While we have seen plenty of alcohol-fueled antics from our little caged rabbits over the years, this week’s fight between Luke, Kyle, and Carl is something else entirely. First of all, it’s much more physical than anything I can remember on this show, and second, it seems like a fight that started with the feelings of the women in the house and ended up being channeled into the physicality of the men. It’s like passive aggression became active aggression, or, rather, just aggression. Anyway, give them all the Jax Taylor Award for Shirtless Fisticuffs and let them all give a naked acceptance speech.
The episode starts off in a much different place, the continuation of “girls’ night versus boys’ night” that we saw at the end of last episode. The guys are all getting along quite well. They’re up in the kitchen and Luke tells them he can chug a Guinness in three seconds, then demonstrates his skill by pouring an entire pint of ale down the front of his Rag & Bone henley. “You look like a 4-year-old at a milkshake stand,” says Kyle, clearly coming for my gig of making witty descriptions of the foibles of reality-television stars.
After an interlude of Kyle maniacally peeing off the front porch in a tie-dyed T-shirt, which made me put a yellow bandana in my right pocket, the guys are then out back playing beer pong and deciding what the punishment for the loser should be. Carl suggests a naked push-up, which I would be very happy to see, even though it sounds like a suggestion that our dearly closeted — I’m sorry, I mean dearly departed — Jordan would have suggested.
Luke says that the loser should have to take a slap shot to the chest, which Kyle says “is the dumbest idea I’ve heard since my grandmother put molly in the gravy at Thanksgiving dinner.” This statement left me so conflicted. First of all, Kyle is now truly coming for my check. Second, I don’t think this actually happened, but it’s a solid joke. But then again, why would Kyle make this up? It seems too random to totally invent. And if it really did happen, I need every single detail immediately. Where did Grandma Cooke get the molly? Did she put it in the gravy on purpose? What happened afterward? Did everyone just dissolve into a giant, blonde cuddle puddle in the Vermont evening? I haven’t needed to know the details of a story more since we found out that Katie Maloney once fell through a skylight playing Monopoly during a photo shoot.
Inside, the girls all have on face masks with weird animal prints on them and it is almost impossible to decipher who is who except for Lindsay because she is, in her parlance, activated. When going around the circle, all of the girls say they would rather have a baby with Kyle or Carl and Lindsay feels like they’re all dog-piling on Luke. The unasked question, however, is if Lindsay and Luke slept together, a question leveled by an Instagram psychic that has taken over the minds of the women in the household like it’s QAnon and they’re Marjorie Taylor Greene doing CrossFit holding an AR-15.
Up in the kitchen, Paige and Amanda (wearing something that is less a sweater and more a pair of arm warmers) try to confront Luke about his feelings about Hannah and Ciara, but he is not engaging. Then they mention the sexual tension between him and Lindsay. Finally, they ask him if he had sex with her. Instead of saying an immediate no, he just sort of jibber-jabbers like Jabberjaw just got a mouth full of novocaine injections. Definitely not the reaction of a man who didn’t not have un-sex with not Lindsay never.
When all the girls are chilling by the pool after twilight, like a million Kelly Taylors trying to ignore the screams of cicadas, it’s Paige’s turn to tell Lindsay why they’re all obsessed with her and Luke. “Hannah got a DM that you had sex with Luke,” she says. As if that wasn’t suss enough already, tell her where it’s from, Paige. Huh. Tell her. “It was not from the Giggly Squad,” Paige says, referencing the podcast she hosts with Hannah. “It was from a psychic.” Well, there you go. Solid evidence. To paraphrase Divine in Pink Flamingos, Lindsay is convicted of assholism and the sentence is death. Meanwhile, Lindsay is fully activated and yelling, “Do you know who I am?” at the girls like she’s Lizzie Grubman about to run over a bunch of plebs outside of a Hamptons nightclub.
She later says, “Because I defended Luke, they think I had sex with him.” No, Lindsay. You’re entirely missing the point. That is far too logical. They think you had sex with Luke because an Instagram psychic told them that you did. Don’t you see? It makes total sense. Finally, Danielle says, “Why are we getting in fights about things that a psychic said. It’s insane!” Yes, thank you. No matter what you say about Danielle, this is why we need her around the house, to throw a rose quartz crystal through the notion that the DMs of Instagram mediums are somehow primary evidence in a case against Lindsay.
The next day, everyone gets ready for an in-the-house pub crawl, which is sort of the cutest idea I have ever heard and I am here for it. This means an Amazon delivery to their door that single-handedly defeated any unionization efforts at the local warehouse. Seriously, they got about 30 different-sized packages dropped at the door at the same exact time. I order a pair of socks from Amazon and they come in two suspiciously large boxes three days apart and these clowns get a pub crawl’s worth of Chinese decorations delivered simultaneously. The cheek, the nerve, the gall, the audacity, and the gumption.
Each of the housemates dresses their room up like the respective places that they’re from, except Danielle chooses the Hamptons, which is where they are currently, and Amanda and Kyle choose California because if that’s not where they’re from physically, it is where they are from spiritually. Seriously, Amanda looks like every single girl who works at Erewhon. And what would they do for a Vermont-themed room anyway? Serve a bunch of MDMA-laced gravy?
Lindsay dresses like both Barb and Star for her home state of Florida, Paige and Hannah get dolled up as VIP girls at a New York City–style bottle-service club, Ciara rocks her peaches as an ATL chick, complete with Coke floats, and Luke, well, he dresses like a lumberjack from Minnesota, so he’s basically just playing himself. Carl wins the award for most creative, dressing up as an Amish gentleman from Lancaster, Pee-Ay, and serving up shots from a bucket.
The problems start, as they usually do, in Minnesota. Luke pulls Ciara aside and asks her what her problem is with him. It basically boils down to this: Ciara thinks that Luke is continuing to make overtures to her when she is sending the clear signal that she is not interested in anything with him. She says that he texts her after 9 p.m., which means he wants to have sex with her. In the immortal words of her mother, “The only thing open after 10 p.m. is the gas station and your legs and I don’t want you to get them confused.” How would one confuse a vagina with a gas station? It’s not like you insert a nozzle and pump it until liquid sprays out. OOOOoooooooh. Okay. Got it.
Luke says that he is just being nice, but Ciara says his nice is flirty. Yes, this is exactly what happened with Hannah, but in the opposite direction. Luke thinks he’s “just being nice” to Ciara, but she’s not interested and he is. He thought he was “just being nice” to Hannah, but she was interested and he wasn’t. Even Lindsay, who a Weekly World News reporter @-ed me is carrying Luke’s love child and it will be Bat Boy, says that Luke always flirts with girls. I think flirting is just Luke’s default form of communication with women and he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. He might even do it to dudes, too. He just wants people to fall in love with him and ingratiates and imposes himself in such a way that it comes off like a romantic overture. For dudes as hot as Luke, it is a way for him to get just about everything he wants.
Carl’s problem is that Luke won’t take responsibility for anything he’s done. Carl points out that in the past, he messed around with just about everyone in the house — Paige, Lindsay, the gay Stephen, one of those twins — and it affected not only him and the other people, but everyone in the house. When he and Kyle are speaking in the kitchen, Carl says, “Everything about me has been destroyed: my sexuality, my body parts, my relationships, my family.” What he means is that his three-way with a dude, his third ball, his pairings with assorted castmates, have all been fodder for the show and he had to accept his responsibility in those things in order to overcome them.
“But he’s never wrong,” Carl says, as Luke approaches the two of them. “Never wrong.” You can tell Carl is angling for a fight, and this is why you should never wear a costume on a reality show because footage of you duking it out with an Amish beard will live on until the last sentient cockroach on Earth gives up its Netflix subscription. Like all fights in late-stage reality capitalism, this fight is as much about the stated issues as the filming of the show itself. A still-grieving Carl is mad that he’s given everything for fame and Luke just skates on by like … a hockey coach who is also a model and jewelry designer.
Carl tells Luke he wishes he would just say, “I tried to run game on this girl and it didn’t work out.” Luke asks, “Which girl?” Exactly, Luke! There are so many to choose from. But as the rest of the house joins in the fray, it’s not Carl who gets heated, it’s a slurry Kyle. When Luke thinks that Ciara’s boundary about not texting after 9 p.m. is silly, Kyle says, “You don’t text a chick after 9 unless you’re trying to fuck her.” Kyle gets more and more heated, saying he doesn’t like how Luke is leading girls on and that he hates how he has to have power over women by getting them to fall in love with him. Kyle says, “I know you because I fucking did it myself,” which is the most revealing thing Kyle has ever said.
Now Luke is downstairs, near the front door, and Amanda is pulling on Kyle’s waistband while he yells at Luke and slowly drags her across the floor. Welcome to a snapshot of the rest of your married life, Amanda. And, with that, Luke has left the building.
As the girls sit around and talk about how Luke is not who he appears to be and Kyle spills a Kirkland tub of pistachios all over the floor, Luke is outside, the spirits of witches burned nearby infesting his bandana and seeping into his body. “You want to go back in,” the witches whisper, “you want to tell Kyle your truth,” they say, heating up his bile one steady degree at a time. “Come with me,” he pleads to a producer who tries to hold Luke back. “You’ve done too well already,” he tells Luke, which is a very odd thing to say to a man possessed and I’m not quite sure how to parse it. But Luke is determined, and he throws his drink to the ground and storms back through the door, like the flame of a candle that sputters before it burns even brighter.