After the previous episode of Catfish “Prophet and Trinity” went through all the typical things we expect to see in an episode, episode 14 of season 4 “Sara and Thaddeus” brought a relatively more unorthodox story to the show.
Nev and Max are written to by Thaddeus, whom is a former corrections officer living in Texas (yes, yet another victim from Texas!) Thaddeus is married with kids, but was introduced to his catfish when he tried to connect with strangers over the Internet to try and get an external perspective on the troubles he was having within his relationship. He contacted “Sara,” who showed on a “People You May Know” list on one of his social media sites. They began talking and Sara helped Thaddeus sort out his emotions and issues regarding his marriage. After a couple of months of talking over text and on the phone, both Sara and Thaddeus confessed that they were developing stronger feelings for one another.
At this point, Thaddeus and his wife were temporarily separated and therefore, Thaddeus decided to meet up with Sara. However, in typical Catfish fashion, Sara always found some elaborate excuse to why she couldn’t meet – including seizures, hypothermia and kidnapping. Eventually, this shot up red flags in Thaddeus’ mind and he decided to do some snooping and figure out what really was going on.
I am happy to see that finally someone took it upon themself to do a simple reverse image and phone number search. By doing so, Thaddeus was able to determine that the pictures matched up to a girl named Sara, but not the Sara that Thaddeus had been talking to.
Thaddeus emailed the actual Sara and let her know that some girl had been using her images and pretending to be her. Sara revealed to Thaddeus that the girl’s name is Ashley and she has been doing this for the past 7 or so years.
So, Thaddeus reached out to the Catfish crew because although he realizes the girl he thought he had been getting to know is a fraud, he still wants to confront her and stop her from ruining any further lives.
Nev and Max first contact the real Sara and talk about her experience with Ashley and how she has been stealing her identity to catfish people. Sara, who is visibly frustrated with the situation, explains that Ashley has gone to elaborate lengths to get her personal pictures. Sara also reveals that she has messaged Ashley in the past and has gotten her to agree to stop, but clearly this was also a lie of Ashley’s.
Nev and Max use all the information they got from Thaddeus and Sara on Ashley and eventually are able to retrieve an address that is very likely to be hers. After getting this, they load up the car with not only Thaddeus, but also Sara who wants to stop Ashley from stealing her identity once and for all.
Nev tries to call Ashley in advance but has no luck getting an answer. They eventually decide that they will just drive up to the house and see what happens.
Unfortunately but not surprisingly, the crew has no luck when they get to Ashley’s house. No one answers the door, the windows are all covered up and none of the neighbors know any details about her.
However, later in the day Ashley contacts Thaddeus upset that he came to her house with the Catfish crew. Thaddeus is able to eventually get Ashley to agree to meet at her friend’s house.
Here, Ashley finally reveals herself. Tensions are high as Ashley shakes hands with Sara, the girl she has been pretending to be for the past 7 years.
Ashley reveals that she is a stay-at-home mother of a 4-year-old, who had been dumped by her fiancée two days before the wedding. She was feeling very low at this point and that is when she began the “Sara” profile. She shows remorse but has a hard time explaining why she has continued to hurt guy after guy.
Thaddeus and Sara take a break from talking with her and reveal that they both don’t believe she will stop, as Sara says she has promised to end all of this before and yet she continued.
Nev takes this opportunity to approach Ashley alone to make sure she is serious about stopping.
At the end of the episode, Ashley explains to Thaddeus and Sara that it was “easier to keep pretending than admitting to [herself her] real problems and make [herself] even more vulnerable.” She admits to struggling with her weight, body image and feeling lonely and therefore being a catfish was a getaway for her.
Her revelations get to Sara and the crew, who feel for her struggles. They wind up switching the mood and ensuring Ashley that they are there to help her, not shame her.
At this point, things seem promising that Ashley will stop her catfish-ing ways.
Two months later, Thaddeus tells Nev and Max that him and his wife are on much better terms and that he is returning to work as a corrections officer. Unfortunately, he also explains that Ashley is continuing to catfish people. They also contact Sara, who tells Nev and Max that several guys saying that they are apparently engaged to her have recently contacted her. So evidently Ashley did not follow through on her promise to end her catfish-ing, and rather amped it up.
It was nice to see in this episode a person like Thaddeus, who was relatively self-aware throughout his interactions with Ashley. He did some simple searches and was able to reveal what was really happening (being catfished), rather than falling deeper in love with her, like many people seem to do on this show.
However in Ashley’s case, it seems once a catfish always a catfish.