This is officially a Kyle J. Cooke stan account. (The J stands for Jreamy.) Yeah, I know, he’s a no-good drunk who made out with other girls while he was with Amanda, but I am willing to forgive him just about anything, save for moral transgressions like murder and actually liking Firefly Lane. My love started at the very first frame of the episode, when we see Kyle waking up on Saturday morning still in his tie-dyed tee and light jeans from the night before. For a gentleman pushing 40, this should be a red flag, but it is just Kyle being Kyle, partying as hard as he can and sucking the marrow out of life. He is the reality-TV Gronk, and just as blonde and sexy.
It continues through the rest of the episode, including in the genius section in which United Skates of America comes and sets up a portable roller rink in their backyard. Everyone’s in their ’70s-themed best and it’s all striped tube socks and halter tops. Amanda wins the spirit award with her multicolored unitard with fringe down the sleeves, but it’s Kyle who wins my heart with his Whitesnake wig and his freshly shaven mustache. A mustache makes every face 78 percent more handsome. That is science, people. At one point, sick of falling on his drunken ass, Kyle just sits down in the middle of the rink, drinking Loverboy from the can. That’s what’s great about Kyle. Kyle never gives up on fun and, as we all know, summer should be fun.
The peak of Kyle’s adorableness comes during his birthday dinner, which Amanda arranges so that the house is like a restaurant because they can’t go out. (How many of us did that at least once during quarantine?) Everyone’s assigned a role. Paige is the hostess and just plays games on her phone at the hostess stand because she doesn’t know what a hostess does, but she actually has it figured out: A hostess just stands there looking pretty and playing games on her phone and waiting to meet a rich man to take her away from it all. Just ask Lala Kent. In the kitchen, Hannah and Steven are the chefs and, no, I will not say that they’re short-staffed because Steven’s working there. I won’t. I won’t do it. That would be mean. Lindsay is the busser, which seems a bit menial for her, but okay. Carl’s the sommelier, which is an odd choice for someone toying with sobriety. Luke and Ciara are the servers because, as models, they should know something about being servers. Danielle’s the general manager, which basically means that she wears a blazer.
Kyle and Amanda sit on either end of their very long table and Kyle’s just game and silly the whole time, looking like a Greek sculpture wearing a Hawaiian shirt. When everyone gathers around for birthday shots and singing, Kyle tears up because he’s so grateful for what everyone did for him. How can you not love Kyle, a man so vulnerable, so thankful, and yet so masculine that he is willing to cry in front of all of his friends? That is what a real man does, not grab his balls and fart in his room like Luke.
Oh, Luke. Wait. We can’t get to Luke yet. First we need to discuss a couple of other people. Let’s start with Carl, who has been talking about getting over his parents’ divorce all five seasons he’s been on the show. Now we find out that his mother is getting remarried. What? Carl still isn’t over this divorce and the mother is already on marriage number two? Get it together, Carl. It is sweet how much he loves his mother and how everyone gets together and in their best clothes to give her and Lou a FaceTime toast. Any excuse to get dressed up in a pink shorts suit in a pandemic, right? Also, it turns out Carl is an amazing roller skater because he went to Roller Skate University as a kid because that is where all the girls hung out, and it almost makes him as adorable as Kyle. Almost.
Since we talked about Carl we must also talk about Lindsay, who, if she was a Pokémon, would be named Rageonite. We see some things brewing between her and Steven and it’s very reminiscent of her relationship with Everett from season one. Lindsay thinks that Steven works too much and doesn’t understand it because he’s in the hospitality industry, which is basically shut down. When his boss calls during skating night, Steven leaves to go answer it and Lindsay, in a WikiHow video about passive-aggression says, “Go talk to your boss. Don’t worry about me.”
Later, she goes into their room and Steven is in some weird secret alcove working. (Is it the bathroom? The closet?) She asks if he’s on the phone and he says, “No, but I wouldn’t mind a sandwich.” She starts yelling at him. (Do not say she got short with Steven. Do not!) She goes to complain to Danielle about this request and Danielle says, “Oh, are you making sandwiches?” Yes, Lindsay, this is not going well for you. This is just a normal request from a partner. I can’t tell you how many times during WFH-ageddon my husband has come into my office and said, “You know, I wouldn’t mind a coffee.” I dutifully go and get him one, but mostly because the coffee place has the best peanut-butter–chocolate cookies and, well, I walked about 200 steps to get there so I earned it.
What I’m trying to say is that Lindsay wants a one-sided relationship where everything is focused on her. She wants complete attention and devotion from her partner. But the other thing about Lindsay is that she will never be satisfied. She will never have enough. Steven could be by her side every moment of the day except when he takes a poop and she would still say, “Why aren’t you next to me when you poop?”
But I don’t hate Lindsay. I really don’t. I admire her dedication to being herself, a ray gun powered by the destroyed will of others. I also appreciate her journalistic instincts. She sits Luke down for a chat about him and Hannah and just point-blank asks him what is going on with them. When he says he’s open to a relationship this summer, Lindsay says, “So are things with Hannah out of the question?” He says, “I don’t know.”
I also applaud Paige for her investigative skills. Ciara sits down next to her and, in the spirit of getting to know her, Paige starts asking about her and Luke and how they met. Ciara tells Paige that they met on a modeling gig and she went to Minnesota to meet his family and hooked up, but then he got back together with his ex and ghosted her. When Paige asks her if the hooking up was good, Ciara says, “I don’t want to talk about anyone’s sex game,” and Paige replies, “I don’t want to either but, also … I do.” Samesies! Enquiring minds want to know. Whenever I find out a friend has a new boyfriend, I ask these five questions: How old is he, where does he live, what does he do for a living, where did you meet him, how big is it? These are the building blocks of a relationship and I need to make an accurate assessment if you should bother with this.
But, yeah, Luke. Fucking Luke. (Fluke?) As Hannah said, just wait until a bunch of girls get together and they will start finding out all of his secrets really quick. Turns out that Luke, as hot as he is (especially now that he’s thicc), is grosser than a pastrami, capicola, turkey, and French fry sandwich. He spends the entire episode trying to ride the fence between trying to ride Ciara and trying to ride Hannah. He’s texting both of them good night and both of them good morning. We find out that last summer, while he was luring Hannah away from her boyfriend, he was also FaceTiming with Ciara. And, yes, there is footage of it. He is so busted.
Hannah tries to talk to Luke about their situation a few times, and he tells her at roller skating night that they have a great friendship. Hannah is a bit confused, because if they’re such great friends, why didn’t he tell her about Ciara, this girl that he’s in love with? That night, while going to bed, Hannah tells Paige that Luke has made out with three of the six girls in the house and it’s not going to end well. And this is before he hooks up with Lindsay, as the trailer for the season heavily implies.
Hannah sits Ciara down for some girl chat. They put on masks, braid each other’s hair, talk about their crushes on David Archuleta and also, oh, about how Luke did both of them dirty. Hannah’s big takeaways from this conversation are that Luke was talking to both of them all of last summer but never told one about the other, and also that Luke said he couldn’t have sex with Hannah because she would get too attached, and she thought they had something more than they did.
Finally, after Kyle’s birthday dinner, Hannah sits them both down for a chat within earshot of the entire house (with Paige and Amanda hanging on every word and Danielle shushing Carl so that she doesn’t miss any of the action). It goes wrong right off the bat when Hannah asks him how many girls he was talking to last summer. “Not that many, honestly,” he says. Baaaaaahhhhhhhh. Wrong answer. Hannah can now steal the point.
Finally, Luke says to her, “Hannah, we never dated. We were never a couple. We’ve had this conversation numerous times.” Um, you spent the whole summer flirting, you got down and dirty with her on camera, you spent nearly every day hanging out — if that isn’t dating, then I don’t know what is.
Hannah points out that even now he is flirting with her all the time and he tells her that is just how their relationship is. Oh, that is some grade A, USDA-certified bullshit right there. This is a woman that he hooked up with in the past, that he suspects might have feelings for him, and he’s flirting with her because it’s easier than telling her point-blank that they’re not going to have a romantic relationship? He’s just dangling that D in front of her like a carrot on a stick (in this case I would like both the carrot and the stick) but then telling her that it will always be out of reach because they’re friends?
Ciara sits there awkwardly, as if she’s trying to turn her white T-shirt into a teleportation device that will magically transport her to the iciest moon of Jupiter, while Hannah gets teary and accuses Luke of wasting her time. “Choose your words carefully, Hannah,” he shouts, making things even worse for himself. This is wasting her time. This is leading her along, telling her how he is ready for a relationship and knowing he doesn’t mean with her but also insinuating that it could be with her. It’s talking to her about Ciara but also being too much of a coward to actually bring up Ciara by name. Oh, Luke, a house full of girls who know all your deepest and darkest secrets was never going to work out for you. If only you were smart enough to know that. There’s only one thing I know for sure: Kyle J. Cooke would never.