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Bachelor in Paradise Recap: The Penultimate Peril

Ahhhhh. Do you feel that? That sweet feeling of relief? Of feeling satisfied by an hour-long episode of television that wasn’t bloated beyond all recognition, like a corpse that washes up on the beach and ruins everyone’s vacation? That’s right, y’all, Bachelor in Paradise is a breezy hour this week, and it’s making me feel invincible. Producers saw my brilliant analysis that The Golden Bachelor is good because it’s shorter and took my sage advice to trim the rest of the shows, too. LOL JK, BiP was shorter this week to accommodate a two-hour Golden Bachelor finale and will stretch to three fucking hours next week for its own finale.

Let’s enjoy this respite while we have it, though, and savor the gorgeous golden hour we got this week. It’s been two weeks since we left Blake and Jess mid-breakup, and I had to shake off some lingering turkey fog to remember what happened here. Ah, yes, this was all Katie Thurston’s fault. Seeing his ex-fiancée again reminded Blake of what real love feels like, and it’s not trying to convince a 24-year-old covered in glitter to go steady. He tells us we’re “close to the end,” which was news to me. It’s impossible to know how long we’ve been on this beach or how much longer we’ll be trapped here. My new theory is that Playa Escondida is purgatory. Which makes Jesse Palmer … Virgil, I guess? The devil? My main experience with The Divine Comedy comes from Dan Brown’s Inferno.

Anyway, Blake decides to leave, which sends Jess spiraling. She says she feels like a bad person, which she is not, and that she “just wanted to be in love,” which is exactly right. I talk a lot about the complicating factor that these contestants are being paid per episode, so finding a “connection” is as much about staying around for another week as it is about finding love. But I do think that Jess’s feelings are just kind of indicative of what it’s like to date in your early 20s. She wants to be in love and she tried to strong-arm her way into it. We’ve all been there! But Blake is 33 and can tell when someone’s just not that into him. For all the manufactured silliness and drama, this show is at its best when it’s showing us real, relatable romantic conflict.

But speaking of silliness and drama, Kylee runs after Blake, which confuses everyone. It seems like they’re expecting her to declare her love for him, Ross-at-the-airport-style, but I know who this person is. She just wants to insert herself into this relationship and make it all about her, with an unimpeachable shield of concern for Blake. I don’t even think she’s doing it consciously; this is just who she is fundamentally as a person. She’s a Popular Girl, she can’t help it.

Blake’s departure rattles our remaining hotties, which Aaron sums up with, “There’s so much chaos on the beach right now.” I had entirely forgotten the conflict between Mercedes and Tyler, but she helpfully reminds us that there was a note in the Paradise Truth Box alleging that Tyler isn’t that into her. After recapping her brief fling with Will (read: being nice to him long enough to snag a rose), she pulls Tyler aside to tell him she thinks they’ve plateaued in their relationship. She says that she heard he considered a long-distance relationship a deal-breaker and makes the excellent point that “everyone here is from everywhere,” so by coming onto Paradise, he had to know that an LDR might be in the cards. She comes to the conclusion that he’s just here to have fun and has been leading her on because she’s been working on herself and is ready for a relationship. Tyler goes full shocked Pikachu when she says this. It is the look of a man who does not expect to be called out for his behavior and just wants to get through this conversation without being yelled at. He waffles on his LDR comments and says that to continue a relationship outside of Paradise, he’d need to feel a spark. Mercedes asks the logical follow-up question, forcing him to admit that he doesn’t feel a spark with her. When she’s understandably upset that he’s been dating her for this long (which could be two weeks or two days; here in Purgatory, it’s hard to tell), he says that they have a different definition of “spark.” That’s some impressive weaseling. Mercedes straight up tells Tyler he’s not getting her rose. This was a kindness, allowing him to leave the beach with his tail between his legs rather than sit (well, stand … for hours) through a rose ceremony when he knows he won’t get a rose.

Tyler unquestionably took the coward’s way out here, but I have been thinking about “wrong reasons” lately, and I’ve got time to talk about it today since I don’t have another hour’s worth of bullshit to recap. I think many people, both on the show and outside of it, view right reasons/wrong reasons as a yes-or-no proposition. If you want to find love, you’re here for the right reasons; if you want fame/money/followers, you’re here for the wrong reasons. But that’s not really how people work. We have multiple swirling motivations for doing anything, from finding a new job to moving to a new city to, yes, getting married. It makes way more sense to go on this show hoping you’ll get some opportunities out of it while also being extremely open to hitting it off with someone and finding a lasting relationship! I think we need to start thinking of the right reasons as a bell curve rather than a binary. Most people fall somewhere in the middle, with a few absolute psychopaths on either end.

Anyway, Tyler was probably close to the wrong end of that bell curve, and Mercedes’s friends are here to reassure her about what a loser he was. She tells Jess, Kylee, Eliza, and Rachel what Tyler said about them having “different definitions of spark,” and they shriek, “What?” in unison. This is why you need besties. Talking shit about a boy who broke your heart is even more fun than falling in love.

Meanwhile, Olivia is out here proving that the best revenge is living well. She’s still going strong with Michael, who (had a production assistant) set up a makeshift hoop and basketball crafted out of rope and palm-tree parts. It’s some real Castaway shit, and I’m just so happy for her. Between sinking buckets and smooching Michael, though, Olivia finds time to be our trusty narrator. With Tyler and Blake gone and Jess, Mercedes, and Rachel’s roses up for grabs, Olivia advises, “Jordan, Tanner, Taylor, and Brayden: Get out there, shoot your shot!” This is my official plea to let Olivia share bartending duties with Wells next year. Hell, let her host the show! I love this lady’s energy.

Jordan takes this advice to heart. Though Rachel has told us she’s all in on Jordan, he makes it clear that he’s not sure if the romantic feelings are there, and he wants to make a move on Mercedes. I feel bad for Rachel, I really do, but I’m sorry: This is why you don’t come back for BiP if you’ve already been a leadSure, it worked out for Becca (I mean, she had to marry Thomas, so how well did it work out, really?), but the stakes are too high. This poor woman is being embarrassed out here on the daily, and it is truly for her own sake that I insist she shouldn’t be here.

Speaking of embarrassing Rachel, Brayden, who’s never seen a void he didn’t want to fill, pulls Jess. He says he’s always been attracted to her and, like, yeah, bud. She’s a pretty girl. One of Brayden’s biggest problems on here is that he can’t tell the difference between thinking someone’s attractive and having actual chemistry with them. He’s just a cartoon horny wolf going “awooga” at every nice pair of legs that walks by. Anyway, Brayden brings Jess chocolates and she says she needs them after the day she’s had. Unfortunately for Brayden, though, Tanner’s angling for Jess’s rose, too. He interrupts while she’s talking to Taylor, whom I swear we haven’t heard say a full complete sentence, to indicate that he’s interested in pursuing her. Jess says that she wants to get to know Tanner, and he replies that her being open to that is enough to get him to stay. Ooh, that’s a good line. Sensitive but confident. A little angsty but still strong. Tanner is gunning for that Bachelor edit.

Rose ceremony time! We get our established couples out of the way first: Eliza and Aaron, Kat and John Henry, Kylee and Aven, Olivia and Michael, Sam and Peter. Then it’s Jess’s turn, and she obviously picks Tanner, but I guess Tanner kind of sounds like Taylor because Taylor starts walking over and she has to stop and correct him. Humiliating!!! For all of the cringeworthy stuff that happens on this show, this was the first time I can remember physically recoiling. I would almost feel bad for the guy if I knew literally anything else about him. Next up is Mercedes, who picks Jordan. Rachel is clearly blindsided by this, which the cameraman was clearly prepped for because we zoom right in on her face when Mercedes calls his name. Now Rachel has to pick between Brayden, who dropped her as soon as he spotted a new shiny object, and Taylor, who I think she forgot existed. Instead, Rachel tearfully decides to leave. Aw, I’ll miss her!

Emily Palmer Heller , 2023-12-01 04:00:40

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