thank you in advance for letting me ramble on about the moral fiber of reality dating shows. And may the best couple (Chloe/Toby or Kaz/Tyler) win.
Let’s Get Grafting
When Liberty sits the girlies down to tell them Jake said “I love you,” the silence is as thick as an Essex girl after getting her dream BBL in Turkey. Chloe and Faye are the most skeptical, telling Lib that it’s a little convenient he said it just as Lib was listing out all the problems in their relationship. Jake knows the jig is up, so he storms off to what appears to be a bathroom, or a producer’s closet, or some other room that we know is not supposed to be on camera because it’s not all white and decorated exclusively by Ikea. Eventually, none of this matters because Jake and Lib make up for the 10,000th time, but this is what we in the biz call a key bit of foreshadowing (see below).
The next night, the boys are tasked with cooking for the girls, which gives Faye the opportunity to say such romantic phrases like “I hate pasta” and “asparagus makes your wee smell.” After the boys walk away to make the dessert course, Priya announces to the girls that Brett is boring, which pretty much seals their doomed fate when the islanders are then asked to vote for the least compatible couples in the villa. The next day, Priya spends a full day telling anyone who’ll listen that Brett personally victimized her by liking boring kinds of cheese, and the two are promptly dumped the next night. But before she goes, Priya makes sure to tell Faye they didn’t vote for her and Teddy as least compatible couple, a.k.a. the Love Island equivalent of pulling the pin on a grenade and walking away. We should have expected this from someone who has sex dreams about Boris Johnson.
Priya’s exit pretty much guarantees another Faye bottle episode, which Love Island has in spades. She figures out that Millie/Liam, Jake/Liberty, and Kaz/Tyler all voted for her and Teddy, and makes sure to yell at each of them in turn. Mary and Aaron don’t want to be left out of the action, so they target Kaz and Tyler for voting for them, even though two other couples did as well. Everyone makes up the next morning, and the producers force them to do a talent show as a show of solidarity. Mary tap dances, Chloe, out of nowhere, shows her math genius, and Millie plays the piano with the concentration of a 7-year-old at her second-grade recital. One big happy family again, until the next vote!
The next day, it’s the guaranteed best episode of the series: BABY DAY (!!!!!!), otherwise known as the day when the producers give a bunch of party-hard 20-somethings robot babies to take care of. It’s a glimpse into the future when these people will hopefully become successful parents; well, everyone except Faye, who literally runs away from her baby at one point, and Toby, who drops it on its head. As the girls pretty much abandon their babies to beat their faces all morning, the boys are rewarded with a golf outing in the afternoon where we see Toby shank the ball at least four times before hitting it into the water. After all this, Mary and Aaron win best parents but are dumped that night after a public vote. Maybe it was punishment for Aaron laying the baby’s head on top of a wine glass.
It’s time for the final dates of the show, which is when the date team shells out all their money so the islanders can talk about their relationship over prop food in a castle, or near a lake, or on a horse, or something of that nature. Teddy asks Faye to be his girlfriend while they’re in a literal bath of roses, Kaz and Tyler talk about their future while a string quartet plays “Rewrite the Stars,” and Liam and Millie say “I love you” to each other as flamenco dancers flutter by in the background. Teddy and Faye aside (sorry, Faye — I also probably would have voted you guys least compatible. Yell at me as you see fit), I can really see a lot of these couples succeeding outside of the villa, which is always the hallmark of a successful season. I had my doubts, I’ll admit, but Love Island always pulls through for the Instagram couples of the world.
On the other hand, Liberty’s finally seen the cracks in her relationship that have been apparent to every other islander and also all of Twitter. Jake’s needling comments — that she’s too messy, that she’s self-centered and “all about [her]” — have taken their toll, and after Kaz and Tyler leave for their date, Lib runs out of the villa and cries. After Faye runs out after her, Lib tells her that she won’t change herself for a guy, and she feels like he doesn’t actually love her anyway. She tells him this much later, and to this, Jake gives the same excuse he’s been milking for three weeks now and will probably be soon plastered on a t-shirt sold on the @jakecornish7 Instagram page: “You’re my girlfriend.” Liberty wants someone who will embrace her messiness, her little quirks, who loves her for her. Jake doesn’t necessarily fight this notion, and they decide to call it off. As they tell the rest of the islanders, Lib shows extreme maturity, telling the girls, “I don’t think Jake’s a bad person, I just don’t think he was in love with me.”
Because the date team already put a down payment on the boat rental, the next day Liberty and Jake are still sent out on their final date. There, bobbing on the bow of a sparkling boat — an activity that both of them separately described as their dream date — the two agree that they’re just not right for each other. As awkward as it is, this conversation — about closure, about falling out of love, about breaking up not because you dislike someone but because it’s not forever — is the stuff we usually don’t see on reality dating shows, least of all Love Island. This is the stuff that is usually hashed out in private after the lights go down and the cameras stop rolling and is explained away in a brief Instagram Story announcing their breakup to the world. It’s mature, it’s brave, and it’s all because of Liberty, who’s finally prioritizing her feelings. The two decide to leave the show, on their own terms, together.
Leaving Love Island with so little time left is nearly unprecedented, but Liberty didn’t care that there were only two days to go. She could have easily pretended to be fine to get into the finale and announce a breakup shortly after due to distance or compatibility or her rigorous return-to-work program at Nando’s. And that’s what a normal reality television contestant would have done. It’s probably what I would have done. But because Liberty is genuine and mature, we, the viewers, got to see an ending — probably not the happy one we would have hoped for, but a real one, which is what reality television should be about anyway.
And if you’ll let me wax poetic about dating shows once more, it’s time to end on a high note: the friendship between Kaz and Liberty. Sometimes, it’s truly sad that these programs prioritize romantic love because most of the time the best relationships that form are the platonic ones. In this episode alone, we saw (a) Lib wait for Kaz to share the happy details of her date before breaking the news about her and Jake, (b) Kaz forego the night with Tyler to share the daybeds with Liberty, (c) Kaz tell Lib she’s found love in her, and (d) their secret handshake. All the girls cried when Liberty left (especially Faye, who just days earlier told Lib she’d be “civil” with her), but this is a friendship I have no doubt will continue, probably launching them to the likes of famed Love Island friends Chris and Kem. And after all of this, isn’t a challenge show starring Kaz and Liberty what we deserve?
• Jake tells the boys his breakup was mutual, while Liberty tells the girls she broke up with Jake. Ref, roll the tape, please?
• At one point, Millie and Liam are discussing how they voted for Faye and Teddy as Millie’s wearing Faye’s bikini.
• Official count of Olivia Rodrigo references: 8. At this point, I think they’ve played nearly every song off SOUR besides good 4 u. Please Love Island, throw me a bone in these last two episodes and edit it in during a scene of, say, Tyler and Kaz declaring their love for each other whilst dressed in prom clothes?
• This week’s round-up of Toby and Chloe’s shenanigans includes a Lady and the Tramp-style spaghetti dinner and Chloe jumping in the pool when Toby tried to pawn the baby off on her.
• I laughed out loud when Faye told Lib she couldn’t be objective about the breakup because she just doesn’t like Jake.
• Toby wanted to name his baby Giannis, presumably of the Antetokounmpo variety?