This recap covers the fourth week of Love Island U.S., episodes 15 through 21.
Love Island has no boundaries. We were told 60-minute episodes with bonus footage exclusively on Saturdays. We were given 120 minutes several times this week. We were told we would have Wednesdays off. We did not get Wednesday off. I have never been more grateful for country music stealing tonight’s time slot so we can collectively know a moment of peace. But don’t worry — Thursday will be two hours to make up for it. We’re all just slowly slipping into acceptance with every new challenge. And like everything else this year, the house always wins. Speaking of houses…
Contact Tracing: The Villa
We start this week off with The Villa competing against Casa Amor in a challenge where they’re given commands via simultaneous text message and have to race to complete them. Per usual, prizes are limited and all we glean from this is that the OG boys are bad at following directions, and Kierstan is only 23. (Okay, we knew this, but it’s easy to forget since her smokey eye mastery suggests much more time on this Earth.) The age situation does provide a little context, however, as to why Kierstan spends most of her time this week ignoring the new hotties and sulking around like a brooding male character in a Brontë novel, pining over Carrington and plotting a display of valor despite their mutual agreement to move forward platonically.
Mackenzie makes up for it, though, frolicking around The Villa as she realizes that even the slightest interest in Jalen probably means she isn’t ready for someone like Connor. By “someone like Connor,” she probably means “wife guy who uses language suggesting he’s been to therapy, yet displays behavior suggesting the exact opposite.” But I’m just gonna assume she’s referring to how she’s not ready to settle down until she at least shoots her shot with Protozoa from Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. Although his first picks were Moira and Kierstan, Jalen is psyched about Mackenzie. (*Whispers* For now.)
Cely and Justine spend most of their boo-free time focusing on their relationship with each other. They giggle, they have earnest conversations about their feelings toward Johnny and Caleb, they support each other with nuanced honesty and unapologetic joy. They have the strongest connection in the villa. Full stop. The rest of these jokers can keep running around in increasingly toxic circles, but we all know Cely and Justine will prevail. Speaking of jokers, Moira learns that new guy Aaron also likes corgis (“DON’T PLAY WITH ME RIGHT NOW, THEY’RE MY FAVORITE!”), and that’s all it takes with her. The bar doesn’t even exist anymore.
Contact Tracing: Casa Amor
Meanwhile, at Casa Amor, the boys are treating their time away from The Villa like it’s a bachelor party with no wedding the next day, complete with the mindset that any and all new women exist solely to entertain them. It’s mostly really awkward, then everyone overcorrects into absolute chaos. Johnny is like “TikTok fiance, who? I’ll give you something concrete to hate me for!” as he saunters around with Mercades, acting like an innocent little doe while she “seduces him.” Not buying it. And Cely won’t, either. In the words of Carrington, “your girl was definitely pushing the paper, but you’re signing every check.”
Oh, Carrington, an inspiration for us all. He gives us blind hope that sometimes all it takes is a glob of hair product and a short trip down the road to completely transform your outlook, personality, and ability to deliver zesty, albeit poorly workshopped, one-liners. He says he’s “tryna get some makeouts tonight” and makeouts he gets. Although already bedmates with Southern belle Laurel, Carrington catches Mercades in the bathroom after she’s starting to see the writing on the Johnny/Cely wall. After a very sloppy makeout, they move to the bed where Carrington puts his potentially bootleg Yeezys directly on the comforter and tells Mercades how much game she has. Reserve your judgement, y’all, she contains multitudes — Mercades is a good girlfriend and “a freak for daddy.” Carrington muses, “I could be daddy…” but the next thing we know he’s in the shower with Laurel. Either he doesn’t want to be daddy after all, or he made pre-production use of the hotel’s HBO Max subscription to revisit Bill Paxton’s iconic role in Big Love. Carrington, your Utah is showing.
A Conscious Recoupling
Finally, it’s time for the houses to unite for the recoupling ceremony. One by one, each OG Villa girl has to stand up and decide if she wants to stick with her original partner or recouple with one of the newbies. Then, each of the OG guys gets to make a dramatic entrance like a ’90s rom-com female lead who just straightened her hair and removed her glasses, either solo or with a new boo. The tension is borderline xanax-worthy. Sure, we could blame our already frayed nerves, but instead, let’s scapegoat the producers. Growing tired of their pre-licensed Sam Smith catalog, they made a few phone calls, flexed a music budget larger than Jeff Bezos’ pandemic earnings, and hired Hans Zimmer to score “Gus’ Staircase Return.”
Long story short, Moira recouples with Aaron, but it’s fine because Calvin comes in with Sher. Her personal brand is “mean,” and somehow he convinced her to couple up with him by performing six words of mission-trip Portugese. Kierstan opts to hold out for Carrington, who comes down the stairs alone only to turn around and beckon for Laurel to join him. It’s clear proof that Julio Torres’ Hand Acting Masterclass is an excellent investment for all your most savage villainy needs. Since this show doesn’t have comprehensible rules, Kierstan is now “single” although not yet booted. We have no idea what happened to Mercades, but I sincerely hope she and her IG mentions are okay. Luckily, Caleb is here to cleanse our palettes with a sincerely adorable Justine reunion. Same situation with Johnny and Cely, minus the sincere part on Johnny’s behalf. Then it’s Mackenzie’s turn. With surprisingly little fanfare, she chooses to recouple with Jalen, leaving Connor to stroll in with her teddy bear in arm and his tail between his legs. And with that, let the messy catch ups begin!
To his credit, Johnny is immediately like, “I have something to tell you,” because he thinks he can convince Cely that honesty absolves all sins. This unfortunately sort of works as he spins a tall tale about Mercades going after him and how their gooey smooches all over Casa were absolutely necessary in the name of gaining clarity. Cely is not thrilled. Ignoring Caleb’s sage advice that the stove’s still hot and you gotta give it a second, to exactly no one’s surprise, Johnny starts to threaten that Cely being mad for more than 45 seconds may hold their relationship back or some nonsense. He claims he’s better for her than he was before. She’s almost over it, but still cries. Thankfully, Moira (who unceremoniously broke up with Aaron earlier) swoops in, puts on a cardigan, and makes it all about her! Cely fixes her own lashes and goes to comfort Moira’s tired ass because she’s an angel who no one in this poop parade deserves except for Justine. Can we just let them split the prize money now? I cannot even imagine the content we’d get for $100k and whatever time is left in their contracts.
But alas, trouble is already afoot with Mackenzie and Jalen. There are multiple things at play here. First, Jalen probably just wanted to stay in The Villa and after Moira and Kierstan weren’t originally down, he saw Mackenzie as his ticket in. Now, he wants to pursue others (cough Kierstan), and quickly tries to take Mackenzie’s offhand request to talk more and stretch it into a big scary red flag without also bringing up her behavior with Connor. Second, Mackenzie is feeling flat out misunderstood, being judged by a past she presently can’t control. And finally, we’ve got a classic tragic hero situation on our hands. The bros continue to paint her as manipulative (um, et tu, Johnny?), and in pushing against that, it becomes somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy for her. Doomed by foresight, Mackenzie’s fatal flaw is her own blind intuition. The other girls act as Greek chorus, trying to steer her right, but don’t think for a second the entire villa isn’t patiently waiting for their sweet sweet catharsis when she ultimately goes home. For now, Jalen breaks up with Mackenzie, Mackenzie explains her frustrations that he oversold his feelings and should have been more forthright about his hangups, and then Jalen just says, “Noted.” Yikes.
Justine and Caleb finally get a date on a different, seemingly much higher rooftop. They eat two strawberries each and have conversations about their families’ expectations, then pragmatically discuss the logistical challenges of a relationship outside of the show. The whole thing is so refreshing and delightful, it momentarily blinds me to the fact that Caleb is wearing 47 bandanas glue-gunned together.
At some point, the notorious Love Island baby bird challenge occurs. I’d like to say I used that time to do some breathing exercises and donate to a food bank because that shit is tone deaf and mad wasteful, but it’s actually just because I have emetophobia. In the sensible words of Cely, “WHYYYYYYYY?”
Of course that’s not the end of that. It’s time for yet another recoupling! This time, it’s the guys’ choice and no one’s going home (yet). Cely continues forgiving Johnny, Justine jokes around with Caleb, and Carrington attempts to write a riddle for Laurel, all while the single islanders furiously scramble for any semblance of validation. It’s a mess and the only thing you really need to know is that at one point, Mackenzie is trying to weasel her way back to Connor via getting his advice about Jalen, and even after Caleb tells him to sit down, Carrington trots on over and asks “can I steal him for a minute?” MY GUY! Tayshia is 278 miles away in Palm Springs. You’ve got your reality show power moves all mixed up. Someone needs to check on the hydration levels out there because there are signs heat-induced delirium is setting in.
In the actual recoupling, it’s predictable — Cely/Johnny, Justine/Caleb, Carrington/Laurel — until we get to Calvin. He chooses Kierstan because they have a sexy eye thing together. Jalen’s next and is visibly furious Kierstan’s off the table, so he opts for Sher. It’s perfect because she’s always furious; a match made in heaven! Connor picks Moira even though she’s Mackenzie’s best friend (who knew?). The opportunity for their collective vocal fry to merge into a single glottal note was too good to pass up. Aaron’s left with Mackenzie by default. THE END.
Just kidding! Hope you remembered to vote so your fave ladies can have a shot with three new casting barrel dregs tomorrow!
Signs of the End Times
• Carrington out of context: “Is that the place that’s super white? I don’t even know the name of that place, I just know from Instagram, all the white.”
• Sher gets really stoked about a “very detailed grilled cheese,” but they don’t show said grilled cheese. I need to know what “detailed” means in this context, since this is at least 14 times her baseline level of inflection or emotion. Maybe she’s just thinking about how she could steal Caleb from Justine whenever she wants. Delusion is a helluva drug.
• In his only bit of screen time before he was booted, spiky-haired lawyer Pat mumbles “I don’t know what happened; someone bit me hard” as he nurses his face. No further explanation is given.
• Aaron’s favorite fruit is cantaloupe. The only logical explanation for this is that he’s never tried any other fruit. Someone get this boy a date for the sole purpose of expanding his produce horizons.
• “She was hot” is the reason Jalen gives for why Mackenzie chose to sleep outside. It’s honestly more surprising that we’ve made it this far without someone being genuinely hot in that shoebox full of sweaty night farts.
• Running count of COVID references: 27