Since my mommy and my daddy committed a long time ago to the act of effective parenting, I was raised to be a decent human being. As such, I was able to muster up a bit of empathy for Kwasi when he lost whatever was left of his sanity. I mean, the man crumbled into the lap of a producer while wailing, “I came here for love!” Who amongst us hasn’t had a moment where real love seemed unattainable? Unfortunately, my empathy sort of shriveled up and died rather quickly because though I do happen to be a decent human being, I am also a smart human being and – though it saddens me to say this – intelligence and pragmatism kicks decency’s ass pretty much every time. And so as a smart person, I find myself feeling exactly nothing for Kwasi as he experiences a televised breakdown because what kind of faulty planning must be involved for you to decide that your greatest chance of finding forever love will occur if you enter a house loaded with booze, exhibitionists, exhibitionists drinking booze, something called The Boom Boom Room, and fifty-three cameras? And what insane lies did you need to tell yourself so you could become convinced that a show that’s been on for seven seasons and has ended with most of the couples breaking up both publicly and rather spectacularly would be your emotional safety net? As I cannot even force the decent side of my brain to attempt such a leap in logic, the only thing I feel for Kwasi right now is the hope that there’s some Xanax on the premises.
This episode begins in the aftermath of Kwasi’s hysteria because if there’s one thing guaranteed to air on this show, it is any example of declining lucidity. (I imagine an incident such as this also helps to explain why we never see much of someone like Lauren. If the girl is not throwing fits – or throwing punches or throwing coconuts or throwing away her morals – she’s not going to be featured very often.) Anyway, it’s the next morning, Kwasi is asleep (not in the producer’s lap), and Jasmine has decided that maybe calories will give her the love she’s yet to find in that house. She has no idea what to think or what to feel after Kwasi’s outburst. More than that, which guy should she even talk to at this point? Who in the house is right for her? In my opinion, that potato chip or whatever it is she’s crunching on is her very best bet for devotion – and at least the chip won’t slam its fist through a wall due to a moment of minor frustration. As for Kwasi, he wakes up and begins ranting and raving about Jasmine’s stunning lack of loyalty and the way his heart is now padlocked shut forever because a girl he showed attention to for two whole days chose to explore her options.
The person who should actually be exploring her options is the one Brett patronizingly calls “Fun Little Nutsa.” He’s aware, of course, that she is solicitous and concerned about his needs, whether those needs involve having his dick sucked or preparing him a nice big bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. And Brett appreciates how sweet she is! It’s not like he’s a monster or anything, but while he is aware that there’s a ton he does not know, one thing he knows with absolute certainty is that he doesn’t actually give the smallest shit about Fun Little Nutsa and if she fell headfirst into a smoldering volcano, he probably wouldn’t be able to muster up a single tear until it dawned on him that now he will have to prepare his own breakfast. He realizes that at some point he will probably have to tell her how very uninvested he is in their future, but fuck – that kind of conversation takes energy and who wants to waste energy on someone you don’t care about?
With only two Ceremonies left, a lot of scrambling is taking place. This group hasn’t cracked higher than four beams. Andrew decides it’s time to get to know some other girls. He pulls Cali aside since the two have never really spoken until now and that point is proven when he starts the conversation by asking her where she’s from. Once all scintillating matters of geography are discussed, Cali asks him what he told the matchmaker he was looking for and she realizes that here’s a guy searching for a woman who is “close to family” and “my best friend” and “someone who is not a slimy piece of human sewage.” Andrew’s generic wishes match her needs! Maybe these two are a match because they are both searching for people who appreciate family! Yes, theirs is a stunning and very rare connection, one that reminds me of that line from Best in Show where the very young woman is married to the very rich old man and she swears they have so much in common since they both enjoy soup. After their very first conversation, Andrew is smitten and he grins like a schoolboy who just swallowed The Joker when he tells her they’ve been talking for a whole hour and her response is to say that the time went by so quickly. You know how time goes by so quickly when you’re talking to YOUR BEST FRIEND, right? Man, isn’t love borne from sheer convenience awesome?
Now that Brett has begun to mentally orchestrate his Ditch Nutsa plan, he realizes he must locate a new potential match to fill that void. Over spoonfuls of ice cream, he and Bria wonder if maybe they were chosen by matchmakers to be together. Now listen: I believe completely that Bria’s soulmate has already been identified and that there’s not a single thing Brett can do to fuck up the bond she shares with the antichrist, but that doesn’t mean Brett’s not going to try. The way he attempts to prove his devotion to all things LOVE is to declare that the next person he’s with will be the very last person he will ever be with. Sure, this guy has not even cracked the age of twenty-seven, but he knows his own needs and Need #1 is finding a forever-mate to torture. Bria nods affirmatively to this inane announcement, which means these two people at least share the quality of intense stupidity.
Seems the entire house is trying to shake things up when it comes to making new matches for the Ceremony. The guys will pick tonight and their selections are as follows:
Brett decides to kick of the trend of choosing someone new. He admits that Nutsa’s a “good girl” and “still an option” for him, but he also announces that the two just lack a spark. (Women love when men declare publicly that they’re just not attracted to them!) After murdering Nutsa’s self-worth while wearing a microphone, Brett then proclaims that Bria is full of substance and I am officially stunned that nobody on that set – not even some production assistant – burst out laughing after that remark. But when Brett picks Bria, Bria explains to Terrence J that, for her, this pairing is merely about strategy. She doesn’t mention that the reason she cannot invest in Brett is because she’s a psychopathic she-devil who still fantasizes about crawling into Zack’s soul and squatting there forever, but I think we’ve all gotten pretty adept at reading the blazing subtext that comes shooting out of her retinas every hour on the hour.
Kwasi, the self-proclaimed One Chance Guy, could not possibly pick some girl who had the audacity to kiss someone else while participating on a dating show where she’s plied with alcohol, so he chooses the now-ditched Nutsa. Kenya shakes her head at this selection because it’s her (probably very accurate) belief that the only reason Kwasi is choosing Nutsa is because Nutsa is Jasmine’s best friend and Kwasi cannot help himself from acting like a Petty Monster when he’s not very busy acting like a Kwasi Beast. When Nutsa walks up to lock in her vote, Terrence J asks if she’s done with Brett and she swears she is because she’s given that guy everything and all he did was toss her scraps of bullshit so she’s over it. Then she makes some sort of analogy involving a juicy peach, but I didn’t pay close enough attention to describe it to you because we’re in episode thirteen and I’ve just about reached my limit on nonsensical analogies at this stage of the season.
Andrew comes up next and he picks Cali because they both enjoy their families and they both breathe air.
Moe chooses Kayla. These two are so boring that there’s a chance they could last forever.
Daniel decides to be one of the mix-it-up guys this week and he picks Lauren. Lauren is wearing an outfit that can only be described as Minnie-Mouse-bolted-from-Disney-World-after-a-bender-and-her-first-stop-was-Frederick’s-of-Hollywood.
Tomas selects Jasmine.
Lewis chooses Asia. He sweetly refrains from reminding her that he finds her unattractive as they press their hands on the screen.
Cam picks Morgan and suddenly Maria cannot sit there silently and take these random selections anymore. Why, she asks, is Jasmine sitting next to Tomas? Jasmine’s match is probably Kwasi! So what if she kissed someone else? This is a game and Kwasi should give her another shot, even if that means just picking her for strategy’s sake. Into this discussion lopes Zack, Emotional Neanderthal. Zack sticks up for Kwasi because Zack is just so grateful that someone else is behaving like the moron Zack prides himself on being. Then he blurts out that perhaps Kwasi picked Nutsa tonight because Nutsa is just “a better version” of Jasmine. This comment results in Jasmine bursting into tears. Nutsa gets up to hug her and Kayla tells Zack that what he just said was needlessly disrespectful. Zack stares at her with his mouth open because he hails from the species of Garbage Person and Garbage People in general tend to respond to things like the truth with only a gap-mouthed silence.
Zack is up next and he picks Samantha. Since Samantha does not hail from The Garbage People, my guess is their pairing will not result in any sort of light beaming through the night sky.
And now it’s time to see how many matches they got this time. With all the new couples sitting together, the group is hopeful they will make some progress, but they again only snag four beams. They are stunned, Terrence J is horrified, and now they only have one chance left.
Back at the house, the group deals with their frustration in a myriad of ways:
· Kwasi stalks around the grounds holding a stick while muttering the word “Losers!” over and over again. Then he hits chairs with that stick like a normal person most definitely would and screams, “I don’t fucking lose!” Who wouldn’t want this guy to be her soulmate? Look how well he handles a crisis!
· Bria sits in the confessional and cries because she’s very stable.
· Asia politely asks Kwasi to put down the stick.
· Andrew kicks something made of glass. Then he punches walls and a cabinet. Quick question: after telling the matchmaker how badly he wanted to find a woman who likes her family, did he then also mention that he abuses furniture and tchotchkes when he’s angry?
· Nutsa calmly suggests that they all sit down together and share their vulnerabilities. And listen, Kwasi would so be a part of Nutsa’s Sharing Circle, but he’s still very busy pounding the fuck out of the lawn furniture so they will have to start without him.
Since she was the one to suggest they get honest with one another, Nutsa is the first to share. She explains that she suffers from depression and anxiety and that’s why she wears a mask of always being so happy all the time. Her admission opens up the floodgates and suddenly everyone is being honest. Brett admits that his tendency towards stubbornness is the reason he’s single. Cam says that he always tries to appear confident, but what he’s really looking for is someone who allows him to feel weak sometimes. Morgan has had no strong male presence in her life and she knows it’s impacted her profoundly. Lauren was cheated on by the only two men she ever loved and now she’s afraid to be vulnerable. Samantha expects even her friends to one day disappoint her. Moe is terrified people won’t like him. Cali and Jasmine both reveal they were abused as children. This is heavy shit they’re talking about while Kwasi continues to slam sticks into furniture and maybe it will be the breakthrough they need. Maybe it won’t, but I can say this is the first time I find myself actually rooting for these people, and I’m not just rooting for them to get the money; I’m hoping they’ll all someday find a modicum of peace.
After hearing what Jasmine said about the pain she’s endured in her life, Zack pulls her away to apologize. It’s a decent apology and I’ll always give credit where credit is due. I mean, I still think Zack is terrible, but because he showed some kindness here, I will refrain from capitalizing the “T” in “terrible” this one time. I’m sweet like that.
Brett wakes up the next morning wondering if maybe he’s made a gigantic mistake. Is Nutsa his match? Looks like he’s about to find out because the four people selected to go on the date this time are Brett, Moe, Nutsa, and Lauren! They all go jet skiing and later in the day, Lauren sits down with Moe. Her only goal here is to give him advice on how to secure things with Kayla. As for Brett, he’s suddenly all in with Nutsa, but that commitment is coming at the very same moment that she’s chosen to emotionally distance herself. He’s hurt her. But then they have a conversation about vulnerability and he promises he won’t hurt her going forward and they kiss. The only question now is whether the phantom matchmakers believe these two should be together.
To nobody’s surprise, Brett and Nutsa are voted into the Truth Booth.
Also to nobody’s surprise, the episode ends before the results are revealed. My frustration by this cliffhanger is intense and it’s real, so should you need me, I’ll be outside hitting my porch swing with a mallet.
Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York. She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle. Her Twitter is @nell_kalter