Bachelor in Paradise, Season 2 Episode 1 Recap
The Bachelor has returned to paradise, and the black bar booty censor has returned to Jillian’s butt.
That’s right, viewers. Bachelor in Paradise is back, with some familiar faces and some people we’ve all genuinely forgotten existed. For those of you just tuning in, the premise of the show is as follows: Former contestants from The Bachelor/The Bachelorette travel to paradise (Mexico) to attempt once more to find love. However, the show operates as a kind of romantic musical chairs: the number of men and women is kept intentionally uneven, such that every week whoever hasn’t coupled up is banished from paradise. The next week, more contestants are brought in, so that the overall goal of the participants is to stay coupled up until the end (there’s an extended metaphor in here somewhere).
We begin on a beach in Mexico, where Puppet Master Chris Harrison is delivering one of the most painfully acted opening monologues with coconut drink in hand in televised history, in order to reintroduce viewers to the following participants:
- Ashley I, of Farmer Chris’s season, who cries a lot, looks like one of those fringe Kardashians, and likes to announce she’s a virgin upon entering a room. She’s sent off to paradise by her sister Lauren, who exclaims that Ashley has “so much work to do I can’t even give you a tip.”
- Jared, from this past season of The Bachelorette, who woefully declares that he has ditched his alter ego “Love Man” and thinks that his gimmick was more interesting than the guy who showed up riding a cupcake.
- Ashley S, also of Farmer Chris’s season, who received a personal invitation on live television from Chris Harrison to do this show and is most famous for getting really excited about locating a pomegranate.
- Tanner, who was apparently on Kaitlyn’s season, based on the fact that he claims, “You probably remember me from The Bachelorette.” (We don’t.)
- Jade, a former Playboy model who should’ve been the Bachelorette last season, but because of the backwards morals of the show was thrown into this mess with the other rejects. Jade appears to be embracing her spot on paradise, saying she’s looking for a real relationship while also in the same sentence saying maybe she’ll be engaged in three weeks, which is weirdly a spot-on attitude to have for this kind of thing.
- Jillian, another member from Farmer Chris’s season, who returns along with her aforementioned butt box and new breast implants which I guess are intended to distract me from the unexplained black censor bar over her butt but I still want answers.
- Dan, who is from Desiree’s season and is a Libra, I guess.
- Juelia, also from the season where a bunch of women are told that trading their worldly possessions to live in the middle of nowhere with a farmer is a good idea, returns to let her daughter look at photos of potential contenders and select her future ex-stepfather. (She picks Kirk.)
- And finally, Tenley, the perpetual runner-up of two Bachelor-related shows, who decided to put herself through this crap one more time.
Also to arrive later are Jonathan, human scum (more on that soon); Kirk, the unwitting future ex-stepfather of Juelia’s baby; and Mikey T, proclaimed alpha male. Then, in a dramatic cut to the jungle, a crab skitters away, a flash of pink pants slithers through the desert, and JJ emerges. For those of you who don’t know, JJ essentially faked an Annie Proulx-esque forbidden romance with a cast member on the last season of The Bachelorette and I will never forgive him for that.
But the real shock of the season is the addition of Ashley I’s sister, Lauren, affectionately referred to here as “baggage” by her sister. Together, they’re “the virgin and the not-so-virgin,” according to Chris Harrison’s sole criteria for identifying women. And worse, they’ll be competing as a pair.
Yep, you heard me right. What’s really interesting to me is how this plays into The Bachelor franchise’s really complicated relationship with its own smarminess. It upholds itself as traditional: heterosexual couplings, no sex until Father (in this case, Chris Harrison as surrogate-dad) has given his daughter permission, a relationship geared towards a proposal, nary a person of color to be seen. But then we get these plays, like having the men choose the final Bachelorette between two women, or having a man date a pair of sisters, on top of the whole people dating in a crazy hive of non-monogamy to propose to a partner within three weeks, that makes the show feel biblical and backwards. Cover the floor in rose petals and have your beach wedding, but the fact is that Bachelor in Paradise‘s concept of romance is twisted and somehow involves two sisters dating as a unit.
Of course, Jonathan, smarm monster, cannot decide if it’s hotter that he could possibly end up with two sisters or that Ashley I is a virgin. But Mikey T captures Lauren’s affections for about five seconds, and then that’s over for whatever reason.
Ashley S is the last to arrive to paradise, but the only participant to notice the parrots on the set. “Birds! Wow!” She exclaims. “Maybe I noticed them because I have them.”
“You have parrots?” Her handler, Chris Harrison, asks.
“Um, no,” Ashley S replies, reminding me that no one is better at making good television than she is, or at the very least, that she probably has no idea where she is right now.
Once everyone has been assembled, Chris Harrison reminds the cast that this whole thing is about love, while probably mentally doing a Scrooge McDuck cannonball into a pool full of blood money. “But there’s something you need to see,” he says, and leads the baffled cast to a flower-covered altar with two columns of benches on the beach. Former contestants of Bachelor in Paradise Season One, Marcus Grodd and Lacy Faddoul, are here to get married in front of a small, intimate gathering of family and total strangers. But the cast takes entirely too long to figure out what’s going on here, just about up until Lacy is being walked down the aisle. There is actually nothing more indicative that these people are clearly not ready to get married than the fact that they literally cannot recognize a wedding.
But newly informed, the residents of paradise unanimously support the union, which Chris Harrison officiates. “Everyone thinks they’re the best together,” says Ashley I, who has consulted everyone from Desmond Tutu to Queen Elizabeth.
After the ceremony, Marcus and Lacy meet with the new contestants. “I know there’s one future couple here,” says Marcus, lowballing.
During all the drunken merriment that follows, Lauren proves she truly is Ashley I’s sister by crying for close to no reason, but I have to say I kind of empathize with her here. She’s been roped into going on reality television with a bunch of veterans, she’s being treated like chattel, and she’s a cranky little girl. “Things move fast in paradise,” JJ observes, only now just aware of the show he’s on. This snowballs into Ashley I crying, because of course.
The first coupling on this show forms when Kirk, fascinated by Carly’s proportions, exclaims, “you’re average-sized, why are your hands so small?” Somehow, this tickles Carly the right way and she kisses him (seriously). I cannot stress this enough: a man seduced a woman on this show by telling her she was average-sized. This is the first kiss on this show. This is all it takes.
Ashley I, who even rips off Kim Kardashian’s cry (it’s uncanny), refuses to leave her bed. That is, until she receives the first date card, where she is asked to “choose a man to get dirty with” and reveals she’s never asked a guy out before. This leads to Ashley I, adult female, being coached by her younger sister Lauren in how to ask guys out. After bringing our Tear Tally up to four with another cry for good measure, she asks Jared out and he accepts.
Jade is concerned, expressing that she “feels like dates are how people couple up,” effectively explaining what a date is. But she really shouldn’t worry, as the extent of their date involves ATVing in the jungle, which these two miraculously manage to make painfully boring by discussing their birth months.
Thankfully, Ashley S has a parrot companion now, and they’ve probably got the most intriguing chemistry of any coupling in the house.
The next date card goes to Jade, who is torn between asking out Love Man Jared and Tanner, who I managed to remember was on this show. Jared and Ashley I return from their date just in time for Lauren to warn her sister of the date card’s arrival. “It said pick a man,” says Lauren, a newcomer to The Bachelor franchise who is unfamiliar with the show’s rampant heterosexism. Jade picks Tanner, avoiding crisis and keeping our Ashley I Tear Tally down at four. (This is also around the point that I realized this episode is two hours long instead of one, and so the tears this round are my own.)
Lauren approaches Ashley I to tell her that her shoes look terrible. Ashley I holds it together, proving that maybe people do grow up or that her tear ducts are staging a strike for all the overtime they’ve been putting in.
On their date, Jade and Tanner enjoy a dinner they conspicuously do not eat, let alone touch, and Tanner reveals his approval of Jade’s Playboy past, as well as his intentions to pose for Playgirl. I’m genuinely happy for them, as are probably Hugh Heffner and Community Miser Chris Harrison, who are counting their pretty pennies from that endorsement as I write this sordid recap. The two share the second kiss of the show before swimming in their underwear during a hurricane. “Is lightning a bad thing?” Tanner asks as he dives in.
But it’s not our pin-up partners that end up in peril, but instead Ashley S, who is inexplicably escorted away on a stretcher and followed by Dan the Libra. (Did the parrot turn on her? Drama!)
Meanwhile, at the campfire, Ashley I and Jared discuss pasta and the difference between Wendy’s chicken nuggets and McDonald’s chicken nuggets. But before you think the chemistry can’t get any more electric between these two, who arrives to mess it all up but former Bachelor in Paradise contestant Clare Crawley. “We’re happy to have you back,” Chris Harrison says, sweeping the unexplained disappearance of Ashley S under the rug and walking Clare over that same rug into the Bachelor in Paradise house, where she receives the first date card. Punctuated by dramatic lightning, Clare reveals that she’s set her sights on the three already coupled-up men: Kirk, Tanner and — you guessed it — the former Love Man himself, Jared. Here comes Hurricane Clare, tearing up Central America in a maelstrom of wind, lightning and rain (or just Ashley I’s tears, to be honest).
The episode ends here with the promise of Clare on a tantric yoga date and more Ashley I tears (when it rains, it pours) tomorrow night. Yes, you read that right. Two hours for a premiere simply wasn’t enough, so the gang’s going to be back for one more hurrah at 9pm.
Ashley I Tear Tally: 4
Couple Count: Roughly 3, also some triangle with Ashley S, Dan the Libra and a potentially duplicitous parrot.