Sort of like how Brandon told himself he wouldn’t fall in love on Fire Island, I told myself I wouldn’t get truly emotionally invested in these walking meatsacks of Ariana Grande CD singles. However, last night’s episode of Fire Island actually made me feel for all these guys.
Yes, even Cheyenne.
I came into the episode bloodthirsty for a big blowout between the boys. Once their conflict fizzled out before anyone tossed a drink or a table or a prosthetic leg, I was practically booing the screen from my couch. Then they announced a bunch of parents were coming, and I started writing Logo, Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos a strongly worded letter about properly representing a summer of gay men in jockstraps chugging vodka-sodas and humping uncontrollably.
But, by the end of the episode, I was wiping away a single tear.
How did this happen? Let’s discuss.
Brandon got an early start to the weekend at the house. Like any tiny babygay fresh from the dorms, he obviously trashed the place.
Khasan, Jorge and Cheyenne were skipping the ferry for a ride on Jorge’s friends’ yacht, and, again, I need ask: What even is Jorge’s life? He’s part Ricky Martin, part Animal the Muppet, part Cosmo Kramer, and I don’t understand how he lives every single day. He met the yacht owners, Captain and Tennille, after they found his lost dog, Luca. And now I guess he has access to yacht rides? Sure. (I wonder what he had to lose to get those five Escalades the night he partied with Khasan.)
They get to the house and are all in a tizzy over the mess. Brandon tosses off a little “Whatever, mom!” attitude before they all head to dinner in Cherry Grove.
Elsewhere on the island, Patrick and Jallen are discussing the Brandon situation. Jallen discloses that he gets feelings really fast (we know, girl), and he was initially raised Mormon. All the good ones are gay or Mormon or both, it seems.
Patrick then brings Jallen to the group dinner, which is horribly uncomfortable for everyone. Brandon is done with Jallen, but as we all saw last week, he “broke it off” with him in the most vague and confusing way possible. I don’t blame Jallen for hanging around.
Justin arrives complaining, of course. He missed his stop and his ferry and also did you know he’s wearing a Speedo now? It’s a very big deal for him! His parents are coming this weekend, but, more importantly, his mom is going to see him in a Speedo! Speedo?! Speedo!
Since Justin’s parents are coming and Khasan’s mom is coming, the guys agree they need to be on their best behavior this weekend. Keep the house clean, keep out the riff-raff (PATRICK), etc.
This presents the perfect opportunity for Cheyenne to make it about himself for a minute and toss out a passive-aggressive barb about how they should live every week like it’s
shark parents week, and keep the place in order, regardless.
Patrick — the Lisa Rinna of this bunch, both in personality and kind of aesthetically — calls Cheyenne out immediately. Own it, Cheyenne! What are you referring to, specifically? Own it!
Then Cheyenne runs through a litany of grievances ranging from Justin’s Speedo (Speedo!) on the counter to Brandon’s discarded banana peels. Brandon gives a half-assed apology, and Cheyenne insists that they can apologize until they’re blue in the face, but they need to take action. Cheyenne clearly fails to see how this is almost the exact same thing Patrick was telling him last week, because he lacks almost any self-awareness whatsoever.
Patrick interjects to make it about him for a minute, reminding Cheyenne that he cleaned his room after Cheyenne left the house last weekend.
Just as things finally seemed to be coming to a head, Jorge starts gently weeping. If he could make it all about him for a minute … Everyone needs to carpe diem, climb every mountain, 525,600 minutes, I hope you dance, etc. because it’s almost two days until his Dad’s birthday or the anniversary of his death, or maybe today is his birthday and the anniversary of his death was two days ago? Whatever it was, it is truly very troubling to Jorge, and it’s sincerely sad, and I am not going to make fun of him about it.
Jorge and Khasan take a short walk to calm down. The reality check shakes the other guys out of their trivial spat, and they all rally around Jorge. We learn that Jorge had a challenging relationship with his father, especially around his coming out, but he was also Jorge’s best friend. Again, it’s genuinely sad, and I feel like I want to reach through the screen give Jorge a hug myself.
The next morning, Justin’s parents arrive on the island, and they are the cutest little old, Italian couple. I want to talk about how Justin’s dad replies to Jorge’s offer for a drink by saying he’ll take “whatever stiff thing you have” and NO ONE takes the opportunity to make the very obvious joke, or how he wore an all-pink ensemble to the beach in silent support of all the gays, or how the way he said “muchos gracias” to Jorge and insisted he reminded him exactly of Javier Bardem was just casually racist enough to be a charming dad thing, BUT I can’t bring myself to make jokes about him. Some post-episode text reveals that he passed away after filming the episode.
I’m not crying, you’re crying!
While at the beach, Justin explains to his mom that a specific group of gay guys is called a “gaggle of gays” like that’s actually a thing or clever or anything worth repeating at all while she chows down on a comically large hoagie. Patrick’s hot friend Alex is also with the group, even though Patrick is nowhere in sight. Cheyenne is shocked, SHOCKED, that this cute boy is from Los Angeles, but somehow, some way, he doesn’t know Cheyenne already. Does Cheyenne actually think every gay boy in Los Angeles is as obsessed with him as he is with himself?
Speaking of Patrick, he arrives again with Jallen in toe. Sure, maybe Patrick is reality TV-savvy enough to know bringing Jallen around will attract the camera’s attention, but also they do seem like actual friends, so it might not be as malicious as it seems to the other guys
More importantly, Jallen’s in a Speedo (Speedos: They’re not just for Justin!), and he is one fine, tall drink of Mormon juice. (Milk? Is Mormon juice just milk? I think it’s milk.) He’s got a sort of Michael Phelps build. They both have bodies like Na’vi from Avatar, just like all lanky limbs and elongated torsos.
Anyway, Jallen hilariously tries to sexily saunter over, like some Mr. Fantastic/Mae West hybrid. He’s swinging a badminton racket, which he inevitably drops, and it’s like who among us hasn’t been there, trying to look all flirty and fun only to end up looking like a complete doofus on national television? It only makes him more endearing, really.
Brandon can’t bear the idea of any tension, so suggests he and Jorge go do an impromptu photoshoot, and it’s very cool and casual and not at all obvious that they’re just walking away to talk smack.
Patrick, of course, is having none of it. He puts Brandon on blast, leading Jorge to excuse himself and Jallen away so Brandon and Patrick can hash out their differences.
Brandon invokes Winged Brandon (literally we need to always have at least two Brandons in play on this show), saying what Patrick is doing is the same thing he was mad the roommates did to him with Winged Brandon. Patrick (correctly) points out that, no, it’s certainly not. He clearly told the roommates he wasn’t serious with Winged Brandon, and they just refused to believe it. Then they bombarded W. Brandon with blush and bashful linen samples for the wedding they were sure Patty and W. B. were bound to have.
Brandon, on the other hand, BARELY told Jallen they weren’t seeing each other anymore. No wonder Patrick missed the memo. Brandon sits Jallen down again and adds some degree of clarity to their relationship. But then he messes the whole thing up by ending the talk by saying “Further down the line, we can see what happens.” Set him free, Brandon! Please spare this poor Mormon boy!
That night, Justin’s parents prepare a full Italian meal for the guys while the show plays some cheesy, royalty-free version of “Tarantella Napoletana” that sounds like they ripped it off a Nokia cell phone in 2001.
Khasan’s mother arrives, and she’s every bit as beautiful and charming and radiant as he is. (Plus she arrives with a drink in hand. My kind of gal.) She has a passing interaction with Justin’s folks before they head back to the ferry.
Khasan’s mom sits with the housemates by the pool and recounts the difficult circumstances around her and Khasan’s life growing up in Compton. She was caught in a crossfire as a teen and shot in the neck. She had Khasan at 16. Khasan’s dad wasn’t around growing up and was later murdered in a robbery. No wonder Khasan is so grounded, he’s been through more trauma than most characters on a Shonda Rhimes drama.
The next morning, Khasan’s mom meets his boyfriend, Jason, for the first time. It’s adorable to see her embrace him, but also obviously trying to get a read on him. Oh, moms.
Their interactions stir up feelings for Cheyenne. He video chats his boyfriend Kyle and explains that all this talk about parents is bringing up a lot of his own past. Cheyenne’s dad wasn’t around much, and his late mother was an alcoholic. He lacked a lot of stability in his youth, having moved 17 times. Cheyenne demonstrates some fleeting glimpses of self-awareness when it comes to how his childhood experience manifests in how he handles himself as an adult. I’m not saying this all justifies Cheyenne’s mostly gross behavior, but it does explain some of it.
At some point Jason and Khasan’s mom exit, leaving the guys to snuggle in a pile on the beach and reflect on their relationships. Cheyenne even apologizes (sort of) to Patrick. Yes, it’s sort of ham-fisted and cheesy and the complete opposite of what I want my reality shows to be, (this isn’t ABC Family, henny!), but after such an emotional episode I kind of needed it.
What did you think of the episode?