A twist like this was unavoidable. Two of the isolated suitors are revealed to be exes in season five of Love Is Blind, Netflix’s hit reality TV dating experiment that premiered on Friday. Contestants Uche and Lydia both recognize the voice on the other side of the wall during their first pod date.
It’s amazing that this development didn’t happen sooner given how surprising it is. The fact that the show only features singles from a particular city each season—Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, and now Houston—means that at the very least two contestants would’ve already connected on Hinge. The third episode of the season’s third season saw the arrival of that day, which was the most dramatic event to occur in one of the more fancy pods (they do silent discos now?!) since a character fell asleep in one during the fourth season.
The relationship that was forming between Uche and another candidate Aaliyah in the pods was suddenly shaken by the news that Aaliyah had once cheated on a long-term boyfriend. In the opening episode of the season, Uche interrogates Aaliyah about her admitted adultery, causing the woman to suffer a complete breakdown while holding a can of Pringles with sour cream and onion flavoring. She cheated just two years ago, which worries Uche (“So, you’re a recent cheater?”), but he’s ready to put aside his concerns for the sake of a reality TV romance.
But Uche slept with Lydia three months ago, their fellow cast member who has grown to be her close friend and go-to relationship advisor—something Aaliyah won’t be aware of for a few more days. “We had a brief relationship. Uche confesses to a speechless Aaliyah, “I just didn’t think that we were that compatible therefore I ended things. She deserves an excellent person who is totally certain about him, thus it pained me terribly. And I sincerely hope she does, because she deserves it. Aaliyah is angry, but she is particularly angry with Lydia—a person she has known for less than ten days yet still refers to as her “sister.”
It seems like there may be a chance for harmony in the pods when Aaliyah confronts Lydia about her relationship with Uche. Lydia reassure her, “I’m just going to see Uche as Aaliyah’s husband.” She then claims to know “everything” about Uche and rattles off information about his “dope” house and puppy before warning Aaliyah about her future husband’s OCD and workaholic habits. This all happens a matter of minutes later. Oh, and Lydia reveals their most recent connection, telling Aaliyah in terror, “We’re gonna laugh about this three years from now.”
Lydia also shares a secret with her pod boyfriend Milton. Lydia, however, neatly omits the details of how she pushed for Uche’s interest and how recently they were intimate. Strangely, neither Aaliyah nor Milton are shown questioning their partners’ reasons for keeping their previous relationships a secret for so long. Despite executive producer Chris Coelen’s inclination to downplay producer intervention in the courting experience, this is probably because production forbade them from doing so in order to protect the integrity of the experiment. In fact, conspiracy theorists might decide to think that Lydia and Uche were both cast as a result of their earlier involvement.
The awkwardness is overcome and Lydia and Milton get engaged, but Aaliyah finds herself surrounded by the walls of Love Is Blind’s increasingly contracting dating pool. “Your ex, who you slept with three months ago, and I are seated over here. Aaliyah says, “I’m almost in a cage with her. She makes an effort to continue the experiment for Uche, but she disappears when he returns to the pods bearing an engagement ring. Over the intercom, a voice states, “Unfortunately Aliyah has decided to stop the experiment,” leaving viewers with a frustrating cliffhanger. It seems impossible for these two to actually become engaged. On the other hand, this is the same program where Johnie, a participant who called herself “a walking red flag,” asked Chris if they were “ready for an engagement” a few days after leaving him for another man.
Those two weren’t intended to have it. But after the first four episodes, Stacy and Izzy and Taylor and JP—whose promise to “never stop being sweet to each other” seems destined to be broken—are engaged. But it’s still unknown what would happen to Aaliyah and Ubeh. The season two antagonist Shake has always been correct about one thing when it comes to this show: love is certainly hazy.