Temptation Island's Kaci Says She 'Blacked Out' After Evan's Final Decision: 'I Was in Shock'
On the reality show, four couples were forced to decide whether to commit to a lifetime together or give in to temptation
WARNING: The following contains spoilers from Tuesday’s season finale of USA Network’s Temptation Island.
The show, which premiered in January on USA Network, has followed four couples at a vulnerable time in their relationship. Together, the couples traveled to Maui, Hawaii, where they were separated and then joined by a cast of love-hungry men and women, ready to steal hearts. Ultimately, each couple was forced to decide whether to commit to a lifetime together or give in to temptation.
On Tuesday’s season finale, Evan Smith, 28, and Kaci Campbell, 29, came face-to-face for the first time after being apart for 30 days. In the heart-wrenching final bonfire, they were each asked whether they wanted to leave together, alone or with one of the singles.
Smith decided to leave with Morgan Lolar, the 27-year-old realtor from the D.C. area who he hit it off with early on in the season. But it didn’t end there — when the show flashed forward six months later, catching us up to where everyone stands currently, Smith got down on one knee and proposed.
Speaking to PEOPLE exclusively, Campbell opens up about her experience on the show, her heartbreak and how she’s moved on.
“When he did what he did to me on that show, it blew my mind,” Campbell says. “This was someone that I considered my partner in life, my best friend, the person that I’m supposed to trust to protect me and my heart forever. And he humiliated and blindsided me on national television with zero hesitation.”
Campbell and Smith went to rival high schools and connected right before college. Going into the show, they had been on and off for 10 years, and exclusive for the past five. While Campbell was ready for marriage, Smith couldn’t bring himself to get down on one knee. A casting director reached out to them via social media last summer, and after much debate, they agreed to do the show.
“We were going through the casting process for at least a month and we talked every single day about every single scenario and it just felt really right for us to go there considering where our relationship was at,” she explains. “We came up with a game plan, and you guys saw how it played out — he did not follow the game plan at all.”
The game plan, Campbell says, was as such: “I told him no matter what I see, no matter what I hear, under zero circumstances am I to blindside or humiliate him, and vice versa. That was a promise that we made to each other.”
On the show, the couples are regularly presented with clips of what their significant other is up to. So as Smith’s relationship with Lolar took off — they had sex in episode 6 — he knew that Campbell, just across the island, was painfully aware of what was going on.
Going into the final bonfire, Campbell says that while she was “completely disgusted” with Smith’s actions, she was determined to stick to the plan.
“I did not want to humiliate him on national television, especially considering everything that he’s already been through,” she says. “It felt wrong to me. I really wanted to go home, to the privacy of our home, and hash things out like two civil adults that respect and care about each other.”
When Smith said he would be leaving with Lolar, Campbell went off the rails, begging him to reconsider.
“I don’t even remember a lot of it,” she admits. “I feel like I kind of blacked out. I was in complete and total shock and panic mode.”
“I’m almost getting emotional talking about it because I wish I went in there and was like, a bad bitch and handled s— and put him in his place,” she continues. “But that’s not who I am. I did what I did and I wish I didn’t but at the end of the day, I have a good heart and I’m loyal and I think that shows. I’m not ashamed of that at all.”
After the show ended, Campbell flew back to Los Angeles alone. She says Smith arrived a few days later — with Lolar.
“They stayed in a hotel down the street from our apartment while I was at our apartment,” she says. “He was texting me nonstop, begging to see me. I finally let him come over. He was crying, telling me how he thinks he made a mistake and he took it too far and he lost his best friend and partner that night.”
Campbell says that Smith led her to believe that he would be ending things with Lolar.
“He was like, ‘We’re going to work this out. There’s hope for us. We can live separately for a while, we’ll figure it out,'” she recalls. “It was a whole thing. He literally was trying to fix us back together.”
“Then he flies to Virginia and I think that things are going to be ending between them,” she continues. “He dumped me again over text like, four days later. That was Oct. 16. At that point, it was a light switch. After everything he did and everything that he tried to fix when he got home, I was just like, okay, done. There’s something wrong with this guy. There’s no way I can allow him to be in my life any longer.”
“The craziest part is before he sent me this novel text breaking up with me again from Virginia while he was with Morgan, literally two hours before that he sent me a text that said like, ‘Thinking of you,’ with heart emojis,” she adds.
In a statement, Smith tells PEOPLE: “Kaci and I did talk after wrapping the show in October about our experiences and how hard both our journeys were. I never had a doubt about Morgan or thought I made a mistake.”
According to Campbell, they haven’t spoken since.
“He’s tried reaching out through phone messages, text messages, direct messages,” she says. “He’s reached out to my friends. I’ve ignored him. I blocked his number, I blocked him on social media and that’s that.”
Despite the way things ended, Campbell says she wishes her ex nothing but the best.
“I really hope that Evan heals so he can be the man that he should be for her,” she says. “I really do wish that. It’s not her fault, honestly.”
Of their engagement, Campbell says she wasn’t shocked — “it’s typical, impulsive Evan” — and that she hopes things work out.
“I really do. I hope that they have a healthy life together,” she says. “Do I think that’s going to happen? No. Evan needs to work on himself and the demons that he has before he can be a good husband to anybody.”
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At the end of the day, Campbell says she has no regrets about doing the show.
“It’s the most bizarre statement, but Temptation Island saved my life,” she says. “It’s the biggest blessing that I think could have possibly happened to me. It saved me from a toxic situation that I was blind to for a very long time. And even though it was heartbreaking and horrible and traumatic, the best things come out of the worst things and I would do it all over again, for sure.”
These days, Campbell says she’s “genuinely happy” and living her best life.
“It’s the craziest thing because I really thought Evan would be in my life forever, but I am so happy that he’s gone,” she says. “To be free and feel relief every single day is an incredibly empowering feeling.”
As for her own love life? She wants to keep it relatively private for now, but says she’s “definitely dating around.”
“I’ve never been truly single before, not since I was 16 years old, so it’s very weird just being a grown woman and being single but it’s super fun,” she says. “I do have feelings for someone. I don’t know how that’s going to play out, or what’s going to happen, but I hope that we can figure it out as time goes on.”