Whatsapp groups gone a bit quiet? Could it be that Love Island, the one and only TV show that managed to unite the splintered divisions of Twitter (gay Twitter, black Twitter, Essex Twitter, and so on and so forth), could perhaps be losing its shine? It may be six months earlier than usual, but it is still, regrettably, business-as-usual for the producers.
All the potential is there; The forcible separation of twins (Eve and Jess btw) catapulted into the present day from an Oceana circa 2007, could’ve been an agonisingly exquisite plot point. But it happened in less than a week, long before sisterly-closeness could possibly calcify in the season’s story arc, and thus elicit gasps through wickedly grinning mouths nationwide. The same can be said for Leanne and Mike. After clinching the key endorsement of ‘United Twitter’, they quickly settled into the quiet, solid couple that everyone soon wanted to crack. Naysayers, do take a moment to remember the grisly fate of season two’s Tel and Malin. (No? Exactly).
The problem is clear: producers are playing their hand too early, and are still reclining upon an episodic structure we’ve seen time and again. What’s worse, we can remember the trials and tribulations of last year’s Amber, and Yewande, and that Scotsman with the criminally thin eyebrows as if they were yesterday. That’s because it was basically yesterday.
So as this year’s offerings gathered around the fire pit for the infamous (and utterly fraudulent) heart rate test, the collective sigh was deafening. We’d seen this. What’s more, this worked much better when couples were a bit more in it. Yes, Connor continues to glare at Sophie as if they’re auditioning for the M25 remake of Penn Badgley’s mad boy drama You. But other than that, these lot don’t really know each other. Or care for each other. And frankly, do we really care about them?
There were some surprises. One: that Connagh With A G – the kinder-eyed competition for Sophie’s affections – finally earned some credit as A Man You Would Likely Swipe Right On, raising the heart rates of several contestants that looked at the floor as if they’d admitting to sleeping with their boyfriend’s father. Relax girls. It’s been a fortnight. Two: that Jess always was a proficient solo pilot. Following that bizarre exchange with her sister, the once languid blonde is standing on her own two red PVC Giuseppe Zanottis. She was a natural in that Ann Summers sailor outfit. She’s finding her way with the girls. And it seems people are beginning to like her.
Jess’s burgeoning victory was soon revealed to be a small win, though. After a sneak peek of the latest internee, her entrance was perhaps the best plot twist of the series thus far. The girls didn’t see it coming as they lined up in the gallery, their costumes overshadowed. The boys didn’t see it coming either as they lined up by the firepit, their short shorts becoming increasingly overstretched. Then she appeared. Just as the broken record span once more, god was a DJ, flicked the switch, and summoned Newcastle’s answer to mighty Aphrodite herself; a girl whose confidence pinballed between marvel and monstrosity like that alarmingly mature friend you had in Year 8. She waltzed over, immediately dropping to her knees. She guided Mike around curves made of pure chaos. Then, like Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers on a strong course of Hungarian speed, she writhed around and made eyes pop from Cape Town to Cleethorpes, raising the heart rates of Callum and Connor, whose reactions resulted in a shock date beyond the villa. The new girl had arrived.
Shaugna dusted off her netted hat, already humming Chopin’s funeral march. Sophie looked hurt, confused, bewildered. And Nas, once again, remained on the sidelines: romantically ring-fenced despite being quite possibly the purest, nicest man to ever set foot on the island.
And they should be worried. For this sort of entrance harkens back to another patron saint of tumult in Maura O’Connor (you can now find her on another show, ice skating before the untrained judgement of Ashley Banjo). She disrupted things. She made Love Island exciting, forging a path of hellfire that few could ever repeat. But there’s still a chance. And she’s called Rebecca Gormley: a former would-be Miss England, a part-time carer, and the reality TV princess that was promised.
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