Will Catfish Help IRL Love Bloom Between Danny And Rosa?
Or has Danny been headed down a path of thorns?
Danny, of Orlando.
Rosa, who recently moved to Orlando (at Danny's urging, to hear him tell it) from Connecticut.
In the year since Danny and Rosa started communicating, they've never met in person -- not even since the move that brought her to the city where he already lived. Over the past two years, he's found three different Facebook pages with Rosa's name and photos and friended her on all of them, always opening his addresses with the same puppy love emoji.
However, Danny has only heard back from Rosa via the third.
When Danny shows Max and Nev some of his the texts he and Rosa has exchanged, they see that one of Rosa's nicknames for Danny is "papi chulo" -- "sugar daddy" -- but we don't find out whether that means he's given her money because Nev and Max don't ask. They also don't ask about videochat, even though it seems as though Danny and Rosa mostly communicate via text, and from what we can see, at least Danny's phone appears to have video capability.
"She straight-up stood me up a couple of times," says Danny of planned meetings that never happened -- so, in that instance, no excuse, other than vague claims about work obligations. I'm going to say Danny forgives or ignores a lot of sketchiness from Rosa because she looks like this.
Danny claims he's attracted to Rosa's personality, approvingly describing her as "a little feisty, explosive." By that, he means she's so beautiful that her co-workers' girlfriends get jealous of her, and that she's physically fought them -- slamming another woman's face into the floor, in at least one instance -- and been arrested for it.
"I don't judge a book by its cover," Danny tells Max and Nev. Laudable! Though it's impossible not to note that he friended her based on her looks and literally nothing else. "I think I can make her a better person," he adds. HOLY SHIT, RED FLAG. SHADES OF THAD WITH THE SAVIOR FANTASY. He says he's urged her to develop a relationship with God, but if, as he says, he's also invited her to come to church with him, MAYBE that's why she hasn't been in a huge hurry to meet him in person. (He later tells Nev and Max that some of Rosa's problems with anger are the consequence of her having been molested as a child.)
You guys, has this part of the episode started seeming thin because we are all so familiar with their moves by now, or are they really doing WAY LESS than they used to? Maybe both!
Whatever: let's start with the obvious, which is that this smoke show has no reason to be talking to some random dude on one of her THREE Facebook pages. Rosa's alleged face actually belongs to someone named [something]natalie, who has 13,000 followers on Instagram.
On to her phone number, which is associated with a Yenny in Windsor Locks, CT. Danny doesn't have anyone named Yenny among his Facebook friends (and I was about to ask "Why would he?" until I remembered how this season's first two episodes ended.) What about Rosa's THREE Facebook pages? Well, the search for a Yenny among those fifteen friends (Danny: come on) is suspended when Max recognizes someone.
It's Brandy, a.k.a. Megan, from Season 3. "That could be Rosa," says Max, as you know if you saw any promos for this episode, and this pronouncement seems portentous enough for them to make it a cliffhanger as they go to commercial, so let me just shorthand this: they call Brandy; she doesn't really know who Rosa is or how they happened to be connected; that's a wrap on Brandy. Considering that Brandy lives in TEXAS, there's no obvious reason she'd have ties to a faker in either Connecticut or Florida, but if you're curious about how this happened, you're going to have to live with the disappointment.
AND THAT'S FUCKING IT. Who is Yenny in Connecticut? YOU WILL NEVER KNOW.
Nev: "Anybody could be Rosa at this point." HOW DO YOU HAVE A JOB. Since they found out nothing except that Danny fell in love with the face of a girl he's almost certainly never going to meet, there's nothing to tell him, so once they've confirmed that he still wants to find out who Rosa actually is, Nev calls Rosa and opens with their discovery that she's stolen Natalie's photos. Rosa tries to do the angry flip on Danny for having the temerity to call Catfish on her and question her integrity. Nev denies her characterization that he's calling her a liar -- which he definitely is, WITH CAUSE -- and claims he's just trying to get to the bottom of things. After getting Rosa to admit that she's still in Connecticut, Nev waits for her to say whether she wants to meet Danny...
...in the middle of which pause there's a hilariously well-timed clap of thunder. Aw, Max. That unscripted interruption livens up what is otherwise a very rote conversation that ends exactly as we all knew it would since we would not be watching this otherwise.
I wouldn't say things start GREAT, as Nev approaches the house and, even before we see the liar within, we hear her burst into tears.
And by "her," I mean "him." This is Jose, f.k.a. Rosa. Danny seems more stunned than angry, though that quickly turns to judgment: "Aren't you ashamed of yourself, bro?" Trying hold back tears, Jose says he is: "I never meant to hurt nobody else. I was trying to hurt the person in the picture." Twist! He went to school with Rosa in Florida, and was "trying to get her to feel the pain that [he] felt" due to bullying by her and her friends. Jose created the fake accounts to hurt her. But...why wouldn't he use her real name, if he was trying to fuck with her real life? I'm empathetic about bullying -- though putting this much energy into a vengeance plot is really giving your antagonist a lot of power over you, particularly if it's unlikely that she thinks about you at all -- but a Falesha/Jacqueline scam would have been the way to go if Jose's explanation is true.
Whatever: Jose says he created the fakes when he was in ninth grade; he's twenty-six now, so it was over a decade ago. Danny reasonably asks what Jose's beef with Rosa has to do with him: "I'm over here making plans." Sing it with me now: THAT'S ON YOOOOOOOU. Jose is a sad person and can't do much but repeat that he's sorry and take it as Danny tells him, "You need some help, you need to go to church, you need to get involved, you need to speak to someone, you can't just lock yourself in there and make believe you're a woman. If you like men, holler at a dude that likes men!" I mean, some might say Danny's meticulously groomed facial hair points to the possibility that he is such a man, but he's not wrong, really.
At least Danny has the grace to stalk off and call Jose "sick" to himself, not to Jose's face, in order not to take things in a blatantly homophobic direction.
After Danny's gotten back in the car, Jose cries to Nev and Max about his shame and pain. He was grateful for Danny's support and faith-based encouragement. When he told Danny that Rosa had been sexually abused, it was because that had actually happened to Jose. He used to be a heavy drug user, which he was only able to quit when he was incarcerated. Nev and Max are clearly unequipped to say anything useful to someone in Jose's very sad situation, so Nev just blahs some bullshit about "start that process of healing" and "turn the page" and then takes off before Jose starts crying at him again. Honestly: Nev should not have this job.
In the car, Nev and Max both give Danny the hard sell on meeting with Jose the next day to give him closure and a positive conclusion to this story EVEN THOUGH they acknowledge that he doesn't owe Jose anything -- rarely the way they frame it when it's a cis straight pair of opposite-sex persons even though it's pretty much always true given all the LYING. I assume "You should give Jose another chance to explain so that you don't look like a bigot" was stated explicitly after the cameras were off.
The next day, things start out kind of light with Max and Nev confirming that Jose did the Rosa voice on the phone and getting him to do it for them live. It's not that different from his real voice, so I don't know why they react like they're hearing Chief Wiggum come out of Hank Azaria's face, but I guess it sets a cheerful tone?
From there, it's mostly what you'd expect. Jose wanted to quit, but he didn't know how. Danny tells Jose he needs to erase the Rosa pages and "let go of those demons that are kind of, like, from the past." He also advises Jose to go to church, and asks, "Would it be okay if I prayed for you?" My hackles immediately go up because of all the times we've ALL heard a sanctimonious asshole announce that they're going to pray for someone in an act of passive-aggression, but Danny means he wants to pray for Jose right now, and in Spanish, in which he's more comfortable: "Father, I present to you Jose, Lord, who has had a difficult past. But Father, I know you have a plan for him, to help him rise out of darkness. Father, I ask you to shine your light on him, and take him to the right path. Show him your love and teach him how to love others, and not to hate. Guide him, bless him, and give him a new life of love and happiness, so he can smile more every day, Lord. Thank you for listening, Father." It's actually sweet and sincere! Jose quietly thanks him, and really seems to mean it. On a show that is often cynical or stagey or corny, an honest, human moment like this is rare. Well done, Danny.
You can tell from Nev's face that he's praying no one asks him which part he liked best because he got like four words of it. Jose promises to use this experience to move on.
Nev hugs Jose, but the best he gets off Danny is a handshake and a clap on the back.
Four months later, Danny isn't dating anyone seriously. A couple of weeks after they filmed, he started texting Jose "positive stuff," but he hasn't been in contact with him lately. As for Natalie -- whom he said as he was leaving Jose's he would still like to meet -- he says henever tried to contact her, perhaps because, if Jose is to be believed, she's an asshole.
Speaking of Jose: I never really mentioned this in the first two episodes, since in those instances the liar and mark had reasons to be together again after the events of the show, but the new thing this season seems to be bringing a camera crew both to film the liar while he or she Skypes with Nev and Max, and to get b-roll of him or her just living life. In addition to its not being necessary -- as this very post underscores, very few of these people's stories are in any way unique in the year of our Lord 2017 -- it also seems designed to bolster the fiction that their lives have been improved due to their having been unmasked on TV, which is probably rarely true. In this case, we're supposed to agree with Max and Nev that Jose has fixed himself up physically.
Nev says something about a haircut, which, idk, but when he mentions Jose's having lost weight, we cut straight to b-roll of Jose working out, so obviously Nev was prompted to make this observation since Jose's face doesn't really look that different to me (other than the bad moustache). Jose has his own place; he's doing door-to-door sales. He's been going to church, too, and has made a couple of friends at church. He's also been "kind of talking to someone" that he met on a sales call. Danny is a good person, he says, but someone he wants to leave in the past. Jose says he's very happy no longer to be living a double life. Even though they don't ask him whether he deleted the Rosa pages, I believe that the healing power of Danny's prayer moved him to do so.
Don't trust anyone who has three different Facebook pages. Don't trust anyone who won't come meet you in the town where you both live.
Don't trust a big butt and no smile.