This week’s Catfish begins at Catfish Headquarters where Nev is lamenting at the fact that he and Max are the only ones there because it’s Sunday morning. He quickly takes advantage of that though, by challenging Max to a race around the office on a pair of scooters. As you do. Max seems to struggle a bit, crashing into the wall, and Nev comes out the victor. Max collapses into his seat in front of the laptop, and they get down to business.
They have an email from Traves (pronounced Travis) titled How much time should I give her? Traves explains he lives in LA and met a woman who lives in Las Vegas two years ago on a dating site. The girl’s name is Candy Red. Sounds totally legit, right? Max made a good point, though, when he said it’s Vegas and that it could be her stage name. They continue reading and Traves tells them things got serious between him and Candy when they started text messaging back and forth, and that he’s been thinking about inviting her to live with him in LA to take away some of her burdens, but he thinks she might be hiding something because she won’t meet up or video chat. Traves says he’s trying to stay patient and to take things at her pace, but he’s starting to feel like they aren’t getting anywhere that way.
Fake sounding name? Check.
Won’t video chat? Check.
Won’t meet up? Check.
These are all major red flags for a potential catfish. No wonder they aren’t getting anywhere.
Nev and Max video call Traves to see what’s up. They catch him while he’s at work at a garage, and Nev asks him why he’s so hooked on this girl from Las Vegas when he’s a good looking, successful man and he could be dating women in LA! He says he’s very picky and Candy just knows all the right things to say to keep him interested. They keep showing these pictures of Candy in a teeny tiny bikini, and at this point, I’m waiting for the barely veiled “Richard Pic” question Nev is famous for asking, but it doesn’t come. Traves explains that he and Candy text thousands of times a week, but whenever they talk on the phone it’s very, very brief and he feels like she’s trying to get off the phone.
Nev seems super skeptical and asks, “Traves. Isn’t that a little suspicious? You must have some doubts.”
Traves says, “Yeah, I started having some doubts when I went to Vegas to go see her and she just stopped talking to me.”
Traves also reveals that Candy has asked him for money a few times to help cover her bills, and though he hasn’t had the money to give to her when she’s needed it, he has promised her that if he did he would help her because he supports her trying to reach her dreams. Nev asks what her dreams are, and when Traves replies, “She wants to become a successful model,” I had some real concerns that Nev’s eyes were going to roll right out of his head.
Is a model/wants to be a model? Check.
Candy is literally checking all of the catfish boxes, and still, Traves says he thinks she is somebody he could marry. Sometimes people’s blind optimism on this show astounds me, and that’s definitely how I’m feeling at this point in the show.
Max breaks it down perfectly. “I want it to be true. But a girl named Candy Red from Vegas that’s asking you for money to pay her bills just doesn’t sound good.”
They hang up with Traves after making plans to meet with him at work, and now that he’s alone with Max, Nev talks about how he really feels. “I have never wanted to help someone more. We should just call this episode, ‘Catfish: Wake The F*** Up!’ I have never felt more needed. He needs the full service. He needs a check up. His check engine light is on!”
They arrive at Traves’s work, which is a garage where they specialize in German cars and body work. After a joke about Traves wanting to do some body work on Candy, Nev gets serious and asks what kinds of conversations he and Candy have about being a couple. We see a few text messages from Candy saying that she can’t wait to a start a life with him, that he’s all she needs, how happy they’re going to be, etc. Traves says he told Candy he wants something serious and wants to have children soon. We also learn a little bit more about how he made plans to meet her in Vegas. It was Traves’s brother’s wedding and he invited Candy to be his date. He wanted her to meet his family. She said yes at first, even said that she couldn’t wait, but as the day got closer and closer, she stopped talking to him and his phone calls went straight to voicemail. His theory at this point is that she has another boyfriend.
Max tells him it could also be that he is talking to somebody who cares about him very much and wants to be with him… that person just might not be Candy. He asks how important it is to him for Candy to have the kind of body as she does in the pictures she sent him, and Traves admits it’s a 8/10 importance factor for him. I actually kind of respected him saying that. A lot of the time we see people insist it doesn’t matter what the other person looks like on the outside, when realistically, that’s a load of crap a lot of the time. At least he’s willing to admit it.
Nev says, “I can’t say for sure, obviously, but there’s a lot of things about Candy that make her seem like a catfish. I mean look, we could be wrong.”
Max cuts in with, “I hope we are wrong. But we’re not.”
Based on how this season has been going so far, they’ve been pulling a lot of bait and switch episodes. So even though this looks like it’s obviously a fake person, I’m starting to wonder if that’s just what they want us to think so that there’s a bigger element of shock at the end when Candy is who she says she is.
I guess we’ll see!
Nev and Max sit down with Traves to give him a crash course in How to Catch a Catfish. This is actually pretty cool, because we don’t usually see them try to crack a case with the person they’re investigating for. Nev checks out her dating profile on Traves’s phone, and the first thing he notices is that the URL that she has a link in it that has Tianna in it instead of Candy. Traves says he never noticed that before.
The URL leads them to a bunch of pictures of Candy, and they start doing a Google Image Search, explaining to Traves what they’re doing while they’re doing it. The first image comes back with nothing, but the second image comes back with a match saying Google’s best guess is that “Candy” is an American porn star named Kapri! Kapri is married and has 16,000 Followers and they find a bunch of pictures of her Traves has never seen.
Traves looks strangely shocked by all of this. “So this whole time… it’s been a porn star?”
Nev’s eyes go a little wide. “Traves. You don’t understand what we’re telling you. You’re not talking to this beautiful woman. You’ve been talking to somebody who took her pictures, made a new fake profile, and started talking to you.”
Traves is devastated. “It just seemed legit.”
“What seemed legit!?” Nev asks, clearly not getting it.
Traves can’t even explain it. He just wants to believe so badly that he’s automatically going to believe somebody’s good even if they aren’t, but like Max says, “If they don’t show you the signs you can’t just give them the benefit of the doubt.”
That’s a jaded and pessimistic way to look at life, but I really can’t blame Max for having this particular view considering what his job is. Traves wants to know where they should go from here, and Max says another thing they do is search for her username in Google and see if she has any other social media pages using the same username. They strike out with Twitter, but get a hit on Facebook using the name Bahama Breez. The first picture they see is one of food, with a tag to her friend Veronica, so they send a message to Veronica and keep chugging away. They run Candy’s phone number, and while they don’t get a name, they do see the phone is registered to somebody who lives in the same city as Traves – not Las Vegas.
“Could this be someone you know?” Nev asks.
But that line of questioning gets interrupted when Veronica calls them back. They explain the situation, and Veronica denies knowing anything about anything, including the Facebook post, but gets awfully shifty awfully fast, hanging up abruptly after saying she’s going to have to call them back.
They decide to wait to hear back from Veronica and to regroup tomorrow. The next day, we get a recap of the situation in the form of a conversation between Lauren and Nev, with baby Cleo hanging out in the background. Lauren suggests he texts Veronica and apologize for coming in a little hot and to ask her to call him back nicely this time. Being the smart man Nev is, he listens to his wife, and they work out a little message to Veronica.
Veronica calls Nev back and apologizes for her behavior, explaining she didn’t know who he was and if he was really from Catfish, and suggests they meet up in person. Max and Nev drive to the address provided, which happens to be a creepy looking alley. Veronica enters the alley and starts walking towards them almost right after they arrive. She’s a little awkward at first, so Nev breaks the ice by explaining that they already know that Candy Red is actually a porn star and not the girl in the pictures.
Veronica drops the bomb that Candy Red is her sister.
She doesn’t know that her sister has been talking to Traves, she doesn’t know anything about the name Tianna, but she does know that her sister has been catfishing people for a very, very long time. She says she’s getting tired of it and her whole family is getting tired of it, too. She wants her to quit for good and that’s why she’s willing to do this with Nev and Max.
They call Traves to meet up again to explain what they learned, and it seems like Nev is stuck on the idea that Veronica could actually be Candy Red and just isn’t saying so. Traves is heartbroken, but says that maybe they can still be friends. Nev is thrown by that, and can’t understand why he’d want to be friends with somebody who has lied to him, used him, and who is basically a con artist. Traves explains he has a history of giving people the benefit of the doubt a little bit too much, and he doesn’t put himself out there because of the fear of rejection. Max talks him up, telling him that he’s a catch and that any girl would be psyched to meet him.
I love how Nev and Max do that kind of thing for the people they work with. Like a few episodes back when Adam didn’t like Mary and they took her out for a date anyway. They come across as genuinely nice guys (and hilarious ones to boot) and I think that’s a big reason why this show has continued to be so successful.
They call Veronica to check in with her, and she says she knows that if Candy gets wind of them meeting up that she’ll bail. So instead, she told her sister that they’re going to the mall to go shopping, and she wants Nev, Max, and Traves to just show up and surprise her.
I feel like I’ve said this the last few episodes, but again, this is an all-new spin on the way things usually go down on Catfish. They’re clearly making an effort this season to shake things up a bit, and I’m absolutely loving it! A Catfish ambush!? How fun does that sound!?
The three boys go to the mall and wait for Veronica and Candy in a parking garage. They don’t have to wait long before a red car comes in hot, and Veronica and Candy start walking towards them.
Candy is obviously mad, and the curses start right off the bat. “What the f*** is this? What is this?”
Nev’s attitude kicks up a notch so he can go toe to toe with Candy. “Alright, alright. Drop the s***. You know why we’re here, you know why you’re here. Stop looking over there, and start looking over here.” He points to Traves who really isn’t looking all that impressed either.
Max asks her what her name is and she replies, “Candy.”
They’re all obviously surprised to hear that, but she maintains it is her name.
Nev says, “Do you know who this is? If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize. But I think that you’ve been talking to him for a few years, sending him pictures of a different girl, telling him you live in Vegas, that you guys are going to be together, then asking for some money. He thought he was dating this girl, but he wasn’t. Right?”
There’s a short pause before Candy admits, “Yes.” She starts apologizing by saying, “I’m sorry. I – I – I …”
But Nev interrupts her, saying, “This isn’t about you. We’re here to help him.”
High five for Nev! And I just have to take a second here to say that Sassy Nev is one of my all-time favorite things. Probably because he’s been catfished himself, he gets really mad really fast sometimes, and it looks like this is one of those times.
Nev gets Candy to admit that she has been catfishing multiple men over the last six years, and Max says on paper, it kind of looks like she might be doing this to scam men. She insists she has never asked any other man for money other than Traves (yeah, right) and says that she would have paid him back if he gave her money.
Nev says, “Look. We already gave him a lot of crap today because he should know better. But more importantly, what he needs to know is, was he just pouring his heart out for somebody who doesn’t really care?”
Candy admits, “I really do care. I wasn’t trying to get money. I really like Traves. I just… feel some type of way about myself. I can’t do this s*** for the rest of my life.” And there, finally, is where we get to see some real emotion come from Candy for the first time since she got out of the car.
Surprisingly, this elicits an emotional reaction from her sister, Veronica. Not because she doesn’t like to see Candy hurting, but instead, because she thinks Candy knew what she was doing all along and she has no business crying and trying to play the victim and insisting she’s going to change when she Veronica knows she’s not.
Meanwhile, Candy continues to cry to Max and Traves, saying she can’t pretend to be somebody else for the rest of her life. Max asks why she’s pretending, and Candy says she’s not happy with herself and she likes the attention she gets by pretending to be somebody else. She wants a real person to want the real her, but it’s hard because nobody does. Pretending to be somebody else and getting that attention gives her a high and makes her feel better about herself.
Veronica approaches her again and asks over and over, “This is it? This is the last guy? The last time? You’re done catfishing?” and Candy says yes every time, but it’s pretty clear that Veronica is buying it whatsoever.
Max seems to finally get through to Candy when he says, “Saying you feel bad, saying you’re sorry, saying you have a conscience is not the same thing as actually showing people that you feel bad. One way to show is to tell Traves who you really are and tell him the truth.”
More tears roll down Candy’s face as she says, “My name is Brianna and I am actually 28 years old.” She has been pretending to be other people since she was 19 years old. Almost ten years!
That seems to be the last straw for Traves, because he turns around and starts walking away angrily with Max following closely behind. He says he’s done with all of it, that she wasted two years of his life waiting for her when he could’ve been with somebody else and it’s all a bunch of bull.
Nev tries to talk to Brianna, who is still crying, and still trying to explain that she just liked the attention when she was younger. Nev says he could almost understand that as a teenager, as a kid, but she’s an adult now and she should know better. He tells her she’s beautiful and that there are a lot of men who would be very excited to be with her.
Brianna breaks down and starts sobbing, saying that she feels ashamed.
Nev made her laugh when he said, “That’s good. The fact that you feel ashamed means that you’re a real person and that you’re not a sociopath.” Then, being the nice guy he is, he pulls her in for a big hug and lets her cry on his shoulder.
I just have to take a minute here to comment on the music, too, because the mood music during this scene was heart wrenching. The song was Habits by Plested, and you should definitely look it up because it sounded great.
Nev walks Brianna back over to Traves, and tries to explain to him why she’s so upset and that she feels really bad. Nev says that he believes her. He tells Traves there have been a lot people on the show that he didn’t believe when they say this kind of stuff, but he believes her. They agree to take a break for today and meet back up tomorrow after they all take a bit of a breather.
The next day they they go to Veronica’s house to talk everything out. Veronica is still bitter as hell. She says she still doesn’t believe Brianna is done with this lifestyle or that she’s really ready to change. Veronica said Brianna has sworn she was going to stop catfishing before and she just can’t.
Traves tells Brianna he’s ready to move forwards in his life, that he forgives her, but he can’t forgive what she did and he thinks it’s better for them both to just sever all ties. Brianna apologizes again, Nev and Max tell Veronica they want her to hold Brianna accountable, and try to pump Brianna up by telling her that today is the first day of the rest of her life. They leave after a round of hugs for everybody.
Nev and Max catch up with Traves via a video call three months later. He says he’s doing well and his self-esteem is better than ever. They call Brianna next and she swears she’s done catfishing. She explains that her sister has been very inspiring, helping build her up a lot, telling her she’s a good person and a beautiful woman. Biggest surprise of all? Brianna is a relationship with a new guy not on the internet.
I’ve said before that I really don’t like it when the person who’s doing the catfishing gets to close out the episode with a happy ending, but for some reason, I didn’t really hold much of a grudge towards Brianna. Even though this episode didn’t work out between the catfish and the bait, both Brianna and Traves seemed happier at the end of the episode, and I guess I have to call that a win, albeit a somewhat unsatisfying one for me.
Catfish is back next Wednesday with an all new episode on MTV, so make sure to tune in!