For brevity's sake, I’m focusing on the melanated contestants and giving first impressions and highlights of their journey throughout episodes 1-3, beginning with the first three episodes that focus on couples making love connections inside of the Pods. The recap for episodes 4-5 that feature the post-Pods engaged couples will soon follow.
Editor's Note: These are my thoughts in real-time as I am watching each episode; spoilers are most definitely ahead!
Episodes 1-3: During the Pods
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Let me just say, with Kwame, the edit he received from the jump wasn’t the best, and I have a feeling the internet might go in a little bit on some of the soundbites he gave when we’re first introduced to him. From his storytime about having to prove his worthiness to the parents of his prom date, who wouldn’t let her go with him because “I’m Black,” to his early admission of thinking of using his first name “Alex” in the Pods instead of the name he usually goes by (Kwame) so that there were no assumptions from the other non-Black singles, the edit sometimes did him very little favors.
As a viewer, the point of the experiment is that “love is blind,” and to me, it felt like I could pinpoint very specific instances where it seemed Kwame was doing his best to still connect the dots between him and his real-world preference within the Pods. But maybe I misunderstood the point. However cringy his revelations of his dating history, they served as indicators that there was a chip on his shoulder, and I feel that shows in the way he dates in the Pods.
Case in point, feeling worthy is important to him, and there are times he seems to question that. He is into a woman named Micah, who is clearly lukewarm af about him (until she isn’t), as well as a woman named Chelsea, who is sure about him and has always been sure about him, but for whatever reason, Kwame can’t get Micah out of his head. What he likes about Chelsea, though, is that she validates him constantly, and he makes it a point to say this a few times over the course of the Pods episodes. See what I’m saying about those needing to feel worthy?
Although Kwame has things he likes about Chelsea overall, the trait that makes the top of his list when he is explaining her to other contestants, women and men alike, is that she validates him. For someone who might have navigated a dating scene where he always doubted himself and what he brought to the table, having someone like Chelsea in his corner who is constantly pouring into him in that way unprompted is something that feeds him in a way he didn’t know he was starving for. Will he choose Micah (side eye) or Chelsea, the woman who has been sure about wanting to be with him from minute one?
The answer of who Kwame should choose becomes a lot clearer as the episodes progress, and it becomes obvious to anyone with eyes that Micah is playing games and doing her best to secure her place on the series, whether it’s with Kwame or another contestant, Paul. Does she have real feelings for Kwame? I think so, in a way, but it’s definitely not the same energy Kwame gives to the courtship process in the Pods.
Though I loved his proposal to Chelsea (because Kwame can articulate his feelings so well, man), and Chelsea’s words back to him especially, the fact that I’m privy to some of his exchanges with Micah (including the fact that his strong connection with Chelsea was also about her validating and reassuring him of her feelings for him constantly) really made it hard for Kwame’s words to hit the way they could have.
His confessing to Micah that he wanted to propose to her earlier than he originally intended because she is “what I always envisioned” didn’t help alleviate those feelings of cringe I had that Chelsea probably wasn’t privy to these interactions pre-engagement. Sir was boo-hoo crying when Micah gave her official notice that she wanted to explore other connections (i.e., Paul) even though all the signs pointed to “Not Micah.” Honestly, how everything transpired gave me Jarette-Mallory-Iyanna teas from Love Is Blind Season 2, and I wish that on no woman. And I actually rock with Chelsea.
For that reason, the sweetness of what it should have been with Kwame’s proposal to Chelsea was a bit tainted. Chelsea said off-rip that she has never been with someone she could say in her “soul” that he is the person she wants to be with. It looks like Kwame could finally be that one. In all fairness, she is aware of his sadness over Micah “ending things,” but I’m certain she is not privy to the depths of all that transpired.
I just hope that by popping the question to Chelsea, he understands what he has and doesn’t get caught up in the shoulda, woulda, coulda of Micah that is sure to come in the episodes where the cast members inevitably interact with one another.
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Now that the unpleasantness is out of the way, let's segue into a palette cleanser, otherwise known as my girl in my head, Tiffany! Yes, she's my girl. There was something about her that made me connect with her most immediately of all the contestants shown. However, I probably have a lot less to say about her because she has quickly secured her position on my list of "Love Is Blind: Season 4 Unproblematic Faves." At 36, she is one of the older cast members of the season, and it is her age that she admits made her feel insecure about coming into the experiment.
Tiffany tells the camera at one point that being her age makes her nervous about still not having her person, but she is all-in with this love experiment because she doesn't have "to shift through the BS" that is the dating scene in 2023 or any era really. She knows that whoever she is talking to is just as ready for marriage as she is.
Early in the first episode, she confesses to Brett that her longest relationship was 2 ½ years and happened more than a decade ago. He quickly reveals a similar romantic history in his past, and you can tell it was a vulnerable moment for Tiffany. We see the relief wash over her that she made a similar connection with someone else on something she was ashamed about. It was at that moment that I felt it between her and Brett.
Though she talked briefly with Marshall, who was a lot younger than her, her primary connection would be with Brett. Each scene we watch play out on screen feels like the intentional unlocking of a new level of intimacy. Something about their shared values and the fact that maybe they have some similarities with what they've experienced in love makes my heart flutter a bit during their first meeting in the Pods, and much of that continues throughout their time in the Pods.
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Later in the episode, I love how Tiffany owned the fact that her ideas of what her partner "should be" might have stopped her from dating someone like Brett outside of the Pods just because he didn't have a degree or a linear career path, criteria that turned out to be superficial in the grand scheme of things.
Tiffany tells the camera she thought she knew what she wanted until she "met" Brett. The experiment shifted what she wanted in love and partnership, and what she loves about Brett is that she feels like she can be herself with him. That's a win right there.
Things take a dramatic turn at the end of the episode when Brett talks openly about his discomfort with the word " love, " and Tiffany falls into a deep, deep sleep! Brett felt a way and started to shut down after feeling hurt, even saying to his castmate afterward that he was "done." To be fair, I could tell they both were sleepy right before she fell asleep, so I don't think it was malicious, but I love that she owned up to her misstep in the next episode. (And I will also say that this type of low-stakes drama points to why Tiffany is an unproblematic fave of the season, just sayin'.)
But will it be enough to get him out of his feelings and onto one knee?
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Much like Tiffany, Brett had me at hello. One of my first times seeing him on the show was in the Pods with Tiffany, so maybe that’s where my bias begins. He was straight up in their initial conversation, where he touched on his “purpose” for being in the experiment. Brett wants a partner, and he wants an equal. Similar to Tiffany, he reveals in his first confessional of the season that he loves that the experiment allows them to move past the guessing game of what the other person wants out of getting to know one another.
“I’m looking for a partner, and Tiffany’s at the top of my list,” he tells the camera. There’s something about certainty in a man. It opens doors, it moves mountains, and it makes me fall in love with someone through a screen. And that is my first impression of Brett. That he knows what he wants, and there’s something really refreshing about that because I don’t think I see that as often in the male contestants unless it’s some type of messy love triangle type setup. In so many ways, he and Tiffany feel like a breath of fresh air. He is drawn to her loving and caring nature and also loves the fact that she sometimes finds motivation in being doubted because he is the same in some ways. In a very vulnerable moment during one of their first “dates” in the Pods, Brett asks to hear her story before opening up about his own upbringing and how their shared mentality connects them.
As he is detailing a tough upbringing, to see Tiffany close her eyes while listening to him recount a time when he felt shame as a child for not having certain things, the empathy was beautiful. Love was being made. After he finishes his literal rags to riches story, Tiffany is in awe. “You’re an amazing person,” she tells him. Brett is beaming like the sun as she says this. Love was being made, y’all.
It’s truly the synergy for me. You don’t really see much interaction between Brett and other cast members inside the Pods or Tiffany and other cast members. So you know that this is real. The fact that they are both feeling so strongly about each other. Brett admits to feeling scared, but I love that one of the cast members, Marshall, advised him to push forward and “take the leap.” “I’m starting to become aware of how into you I am,” he admits to her.After years of dating and not feeling particularly connected, he feels fully seen by Tiffany and that she accepts him for him, which is interesting because she said something similar about him in her confessional earlier in the episode.
Despite Brett feeling a way that Tiffany fell asleep during his in the Pods confessional, he ultimately feels she is the one and proposes! Sis makes him a better man, and in her, he also sees the man he wants to become. The proposal is so sweet, and I could be reaching, but I love that she wore pink and he was wearing yellow, which reminded me of the previous episode when they accidentally matched each other. It’s the synergy, baby!
Their first meeting was as cute and wholesome as their journey together has felt so far.
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Marketing Manager, 26
I can't be the only one who thinks Marshall gives Jesse Williams teas facially. I don't know about you, but when I turn my head to the side and squint my eye at the TV, I can see it. This is neither here nor there, but I had to clear the air. After not seeing much of him in the first episode, aside from the heart-to-heart message he delivered to Brett mentioned above in his time of need, in the second episode, we get more of a glimpse into his connections, particularly the one he has with Jackelina, who goes by Jackie.
In one of his very first scenes, we hear him describing Jackie as someone who is authentic and that she "feels like home" to him. And it's all real swoon-like. However, Jackie has options and is semi-entertaining Josh, who she also really vibes with. On the other end of that spectrum, Jackie is sir's #1, so this setup is feeling like yet another love triangle dynamic. Three in one season? Yes, that's where we are. Hell, there might even technically be four this season if I am counting correctly.
Marshall most definitely wears his heart on his sleeve, something he says to the camera in one of his confessionals. He is "bullied" by his emotions, in fact, his words, so I'm not surprised he is so passionate about Jackie and feels so strongly about their connection. The floodgates open early on when he and Jackie have a conversation about being raised "hard," and he recounts a moment when his father berated him as a child.
Jackie encourages him through his tears by saying he is a "good man" and that if she saw him on the side of the road, she would give him a dollar. Chile… "I wanna share my life with you," he tells her. It all sounds good, but there was something that felt a little off about their rapport. I can't quite put my finger on it, though.
Despite some reservations, Jackie does seem to be feeling Marshall and tells him that she will "break up" with her "other boyfriends" in the house for him. She says she gives him all that she comes with, 100%, which isn't a side of her anyone sees, so there might be something really special brewing there after all.
During a later date in the Pods, she admits to him that he is the only one that talks to her in an emotional way. "I want you to feel safe with me," he tells her. She has reawakened something in him, and he confesses to her that he is in love with her. IN LOVE, y'all. Jackie says nothing for a few beats before exhaling, "Oh my gosh," and then she goes into a download about a date she had with Josh earlier where he told her he would pack his bags and leave if he wasn't leaving the Pods with her.
Marshall hears this, and he gets hot. Meanwhile, I'm thinking to myself, is this the response to him telling you he's falling in love with you? If so, why? As a viewer, it felt like a deflection. But then she says that she didn't know how to tell Josh she was not going to be with him because of how hurt he was that Marshall was also into her. "I feel like I just ruined the moment," Jackie goes on to say about the moment transpiring between them. Bingo. Yes. And I think that was intentional.
At least Marshall wasn't born yesterday. In a lot of ways, sir seems wiser than his 26 years. And the fact that he notes Jackie brought Josh up to him because there is something there between them didn't fly over his head turns out. However, Marshall redirecting his upsetness to Josh felt like a choice, albeit the wrong choice. Jackie starts crying because Marshall seems mad at her. Chile…
"Be a man and talk to me," Marshall ends firmly in reference to Josh trying to talk to Jackie 'behind his back.' "I feel like I'm going to throw up," Jackie says through tears. What is this conversation about, bruh? Maybe it's the editors forcing that third love triangle I mentioned earlier, but the whole exchange felt off. When Jackie is crying on the couch with the other women moments later, it seems like she is overwhelmed by Marshall's emotions and feels forced to make a choice based on his declaration. My opinion, but I think that's why the conversation between them felt so awkward; she felt pressured to say certain things because of what he communicated so clearly and so effortlessly to her.
And I will delightfully skip over this forced pseudo-competition between Josh and Marshall because there's truly nothing to see here. To catch us up, though, Jackie explains to the camera that Marshall basically 'stepped' to Josh and 'let him know what's what,' and Jackie preferred not to see Josh again after that because she made her choice in Marshall because he "is just the better choice for me. He's gonna help me grow." Okay, sis! I do like when Jackie eventually admits she is going to have to "boss up" to be with Marshall. I appreciate the self-awareness there, at least.
I think some of my uneasiness in some of this couple's scenes is a maturity issue because I don't know how I feel about Marshall feeling like he has to check another man about getting rejected by Jackie versus Jackie rejecting that man for herself by herself... Like, whet? The difficult conversations I have seen some of the guys being really upfront about in the Pods when they've had to make another choice to pursue a different connection was needed here, but why did Marshall do Jackie's dirty work for her?
Of course, Marshall proposes to Jackie, and of course, she says yes. And no surprise there, but Marshall was utterly enamored with Jackie when they first met, and he matched the physical with the voice in the Pods. He called their first kiss "the best moment" of his life, and in her confessional, Jackie echoes much of the same, calling him a "good man" for her and saying that his vibe gave everything it was supposed to give.
It's something about how she talks about him and that repetition of him being a "good man" for her… Noted.
Sidebar: I'm not even gonna hold you. I love Brett and Marshall's friendship!
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