I don’t want to leave anyone behind on Nightmare Man Island, bar the nightmares themselves.
Penultimate episode time! We’re so close to clawing ourselves out of hell, you guys. I feel like Orpheus, leading Eurydice out of the underworld — except I promise not to look back.
Brief recap: Elora came, Elora went, Shannon and Connor were apparently on the show, and they left too. It’s all couples all the way down, but I’m struggling to find a romance in which I’m even in the slightest invested.
We begin with Zoe. She’s clearly been trapped on this island way too long, because Mack is suddenly starting to look good to her. ‘You’ve got to risk it for the biscuit,’ she declares.
This turn of phrase only doubles my certainty that she’s been trapped on this island too long.
‘Are you into me?’ she asks Mack.
‘Look, probably not,’ he replies. ‘Are you into me?’
‘Look, probably not,’ she replies. ‘But should we give it a go?’
He nods, and they share the loudest pash in commercial television history.
‘Wowee!’ Mack exclaims, and basically runs around the island clicking his heels and jumping into the air.
‘…yeah, I hated it,’ Zoe confides in Florence.
If Mack is too keen, Nathan is not keen enough. ‘I think Nathan might just be in this for the fame,’ Tenille confesses (also to Florence, who is apparently the island confessor now). ‘He only wants to kiss on camera. We could get to the end and I’d never hear from him again after we left.’
Nathan is, of course, terribly affronted by this, and ugggggghhhhhh how are all these women who are tens breaking their hearts over these men who are, at best, when you take into account their personalities, negative threes?!
Then: we have a structural change. Osher enters and gives the contestants the lowdown. There’s no more rose ceremonies, he tells everyone. No one else is coming in – it’s all couples from now on. Today, they need to decide if they’re committed enough to stay in Paradise and go to the final commitment ceremony. If they’re not, they need to go.
‘…um, yeah, we need to leave,’ Zoe tells Mack, and he immediately agrees, pretending he wasn’t already half-ready to propose to her.
Also departing are American man Alex and Caroline, presumably because it’s very weird that they’re both from the American franchise and yet they’ve found love in Australian Paradise. Goodbye, both of you. I’ll miss you most of all, Alex’s abs.
Everyone else decides to stay, though, including Alisha and Jules, even after yesterday’s ‘umbrella of ambiguity’ incident, and Nathan and Tenille, who sort out their issues (well, ‘sort out their issues’, wherein Tenille convinces herself she’s being paranoid. Sigh).
After the decisions have all been made, we move onto a traditional Bachie milestone. It’s time to meet the families (and a liberal sprinkling of friends).
I’ve written numerous times in my recaps of the main franchise about why meeting the families is generally such an important milestone in a romantic narrative, so I won’t go into it huge details, but the gist is this: essentially, if you’re serious about someone, you become embedded in their kinship networks. However, a family — biological or found — typically doesn’t want someone who is, say, a Nightmare™ joining their family, so this is where a lot of protective instincts come out.
(This is particularly true where women are concerned, because we’re not so far out from the notion of women as objects in a patriarchal economy – ie. objects passed between men, father to husband. Indeed, we could contend that we’ve never fully moved away from that notion: after all, Ivan was referring to Tenille as ‘his stuff’ just last week.)
Let’s go through this couple by couple:
Florence and Davey: ‘OH NO I COULD LOSE FLO,’ Davey declares to his father, despite the fact that she’s told him that she doesn’t want to put any pressure on him or the relationship and they should just proceed along as their own pace, and there’s no indication that she’s intending to ditch him.
‘Ugh, Davey is being so negative,’ Florence says to her friend Steph.
‘I WILL ANNIHILATE HIM,’ Steph replies.
In other news, Steph is now my new favourite character.
Also, Florence openly admits that she and Davey are sleeping together (but not really ‘sleeping together’, if you take my meaning). It is amazinghow much more sex there is in the diegesis of Paradise in comparison to the main franchise.
‘SO WHY AREN’T YOU GETTING IT ON WITH FLORENCE?’ Steph demands the second she gets Davey alone.
‘…um…I’ve been tired…?’ Davey replies. ‘And…um…I’m scared of ruining the relationship? What if we’re not friends afterwards?’
‘OH, SO IT’S GOING TO END?’
‘No! I mean…um…’
I love Steph, honestly. There should be a million percent more Steph. She should be grilling all the dudes, not just Davey.
All of this does eventually seem to push Davey to a realisation, because he finally twigs that he’d be a fool to let Florence go (after his dad tells him he should date Flo because he ‘needs direction’, which, ugh). ‘I’ve realised I need to stop worrying,’ he says to her. ‘I want to be with you. Exclusively. With commitment and everything.’
‘…well, this is a turnaround,’ Florence says.
And then they kiss, and they go off to their not-a-fantasy-suite, and honestly I can’t believe that neither of them committed to the cheeseboard sitting on the table, because it is beautiful.
Nathan and Tenille:Tenille is ready to commit to Nathan, but she’s a bit worried that he’s just there to be on TV — something which she confesses to her best friend Chantelle. ‘I’m worried he’s just going to ghost me,’ she says.
Chantelle seems very unimpressed with the whole concept of Nathan, which: mood. Very relatable mood.
She only gets more unimpressed when she asks Nathan whether he’s ready to commit to Tenille, and he straight up tells her no. ‘I mean, I’m not ready to be boyfriend/girlfriend with her,’ he says. ‘We could maybe talk about exclusivity?’
‘Yeah, he’s lying,’ Chantelle tells the camera.
ALL THESE WOMEN ARE SO GREAT AND ALL THESE MEN ARE SO TERRIBLE GAAAAAHHHHHHHH.
Handy hint: the ad breaks in Paradise are very useful times to take a few moments and scream into a pillow/cushion/towel/etc.
Chantelle relays her feelings to Tenille. ‘I’m not desperate,’ Tenille says. ‘I’d rather pull the pin now than spend months getting fucked around on and fucked over. We’re either exclusive, or we’re broken up. No middle ground.’
Anyway, Nathan ends up telling Tenille he wants to be exclusive with her after Paradise and they run off to their not-a-fantasy-suite together, but given that they keep splicing in a rattlesnake noise whenever he speaks, I’m guessing Tenille should have trusted her judgment — and Chantelle’s judgment — on this one.
Alex and Bill:‘My relationship with Richie failed because I didn’t get enough commitment,’ Alex tells her mum. ‘So I want to know just how committed Bill is to this relationship.’
I’m guessing that Bill’s commitment level is not especially high, because when Alex’s mum asks him a very simple question about how he plans to treat Alex, he immediately rolls his eyes and looks extremely put upon.
(Also, he keeps grinning a terrifying rictus smile. This seems very unwise when a poisonous bee could fly out of your mouth at any moment and give the game away. It happened to Scott Morrison; it could happen to you, Bill.)
‘Have you dated a woman with children before?’ Alex’s mum asks Bill.
‘Yeah, I have,’ Bill replies.
‘Has Bill dated a woman with children before?’ Alex asks Bill’s brother (apparently his actual brother, though for all we know he could be some dude he met at the dog park).
‘No,’ Bill’s brother replied.
But Alex’s mum seems to be onto him. ‘He’s a charmer,’ she tells Alex, and Alex seems to immediately get that what she means is ‘he’s probably a sociopath’.
When Alex and Bill sit down together, Bill says all the right things, but you can tell from the way that Alex is staring at him that she’s just waiting for a poisonous bee to fly out of his mouth and give the game away. ‘I don’t know,’ she tells the camera. ‘I just don’t know. He’s telling me all the things I want to hear, but he could just be saying them. And the worst thing is: I’m head over heels in love with him.’
It’s very rare I say this, but: fuck love, Alex. Trust your instincts. RUN AWAY.
Jules and Alisha:‘I just want clarity and decisiveness,’ Alisha says. ‘Does Jules like me? Does he actually want to give this a shot?’
HOW IS THIS SHOW FULL OF AMAZING WOMEN BREAKING THEIR HEARTS OVER TRASH BOYS
EVEN THE ONES THAT AREN’T THE WORST ARE THE WORST
Ahem. So Alisha’s friend Hannah has come to visit. ‘I’m ready to commit to him,’ Alisha tells her.
‘Yeah, if something happens after Paradise, fine, because tbh I don’t really know what I want, but while we’re here, let’s have a ball — that’s my attitude,’ Jules tells his mate Jimmy.
Look, I’ve occasionally been a bit of a Jules apologist – like, he seems okay, compared to some of the other nightmare men there – but this made me clench my teeth so hard I nearly ground them to powder.
After talking to Jimmy, Alisha makes a choice. ‘I’m not leaving Paradise in a weird friends with benefits situation that’s good for Jules and not me,’ she says. ‘Fuck the umbrella of ambiguity. I’m getting some answers out of him.’
And she’s as good as her word. ‘Your mate told me to put the hard word on you,’ she tells Jules. ‘I don’t want to leave Paradise as mates. I don’t want ambiguity. I want clarity. I want to try something with you. I don’t necessarily want to be your girlfriend, but I want you – and if you can’t give me something better than “umbrella of ambiguity”, I’m walking.’
And it’s an effective one, for once! Although then Channel 10 immediately aired an ad for the tell-all show following the finale tomorrow that very much makes it look like Jules and Alisha are not a thing any more, if indeed they ever were one, so maybe it’s not actually that effective.
Only one more episode to go and then we are freeeeeeeeeeeee, my friends.
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.