If you thought the previous episode‘s cringefest, with its uncomfortable stares and swooning over smells, was as embarrassing as “Terrace House” would get, I’m sorry to tell you that the latest episode reached new depths of discomfort.

In Episode 29, we got a bitter taste of Kai’s attempts at stand-up comedy with scenes of him practicing his “jokes” alone in the playroom — he rattled off swear words while asking why Japanese businessmen don’t kill themselves. I was sure this bit wouldn’t end up in his final routine, but I was very wrong.

Hana, Vivi and Emika head out to watch Kai’s stand-up show, which he delivers in English, but their excitement quickly washes away after he hits the cramped stage. Kai takes aim at dogs, Japanese families and, um, body parts, all the while hitting us with a barrage of expletives we’ve never heard before on “Terrace House.” Vivi sinks in her seat as she mutters, “So dark,” but Hana keeps a proud smile on her face because she doesn’t speak much English and probably doesn’t understand what is going on.

Make 'em cringe: Kai's stand-up comedy fails doesn't get many laughs on 'Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.' | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT
Make ’em cringe: Kai’s stand-up comedy fails to get laughs on ‘Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.’ | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT

Afterward, the emcee of the night sees the three women hand Kai a bouquet of flowers and lays down the best joke we’ve heard so far: “It’s almost as if they knew it was going to be a funeral.” Burn.

Back at the house, everyone gives half-hearted congratulations to Kai, who looks upset and even a little shocked by how hard he bombed. Vivi, honest as always, tells him that the material was simply too negative, but he should keep trying.

In the studio, the professional comedians on the panel — Yama-chan, Baba and special guest Blouson Chiemi — break down Kai’s act and offer some constructive criticism. All three conclude that Kai needs to stick with what he knows. He’s much better off making jokes about his life and observations (the commentators prove that “Terrace House” itself is a gold mine for material), rather than poking fun at things he knows nothing about, such as working a corporate job in Japan.

OK, some good news to cheer us up: Emika and Tupas, who are on the cusp of coupledom. The pair go out to a movie theater to watch the rom-com “Yesterday” and share a meal at an Italian restaurant, where Tupas gives Emika a thoughtful gift basket of lotions and towels — Emika must be getting used to being treated all the time.

After Emika gets home, she shows off her new goodies to Hana and Vivi, who are clamoring for more details about her date. When Emika says that Tupas bought a matching towel set for himself in a different color, the girls positively freak out. “I might puke!” Hana says. (But like, in a good way.) The internet seems to be rooting for them as well, because Reddit users have already dubbed them “Tupika.” Later, we see Tupas and Emika chilling on the couch covered with blankets, heads nestled close together while they lazily scroll through their phones, flip through a cookbook and talk about amusement parks. Looks like a real, natural couple to me.

Recipe for love: Tupas (left) and Emika flip through a cookbook while enjoying some time together on 'Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.' | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT
Recipe for love: Tupas (left) and Emika flip through a cookbook while enjoying some time together on ‘Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.’ | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT

And now, back to the train wreck that is the Vivi-Ryo-Hana love triangle. The three of them are still flirting — or attempting to flirt — with one another by mentioning smells. First, we see Ryo lift up a handful of Vivi’s hair and say it smells like a department store. Later, Hana tells Ryo she did some of his laundry but gave his dirty clothes a whiff first. She’s kidding, of course, but her joke crashes and burns like Kai’s act.

Hana is coming to the realization that Ryo is just not that into her, but still doesn’t seem willing to give him up. Ryo and Vivi are chilling on the couch, preparing to watch a movie, when Hana bounces down, then up, then down the stairs again before deciding to join them. It’s another strained moment: Hana keeps asking questions about love and relationships even though Vivi and Ryo clearly want to focus on the movie.

When Hana bounces away one last time, Vivi and Ryo finally have the room to themselves (although Hana and Emika creepily sneak peeks from the second-floor window). Things start to develop between Vivi and Ryo — kind of. They move closer and closer together on the couch until Ryo is resting his head against Vivi. The two partake in a pre-cuddling ritual by repeatedly asking, “Do you need a pillow?” and “Can you see the screen?” before they … end up not cuddling.

Vivi says that her hands are cold, a clear invitation to hold hands already. But what does Ryo do? Tuck her hand under her blanket. Later, he decides to warm her hand by resting his elbow on it.

Hands off: Vivi and Ryo (right) gets close but not close enough on 'Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.' | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT
Hands off: Vivi and Ryo (right) gets close but not close enough on ‘Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.’ | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT

The panel is flabbergasted by Ryo’s cuddling catastrophe. “That gesture is so vague,” says Chiemi of the elbow move. Yama-chan thinks that Ryo’s brain is so focused on basketball that he’s acting like he’s on the court. “This gesture means he’s testing how far he can go without getting a foul,” says Yama-chan.

During a private chat with Emika, Ryo says he is absolutely not interested in Hana and needs to be upfront with her because it’s hard to ghost a girl that you live with. He also confesses that he’s interested in Vivi — she’s pretty and easy to talk to — but he’s holding back because she’s considering moving to Hollywood for her career. Ryo isn’t interested in being in a long-distance relationship, so what should he do? Ignore his feelings for her? Throw caution to the wind and go for it? Sounds like Ryo could benefit from a coach on and off the basketball court.

The Japan Times is posting weekly recaps of “Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.” Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section. New episodes of “Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020” stream on Netflix and Fuji TV on Demand (FOD) and air on Fuji TV on Tuesdays.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.