So here’s what’s been happening:
Nilsa and Gus are hooking up, but she swears she’s only looking for fun, that not even a dash of her prototypical brand of jealousy will rear its heavily-contoured head the very next time she spots Gus feeling up some girl at a bar.
(The only person on the planet who believes Nilsa about any of this is Nilsa.)
Kortni has a legitimate crush on Jeremiah, incest comparisons be damned.
(The only people who think such a pairing would actually be a wise idea are the always-hammered people who live in that filthy house. Perhaps the fumes of kitchen mold have driven them clinically mad.)
Logan now creeps around the streets of Panama City Beach in the dead of night to drop bouquets of cheap flowers and close-up photographs of Kortni’s face onto her doorstep.
(The only people pleased about Logan’s nocturnal strolls are the producers of Dateline.)
Candace publicly dates a man who made the conscious choice to randomly insert a set of numbers into his name.
(Not even her mother can get behind such a moronic decision.)
Codi insists on wearing a cropped tee to work out. He ends every single set of burpess by chugging a minimum of two cheap beers.
(Not even the founders of Coors view this guy as a role model.)
In other words, everything is going exactly as expected down at the Floribama Shore.
There are only a few episodes to go, but the drama is ramping up. It’s the morning after Nilsa literally pulled the covers off Gus and then commanded that he crawl into bed with her. Gus wanders back to his room but he checks to see if Nilsa is okay with everything. “Mmm hmm,” she mumbles like the Cool Girl she’s desperately pretending to be, but a thought has already lodged in her head: What could Gus and Nilsa be? Now, I’m no relationship expert, but I’m pretty sure questions about futures and forevers aren’t supposed to come into play when you’ve sworn you’re just in it for the naked bits of friendship. Then there’s Candace. She’s not sure Gator is right for her, what with his possessive nature and the fact that he sucks as a human being. She also doesn’t really understand where they are as a couple. To be fair, much of that confusion could be due to the fact that GatorJay231SouthsideGawd speaks exclusively in gibberish and Candace doesn’t get to see the subtitles we very fortunate viewers have been blessed with by a compassionate team of editors. There’s a chance she simply has no fucking idea what the guy is babbling about over the phone, though my assumption is that he’s probably not quoting the words of any Stoic masters.
Still, life in the beach house has gotten better. This crew is getting along for real. With Jeremiah coming back, they want the positive vibes to continue. He’s missed a lot in his brief absence! Before he left, Nilsa and Gus were not licking one another, Aimee had declared Nilsa was dead to her, and Logan had yet to (literally) cross the threshold from being mildly sinister to becoming a definite stalker. Jeremiah needs to be filled in, but giving him the rundown at home is too boring. Besides, the production budget for this season is clearly larger than that of season one, so with those factors in mind, Aimee suggests they all go on a road trip to Mardi Gras! This group in New Orleans during Mardi Gras? Is anyone else already psychologically preparing for the upcoming terror caused by the close-ups of chunky piles of vomit you just know will make it into the episode? If so, I understand your pain. And I’d normally be selfless enough to lend you my therapist, but I’m afraid I’ve got her booked for round-the-clock sessions. I scheduled them – ALL of them – the second I heard Aimee tell an absolutely beaming Kortni that nobody will judge her when she pisses on every street corner in the French Quarter. “I wanna puke, I wanna pee, I wanna puke in my pee,” Kortni announces, and you know what? This girl is fucking disgusting. I don’t care anymore that she has some sweet moments, not when her top goal for a trip is to see how many square feet of city she can drench in her bodily functions.
The roommates prepare for Jeremiah’s arrival by making a welcome home dinner. Had she been given more time, Kortni might have gone outside to dig a moat she would have then filled with piss and puke – she’s a method drunk, people; she has to prepare – and Jeremiah could have walked across it to get to the front door like royalty or something, but a homemade meal that begins with a prayer will have to be enough. The mood in the house is so warm and positive that Jeremiah and Gus even consume carbs! And I’m talking pasta-drenched-in-Alfredo-sauce carbs, not just some whole-wheat shit. It’s entirely possible that this meal is Gus’ attempt to put Jeremiah into a bit of a food coma so he won’t react with too much horror to the news about Nilsa. When Gus leans over at the table and kisses Nilsa right on the lips, Jeremiah sits stunned for a second. Then he lets out an “Oh my God!” in the same booming decibel Gus will use when he eventually comes to his scattered senses. “We’re just having fun,” Gus explains for the 902nd time – and he can repeat those words for the 903rd time when Nilsa breaks down into a puddle of tears on a New Orleans sidewalk because some random girl decides to show Gus her tits. And speaking of New Orleans, it’s time to tell Jeremiah about the trip! Rather than telling him to pack his clothing (but mentioning that maybe he should leave his pineapple shirt at home so Logan can sneak in while they’re away and find a garment that smells like Jeremiah so the voodoo doll he’s fashioning can be more authentic), Aimee and Nilsa decide to use the element of mystery. They hand out masks and ask Jeremiah if he knows why they’re doing it. “Are we going to a prom?” he asks. Listen: I know the guy was homeschooled. But what the fuck kind of creepy proms has this kid attended? I know guys who willingly wore tuxedos with ugly pastel cummerbunds to match their dates’ equally hideous dresses; I do not know a single guy who arrived at a prom wearing a three-dimensional mask accessorized with a scary phallic-shaped nose. At any rate, Jeremiah is thrilled about the trip. He’s also relieved that now he doesn’t have to stress about whether or not he’ll be elected Prom King.
It’s Trip Day! And who needs an alarm to wake you when Candace will jump on you at dawn? She’s so excited! Her smile is a mile wide, at least until she gets on the phone with her mother. See, her mother has just chatted with Candace’s best friend and now she would like to know if Gator ever tried to hit her daughter. The second Candace stops smiling, I know two things with certainty: 1) Gator has tried to hit her and 2) This girl better get this asshole out of her life immediately. “No,” Candace tells her mother. “He never tried to hit me.” I suppose she’s technically correct; while she admits the guy has gotten in her face and pushed her, he never actually HIT her, but there is something so sadly vile about a man doing this sort of thing and a woman convincing herself it’s okay to accept it. All of it, including her excuses for his behavior, makes me sick to my stomach. Wanna know what’s also sickening? The way Candace is concerned not about the information itself or the nuggets of truth that information contains or the terrifying implications of that truth, but how she is instead focused on the trail that led to the information coming out in the first place. All of it is simply hideous.
And ready to illustrate that “hideous” also has meaning when it comes to fashion, here comes Jeremiah in his pink romper, the one festooned with palm trees! Who wouldn’t want to fuck this guy after a great day of peeing in the street? The group piles into two cars and they end up in New Orleans. The wide shots we see of the beautiful city make me wonder immediately just how tarnished it will become when the cast of an MTV show arrives with cameras in tow. We don’t have to wait but twelve seconds before the first cringe. Nilsa – who somehow actually believes that “extra” is a legitimate adjective to describe a personality and is therefore striving to be as “extra” as an idiot can possibly be – sticks her head out of the car and screams, “We’re in New Orleans!” Lest anyone with a pulse still not be looking her way, she grabs her tits, twerks on the bed, moons the city, and continues to yell, “We’re in New Orleans, bitch!” She is very classy.
Also: Jeremiah was the one to find the baby in the King Cake, so I guess he sort of gets anointed Prom King after all.
Also: Should his subjects choose to overthrow him simply because of his outfit, I’ll support the revolution entirely.
Their first day in New Orleans is going well, but that upswing – the one that includes everyone behaving in a vaguely normal fashion – cannot possibly last. Before they leave the hotel, Codi comments on the radiating sexual tension between Nilsa and Gus. We will get to that little shit show momentarily, but the focus of the group at dinner is Candace. She’s been more open with her roommates recently and she wants their advice on her relationship, but when she tells them about “a little situation” where Gator “got upset” and then “grabbed” her neck, they are nothing but horrified. Their reactions make perfect sense. What doesn’t make sense is why some grown men cannot deal with their emotions. “He didn’t hit me though,” Candace says, as though the notion that his hands only wrapped around the part of her body that provides her air and never touched her cheek should matter. “They put their hands on you once, they’ll keep doing it,” Aimee patiently tells her. She’s sadly speaking from experience. This show right now is reflecting just how prevalent assault against women is in this society and it’s devastating. So to those men out there who still haven’t managed to evolve and therefore cope with frustration by choosing to harm? Get your shit together. Learn how to deal with an unpleasant emotion without inflicting pain on the woman in your life. It’s fucking time.
Also: Because Candace still doesn’t know if she should break up with the abusive possessive felon with the made up name, I am hereby willing to part with one of my therapy appointments so she can take go instead. She needs it more than I do right now.
After that sobering dinner, it’s time for the group to get lit. The night is exciting! A bartender shoves Kirk’s face deep into her cleavage, Jeremiah rides an electronic bull, they all dance in the street, and Kortni makes out with a snake.
Also: What I just typed about Kortni and the snake? Yeah, that wasn’t a euphemism. This lunatic tongues a snake.
Also: Has anyone with an advanced degree ever asked Kortni why she needs attention so badly? Fine. I’ll hand over one of my therapy appointments to her, too.
As they wander the crowded streets, Gus tells Nilsa again that he’s afraid of getting hurt and that’s why he wants everything between them to remain super casual. “That’s what you want, too?” he asks hopefully. See, if she says yes, he won’t have to feel badly about hooking up with her later. And since Nilsa knows that (guys like Gus aren’t all that difficult to read), she responds in the affirmative. In the meantime, just one glance at Nilsa and Gus holding hands makes Aimee feel like she’s watching the equivalent of a car barreling over a ravine. She knows none of this will end well. But Aimee would prefer to put her concerns on hold until tomorrow. She wants some sleep, but Nilsa crooks her finger at Gus so he will come into their bed. “I don’t want to take Aimee’s bed,” Gus says. “You’re not,” lies Nilsa – she’s getting very used to lying – but then her mouth falls open in total shock because Kortni climbs into Gus’ bed. How can Kortni sleep beside the man Nilsa swears she has only casual feelings for? How is it possible for anyone besides Nilsa to matter?! Gus ratchets up the stakes when he tells Kortni to snuggle him. It’s a test, you see. He wants to know what Nilsa’s reaction will be so he can decide if her I’m-cool-with-whatever mentality is a total act. (Gus? It’s an act. And you already know that. So stop being a dick.) Nilsa’s reaction is to stare daggers at Gus and Kortni and then grumble her way off to sleep. It’s an unquestionably dirty trick Gus is playing here, but I suppose it’s not any worse than intentionally lying to yourself on television.
Unaware of all the late night craziness, Codi wakes everyone the next morning. He’s excited for them to take a boat ride through a swamp! His enthusiasm is so genuine that it’s really cute. What’s not cute is how Kortni cannot even recall getting into bed with Gus last night, but upon hearing that Nilsa got upset, she’s raring to call Nilsa out. Yes, rage is always Kortni’s first response and I suppose I could analyze the hell out of her right now and make guesses about what went down during her formative years, but I really don’t care. We all had terrible shit occur during our formative years, but it will always be my staunch belief that by the time someone reaches the age of twenty, it’s time to stop behaving the same way you did when you were five. Come to terms with your shit. Act like a saner person. I’m not sure being sane will keep you employed on a reality television show, but that’s really another discussion, isn’t it? Anyway, as I comment on how revolting I find Kortni, please don’t think I’m letting Gus off the hook. This guy is orchestrating manipulation and he’s giggling about it and Aimee is pissed. “If you want to be friends with benefits, then be her friend,” Aimee says, and it’s a simple statement, but there’s a lot of wisdom behind those words.
Their fight needs to be put on hold because it’s time for the group to sign release forms that indicate that their families will not sue the boat company for millions if a crocodile chows down on them during the ride. For Candace – who is terrified of boats, water, algae, fish, mermaids not named Aimee, jellyfish, plankton, amphibians and reptiles – this sort of activity feels like she’s marching willingly towards her destruction. They do not die. They do, however, meet a hissing crocodile named Bubba. The fact that they survived should buoy their mood, but Aimee’s not feeling buoyed. She needs to nap and then she wants to take a bath and she is not pleased when Gus announces that they must leave for dinner in one short hour, especially when she swears she was told she’d have more time. The girl is clearly not in the mood to roll with plans changing on her. She’s also not willing to just fling her hair up into a bun for the night. Quite honestly, Aimee has been looking for a reason to go off on Gus all day and now that reason has fallen into a lap that apparently requires a bath.
“Instead of waiting on everybody to get dressed, they’re selfish and they want to go to dinner at 7:30,” Aimee whines after Nilsa emerges from the shower. “And the dude you fuck with is a selfish little bitch.” As for Gus, he’s about to use some logic right now, though the chances that logic will sway anything at this point are slim to none. “Seven of the eight of us want to leave at 7:30. You’re the selfish one here,” he tells Aimee. Somehow that comment devolves into Aimee calling Gus a bitch because he cries sometimes and Gus then retaliates by saying yeah, he does cry about real shit, like the horrors of his past. Aimee, on the other hand, cries about being called overweight. And that’s the trigger – well, it’s one of them – and Aimee books into the room and starts pounding Gus with her fists. Nilsa takes a gander at the scene and immediately manages to make the entire thing about herself by worrying about who she should support here: the guy who goes out of his way to test her emotions or the currently-out-of-control best friend who has usually has her back?
Where is Bubba when we need him?
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