'Married at First Sight' recap: Ryan is caught on dating app, Zack sends Michaela mixed signals, Bao is "betrayed," and Gil drops "love" bomb
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 10/28/2021
Married at First Sight featured Ryan Ignasiak getting caught on a dating app one week before Decision Day, Bao Huong Hoang's best friend throwing her under the bus and telling Johnny Lam some startling information, Zack Freeman giving Michaela Clark mixed signals about their future together, and Gil Cuero dropping a "love" bomb during Wednesday night's Season 13 episode on Lifetime.
Married at First Sight's thirteenth season stars Gil and Myrla Feria, Johnny and Bao, Michaela and Zack, Brett and Ryan, and Rachel Gordillo and Jose San Miguel.
The Married at First Sight broadcast began with the five couples leaving the couples' retreat at a ranch in Brenham, TX.
The couples only had 11 days until Decision Day, and Bao and Johnny were barely speaking. Bao said she and Johnny barely interacted throughout the weekend and so they definitely didn't reconnect.
"I know we agreed to be on Level 1, but I connect on a deeper level and that is fulfilling for me. I have had Level 3 conversations on a plane with a total stranger that were more exciting than Level 1 conversations with my husband. I don't want that," Bao lamented.
With 10 days to go until Decision Day, Michaela and Zack hadn't spoken since he left the couples' retreat, and so Zack requested he and Michaela meet with Dr. Pepper separately.
Michaela said she had reached out to Zack, saying she loved him and wanted to make their marriage work, but he didn't respond at all. Michaela couldn't believe this was the situation considering he had left the retreat and "abandoned" her.
Zack told Pepper that Michaela had been texting him nonstop after her explosive reaction to agreeing to a divorce on Decision Day.
"It was in that exact moment I realized, 'I am no longer doing this with Michaela,'" Zack shared.
Pepper wondered if some learnings were possible, and Zack acknowledged he's not perfect and so he reached out to ex-girlfriends to hear how they think he handled conflict. Zack was told he avoids conflict and doesn't like dramatic reactions to problems and confrontations.
Zack apparently didn't think any of his actions or words warranted Michaela's outbursts.
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Pepper recommended having a conversation with Michaela in which the expert would serve as the communicator or translator in the middle, and although Zack hesitated to see Michaela, he agreed to the joint counseling session.
When Michaela joined the session, she told Pepper, "Zack left me. And I said, 'Please don't leave, please.' And he still left."
"As you know, abandonment is one of my biggest triggers," she explained. "With him knowing I have these issues... and then he [leaves] in such a big and explosive way, that was hard. That was hard on me... [But] I don't want to do that ever again."
Michaela said it was "heartbreaking" to receive no response from Zack when she essentially pleaded with him to give her another chance despite their challenges. Michaela said that she didn't want to lose Zack and had tried very hard, a statement of which Zack appeared skeptical.
Zack was speechless and noted how he just wanted to listen, and Pepper explained to Michaela how he had found the past few weeks "traumatic," especially when Michaela would yell, use bad language and be "high drama."
"Honestly, Dr. Pepper, Zack tries to paint me out to be this crazy, inconsistent person," Michaela complained. "He really does. He says I have these reactions; he has no evidence of me reacting in a bad way to him."
With that being said, Zack announced he had reached his limit and could maybe talk to Michaela another day in the future.
Zack said he had tried his best, and then he stood up and left the discussion.
Michaela, once again, felt abandoned and questioned if she was really the problem. She told Dr. Pepper that she "can" react in an explosive manner but it's not who she is, and she said her only regret was having "a panic attack" when watching Zack drive off, which she said she "couldn't help."
Previously-aired footage was then shown of Michaela knocking over a bench, throwing a stool, slamming a door and more. Michaela cried about how she felt scared, abandoned, traumatized and mad.
"I have not had that kind of feeling since my dad died. I was so afraid of him leaving. In my head, him leaving and him getting on the road, that equaled death to me," Michaela admitted, adding that she didn't think she had done enough wrong to justify Zack leaving.
Pepper asked Michaela to work on the reactions she has.
Afterward, each couple returned to their roots and shared some childhood experiences with their spouse. The couples visited each other's childhood homes or memories, and each participant was asked to write a letter to his or her younger self.
Johnny confessed how he has "daddy issues" and may have deficiencies in marriage due to his father not being around to teach him how to be a man and a woman's partner. Johnny shared with Bao how he was not a happy kid but he learned to appreciate his mother and extended family.
Johnny shared with Bao how his parents would still be together today if his mother had agreed to a reunion and starting fresh in Los Angeles with his dad.
However, Johnny's mother declined the opportunity -- even though divorce brings shame upon Asian families -- and Johnny said he was proud of his mother for saying "no" because she deserved better.
"I really feel like I should be happily married, and for whatever reason, I'm not. But I want to be! Man, I want that so bad," Johnny said in a confessional.
Gil then told Myrla how he had misbehaved as a child and didn't make the best choices. He apparently hung out with "a pretty rough crowd."
Gil also shared the story of his father being shot with Myrla when standing outside of the house where he grew up.
Gil revealed how his father attempted to keep his bedroom door shut after intruders entered their home and then the gunmen fired six or seven shots, one of which hit Gil's father in the neck. Gil's dad eventually died in the hospital, and Myrla was grateful her husband was able to open up in that way.
Jose explained to Rachel how his parents had built his childhood home from the ground up and he was heavily involved in sports, and Rachel said they both had solid upbringings even thought both sets of parents had filed for divorce.
Jose told Rachel that his family ate rice and beans every day because they weren't well-off, but Rachel admitted to the cameras Jose was in a better position that he thought because his parents were able to build a beautiful home.
Johnny proceeded to meet Bao near an open grassy field, where her parents once had a trailer.
"So much about my childhood brought me grief and pain and hurt. Part of me feels that Johnny doesn't deserve to hear any of it, but I feel there's enough of a foundation for us to be vulnerable, and it's important for my husband to understand I am multi-layered," Bao shared.
Bao said that as a child, she would throw fruit into the street and have bonfires for the purpose of burning straw houses and her Barbies. Johnny seemed disturbed, but Bao explained she had no friends when she was younger and needed an outlet.
Bao opened up to Johnny about how her father had PTSD after a war in which he had lost many friends and no one in her community was equipped to manage it when Bao was younger, including her own mother.
Bao broke down into tears as she read her letter to her younger self, and Johnny tried to comfort her by rubbing her back.
"Something clicked in my head... I started thinking, 'Am I like either of my parents?' Yeah! Just viewing my parents' relationship and seeing how unhappy they were has made me feel like it's okay to get divorced," Johnny explained in a confessional.
"I have walked away from relationships very easily because I saw that it's okay to leave -- and that shouldn't be the case. There's something wrong here."
Johnny concluded, "I am expecting too much, and that's not fair. It's not fair to this marriage and it's not fair to Bao. I need to try to make it work."
Bao said she had never shared her full story with anyone else and she wonders whether she would have been better off had her parents actually split up. However, her parents are apparently happily married now after 50 years.
Johnny realized in that moment Bao's parents overcoming so much adversity and struggle in their relationship must have shaped how Bao views marriage and how divorce would absolutely be the last option.
"It kind of makes sense now that Bao is committed to our marriage 100 percent, and it gives me hope," Johnny noted.
With only nine days until Decision Day, Myrla invited Gil to play volleyball with her because she loved to play the sport in high school.
Myrla shared with Gil how her family didn't have a car growing up and so getting to practices was tough. She also showed Gil the tiny one-room home with a tin roof that she had shared with her parents and siblings.
Myrla said she's so proud of her siblings for being accomplished and successful today, and she joked with Gil that her past is why she enjoys high-rises and pretty homes now.
"That doesn't justify anything!" Gil said with a laugh.
"I can see how that's motivation... The person she has become now is totally different from the person she was. She works hard for what she has and she has no shame in who she is. And so, I love that about her, just her drive."
"But sometimes it feels like she forgets where she came from," Gil added, "and I want her to stay true to that and not forget that."
Pepper then met with Rachel and Jose in their apartment, and Rachel said she had learned how to give Jose some time and space during conflict instead of making him hash things out right away. Rachel said once Jose is able to calm himself, he talks things out with her calmly and rationally.
Rachel also said that when Jose needs his space, it doesn't mean that she's being rejected.
Jose also pointed out how he liked the fact his wife is so independent and he's been adjusting to her "modern-woman" ways and what makes her feel happy and comfortable.
Pepper, however, asked the couple to share their biggest secrets with each other in order to truly be vulnerable in their marriage.
And Rachel subsequently told the cameras, "There is something I haven't told Jose about the night he locked me out. And I'm nervous about how he's going to take it. There's that phrase, 'Once a cheater, always a cheater,' and I'm wondering if he's going to have trust issues because of my past."
With only eight days left of the extreme experiment, Zack and Michaela met with Dr. Pepper again "for a closure meeting." He apparently called his wife the night of their previous session with Dr. Pepper, and Michaela said she had no idea what Zack was thinking.
Michaela opened up about how she had given their marriage her "all" and some of her behavior was "misconstrued."
"For Zachary, there is no coming back. And I understood that and I accepted that, and I accept it now," Michaela announced.
Zack insisted he had tried as well and never stopped giving Michaela affirmation and reassurance.
Pepper asked Zack that if she could extract Michaela's dramatic reactions to conflict out of the marriage whether his marriage would be good.
"Correct. I keep saying Michaela is an amazing person. She is the most thoughtful woman I've ever met in my life, and this is worth the sacrifice and the fight," Zack explained.
"It's just we did talk about this throughout the whole process. We did talk about how we could fix it, and it seemed like nothing was working."
Pepper pointed out how Michaela's reactions are not an easy fix but Zack could work on this with her and help her to change.
Zack said he wanted his relationship to be the best it could be, divorced or not divorced.
Considering a divorce was much more significant to Michaela and would really hurt her, Zack declared, "Then I would say 'yes' on Decision Day if that makes Michaela feel comfortable enough just to talk to me again and have a conversation to try to work on this."
Zack said, in his opinion, staying divorced or married would not dictate what their relationship is or becomes in the future.
Michaela told Pepper that she would want Zack's "yes" on Decision Day to be genuine and not just a gateway to future conversation.
"For me, I got the information that I needed during our [prior] meeting. That was a big thing for me. I found closure and I don't really have anything much else to say," Michaela said.
It appeared Zack and Michaela had switched stances or positions, but Zack told his wife that he'd be open to talking to her -- today, tomorrow or a year from now.
Pepper asked the couple to hold hands and agree to talk to each other further -- by having at least one conversation -- and then Michaela cracked a smile and Zack started cracking jokes to make light of the situation.
Zack asked Michaela to have a conversation right away, and Michaela told Pepper with a laugh, "You see where I get confused?!"
Zack wanted to know if his relationship could be fixed, and he said he was ready and willing to take a chance and a risk on Michaela.
That evening, Pepper met with Myrla and Gil, and they talked about Gil's problem of wanting his wife to be more optimistic, positive and open-minded about situations and opportunities.
Gil needed Myrla to improve or lessen her bad moods, and Myrla acknowledged she probably needed to vent less.
Myrla said she and Gil communicated well, in a kind and respectful manner.
"People that love each other," Gil began, before stopping himself. "I'm sorry, people that are married..."
"My husband loves me!" Myrla interjected.
"People that will eventually love each other," Gil clarified with a laugh, "shouldn't talk to each other that way."
Gil confirmed the word "love" had yet to be explored in his marriage, other than Myrla saying she had made the choice to love her husband -- which Pepper said did not sound like "buddy" behavior.
It seemed Gil was in love with Myrla, and he admitted to thinking about being in love with his wife, but he didn't want to say it until he 100 percent meant it.
"I wouldn't say it to just anybody," Gil revealed.
The couple had also agreed to put 20 percent down on a house and wait to have children until they could afford a nanny and comfortably make mortgage payments and take trips.
"But I'm not going to enable certain things... like shopping as much as you do," Gil said, suggesting to Myrla that they could have a house and kids faster if they saved more money instead of spending it on designer clothes and shoes.
Myrla said she was "willing to budge" on her spending but didn't want to "sacrifice joy" just to move up their timeline for things. Myrla told the cameras how she wants to live is drastically different from how Gil wants to live, and she hoped that wouldn't be a dealbreaker for their marriage.
When only one week remained until Decision Day, Ryan took Brett into the woods for a little country outing. He brought her to his family's wildlife property, and the pair fished together.
Ryan told his wife how his father worked all the time or spent time on race cars, which was a money pit that caused a lot of drama in his household. Ryan said the conflict made him hate those cars, and Brett gushed about having a pretty "idyllic childhood."
Brett appreciated how Ryan was letting her in and being vulnerable, and it made her more comfortable in thinking their relationship could still grow.
In her letter to her younger self, Brett wrote that not everyone deserves her heart and she is a kind person who is both beautiful on the inside and out. Brett reminded herself that she's strong and resilient and that a "forever love" she so desires will eventually come to her.
Ryan got emotional when bringing up a tragedy in his past, when one of his best friends, Andrew, lost his life during a freak work accident in 2019. Ryan said he missed his friend every day but talking about him was cathartic.
"I don't know for certainty where the marriage stands right now, but me, speaking for myself, I feel good. I feel better in the past week than I have in a long time," Ryan said in a confessional.
Afterward, Pepper visited Johnny and Bao's place and asked if they had learned everything about each other that there is to learn.
"I can answer that one. I don't think I've learned everything that I can learn, but I've learned everything that I want to learn," Johnny admitted.
Johnny apparently had an eye-opening conversation with Bao's best friend Sarah, who was in the market for a car. She and Johnny discussed cars and then Sarah apparently asked Johnny how his marriage was going.
"I said, 'Well, it's not going well, and this is how I feel right now.' The more I talked, the more she was like, 'Oh, actually this totally makes sense. This is what I understand Bao is like in relationships,'" Johnny said.
Sarah allegedly told Johnny that she would "straight up never date Bao" and would never "allow" any of her friends to date Bao.
"[Sarah said] Bao is a controlling person that tries to break you down and then gets you to the point where you have no choice but to lean on her -- and then she rebuilds you in the exact image that she wants. In the past, this is what she has done," Johnny claimed.
Johnny called the conversation "a big turning point" for him that made him "not want to try at all."
Bao said her past wasn't relevant and she felt "betrayed" by both her husband and best friend.
Bao cried in a confessional over not having solid female friends. She thought Sarah was the one female friend whom she could count on, and Bao complained about how Sarah hadn't seen the changes in her and how patient and communicative she had been with Johnny.
Bao insisted she was holding herself accountable for her mistakes, but Johnny countered, "That is your opinion."
Pepper said that Bao deserved to tell her side of the story and hear why Johnny believed everything Sarah had to say. Pepper wanted Johnny to do some "emotional work" and explain where he was coming from, and Bao agreed that needed to happen.
Meanwhile, Rachel was "sensing some weird tension" with Jose because the previous night, she had admitted something big to Jose.
"I did tell him that I did reach out to an ex-boyfriend and he answered the phone, and he was the one that picked me up. And that's where I was that night, the night [Jose] locked me out," Rachel said in a confessional.
Jose obviously didn't like what he had heard, especially because his father had cheated on his mother during their marriage and so he was sensitive to that.
Rachel promised Jose that she didn't want to blindside him and she had never set out to make him feel jealous or mad. Rachel said she never wanted her husband to even feel the slightest suspicion that she's being unfaithful.
"There are things about Rachel's past that worry me, but when you're in a marriage and you trust someone, you trust someone. My guards will definitely be up but I'm taking it at face value and I am trusting her," Jose concluded.
Bao and Johnny later talked about the Sarah issue, and Bao explained how Sarah tended to be negative during conversations and so she stopped confiding in her as much. Bao said she felt totally disappointed and betrayed that Johnny would talk to her friend about her and vice versa.
"She asked me, like, 'Can you wake up to this and go to sleep with this for the rest of your life?' And I said, 'No.' And when a relationship has gotten to that point, we need to just walk away," Johnny told his wife.
"I don't want to do any more harm than I already have. So I'm not talking because the things that I would say would be very damaging."
"Okay," Bao quietly replied. "I'm still here if you want to have talks. I am open to them. Once again, ball in your court, Johnny."
"Do you see this is why I always feel like it's the 'Blame Johnny' game?" Johnny asked.
Bao said she felt like she had to walk on eggshells around her husband, and the pair's conversation ended there.
The episode ended with an uncomfortable exchange between Brett and Ryan. Brett revealed to Ryan she had received a text from a friend that showed Ryan was on a dating app and matched with someone that she knows.
Ryan took a deep breath and admitted, "I did download it today, but it's not active right now. I can show you it's not active right now."
"Well you matched with someone today," Brett replied.
"I don't know," Ryan muttered.
"You've got one week left, man. You couldn't have waited -- waited a week to jump back in there?" Brett asked.
Ryan promised that he hadn't talked to another woman, but Brett said he had just matched with a girl that very day.
Brett told the cameras that honesty is not Ryan's strongsuit, and Ryan owned up to his wrongdoing.
"It doesn't line up with things you say about respect. So, if it's about respect, that ain't it," Brett told her husband. "Respect is a big deal and you made that very clear."
Ryan apologized but repeated how his profile wasn't active, and Brett said that wasn't going to help his situation because he obviously downloaded the app "for a reason."
Ryan therefore excused himself from the conversation and left their apartment. He told a producer the app had been disabled on his phone.
"The difference between Ryan and I is that I know how to be in a relationship. I know what it takes to have one, and I approached this with that mindset," Brett told the cameras.
On his way to his car, Ryan sent Brett the following text message, "You're welcome to do whatever you deem best for you, honestly. I promise you, that I didn't download it with the intention of it being shown as active until after Decision Day."
Ryan added, "[I] still have no idea why it was showing as active. I never meant to put you in that position."