We’re crawling to the end of our marathon week of Paradise, and I swear to God, if Channel Ten foists another four episodes on us next week, I literally will not be able to even. Won’t someone think of the recappers?
Last time in Paradise: we had two new entrants, Jarrod was gross, Keira was drunk, and Laurina was the most relatable contestant in this entire show when she decided she’d rather go to bed than go on a date, which ultimately resulted in her deciding to leave the show.
Can you imagine how great Laurina would be as an UnReal character? How would Quinn and Rachel deal with someone that just refused to comply with the diegetic structures of the show?
But enough about last night. Tonight … ugh. How is it that Michael ‘fake Socceroo’ Turnbull has become, bizarrely, the most endearing man on this island? It is so so strange.
Let us start at the beginning, which is Jarrod and Keira breaking up (again), with some bizarrely shaky camera work.
The crux of the matter is this: Jarrod thinks Keira ‘led him on’, by being interested in him and Daniel at the same time. This is apparently still an issue, even though she gave Jarrod her rose, so … I don’t know, make what you want of that.
Keira, on the other hand, thinks Jarrod’s gone from 0 to 100 way too quickly, and she just wants it to be fun and light and frothy. This seems like a much more reasonable criticism to me, but I will own that I am strongly biased towards the women on this show, on account of all the men being terrible garbage people.
Jarrod and Keira agree to be friends — like, literally, they high five it out. ‘My whole attitude’s changed!’ Jarrod says airily. ‘I’m here to mingle, so I’m going to mingle!’
And oh, how he mingles. Aggressively.
This aggressive mingling pays off, because when a date card is delivered for Simone, she chooses Jarrod almost instantaneously. The date is paddleboard yoga, which signals two things:
- Someone at Channel Ten has slightly loosened their death grip on the purse strings.
- No one at Channel Ten has any idea how to plan a date.
Honestly, you guys, you need me. Do you know how many incredibly romantic dates I could design for you that would not make the entire nation shudder with horror at Jarrod uttering the phrase ‘erotic and sexual’?
Because that is how he describes paddleboard yoga. The phrase ‘erotic and sexual’ came out of his mouth.
AND IT WILL HAUNT MY NIGHTMARES.
Ahem. The whole date isn’t — ugh — erotic and sexual. Jarrod tries to pick Simone up at one point, and promptly drops her: ‘the bloody idiot drops me like I’m a fat whale!’ Simone tells the camera, horrified. But she still clearly finds the whole thing erotic and sexual enough — ugh ugh ugh UGH UGH UGH — to make out with Jarrod, because, like, that happens.
Back at the beach, Keira has realised she might have made a tactical error: the men have the power of the roses, and so without Jarrod, she doesn’t know where she’s getting her rose from. She attempts to chat up Michael, and he’s like, ‘um, maybe if I’ve had a few cocktails,’ which is honestly meaner than just telling her no straight up.
Michael has eyes elsewhere. He has PRINCIPLES and MORALS and he is HERE FOR THE RIGHT REASONS, you see. He has a rose, and he really wants to give it to someone he has feelings for. And he’s decided that someone is Lisa.
Lisa, we must recall, has been in a relationship with Luke since the second they both stepped onto the island, and neither has had more than a second of screen-time since. How did this relationship form? We don’t know. It just appeared, and they were in it, a far less romantic and much more drunken version of Mr Darcy’s declaration to Elizabeth Bennet that he was in the middle of being in love with her before he knew he had begun.
But in a relationship Luke and Lisa are, and Keira is aghast — aghast, I tell you! — at the notion that Michael might attempt to break that up by giving Lisa his rose. ‘Just don’t do it,’ she counsels him, with the clear subtext of cough give me your rose cough.
But Michael is determined: the more people say MICHAEL NO, he says MICHAEL YES. ‘I’m a decisive character,’ he tells Tara. ‘I know what I want. Even if means cutting my mate’s grass.’
Somehow, Megan manages to unwittingly (well, ‘unwittingly’ — this is clearly a producer-planted question) get herself in the middle of all of this. ‘So, are you two, like, a wholly committed thing, or are you open to exploring stuff with other people?’ she asks Luke and Lisa airily.
‘I’d be open to exploring stuff,’ Luke says.
‘UM WHAT?!’ Lisa says.
‘…shit,’ quoth Megan, and quietly bails.
‘So is it okay for me to explore something with other people? Like maybe Michael?’ Lisa asks Luke.
‘No!’ he replies angrily.
‘But you literally just said –‘
‘But I didn’t really mean –‘
This is the longest conversation we’ve ever seen from Luke and Lisa, and it had exactly no emotional weight, because we haven’t had the chance to get invested in their relationship. Learn to tell a damn story, Channel Ten.
Lisa stomps off to talk to Michael. ‘You really should have made a move on me earlier,’ she grumbles to him, and Michael’s eyes light up.
Let’s put a pin in this for a second and take a look at another potential relationship breakdown: Eden and Nina.
So Eden and Nina were one of the OG Paradise couples, but things got a bit rocky with the emergence of Damn Daniel (whose nightmare stay in Paradise I chronicled in my recaps of episodes five and six). ‘I wish Daniel was still here,’ Nina says blithely to Grant. ‘I miss him.’
I have to believe that this is a joke, because Nina seems like a very sensible person, and WE ALL SAW her zip up her sensible swimmers when Daniel was staring at her boobs in that hot tub, and there is no way on earth that she actually for real misses his creepy rapey-ness.
Grant knows how this game works, though, and he immediately goes running to Eden. ‘Does Nina even like you, man?’ he asks. ‘You haven’t even kissed her yet!’
‘Yeah, that’s weird,’ Eden says. ‘And also … Elora. I think I might like Elora.’
Eden never actually discusses his boner with Elora (which I can only imagine Elora finds quite relieving), but he does sit down and have a chat with Nina. ‘So … we’ve been kind of dating for a while now,’ he says. ‘Is this … you know … a thing?’
‘Dude, I told you where I stand,’ Nina says. ‘I don’t want to kiss anyone until the end. My position hasn’t changed, and I’m not going to be pressured on this.’
‘Okay, sure, but: alternative perspective — aren’t you being a bit self-centred?’
Nina is, understandably, not entirely thrilled by this response.
Oh, and while all this is going on, Keira is weeping buckets of tears because nobody loves her and she’s destined to be alone forever.
Which brings us to the rose ceremony.
Eden is the first to hand out his rose. ‘This is the hardest rose I’ve ever had to give out,’ he says, which, considering it’s the second rose he’s ever given out, is not exactly a big claim. ‘But I’m going to have to give it to … Elora.’
This, of course, ROCKS PARADISE to its FOUNDATIONS, and so we have to settle the ship. After this one, some fairly standard couples proceed:
- Grant gives his rose to Ali.
- Sam gives his rose to Tara (I know people are starting to climb on board this ship, but I am not one of them. We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars).
- Jake gives his rose to Megan.
- American Jared gives his rose to Leah (also he said, like, zero words this episode, and I continue to find it hilarious that he’s the designated Weird Kid here when he’s been the most popular boy in school on both his seasons of US Paradise).
But we were promised in the ads that this would be the MOST DRAMATIC ROSE CEREMONY IN PARADISE HISTORY (ie all of three weeks), so the ship is about to be unsettled again.
Next up is Jarrod. ‘Simone,’ he says.
Keira’s lips tremble.
Then it’s Michael’s turn.
And this monologue — oh my god, you guys. The heroic music that put over this monologue killed me dead. I am dead now. Deceased. This is a zombie writing this.
‘I came here to give roses to girls I wanted to get to know,’ he declares, while the music swells triumphantly behind him. ‘But I sold out. And I’m not going to do that any more.’
And he gives his rose to Lisa.
But it’s what happens next that’s the real kicker. Luke is looking a bit teary, but Michael, when he resumes his place in the dude lineup, suddenly can’t handle it any more, and runs off into the night. Jarrod goes after him, and Michael openly weeps on his shoulder. ‘I dogged him!’ he sobs. ‘I dogged my mate!’
You remember a few episodes ago, when I wrote about the discourse of mateship, and how it’s an alternate Genesis story in Australian history (Dyrenfurth 2015, 1)? This is a classic example. Michael is feeling torn, not between romantic options like in a classic love triangle, but between his heteroromantic attraction to Lisa and his homosocial bond with Luke. The latter, in the Australian context, is just as important as the former.
…I can only imagine what the Americans think of all this angst over grass-cutting. It exists in their franchise, of course, but not like this.
It reminded me, actually, of Eve Sedgwick’s argument about love triangles in her seminal book Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (1985) [ BT | Amz | iT ]. In it, Sedgwick argues that in an M/M/F love triangle, two male characters bond homosocially through their competition for a shared female object of desire, reinforcing ‘the structures for maintaining and transmitting patriarchal power’ (25), because the woman essentially acts as a conduit or an object in a relationship between two men, not an agent in her own right.
I’d argue that this is particularly pronounced in Australian society, where the homosocial bond between men — aka mateship — is as important as, if not more important to, Australian culture as the romantic bond between a couple. Miriam Dixson famously claimed that Australian society was one of the most misogynist in the world, because ‘women in the land of mateship … come pretty close to top rating as the “Doormats of the Western World”‘ (1976, 11). Women are largely excluded from the discourse of mateship, and…
…yeah, okay, this could turn into a pretty long nerd-rant that you didn’t really sign up for (get back to the Bachie, Jodes!), but suffice to say I think it’s pretty interesting that Michael’s weeping over Luke, not over Lisa. To quote the ever-pithy Tara: ‘That’s hectic, man.’
Luke has to recover from this grave slight to his honour: he has a rose to give out, and two ladies left to choose from. He ends up giving his rose to Keira, because, he says, everyone deserves a second chance.
Except Nina, apparently. No second chances for Nina.
Keira is so grateful that she bursts into loud, messy tears in Luke’s arms, but Nina is stone-faced. She hugs all the women, but when Eden comes up to her, she totally bars him. ‘I have nothing to say to you,’ she tells him, and leaves.
‘I was always very clear on where I stood,’ she tells the camera in her exit interview. ‘If he couldn’t respect that — if he just wanted someone to make out with — then I wasn’t the girl for him.’
I will miss you, Nina. You’re so reasonable. When you’re not inexplicably talking about how much you miss Damn Daniel, anyway.
Next time: Apollo arrives! FINALLY!
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.