'Fire Island' recap: 'Mercury Is in Retrograde'

Fire Island recap: Season 1, Episode 6

It’s nice that so late in the season, we had a brand new entry in the Miss Absolutely 100 Percent The Worst Pageant. Usually it’s just Cheyenne and Patrick in this never-ending swimsuit competition where there is absolutely no Miss Congeniality. This week we got to meet Chris, Partick’s ex-boyfriend, who comes to stay in the house with what seems to be, like, just about every other person these gay dudes know. There are just too many people in this damn house.

Now, it depends on how things go down in your Fire Island house, but in my house the rule was always “no one sleeps on the couch.” That means two things. First, if anyone has a gentleman visitor for the night, he is not allowed to displace his roommate and force him to sleep on the couch while he and his new friend knock the proverbial boots. So, this nice gentleman can sleep over if cuddling is the only thing on the menu, but anything beyond making out needs to happen somewhere else. This is why every Fire Island house has both an outdoor shower and a laundry room, so that no roommates are disturbed. There is also the Meat Rack if the parties involved aren’t afraid of ticks and have a streak of exhibitionism. However, if a room is empty because someone’s roommate is out with his own gentleman or, you know, passed out on a piece of lawn furniture and rolled up in the cushion like a drunk human burrito, then all bets are off.

The edict that “no one sleeps on the couch” means that guests have to be contained to the rooms of the person who is hosting them, which usually cuts down on the number of guests or anyone even bothering to have guests, which, honestly, is often for the best. What the show doesn’t tell viewers is that this final weekend is Labor Day weekend, which might explain the number of guests. (There was also a hurricane, but no one is really mentioning that.) So we have our six normal housemates plus Patrick’s ex Chris, Cheyenne’s boyfriend Kyle, Jorge’s friend Carols (who may or may not be sleeping there), Justin’s boyfriend Austen, and whoever Brandon picks up at tea (and the underwear party, and on the boardwalk on the way home, and on the boardwalk on the way back from walking his first trick home, and the hot straight guy who works at the liquor store before his shift because he ran into him while getting coffee). That is just too many people in the house.

Especially when one of those people is Chris. For those who don’t know, this Chris is Chris Salvatore, who was in a bunch of the Eating Out movies, which is like the American Pie movies but for gay people and with the budget of a not-very-elaborate dinner theater production of Fiddler on the Roof. They are direct to DVD or end up in the “Gay & Lesbian” section of Netflix, which is a tab that is so sad it regularly has banner ads for Lexapro. He has also tried to be a recording artist and has a YouTube channel where he covers pop songs.

This is all to say that the reason Chris behaves like he does on the show is that he is thirsty. He is so thirsty that he is like a post-apocalyptic landscape where the seas have dried up and it’s just like cracked ocean floor everywhere. He is like the Imperator Furiosa of gay culture. But Patrick is just as thirsty. They’re sitting side by side like cacti in a Peanuts comic strip starring Snoopy’s desert brother Spike.

That’s why Chris is there: to benefit from his friend’s reality show. This is a person who says “Mercury is in retrograde” without even a hint of irony, like he is so basic that he just finished his SoulCycle class and is eating a Sweetgreen salad and drinking a pumpkin spice latte in his Ugg boots. Of course he’s that thirsty.
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That is why, as soon as Chris arrives, they’re on the back porch crying about their relationship like it just ended. I’m sorry, but if this guy is an ex who is a good enough friend to invite to Fire Island, then all of this s— should have been sorted out already. But those tears were as fake as Patrick’s tears after singing his country song to 20 people in a half-empty nightclub . (And why was he on a stool behind the entire audience?) Patrick is the only person I have ever seen who needs validation not only from a performance, but after it as well.

As an added bonus, Chris has some drama with Cheyenne, which is part of the reason why Patrick is so excited to have this guest this weekend and why he brings up this beef at the dinner table in front of everyone. I get it; if a guest has tension with someone in the house, it’s natural to want to smooth that over, but that is what a private conversation is for. Patrick wants to make “good TV” by having it out at dinner in front of everyone. Both Cheyenne and Chris aren’t having it. Chris, after telling everyone “not to judge a book by its cover,” gets up from the table crying because he can’t take “the negative energy” in the space. I want to give an eye roll for every star in that Fire Island sky.

However, Cheyenne’s beef with Chris is just as stupid. We never get the full story, but it seems like Chris was flirting with Cheyenne’s ex-boyfriend at a party and the ex was flirting back, and that makes Cheyenne hate him. Now, if Chris knew this guy had a boyfriend, that would be shady. But if he didn’t (and let’s give Chris the benefit of the doubt here), then what is Cheyenne’s problem with him? Shouldn’t he be mad at the ex? Wouldn’t that be why that boyfriend is now the ex-boyfriend? Why be mad at Chris? And then why would Cheyenne still be mad about it now that he has a new boyfriend and that boyfriend also is, you know, right there at the dinner table?

At one point Cheyenne says, “There is nothing about this moment that is not malicious or vindictive or calculated.” He is partially right. It is absolutely calculated. Patrick has been lying awake nights in the hammock where he sleeps in the Fire Island staff housing shed rubbing his fingers together waiting for this moment. But I don’t think it’s vindictive or malicious. I don’t think that he’s trying to get revenge on Cheyenne or hurt him; he’s just trying to make an explosion, and he doesn’t seem to care who he hurts. Does that make him the worst for blowing the bomb, or does it make Cheyenne the worst for detonating it and saying completely insensitive things like, “I don’t care how he feels”?

Seriously, they are all the worst. Patrick is the worst for bringing Chris, Cheyenne is the worst for saying, “What are you even doing here?” to his face, and Chris is the worst for his crocodile tears on the lanai. The only person at that whole dinner table I liked was Carlos. He is the perfect guest. He shows up, he keeps his mouth closed, he cooks dinner (arepas!), and he doesn’t get all up in everyone’s business. Carlos, if you’re reading, you can sleep on my couch in Fire Island anytime you like.