Even the most enthusiastic Love Island fan will admit this has not been a stellar series.
If we weren’t all so Pavlov’s Dog automatically committed to watching the whole show whether we like it or not, maybe some of us might even have – gasp – bowed out at the end of week one.
It’s been mostly meh, often a lot like people doing a school play of Love Island – going through the motions, saying all the right phrases, but without the sparkle, the magic, that somehow makes it zing.
And then last week, suddenly, out of nowhere, all the planets aligned and Love Island was brilliant again. Mesmerising. Unmissable. Endlessly discussable.
Obviously the ironically named Casa Amor always takes the show up a level – this is where the couples are split up and live with single people who try to lure them away because if they don’t, they’ll be axed from the show and not even get a Boohoo clothing deal.
The contestants have to choose whether to return to the villa and continue the relationship they were in, or bring a Casa Amor hottie back, while their ex watches.
But Casa Amor is not enough on its own, so we must also give a nod to the other storylines that have viewers newly gripped...
Toby and Kaz/Chloe/Abbie/Mary/Whoever The Next New Arrival Is
Let’s be kind and say that Toby Aromolaran is… not exactly what you’d describe as discerning when it comes to choosing a partner.
He mostly wants to be in a relationship with whoever he happens to be talking to at that moment. So when he first came in, he coupled up with Kaz Kamwi, 26, slept in a bed with her, kissed her, seemed really happy with her… and then in came Chloe Burrows, 25.
So Toby left Kaz – in quite a sly, cowardly way – and coupled up with Chloe. He slept in a bed with her, kissed her, seemed really happy with her… and then in came Abi Rawlings, 27. So Toby, 22, left Chloe – in quite a sly, cowardly way – and coupled up with Abi. You know the drill; bed/kissed/happy… and then came Casa Amor.
He came back to the villa with Mary Bedford, 22, leaving Abi, who had in perhaps the most ill-judged move of all time, decided to remain loyal and wait for Toby, single and humiliated.
The next day they chatted, and Toby told her that even though he was with Mary, he still liked Abi and maybe would get back with her? But secretly, the girl he really had his eye on? Chloe. Again. Wow.
Liam and Millie/Lillie
Yes, in one of those reality TV situations you genuinely couldn’t write, Liam Reardon, 21, is in a love triangle with girls with rhyming names.
He and Millie Court, 24, were instantly attracted to each other and formed an intense connection, looking like such a strong couple they would definitely be in the final, if not win the whole show.
They seemed like a perfect match, who would come out of Casa Amor only more certain they wanted to be together. But instead of being loyal to Millie, he was a Silly Billy and went willy nilly with Lillie.
He came back alone, but Lillie Haynes, 22, was allowed to have a chat with Millie, fillie… sorry, filling her in on all the gruesome details, including kissing that Liam had, funnily enough, played down.
Liam was full of excuses, but Millie was having none of it. She gave him what for, in such a calm, dignified, assertive manner it was impossible not to cheer.
But desperate Liam’s determined to win her back, will her resolve hold firm?
Faye and Teddy
Wise-cracking brown lipstick fan Faye Winter was unlucky in love until she coupled up with Teddy Soares.
She’d been hurt in the past and found it hard to open up to men, but finally started to lower her guard so the relationship could blossom… just as Casa Amor happened.
Teddy, 26, did snog someone for a dare, but otherwise pined for Faye, even sleeping with Jake outside, being eaten alive by mosquitos, rather than sharing a bed with a girl.
Faye, 25, meanwhile was having nothing to do with the single boys put into the villa to tempt her… until the girls were sent a postcard featuring photos of what their partners were up to.
Seeing Teddy kissing someone else – obviously unaware it was part of a game – she decided he was just like all the rest and wrote him off.
It was like Romeo and Juliet, except with Truth or Dare rather than poison.
Faye recoupled with new boy Sam, and sat waiting for Teddy to slink back with his tail between his legs and a new woman on his untrustworthy arm. He came back alone! He’s one of the good guys and really likes her! But Faye was with Sam! Disaster!
After a snog (with Teddy) and friendzoning (for Sam) the course of true love ran Faye back to Teddy... but is she set for disappointment?
Tyler and Kaz, and Clarisse, and Matthew
Kaz is the most popular girl in the villa, and with viewers, but kept getting pied off... until at last Tyler Cruickshank, 26, came into the villa with his sights set on her.
They coupled up, all was lovely... and then the Casa well and truly hit the Amor.
Tyler got with new girl Clarisse Juliette, 24, and Kaz, who had been mooning over Tyler until she saw him cosying up with Clarisse on the postcard, dusted herself off – again – and recoupled with Matthew MacNabb, 26.
Now Tyler – boo! hiss! – is letting it be known he’s still interested in Kaz. She’s with Matthew, he’s with Clarisse. Will the girl we most want to find love get her happy ending?
Jake Cornish and Liberty Poole have Love Island winners written all over them.
They coupled up r from the start, have never had their heads turned by anyone, and are even officially boyfriend and girlfriend, with matching bracelets to seal the deal.
Yes, he brought them in with him, in advance. Hmmmm... When he put it round her wrist, Liberty, 21, said she loved Jake, 24, but he didn’t say it back. Hmmmmm… Jake stayed completely loyal to Liberty in Casa Amor, spending all his time egging the other blokes on to test the relationships they were in by snogging the single girls. Hmmmm...
So is Jake genuine? Or a massive game player, just out to win?
And if it’s the latter, might we see the first final where one half of the winning couple takes the whole £50,000 for themselves rather than sharing it?
Love Island lingo
Mugged off = to be made to look a fool.
My head’s scrambled/been turned = fancying someone new even though you’re coupled up and were content until 5 seconds ago.
It is what it is = a failsafe, unarguable, vaguely profound-sounding way to sum up all situations.
What’s your type, then? = chat-up line repeated ad nauseum because it never, ever fails.
Pied = rejected/dumped.
Moving Mad = most annoying catchphrase in the universe which means making advances on the opposite sex at breakneck speed.
Grafting = making any kind of effort, even just an iced coffee, for a person of the opposite sex.
Love Island Code
Every year the contestants come up with a secret code to discuss how far they’ve got with their partners in bed, most famously when the series 4 boys formed the stomach-churning Do Bits Society.
This time round, the villamates have based their code on the British system of national vocational qualifications, which is amusing because surely none of them have got any?
Do you have a story to sell? Get in touch with us at [email protected] or call us direct 0207 29 33033.