I’m really not sure how much worse it can get for Kaci. It was her idea to bring her boyfriend on this show. It was her logic-over-emotion mindset that put this now-scorching plan into motion. And after only a few weeks, it is her boyfriend declaring his burgeoning feelings to another woman, even as the woman he has been with for five years has decided for sure that their relationship is very definitely worth saving. To move forward while literally being stuck in this horrible little experiment that’s being televised to the masses, Kaci either has to take her mind off what she now knows is going on by trying to lose herself in something that, at the very least, mimics infatuation, or she can remain focused on everything she very well may lose. Listen: I know Hawaii is beautiful and spending your days hacking pineapples off a bush must be kind of fun, but when your future is dying and you feel impotent in your present, how much fun can slicing into any kind of fucking fruit really be?
We left off last episode with Kaci watching Evan kiss Morgan. As a random viewer of this show, I can’t quite understand why Evan is so smitten with this woman. I certainly realize we are only privy to random moments between them, but we’ve been shown next to nothing to explain why Evan is all in here. That said, the why isn’t really what we should be focusing on. Evan is into someone new, his actual girlfriend now knows it, and if she’s able to somehow not lose her entire mind in the subsequent days because she no longer has control over how she wants her life to go, she’s a stronger person than I will ever be. When it’s Nicole’s turn to watch some footage, she gets off easy. She just watches Karl sing to Brittany, but what she sees doesn’t bother her all that much. She’s not sure if it’s because she’s allergic to the feeling of butterflies swirling around in her tummy or what, but since Nicole isn’t sitting beside a bonfire with a reality show host and breaking into heaving sobs, I’ve decided that maybe we should all become allergic to those bullshit butterflies that only cause confusion in the short run anyway. Kady gets to watch John lap peanut butter off another woman’s chest. It could so be worse. I mean, when he shouts out at the end that he needs some milk, the scene could have ended with him attempting to drink silicone out of some woman’s nipples and, well, that didn’t happen so, um, there’s that. Shari is up next and she sees Brittany babbling rather incoherently to Javen about how he mustn’t be scared around her. According to Brittany, Javen should be instead be sacred, and though I almost passed out from rolling my eyes after listening to such linguistic nonsense, Shari has a different reaction. She tears up. She no longer feels connected to Javen and she’s starting (starting?!?) to regret appearing on a TV show called Temptation Island. I’m not sure the host telling her that this experience will either make them stronger as a couple or make her stronger as an individual will be enough to stop her from playing out scandalous scenarios in her head all night long that all end with Javen disrobing in front of a lunatic Aquarius.
After a reflective night tinged with misery – at least for the women – a new day dawns and it’s time for the men to pick their next round of dates. But being that this is a show where producers probably sit around in a “thinking circle” during preproduction so they can best contemplate new and exciting ways to destroy the souls of others, there is a twist to the date selection this time around. The female Tempters will have to say which person they each want to go on a date with! That’s fun, right? The problem here is we don’t actually know very much about any of these women. We’ve been exposed to a grand total of (maybe) four consecutive minutes that are meant to reveal who they really are as people, but that’s not enough for most of us to invest in the will-they-or-won’t-they-achieve-eventual-romantic-joy game so there’s not a ton of stakes here. In any event, three women raise their hand to date Javen and Javen picks Hannah. At least five women raise their hand to date Karl. He chooses the Aquarius. He’s not sure if the clandestine looks she throws as she floats around the house are given only to him – they’re not – but he’s interested enough to take her out for the day. Three women raise their hand to be chosen by Evan, but this guy with a girlfriend only has eyes for Morgan. Last is John. He chooses Lindsey, the new girl with the old profile picture that Evan has already squeegeed clean from the recesses of his mind because, once again, EVAN IS ALL IN WITH MORGAN.
Mark then heads over to the other villa so the women can watch men raise their hands as a way to show interest. A ton of guys throw up their hand for Kaci and she picks Jack. A lot of them express interest in Kady also, but Kady likes that Johnny’s hand shot clear into the air first and she selects him. Her choice of date appears to crush Wynn, but Kady wants to get to know other guys, too. Three guys want to spend the day with Shari, she casually chooses James, and Val cannot help but wonder why this girl is even on this island since she’s clearly still mentally existing in a Javen-scented bubble. She probably is still living in some mental bubble, but even if that bubble were to pop, I can’t imagine Val would be the guy she’d go running towards. Nicole is last and she chooses Tyler. Wynn glowers blatantly because he cannot believe he wasn’t chosen for a date. Perhaps he and Val can bond poolside all day long and discuss the moronic choices these women are making while whomever it was who repeatedly shouted “Bullshit!” as the women walked away can serve them drinks with tiny umbrellas. See? All is not lost, you guys!
The date Karl and John go on with their selected women involves a boating excursion and Brittany lets us know that she totally feels a vibe with Karl. That’s nice. Human connections are so very sweet. And had she not already declared that she felt the same way for two other men in the house, I would actually maybe believe her. Javen hangs out on the beach with Hannah and allows her to apply sunscreen to his back without flinching. Growth! Elsewhere, Morgan opens up big time to Evan by telling him she has never eaten a grapefruit before. I know! Will the secrets never cease rolling between these two soulmates? Then they kiss while standing in the water and Evan lets us know (once again) that the chemistry the two share is seriously off the charts and therefore scaring the shit out of him.
The girls and their dates head to a luau that begins with some lawn games and it’s here we learn Johnny’s secret Life Skill is rolling a small ball between two sticks. I’m not sure how such a thing will save Kady come the apocalypse, but that shit has to count for something. When Shari and James sit down to talk, he patiently explains to her what this show is actually about: people in real relationships – but cracked relationships – allowing themselves to be tempted by men. Shari listens to him, nary an expression crossing her face, and then acknowledges that maybe she’s going to have to open herself up more to the process.
Since the Close Proximity portion of the date has arrived for the men, Karl is lounging in a hammock with Brittany. He tells her she’s the best looking girl in the house. I’m not sure if Katheryn would agree with Karl’s assessment, but she definitely agrees that Lindsey is not the prettiest girl in all the land. No, Katheryn thinks Lindsey looks very much like a soggy poodle – and no, such a callous comment has nothing to do with the fact that John took Lindsey out on a date and she got extra camera time in the process so stop being silly. Jeffri encourages Katheryn to take matters into her own hands and create a mini date at the house since John is not allowed to take her on any actual dates, and though it seems pretty clear that Katheryn is more of a complain-from-afar kind of girl, she agrees with Jeffri’s plan and gets herself in the proper headspace to woo a man who is in a long-term relationship because that’s how all storybook romances begin. While Jeffri distracts John by playing a game of pool in a bikini, Katheryn hurries upstairs so she can fling roses on the ground next to some tea lights and then heads back downstairs so she can hand John a massive glass of wine and then lead him to the lair she hopefully will not accidentally torch in the name of seduction.
“Kady’s never done anything like this for me,” John says upon seeing the hastily tossed flowers.
“Katheryn will,” Katheryn responds, but since she responds in the third person, I obviously have to commit to hating her entirely.
John explains to Katheryn that his decision to act like he’s single is totally predicated on knowing if Kady crosses a line. Should her lips touch anybody’s anything, John will behave like a single man. Should she refrain from bodily contact with another man, he’s planning to remain chaste. I know what you’re all thinking! Perhaps Jeffri’s next plan can involve a carrier pigeon who takes a note from their villa all the way to the other villa and then drops down a message that informs the male Tempters that Kady seriously needs to – at the very least – be felt up before the next Bonfire. Are there pigeons in Hawaii? Before the corralling of birds can commence, Katheryn locks herself in a bathroom to cry over what is quite simply a minor rejection and then she and John play a little pool during which time Katheryn rubs herself against him and he gives her one kiss on her lips before saying he can’t kiss her, to which Katheryn trills back, “You just did!” And while that kiss should barely count as a kiss, I’m sure it will be the very thing Kady sees at the next Bonfire because these producers are many things, but we all know dumb is not one of their reigning qualities.
It looks like John might soon get the opportunity to feel single. Over at the girls’ house, Kady is on top of Johnny in the pool. Turns out that him winning the ball-through-the-sticks game was a total aphrodisiac for her. And it also appears that maybe the drinks served to everyone were especially potent on that particular evening because a shitload of them are seriously feeling tempted. Evan kisses Morgan in his bedroom. Nicole smiles when Tyler tells her how into her he is. Karl and Brittany hang out in a hot tub and she traces her finger down his neck before backing her ass into his crotch, and the only positive thing I can say about any of this is that now Kaci will at least have some company in her Land of Fucking Mental Misery.
Mark shows up unannounced at the girls’ villa. He does not bring beer, but he does arrive bearing the lovely news that there will be no Bonfire later in the evening. The relief that washes across the faces of the women makes me feel sad. Why? Because you know production is just hoping that allowing them to stay at their house now that they’re all extra drunk will yield some incendiary footage that will seriously kick this show into high gear and it annoys me that the participants – who grew up exposed to reality shows – do not realize a heaping ton of emotion-destroying bullshit is heading their way. Maybe they’ll realize it tomorrow, but tonight the girls will dance and Kaci will slide into a split and Shari will crack yet another smile and Kady will give Wynn a lap dance and then give kisses to Val and Carlos on their cheeks that will inspire Johnny to flip the fuck out in a manner that is kind of the opposite of adorable.
As Johnny contemplates the quickest way to drown Cock-Blocking Carlos – Bathtub? Ocean? Toilet bowl? – the female Tempters at the guys’ villa have decided they’re sick of being in bikinis all day so they throw a cocktail party where everyone must dress in clothing that won’t leave them with a potential bladder infection come morning. Karl appears in a suit, though most of it comes off rather quickly. Tara is kind enough to dab the sweat off his chest and soon it’s decided that there should be a new dress code: bikinis and heels!
Quick question: Will Tara be kind enough to also walk around this vast nation dabbing the tears currently being shed by any feminists who watch this show? And will those flimsy tissues be enough to clean up the blood of anyone foolish enough to actually posit that flinging on a bikini and heels to better tempt a man in a relationship is its own kind of feminist power?
Back at the other house, Kady sits on Johnny’s lap. She’s confused and drunk enough to bring him up to her room. She’s not entirely wasted enough, however, to fully cross the line. Nicole also brings a guy up to her room. She passes out before anything happens, but Tyler does sit up playing with her hair and since there’s very little in life I value more than a man who will stroke my hair until the sun rises, should he and Nicole not work out, Tyler should call me.
But less restraint is being shown by one of the guys. While Karl manages to say goodnight to Brittany without slipping his tongue into her mouth – an act of restraint by a man with a girlfriend that causes his maybe-side-piece to cry because, you know, Aquariuses are emotional – Evan and Morgan crawl into the same bed and Evan admits once again that, though he was hoping this experience would clarify how strong his feelings are for Kaci, what he’s discovering has taken him clear in the other direction and straight to a place where an evening can end with him telling some other girl that he cannot have sex with her, but she can certainly feel free to straddle him until morning.
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