90 Day Fiance Ep. 4 Recap: Annie Get Your Buffalo

I missed last week because of my grueling work schedule, but nothing much happened anyway. Luis and David arrived in America, some major red flags were raised by Andrei’s control issues, and we met a new couple–Josh and human Kewpie Doll Aika.

This week began with a major seismic shift as Nicole actually displayed some wisdom regarding Azan’s treatment of her. She doesn’t want him to treat her badly in front of May because she is concerned that May will grow up thinking it’s okay for a man to treat her just as shabbily and dismissively as Azan treats her mother. She probably read this insightful tidbit on a greeting card or in one of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” shlock-fests, but I give her credit for giving some thought to her daughter’s long-term emotional health. Only a little, though, because Nicole also wonders if Azan is parent material–something she probably should have ascertained before she encouraged May to call him Daddy.

Luis and Molly’s younger daughter are chattering away in the car on the way home from the airport as Olivia maintains a steady teenage sulk. The younger daughter–Kensley?–asks Luis if he likes their house as they pull into the driveway. Considering that Luis’ house in the Dominican Republic didn’t have running water, I think it’s safe to say it meets his standards.

Elizabeth meets with an immigration attorney before she leaves for Dublin to visit Andrei. They applied for their K-1 Visa seven months ago and she wants to know why they are still waiting to find out if it’s been approved. The holdup could be that Andrei has been arrested at some point and failed to disclose it to on the visa application, or it could be that he overstayed a previous tourist visa by six months. Whatever it is, it’s clear that Andrei has some kind of skeleton in his closet, the revelation of which hopefully TLC won’t drag out for several episodes. After her meeting with the gloom-and-doom attorney, Elizabeth thinks she and Andrei might have to come up with a Plan B.

Evelyn is driving David around her podunk town, and is miffed that David is not excited about settling there permanently. Her fanatic’s smile falters for a moment when he tells her that he prefers living in cities, but quickly returns as she glosses over his feelings, naively convinced that he will adjust and learn to love it. After all, what city could compete with Claremont, with its one breakfast restaurant, Evelyn’s family band and the accommodations offered by “Pastor Tim?”

Evelyn’s cult is throwing David a party to welcome him to America, but Evelyn is concerned that her friend Michaela–the only voice of reason in her life–will be standoffish. After all, she had the nerve to ask Evelyn if David just wants a green card. David scoffs at this notion. “She knows I’m coming from Spain, right?” Bingo, David. He’s not after the American dream, because he was living the Spanish dream in Granada. Evelyn reveals her ignorance by telling him there’s no such thing as a European Dream and David corrects her, saying that there is, and it’s called quality of life. I love David. What is he doing with this fluffy Christian quisling?

I thought David and Evelyn were going to be boring, but as Evelyn’s selfish, childish and arrogant true colors are coming out, I realize I was wrong. David is concerned that Evelyn is demanding that his friends–who are traveling thousands of miles and spending thousands of dollars to be at their wedding–shell out $100 to rent their own tuxes. David rightly thinks it’s rude to require them to do so and that she shouldn’t be so rigid. Like the spoiled child she is, Evelyn is outraged that David’s friends think they can dictate the details of HER wedding. She finds it frustrating that since she is face-to-face with David, she can’t just hang up on him when he displeases her, as has been her modus operandi thus far. Welcome to adulthood, little girl.

Clearly Evelyn, throughout her sheltered life, has been led to believe she can do no wrong and when she doesn’t get her way she becomes an entitled bitch. When David points out that weddings in Spain are more laid back, Evelyn cuts him off by sniping that they’re getting married in America. David reminds her that she’s marrying a foreigner and might want to give a little consideration to his culture. I like how David stands up to Evelyn, and at this point he should probably realize this pouty Bridezilla has some major growing up to do and postpone the wedding. But he won’t. They never do.

Speaking of men who make bad decisions, David and Annie are traveling to Annie’s village to speak with her parents about the dowry. The villagers put on a show to welcome the foreigner and grease him up for the dowry conversation. Annie’s parents request 500,000 baht, but for some reason settle for the 50,000 baht David is offering plus two water buffalo. Have we stepped into the 18th century? David sports the familiar hangdog look that settles on his face every time he finds out how much it’s going to cost him to purchase Annie. First it was 50,000 baht, then it was 11 baht of gold, and now it’s two water buffalo. Where does it end? David is in way over his head. Clearly this is a financial transaction that David doesn’t have the finances for, so why is Annie still hanging in there? And why would her parents sell their daughter to a broke, middle-aged shlump when there can’t be a shortage of American men with low self-esteem who can actually afford an Asian trophy wife?

Nicole and Azan are discussing parenting techniques over dinner. Nicole tells Azan that if he doesn’t like the way she does something, rather than just tell her not to do it, he needs to discuss it with her. She lords her status as May’s mother over him, but Azan feels that if she wants to thrust him into the role of father, she needs to respect his opinion when it comes to raising May. His point is brilliantly illustrated when the waiter sets a plate of french fries on the table and May goes into paroxysms of delight. (French fries in Morocco?) Azan thinks May should eat healthier foods, but Nicole defends what is surely a steady diet of chicken nuggets and fries because frozen food is just fine. Well, sort of. Frozen broccoli is just fine. Frozen fish and chicken are just fine. Frozen pizzas and fish sticks are probably not.

Azan is used to home-cooked meals, as is the Moroccan way, but Nicole insists that she can’t cook for May every night because, unlike Azan’s female family members, she is not a stay-at-home mom. Azan reminds her that his sister works and points out, as he is wont to do, that Nicole is just lazy. This brings him to her promise that she would make some lifestyle changes by going to the gym and eating healthier foods, which is just a roundabout way of saying that she promised she would lose weight and she didn’t. Nicole didn’t lose weight for the same reason she stuffs her daughter full of junk–Nicole is just lazy.

David and Annie are at a water buffalo farm. David is dismayed to find out that it will cost 75,000 baht to buy the big water buffalo her family covets–he was thinking more like 35,000. Once again, he gulps at the mounting costs of this romantic escapade, and settles for two small water buffaloes. Annie is a suspiciously good sport about David’s inability to meet the expectations for her dowry. Is this all a game to fleece a desperate foreigner? Why else would she and her family settle for 1/10th of the desired cash, a couple baht of gold rather than the customary 11, and two small water buffaloes that may not be up to the heavy work on Annie’s parents’ farm? Hmmm.

After all these concessions Annie may not even make it to America, since David used their airfare money to buy the water buffaloes. What happened to David’s generous friend who was introduced in the first episode? Ten to one he’ll be back next week so David can hit him up for more cash.

 

90 Day Fiance Recap: Before the Trains Wreck

Here we go again with a new set of couples seeking to marry on a K-1 fiance visa, as well as last season’s hot mess, Nicole and Azan. It’s always interesting to see how these relationships play out–for the most part it seems that the people who troll the internet for foreign spouses end up in bad situations (Danielle & Mohamed come to mind), while people who meet organically while traveling have a better chance of making it (see Loren & Alexei). This season includes both types of couples, so we’ll see if this theory holds true.

First up is Molly, a custom bra designer who intends to marry Luis, whom she met in the Dominican Republic. Molly is 41 and Luis is 26–red flag–but Molly seems infinitely more astute than her cougar sister Danielle. She also seems to be doing pretty well for herself, so hopefully Luis doesn’t have a venal mother and sister back in the DR for whom he intends to drain Molly dry in order to support, a la Pedro.

Next we have Elizabeth, who met her Moldovan fiance Andrei in Dublin, where he lives. Elizabeth is the youngest of ten–that’s right, TEN–siblings, and she isn’t even a Duggar. But she is from Florida, a state known for the backwoods tendencies of its citizens, so I guess it’s not that surprising. I already like Elizabeth because she loves her dog and appears to be well-traveled. She and Andrei “came across each other”–I’m assuming online–and her reservations about the complications of a long-distance relationship fell away when she met him in person. Elizabeth describes Andrei as the classic alpha male and a gentlemen despite his rough exterior.

Elizabeth’s family is not on board with her overseas romance. They think Andre could not possibly love Elizabeth, and is just using her to come to America, which isn’t the best way to boost a loved one’s self-esteem. I can see why Nicole’s family would doubt Azan’s motives because duh, Nicole–but Elizabeth is attractive and seems intelligent and confident, so her family’s skepticism is less understandable.

On to Nicole, who incredibly is still with Moroccan Azan and plotting to bring him to the US. Nicole and Azan were last season’s most delightful train wreck. After meeting Azan online, Nicole impulsively flew to Morocco to meet him in person. Azan was taken aback at the real-life Nicole’s physical appearance, lamenting that she was “big, a little.” How could he not have anticipated that she was overweight? Skype can only hide so much and Nicole’s moon face should have been a dead giveaway.

Once in Morocco, Nicole revealed her utter ignorance of Azan’s culture by constantly badgering him for public displays of affection, whining that his reluctance to engage in such behavior made her feel unloved, and turning up her nose at the local cuisine, wondering where she could get french fries instead. Azan appeared to at best tolerate Nicole, but most of the time seemed repelled by her, which is why it’s surprising to me that these two are still involved with each other.

Nicole can’t afford a K-1 visa herself so she needs a co-sponsor to bring Azan to America. Her mother adamantly refused to do it last season, so now Nicole is blackmailing her father and stepmother into co-sponsoring Azan. She tells them if she can’t find a co-sponsor, she’ll take her daughter and move to Morocco. Everyone in Nicole’s family recognizes that she is completely out of touch with reality, and is therefore appalled at the thought of 2-year-old Mae adrift in a foreign country with only this clueless simpleton to care for her. The father and stepmother agree to sponsor Azan, but as they try to impress upon Nicole how much of a risk it is for them, she indifferently shrugs her shoulders.

Next we have yet another middle-aged loser who thinks a twenty-something Asian girl is his true love. Behold the American male midlife crisis. David loves Annie because she makes him feel younger than his 48 years. Rather than going out and acquiring a red sports car, David is opting for the second most obvious midlife crisis symptom and seeking to acquire a young Asian wife. He proposed to Annie after dating for a week or two, so clearly he has completely removed his brain from his decision-making process and is relying solely on his penis.

For her part, Annie has agreed to marry David because she imagines life in the US will be like the American movies she loves. She estimates she is maybe 90% in love with him, which she finds strange because she doesn’t think he’s handsome, but at least he’s nice. And American. And pretending to be flush with cash as he squires her around Bangkok. Cue the secret David is keeping from Annie–his financial situation is precarious, and he’s worried whether her family will accept the meager dowry he is able to offer for her hand. He can only swing 50,000 baht, which is equivalent to around $1,500. This seems like a bargain-basement price for a whole human being, but hey–at least Annie is cheaper than a sports car.

At a family dinner, Elizabeth’s father and siblings grill her about Andrei. They express the same reservations all the families on this show express–Elizabeth and Andrei are moving too fast, they don’t know Andrei, how will he support himself when he gets to the US, and is he just using Elizabeth. Only time will tell.

David’s best friend and his wife are in Thailand to meet Annie and to attend her and David’s engagement party. David’s friend Chris is very supportive of him, but Chris’ awesome wife Nikki (sp?) breaks down the real story. She is skeptical of David and Annie’s relationship because this is the third girl he’s met since his divorce and he’s wanted to marry all three of them. Chris points out that Annie is the first one David has actually proposed to and while Nikki concedes this to be correct, her facial expressions and body language tell us that she knows what’s up.

David starts rattling off all the expenses associated with his engagement, including the “Sin Sod.” Nikki wonders what a Sin Sod is and David admits it’s a dowry. It’s like by using the Thai phrase for dowry, he was trying to obfuscate the concept in hopes his friends wouldn’t catch it. Too bad, David. It seems like nothing gets past Nikki.

David actually describes the dowry as a means of “buying” a wife, which prompts Annie to repeatedly emphasize that she is not being purchased. How demeaning for her to hear him say that. David is a tool. Turns out he’s also a mooch, having borrowed money from Chris several times. Obviously this conversation about money is David’s way of greasing Chris for another loan. Nikki, standing next to Chris with her arms crossed, is sure the request is coming and is clearly over it. Have I said that Nikki is awesome? Chris must be the world’s biggest optimist because he says he doesn’t think Annie is with David for money, since David doesn’t have any money. What we already know that Chris doesn’t is that David has not been truthful with Annie about his finances.

Nicole meets her family for dinner the night before she and Mae leave for a 2-month trip to Morocco. She breaks the “good news” to her mother that her father and stepmother have been bullied into sponsoring Azan. Nicole’s mother, Robalynn (again, sp?), browbeaten and frustrated by a lifetime of trying to manage the selfish, blundering Nicole, is not pleased. The look she shoots her ex-husband says it all.

Robalynn

She vents that Nicole bulldozes her way through life, expecting everyone to cater to her whims, doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “no,” and doesn’t get that life is different from the way she thinks it should be. When Nicole’s father basically concedes that he agreed to sponsor Azan to keep Nicole from spiriting his granddaughter away to Morocco, Robalynn correctly points out that Nicole is holding the whole family hostage.

Nicole’s younger brother agrees. He thinks Azan sounds like a robot when he tells Nicole that he loves her and misses her, and points out that his sister is not a very observant person. This poor family. How awful would it be to have to deal with a person as stupid as Nicole? If she didn’t have Mae, they would probably just cut her loose and let her make her own way, but as dense as Nicole is, she is cunning enough to realize she has the ultimate bargaining chip and shamelessly exploits it.

Back to Molly, whose 17-year-old daughter Olivia is unhappy about Luis’ impending arrival and her mother’s plans to marry him. Molly seems to be a sensitive and astute parent, inquiring about Olivia’s feelings and assuring her that things will be okay. If not, they’ll go from there. I empathize with Molly’s dilemma; as a single parent her children have been her first priority and are worried their mother’s new romance will take her away from them, but Molly feels it’s time to pay attention to herself. Molly may have fallen into the pitfall of being more of a friend than a mother to her older daughter, so now Olivia thinks she has more say in her mother’s decisions than she should have, but who knows? Olivia has a point when she says it’s inappropriate that she and her sister won’t even meet Luis until he moves into their home, so the stage is set for some potentially brutal conflict. I have high hopes that Molly will handle it better than Danielle did, which I guess isn’t saying much, since Danielle was…well, Danielle.