(Spoilers) Recap of The Ultimatum: Queer Love, Eps. 3&4
When I last wrote, I told you about the first two episodes of The Ultimatum: Queer Love. Thankfully, the intensity remains in the third and fourth episodes. In these two episodes, the couples decide who they will spend their trial marriage with during “the choice” ceremony.
Yoly and Xander are the first to choose each other – actually, they make their choice at the end of episode two. In my last recap, I explained how Yoly and Xander were getting pretty cozy, so it makes sense that they would choose one another. Of course, it wouldn’t be reality television if the producers didn’t make an already excruciating situation even more awkward. As participants make their choices, their exes must sit there and listen to them speak glowingly about their trial spouses. And boy, is it awkward when Mal chooses Lexi, letting us know how sure she is about her choice.
Calling this ceremony “the choice” is apropos because the central challenge these couples faced was feeling unchosen by their partners. Mal lacked faith that Yoly really saw her as someone unique and Yoly wanted Mal to enthusiastically choose a family life with her. Neither of them would choose each other in the way they each sought. So, when Mal describes being very sure about Lexi, going so far as to say to Lexi, “I’ve known that it was going to be you. I was always going to choose you,” we see Yoly tearing up. Even I feel like burying myself under my covers. Really Mal? Seriously? This is so rough to watch! I can imagine the dagger digging deeper into Yoly’s heart as she witnesses Mal give Lexi the assuredness she never felt she had received. Alas, this is the business they’ve all chosen by being on this show.
During the last recap, I intentionally skipped what happened with Lexi, Vanessa and Rae. Yes, this throuple is still throupling – but not in a good way. All roads point to Rae choosing Vanessa, and Lexi is not entertained. If you’ll recall, Lexi and Rae came in as a couple, and both went on dates with Vanessa. Lexi realized Vanessa wasn’t interested in committing to a new person or committing long-term to her original partner. Essentially, Vanessa is in this for a good time, not a long time. Lexi says she feels protective of Rae and doesn’t want her getting hurt by Vanessa. I also understand that Lexi fears Vanessa will cause so much havoc between her and Rae that there will be no turning back on their relationship. Lexi calls Vanessa out on, ultimately to no avail because Rae chooses Vanessa anyway.
Aussie and Mildred choose one another as trial spouses, then the tables turn to Tiff and Sam. Sam chooses Tiff, to which Tiff reciprocates – sort of? Through lots and lots of tears, Tiff chooses Sam to spend the next three weeks with, but in the next breath, declares their enduring love for Mildred. Mildred appears tormented by seeing Tiff so upset and gets up from the table in a classic reality TV run “off camera” shot. We see production staff moving swiftly, and Mildred run crying into what I’m guessing is a bathroom. For a second, I wonder if Mildred feels manipulated by Tiff. Does Mildred think Tiff is trying to derail the process and not allow her to fully embrace the trial marriage with Aussie? It feels like the editors are leaving out some essential information about what’s happening here because it’s a bit confusing. What we do hear from Mildred is that she’s frustrated Tiff could show themselves to Sam in the way she desperately wanted for herself. This brings up another point that resurfaces throughout The Ultimatum: Queer Love: people see their exes willingly offer someone else the very things they desire, and that’s got to hurt. This show highlights that we as humans unfairly tend to give our best selves to the new people with whom we don’t have any baggage, and those we’ve known the longest get our anger and discontent. An important lesson is committing to giving our best selves to the person we choose to love.
As the couples live together for three weeks, bonds get closer for some, while others face serious tensions. Yoly and Xander turn their relationship up a notch and get intimate. At the same time, Mal and Lexi ponder the two of them walking off into the sunset. This foursome has fully bought into the experience and found an idyllic slice of heaven they couldn’t conjure with their exes. However, things aren’t going as swimmingly for Aussie and Mildred or Tiff and Sam.
After a solid first week, Aussie’s best friend meets Mildred. Aussie commits a huge Freudian slip by defining marriage as being “stuck” with one person. If meant humorously, the comedy doesn’t land with Mildred. Mildred and Aussie’s dynamic shifts, and after a bathroom blow-up, it seems their honeymoon is officially over. Meanwhile, Tiff and Sam argue about Tiff’s dog – and I have things to say. On their first night as a couple, Tiff tells Sam they are bringing their dog into the home, with which Sam has no problem. However, Sam expresses some reticence to having the dog sleep in their shared bed. Sam never says the dog can’t sleep in the bed – she indicates she’d like to play it by ear. This isn’t good enough for Tiff, who makes it clear that the dog is the top priority. If the dog can’t sleep in the bed, Tiff says they’ll sleep on the couch. To which I say – alright.
A few days later, it appears the dog didn’t make the bed cut because Tiff and the dog spent the night on the couch. An argument ensues, with Tiff accusing Sam of not giving a “sh*t” about the dog. Here’s another instance where the audience could’ve used some additional information. Sam asserts she never said the dog couldn’t sleep in the bed, yet there’s clearly some conflict. Perhaps Sam isn’t cuddling the dog effectively – who knows? We see Sam sticking up for herself in the argument, refusing to let Tiff compare her to Mildred, who came around on the dog issue. And Sam sets boundaries on her need to feel just as comfortable as Tiff and the dog.
Here’s what I have to say: I myself am not a dog person. I’m not anti-dog. I’ve just never had a pet, so I don’t have overly affectionate feelings toward dogs in real life – I love them on Instagram! The point is, I understand where Sam is coming from. Even though Sam sees herself as loving towards animals and welcomes the dog in their home, there’s discomfort with the dog in the bed for whatever reason. Tiff wants Sam to show love to the dog only as Tiff sees fit, not according to what Sam can offer. The two reach some resolution later at dinner when Tiff rightly asks Sam if their tone during the argument was hurtful, and Sam affirms it was. I applaud Tiff for asking the question, as it shows their willingness to acknowledge how their communication could be painful. Even though they disagreed, Tiff feels comforted that they could get to the other side of an argument, something they presumably couldn’t do with Mildred.
Episode four ends with the couples going out and talking about how their trial marriages are going. And lest you think we’re getting out of this recap with no more Vanessa talk, don’t worry; there’s more drama. Vanessa and Rae share a physical encounter, and, for reasons I’ll never understand, Rae tells Lexi about it. Rae feels accountable to Lexi even though they were on a break! (In my Ross Geller voice). Lexi feels distraught that Rae got physical with Vanessa and tells her trial wife, Mal, that the strong reaction is because it’s specifically with Vanessa. As we know, Vanessa sees this as a fun, freeing experience, not the first day of the rest of her life. Lexi can’t reconcile why Rae would be intimate with Vanessa knowing her unseriousness. Lexi lays the guilt on Rae pretty thick, even asking how she will tell her grandfather about what Rae did. Um, how about you don’t!
I can understand Lexi’s hurt feelings. Deep down inside, even though she’s connecting with Mal, she’s still waiting for Rae to have an epiphany about the two of them getting married. The closer Rae gets to Vanessa, the further that possibility slips away. Still, the hurt doesn’t justify the guilt trip. To Lexi’s admission, the two had no agreement to abstain from physicality while on the show. Rae broke no rules. And if getting physical with Vanessa turns out to be a dumb decision, it’s a dumb decision Rae can handle as a grown adult.
But also, Rae, sis, you should’ve just kept that tidbit to yourself.
Four more episodes drop tomorrow. It’s going to be a busy week!