Screens: MTV

Will Catfish Have To Tell Prophet That Trinity Only Exists In The Matrix?

A former member of the Nappy Roots is pretty sure he's found love with a stunning woman he met online, and since he's famous, maybe he did? Or maybe not.

The Client

Ryan -- better known as Prophet -- a platinum recording artist (formerly of the Nappy Roots) who lives in Louisville.

The Beloved

Trinity, maybe a model, who also lives in Louisville.

The Clues

Even though they both live in Louisville, they've never met in person. As his friends and loved ones have warned him, she's so attractive that it's impossible not to be suspicious about her identity -- and I would add, though no one in the episode does, it's not just that she's gorgeous; it's that she's a light-skinned African-American woman with light grey eyes...

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...which is a physical profile that's apparently catnip to online photo-stealers because a particular kind of man is definitely going to find it irresistibly exotic, as we've seen over and over again on this show. I would further add that it should be a clue to Prophet that she is a great listener -- she's helped a lot with a GoFundMe campaign he's been running related to a lawsuit he's bringing after he was the victim of police brutality, for instance, although it kind of looks like it's not going so great, which might lead a cynical person to wonder if plugging it is why he's on the show right now -- who apparently doesn't require anything from him in return (not financially, though he does say she's never asked him for money, but emotionally), but that doesn't seem to register with him as far as we can see. They've never videochatted.

The Excuses

Prophet is very new to social media -- so new he refers to it as "the Twitters," for instance -- and doesn't use Skype.

The Investigation

This is not really germane to the investigation but it must be noted that Nev has a giant crush on Prophet before he and Max even meet him. He claims his ownership of a particular Nappy Roots album gave him "street cred." He enters the studio dancing to the track Prophet's recording.

Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

And he starts his in-person conversation with Prophet by saying he's "what a lot of girls dream of" in terms of his physical attractiveness. What does Prophet need Trinity for when he's got Nev?!

Anyway: Max and Nev start with Trinity's Facebook page, where they see she has 1602 friends. "That's a normal amount!" says Max. It doesn't seem normal to me, but then, I don't friend strangers, which is one of many attributes I don't share with Prophet. One recent update wishes friends a "Happy Derby Day!," but there's nothing about the selfie attached to it that is at all Derby-related (no horse or crazy hat or whatever). They also note that there aren't any photos of Trinity in which anyone else is tagged. "This is guy bait," Max notes. Reverse image search? Don't mind if they do.

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Who's Jasmine Sanders? She's an actual model with more than a million Instagram followers; she's also Chris Brown's ex-girlfriend. Max and Nev send her a video message asking to talk, on the theory that she might know the person who's been stealing her photos, and then turn to the phone number Prophet has for "Trinity." One second later, they find it registered to a Crystal [Redacted], who lives in Crestwood, Kentucky, a fifteen-minute drive away from Louisville. A Facebook search of people in Kentucky with Crystal's full name turns up multiple results. They take a pause to wait for Jasmine to get back to them, and the editors make sure to show us Max's comment that even if Prophet hasn't been speaking to Jasmine, he has developed a relationship with someone who's sweet and supportive, so that we know that's going to be less important to Prophet than her appearance: "She could turn out to be someone he's interested in!" Sure, let's all watch and see if Max ends up being right!

The next day, they make Skype contact with Jasmine, who reports that of course her photos get stolen by fakes all the time; she hasn't been talking to Prophet; and she doesn't know any Crystal [Redacted]. She records a video message for Prophet to let him know the part she hasn't had in his ongoing online relationship, and then it's time for Max and Nev to bring Prophet the sad news.

The Presentation Of Findings

Prophet's apparently partnered with the Louisville Board Of Tourism to meet Max and Nev at the Muhammad Ali Center for this meeting, like I'm really sure anyone involved in preserving Ali's legacy wants to be associated with this embarrassing nonsense. Nev starts with the true identity of the woman in "Trinity"'s photos, and even though he's ON CATFISH, Prophet seems completely flummoxed by the predictable results of Max and Nev's minimal sleuthing.

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When Prophet mopes that he's "wasted a lot of time" on Trinity, Max points out, "You have been talking to someone," as if Prophet might be under the impression that he got his toaster or a chipmunk on the phone. "You've been having some kind of relationship with-- with somebody," Max carefully adds, I guess leaving open the possibility that this "somebody" is not a "her"; sure, Prophet's been talking to "Trinity" on the phone, but we've seen in the past that one sex can pass for the other on that medium. Prophet doesn't seem that interested in meeting "Trinity" until Nev suggests it, so Nev calls and leaves a message.

"Trinity" texts Nev overnight, and the next day, Nev calls to explain the situation. Asked whether she knows about Catfish, "Trinity" claims she's "not all that familiar," even though I feel like we all know she's perfectly well aware of what the show is about. Even Nev doesn't bother trying to frame the meeting he's proposing as anything other than an ambush, telling her on the phone that they know she's not the girl in Jasmine's photos, and that now Prophet knows, too. He asks her real name, and after dodging that it's "kind of personal," she admits that it is, in fact, Crystal. She agrees to meet, of course.

The Confrontation

In a park, where nothing good ever happens, Prophet, Max, and Nev wait for Crystal to appear, which eventually she does.

Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

The camera shows her coming at us from pretty far away, I guess to amp up the dread Prophet is apparently feeling at the prospect of having to interact with this non-Jasmine of a woman. Prophet:

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YEP, GOT IT. As Nev politely steps up to introduce himself, confirm that she is Crystal, and shake her hand, Prophet drawls, "You can be anybody on the internet." Sure can, so maybe that's why you should have paid more heed to all your friends' warnings about Trinity since you are such a helpless n00b?

Prophet comes over to shake Crystal's hand, but immediately goes on the passive-aggressive attack: "It's not Trinity, it's not Jasmine. I'm talking to Crystal, right?" "This is Crystal," she confirms. Prophet mentions all the "personal business" he told her when he thought she was someone else, and she tries to reassure him: "That's confidential with CRYSTAL," pointing at herself like she's not sure if he might have a short-term memory problem that's preventing him from keeping a tight-enough grip on her name. "Who is Crystal?" asks Max, fairly neutrally, but since Crystal's already annoyed at Prophet for dismissing her as soon as he saw her, she directs her answer to him instead: "The person that would sit on the phone and listen to your problems 'til 3 or 4 in the morning. Crystal's the one that has been helping you rewrite your GoFundMe for your police brutality case." (Again: not really sure that's something to brag about.) "Are you upset?" asks Max quizzically, like he thinks it's absurd that she might be, but she denies it, and shrugs that it's a total shock to talk to Prophet. He asks how she could have sent him so many Trinity photos, to the specs he'd asked for (turned one way or the other), and she says she had saved "several pictures" of Jasmine on her phone, which given how little effort she made to conceal her deception is a slightly surprising degree of resourcefulness.

Nev decides to move on to why Crystal started the Trinity page in the first place, and the short answer is that she was creeping on her boyfriend's page to get around people who had blocked Crystal on Facebook -- so, initially, it had nothing to do with Prophet at all. Max innocently asks why she didn't tell Prophet the truth, and Crystal says she almost did a few times: "But I felt that he needed the motivation, with his case and his career, and I felt that Trinity was the one who'd motivate him." So she faked to be his life coach? She's very selfless! Max asks whether she developed "romantic feelings" for Prophet, and she says she did, although it doesn't seem like she has any romantic interest in him now that she's standing across from him; I guess that just may be because she can tell from his manner that it would be pointless for her to. Case in point: he remarks, "This is probably the most embarrassed I've ever been in my life. Everything I've said to you has been honest -- you know, honest feelings, honest thoughts, honest intentions." God, I hope your rhymes aren't this redundant. "You violated my trust," he adds. She understands his sense of betrayal now, after having shared things with her he'd never told the people he's closest to, but she says everything "Trinity" said back was true stuff from Crystal.

Well, let's wrap this up. "You seem to be a person who has a lot to offer someone," Prophet tells Crystal. "Obviously it's not me. Nice to meet you, Crystal." Brrrrrr.

The Post-Confrontation Confrontation

The next day, Nev goes over to Crystal's to get more of the backstory of why she created the Trinity profile, like anyone cares. Let me shorthand it for you:

Screen: NBC

Screen: NBC

When Prophet "popped up" in Trinity's Facebook inbox, she felt like he needed someone to talk to because he had a lot of issues. I'm not really buying this narrative of Crystal as a humanitarian, but on the other hand, the fact that Prophet stayed involved with her as long as he did without asking any questions sort of bears her out. She'd like to talk to Prophet and apologize, and when Nev calls to see if he will, Prophet agrees and lets Max drive him over. In the backyard, Crystal apologizes for having been so "angry" the day before, but claims her mood was due to the fact that she thought there was a "better way" for them to have had their first meeting than on TV. True, but also, she didn't have to agree to do it. Just because Nev calls doesn't mean you're subpoenaed to be on the show. Nev gently counters that Crystal wasn't sure she could have stopped the Trinity lie without having outside motivation to do so, and she agrees that he's not totally wrong about that. "I'm sorry for what's gone on since February," she tells Prophet, and-- WAIT A MINUTE. Since February?! So if that Derby Day photo of "Trinity" was the last post on her page, they'd only been talking for three months? Hell, if they stopped filming on this episode the day before it aired, that would still mean Prophet had only been talking to Trinity for six months! WHO CARES???

God, anyway, Max tries to talk through Prophet's total silence thus far by babbling that Crystal's apology is not a "magic pill" that will cure everything, "so I'm not going to let you off the hook so easily saying 'sorry.'" Crystal:

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Crystal agrees that she will have to work to earn back Prophet's trust, although given how little Prophet's said so far (nothing), I'm not sure she really needs to bother and that they both could just go back to their very different lives of THREE MONTHS AGO. After she blahs some more about Prophet's having filled the slot that the apparently recent end of her eight-year relationship left in terms of having someone to talk to, he finally speaks up: "You're not who I thought I was talking to. That's not cool. But some of the conversations we've had, you definitely filled a void for me. You still was there to listen, even thought of some proactive ways to help me kind of get through some of the things I was going through." Crystal promises that she will continue to be there for him, as long as he wants her to. "We can continue to communicate on some type of level, see what happens." Oh boy, easy with the smooth talk, you're going to make her fall all the way in love with you!

Hugs?

There is a hug.

The Aftermath

One month later...

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Better late than never? "Sometime in August, I should be dropping a new single." Oh, so like in a few weeks? COOL TIMING, MTV. He's still talking to Crystal, who's been helping him with "things." Crystal confirms Prophet's report that they still talk, adding that he's trying to find them "a venue" to watch the show together, which apparently he did. She's not dating anyone now, nor is she online looking for love, and she says she hasn't used that profile again, so it must be true.

The Life Lessons Learned

Be extra-suspicious of extra-beautiful women who show up on your Facebook page. If it seems like you need to create a fake account to creep on your significant other's social media, save yourself the trouble and just break up. If you're looking to gin up interest in your single and/or non-profit social initiatives, starting a relationship with an obvious online phony and then asking Catfish to sort it out is a good way to get on TV to promote them.

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