90 Day Fiance did not even pause for a breather over the holiday weekend.
On Season 8, Episode 4, we were introduced to this season's final new couple -- Stephanie and Ryan.
These two have a lot to deal with, from the age gap, the wealth gap, and Stephanie harboring a major secret that could scare away her cougar cub.
Brandon's mother takes Julia on a tour of the farm ... and a list of mandatory chores.
Rebecca gets good news about Zied's visa, but his family finds the announcement bittersweet at best.
Natalie is cold and feels like Mike didn't prepare for her at all. When he threatens to take her fishing, she wonders if he even knows her at all.
Andrew and Amira begin their plan to meet up in Mexico. The plan immediately backfires.
Yara and Jovi go furniture shopping together, but it all falls apart once Jovi starts putting his foot down about "his" apartment. Even the sales clerk is shocked by his behavior.
Stephanie Davison and Ryan Carr
Finally, four episodes into the season, we are introduced to Stephanie Davison, 52, and Ryan Carr, 27. Stephanie is a businesswoman from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ryan is from Ladytown, Belize. Here, we see Stephanie hula hooping, as she is training to beat the world record, while wearing UV glasses that she believes will help correct her circadian rhythm.
Beauty and youth are her business
She's not just selling products, she's a believer. She takes shots -- literal injections -- regularly, which she believes help keep her looking and feeling young.
She's good at business but not in love
Stephanie is single, and she explains through tears that one thing that really impacted her was growing up in a toxic household. Her father has bipolar disorder, and she says that a childhood in which she woke up not knowing if her father would love her or hate her that day made her reluctant to have children of her own. Yeah, that'll do it. But she IS looking for romance ... and she has found it with a man a quarter of a century her junior.
She first saw Ryan on the beach
She was instantly attracted to him when she spotted him on the beach in Belize, with his hair blowing in the wind. This was three years ago. For months, she kept things platonic, but then four months after they met, she returned to Belize with more romantic intentions.
From then on, they were dating
Stephanie has flown to see him every few months (pre-pandemic). They also video chat regularly. Ryan was pre-approved for a K-1 visa, but then the pandemic hit and through everyone for a loop.
And yes, she knows that she's a cougar
Stephanie owns the label, even referring to Ryan as her "cub." Though she previously dated someone 20 years younger than she is, Ryan is her biggest age gap.
That said ...
She does have concerns. Ryan is on another continent, going months without seeing her. He's hot and young. He also doesn't always pick up the phone when she calls, and she cannot help but wonder what he gets up to ... especially after some past infidelity scares.
Stephanie has a cat, Cooper, whom she clearly loves a great deal. Cooper doesn't know what to make of the production crew but I could watch Stephanie and Cooper's interactions all day long.
This is so much
She feeds yogurt to Cooper from a spoon, which is already amazing enough. But what is that on the wall? Stephanie may not have kids but she has SUCH "mom is dating again" vibes right now and I am here for it.
Stephanie's friend Maria comes over
There are two things to know about Maria: she does not trust Ryan even a little, and she is 100% willing to read tarot cards on international television. Like, I'm a Millennial, a lot of people will do a spread on social media for a friend, but Maria is braver than most. Her card reading casts doubts upon Ryan's fidelity, which ... we're not going to tell anyone what to believe, but one could easily believe in divination and also believe that someone's own personal opinions can seep into how they interpret cards.
Ryan finally tunes in
Stephanie is clearly jealous that Ryan was hanging out with his friends instead of instantly returning her calls. Here's a question: how is he going to spend his time in the US when he's not with her? Some fans are saying that these two have Ashley Martson/Jay Smith vibes, but they seem like they have way more drama.
Ryan is leery of psychic readings
But he tells Maria that he's open to being her friend once he arrives. (Note that when the borders reopen, Stephanie says that she is planning to rush directly to Belize) Marie replies that she'll have her eye on Ryan for sure, an unfriendly statement made in a friendly tone. She is even more convinced that Ryan is manipulating Stephanie, thinking of what kinds of presents she can give him and his friends rather than of love for her.
Oh, and Stephanie has a confession to make
One time, she caught Ryan texting three different girls, so they broke up. Stephanie was devastated and Ryan's cousin, Harris, happened to call. What happened next was that, obviously, she totally boned Ryan's cousin.
Even Maria is shocked
Stephanie wants to tell Ryan to be fully honest with him before they walk down the aisle, which is a good idea. It's not cheating but ... oof, boning an ex's relative is a big deal even if you DON'T get back together, and it's a bigger deal if you do. And Stephanie is also in regular contact with Ryan's mom, so it's not like she's a stranger to the family.
Brandon Gibbs and Julia Trubkina
On the way to Brandon's parents' farm, where Betty rules with an iron fist, Julia asks how long of a walk it would be for her to get to town to, say, do some shopping. The answer is "about an hour." Brandon's mom suggests that they get Julia a bike (since she obviously cannot drive legally in the US yet). It really sets in just how remote and out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere Brandon lives, where Julia was accustomed to living in a city, where she can walk to get anything in minutes.
Guess what rhymes with chores? (More chores)
Though Julia is touched and tearful and overwhelmed upon seeing the "welcome home" banner on the front of the house, Betty quickly kills the mood by taking Julia on a tour of the farm chores that have to be done -- that Julia will apparently have to do.
It's a lot to take in
Julia is trying so hard to keep an open mind, but she is overwhelmed by the amount that has to be done. She is also nervous around the animals and afraid that they will bite her hand as she feeds them.
She keeps her cool ...
... until she is confronted by the pig, at which point her polite facade cracks and she tears up. Pigs are HUGE in person and Julia is TINY and afraid of it. Pigs will devour humans, including their bones, so it's not an irrational fear.
Betty didn't ask "hey, Julia, would you like for me to show you how you could help Brandon with his farm labor if you want to?" Instead, she just told Julia what she'll be doing. In Betty's defense, this is clearly just how she is accustomed to treating people -- she gives the men in her family orders and they obey. In her offense, so to speak, this is a garbage way to behave.
Julia is being SO generous
She vows to give life on the farm one month before she panics and tries to get Brandon to move with her to a city. That's extremely patient of her, and one month longer than I would give farm life. (I have multiple family members who grew up on farms -- my grandmother always told me that she vowed to herself to never even date a farmer because she didn't want that life for herself or for her family)
Julia barely has time to recover
After her Chore Tour, they go inside, where Brandon's mother has left them a "gift"
Cue deadpan laughter
She left out a bowl of chocolates ... and condoms. Let's be clear that this is not an appropriate gift, and wouldn't be even without the cameras filming them. Having a stash of condoms in a common area for a high school or college student to use, no questions asked, is common sense. Shoving a bowl onto a nightstand of a grown adult is weird and controlling.
Julie handles it as well as one possibly can
When someone does something outrageous and rude, sometimes the best that you can do is pretend that they are joking -- as Julia does here, laughing as if it is a gag gift. In private, however, she notes that this is bonkers.
To be clear, it's not a gag gift -- it's a demand
Betty makes it very clear while speaking to the camera that she put that bowl of condoms there to try to force Brandon and Julia to use them. You can tell how much not controlling this one aspect of her son's life is driving her up the wall. You can also BET that she's going to go in and count those condoms and be furious if their numbers don't start dwindling.
The animals aren't done yet
There are live crickets in an open container in the kitchen, of all places, kept there to feed chameleons. At this point, Julia must feel like she's being pranked.
There are more normal adjustments
Julia doesn't know about American salad dressings, as she just uses "oil." She also doesn't know how to express how she wants her steak cooked, but manages to communicate that she wants it well done.
The Gibbs family joins hands to say a Christian blessing, and Julia is thrown for a loop. This is probably so commonplace in Brandon's mind that he didn't think to explain it to her, but those of us who grew up in non-Christian households can all vividly remember our first sleepover at a friend's house or dinner with a parent's work friend's family where we got to experience that unfamiliar custom for the first time.
It's all so different
Julia explains that she doesn't expect to ever get along with the pig, as the massive omnivore very correctly sets off her fear instincts.
Brandon tries again to get his parents to cave on the bedroom situation
The "respect" rule that Betty conjured up is, like so much about this woman, toxic and controlling, but his dad warns that Betty isn't changing her mind. Fingers crossed that this season ends with Brandon and Julia living happily ever after in a city, but ... it's unclear what kind of job Brandon could get where his employer isn't his parents.
Rebecca Parrott and Zied Hakimi
Rebecca is sitting and waiting on a park bench (in a genuinely beautiful little piece of urban growth) and constantly refreshing to see the results of Zied's visa.
Though we already knew that Zied would be approved (context clues plus seeing them together in the trailer), it's great to see the joy wash over Rebecca's face. She deserves her happily ever after.
She calls Zied
Now it's real, it's happening, and after all of this waiting, it's time to see Zied's side of things.
The hardest part is leaving his family
He is their only son, and he's leaving them in Tunis, Tunisia. They will miss him, too ... and they have misgivings.
They don't love that Rebecca has been divorced, for one thing. We're shown a flashback of Rebecca explaining when and where she tried couscous (in Morroco, with her ex-husband). Not that people should always lie to their in-laws, but ... couscous is a normal dish in the US, too, and you can find it boxed in any grocery store. "I've had couscous before" is a complete sentence. ANYWAY, Zied's mom is clearly worried about her son and how well his relationship will go in America.
Mike Youngquist and Natalie Mordovtseva
Waking up in Mike's home in a remote area of rural Washington, Mike is making breakfast. He's excited to serve Natalie some French Toast, but she has to ask what that even is. (Notably, it's not called French Toast in France; there, they refer to is as "lost bread." No idea what it's called in Ukraine or if they even have such a dish)
The oddities are already showing up
Mike notes that they come from different cultures. He has been exposed to her culture a great deal. Now it's her turn to experience his. Notably, Natalie washes the eggs before cracking them, which she says is common in Ukraine.