Catfish: season 5, episode 5 recap: "Jaylin and Ja'la"

Becky Suter

10th April 2016

It's a brave man who decides to move across the country to live with a girl he's never met. Did I say brave? I mean stupid. Really, really stupid. But this week's catfishee Jaylin is determined to be with the girl he's never even talked to on the phone. So she's obviously a dude, right? Spoiler alert: in this week's Catfish, we learn that there are exceptions to every rule.

The bait

Max is back from "vacation", and so I don't have to go through my own investigation of trying to figure out how the guest presenter is famous. This week's idiot, I mean, catfish, is 20-year-old Jaylin, a wannabe video game developer from Ohio. Jaylin encountered 17 year-old Ja'la through the "People You May Know" tool on Facebook, and was immediately smitten. So technically, technically, already Ja'la isn't really a catfish, as she wasn't the one to do the fishing. But I'm prepared to let this slide, especially as ever since the couple had been in contact, Ja'la refused to talk to Jaylin on the phone. Even when they only lived a few minutes' drive away from each other, they had never met. And yet their texting was enough to convince Jaylin it was a good idea to move to a different state now Ja'la had upped sticks to Wyoming. Is that really all it takes?

Minutes after meeting with Jaylin, Max drops his theory that Ja'la is a Ja'le: she is obviously a he, hence why no phone calls and also hence why Ja'la refused to send Jaylin pics of her vagina at his request. I'm really hoping Jaylin doesn't turn out to be another Brandon, and Ja'la turns out to be his video game partner, who's been pining for him secretly all these years. Although, actually thinking about it, I'm hoping that's exactly what will happen.
The hook

In Nev's hotel room (how intimate), Nev and Max conduct a more thorough investigation than last week's debacle. Ja'la's number is coming up dead after a quick search – this being the number that she refuses to talk to Jaylin on. Has he never tried to call it? On Facebook, Nev notes that Ja'la's pictures are out of sequence. In some pictures, her midriff has two tattoos, in other only one, which suggests whoever stole her photos is not being particularly attentive. Strike one against Ja'la.

Jaylin wraps his head around the tattoo revelation. This took some time.

It's a good thing Max is back, as he notices that Ja'la's Facebook name is different to the name she's given Jaylin, which they find is the same as an abandoned Twitter feed that directs to a new one called @PuffThatShit. Whoever runs that feed is nothing like the sweet yet secretive Ja'la Jaylin knows, declaring to their "haters" that she's "more popular than a condom". That's ... is that a good thing? I don't know anything anymore.

Once again, Max steps up to the plate and has the idea to search for "Ja'la, Wyoming", at no prompting from the producers, I assume. Boom – we've got a live one! They hit upon a track star also called Ja'la, who lives in Wyoming and has an Instagram account which has all the pics on it that were sent to Jaylin (but no vayjayjay shots). This Ja'la, however, has a boyfriend with a matching tattoo, so Max and Nev immediately come to the conclusion the pictures were stolen from this account and whoever is behind it is leading Jaylin on.

Now, I know catfishes by their nature aren't always the most sophisticated of creatures, but even the greenest one wouldn't leave a trail that long by using the person's real name, would they? Would they? And come to think of it, why has no one checked what the connection is between Jaylin and Ja'la is that led to her popping up on his Facebook? Oh, because this is all a construct purely for entertainment? I see.

Max is resolute on the "they're really a man" theory, which he says has never failed them, and that's a FACT, people. At Jaylin's house, we meet his friend and video game partner JP, who may as well have "Catfish" branded on his forehead. We never meet the friend unless there's a very good reason. JP is not particularly thrilled to find out Jaylin is considering a big move to be with Ja'la, which could possibly put their video game development into jeopardy. So, either JP isn't behind the Ja'la account or he is, and it's backfired. Nev points out this could all be moot, as Ja'la is likely not to be who Jaylin thinks she is, but JP quietly fumes in another part of the house whilst Nev and Max present their findings.

They seem to gloss over the nasty Ja'la Twitter feed, and Jaylin seems chipper at the thought there actually is a Ja'la out there after all. He's less enamoured with the sight of her boyfriend on her Instagram. And whilst he's down on the floor, Nev delivers another kick to the goolies and again floats the possibility/concrete theory that the person Jaylin has been speaking it is actually a man *cough* JP *cough*.

It's time to set up a meeting. True to form, Ja'la hasn't set up her voicemail on her phone, leaving Nev to text her his picture and then ask for a nude pic to meet up. Max thinks they should follow this up by sending Ja'la a Facebook message as well. Nev agrees, saying they should also contact her Instagram account, which Max believes at least one of them will actually reach the "real" Ja'la. 'scuse my ignorance, but shouldn't they have done this before they took their findings to Jaylin? There's a procedure to follow guys; otherwise it all falls apart. You know what my problem is, I'm too ahead of the curve.

Neither Texting Ja'la, Facebook Ja'la nor Instagram Ja'la respond to their blast, to it's off to Wyoming to track her down, before they've even confirmed that's where she/he actually is.

The catch

There's still no reply to any of the messages sent out, but a quick creep of the Instagram feed shows she's just posted a picture of the brunch she's "having with bae" and she's right around the corner! To the Catfishmobile!

Nev goes into the diner to interrupt someone's meal and bring him or her out to meet Jaylin. And wouldn't you know it, Max was wrong. We were all wrong. Instagram Ja'la is the real Ja'la! In fact, they were all Ja'la, all along. Not a man, and not JP, so what's her beef?

Ja'la's reasons for not meeting or even talking to Jaylin are numerous and frankly bizarre. Something about her dad being strict, running track, volley practice, band practice and loads of other sports, which meant she was too busy to talk. It all reminds me of the time I was dumped when I was 15 by a boy who said he didn't have time to see me anymore because he was really getting into weightlifting.

Nev is perplexed, and asks for an actual reason why she couldn't get on the phone after she had asked Jaylin to move to Wyoming. A shifty Ja'la reveals it was because she had a boyfriend when she first started chatting to Jaylin, although she's not with him anymore. Then who is the "bae" still sitting in the diner, wondering where his girlfriend's gone and why there's a camera crew in the parking lot?

The park, where dignity goes to die.

Jaylin's patience with Ja'la is clearly running out, and so she exhibits classic attention-seeking behaviour by trying to flip it back on him, screeching that she was unsure HE was who he said he was, and so was scared to meet him. Max seems so stunned by his theory falling apart that he's not able to ask the questions that need asking, namely if she was so scared, why did she ask him to move to Wyoming? Jaylin informs her that all it would have taken was a quick phone call to confirm each other's identities, to which Ja'la whines it would have been "disrespectful" to her boyfriend, and she should be given some credit for the fact that she's meeting him now. The world has now turned on its axis: Jaylin probably wasn't so much of an idiot after all for believing what actually turned out to be the truth about Ja'la, but the actual truth is she's a fucking nightmare and he's better off out of it.

Finally, Max regains the power of speech and pulls Ja'la up on the whole moving thing. She lets slip that Jaylin was basically her Plan B if it didn't work out with "bae" (who is probably STILL sitting in the diner) and then turns on the waterworks when Jaylin says she should have been honest and let him choose whether he wanted to be her bit on the side. Oh boo-fricking-hoo, Ja'la. The disappointment is written all over Nev and Max's faces: this had the potential to have a happy ending, but it's obvious Ja'la just likes having the attention, and ramps it up when it looks like it's being taken away.

Max suggests a break, and they reconvene the next day. At the local park, where it should be noted nothing good ever happens, Ja'la turns up with her sulky-looking mate Logan to explain her motivation for stringing Jaylin along. It was something to do with feeling guilty about being in a relationship but fancying Jaylin, but I'm too full of rage to hear her over the blood bubbling in my ears.

Everyone leaves Jaylin and Ja'la to talk alone, which is a bad idea because Jaylin ends up forgiving Ja'la and gets sucked in again. She tells him she's older and more mature now, and so she's ready to be serious. It's not clear exactly when in the previous 24 hours that Ja'la had this Road To Damascus moment, but I'm 99.9% sure it might be to do with the fact she loves the drama of it all. Poor Jaylin admits he still has feelings for her, which Ja'la jumps on straight away: "Then move out here!" Understandably, Jaylin is somewhat hesitant, to which she responds with a hair flick (seriously) and squeals, "I'm cuuuuuutte!" (seriously). "Look!" she pouts. Yes Jaylin, look at this frightening vision of your future. Don't do it, man.

The couple part on an ambiguous note. Ja'la is super keen to have him by her side, but Jaylin isn't sure he'd have the same opportunities in Wyoming, meaning JP will have his balls on the platter if he mentions moving again. Maybe JP should binge a Catfish marathon and takes tips to create that fake profile after all.

Two months later

The good news is Jaylin and JP have almost finished their video game. The bad news, or even better news depending on your viewpoint, is that Jaylin's gone cool on Ja'la after seeing another guy continually pop up in her Snapchat feed. Although she denied anything was happening, Jaylin decided she wasn't worth the heartache, thank god. Plus, that's a lot of social media feeds to keep updating.

When Nev and Max talk to Ja'la, she maintains her innocence that she's not seeing that guy, who must have lapped up whatever BS she had told him about her disappearing act when they went out for brunch that one time two months ago.

Lesson learnt: don't believe everything you hear, especially if it's true.

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