This recap covers the third week of Love Island U.S., episodes 9 through 14.
Well. That escalated quickly. I had planned a fun little intro diving into the history of bidets or something, but I need to save my word count for covering six hours of drama, which is only the tip of the “ten new islanders and a remixed premise” iceberg. So instead, here’s some footage my partner captured of me watching this week. Let’s do this:
We left off with newbie Lauren ready to whisk away Connor, Carrington, and Johnny in an attempt to convince any of them to wisen up and leave their ladies. Lauren is “real” and we know this because she has a bunch of tiny hand tattoos and a vibe that’s more or less “drinking Moon Juice to cure an MDMA comedown.” Also because she has told us. Repeatedly. Lauren: real. Everyone else: fake. Okay, sure, whatever.
Although the boys unanimously say she’s the hottest creature they’ve ever seen, Lauren is only able to get a few flirty smiles out of Johnny, a whole lot of Mackenzie doubt out of Connor, and a solid chunk of off-camera childhood trauma out of Carrington. A win for character development, but a loss for Lauren’s long term plan. Her presence mostly just plants a bunch of uncertainty seeds in Connor and Carrington’s big ol’ goofus brains.
Speaking of which, Mackenzie and Connor spend most of this week in turmoil after Lauren’s arrival and the whole America “hating them” thing. I could devote the rest of this recap to their petty nonsense: they aren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, then they are boyfriend and girlfriend, then Connor takes away the boyfriend/girlfriend label, then he reads her a Notes app apology that is actually just a photo of a handwritten note, then there’s a lot of talk about Mackenzie being controlling, and not enough talk about Connor disclosing what he actually wants. There are trust issues and incompatibilities and consistently poor communication and Mackenzie saying she can’t wait to dress Connor up like a little doll once they get out. It’s a nonstop circular conversation with exactly zero resolution. So of course they stay together.
At some point, it’s time for the “All Washed Up” challenge, where each lady chooses the boy she wants to kiss then goes through a wet T-shirt obstacle course before kissing him. Oh, and once the guys finish their Zoolander gasoline pump water fight, they have to vote on who gives the “sexiest, soapiest” performance. Although Lauren technically wins because she may or may not be a producer plant, the real winner is Justine, who after previously discussing with Tre that they’re better off as friends, crushes the soap dance portion and then plants a big smooch on Caleb. Afterward, Tre’s visibly hurt and Rachel says she can’t be her friend anymore, but Justine is making power moves and having adult conversations, and there’s something to be said about being able to pull off both in this hellscape.
Her perfectly executed plan comes just in time for the first recoupling of the week where the guys have the power. With the other couples (Mackenzie & Connor, Moira & Calvin, Cely & Johnny) secured, Tre smartly opts for Lauren, leaving Caleb to choose between Justine and Rachel. Perhaps after realizing that someone you have to remind to hang out with you isn’t the best partner, Caleb chooses to couple up with Justine, and Rachel’s sent home.
After the recoupling, the islanders get a text giving them permission to choose one lucky couple to spend the night in The Hideaway. Before Connor has a chance to breathe, much less misuse the word penultimate, Mackenzie calls shotgun and after half a second of protest for Moira, they pack some tiny suitcases full of sex supplies and it’s off to the races. Mackenzie wants us to all know how much she loves “treating and giving,” though the only important detail from their tryst is that The Hideaway has a bidet and it changed Connor’s life. Seriously. He describes the night to the boys as simply “nice,” but his reaction to the bidet is “Wow, okay! Wild! Holy cannoli. I’ve never had that experience ever.” You may have thought Connor didn’t have a personality. It turns out he just had an inadequately cleansed butthole.
Somewhere in the midst of Connor and Mackenzie doing the most, there’s a bunch of Cely and Johnny propaganda. Johnny paints Cely’s nails. Cely massages Johnny’s back. They do a lot of giggling. It’s cute and all, but I’m going to need to see hour six of them assembling an IKEA wardrobe together before my vote goes to anyone who isn’t Justine. Also, Kierstan and Carrington go on a horse date and decide that 1) Austin, Texas, is a “small town” and 2) they no longer want to pursue their relationship. Great news for Tre, because he isn’t really feeling Lauren and her majorette boots and was hoping for a lil’ wife swap action with Carrington anyway.
Unfortunately, before the switcheroo can be executed, America sweeps in with other plans. They’ve voted Cely & Johnny, Justine & Caleb, and Moira & Calvin as the three most compatible couples. They are safe from elimination. Calvin and Moira can’t believe they bamboozled the entire country. Drunk on power and dreams of their potential future in electoral politics, they make a pact to make out all night long. But first, they band together with the other safe couples to save Mackenzie & Connor.
Then, to really punish our fragile and exhausted brains a bit more, the guys and girls who remain in danger split up by gender before another two of them will be saved by remaining members of the opposite gender. Like, okay, CBS, we get it, you’re really into the gender binary, but please chill because that kind of thinking often ends in literal disaster, and there’s got to be a more seamless elimination system. It’s 2020 and you’ve figured out a way to film dozens of hotties licking each other’s mouths in the middle of a devastatingly contagious global pandemic; you can handle devising a structure that doesn’t involve a decision tree and three different voting populations. After what Connor confirms was “not a unanimous decision,” Kierstan and Carrington are offered a second chance, and Lauren and Tre are sent packing. Tre gives an earnest speech (low key, I’m going to miss him — Justine truly did bring out the best), and Lauren stomps around collecting her eyeliner, telling everyone that they’re in fake relationships. She is just being REAL.
The next day, there’s a challenge called “Tie The Knot” which serves as an excuse to blow some of the prop and wardrobe budgets, get Mackenzie riled up about why people would want to pie her in the face, and collect truly wild soundbites regarding the islanders’ marriage opinions. To exactly no one’s surprise, Mackenzie wants to be married ASAP since she’s 24 and her mom got married at 24, and “there’s no divorce in her immediate family” as if Divorce were something in between Basal Cell Carcinoma and Eczema on that pre-existing condition form they make you fill out at the dermatologist. Calvin tells us his rule of thumb for marriage preparation is “four seasons and a road trip.” Oooh baby, I have a lot of questions. Are there any stipulations on the road trip destination? Is the road trip included within the four seasons time allotment or is that an extra addendum? Are we talking about literal seasons like spring and winter? Or seasons in a more general life stage sense? And most importantly, where did you get this blind confidence, sir, and how do I siphon it directly into my brain?
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Of course, that’s not all. Production didn’t build an entirely separate rooftop “villa” a mere 1.5-mile drive down W. Flamingo Road for nothing. It’s time to introduce TEN NEW ISLANDERS. In short, the existing boys are sent to the new villa, “Casa Amor,” while the existing ladies stay at “The [OG] Villa.” Five newbies are then unleashed into each location with the hopes of tempting the original islanders away from their partners. Oh yeah, they’ll be canoodling and snoozing with the new hotties for multiple days, which is approximately 7.3 years in outside world time, so we better at least try to learn their names.
First, at The Villa, we get to meet the new guys, who Cely is quick to call MEN since their average age is 26.4. If you say so, my girl. Mike is a party boy from San Jose who wants you to see his dancing and immediately think about how it translates to sexytime. This clearly works on newly single Kierstan (he’s hot even with that cartilage piercing), and they start vibing posthaste. De’Andre is a professional baseball player with a lion tattooed on his chest who I’ve basically written off since he said “ladies, your daddy’s here” out loud, in earnest. Nope, no thank you. Fortunately, there’s another bro with essentially the exact same tattoo, Jalen. He has an ombré bleach situation, really good teeth, and a waterfall of intention attention he’s ready to dump on Moira. However, Mackenzie is “throwing bows” to get to Jalen first, even though she already made out with a pair of jaunty cropped trousers from the Revolutionary War, erm, I mean Las Vegas local Aaron. This is the kind of behavior that made-for-TV movie screenwriters slop on to be like, “lookee here, we got a case of multiple personalities on our hands.” Yes, this is a wild pivot, but it could just be editing and I don’t know, being human. Only time will tell. There’s also Pat, a lawyer with DJ Pauly D hair. He’s probably fine. There are just so many more names to learn and since my brain believes there’s no such thing as a good landlord, all these hotties get to live there rent-free. Limited vacancy remains for details.
Since the guys were swiftly whisked off to Casa Amor, they had limited time to pack provisions. Luckily, Mackenzie sends Connor her teddy bear, Cely sends Johnny a pair of Cely-scented panties, and Justine sends Caleb everything except his toothbrush “so he has stank breath the whole time.” She’s a genius, but if Casa Amor has a waterfall and a bidet (!!!!), surely there’s a bottle of Listerine or whatever. The boys are so excited about the fact that they basically get a days-long bachelor party, with no wedding in sight. Carrington rips off his shell in a cloud of WOOO, notes the “love and sex in the air,” then gives a pep talk about meeting the new hunnies. And are there ever hunnies to meet.
Sher’s a bartender from Miami, who’s proud of her “Latin spice,” and immediately convinces Connor to test the waters. GiNiele is a sales manager who wants you to know she’s fun-sized, not bite-sized. She’s got her eye on Caleb and does not give a single shit about who is already coupled up. Faith is a pageant consultant from Kansas City here to snatch Calvin because he has the best hair and she has the best hair and their hairs are destined to be together. Laurel’s a business owner from Alabama who cooks a mean fettuccine alfredo and promised herself she wouldn’t talk to Carrington but immediately talks to Carrington. Everyone who seems surprised by how “genuine” he is clearly missed that one interview where he got real about his trust issues stemming from losing his childhood bestie to a military relocation. The boy has at least three inches of range. Then there’s Mercades, a nanny from L.A. who has her kids’ names picked out even though she’s totally chill and definitely not in a rush. She pets Johnny’s beard a few times and gets him to admit that she caught his eye. For now, this is more of a potential issue with Johnny’s vision vs. temptation, because I’m just gonna say it: Mercades looks like Cely. But not to worry — it appears we’ll get some clarity tomorrow when Mercades makes out with Johnny then tells him, “I want you to explore me, and I don’t want to hear Cely’s name again.” This show is truly an embarrassment of riches. For continuity’s sake, I’ll leave you with this.
Signs of the End Times
• Moira didn’t have to do any of the challenges this week because her knee is still busted from gyrating to her ringtone. Furthermore, we find out she brushes her teeth with a dry toothbrush. Yet according to Calvin, “the sun shines through her eyes and lights up the whole villa.” Jalen also says, “Moira is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” Either the bar is a bit low or I am not the target demographic. Perhaps both.
• Whoever is doing the casting clearly saw what’s been happening in Bachelor Nation and was like, “nope, we’re already doing something borderline nefarious with this whole ‘filming with COVID-19 raging through the country’ thing, so let’s at least make an attempt on the diversity front.” For now, we’ll take it.
• The narrator claims John Wick III is the best film in the franchise, but Rotten Tomatoes, poor use of Halle Berry’s talent, and an excessive runtime all beg to differ.
• In explaining how much she feels for Connor, Lauren says “he’s in the sunken place,” a not-quite-accurate Jordan Peele reference that serves mostly to confirm she most likely has 4-5 Black friends, and can say the words “James Baldwin, incredible” and probably not much else when it comes to racial justice.
• It’s been days and I still can’t stop thinking about Connor’s handwritten Notes app situation. Do the islanders’ closed-circuit phones not have any apps at all besides something for SMS receiving and a camera to feed the show’s social team with a river of selfies? That seems likely, but also I’m pretty sure Mackenzie workshopped calling herself “the town fool,” which is evidence of a Notes app if I’ve ever seen it.
• Speaking of phones, why do the islanders’ texts always have hashtags? The entire purpose of hashtags is to allow searching for users on social. Hashtags in a text go nowhere, and they’re not even a very good joke structure. I’ve been tracking them since the very first episode and would like to talk to whoever wrote the handful that weren’t title-case. Are you okay? Is this a coded cry for help? #OkayCoolThanks #wehearforyou
• Running count of COVID references: 25