See who got kicked out of the villa on Thursday, and whose love connection got even stronger.
Love and heartbreak are both in abundance on Love Island. Thursday's recoupling episode was as dramatic as expected -- but the declarations of adoration and romance from the season's strongest couples managed to overshadow the eliminations.
Leading up to Thursday's recoupling, a lot of relationships were either up in the air or had completely fallen apart. Kierstan's connection to Bennett had gotten icy -- although she formed a surprisingly close friendship with Laurel, who was coupled with Kierstan's ex, Carrington.
Meanwhile, Carrington was eyeing newcomer Lakeyn -- whom Bennett also began pursuing -- but couldn't figure out whether his attraction to her was worth blowing up the bond he'd formed with Laurel. As always, Moria and Calvin were getting along fine and no one seemed to care at all about whatever is going on with them.
However, things between two of the show's longest-lasting couples had been getting stronger and stronger. Cely and Johnny had repaired their relationship after Johnny's admitted make-out fest during Casa Amor, and Caleb and Justine were just as cute as ever.
When it came time to the recoupling, the show got the obvious choices out to the way first. Calvin chose to recouple with Moira, and Johnny picked Cely, whom he'd already asked to officially be his girlfriend.
"I would like to couple up with this girl because, outside of the fact that I have the privilege to call this beautiful girl my girlfriend, coming into this experience, I would have never expected to meet somebody that brings even half of what she does to the table," Johnny told a blushing, beaming Cely. "Your confidence, your humor, and your beauty. I'm so excited to see what the outside has to offer for us. Thank you so much for this experience."
While his words were sweet, a lot of fans have had a hard time getting over the sheer amount of kissing, touching, cuddling and flirting that went on between Johnny and Mercedes in Casa Amor.
Which is why Justine and Caleb -- or "Jaleb," as fans have taken to calling them -- have emerged as the frontrunners to win this season. Thursday's genuine and heartfelt speech from Caleb only cemented that in many fans' minds.
"I want to couple up with this girl because she has made my experience something far greater than anything I ever imagined possible," Caleb said. "I stood up here the first time, and her and I coupled up with this gut feeling that she would challenge me to become a better man. And I thank her for helping me become better man."
Caleb went on to say, "Not only does she make me feel like the luckiest man in the villa, but lately I've been feeling like the luckiest man in the world."
With that love fest going on, it made the rest of the recoupling seem extra painful. Carrington and Bennett were up next, and it was anyone's guess who Carrington would decide he wanted to keeping looking for love with.
Ultimately, however, Carrington decided to keep things going with Laurel -- and that all but sealed the fates of Kierstan and Julia -- who really never even got a chance to pretend to find a spark. Bennett shocked no one by deciding to pursue a romance with Lakeyn, meaning Kierstan and Julia had to pack up their stuff and say goodbye.
"I didn't find a love connection but that's OK," Julia shared after leaving the villa. "I think that everything works out how it is supposed to, and it was the way it was supposed to be."
"Obviously I was here from Day 1 for Carrington, and just nothing really wavered with that," Kierstan shared after the recoupling. "I am at the point where I wanted him and Laurel to make it to the end. And now they are, and I think that says a lot about me and my growth, for being happy for the people that I care about."
After Thursday's dramatic episode, ET's Ash Crossan spoke with Kierstan via video chat, and she opened up about getting the axe.
"I kind of knew my time was up. I just had a great journey... I had a great time. But with all that said and done, I was ready to go back home," Kierstan shared.
She also reflected on her unexpected friendship with Laurel, which quickly became one of the sweetest bonds between all of the Islanders this season.
"I did find a genuine connection, and that was with Laurel," Kierstan said with a laugh. "She's just an amazing, genuine sweet person. I love her to death. I'm so excited to see her again after this.... She definitely is a friend for life."
Love Island airs nightly at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS with highlight episodes airing Saturdays.
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