Love Is Blind has never felt more chaotic than it does in Season 5, which premiered its first four episodes Friday on Netflix. This season has everything: midseason break-ups, a confounding argument over make-up that’ll leave you scratching your head for days, and, as viewers who’ve seen the first four episodes already know, a shocking revelation that rocks multiple cast members to their core.
So, why does this season also seem like the most orchestrated, highly “produced” entries yet? The answer might just lie in the twist itself. (For those who have not yet seen the first batch of episodes and want to remain unspoiled, this is your cue to stop reading!)
For the uninitiated, Love Is Blind sends its cast members into individual “pods,” where they blind-date each other through a wall. After a couple weeks of narrowing down to one potential suitor, cast members must propose through a wall before meeting in person for the first time. Then, it’s time to move in together, meet the friends and family, and, ultimately, face one another at the altar in what often unfolds like a game of emotional “Chicken.”
Much like Season 4, which loosened its reins enough to let couples get back together after breaking up in the pods, this season also feels a little less restrictive than prior entries. The first episode shows off an appetizing spread of food in the women’s living quarters, and even a few carelessly broken eggs. (Weird—I wonder why this show might want us to know it feeds its contestants!) This season also apparently added a mental-health disclaimer to each episode, near the end of the credits. “Through the production company, a licensed mental health professional conducted pre-filming evaluations of all participants,” we’re assured. “All Participants have access to mental health support services during and after filming.” Very chill!
Everything else pretty much feels the same; all of the cups on set are all still made of metal, which becomes especially funny this season when one couple tries to use them for hot coffee. That said, this season also executes a devilish new twist: Partway through the season, 34-year-old lawyer and entrepreneur Uche reveals to his top pick, 29-year-old ICU travel nurse Aaliyah, that he once dated their fellow contestant Lydia. And wouldn’t you know—Lydia, a 32-year-old geologist, also just happens to be Aaliyah’s best friend on the show.
Season 4’s Brett and Marshall aside, it’s not too often that Love Is Blind contestants forge deep friendships that actually seem genuine, but for the first few episodes of this season, Lydia and Aaliyah are about as adorable as it gets. Multiple times, Lydia can be seen comforting and reassuring Aaliyah about her relationship with Uche, and at one point, the two even cuddle together under a blanket. All of this makes it even more devastating when we find out that Lydia and Uche are exes, and that both of them have kept it from Aaliyah for so long.
But why did they keep it a secret—and how did these two even end up here together? The latter question, especially, haunts the season. As distressing as the situation might be for Uche, it’s Aaliyah who seems to struggle the most, as Lydia fills her in on all sorts of unwanted details about her past relationship with Uche. (Lydia might think she’s over Uche, and maybe she is—but in this show’s mind-bending environment, at least, part of her does still seem to be holding onto something, if perhaps unconsciously.)
Reality shows specialize in keeping their cast members in the dark, even and especially through confusing and stressful situations. It’s not exactly a surprise that no one steps in to give these three star-crossed, blind lovers some much-needed clarity; that’ll probably have to wait for the reunion episode, if we ever really find out. In the absence of another answer, however, it’s hard not to become at least a bit of a conspiracy theorist. (It’s a different franchise, but did anyone else immediately think of The Bachelor’s long history of ambushing contestants with “coincidental” ex encounters?)
By the end of Episode 4, we find out that Aaliyah has left the show. There is, of course, a chance that this is only temporary; as Zack and Bliss demonstrated last season, it’s now possible to reunite and rejoin the show after a pod break-up. For now, however, her and Uche’s fate remains a mystery.
As for the rest of this season’s couples? If we’re being real, most of them seem pretty doomed as well.
First up, we have 26-year-old teacher Taylor and 32-year-old firefighter Jared, aka “JP” These two hit it off quickly in the pods and don’t have too much intrigue. Then again, when they first met face-to-face in Episode 3, she also admitted that it “feels weird” trying to match her beloved “Sugarbutt”’s voice to his face. Another not-so-auspicious sign: After their first meeting, Taylor also admits that in the real world, she “probably wouldn’t have gone after him” because of the gap in these teeth. She claims to no longer care about looks anymore, though, so let’s just hope that’s the case!
Next up, we have Lydia and Milton, a 25-year-old engineer. Their biggest hurdle might’ve been their age gap, were it not for the whole “befriending each other’s exes” thing. Milton might not be as close with Uche as Lydia is with Aaliyah, but the reveal still doesn’t seem to thrill him. At the same time, Milton and Lydia do seem to have a great time nerding out together over their favorite kinds of rocks. With a bond that strangely specific, perhaps they’ll overcome the odds. (Although, in the history of Love Is Blind, age gaps have rarely worked in folks’ favor—just ask Season 1’s Jessica.)
While past seasons have found contestants serenading their lovers in an attempt to woo them through a wall, this one is all about poetry. Uche and Aaliyah bond over their shared passion for spoken word, while the 34-year-old Stacy—one-half of our final couple—writes an impromptu ode to her own chosen lover, 31-year-old Izzy.
Honestly, these two might have the best shot in the bunch. Izzy is something of a player in the pods, and while he’s initially torn between two women—Stacy and the 32-year-old Johnie—he eventually chooses Stacy. Their conversations started out more “fun” before the two apparently connected on a deeper level—something Johnie made sure to mention when she shaded Stacy after Izzy broke things off with her.
Things might not be over yet for Johnie; although her second pick, the 28-year-old product manager Chris, declines to pick things back up right after she left him for Izzy, he does say he’ll “maybe” see her again soon before they part ways. Could they also echo Zack and Bliss’s midseason reunion? I really hope so! Johnie seems nice, if a little emotionally confused, and Chris might be the first (OK, second) man in Love Is Blind history who I actually find attractive—a real feat! Also, he just seems very, very sweet.
Only time will tell if any of these lovebirds are actually ready to take flight, but in the meantime, we can be sure of one thing: Much like The Circle, which updated its mechanics each season to keep things fresh, Love Is Blind is getting better and better at setting up new emotional landmines.