We don’t watch Love Island for the cerebral massage. It isn’t wise. It isn’t progressive. Nor is it enlightening. But it is entertaining. For in seasons past, collections of people that we’d never wish to consort with in real life become our fantasy fraternity. They do exotic things, like wear cut-out dresses, and book actual tables at nightclubs. They get us hooked on a sticky soup of suntan lotion, malapropisms and cannibalistic snogging. Oh, and they’re purpose built for conflict: the engineered, cattle prodded kind we happily stole from US-based franchises about unreasonably angry housewives.
For a Lord Of The Flies story arc is what Love Island does best. And, after a few false starts (a Flackless billing, major plot points unravelling too early and so on and so forth) the tropical regime is, finally, descending into chaos.
It took some time. At first, the most memorable part of last night’s episode was Matalan’s answer to Justin Bieber completing a pillow fight assault course as if in a co-ed version of The Baby-Sitters Club. But of course, even this delay was always part of the plan: Love Island is rarely quick off the mark, with at least a fortnight of characters dubbed boring, characterless and rehearsed (almost every dedicated WhatsApp group has blue ticked “it’s just not as good as it used to be, is it?” from a premature detractor). But as soon as Best Western Siânnise Fudge – which is pronounced SHON-ees, by tha’ way me luvver – picked a fight with destroyer of harmony Rebecca, the ribbon was cut on sanguinary season. “It’s a kick in the teeth, she’s gone behind ‘me back, there’s no loyalty there,” Fudge seethed to the camera as Rebecca opted for Luke T at the recoupling. The blessing here being that sweet prince Nas was saved by Siânnise to live another day, sending Conaugh (also a gentle king, gone too soon) home. But she also fancied him at a time too. And Rebecca also fancied him at a time too. The villa was now arable ground for total war.
The showdown came in two parts, as the Fudge slowly planned her own remake of The Grudge. Rebecca was slammed for breaking ‘girl code’ (a murky Bible that makes the Book Of Mormon look like Darwin’s evolutionary theory), and her argument labelled “irreverevrgant” as Fudge fudged her words. She then had a bit of a breakdown. She convinced no-one. St. Rebecca, like all good disruptors-in-chief, only blossomed in the strife.
Things were getting good. But the two-part tear-up was a false set-up. As Laura Whitmore made a rare appearance in the villa (works hard to fulfil potential, excellent slow-mo walk, appalling carbon footprint, B minus), the dynamite was all but set: the newbies were declared immune to the public vote, whilst a series of couples were saved. Widespread relief as MVP-thus-far Shaugna took a seat.
Those at risk? None other than short-fused incel Connor, and his ever unaware inamorata Sophie. Viewers, clearly swayed by his increasing outbursts over absolutely nothing, wanted to free his burgeoning girlfriend of her shackles before they were ever fully locked, and being in the bottom was a shock to everyone on the island. But these two aren’t going home together into a Barratt Homes sunset. Oh no. They’re to be separated, with their fellow residents delivering the final verdict on who stays, and who goes. You couldn’t write it.
Whether Connor razes the villa to the ground in a spasmodic rage is another question. Though with producers now sharpening their claws, and several contestants already digging the trenches, Love Island’s resort-like tranquility has fallen. This is why we watch it. This is how the audience figures spike. This is how we gain access to those fiery confrontations between strangers in the corner of Mahiki. And it took 20-year-old Finley, the island’s lonely endorsement for chest hair, to so eloquently speak for us all: “I don’t like drama, but it’s good when you’re not involved ‘innit.”
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