If the last week of Love Island is known for anything, it’s a healthy mix of “aw”s and “ugh”s. We have the baby challenge, the big-budget last dates and the prom – saccharine scenes where real drama is kept to a minimum, and problems are brushed under the carpet until the final has passed. But Thursday’s episode was something unexpected: a game of two halves, where romantic gestures were contrasted with genuine heartbreak for Liberty. It makes for great TV, but my God, is it gutting. It was also Liam’s birthday, a fact that was glossed over for the rest of the episode. Quite frankly, if he wanted more focus on him, he should have been born earlier in the series.
First to have their final date were Faye and Teddy, who were treated to the outing every couple has dreamed of: standing fully clothed in a swimming pool topped with rose petals. Logistically, I have a lot of questions. Were they dropped in from above by a small crane? Were more petals added around them once they were in? Was Teddy wearing any trousers? They discussed the ups and downs (understatement of the year) of their relationship, concluding with Teddy asking Faye to be his girlfriend. Faye is both funny and self-deprecating, leaving me to conclude that in seven series of this show, I have never been more conflicted by an islander than I am by Faye. Either way, Teddy is clearly smitten.
Kaz and Tyler’s date was a drier (in the literal sense) affair. Living the Disney prince/princess fantasy, the pair headed out in a horse-drawn carriage to a romantic outdoor dinner. Underscored by two violinists playing Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” – someone on the production team’s been watching Bridgerton – the pair talked about their current situation and what happens next. Unlike the others, Kaz and Tyler aren’t rushing into a relationship, a sensible acceptance that life on the outside will be different permeating through their conversation. Of all the couples remaining, they’re the ones I actually see lasting the longest (if this line is quietly removed in five weeks time, mind your business) and I would gladly watch any ITVBe reality TV show about their dinner dates and road trips.
But as sweet as these dates were, this was an episode about the demise of Liberty and Jake, something I thought her rose-tinted glasses would prevent from ever happening in the villa. The other couples’ genuine affection came in sharp contrast to Jake’s seeming indifference and passive aggression. An unkind comment that “it’s all about you, isn’t it?” when she tried to compliment him brought back that “I’m OK, I’m OK” look, but hearing about Teddy and Faye’s date clearly triggered something in her. After weeks of ignoring the warnings of the public vote and her fellow contestants, she finally saw it too.
Liberty confided in Faye that she felt she was giving Jake the ominous “ick” and didn’t want to stay in the villa if she wasn’t being true to herself. Faye tried to talk her down, telling her that she deserved to be with someone who liked her messiness and her snoring and that the love she had for the other girls was all she needed. Then we got possibly the most gut-wrenching line in Love Island history, as Liberty said that “even though I didn’t find love, I found self-love and I’m not going to change myself” and broke millions of hearts across the country.
All the while, Jake was oblivious and seemed totally taken aback when they finally spoke. Despite insisting that he’d never said the words “I want you to change”, he still, even in this moment, didn’t say anything to actually reassure Liberty or fight for the relationship. By now, I’m used to his relationship status with Liberty being used as a get out of jail free card, but that he still bleated “you’re my girlfriend” and said he couldn’t “battle my corner” in these final moments must be heartbreaking for her. You can tell the boys that you don’t think it’s reason enough to end a relationship all you want – if you don’t tell her, it means nothing.
So where does this leave Jiberty now? We’ve never seen a couple, let alone one who’ve been together since the start, split up this close to the end before – if you’re already there, you might as well have fun and a crack at £50,000. But things are clearly unfixable, with the preview suggesting that the pair will choose to leave the villa on Friday. Whatever you think about Jake, it’s hard not to be sad that Liberty invested so much time and emotion into this man, only to open her eyes at the last second. But I hope this move allows her to look back on her time in the villa through a different lens, rather than with resentment for something that fizzled out immediately out of shot of the cameras. “I deserve to be loved and appreciated”, Liberty told Faye post-break up. Yes you do, hun. Yes you do.
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