“The Ultimatum: Queer Love” Recap: The Dyke Drama Gets Steamier in Episodes 5–8

Welcome to a mega recap of episodes five through eight of The Ultimatum: Queer Love, the Netflix series that dares to ask the question: What if we get a bunch of monogamous queer couples together and pretended we invented polyamory but also made them, like, fake their way through being poly? For a refresher on the actual premise and/or a breakdown of what came in the first four episodes, revisit my previous recap.


The Ultimatum: Queer Love Recap – Episode 5

It was at this point in the series where I decided it should be renamed Gays Having Intense Conversations Under Fuzzy Blankets. As a reminder, everyone is still in the midst of their trial marriages to new people.

Xander & Yoly

Okay love birds! Here we open with an instance of Gays Having Intense Conversations Under Fuzzy Blankets, as Yoly and Xander — who I’m pretty sure has either a hickey or lipstick smudge on their neck — discuss the group night out gone wrong. Yoly reveals to Xander that Vanessa and Rae hooked up and that Vanessa said she has no sexual attraction to or romantic interest in Rae. It feels a LITTLE slut shamey, but also I do have to ask what were Vanessa’s motives for the hookup? Was it just to get off? That’s fine! Or was it to purposefully sow drama? Also…fine! By reality television standards, that basically counts as doing her job?

Xander and Yoly get lunch with Xander’s best friend Blair and continue to seem as if they’ve been dating for many months rather than a couple weeks! Xander talks to Blair about how she is ready to get married and have a family and how Vanessa isn’t ready for that. Yoly jumps in to say they’re already on the same page for a bunch of stuff, including what they’ll feed hypothetical children (vegetarian!). Blair says a few things that make it pretty clear to me…that she does NOT like Vanessa! She says it nicely and even says “I’m not saying I fully dislike her” but…I’m picking up what you’re putting down, girl. When Yoly leaves the table, Blair asks Xander if they’re in love, and Xander replies in the affirmative.

Yoly and Xander spend a date night doing tie dye, which is cute but messy to do indoors and not in the bathroom? I guess they put a sheet down, but I’m still concerned! They try to talk about the future, and Yoly brings up the fact that she falls in love easily, and Xander says she doesn’t but she also feels like they aren’t just a “byproduct of the experience” — the subtext being that this didn’t just happen because of the reality show premise. “I’ve known for a while that I love you,” Xander says.

On the beach for a day date, Xander fake-proposes to Xander with a Ring Pop. Listen…I know two dykes who did this same thing and then actually did get married a few years later, soooo!!!!!

Margaux the Frenchie is very sad that Xander is leaving Yoly! These two are the only ones who do an on-camera goodbye kiss. Xander tells Yoly she wants her to decide what’s best for her. Yoly talks about how easy and effortless this has been, and I would like to remind them all that it has been three weeks and furthermore three weeks away from regular responsibilities and bills. They also hook up one more time! Good for them.

Vanessa & Rae

When Vanessa and Rae have their own Gays Having Intense Conversations Under Fuzzy Blankets moment, Vanessa presents a not entirely truthful account of her argument with Lexi and the others. She says Lexi said that Rae was bragging about fucking Vanessa, and unless that was edited out, I didn’t see that! Rae, run away!

Vanessa and Rae hang out with Vanessa’s dad Mark, whose own attitudes about relationships clearly inform Vanessa’s. He quite literally calls marriage a “life sentence” and also that he thinks marriages should work like a “seven year lease.” I think it’s fine if Vanessa never wants to get married! It just means she needs to leave Xander.

Rae is already packing on her last night with Vanessa, almost like she can’t wait to get out of here. Vanessa is a last minute packer, because of course she is!!!!! Chaos demon!!!!! Rae admits that these next three weeks with Lexi are going to tell her a lot.

Mal & Lexi

Lexi quite literally cannot stop talking about Rae and Vanessa hooking up, and it’s starting to bother Mal a bit which is understandable! Lexi keeps trying to say it isn’t really about the sex but who it happened with. And I honestly just think Lexi isn’t comfortable with the thought of Rae hooking up with anyone else. Mal asks Lexi to please stop talking about Vanessa, and the two snuggle under the blanket on the couch together. Lexi promptly…starts talking about Vanessa again.

Mal and Lexi go out with LEXI’S PARENTS!!!! Who don’t seem at all confused or concerned about the premise of this series and just ask questions as if they are genuinely meeting their daughter’s new partner. Okay! When her parents ask how Rae is doing, Lexi at first seems like she’s going to avoid the question but then says Rae had a moment of intimacy with her trial wife. Lexi’s mom points out they were broken up when it happened, and you know what? Thank you Lexi’s mom. There aren’t really voices of reason on this show (other than cast members’ friends), but I do think Lexi’s parents actually offer some good relationship advice, including cautiously telling Lexi she probably isn’t ready to take the next step with Mal yet. Lexi’s dad is a jeweler and says he has seen all sorts of engaged couples through the years and sometimes it doesn’t really matter how long they’ve been dating.

Speaking of cast members’ friends who are voices of reason! Mal’s friend Alicia meets up with Mal and Lexi and is openly confused about what is happening, prompting Mal to say “this isn’t the Get Out movie.” Alicia says she’s confused because Yoly is her homie. Lexi is a stranger! And when Alicia finds out Lexi and Mal’s age gap, she calls it a cute red flag. She also points out that sometimes Mal’s kindness gets mistaken by people for a deep romantic connection. She understandably cares about Mal and about Yoly and their relationship. She has no allegiance to Lexi and nor should she! I love when these little pops of REAL reality come through.

Lexi initiates an intense conversation with Mal about soulmates, and they both agree people can have multiple soulmates. Lexi says she thinks Mal is one of hers. “That’s a lot of pressure,” Mal says. “How do you know that?” They both agree they’ve never met someone with whom it’s this easy three weeks in. When they get in bed, Mal confesses they tend to pull away from the people they love to protect themself. “Choosing you was easy,” Mal says to Lexi. “Having to let you go sucks.”

Mildred & Aussie

Aussie returns home to Mildred, and they both start recapping their nights, but when Mildred presses Aussie to talk about Aussie’s feelings and the conflicts they’ve been experiencing together, Aussie completely and totally shuts down. This is perhaps the worst match of the season. Mildred can be pushy, and Aussie can be avoidant. It gets to the point where Aussie walks out entirely — and then moves out, ending the trial marriage early and only leaving a brief note for Mildred. According to Mildred, this kicks up old baggage of having been abandoned by so many people in life. I don’t think that’s entirely fair to put on Aussie, a near stranger. But I also think Aussie could have been just a little more communicative. (I also just ultimately think Aussie is dealing with a lot of heavy gender stuff and that reality television isn’t the right place to process that.)

Tiff & Sam

Tiff and Sam claim they’re on much better footing these days, and they indeed banter about Disney princesses and sexy vs. unsexy names while driving, but it’s all very much a friendship vibe.

Sam and Tiff meet up with Tiff’s friend Natasha, and is it just me or SHOULD SAM HAVE LEFT WITH NATASHA? Natasha says that if Tiff’s relationship with Mildred isn’t working then they should end it (the subtext being…instead of joining a reality show). Natasha says point blank in testimonial that Tiff and Mildred aren’t right for each other because they break up and get together a lot and can’t communicate. Natasha asks if Sam and Tiff are hooking up, and they say no and immediately get shy. Natasha asks them to hold hands and when they refuse, Natasha holds Sam’s hand. SAM, LEAVE WITH NATASHA!!!!! IS THAT ALLOWED????

On their last night together, Sam sifts through the journal she has been keeping during The Process™ (drink!). They thank each other and joke about a ship name for themselves: “Stiff.” Sorry to say, but I am not shipping these two, mainly because I think Tiff has a lot of work they need to do on themselves. And also their chemistry together just has more of a giggly friends vibe.


The Ultimatum: Queer Love Recap – Episode 6

It’s time for everyone to go back to their original partners for a second three-week trial marriage with them! First, a family dinner hosted by straight host JoAnna Garcia Swisher. I like her dress, but I still don’t like that they couldn’t have tapped a queer host. They’re all asked to recount their trial marriages, and it’s basically just a recap of everything we already know with a few reveals.

Here’s what they go over in this opening sit down: Aussie walked out, and Mildred resents it. Tiff has anger issues they took out on Sam. Tiff then proves their own point by coming for Aussie in a weird way for “leaving” Mildred. Rae and Vanessa bond over…their selfishness? Rae and Vanessa also talk about their hookup, and Rae admits she wishes she had more of a spark with Lexi, and Vanessa again alludes to the fact that she might be poly.

Vanessa brings up that she and Xander had agreed to not do anything physical while here, which is a little shocking because they both sure did! Lexi still claims that if Rae had hooked up with anyone else she would have been fine with it, but I don’t entirely believe her (and I’m not sure she believes herself). Vanessa apologizes to Xander for not telling her about the hookup herself. Vanessa then reads something she wrote, which is going to become a theme! Vanessa apologizes to everyone for…not believing in marriage. Yoly calls the apology performative. Xander sticks up for Vanessa and says they should all be allowing for growth.

Mal brings up that they didn’t want to “consummate” a new relationship because it would confuse things for them. So I guess it wasn’t just Lexi’s fixation on Vanessa that led to them not hooking up. Xander and Yoly speak highly of their trial marriage, and Vanessa looks genuinely hurt throughout it. Xander says she has a lot of fun with Vanessa but that she’s looking for more at this stage of life, further emphasizing how badly she wants a family. Mal is hurt, too, and asks Yoly if she wants her to propose first. Yoly says she’s looking forward to seeing Mal’s growth, and Mal asks if she’s excited to come back to her. Yoly…kind of dodges the question! And just further talks about how good she and Xander were as a couple.

Vanessa asks them if Xander and Yoly were physically involved. Xander talks about the emotional connection they had and then says the physical attraction grew from that. So they also kind of dodge this question. Y’all know people are gonna see this on television, right! Vanessa admits she wasn’t expecting any of this, meaning she didn’t come into this expecting Xander would have a genuine connection with someone new. Vanessa says she has moved closer to the idea of marriage with Xander and it feels like Xander is retreating, and Xander counters by saying they feel like everyone here still has feelings for the person they arrived with but that there just might be new growth and new feelings in the mix. Xander says they want the experience of the trial marriage with Vanessa, and that seems to be exactly what Vanessa wants to hear.

Time to see how the trial marriages between original partners begin!

Lexi & Rae

Lexi says Rae doesn’t feel like the same person she gave an ultimatum to. She tells Rae she doesn’t trust her, and Rae says she’ll sleep on the couch.

Rae and Lexi go for a day date on the beach with tacos, and things are still really tense. Rae brings up that it was really hard for her to say yes to doing this, confirming my theory she didn’t really wanna be on reality television in the first place. Tacos on the beach quickly turns into processing and arguing on the beach :( Neither of them feel heard in the relationship. Lexi feels like a guest in Rae’s home. Rae feels like Lexi isn’t listening to her. I DON’T THINK THEY TAKE A SINGLE BITE OF A SINGLE TACO. The date ends with Rae crying, asking herself questions about who she is, what she wants, whether she loves herself, and whether she deserves love.

Lexi and Rae get dinner with Lexi’s parents, and Lexi continues to steamroll Rae. “You could’ve left at any point of time,” Lexi says. Her mom kind of joins in on this, and none of it seems entirely fair to Rae. But I also just think these two should split ASAP. Lexi says she feels betrayed by the hookup still, and Lexi’s dad gently brings up that they were on a break. Lexi reiterates that they didn’t have a pact to not do anything physical, BUT apparently Rae DID voluntarily promise she wasn’t going to sleep with Vanessa. So yeah it does sound like some trust was genuinely broken there.

Xander & Vanessa

When they get home, these two do a Long Gay Hug. Xander is overwhelmed by Vanessa’s sudden decision to want to marry her. Vanessa asks Xander how physical they got with Yoly, and Xander says they had sex, and then Vanessa bizarrely asks: “with mouths?” What an odd choice of words! She wants to know details, and Xander says she doesn’t want to share that, and Vanessa presses more. Vanessa gets into Xander’s lap. “Do you love Yoly?” Vanessa asks. “I don’t know,” Xander says. They kiss. I think Xander is easily manipulated by Vanessa and that this is a longstanding pattern!!!!

Vanessa confesses to Xander that she looked through Xander’s Instagram and saw that she had been messaging Yoly, including a selfie and “hot emojis” and “winky faces.” Vanessa says she feels stabbed over and over. This intense conversation is being had on a bench on a public sidewalk by the way. Xander says she wants Vanessa in her life. Vanessa says she feels a future with Xander and can see them being married. It just really seems like a situation where Vanessa didn’t want Xander until…she lost them! “I love you,” Vanessa says. “Say it back.” Finally, through tears, Xander says “me too.”

Vanessa pretty much confirms that she is drawn to Xander because Xander has pulled away from her in testimonial. Vanessa takes Xander on a surprise hot air balloon ride, where she delivers another one of her written speeches. The hot air trip is romantic but in a very fleeting way! The prepared speech is…fine? It’s still hard to not feel like Xander is being manipulated. I don’t think Vanessa actually wants the same things as her! It ends with Vanessa asking Xander not to talk to anyone else, and Xander promises.

Mal & Yoly

Mal holds precious Margaux, and Yoly is crying because she feels weird. “I had a whole ass relationship with someone else,” Yoly says. Mal asks if she’s mourning no longer coming home to Xander, and Yoly nods. Mal takes this in stride. Mal is without a doubt the most emotionally intelligent member of this cast. Yoly admits to Mal she fell in love with Xander. Yoly also tells them they had sex, and Mal asks her to clarify that she’s in love with Xander, and Yoly confirms it again. “I still love you,” Mal says, pointing out that Yoly gave her the ultimatum. “I think you deserve to be loved by this person,” Mal says, reiterating they aren’t going against Xander. Mal mentions they’ve been thinking about hitting up Lexi’s dad for a ring for Yoly. Yoly’s love for Xander is bringing up the exact anxiety Mal has had about their relationship: that Yoly falls hard and fast for people. Yoly, I think, is probably just poly! I think she genuinely wants to be with both Xander and Mal.

“You’re having a human experience, I don’t hate you for that,” Mal says. It’s just their ego that hurts. But they don’t unlove Yoly.

Yoly is working on a puzzle while Mal chills on the couch with Margaux. Mal says the only thing that isn’t confusing for them is that they love Yoly. Mal says she has always known she wants to get married but just drags her feet. Mal says they feel like they’re a damn good partner. Yoly says she needs security and support, especially if she’s bringing a child into this. She says she needs Mal to pick up and do errands around the house and stay on top of the toilet paper inventory. She basically wants Mal to think more about the household. Finally, some real shit! These types of arguments didn’t really make sense between strangers, but it makes sense for people who have been together a while. There seems to be some ongoing resentments about domestic tasks. This may seem boring, but this is actually the kind of drama I’m sometimes fascinated by.

Aussie & Sam

Sam tells Aussie she knows how to speak up now, and Aussie jokes she’s like a mini Mildred now. These two get right back to physical intimacy, and I love to see it! Aussie and Sam are having their first meal together, and Sam tries to talk about some real stuff. “Do you feel like you’re on track to get engaged yet?” she asks. Aussie says yes. Sam says it’s refreshing to have Aussie sit here and not walk away. It’s clear that’s a recurring pattern. Aussie immediately becomes activated and asks Sam to stop. “I’m getting hot,” Aussie says, and Sam offers to turn the air on. Aussie asks Sam not to bring Mildred into this. Sam tries to talk, but Aussie needs a moment. Aussie really does seem incapable of talking about any feelings. Sam says she used to let things slide and is now realizing her value and her worth.

Mildred & Tiff

Of course Mildred and Tiff waste no time before hooking up on camera. I think this is a kink of theirs! Mildred and Tiff meet back up with Natasha, who has some good questions again. Tiff and Mildred’s bad communication skills immediately are on display. Natasha asks them how often they break up and get back together. Tiff says at least once a week and then “at least 50 breakups” (they’ve been together for a year and 11 months). Mildred and Tiff say they went to couples therapy but that the therapist gave up on them.

Natasha talks about having been married and divorced and says they shouldn’t rush anything. Natasha also says the communication stuff won’t get fixed in 21 weeks and that it seems like Tiff is being pressured. Well yeah, an ultimatum is like the most extreme version of pressure!


The Ultimatum: Queer Love Recap – Episode 7

Trial marriages with original partners continue! We’ve got ten days until the ultimatum is ANSWERED!!! There’s a group hang! It gets messy.

Mal & Yoly

Mal wakes up early, feeds Margaux, and prepares some fresh strawberries and blueberries and yogurt for Yoly. It’s clear Mal has internalized what Yoly has expressed she wants. She also has been cleaning up. Yoly says this is all great in a roommate sense but that she wants it to feel more romantic. “In a romantic way, I’m having a hard time coming back to you,” Yoly says. They both reflect on the first night and morning together, and it’s really sweet. I don’t think these two are necessarily meant to be together, but I WANT MAL TO BE HAPPY!!!!!!!

Mal and Yoly go play pool, and they seem to be doing better on a flirty level. Then they go home and hook up. The intimacy is back!

At the group hang, Mal confronts Xander and asks if they choose Yoly, because Mal says they’ve chosen Yoly over and over again even thought the bad times, trauma, etc. Xander basically says they can’t choose right now, and Mal asks if Yoly knows that. They bring Yoly in, and Mal reiterates they’ve loved her at their worst. Mal asks again if Xander chooses her, and Xander says she’s choosing herself and that she hopes Yoly is choosing herself also. It’s not the decision night, Xander points out.

Mal and Yoly end the episode in a fight :( Yoly says she’s in love with Mal but the romance isn’t there for her, even after the hookup. Mal says she’s here and showing up. They promise to make it consistent. They want to try intimacy therapy but also don’t want to neglect themself. “Is Xander your hell yes?” Yoly says. Yoly doesn’t answer but does say it doesn’t seem as cloudy with Xander. Mal says she also deserves her hell yes. Mal is finally pushed to the point of crying finally and asks if Yoly wants them to be fighting for her. Mal walks out and has a bit of a meltdown, and I don’t blame them! She cries in the hallway and says she’s shutting down and is done. “I am done with this entire thing,” they say directly to the camera.

Aussie & Sam

“I think you’re on a track for being a really good househusband,” Sam says, and Aussie is like I’ve always wanted that. Sam says, though, that a househusband should do more than cook and do the dishes. Aussie talks about views on gender and gender roles and admits there have been some changes in recent days. “For me to feel masculine, which I do on the inside, I have to be the breadwinner,” Aussie says. It’s how Aussie was raised, but now Aussie isn’t so sure things have to fit that anymore. Sam appreciates this change and that it was recognized in the first place.

Eight days before the ultimatum is answered, Sam and Aussie meet up with Aussie’s brother Ron, and Aussie tells Sam Ron is the first person to use Aussie’s name rather than Aussie’s dead name.  I think Aussie very clearly has a lot of familial baggage. Ron uses she/her pronouns for Aussie even though according to a press release sent out by Netflix, Aussie’s pronouns are Aussie. Ron confirms Aussie isn’t out to their parents. Sam says she can’t imagine what that means for their future together. Her ex before also wasn’t out and it was hard having to pretend. Ron asks if Sam is actually leaving Aussie if there is no proposal, and Sam says yes.

At the group hang, they open up to Mal about things being good but hard.

Rae & Lexi

Ooo time for another session of Gays Having Intense Conversations Under Fuzzy Blankets! These two seem to be doing better! They’ve reconnected emotionally and physically, alluding to a hookup they had the night before. Lexi says she feels excited about “us” right now. WHERE DID ALL THESE PLUSH BLANKETS COME FROM? SHOULD I RANK ULTIMATUM BLANKETS? “The Brady to your Gronky” Rae says to Lexi in a sports metaphor I do NOT UNDERSTAND.

During the group hang, Rae and Lexi walk away from Vanessa right away. Rae makes a point to tell a story to Xander and Rae at the same time, and Lexi thinks it’s another one of Vanessa’s games.

After while debriefing, Lexi says Rae should have just been honest with Vanessa and told her she was avoiding her. Lexi wants Rae to set a firm boundary with Vanessa. She is, it appears, overreacting again. Rae points out Vanessa hugged Lexi first. “She clearly still has power in this relationship,” Lexi says, and Rae rolls her eyes. They’re not communicating well under this blanket.

Xander & Vanessa

Xander is being a good Grilling Gay making dinner for Vanessa outside on the patio and says it’s nice to feel like they’re dating each other again. My my my, these two have just fallen right back into each other’s arms.

Group hang time! Vanessa apparently had made a point to tell Mal over DM that Xander and Yoly have been communicating, and Mal says it feels manipulative. Mal says Yoly told her about it already. Mal says Vanessa thinks she’s a fire starter but is more like a fruit fly in testimonial. Mal says Yoly asked for a selfie, and Mal says Yoly didn’t tell her THAT PART. Yoly and Xander kind of act like they can’t remember this. Omg, be honest y’all! Xander excuses themselves from this mess to go take a shot.

Yoly and Xander end up reconnecting at the group hang, and it’s clear they’re both still hung up on each other. Xander asks Yoly if she got over them, and Yoly shakes her head and is on the precipice of tears. They’re still flirting a lot and at one point want to move to a spot where no one else can see them. Yoly also uses Mildred as an excuse to actually talk to and be close with Xander. Mal asks to step in and asks what Yoly wants, and Yoly says she doesn’t know. YOLY, BE HONEST WITH MAL! You should want to talk to Xander!!!

Back at home, Xander and Vanessa get under a blanket and process the evening, and Vanessa says she was upset about Rae not talking to her. I’m surprised she’s fixated more on this than on Xander and Yoly running around. “I was so proud every time I looked over at you tonight,” Xander says. Vanessa and Xander have sex at the end of the episode.

Mildred & Tiff

During a fireside chat with each other, things start off okay but then quickly veer left. “We don’t value each other’s voices,” Tiff says. Mildred takes Tiff saying she interrupts them a lot as not having permission to speak at all. They argue about they both talk a lot. It’s exhausting! Mildred says she is Latina and that in her family everyone speaks over each other. “You can stop being an asshole, but I can’t stop being Latina,” Mildred says. “Being respectful has no race,” Tiff says, adding they feel like she using her identity as a card. YIKES!!!!!!!!!! This is all bad. These two, I reiterate, should not be together!

The next time we see Mildred and Tiff, they’re making out and opening a bottle of wine poolside! I can’t keep up with these two! Actually, I can. I think they like to fight and then fuck to make up. Tiff says they feel like the one way they can show their love right now is to stay. Well, Mildred does indeed have abandonment issues. I still don’t think this means they should be together though! It sounds codependent as hell.


The Ultimatum: Queer Love Recap – Episode 8

The second trial marriages are finally coming to an end! Pretty soon, people will have to make choices!!

Tiff & Mildred

Tiff and Mildred take their beloved dogs to the beach. Tiff says they should have alone dates sometimes. Mildred talks about her son, who is 16, and she asks Tiff what it looks like for them when times get stressful with him. Tiff discloses in testimonial that Mildred’s son has a disability. They speak highly of Mildred as a parent. The dogs interrupt the date with a sand attack.

On the last night of their trial marriage, Mildred says she wants to stay in and cuddle and talk about life. Tiff admits they weren’t deeply thinking about marriage before the experience but now are. Mildred says she married her ex wife because she trusted her, and this confuses Tiff, who says it’s scary that Mildred married her wife who she was never in love with. Tiff is worried Mildred might not actually love them. Mildred says it isn’t fair for Tiff to bring Mildred’s past into this. They are, of course, under a blanket during this conversation.

Aussie & Sam

Aussie and Sam go out with Sam’s friend Sharmaine, and things go south quickly. Sam talks to Sharmaine about how Aussie doesn’t communicate, and Aussie admits to being short while stressed. “You’re so in your head you don’t even know what’s happening,” Sam says. Aussie denies this, and the old pattern starts resurfacing. Aussie brings up that Sam doesn’t seem different. “I’m saying the new Sam might be overcompensating for her own needs which were not being met prior,” Aussie says. It’s tough to watch them fight in front of a friend!

Sharmaine tries to reel it in and calls Aussie out for calling Sam’s feelings bullshit. Aussie gets up and walks away. Sharmaine goes outside to be with Aussie, who is sitting on the curb very emotional. “Maybe I’m not good enough for her,” Aussie says. Aussie feels dismissed, and a lot of anger and hurt comes through. Aussie says Aussie was blamed for a lot of things as a child. “I fucking didn’t do shit,” Aussie repeats over and over again. It’s clear there’s a lot of trauma resurfacing. Sharmaine holds Aussie, and Sam comes out and looks around for Aussie, who has already left in a production van.

Later, Aussie opens up about the childhood feelings resurfacing. “You’re going through a lot of really heavy stuff,” Sam says. She adds marriage is about growth and that they can’t have unrealistic expectations of this experience. Aussie says “I love you” to Sam but also “I don’t feel safe with you just yet.” Sam says that isn’t easy for her to hear. “A lot of things that you do come off as selfish,” Sam says. Sam asks how the situation is going to change, and Aussie says the answer is obvious but then doesn’t say what the answer is. Aussie calls the question dumb. Again, the communication falls apart. Aussie calls Sam “mate,” which upsets Sam. Aussie, surprise surprise, walks away! Aussie removes a mic pack, and Sam says she doesn’t want this in a marriage. Aussie leaves the apartment entirely.

Aussie opens up in testimonial and is able to access emotions more easily here. I think Aussie needs therapy and also to wait on marriage, which might mean a break from Sam or losing Sam altogether, but I think it’d be for the best for them both. Aussie does come back and apologizes.

Sam admits to Aussie that sometimes she can physically feel the walls Aussie puts up. Aussie commits to hearing more of Sam’s needs. Aussie needs to achieve self love in order to love Sam more. Aussie expresses embarrassment about Sam meeting Aussie’s parents. It does seem they both need to talk about this aspect a little more before marriage.

Rae & Lexi

These two are communicating better, for now. They both agree that they don’t wanna be the type of married couple that plays games.

On their last night together, they go out to a restaurant. Lexi reminisces on an early date when she had handwritten a menu for their dinner together. Lexi says she has always known Rae is the one for her. I just realized she was only 21 when she and Rae got together. Lexi says she needs more concrete answers, and Rae admits to still going through some uncertainty. She says forever is hard.

Vanessa & Xander

Vanessa’s father is back for a hang. Vanessa tells her dad she wants to marry someone and have a kid and that she can see it with Xander, who talks about how a month ago they thought they were going to figure out stuff in their relationship with Vanessa during this process. She tells Vanessa’s dad about her connection with Yoly and how easy and natural it was. Vanessa’s dad admits he has been in situations where he tried to win someone back who was pulling away and that it was based on his ego. He seems to be warning Vanessa she might be doing the same thing.

On their last night together, Vanessa and Xander have a quiet night on the couch talking about their feelings. My god, the processing is next level on this show, but I suppose that is entirely the point! Vanessa says she feels like she didn’t know how to love before. “I’m not over this yet,” Xander says. They hook up on their last night.

Mal & Yoly

Mal and Yoly meet back up with Mal’s friend Alicia and tells her about falling in love with Xander, and Alicia is rightfully confused. She says she’s in shock and that Mal is Yoly’s person. Mal admits to feeling bamboozled, and Alicia says it doesn’t sound real. “It never made me feel like I loved Mal any less,” Yoly says. “No no no no no,” Alicia says. “How does three weeks measure up to three years?” Yoly says she can’t necessarily see starting a family with Mal and is unsure what kind of parent they’ll be, and Mal brings up that she’s a godparent to multiple children and Yoly is not.

Yoly brings up that Xander and her already talked about their finances and how Xander has an account with a lot of savings for urgent expenses. Mal says this is the first time she has heard this and now it’s making more sense why Yoly fell in love so quickly. Yoly accuses Mal of not saying up for IVF. Yoly walks away, and Alicia and Mal agree that this entire situation is trash. Mal asks if Alicia would still approve if she proposed, and Alicia pauses for a while. “What is best for Mal?” she finally says.

Yoly says she wants their last night together to be peaceful and full of love. Yoly also says she wants pizza, and Mal says that’s her sad girl food (GIRL SAME). Mal says Yoly feels like home to her. Yoly admits the trial marriage started hard and that she was mad at Mal but that Mal has been showing up even more than she asked for.

The Decision

The Decision teeeechnically starts in this episode, but it’s really just a tease. Mal and Yoly are the first couple up, and Yoly rides in the car on the way to meet Mal at the gazebo where everyone will either get engaged or break up. They both look great! They’re both very nervous!

“I just want you to know that I’m still in love with somebody else,” Yoly tells Mal during their sit down. Mal says she wrote her something and reads it. It sounds very much like a proposal……………AND IT IS!!!! Mal proposes, and Yoly is crying, and we do not get to see her decision UNTIL NEXT WEDNESDAY WHEN THE FINAL TWO EPISODES OF THE ULTIMATUM: QUEER LOVE DROP.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 814 articles for us.

29 Comments

  1. My running takes were:
    1) Justice for Sam! Sam deserves so much better than honestly Aussie or tiff
    2) justice for Mal with a small side of stupid games (the ultimatum) win stupid prizes (a messy 24yo proclaiming you are soulmates)
    3) am I in love with mal?
    4) nooo Xander nooo

  2. I want to say I love the friends and family brought on and would love more footage of Alicia and Natasha period!!

    I actually started watching the original straight season and compared to what I’m up to on that with Madlyn’s arc (who does not get a villian cut at all from what I’ve seen), Vanessa just comes off as a bit flawed. I’m neither a stan nor hate her, I think there is situations where it feels like the rest of the cast is reacting to an outsized way to her, but there are times where she does stir the pot or is too afraid of losing Xander and overcompensates in what can be perceived as a manipulative- I’m on the fence if it’s consciously calculated and maybe she is trying to embrace something that might not fit her because she might mistake that for truly loving someone, and her talking about feeling guilty about not sharing the amount of love she is capable of out of fear could be real processing on her part. They both could both move on with that in mind on good terms and they don’t need to leave this engaged, and I think how I land on her fully will depend on the finale.

    On the other hand, Lexie comes off as someone who did pick up on Vanessa’s flaws but not cognizant of the ways she herself is immature, unreasonable, and pushy because she can cover it up with authoritative Mock Trial Voice and misapplied therapy speak. She projects an aura of someone mature and goal-orientated go-getter when she’s actually just reactive and inflexible. Like I feel bad for Rae for being steamrolled and don’t blame her for just wanting to blow off some steam with someone willing to fulfill the fun friend role for a few weeks, especially if Lexie is basically goes into great detail planning her life wih someone else and telling her parents she could see herself with Mal after three weeks. It actually comes off as more honest compared to Lexie talking out of both sides of her mouth when it came to what she wanted without elaborating if she was actually torn between two people or not (i.e. like Yoly’s genuine conflict between Mal and Xander). Like, you’re going to shame Rae for a hook-up but plan your kids with Mal and then act like that was never a thing as well without batting an eye? If we accept Rae “cheated” by overpromising but still having a unromantic physical encounter while literally on a designated break, it seems like Lexie wanted it both ways herself by having such an intimate relationship with Mal (including once again introducing Mal to her own parents as a whole-ass option for actual marriage after three weeks) and that should count as an affair she’s getting away with. But, of course, it wouldn’t be because thats the show they signed up for: where couples switch partners, share one bed (or have a couch available), and could consent to greater intimacy or outright sex with that person in said bed because they agreed to a have an *official* break from their original partner. The fact that Lexie only chooses to remember this when its convenient for her and not just expresses the uncomfortableness of the dynamic but punishes Rae constantly for going along with the premise of the show. It is just so hypocritical and insufferable. Rae seems legitimately lost and it’s not hard to put together why she hasn’t found herself alongside someone like Lexie.

    Also the seeming pronoun inconsistency is addressed in an interview with the executive producer: https://variety.com/2023/tv/news/ultimatum-queer-love-vanessa-villain-straight-host-1235624323/
    Short version was some members of the cast being flexible with pronoun usage on- and off-camera along with Aussie specifically not going by just Aussie in all situation during the taping. In retrospect, maybe some kind of title card saying there is a difference between pronouns when filmed/ usage now could have been put in the beginning as a caveat for the discrepancy?

    • Yes, I absolutely can’t understand how the one off hook up is getting so much air time and outrage but like…she planned a whole life with Mal?! And then just… acted like it never happened?! Utter hypocrisy. I feel like the emotional intimacy is way more like cheating for me. This show is wild.

  3. My predictions, even though I don’t remember who gave the ultimatums to who:

    – Mal proposes to Yoly (clearly) but Yoly chooses Xander.
    – Xander chooses Vanessa instead, even though they are terrible together.
    – Lexi and Rae break up as they should.
    – Aussie and Sam will stay together, but-
    – Mildred and Tiff will also stay together but-

    I mean *all* these people should break up, frankly. What kind of happy marriage begins on an ultimatum? But reality TV has to reality TV and my wife and I are hate-watching it, so here we are!

  4. Am I the only one who feels like the attempts to paint Vanessa as a villain grew increasingly tired and overplayed with this episode drop? I often felt like we’d constantly see a scene where everyone dog-piled her for the suggestion thing A may happen, then someone else would say they actually did thing A, and everyone would be cool with it. Or, in my favorite blatant bad edit moment, at an event everyone shamed her constantly about sex, and when after that party she was curious if others had had sex, it was framed as if she was sex obsessed when she literally just spent an evening being endlessly shamed. The harder the show pushes her as a villain, the more I simply was not feeling it.

    Alternatively, the more time we spend with her, the more Lexi comes across as a super immature early 20 something desperately trying to pretend to be more adult than she is. She’s fixated on Vanessa in a way that often veers into bullying when they are at events with one another, and the way she feels entitled to control if Rae so much as interacts with her made my skin crawl.

    • Honestly agreed- there are aspects of Vanessa that are unsympathetic and growth could be made, but having pretty much the whole group take it so personally that she even exists rather than responding to specific moments or comments was…a lot. If Vanessa is flawed, then the hypocritical pile-ons is also an example of everyone else’s flaws. And without going on again about Lexie, you definitely nailed what’s uncomfortable about her role on the show.

  5. This is terrible for emotional virgin butches everywhere like Xander is like what if himbo butch was a golden retriever was sadly coming back to femme mistreating it like sick puppy

  6. LOVING this show! Finished binging it yesterday only to discover the final two episodes weren’t out yet. 😭😭

    One thing I think didn’t get enough acknowledgement is how perfect Vanessa and Rae actually were for the trial wife thing. Rae needed someone that wouldn’t ask too much of her emotionally than she was able to give, and Vanessa needed someone who would be honest and not codependent (and not ask for monogamy/commitment). …ofc they then immediately went back to trying to make it work in their bad relationships with other people lol.

    Anyway, go for it Xander and Yoly (I just know Xander is looking for that exit ramp, and Yoly and Mal are clearly just friends at this point). Team Sam and Natasha as well haha, I loooooved Natasha’s whole vibe and look and Sam deserves so much better, she is far too patient!

  7. the one thing that confused me in this batch was sam and aussie… how are you with someone for years and don’t know they’re not out to their parents ? but also these episodes totally turned me into a vanessa apologist… they were truly so mean to her for no reason, some of the jokes she made that were framed as “off” were actually genuinely funny, and while i definitely do still see her manipulating xander, i feel like now that we actually get to see them as a couple it’s really clear that they’re both contributing to and actively choosing an unhealthy dynamic. i actually feel the dynamic between lexi and rae is way more troubling, because lexi seems genuinely unaware of her own pushiness (and honestly straight up bullying rae) and rae clearly doesn’t see it as an issue either since she referred to herself as the selfish one in their relationship. my ranking of worst to best og couples: mildred/tiff, rae/lexi, sam/aussie, xander/vanessa, mal/yoly. that said, mal and yoly still shouldn’t be together all of these people need to break up lol. mvp is mals best friend for immediately stopping the mal/lexi relationship in its tracks when they’d both clearly gotten carried away having fun together without thinking about whether they could work in the real world!

  8. One thing to add–I can’t believe that Lexi was trashing Vanessa for being an “influencer” when she has 600k instagram followers and onlyfans content. I feel very suspicious of Lexi.

    • there is a really fascinating like, inverted mirror between Vanessa and Lexi. I definitely think a lot of Lexi’s almost obsessive hatred for Vanessa is a product of them being so similar to one another.

  9. Woah! I have a lot to say.

    -Aussie’s trauma responses are so intense, it’s hard to watch. Aussie was acting really hurtfully to Sam. I desperately want Aussie to go to therapy so Aussie can learn not to react to people expressing needs in the present moment as if they were whoever hurt or abused Aussie in the past.

    – Justice for Sam!! She deserves better than all her trial spouses’ nonsense.

    -Lexi comes off as increasingly immature in this episode drop. The way she acts as if she can control Rae is not okay. I think, on some level, Rae may have hooked up with Vanessa just to act out against Lexi’s impossible expectations of her. I wish Rae could have room to come into herself, which probably can only happen if she’s by herself.

    -I can’t help myself, I really want Xander and Yoly to be together. I’m obsessed with them. Mal deserves somebody who is unambiguously into them, so maybe Yoly is not the one. Mal is a star and I also want to see them thriving, but that will probably be away from any of the contestants on this show.

    -I do think Vanessa is saying she wants marriage and kids because she finally got a taste of the fact that Xander has other options. She really took Xander for granted in the beginning, doubting they could ever connect with anybody besides her. I think she realized that Xander is okay without her, and (maybe unconsciously) is backtracking to keep from losing Xander. But it’s too late.

    -Tiff and Mildred are next-level toxic. I don’t even need to tell y’all, you already know.

  10. yeah, binged this entire show in two days – it is so so good. I tried to watch the straight version just for comparison, and the difference in emotional maturity is truly staggering. *spoilers* but in the straight version, TWO COUPLES suddenly decide to get married at the ‘the choice’ dinner rather than see their partner get partnered w/ someone else.

    honestly I have no original thoughts, but to echo everyone else: Sam deserves someone who can match her level of communication and patience; Xander and Rae both need to move on to better partners for them; and I don’t envy Yoly’s choice! I think Yoly should choose Mal, bc I’m in agreement w/ Mal’s friend (who I love) that they’ve got real history together and the show’s premise is ludicrous.

    I know Vanessa has been a contentious person, but I truly *cannot* stand her. she reminds me so much of my hyper-manipulative ex. my ex would also poo-poo any interests I developed outside of the relationship (like when Vanessa basically pathologized Xander’s desire for Yoly), and as I result I developed a split self. I was one person when I was with them, totally devoted to making them happy and saying all the right things – as I think Xander is doing in the second trial manager – while also cultivating a separate person who nurtured interests in other people – evidenced by Xander’s clear love for Yoly, who they would drop Vanessa for at the drop of a hat. maybe I’m projecting but I think Vanessa is deeply manipulative and I want Xander free of her. I also think, though, that Xander shouldn’t be with Yoly bc of the aforementioned ludicrous premise of the show.

    • Yes! With you on your analysis of Vanessa. I’m sure there’s some editing going on but she has so many clear cut moments of being manipulative, downright cruel, and just completely unable to see past the end of her own nose and extend empathy to others. She too reminds me of an old (friend) relationship, where I was just not allowed to have anything going on in my life, good or bad, because that took attention away from her, and if she wasn’t getting attention she was going to make everyone miserable. I think Vanessa’s refusal to commit pre-experiment and now her basically cornering Xander and demanding that commitment to her is such a red flag!

  11. Can you imagine the super maturity and next level communication of a Sam/Mal matchup??? I don’t remember seeing them interact so maybe there’s no chemistry there but I also think they’d be very cute lol

    • I feel like I’m going crazy because I don’t see Mal as close to an ideal partner. She made three disrespectful comments about Yoly—in the lead interview she said she was using her for her work discount; she acted shocked when Xander didn’t have any complaints at the first group date; and she later told Xander she’d dealt with Yoly’s mess and trauma. That’s not a respectful way to speak about your partner, period.

      This is in addition to the fact that Yoly has to clean up after her, and they seem to have different sex drives. Mal’s physical attractiveness and masc presentation is giving them way too many passes for my liking.

  12. My top three ships: Aussie/therapy, Rae/privacy, Sam/endless joy.

    A close contender: Lexi/[realizing she’s actually very similar to Vanessa and integrating that with compassion]

  13. Loving Alicia and Natasha! It is refreshing to see people who are a grounding element in this ridiculous show and call out the ridiculous premises.

    I find it sad that there is no Butch4Butch or masc/masc love :(

    Mildred’s communication is terrible and she has become a big red flag to me. The way she and Tiff speak to each other is just so incredibly toxic.

    I actually applauded Aussie for walking out on Mildred and also moving out given the way Mildred spoke with/yelled at Aussie during the trial marriage. However in Aussie’s interaction with Sam, it’s a different story. It seems that Aussie gets activated so quickly and is too much in Aussie’s trauma response modus to actually hear what Sam has to say. It appears that Aussie has a lot of trauma bagguage and I want Aussie to working through it in therapy instead of doing this reality TV show. It is a pattern for Aussie to walk out during conflict, and I want Sam stop being the support femme and find someone who is willing to have the difficult conversations with her… and also find a partner who WANTS to get married and is not pressured into it with an ultimatum.

    In the beginning, Vanessa was like “oh yeah I wanna date and people fall in love with me quickly and Xander will not find anyone” but now that Xander and Yoly have fallen for one another, she makes this U-turn and speaks about marriage and kids and it seems so clear how much ego there is! I mistrust big life decisions that are made so quickly, especially when a person did not want to do sth until something changed. Also the balloon ride and speech – a big gesture that is so common in relationships with an abuser or manipulator or something of the sort.

    So I am shipping Yoly and Xander even though it has been only three weeks outside of every-day-life. They have such a vibe, there is something! I want Xander to get away from Vanessa… and I don’t want Mal to be sad, but Mal is right, Mal deserves a “Hell Yes”, too, and I want that for Mal.

    Rae was right that Lexi was more fixated on Vanessa than to make things work with Rae.

  14. Honestly I wonder if part of Lexi’s issue here (besides her being 24 and not actually being as emotionally mature as she thinks she’s being) is that she herself was really attracted to Vanessa, and IS still attracted to Rae? Obvs I don’t know these people, but I think your partner mutually being into someone you dislike (but had chemistry with) might make someone feel that it reflects poorly on their own tastes or decisions.
    If my partner hooked up with someone who I thought was deceitful, cruel, or obnoxious, and my partner justified it with “I think we’re really compatible with a lot of similar outlooks on things,” then I think I would start worrying like…oh, are these flaws in my partner that I hadn’t noticed before? What does it say about me that I’ve picked a partner who says they’re really similar to someone I don’t like? What does it say about me that I was also attracted to this person before we had a big argument that put me off them?

    Having said that, I don’t see Lexi and Rae’s relationship working out because Lexi sounds like she’s just not going to drop this, ever. “[Vanessa] clearly still has power in this relationship,” Lexi says – yeah, Vanessa does still have power in this relationship, because Lexi’s just GIVING her all that power! Rae and Vanessa barely even looked at each-other during that group hang, and Lexi was still acting like Vanessa was actively doing things to sabotage their relationship out of malice – she sounds like she’s painting Vanessa as some kind of evil genius when she’s not. I get that there’s genuine feelings of betrayal and hurt here, but I don’t think “This woman clearly has an evil plot to RUIN MY LIFE” is a reasonable, mature way of interpreting your partner giving someone a hug in greeting and then not talking to them for the rest of the evening, you know?

  15. I think there might be a few mix-ups with names in this article (or at least, I was confused):

    Episode 7:
    – “Is Xander your hell yes?” Yoly says. Yoly doesn’t answer but does say it doesn’t seem as cloudy with Xander”
    → Mal asked the question, not Yoly.

    – “Mal says Yoly asked for a selfie, and Mal says Yoly didn’t tell her THAT PART.”
    → Vanessa said that Yoly asked for a selfie

    Also:
    “Yoly accuses Mal of not saying up for IVF” – saving up? English is not my first language, and maybe I didn’t understand it correctly.

    Kayla, your recaps of this show are so funny and great, and I agree these episodes should be called “Gays Having Intense Conversations Under Fuzzy Blankets.”
    There are so many highlights in the way you summarize all these weird interactions. Thanks for recapping!

  16. “I’m surprised she’s fixated more on this than on Xander and Yoly running around.”
    Actually, this did not surprise me because Vanessa is like “ME! ME! ME! ME! ME!” all the time and Rae didn’t fall enough for her, which appears to have hurt Vanessa’s ego; and from what I’ve seen so far and grown to believe, Vanessa’s self-involvement is bigger than her love for Xander. Also, I guess Vanessa has her hooks in Xander again and feels more sure that Xander will choose her, Vanessa.

  17. Vanessa and Lexi are both the worst! I am so invested in Xander and Rae getting away from them and will be really upset if these couples do not break up. (especially Xander though because Yoly and Xander were so cute together)

    Mal confuses me because she seems emotionally mature on the surface…but went head over heels envisioning a future with a 24 year old after knowing her for like one day, while also critiquing Yoly for falling in love too fast??? Mal & Yoly seem mis-matched and should probably just be friends – and in fact I am wondering if Mal is holding so hard to their relationship with Yoly because they value the friendship a lot and are scared to lose it since Yoly reportedly is never friends with exes.

    Obviously Tiff and Mildred need a lot of therapy/lessons on communication, but Aussie came off as pretty passive-aggressive early on in that scene where Aussie accused Mildred of saying things to make Aussie look bad on camera and then refused to elaborate or continue the conversation. Yeah, Mildred raising her voice, but you don’t throw out accusations like that and then bail from the conversation! Aussie is definitely not ready to be in a relationship.

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