In this episode of Catfish, we start off in a hotel in Virginia Beach, VA, where Nev is bringing Max breakfast. Once they dig into their food, they also dig right into the story and begin a video from Chelsea.
Chelsea is 21, and she tells the story of how she met a guy named Charles on Plenty of Fish over a year ago. She says he’s nice, funny, and smart – and don’t forget attractive. She says they connected right away and she gained really strong feelings for him. She admits that she’s even thought about moving to Florida to be closer to him, but unfortunately they only message and have only ever had one phone conversation. She says that recently, one of her friends brought something to her attention that she thinks he might be lying about. She needs some help from Max and Nev to meet Charles and get some answers.
Since Chelsea left her phone number, Nev decides to Facetime her right away. Nev tries to get to know her a little bit, and we learn through his questioning that Chelsea is going to school to be a R.N., and she lives with her best friend Dominique and her mom. She talks a little bit more about how she met Charles on Plenty of Fish and how they talked on the phone at the beginning of their relationship but haven’t since. Max asks if she’s tried to call him and she admits that she has, and the number she had no longer works.
Nev asks about Charles, and Chelsea explains he’s 23 and he told her that he’s in the Navy, but when she told one of her Navy friends that her boyfriend was in the Navy and sent him a photo, her friend let her know that the uniform Charles was wearing in the photo is actually an Army uniform.
Max says that’s a rookie mistake to make, and asks if Chelsea thinks he’s lying about anything else. Chelsea says she has a feeling he might be lying about being married or having a child, and he just doesn’t want to tell her. Max suggests that since they’re in the same place anyway, they should just meet up in person.
After getting her address, Nev and Max take off to Chelsea’s house. Max doesn’t waste anytime with telling Nev how he really feels. “If you’ve gone a year and a half and the guy who ostensibly loves you can’t figure out how to be with you physically then he doesn’t really want to be with you.”
Nev counters with, “People feel like they find a special someone and they want to hang in there and they want to make it work, however long it takes.”
“Not worth it,” Max replies.
Arriving at Chelsea’s house, they exchange rather awkward-looking high fives, but things feel more comfortable once they see Chelsea and Nev have the same brand of shoes. Chelsea explains how she ended up living with her friend Dominique, Domo for short, and Nev asks how much Domo knows about Charles. Chelsea says that Domo does know about him, but she doesn’t know everything about him.
Nev backs everything up and asks to go back to the beginning. Chelsea says when she moved in with Domo, her phone was booming, and when she asked what app she was using Domo told her about Plenty of Fish. So Chelsea made a profile, and Charles messaged her and they “started vibing.” He called her, but it was a short conversation, and the next thing she knew he was asking if he could call her back.
When Nev asks why he never called her back, Chelsea says Charles told her he was so busy he couldn’t call her back, Nev exclaims, “Never?”
Chelsea says she didn’t want to push it so much that she pushed him away because she’s really feeling him. She thinks he really cares about how she feels and he isn’t one of those guys who’s only trying to have a sexual relationship. He’s really sweet, and they’ve even had conversations about their future, including her moving to Florida and having children together. For the first time, we hear Chelsea say that she’s in love with him.
After some more questioning from Nev and Max, we learn Charles only has Instagram and Plenty of Fish that Chelsea knows of, and they communicate solely through messaging on POF, except for that one brief phone conversation on the phone. Chelsea says he sounded like a young man on the phone, and Nev says, “Sometimes people will have like a friend get on the phone once. So it could be that Charles is actually a female, or it could be that Charles is somebody you know whose voice you would recognize. Is there anybody you can think of that is weirdly obsessed with you?”
Chelsea admits that her ex-boyfriend asks if she’s missing him, and Max jumps in to ask if Charles asks her if she misses her ex-boyfriend. Chelsea admits that he has before, and this is Max’s reaction:
— Catfish (@CatfishMTV) August 2, 2018
Nev says he thinks they need to get a look at the guy, so Chelsea shows them Charles’ Instagram, and the instantly zero in on the photo of him in the Army uniform (not a Navy uniform)… with a name tag that has the last name Vaughn written on it. Chelsea pipes up saying that his last name is Richardson… which really doesn’t look good, does it?
Max agrees, saying, “I don’t like it.”
After Nev warns Chelsea that Charles may not be who he says he is, Chelsea says if it turns out that way she’s going to be angry because she doesn’t like to waste her time. With that, Nev responds they had better get to the bottom of this, and he and Max leave.
“It seems so obvious it’s a catfish, but when it seems obvious, there must be something more complex going on.”
“Our voice theory has never failed us,” Max agrees. “If someone won’t show their voice to someone, either they’re someone you know already, or they’re someone of the opposite sex.”
“Right. There’s a chance it could be a girl. I think it could be her ex-boyfriend,” Nev offers. “Either way, it’s not looking good for Chelsea.”
At this point in the episode, I’m with them. However, I will say that all during the first half of this season, they kept throwing me off with stuff like this. Making it seem super obvious that it’s a catfish, and then having the guy turn out to be exactly who he said he was all along. So that’s definitely rolling around in my mind as they cut to a commercial break.
When they come back, Max and Nev are setting up shop in a cafe. Nev orders a Portuguese donut, and Max made me laugh out loud when he said, “It sounds like a sex position or something! The Portuguese Donut!”
Things get serious again when they sit down in front of their laptop and give us a recap of what we know so far. They go to the email with Charles’ information supplied by Chelsea, and Max suggests starting with a reverse image search, saying, “We haven’t gotten a good photo hit in a long time.”
Nev runs two photos, then once they come up with nothing, they decide to go to his Instagram and grab some screen shots from there to run those photos. While on his Instagram, they see a “like” from username xo_domo_xo. Immediately, Nev says, “This feels suspicious.” They decide to respond to Chelsea’s email and ask for Dominique’s information. While they wait for a response, they run the images they grabbed from Instagram and strike out.
They look up the phone number next, and see it’s registered to www.bandwidth.com, which they explain away by saying it’s a text app. Next up, they run his handle to see if he has used the same one on any other social media sites. Still coming up blank, they decide to try to find the Vaughn guy from the Army. They do a Facebook search for “Vaughn US Army,” and after some scrolling, they find a man named Jalyll Vaughn who looks like he could be a match.
Clicking through his photos proves that “Charles” is in fact using Jalyll’s face, so they reach out to Jalyll to confirm he hasn’t been speaking to Chelsea. They send him a message, and then check Chelsea’s response about Domo’s information, and heeeey, xo_domo_xo is her best friend after all.
As Max says, “She could be following him because her best friend is dating the guy, but… suspicious!”
After some clicking around, they see that Charles follows Domo as well, and they decide to snoop around her page, which is filled with selfies. “She seems like such a confident person. Doesn’t seem like a catfish to me,” Max says. “She’s just too self involved.”
Just then, their phone rings and they Facetime with Jalyll to explain what’s going on. They ask if he knows who Chelsea is, and after he confirms that he doesn’t, they thank him for his service in the Army and end the call. Now knowing that the guy in the pictures is Jalyll, they know Charles is lying.
“We don’t know what he looks like. We don’t know where the phone is registered to. Why won’t this person talk on the phone?” Max asks.
“Because they’re female, they know their voice, or both. It sounds like it could be her friend,” Nev guesses.
But Max disagrees. “It’s not the friend. She’s more into herself than she is into her friend. I think it could be the ex-boyfriend.”
For me, I feel as stumped as Nev and Max. There’s no good evidence to support the ex-boyfriend or the best friend theory. At this point they’re just grasping at straws, and I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Which, of course, is what happens as soon as they come back from commercial. Nev bursts into Max’s hotel room telling him they got a DM on Instagram saying, “Hey, I’m trying to reach Nev and Max. I need to talk to you. It’s about Chelsea, please call me.”
The person who messaged them has no posts and no followers, so they have no choice but to call them with the number provided… which goes right to voice mail. “It’s typical,” Max says. “We’re dealing with catfish, Nev. They’re not known for their responsiveness. They’re fish – they float.”
— Catfish (@CatfishMTV) August 2, 2018
Nev leaves a voice mail, and they decide to call Chelsea and head over to her place to catch her up on what they’ve learned so far – which really isn’t much. They walk her through step by step, and the first reaction they get from Chelsea is surprise over Domo and Charles following each other. She didn’t know that was happening. Then Nev and Max tell her all about Jalyll, and Chelsea is (surprisingly?) shocked that Charles isn’t who he said he is.
“I wasted a year and a half on somebody who’s fake? I can’t trust anybody.”
Whomp, whomp. I’m sorry, but girl, have you seen this show? She already said she thought the guy might be married, so I’m not getting how she’s at all surprised he isn’t who he said he is.
Nev then tells her about the DM and the voice mail, which he plays for Chelsea, and she has a strong reaction to it.
— Catfish (@CatfishMTV) August 2, 2018
Honestly, I was a little skeptical of this. They talked once, briefly, a year and a half ago and she remembers the dude’s voice? I don’t know about that.
They get a text message from the number that was DMed to them, and once Nev asks who it is, the person responds with, “Can we just meet in person?” Not willing to turn the person down, they hop in the car and drive to the person’s house when they provide an address.
Once they’re in the car, Chelsea admits she’s nervous because she thinks the person they’re texting is Charles based on the excuses he’s given so far. Max reminds her that they don’t know anything. “This could be a friend of the catfish, it could be an accomplice of the catfish, it could be the catfish.”
“I feel like it’s the catfish,” Chelsea says.
Nev answers, “Well, we’re about to find out.”
They pull in front of a house and see a man sitting on the front porch. “Do you know that guy?” Max asks.
“I’ve seen him before,” Chelsea answers.
Nev goes over to shake his hand, and the man introduces himself as Chad. Chelsea says she used to go to school with his brother, and she’s seen him around the neighborhood before. Nev cuts right to the chase and says that they don’t know what’s going on. Chad asks if Chelsea recognizes his voice, which Chelsea responds to with yes.
— Catfish (@CatfishMTV) August 2, 2018
But he isn’t Charles. He apologizes for it, but explains that Charles just asked him to do him this favor and he did it. Chad invited him over, tried to get him to come clean, and Charles took off down the street five minutes ago. On foot.
Not surprisingly, Max, Nev, and Chelsea take off down the street after Charles.
Again, I hate to say it, but this part of the episode seemed really forced to me. It came across as contrived and unbelievable, and not in the fun way I usually feel about Catfish. It seemed scripted, it seemed planned, and I really disliked that part of this episode. While I understand there’s probably some acting involved in the show, I much prefer it when I can buy into the reality aspect of it, and this episode failed at that in my opinion.
Driving down the street, they come across a park where they see a woman sitting at a park bench. “Do you know this person?” Max asks.
“Is that who we’re looking for?” Nev asks.
“That’s Domo,” Chelsea confirms. “I don’t know if that’s who we’re looking for, but I don’t know why Domo would be out here.”
Once they get out of the car and approach her, Domo starts off with, “Before you get upset or anything, I just want to tell you Charles isn’t real. I’m Charles. I’ve had a crush on you for almost two years now. I really like you, I could say I love you – I do love you – but, you know, I don’t want to seem crazy or anything.”
“Why did you keep it going so long?” is the first question Chelsea has for her.
— Catfish (@CatfishMTV) August 2, 2018
Domo explains she felt more confident portraying herself as a guy that she knew Chelsea liked. Domo lays all of the cards on the table, admitting that she wants to see if they could move on to be more than friends.
Nev asks some questions, and Domo tells us the only person who she told was Chad because she needed to make it seem legit at the beginning in order to get Chelsea to talk to her. The plan in the beginning was just to get a more intimate relationship with her. She says she doesn’t want to lose Chelsea as a friend, but she feels like if she can get Chelsea to feel “some type of way” for Charles, then she definitely thinks she could get her to feel the same type of way for her.
Chelsea says this is too much, she shouldn’t have done it this way, and she went about it all wrong. I can’t say I disagree. Chelsea needs a minute, so Nev takes a little walk with her to try to calm her down. Chelsea explains she’s really mad because of how far Domo took it for so long. Max tries to talk to Domo, telling her that what she did was definitely not the right way to go about this.
Max reminded us that Domo and Chelsea live together when he asked, “So when she’s messaging this guy all day every day, she doesn’t realize that she presses send and your phone buzzes?” Domo answers that she usually has her phone on silent. Max asks, “Do you guys sleep in the same room?”
“We sleep in the same bed,” Domo answers. And woooooah. That just got all kinds of weird for both of them! We have Domo sleeping in bed every night with the person she’s in love with, and Chelsea thinking she’s sleeping platonically with her best friend when she had no idea that she was feeling that way! That has to feel at least somewhat violating, I would think!
Meanwhile, Chelsea says to Nev that she’s going to have to leave for a couple of days because she can’t go back home with her. Nev offers to get Chelsea a room at their hotel, and they all make plans to meet up again tomorrow. Domo starts crying when they walk away, and Max comforts her by telling her if it’s any consolation, she did eventually do the right thing.
So the next day they meet back up at Chelsea and Domo’s house. Chelsea says she’s a little nervous about how Domo’s mom, Betty, is going to feel since she’s like a mom to Chelsea, too. Once they get to the house, Domo meets them outside and tells them that her mom is inside but doesn’t know what’s going on. She says she wants to tell her mom the circumstances since they all live together.
Nev takes the lead and explains to Betty why they’re there, then leaves the confession part to Domo. She tells her mom she had a crush on Chelsea and that she was too scared to tell her, so she made a fake POF account and started talking to her as Charles. Her mom says she’s disappointed and not something she would have thought Domo would do, but all in all, it’s a lesson learned for everybody. Betty seemed pretty chill. As a parent myself, I’m not sure I would react the same way after learning my child has been deceiving her best friend for a year and a half, but maybe she kept her cool for the benefit of the TV, I’m not sure.
Now that Betty has been brought into the loop, Nev and Max give Chelsea and Domo a chance to talk things out just between the two of them. It’s a short conversation, but it ultimately boils down to Chelsea saying she still wants to be best friends. She says, “I’m not saying I’m not gonna have a relationship with you other than best friends. It’s just that now you gotta build your trust up a little bit.” Which honestly surprised the heck out of me. She says she’s going to stay with her mom for a couple of weeks, and Domo says again that she never should have done what she did. They hug it out, and Nev and Max come back in to wrap everything up before they take Chelsea to her mom’s.
We get the black screen with two months later… on it, and the girls are sitting together in the kitchen.
“What’s the status of things? Let’s just cut to the chase here! Come on!” Max prompts them.
Chelsea explains that she’s still feeling hurt a little bit, but they did go on a couple of dates, and they found things a little awkward between them. Domo says it felt different for her, and she wasn’t really feeling it how she thought she would, and said they should just keep it how it was. They’re continuing to work on their friendship, Chelsea just recently moved back in, and she’s happy to be back home.
Nev wrapped it up pretty well in the episode by saying it might not have worked out the way they both thought, but they learned a lot, they’re still friends, and that’s still pretty decent in the end. I’m going to leave you guys with that, too.
Catfish airs on MTV Wednesday nights at 9/8C, so make sure to tune in for the next episode!