The real MAFS villain isn’t Ines
I'm calling it - Ines has gone from baddie to boring.
Her pantomime affair with Sam on last night's episode of Married At First Sight showed that she's become nothing more than a caricature villain, with her scripted put-downs and extravagant plotting. Any minute now she's going to twirl her waxed moustache and tie a squealing maiden to a train track.
Meanwhile, while we've been paying all our attention to Cheating Spice, we've overlooked the much darker behaviour of a suaver and smoother snake.
Unlike Ines, Mike's manipulations bubble well below the surface. He hides them well under his wide smile and warm hugs. He has the practised player moves of a man who's lowered the guard - and the underwear - of thousands of women.
And watching the sunny-natured Heidi blunder trustingly into his radius, like a field mouse scurrying within striking distance of a camouflaged viper, is anguishing to watch.
Last night we saw Magic Mike working his dark arts at their peak. We start by learning that he had just lost his temper at Heidi for coughing. Apparently that morning Heidi made at least 10 involuntary lung contractions while the couple were in bed and Mike wasn't about to take that sort of behaviour lying down.
The half-asleep Mike, who only remembers how to pretend to be a good person when he's completely conscious - snapped at Heidi to "put a pillow over her mouth" and "stop coughing".
When Heidi tries to explain that being ordered to breathe better is a big ask, Mike responds with a series of involuntary actions of his own - irritated eye rolls and tutting noises. Because the only noise Mike hates coming out of Heidi more than coughs is words.
"How do we figure it out so you don't overreact?" he demands, causing Heidi to let yet more things come out of her face that Mike doesn't like - tears.
As one viewer observed on Facebook: "Mike is allowed to be upset but Heidi isn't allowed to be upset because it's best for Mike when Heidi just sleeps with him and doesn't have any feelings. Gaslighting is clearly his favourite way to keep the power balance in his favour."
He's got form on this front. On the beach on their honeymoon he made it clear that if Heidi was going to bore him with wah-wah sob stories about growing up alone in government housing and foster care then their relationship was destined to be short-lived.
"It looks like you're ranting at me," he snapped when she came to a particularly heart-wrenching juncture during her story. "I'm not your therapist. This isn't therapy."
In both instances - the beach blow-up and Coughing-gate - Heidi was left devastated by his bloodless insensitivity but highly-trained pick-up artist Mike knows exactly how to flip the script once he's dropped his negs.
By the end of yesterday's episode, he was ducking his head shyly while admitting that "no one ever tells me they love me" and then "I want to be in love … maybe I could find that with you".
Next minute we can make out Heidi's little paws poking from the viper's mouth, frantically back-pedaling, and we know he's struck again. "He's got this hard exterior but inside it's all mushy and soft!" Heidi burbles from inside his belly, but her words are muffled because he's swallowed her whole.
I turn again to the wisdom of Facebook where another keen MAFS observer quoted the late great Maya Angelou in reference to Mike's behaviour. "When someone shows you who they are," the commenter warned, "Believe them."
Mike might camouflage his true colours for 90 per cent of the day but if Heidi would just put down her self-help books and look at him with clear eyes, she will see the whole of the messy Mike rainbow. Run, little mouse, run.