Steven sent Lindsay a PowerPoint presentation about their relationship troubles and I have never been more conflicted about something so dumb. My first reaction was the same as Luke’s (itself a cause for concern), which is that it is sweet. He put all this work into something in an attempt to win Lindsay back. But then I can’t help but wonder, Carrie Bradshaw style, why on earth would someone want to win back Lindsay, a cluster bomb of dashed expectations?
The timeline of this episode goes a little bit wonky. We start off with the night of Lindsay’s birthday when Steven took a long walk off a short pier. (Sorry. Sorry. I can’t help myself.) Lindsay comes into the kitchen where the house is assembled and Kyle J. Cooke (the J stands for “jilted”) says, “I’m sorry” to Lindsay. “Sorry for what?” she asks. He tells her that he helped Steven pack up and get in an Uber, and the look of surprise, revulsion, and relief that zaps onto her face like an alien tractor beam is absolutely unbelievable. She didn’t know. She had no idea he was actually gone.
Then she has a surprising reaction. “What am I supposed to do? Cry about it?” she asks. She says that someone who leaves her on her birthday is pathetic and she doesn’t want any part of a relationship with him. The only solution? Shots! The whole crew decides to get wasted with Lindsay, except for Ciara, who is talking to her friend in her room but I couldn’t even focus because her bed is so incredibly messy. Where does she sleep at night? Does she just, like, put everything on the floor, or does she just curl up with her mess and let it comfort her? Also missing is Luke, who’s strumming alone in his room. I wish that was some sort of euphemism, but he’s just playing the guitar by himself. The only thing sadder than a fuckboy playing a guitar is a fuckboy playing a guitar with no audience.
After that night is where the chronology gets weird. We see Lindsay talking on the phone the next morning to a friend who says she talked to Steven about what happened. Lindsay says he didn’t call for four days. Then we seem to flash ahead a few days. He finally calls four days later, and then like 17 times the next day and they have hours-long conversations where Lindsay reads Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus to him over the phone while he picks his fantasy football team on his laptop. Then the next day he sends flowers with a card that reads, “Flowers can represent new beginnings and I dream of getting one with you.” What? Steven! Really? This woman told you nothing you ever do for her will be good enough, and you come back to her?
Because of this, it’s unclear exactly when the PowerPoint comes through, or even when all the action in the show happens. Did we skip ahead just for Lindsay or were the four days of that week so boring that they just jumped ahead to Friday for the whole show? I am very confused. Anyway, he texts her a document “L&S.pdf” and Lindsay immediately responds, “Thank you for this. I will review!” like he’s one of her minions that just turned in a pitch deck they’re going to send to a prospective client.
Lindsay sits down with Danielle, her anti-rage counselor, and tells her that she told Steven to think about what Lindsay needs in a relationship and how he can give her that. Yes, she gave him homework. The only thing worse is that he actually did it and turned in this PowerPoint. When Lindsay tells Danielle she responds, “I don’t even know what to do with that. How many slides is it?” It is eight slides and it is the corniest thing that I have ever seen.
Like I said, initially I thought it was cute that he put so much work into impressing her again. But she wants big gestures and romance. He gives her what? Shitty clip art? Yes, there was shitty clip art. And you know that I paused this show on each of the slides so that I could read the thing in its entirety, and I hope that, one day, I win Powerball and set aside $100 million for the creation of a Reality Television Arts and Sciences Museum and I can by the NFT of this precious document so it can be preserved for all time.
The first slide is “Potential Solutions” and includes a column of things for Lindsay to do (“praise him when he does things that you like/want instead of making fun”) and things for Steven to do (“express more gratitude in the moment and via surprises to show Lindsay I see all the hard work she has done”). There is also a slide called “Rules for Listening” that we don’t get to see that I will pay Steven $50 to email me. Like, for real. That is an actual offer. Send me your Venmo. Just know I will be sharing it with the class.
Listen, we all know that this relationship is doomed and the two are no longer together, but do we have to know the future to see the mutually assured destruction is on the horizon? Danielle tells Lindsay that Steven will always be a project for her and Steven will constantly be pushing a boulder up a never-ending hill to try to please Lindsay and resenting her for it. These are not people cut out to be together and I will give Lindsay credit for seeming to acknowledge that a lot sooner that Steven does.
Speaking of relationships in the house, many of you know by now that Hannah is engaged to “fellow comedian” Des Bishop, who we see her talking on the phone with during this episode. She says he slid into her DMs and they have been chatting since the show started filming, so how that squares with her relationship with Luke and her expectations for it this summer, well, I will leave that up to you to decipher. According to the season preview at the end of the episode, he’ll be stopping by the house, so we’ll get to see a lot more about that soon. I did hear that he’s really big in Ireland, so I can’t wait to meet the Jerry Lewis of the Emerald Isle.
Another addition to the house that I’m loving is Ciara. She doesn’t seem to do much other than mess up her bed, but when we do hear from her, I love what she has to say. I failed to mention two episodes ago when she and Danielle had a discussion of what it is like to be professional women of color and how that affects not only how they work but also how they are allowed to appear at work. It was insightful but ultimately a sad commentary on, you know, America and shit.
This episode, when Paige mishears Ciara saying she misses her cat as she misses her dad, Ciara starts talking about her relationship with her father. Her parents got divorced when she was younger, and her father remarried someone who she didn’t like and had her uninvited from their wedding (just like Hannah with Kyle!), a rift that caused them not to speak for four years. It’s heartbreaking to hear her talk about it and get emotional, but also interesting to hear that she has really sorted through a lot of her issues in therapy. Wait, what? She sees a therapist off camera and has sorted through most of her baggage? Are we sure we want this woman on reality TV? I think she might be a little too sorted and normal for this bunch.
Kyle and Hannah, on the other hand, are reality television gold. Though Hannah and Amanda patch up their differences and excuse the harsh words they exchanged the episode before, Hannah and Kyle still seem more sore at each other than Kyle’s nut sack after getting struck by a flying piece of wood in some idiotic lawn game. In this fight of theirs, neither of them is right and they’re both going about proving their points in the exactly wrong way. This is why television cameras were invented, and we thank them for their service with a million Panera Bread gift cards. (Though based on his BMI, my personal crush object Kyle has never eaten a piece of bread.)
The fight starts on Friday night when Kyle, Lindsay, and Danielle want to get turnt. Meanwhile, Hannah and Paige want to lie in their bed in the dark and watch Love Island, my second favorite show on television. Paige texts them asking to turn down the music a bit, which is a totally reasonable request, though she does add a bitchy, “You’re living in this house with ten people and you have to be courteous.” It is Friday night, and they want to go to bed early, so I understand why Kyle is peeved, but also if you were blasting Bruno Mars so loud I couldn’t hear Love Island, I would probably send a much bitchier message than Paige.
Kyle is upset that Ciara, Hannah, and Paige (who confesses what I assumed, which is that her mother does all the cooking and cleaning for her) do nothing around the house. That is an honest gripe, but Kyle can’t seem to bring it up to any of them or address his problems with Hannah to her face. (Though, to his credit, when he tried to talk about it with the group, she blew up and ruined the conversation.) So, we have Hannah hating Kyle for being mean to Amanda, we have Kyle hating Hannah for being lazy and being mean to Amanda, and we have everyone else in the house wishing they would shut up so they could just laugh some more about Lindsay toppling out of an inflatable lawn chair. And we have Amanda, who just doesn’t want to be forever lost in the Bermuda Triangle of animus.
Paige says that Hannah and Kyle fight because they both want to be the center of attention, they both want to be right, and they both want everyone else to think that the other person is dead wrong. This all tracks. But Kyle is talking about the “turn down the music” incident with Ciara and apologizes to her for being mean, but then adds something about how he works so hard and some people don’t have jobs and adds all of this gross judgement onto it. He does this within Hannah’s earshot, but not to her face. It’s like he’s waiting for her to react. When she does, she starts by screaming, “Hey, why don’t we stop judging people about how hard they work and grow the fuck up.”
As soon as she says this, Amanda, who is walking by them on the pool deck, rolls her eyes and just says, “Great,” which is the best thing Amanda has ever done. She’s once again stuck in the middle while these two have an idiotic and long-ranging fight that basically comes down to the fact that they just really don’t like each other. Lindsay says, over the shouts, “Why don’t you two just talk.” Exactly. They could just settle these issues and get over it, but they love this grudge like Paige loves an overly structured bikini. So on and on it goes, a carousel of recriminations that plays the theme music to Curb Your Enthusiasm like it’s some sort of TikTok dance. Their shouts echo around the house, bouncing off the pool, the hot tub, the tennis court, the trees, and the 19 different balconies and inappropriate angles as Carl gets out of an Uber and rejoins the house, a cacophony of shouts to smother his mourning.