'Love Island': Surprising Kisses and Unexpected Romances Lead to Shocking Third Recoupling and Elimination
By Zach Seemayer
If there's one thing fans have learned from this season ofLove Island USA, it's that romance is complicated. After some tense days of dating and surprises, Thursday's new Love Island saw some connections fall apart, others getting stronger than ever, and everyone saying goodbye to an islander.
When the suave and chic Lauren arrived at the villa -- bringing with her a charming English accent and some serious flirting game -- she really shook up everything in a big way.
After going on dates with Conner (and thus sending Mackenzie into a tail spin), Johnny and Carrington, it raised a lot of questions for the guys. Conner and Mackenzie's tense romance was the same roller coaster it's been since it began, and Lauren made Conner question if Mackenzie was right for him. Ultimately, however, he seemed pretty sure she is.
Meanwhile, Johnny had a good time on their date, but it's obvious that he and Cely have the cutest bond of everyone in the villa, and there wasn't anything that was going to interrupt that.
So that only left Carrington, who's relationship with Kierstan seemed to be the least defined of everyone else in the villa. He made it abundantly clear that he found Lauren attractive, and spent most of the episode agonizing between his attraction for Lauren and his already established feelings for Kiersten.
The dynamic between the couples only intensified when they all had to participate in the week's "competition" -- which mainly involved all the women getting dressed in bikinis and then sliding around in a fake car wash before getting hosed off by the shirtless guys.
The ladies then got to choose which guy they wanted to kiss. Most of them chose the person they were coupled with, until it got to Justine. While she was coupled with Tre, she chose to plant a kiss on Caleb -- who was then coupled with Rachel.
Needless to say this move angered Rachel, who had been friends with Justine, and it hurt Tre. It also put Caleb in a tremendously awkward position.
Justine went on to explain that she was just trying to take risks and shake things up -- and she certainly succeeded.
When it came time for the eventual recoupling ceremony -- in which the men got to chose this time around -- some bonds proved to be much stronger than others.
Unsurprisingly, Calvin chose Moira and Johnny chose Cely. Conner kept things even-keel by choosing Mackenzie, and even Carrington decided things were working just the way they are and chose to stick with Kierstan.
This put Lauren in jeopardy -- as Carrington and Conner were really her aces -- but Tre, hurt by Justine, threw a curveball and chose Lauren. This meant that it all came down to Caleb choosing between Rachel and Justine.
As it turns out, Justine's kissing gambit seemed to pay off as he chose her, thus sending Rachel home after just a few days.
Once again, the most emotional moment wasn't Rachel having to go home single, but rather it came from the girls losing a close friend. Every girl was brought to tears by the elimination and they all joined together to give Rachel a big hug.
Caleb hugged Rachel as she packed her bags and apologized for not getting a chance to talk much before he made his choice.
"Just know that I had good intentions and I hope the best for you," Caleb whispered as she got ready to leave the villa.
Speaking with the Love Island cameras in an exit interview, Rachel said, "Honestly, I don't regret anything. I love everyone in there so much. So I'm sad to be leaving Love Island, but I'm so glad for the experience."
After Thursday's elimination, Rachel spoke with ET's Ash Crossan via video chat, and opened up about getting sent home from the villa.
"I didn't expect it for sure," she recalled. "Initially, I was really, really shocked, but you have to go with the connection that is the strongest."
When it comes to Justine's actions with kissing Caleb, or Caleb's decision to choose Justine, Rachel said she understands and harbors no ill will toward either of them.
"It's hard to fault him or fault her. It's just a tough situation," Rachel said. "I really hope that they are successful and I do wish them well. Everyone there is so incredible and really does deserve to find love."
Check out the video below for more on this season of Love Island.