Will Catfish Broker Peace Between Lucas And The Many Ladies He's Known Online?
Instagram and Tinder dreamboat Lucas can't stop catching women in his thirst traps. But is he what he seems?
Jayme, a twenty-nine-year-old ex-Playboy model/current exotic dancer and mother of two in Portland, OR.
That's Max, having fun with the "fireman's pole" in Jayme's kids' playroom.
Lucas, formerly of St. Louis but just moved to Portland for an internship; Jayme met him on Tinder six months ago. (How does that work? Isn't Tinder for people who are near you?)
Even though he moved six miles away from Jayme, Lucas never managed to meet her in person. Since Jayme's friends are fans of the show, they showed her how to do a reverse image search, and she discovered that his photos were stolen from some guy named Trey. She was also contacted by another one of Lucas's female followers, warning her that Lucas wasn't legit -- but that warning came after Jayme had already sent Lucas "private photos" of herself.
Reasonably, Jayme is pretty sure she's not the only one Lucas rooked into doing that.
None offered: Jayme hasn't told Lucas she's figured out he's a phony; she's contacted the show because she wants to confront him in person. (However, she also thinks he may suspect that she knows.)
As mentioned above, Jayme's friends are as savvy as Nev and Max (and far more savvy than Jayme): they've set a lot of traps Lucas has been caught in, which means that half the investigation is done before Max and Nev even get Jayme's letter. For example: one night when Jayme and her friends got back from a bar, they were tipsy enough to challenge Lucas to send them a Snapchat of himself pointing one finger and, in his other hand, holding a piece of paper with their names written on it. And he did. "Who can fake a Snapchat?" asks Jayme -- rhetorically, because the answer is that Lucas can, and did. The reverse image search led to Trey, whose Instagram featured a lot more photos of himself than Lucas's did. And as it happened, that same day was when Jayme heard from Urszula, another one of Lucas's victims.
Nev and Max start -- still at Jayme's, and with her by their side to compare story points -- by videochatting with Urszula. Unsurprisingly, her journey with "Lucas" has similarities with Jayme's: Lucas was living in Missouri when he first met Urszula on Tinder; I gather that she was and still is in New York, since that's where Lucas told her he was about to move for an internship. But when she booked a flight to go see him in St. Louis, he admitted that he'd stolen someone else's photos, and she didn't go. Urszula also sent Lucas what she terms "intimate photos and videos." Her impression is that Lucas connects to women online, gets them to send him nudes, and then blocks them: "He's probably still doing that." Jayme says he did block her. But Urszula has been a real crusader against this guy, contacting as many women among Lucas's female followers as she could, so now she's going to be part of the imminent confrontation too.
When they've ended the call with Urszula, Nev, Max, and Jayme start sleuthing together. The only information they get off his phone number is that it belongs to a Zac, no last name, in St. Louis. A trip through the St. Louis Zacs on Facebook seems like it's going nowhere until Jayme sparks at one whose cover photo is Lorde-related; she remembers that Lucas was way into Lorde. So this seems like a probable match for the supposed Lucas.
Zac's Facebook photo indicates that his college major is Cyber Security, which combined with the Lorde evidence seems to convince Nev and Max that this Zac is Jayme's Lucas. Jayme immediately starts crying that this is "so gross," and I don't want to say that she might not be as appalled if Zac looked less like Patton Oswalt than like Trey...
...but it's hard not to suspect. Anyway, Max agrees that it's "gross," "selfish," and "twisted," before Nev recommends breaking until Urszula arrives the next day. But on their own in the car, Nev and Max agree that they need to see Lucas's account -- and since he's blocked both Jayme and Urszula, they'll need to get some of the cute women on the Catfish production crew to act as online honeypots, basically. It will not surprise you to learn that Lucas is so addicted to strange that he falls for it!!!! Or, he's actually the one who contacted the show. Regardless of how it came about: when they look at his Instagram followers, they're all women. He's got a type! And it's...women!
Max and Nev get Urszula from the airport and bring her to a coffee shop where Jayme is waiting. There, Urszula tells more of her story: Urszula didn't just send Lucas nudes; they also had phone sex, kind of a lot. (Jayme says that she did too, but only once -- or only once that she'll admit to.)
Max and Nev then walk Urszula through the little new information they turned up with Jayme the day before, and Urszula confirms that when she got Lucas to admit he'd been lying, he'd sent her a photo of himself that's on Zac's Facebook profile. Ding! When the guys tell both women about the production trap, and that it showed them Lucas last posted a photo seventeen hours ago, Urszula is shocked: when she busted him, he told her he wasn't going to do it anymore. Oh, honey. She adds that when she asked him why he was doing all this, "he called us an experiment." Ooh! Shades of "Jennifer & Skylar"! AND, he told Urszula that he had "catfished over 400 girls." Even Max, who's seen it all at this point, is aghast.
And right on cue, Nev gets a text from someone at the production saying they've just heard from a Sarah, yet another woman who has suspicions about a Lucas in Missouri. Over FaceTime, Sarah basically repeats Jayme and Urszula's story with a different place name; now she's going to be getting in on this ambush too.
But FIRST: Nev and Max borrow a phone from Tenesha, the producer who got Lucas to follow her, and record a video message on it for her to disseminate to Lucas's followers, letting them know what's actually going on.
Nev, Max, Jayme, Urszula, and Sarah all to meet up in St. Louis. In their hotel room, they all take a photo together to send to "Lucas," letting him know his scheme has been exposed; Nev texts it to him with the request that they meet. An indeterminate length of time later, Zac texts back:
Nev and Max have both really seized on Jayme's word for all this -- "gross" -- and I'm not saying it isn't gross, but Nev is really overplaying how creeped out he is. It's not like Zac sent back a dick pic. What is gross is that he apparently doesn't know how to use apostrophes. Anyway: they've got an address, and off they go. As they all pile into the SUV, we get a montage of some of the women who've sent Tenesha their own video testimonials about Lucas's deception. It's not 400? But it's a bunch.
The women hang back in the driveway while Nev approaches the door alone. Who comes out?
Duh. Nev gives him the chance to speak first before he and Nev's Angels tear him up. Zac's seen the show before, so he knows how to fake contrition LIKE HE HAS FAKED EVERYTHING ELSE as he says his real name is Zac, and that he's been "Lucas" for a year: "I was curious about someone who was as attractive as Lucas, the kind of reception they would get on Tinder, versus Zac, myself. I started to really enjoy the attention I was getting from people I'd never gotten attention from before." I imagine he did enjoy the "attention" if that's his code word for "noodz." When Urszula and Jayme ask how many women he duped, he confirms the previously mentioned figure of 400, which, if he was trying to make it seem as though he had been conducting an experiment -- you know, for science -- I have no idea why he actually said the real number. Or maybe that one is low! Because let's be real: he's presenting himself as a harmless, socially awkward schlub, which is only part of his story; he's clearly also a sociopath and possibly a sex addict.
Anyway, Jayme is stunned to hear him say the number himself, exploding, "That's disgusting!" "I mean, that's one of the blunders of online dating, is, um, you start talking to these people casually and that--" Sarah interrupts (annoyingly, because I really wanted to know which aspect of his scheme he was about to characterize as a "blunder" -- just a little gaffe, a whoopsie-daisy!) to call him out for his Photoshopping, which obviously proves intentionality and not mere error. Zac says he knows his behaviour's not okay, but when Urszula asks why he did it, then, he can only stammer that he thought at the time it was okay. Jayme wants to know if Zac's ever been hurt like he hurt these three (and the scores of others): "Like, has anybody ever crushed you?" "Maybe once," says Zac. "Twice." I don't want to be unkind and guess that's every time Zac tried to have an IRL relationship, but...you know. This isn't about Zac, though, because Jayme's actually just testifying, as she says she's been hurt a lot: "I didn't need somebody else to come along and manipulate me and take time away from my kids? And my family." I can't speak for Zac -- who is pure toad, by the way -- but I'll admit that I'm not that moved by the romantic disappointments claimed by a sometime Playboy model. Like, earlier she said she has trouble finding guys to date her because she has kids. I DOUBT IT.
Then we move into the psychological portion of the conversation: does Zac appreciate the way he violated people or the boundaries that he crossed? Seems like not really, because when Nev specifically brings up Zac's practice of "soliciting naked photos," Zac coolly says he'd like to address that: "I can't just stand here and say, like, that wasn't interesting, because that was. But that wasn't the point." LOL, maybe not at first? But I think when you start getting into the hundreds of solicitees, it's become the point. Jayme asks what he does with the photos, and Zac instantly says he deletes them, adding, "I'm not proud of that side of it." Is he...proud of a different side of it?
Jayme, however, wants to back up, and speaks for us all as she says she doesn't believe he deletes them. Max would like to see his phone, and Zac duly gets it out...REAL SKETCHILY.
Everyone's like WHOA WHOA WHOA because it's pretty clear Zac's deleting shit right in front of them -- which he denies, lamely, finally handing it to Nev after Max says, "We know how to scroll through a phone." (Hee!) Zac watches over Nev's shoulder as Nev announces that Zac has been making an audio recording of this encounter. HILARIOUS. Was he worried that MTV might cut footage that showed his good side? Or did he want proof, if the episode never aired, that he was important enough for it to have happened? That said, I'm not sure why Nev and Max get all affronted by this failsafe when THEY ARE ALSO RECORDING ALL THIS, but anyway.
Max makes Zac move away from Nev as Nev inspects the phone, and presently announces, "I'm finding some stuff on your phone." Zac stutters that he didn't "like, scrutinize" it -- implying, I guess, that if any data is still there, it's just an oversight -- but Nev smugly replies, "I know enough about how to keep things private to know how to look at your Google Drive." (Remember, in the last episode before the break, how Nev was all, "Who among us hasn't sent a dick pic?" and Max was like, "UHHHHHH"? Just saying, it's pertinent to remember that about Nev now! Good luck, Laura!) "I found one list that you keep," Nev adds. "'List Of Girls. Jayme' -- in parentheses next to it, it says 'Former Playboy Model,' and then you have a status list underneath it. 'Megan,' it says 'On the level of saying "I love you." Lives in Vegas. Doesn't know she's being catfished.' 'Lauren. Also on the level of saying "I love you." Lives in Palm Springs, I think. Doesn't know she's being catfished.' 'Debra. Been talking for a while. She lives in Illinois. Wants to meet Lucas badly -- watch out for that subject. Doesn't know she's being catfished.' 'Jayme. Talking since November. Urszula told her she's being catfished.'" Well, I mocked their overuse of the word earlier, but: GROSS. The women express their disgust, Sarah noting, "You're not even listening! You just want your damn phone back!" Nev adds that there are also videos, "which I went through." Careful, Nev: the creep who creeps on a creep? Also a creep. Anyway: of those, Nev says there are "a lot." He shows the phone to Jayme and Urszula, saying that it depicts one of them: "Lots of pictures of girls that are clearly either masturbating or...." Oh Zac. Just not as slick as you thought.
So, Zac changes tack, claiming it's "not as fun as it used to be...just to know that it's going to come to an end." I would have thought he'd say the un-fun part was all the data entry. No one likes slaving over spreadsheets. Max calls him on this weird explanation of why Zac is prepared to wind down his online fakery -- which, who cares why, as long as he does it; no one here is going to keep having a relationship with this freak, and anyone who does after this, that's their problem. Zac says he thought it was so obvious that he's conscious of the way he's hurting people that he didn't have to mention that as a motivator for his change of heart/online habits. The women all agree with Urszula when she says she doesn't believe that Zac has feelings, and his lack of affect as he replies "But I do" is not that convincing.
Max concludes by saying there's only one way Zac can prove he's sorry, which is by stopping, and Zac immediately says he will. That seems to Nev like a good stopping point, so he wraps things up, saying they'll get in touch about "maybe meeting back up" (OH NO, MIGHT ZAC BE DENIED COUCH TIME???). And everything would have been perfectly fine except that as the visiting fivesome start making their collective way down the driveway, Zac very VERY quietly calls after them, "Miss you all," and Nev fucking BITES HIS HEAD OFF: "What is that? That just sounded like a joke....Did you just completely forget everything we just said to you?" Good lord, Nev, this guy wasn't joking; he means it, in his very weird, antisocial way, because obviously he has issues ACTING LIKE A HUMAN BEING or else YOU WOULD NOT BE HERE, and given that YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO DIAGNOSE HIM, KEEP MOVING. "Dude, you really seem like a huge shithead," says Nev. "Yeah," nods Zac. (Hee.) "So think about that," snaps Nev. "Working on it," says Zac curtly. Nev flounces back to the car, while Zac smiles to himself and goes back in the house. Look, Zac is not exactly marriage material, but in person he is not even in the top (bottom?) 20% of weirdos Nev has dealt with on this show. It's like he doesn't even remember this guy.
I really don't know why, but everyone troops back to Zac's parents' house the next day for Couch Time, and as usual, the faker has lost his defiance overnight. Zac regrets not having taken the opportunity the day before to express all his regrets to his victims.
Do any of them look like they care to hear Zac repeat Nev and Max's talking points? Just because he states that what he did is "perverted" and "disgusting" doesn't mean he actually gets that. The women don't really care that his object initially wasn't to solicit amateur porn, since that's what happened...400 times. Though Jayme doesn't help herself by saying that her feelings of being "sexually violated" are worse since the recipient of her...work product doesn't have the face she thought she was sending them to. Like, if she'd been talking to the actual Trey and HE had solicited nude photos and videos from her and 399 other women, that would have been okay since she was attracted to his looks and she believed she was going to have an IRL relationship with him someday? Anyway, the conversation halts when Zac reacts to Jayme's horror thus.
I don't necessarily want to give Zac credit for thinking -- but obviously being unable to say -- that Jayme just proved the point that prompted his whole "experiment" in the first place, which is that if he had been cute, she wouldn't have been as bothered. That's not to say I excuse anything Zac did -- he's gross -- but as always, this show is great at raising the issue of how people's lives can be painful if they're not conventionally attractive, and terrible at any kind of follow-through on them. Called out on this creepy smile, Zac admits that he's been saying what he thinks the women want to hear, but that they deserve the truth, even if it's that he's not actually sorry about some of the things he did. He thinks it's childish of them to be upset about what he did, and to "dwell on it for hours." (He doesn't add, as I might have, that maybe these boneheads should take some responsibility for the heartache that resulted when they chose to send nude photos and explicit videos to a COMPLETE STRANGER.) It's at this point that Jayme raises her arms and says she doesn't need to have any further conversation with Zac at all. Since she's clearly the alpha of the group, the other two trail her outside.
Left alone, Nev and Max, the tech avengers, say they need to "take care of something we all collectively want, which is shutting down the accounts." Zac meekly agrees, and Nev takes a photo of Zac to post, with a confession, on the Lucas Tinder and social media accounts.
Zac adjusts himself into a more contrite position, and Nev types out a confession, though then Max makes a thing of having Zac himself press the button to post it, which, why. That done, Nev changes Zac's various passwords, and as a parting shot lectures, "The sooner you start being honest with yourself and people around you, the sooner you'll be able to recover from this and start making a new reputation for yourself." "Yeah," Zac nods, with the resolve of someone who's just been through a life-changing experience and who only has to wait for Nev and Max to walk outside before he just CHANGES ALL HIS PASSWORDS given that he registered with AN EMAIL ADDRESS TO WHICH HE HAS ACCESS, deletes the posts Nev made, and starts over.
The women all agree in the car that this crazy experience has bonded them for life, but there are not even any hugs among the three of them.
Two months later, Jayme hasn't talked to Zac, and she's fine with that. She does occasionally "chitchat" with Sarah and Urszula. She's not dating anyone at the moment, and instead is focusing on her kids, which maybe she should have done all along rather than send nudes to some stranger online.
Zac cut his stupid hair but still looks stupid.
Asked the reaction to his coming-out posts, he reports that some followers said they already knew. "No Lucas anything," Nev witness-leads, and Zac agrees: "No Lucas anything," and if he says it then it must be true. Zac adds, "I don't miss all my time being consumed." Sure, Zac, all those thirsty bitches sending videos of their self-diddles were a real trial imposed on you. You were brave to have withstood it as long as you did.
Don't send nudes to strangers. Snapchats can be faked. Despite his best efforts, Zac will die alone.