'Temptation Island' finale: Kate Griffith and David Benavidez and Ashley Goldson and Rick Fleur reveal reunion changes, Casey Starchak no-shows after Ashley Howland rejects his proposal
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/20/2019
Temptation Island's Season 2 finale and reunion special featured a series of jaw-dropping twists and turns during their broadcast on Thursday night, including Kate Griffith and David Benavidez attempting to work things out after he left the show with Toneata Morgan, and Ashley Goldson and Rick Fleur breaking up after being the only one of the season's four original couples to leave the show together.
In addition, the USA Network broadcast also featured several shocking accusations -- such as Ashley Howland allegedly hooking up with Casey Starchak after she rejected his marriage proposal and left their final bonfire with Ben Knobloch instead, and Esonica Veira dumping Gavin Rocker at their final bonfire and then getting caught in a lie after the show wrapped.
The Temptation Island season followed four dating couples at a pivotal time in their relationships in which they had to decide whether to stay committed to each other for the rest of their lives or go their separate ways.
The couples -- who were at a crossroads in their relationships -- traveled together to a tropical paradise, where they were given the opportunity to live the "single life" in attempt to determine whether or not being single was exactly what they wanted.
The stakes were high and hearts were on the line, but each exclusive couple seemed pretty confident their bonds would outlast and conquer any temptation at the beginning of the season. However, that changed for a lot of the cast members.
Ashley G., a 30-year-old store manager from Boston, MA, and Rick, a 32-year-old model from Mattapan, MA, had been dating for four years on and off prior to the show.
Ashley H., a 25-year-old dental assistant, and Casey, a 25-year-old in online sales, lived in Deland, FL, together and had been dating for a year-and-a-half prior to the show.
Kate, a 34-year-old sales consultant, and David, a 28-year-old software sales representative, lived in Hoboken, NJ, together and had been dating for three years prior to the show.
And Esonica, a 30-year-old former Miss Virgin Islands, and Gavin, a 26-year-old in private security, lived in Decatur, GA, together and had been dating for a little over one year prior to going on the show.
The Temptation Island finale began where last week's episode had left off, with David trying to come clean to Kate at the final bonfire meeting. He said he had been drunk and stupid during his time on the show and totally owned it -- and that Toneata never held it against him.
Kate pointed out it was kind of sad a girl would still want to be with him after his promiscuous behavior.
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David then revealed he had sex with Toneata during their overnight date, but it seemed Kate had already shut down and was no longer interested in what he had to say.
David somehow still insisted he was committed to his relationship with Kate during the process and had wanted to work on things; however, he said he needed to be with a woman who trusts him and believes in him.
Kate said she had been hoping to leave the show together from the start and move on with their life stronger than ever, but she noted all David had showed her was that he's untrustworthy and didn't deserve her love and affection.
"Thank you for showing me who you really are," Kate told David.
Kate and David could each decide to leave the island together as a couple, separately, or with a single he or she had met on the island.
Kate then revealed her final decision of Temptation Island, to leave the island alone as a single girl.
In reply, David said he had grown more than he could have ever imagined, adding that he had gained sincere feelings for Toneata that he couldn't explain.
"So, I'm leaving the island with Toneata," David shared.
Kate told Temptation Island host Mark Walberg the next man she dates is going to be really lucky because she loves the confident woman she had become.
David and Kate then hugged goodbye, and David was bawling in her arms to the point where he couldn't even control what was coming out of his nose. David quietly apologized to his now ex-girlfriend for what he had done, but Kate said she was a big girl and could handle a lot.
"I feel like I was able to express myself and express everything I wanted to say to him. It feels amazing and so liberating... Hopefully he takes all of that to heart and it will make him a better person in the future," Kate told the cameras.
"This is a pivotal moment for me. This is taking ownership over the decision I've made... I know he wasn't right for me."
David admitted once Kate left the final bonfire he felt "really guilty" about hurting her but it took coming to Temptation Island to realize what he really wants in a relationship that's going to make him happy.
"I'm on the way [to falling in love]. I can't tell you how good it feels that I'm going to see Toneata right now," David said. "What makes me happiest is leaving the island with Toneata."
David then revealed he planned to move to Los Angeles to be closer to Toneata and attempt to make things work with her.
Next up was the final bonfire for Esonica and Gavin. Gavin came to Temptation Island to have some questions about Esonica answered, but instead, he said he learned a lot about himself and his own flaws.
Gavin learned he should be more receptive to other people, and he feared losing Esonica for good.
Esonica knew Gavin was a good guy who made her happy, but she had formed an emotional connection with Kareem Thomas on the show. She loved his energy and apparently got physical with him during their overnight date.
Esonica felt "something special" for Kareem, but at the same time, she loved Gavin and had loved him for a long time.
Meanwhile, Casey said he brought Ashley H. to Temptation Island because his girlfriend had some insecurity and trust issues, although their relationship was "great" and "awesome."
Casey initially thought the show was going to be a fun, wild ride but he ended up learning a lot more about himself than he had ever expected.
Casey said he looked inward for once in his life and discovered he was "weak" for not addressing issues, for sweeping problems under the rug, and for not making Ashley H. feel more loved.
Casey believed there was a chance Ashley H. was still in love with him and that her feelings for him would come rushing back once they reunited.
Ashley H. walked into Temptation Island thinking her relationship was pretty much perfect, but then she heard Casey say he'd be "okay" if Ashley H. broke up with him and he'd just go back to living the fun, single life and hooking up with girls.
Ashley H. said Casey's flippant remark was a turning point for her and then she got to know Ben, who showed her true happiness. Ashley H. said she loved Casey still but her love was no longer the same.
Heading to the final bonfire, both Esonica and Gavin were feeling anxious and uneasy. Gavin feared this meeting might be his last time ever seeing Esonica and that she had moved on, but he intended to fight for her and their relationship.
When they reunited, Gavin apologized to Esonica for not paying attention to her and not being as sensitive as he should have been. He also said sorry for not being more supportive and patient. Gavin said he didn't regret appearing on Temptation Island because he had grown a lot.
Esonica told Gavin that she had a lot of time to self-reflect and recognized her flaws; however, she wanted him to love her flaws and all.
"I just feel like you don't see me, and that's hard for me to accept," Esonica said.
Gavin insisted he could see Esonica now and was scared to lose her. Seeing Esonica with another man made Gavin want to try harder, but Esonica said it was hard to watch Gavin question whether she's The One for him.
Gavin then revealed his final decision.
"Before this experience, I thought I loved you, but as this experience went on, I know I love you now. My decision is I do want to leave this island with you because I love you and I want to be with you -- no games," Gavin explained.
In turn, Esonica revealed, "I think the best decision is to leave with someone new."
Gavin said he wanted to see Esonica happy, and if that meant leaving with someone else, he'd be happy for her. With that being said, Gavin left the island single, and he was heartbroken.
Gavin confessed he loved a little too late but at least he and Esonica had received the clarity they needed.
Esonica chose to leave with Kareem, and he was so excited about her decision. The pair were committed to leaving the island together, and Esonica felt she had found something very special.
"I've learned the possibilities of letting my walls down and really allowing myself to feel the potential of love," Esonica said in her final words before kissing Kareem in the car on their way out.
And finally, Ashley H. and Casey met at the final bonfire. Casey's gut told him that he and Ashley H. were going to leave as an engaged couple, but it seemed like Ashley's heart was leading her in a different direction. Ashley H. said she knew exactly what she needed to do, and the idea of it made her cry.
Ashley H. and Casey gave each other a big hug, but once they let go, Ashley distanced herself from Casey on the bench -- and it was very obvious to him that she was disconnected.
Ashley H. had the chance to speak first, and she said she had become more confident in herself and realized her self-worth. Ashley H. insisted she was stronger than ever and was no longer a scared little girl.
"I have grown into somebody that you don't know... You put our relationship on the line for your own selfishness, but I don't regret coming here now," Ashley H. began, as Casey openly wept. "Because I wouldn't have found myself where I am right now."
Casey then told Ashley H. he was sorry for everything -- for not listening to her when she wanted to be heard and for making her feel like she had jealousy and trust issues when really he had been at fault.
"All of those things were just you being madly in love with me and me not returning the love you were giving me," Casey said.
"I know you have no regrets, but I do. If I could do this all over again, I never would have brought you here and put you in this situation. There are so many things I should have done differently, but I promise you that I'm not the same Casey at all."
Casey then told Ashley H. that he wanted her to be his "baby" and he had a really big question for her.
"I can't live with myself if I don't ask," Casey said, as Ashley H. shook her head in annoyance and frustration.
Casey then got down on one knee and said, "You're the only woman that I've ever loved in my life and you've told me that you want everything with me. You told me if I were to propose, you would say 'yes.'"
Ashley H. couldn't even look Casey in the eye and seemed pissed off, prompting Casey to repeat, "Baby, baby," while appearing upset and startled.
"I can never imagine myself spending time without you. I just want us. I just want it to be me and you, baby. Ashley, my last date I went on, we went ring shopping," Casey said, presenting Ashley H. with an engagement ring.
"Will you marry me, baby? Because I love you and I want you to be my baby, baby for the rest of our lives and I want to die next to you."
Casey cried in Mark's arms with the ring in his hand, but Mark assured him he'd be a great man for the next woman he meets. Ashley H. then broke down into tears once Casey left.
"From the second she walked in and the looks that we gave each other, I knew she had moved on," Casey told the cameras in his final words.
"That was the worst, most horrible look I've ever seen in my life. My best friend is gone. She didn't even look like she wanted to be my best friend anymore. She said the clip that set her off was me saying that if she was to break up with me I'd be okay."
Casey continued, "I never said that. I know that I never said that, and I'm still in shock. For some reason, I still have hope... and we'll talk about this. I just need another shot. I'll have this [ring] in my back pocket every day until she's ready."
Ashley H. said dumping Casey was so hard and she was so mad that he proposed marriage to her.
Ashley H. said that once she found herself, she found a man who loves her for who she is. With that being said, Ashley H. and Ben reunited, and he seemed thrilled.
Ben gushed about how Ashley H. was beautiful and he was so excited about their future together. He kissed his new girlfriend, and Ashley H. was all smiles again.
"I feel ecstatic to start a new chapter of my life with Ben," Ashley H. said in a confessional.
Ben then looked at Ashley H. as they drove off together and said, "There is nowhere else I'd rather be than with you right now."
It then became time for the reunion special, and Rick immediately announced he and Ashley G. were no longer together but they were better off as friends.
"Right now, I have no feelings towards it. I'm pretty numb," Ashley G. said. "I just think we shouldn't have left the island together."
Kate revealed she and David never broke ties completely because they had been together for two years prior to the show and had things to settle, such as moving out of their shared place.
Kate said footage of David hooking up with multiple women will never get easier for her to watch, and David owned up to having betrayed Kate. David even said he was disgusted with himself.
Single Samantha Hoffman said David had kissed her in the audio room but it wasn't caught on-camera, but David denied that and said she was just "bitter" because he had chosen his connection with Toneata over what they had towards the beginning of the show.
Kate said she deserved to know the truth, but David continued to deny he had ever kissed Samantha. He said he didn't remember, but then a video clip played of David saying he wanted to be "inside" of Samantha.
"I just feel like she deserves to know the truth now that you guys are talking. I know you posted a picture Kate, and woman to woman, I know that was from David's balcony because I've been there. We also stayed the night together," Samantha alleged.
"And what happened when you stayed the night?" Kate asked.
"We had sex," Samantha admitted. "I'm just trying to let these women know how much of a sociopath you are."
Kate thought she and David were going to be a united team at the reunion, and she was clearly upset. But David said he never hooked up with Samantha and didn't understand why she was claiming that.
Kate said her friends thought she was crazy for letting David redeem himself and feeling any forgiveness.
"Are you still in love with David," Mark asked.
"Of course I am," Kate replied, before telling David, "Having me come to L.A. and then in between being with someone else is not growth."
Kate started crying and then had to walk offstage because she felt "so embarrassed." David told Kate to believe whatever she wanted but he thought their relationship was stronger than that.
During the reunion show, Toneata revealed she and David flew straight from Hawaii to Los Angeles but then they learned more about each other and determined they weren't the right fit for each other.
Toneata said David had met her mother, which seemed to shock Kate.
"I told you that," David whispered.
"No you didn't," Kate replied.
Toneata initially thought David wanted to be with her, but then she discovered he wanted to become an actor and a model. She also said David often returned to New Jersey and it was difficult to maintain a long-distance relationship.
"I just felt like maybe what David needed wasn't an independent woman and maybe he wanted somebody who was more clingy and would give him more attention and be there for him," Toneata explained. "I'm not going to lie, it felt like you used me... I want a man who really wants me."
Dominique Price said he and Kate talked every day until the end of September and then Kate stopped texting him. Dominique later realized Kate was back in her relationship with David.
Dominique said he can't be friends with Kate if she's genuinely back together with David because "then she's a liar, just like he is."
Kate apologized for letting anyone else into her "mess" and told Dominique he had been an amazing friend to her throughout the process. Kate still had a lot to process, and she was no longer sure she and David could fix things.
"Kate and I have been physical, but that's it... I'm just trying to work on Kate and I and trying to figure ourselves out," David shared.
Kate said the whole situation was "twisted," and Samantha was shown saying she felt "disgusted" by everything. Kate apparently hoped David would have grown from his experience and mistakes on Temptation Island, but she wasn't so sure whether he'd ever become the man she deserves.
"This is clearly a disaster," Kate said, before a few of the single girls were shown saying they hope Kate leaves David but she's probably not going to.
As for Esonica and Gavin, the pair apparently talked after the show and Esonica allegedly left out she had an intimate moment with Kareem during their overnight date.
"I saw stuff happen that I was told did not happen," Gavin explained.
Esonica admitted she and Kareem didn't speak much after leaving the island. Esonica appreciated Kareem for being her "saving grace" in the house because it was hard, but it was clear she was trying to figure things out with Gavin.
"There's not a romance between me and anybody [today]," Esonica said.
"I felt like I should have left [the show] alone because it was an injustice to everybody and most importantly an injustice to myself. At that time, I wasn't strong enough to walk on my own."
Gavin felt Esonica had lied to him, but Ashley G. said they could work out if they let go of their pride. Esonica said she was not proud of her behavior and she really loved Gavin.
"It's not who I am, so to just treat me like I'm nothing because I mess up sometimes is just killing me. It's a lot of stress," Esonica cried. "I don't want to do this anymore."
Gavin understood he brought Esonica to Temptation Island and she made a connection with a man who had supported her, but Gavin said he lost respect for Esonica due to her lies.
"You can love somebody you don't have respect for," Gavin snapped.
"Alright, well, thank you for the humiliation. A round of applause, everyone, and cut this sh-t," Esonica said in frustration.
Esonica then stormed off the set crying. She said she wanted to go home and couldn't be on the set anymore.
It then became Ashley H.'s turn to dish on her love life, and Casey was nowhere to be found. She said Casey did not appear on the reunion because he had a very emotional experience on Temptation Island and didn't want to relive it.
Single Payton Burgess said Casey was a talker who never listened and Ashley H. was better off without him, but Ashley H. said it upset her to watch Casey reject Payton over and over again only for her to push him into having feelings for her.
Rachel Hamel announced Casey was truly heartbroken and he's "having trouble moving on with his life." Rachel said it wasn't healthy for Ashley H. to reach out to him.
Ben called Casey "a loser" and was so glad Ashley H. didn't accept his marriage proposal.
But according to Ashley H. she and Ben dated for two days after the show wrapped filming and then he broke up with her!
"He just realized that he didn't have enough time for a relationship," Ashley H. said.
Ben, however, had a different story. He said he hung out with Ashley H. in Arizona for a long weekend and they had fun -- but then she went back to Florida to collect her things and "let me know a couple of days later that she hooked up with Casey."
Ashley H. denied that they hooked up, but she said she and Casey did kiss during a drunken night out.
"It's not like we had sex," Ashley H. announced.
"He told me they did," Samantha whispered to Medinah Ali.
Ben said he doesn't play games like that, but Ashley H. said Ben went camping with a bunch of girls in Arizona and broke things off with her. Ashley H. said she just needs time for herself going forward.
Rick explained that it looked like Ashley G. got played by Kalaan "KB" Brown, and Medinah agreed. KB told the world not to judge Ashley H. just because they had sex during the first night of the show, and Ashley G. admitted going way too far way too soon.
Ashley G. hoped Rick could really forgive her, and Rick said he was working on it. Rick also said he wanted to "check" KB on names he had called Ashley G. during their blowout fight, which sparked an argument between Rick and KB.
KB said he was attracted to Ashley's fire even though that's what made them butt heads in the end.
Medinah said Rick was a classy guy on the show who acted with nothing but respect for others, and then Rick revealed he and Medinah talked every day.
When asked if there's potential for romance between the two of them, Medinah replied, "Absolutely."
"I wouldn't be opposed to it," Rick said. "I definitely thought about [leaving the island with Medinah]."
Medinah revealed, "There is a relationship forming," and then Ashley G. vented, "Shut the f-ck up."
"Ashley, you've got a problem!" Medinah said.
"I've got a problem with you. You talk a whole lot," Ashley G. replied. "You talk sh-t all the time, so be real about it!... You're not about the life you're posing... I'm going to drag your ass, so don't play with me!"
After Ashley G. walked off the set for a commercial break, Rick gave Medinah a kiss on her lips.