I did warn you to get out while you still could. Now, I fear for those of us who have hung around this long, it’s too late. A week of Love Island is enough for the show to sink its teeth in and keep you hooked. Resistance is futile. It certainly doesn’t help matters that ITV have brought back Iain Stirling’s irresistibly melodramatic “tomorrow night” previews.
The return of previews – a 15-second promise of drama in the next episode that’s never quite fulfilled – is something viewers have been demanding since series eight began last week. From our lips to producers’ ears apparently, because it’s not the only fan request satisfied in Monday night’s installment.
It can’t be a coincidence that the latest episode is the first not to focus solely on Gemma. The show’s fixation with the 19-year-old international dressage rider has been among the chief complaints to emerge from viewers this season. As Isobel Lewis wrote in her recap of Sunday night’s episode, “It’s Gemma’s world – the other islanders are just living in it”. Even Susanna Reid agreed. We get it; Gemma’s dad is famous and all, but she hasn’t exactly proven herself to be a beacon of reality TV just yet. None of the islanders have, so why not share the love? And by love, we, of course, mean screentime.
In lieu of The Gemma Show is a much more balanced affair. Highlights include Ikenna and Indiyah finally sharing a kiss and Amber’s first date with Dami. As far as Love Island dates go – on a barometer from boring to really boring – theirs is surprisingly enjoyable, with Dami saying all the right things. Whether or not Amber has been swayed by them remains up in the air.
The arrival of Jacques, who happens to be Gemma’s ex, has the boys on their toes – namely Davide who swears up and down that he doesn’t care that Ekin-Su is chatting to the bombshell. He! Doesn’t! Care! Despite the protests, however, the Italian Stallion makes an extra effort with his partner, cooking Ekin-Su breakfast in the morning – the bonafide love language of this series. His plan seems to have worked and the pair share an especially noisy snog that evening.
In the least dramatic elimination of all time, Afia is booted from the villa after Jacques chooses to couple up with Paige. While the ending comes as a surprise to no one, this is the best episode of the season so far. Admittedly that’s not saying much, but at least the producers seem to be listening to what the fans want. One final request: turn off the mics during snogging scenes, we beg you!