‘The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On’ Season 1: Most Shocking Moments From Episodes 1-8 (RECAP)
[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On Season 1, Episodes 1-8.]
The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On Season 1 debuted Wednesday, April 6 on Netflix. From the creators of Love Is Blind and hosted by Vanessa Lachey and Nick Lachey, the world’s newest reality dating series focuses on marriage instead of courting.
Someone in each of the six participating couples issued an ultimatum to their partner: they either get married, or they break up. To test if they’re ready for marriage (to their partner or to anyone), the couples split up, chose someone from one of the other couples, and lived together for a “trial marriage” for three weeks. At the end of those three weeks, they moved in with their original partners, whom many didn’t live with in the first place. And at the end of the second trial, the ultimatum had to be answered.
The first eight episodes of The Ultimatum debuted April 6. The Episode 9 finale and Episode 10 reunion come out Wednesday, April 13. Here, we break down the craziest moments from the first eight episodes… of which there are many.
Let’s start off with one undeniable truth: the craziest part of this show is its premise. Having couples break up, date new people in front of each other, live with a stranger for three weeks — in the same apartment building as their original partners, no less — going out partying with the people now dating their “exes,” and then throwing the original couples back together for three weeks before making them choose between marriage or breaking up? Chaos! Commotion! Where are the therapists?!
Speaking of therapists, Nick and Vanessa — who revealed they went through an ultimatum themselves five years into their relationship — addressed that the psychiatric community doesn’t believe ultimatums are always healthy in the first episode.
“Psychologists agree that an ultimatum is not a good way to get somebody else to do what you want,” Nick says in Episode 1, “but it is the best way to get you the answers you need on a timetable you can live with.” And oh boy, did this show prove exactly that.
This format truly is an emotional whirlwind for everyone involved. And none of the 12 participants seem equipped to successfully navigate the extreme interpersonal nuances a format like this would require to come out the other side emotionally unscathed. Sure, the pressure leads to the couples making important decisions about their relationships. But you can’t help but think there’s a much easier, healthier way to go about this. But that’s reality dating shows for you!
Now, here are the craziest moments this truly chaotic format created in The Ultimatum Season 1, sorted by episode. And make sure to tune in to TV Insider’s recaps of The Ultimatum Season 1 finale and The Ultimatum reunion special after they drop April 13 on Netflix.
Episode 1, “The Split”
Nick and Vanessa’s Ultimatum
At the beginning of the episode, the married hosts spoke with the six couples — Shanique and Randall, Rae and Zay, Jake and April, Madlyn and Colby, Alexis and Hunter, and Nate and Lauren — about their upcoming journey. And they used themselves as an ultimatum success story, revealing they briefly broke up and each dated one other person when their relationship felt stuck.
“We realized that if we got out of our own way, we could be amazing together,” Vanessa said.
Zay Questions Rae’s Ultimatum
Rae was the one who brought her and Zay to the show, saying she wanted to leave the experience engaged to him. Their last dinner before the split featured Zay telling Rae it doesn’t make sense that she issued the ultimatum and not him, saying, “It’s crazy to me that she gave me an ultimatum and she can’t tell me how she feels about me. I can’t believe this is reality.”
In a solo interview, Rae is asked to explain why she loves Zay and wants to marry him, and she asks to skip the question.
Alexis Calls Out Colby
After a week of dating around, Alexis determined Colby was her ideal partner for the first trial marriage. However, Colby didn’t reciprocate those feelings. When she shared her feelings, he was honest about his, saying he didn’t see a future with her. His response was clear and as kind as delivering a rejection can be.
Episode 2, “The Choice”
Alexis vs. Colby Pt. 2
After the initial rejection, Alexis told Colby she didn’t believe what he said, nor did she think he believed it, prompting him to say he wasn’t attracted to her. While difficult to hear, Colby didn’t say anything inherently harsh to Alexis. But the rejection stung, and she immediately went up to Colby’s original partner, Madlyn (who was on a date with Alexis’ original partner, Hunter), saying Madlyn could do “so much better” than him.
The Choice Ceremony
Truly, this was the most intense scene of the entire series, and it extended into Episode 3. After the dating week concluded, everyone had to announce their pick for the first trial marriage. And yes, this was done in front of their former partners.
Alexis flat-out said in front of everyone else that she doesn’t think Colby is a good person, telling the group that the first thing he said to her was that she’s unattractive. The previous scenes prove that’s not what happened. There’s a difference between not being attracted to someone and calling them ugly, but Alexis clearly internalized Colby’s words as the latter.
Hunter’s Surprising Reveal
Not every shocking moment was a negative one! The final scenes of The Ultimatum Episode 2 showed Alexis declaring she can’t imagine having to living with anyone but Hunter, saying she’ll fight for him. She is the one who issued the ultimatum to Hunter, who was ready to get married, but wasn’t sure if he wanted to marry her.
After Alexis’ declaration of love, it was time for Hunter to choose his trial wife. Without missing a beat, Hunter stood up and said, “Guys, I want to marry Alexis,” and the credits rolled.
Episode 3, “New Bed, New Partner”
An Early Proposal
Episode 3 picked up immediately after Hunter’s exciting reveal, and then he proposed! Like Nick and Vanessa revealed about their relationship in Episode 1, Hunter said the week of dating was enough time to realize Alexis was all he wanted. He got down on one knee, she said yes, and everyone cheered. And just like that, they would no longer be part of the experiment. (They did return in future episodes, however.)
And then, there was Nate. He and Lauren were at an impasse about having children. He wanted them, and she didn’t. Nate issued their ultimatum and spent the entire dating process focusing on women who wanted to be mothers. Nate spent the whole choice ceremony bouncing between which woman he was going to choose, lying about who was his first choice after each of his three rejections. Instead of facing the rejection and continuing on the show, he threw his relationship concerns out the window and proposed to Lauren, preventing her from choosing Colby after he chose her.
Shockingly, Lauren said yes, angering everyone else at the table. No one was more upset than April, whose first choice (Hunter) was now engaged, and her original partner (Jake) had revealed his feelings for Rae. She called Nate and Lauren out for completely sidelining their relationship issues and revealed she felt uncomfortably sexualized by Nate on their dates.
“If you guys aren’t going to be real with yourselves and if you’re not going to go through this experiment, why the f**k are you here?” she pressed before storming out. Everyone but Lauren and Nate agreed with April. And they left the show without resolving their issues about having kids and without fully committing to the challenge they hoped would save their relationship.
In the end, these were the new couples: Rae and Jake, Colby and April, Randall and Madlyn, and Zay and Shanique.
Episode 4, “Girls & Guys Night Out”
Women Interfere with the Experiment
In Episode 4, the women and men have their own group nights out. And this is the point where the biggest cracks begin to show.
Madlyn’s blunt honesty about her relationship with Randall and everyone else’s trial marriages ruffled Shanique, Rae, and April’s feathers. April also revealed things about her relationship with Jake that no one knew previously. Shanique and April advocated for their original relationships, and Rae and Madlyn advocated for their new ones. Madlyn even told Rae she should be with Jake right in front of April.
They all also revealed what sexual activity was going on with their new partners, in front of their former ones. It was equal parts shocking and not surprising that The Ultimatum producers would let the participants try to interfere with the experiment in this way.
Colby’s Dishonesty Starts to Show
The boys night out was the first sign of Colby’s almost pathological dishonesty. Colby (now dating Jake’s original partner, April) tried throwing Zay (now dating Randall’s original partner, Shanique) under the bus to the other men by saying Zay orchestrated a woman coming up to him and kissing him at a club one night. Zay understandably got upset and made it clear to Jake (who was dating his original partner, Rae) and Randall (now dating Colby’s original partner, Madlyn) that Colby was deflecting blame for his own actions onto him. Later episodes would show this was a recurring theme.
Episode 5, “Pushing Boundaries”
Trial Couples (Drunkenly) Reunite
Episode 5 picks up when everyone gets home from the girls and guys nights out. Naturally, everyone updates their partners on the events of the night, and chaos ensued. Madlyn got mad at Randall for wanting to talk about Colby, even though he was doing the right thing telling her the kiss story. Shanique and Zay got into a huge fight over Shanique’s “facial expressions,” aka Zay felt judged, when really she was just processing the information he was sharing.
Shanique and Randall Reunite
Following the fight with Zay and everything she learned from Madlyn, Shanique asked Randall to meet. When she learned Randall was enjoying his time with Madlyn, Shanique was deeply upset.
Shanique was clearly angry that Randall took an honest part in the experiment. She eventually admitted she wanted Randall to “sit in a corner” and miss her while apart rather than follow the show’s format. When Randall tried to tell her how unfair it was that she wanted him to be miserable, she ignored everything he said and walked away, highlighting one of the issues they struggled with before the show.
Episode 6, “The Changeover”
Jake and April, Zay and Rae Fights
When the original couples reunited, it wasn’t long before all of them started fighting. But Jake and April’s fight later in the three weeks was the most surprising. April went through Jake’s phone behind his back and airdropped herself videos Jake took of Rae dancing at a club. She accused him of cheating, which was… fascinating given the premise of the show.
At brunch with Rae’s mom and best friend, Zay and Rae got into a fight about their issues. Rae’s mom had to mediate the whole thing, and neither of them was being quite fair to the other.
Colby’s Dishonesty Takes Center Stage
Colby’s biggest flaw throughout this process was his inability to accept responsibility for his actions, blaming everyone else instead and frequently denying the facts of events. He was so adamant about his innocence, in fact, he would switch his stance mid-conversation to deflect blame. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what gaslighting looks like.
The peak of this was when Madlyn discovered that Colby had been in constant contact with a woman he met at the club the entire time he was living with April. Texts between them revealed he had countless phone calls, FaceTime calls, and text conversations with this woman, sharing all of the details of the show with her and saying he and Madlyn were in an open relationship. Mind you, he was the one who issued the ultimatum.
Colby didn’t disclose any of this when Madlyn asked about the aforementioned kiss at the club story. His defense the next day was that he was doing what the show required, only with a random person since he wasn’t connecting with April. This is a clear betrayal of the agreement they went into for the show. The deal was being with one of the other people in the cast, not a person you meet off-camera.
He later told Madlyn that she “forced” him into acting that way, saying he had to do it to “make it real” for her. Basically, he meant he felt threatened by Madlyn’s connection with Randall, resented her for taking part in the show he put them on, and betrayed both Madlyn and April’s trust (along with the show’s rules) to make Madlyn feel bad about herself.
Their fight about this resulted in one of the most infuriating exchanges of the season: “You deserve a lot more than me. I’m not worth it,” Colby says, to which Madlyn replies, “OK, you’re not worth it, but it’s still my fault that everything happened?”
Colby’s response?: “Yes.” The absolute nerve!
Episode 7, “Back to Reality”
April May Be Pregnant?!
April was open about her struggles with infertility all season. At Alexis’ bachelorette party in Episode 8, in front of Rae — who had just spent three weeks building a strong connection with Jake — April reveals she’s getting an ultrasound because she might be pregnant with Jake’s baby.
Rae Struggles to Be Real
Later during the bachelorette party, Rae struggles to tell the truth about her feelings for Jake out of fear of hurting April. The women warn her not to do so at the expense of her own happiness. Harsh words from April then bring Rae to tears.
Rae and Zay’s Fight
Of all the quarrels between the original couples, Rae and Zay’s took the cake. Rae’s inability to be vulnerable and express her true feelings (or truly even recognize them) paired with Zay’s inability to listen whenever his insecurities were triggered eventually led to an all-night conflict.
Episode 8, “Time to Answer the Ultimatum”
Rae and Zay Break Up
Rae and Zay’s fight ended in her hitting him off-camera. The next morning, she apologizes and explains why Zay being out until 8 a.m. and not contacting her crossed a line. They can’t get to a place where they see eye-to-eye, and all of the conflict ends with them breaking up.
The other couples spent their last days together talking out the difficult truths of their relationship after the long two months. It ends with everyone approaching the Ultimatum Day, where each remaining couple will make their final decisions.
The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On, Season 1, Episodes 1-8, Now Streaming, Netflix