Fellow fishermen, we have reached the end of season 3. Can you believe it?
As a present for wading through all the complex cyber love stories this season, Catfish is giving us a guest star. In this episode, Selita Ebanks is taking shotgun, while Max Joseph is sent to the back of the car to film. After hearing the model was a fan of the show, Nev Schulman invited her for a ride-along. At first it seems ridiculous to have a random celebrity join the team, but Ebanks proves she knows how to serve harsh truths and offer tender moments just as well as Nev and Max.
In this finale it was Ebanks who truly shined, helping catfishee Bianca sort through all the drama, confusion and acceptance only a Catfish adventure can bring.
Read on to see how Catfish‘s three musketeers handle this case, and check out the “three red flags” that led to “the big reveal,” and “the silver lining” that followed.
The Catfishee: Bianca, a lesbian who feels trapped and misunderstood in her conservative North Carolina town.
The Catfish: Brogan, a girl who shares Bianca’s love for body modification and understands her struggles.
Along with the usual complications, this episode has a vanishing act as well. Bianca and Brogan first met on Facebook and bonded over their mutual love for piercings and tattoos. Talk of gauges and ink eventually turned more serious, and Bianca felt she finally found someone she could open up to, but then she disappeared. For a year, Brogan’s Facebook account was deactivated, leaving Bianca clueless to where she went. But then Brogan returned, offering no explanation. Afraid of scaring her away, Bianca allowed her confidante back into her life without question. Now Bianca is looking for more from Brogan, which leaves Nev, Max and Selita searching for answers. Here is what the trio uncovered:
1. There is a blogger calling out Brogan’s identity. When the group searches Brogan’s full name, a since-deleted post from someone’s personal blog pops up as one of the first results asking, “Who the hell is Brogan?” That’s what we want to know!
2. The same blogger and Brogan share some shocking similarities. Sensing a lead, Max suggests looking deeper into the blog with the post about Brogan. Selita discovers (way to go, new guy!) a photo from the chest down of a pregnant woman with the exact same tattoos Brogan supposedly has. Soon photos from Brogan’s Facebook page start popping up on the blog too. Did Brogan disappear because she was pregnant, or is she stealing this blogger’s identity?
3. Brogan’s Facebook photos don’t belong to her. Well, that didn’t take long. A few more minutes of deep digging on this mysterious blog, and the crew uncovers that it belongs to an English girl named Chloe. All the photos Brogan has posted on her Facebook page have been pulled from this blog. Brogan has even gone as far as making up an identity for Chloe’s boyfriend, who appears in many of her photos, telling Bianca that he is her brother.
Here comes the hard part. Bianca has experienced years of discrimination and harassment because of her sexual orientation, but she still is willing to open her heart to people. As you listen to her mother tearfully recount the hardships her daughter has experienced, it hurts to know Bianca is going to be faced with another disappointment. Nev, Max and Selita share their findings about Brogan’s false identity, and you can see Bianca’s optimism crumble.
“Even if they are not visually the same person, it is the voice that has calmed you and allowed you to smile a little bit living in the town that has been so negative,” Selita reminds her.
But Bianca is understandably having trouble seeing past the lie, and she wants answers. Nev takes that as his cue to call Brogan and set up a meeting. Brogan responds with immediate concern about Bianca’s feelings, and quickly (for Catfish standards) agrees to have the Catfish folks fly out to Iowa to clear up everything.
In Iowa they meet Tia, a girl sans tattoos, but overall not a far cry from Brogan visually. She apologizes profusely to Bianca, explaining she made the profile out of curiosity and to deal with her feelings about being overweight and got in far too deep. Her guilt over the Brogan profile is what drove her to deactivate her account for a year, but Tia says her feelings for Bianca were too strong to keep her away for good.
After Tia’s confession, Bianca is still battling to figure out what is a lie and what is real love, so she decides to take some time to think it through. Nev, Max and Selita return to get all of Tia’s story. While Tia had personal battles with her weight and her sexual orientation, she says that her friends and family have always been supportive. So what truly started her self-described “path of destruction?” Bravely, Tia shares she was a sexually assaulted in her freshman year of high school. A horrible event that triggered a series of poor, reactive choices. Tia agrees to tell Bianca the full story, so she can understand Brogan’s origin. The pair exchange feelings, secrets and apologies, and they agree to work on forming a friendship based on the truth.
The Silver Lining
At the check-in, Bianca appears in better spirits. She admits that she hasn’t made an effort to bring Tia back into her life in a meaningful way, because she is still processing. While it’s always a bit of a letdown to be denied a generic happy ending, it is positive to see Bianca analyzing her feelings instead of diving into her emotions head first.
As for Tia, she says it herself : “I am a better person today because of it.” The experience has helped her to realize what matters to her and others in terms of relationships, both friendly and romantic.