As a Love Island super-fan, I’ve been loathe to admit just how dry this year’s series has been. With minimal drama and a cast who didn’t seem to like each other that much, it felt like I was watching for the sake of watching, too ashamed to accept that the many, many hours I’d put in probably weren’t worth it. But our suffering was rewarded with Thursday night’s episode, which will go down in the history books as one of the most explosive in Love Island history. In the words of Gordon Ramsay, there was finally some good f***ing food.
Ever since Toby and Chloe snaked Kaz, viewers have been waiting for vindication on her behalf. It finally arrived on Thursday, as her relationship with Tyler blossomed while Toby and Chloe’s collapsed. It’s fair to say that any newcomer who makes a beeline for the show’s most popular contestant should be treated with some scepticism, but something about the way Tyler acts around Kaz feels genuine. You could tell this because he literally said “I’m so genuine”, but it was also in the casual, comfortable intimacy of him untangling her earrings, or the surprising tenderness of their first kiss on the balcony. Counteract that with Toby and Chloe’s imploding romance, and even Chloe admitted it was probably karma.
Chloe may have some self-awareness, but it didn’t stop her from kicking off again and again. Determined to stoke the fire, Abigail told Toby to dump Chloe and pursue things with her, pissing Chloe off not with her words but the fact that the pair linked arms while walking. “We’re not 12,” Abigail told Toby, proving that she reeeeally doesn’t know him at all. Toby knew it would start a fight and, guess what, it did. Chloe stormed off, while a clueless Toby still didn’t get what he’d really done wrong. Meanwhile, Kaz and Tyler blew kisses at each other from across the kitchen. Shakespeare couldn’t write this, honestly.
Amid the drama, Toby kept insisting it was all a test to “make or break” him and Chloe, turning standard Love Island lingo into pure parody as he told himself there were “traps everywhere”. Not everything is a trap! You just don’t like each other that much! “People talk about tests too much in here,” Hugo told Chloe, demonstrating why he chose to teach PE rather than, say, maths. Toby told Abigail that he intended to take a step back from his current relationship to get to know her, seemingly spelling the end for him and Chloe. And then, bam (or rather, “f***”, as Faye screamed), a text arrived announcing an immediate recoupling with the boys picking first.
After the settled couples chose, Toby stood up, his face like that of a 10-year-old boy who’d been coaxed into jumping off the highest diving board and had come to regret it. His speech about wanting to learn lessons in the villa made it clear that he was going to pick Abigail, but he still nervously grimaced as he sat down with the tattoo artist. Hugo was left to choose and, having made it obvious to the point of rudeness that he didn’t fancy new girl Georgia, it was always going to be his friend Chloe. But then, something totally unexpected happened: Hugo started railing against Toby. He said that Chloe didn’t “deserve to be treated how she’s been treated the last 24 hours” and branded the “test” comments “bulls***”. Chloe could be seen grinning and cackling while a livid Toby looked on.
For weeks now, I’ve struggled with Hugo. For as much as he loves to whine about not being fancied, he made little to no effort with AJ or Georgia (both of whom said they fancied him from the outset). It’s true that you can’t fake connection, and that you can sense when things aren’t going to work out. But, counterpoint: Hugo is on a show called Love Island. Flirting is currency, and he’s not been flirting with anyone. His days felt numbered, but that speech might have redeemed him in my eyes. His intentions are clearly dodge – I suspect he thinks this is the moment in the romcom when his leading lady realises it’s him she’s liked all along – but it was, unfortunately, TV gold. How do you solve a problem like Hugo Hammond? I’m still undecided, but that might just have bought him another week in the villa.