Welcome to “Here for the Wrong Reasons,” where each week I’ll be recapping all of the champagne-guzzling and petty “Can I steal you for a second?”’s of Season 7 of “Bachelor in Paradise.” Nothing boosts your confidence about your own love life like watching a bunch of desperate 20-somethings competing for a stranger’s affection! Check in every Tuesday (or Wednesday, because this season is wilding) for episode recaps and updates on your favorite “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” rejects’ journeys to become Instagram influencers find love.
While the “Bachelor” franchise is usually my number one priority—after all, my Instagram bio did read “problematically invested with the Bachelor” my senior year of high school—I recently fell victim to midterms, so today I’ll be recapping episode 10 of “Bachelor in Paradise,” which aired last week, as well as what we’ve all been waiting for: the season finale. We’re nearing the finish line here, and while episode 10 began to pick up the pace, episode 11 was more of a casual jog. A lot has unfolded during our first Chris Harrison-less season of BIP, so let’s get into it.
Ivan shows his true colors
The previous episode ended by teasing a bro-off between Aaron and Ivan. It’s no shock to see Aaron—the human version of a cartoon bull with steam coming out of its nose—getting worked up, but sweetie cutie Ivan? I expected better. Aaron notices Ivan kissing Chelsea right before the rose ceremony and accuses him of “rose-hunting,” but Ivan claims that Chelsea came up to him first. Since Ivan and Aaron have the reputations they do, the beach quickly takes Ivan’s side until it’s revealed that he, in fact, pulled Chelsea away to talk, not the other way around. Not only was he lying, but he was trying to steal Aaron’s girl—a major Paradise no-no.
But wait—Ivan’s shit hasn’t hit the fan just yet. Wells arrives and asks Ivan to chat, and we learn that during the storm, the cast was put up in the same hotel where soon-to-be castmates were quarantining. Somehow, Ivan caught wind of where Alexa Cave—a contestant on Peter’s season of “The Bachelor” who was set to arrive on the beach soon—was staying and decided to pay her a late-night visit. Unfortunately for Ivan, Daddy Wells found out about this illicit tryst and gives him the classic “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed” spiel. Ivan breaks down and ‘fesses up immediately, then does the walk of shame across the beach to tell the rest of the cast about his wrongdoing and announce that he’s self-eliminating. Dude cracked FAST. Everyone is taken aback, but no one more so than Riley—he admonishes Ivan for not being a better man, saying, “We’re supposed to be better, we’re supposed to be better than that.” True. I’m sad to say it, but I’m officially demoting Ivan to just a cutie, because lying and sneakiness are not sweet. Between this and Brendangate, Tayshia is wiping her forehead with relief right now.
After the slight delay, it’s time for the rose ceremony. The roses go to the usual suspects, and we bid adieu to Dr. Joe, Demar and Blake. While Blake made Tia’s vagina dance, it turns out that he’s a total douchebag, so she gives her rose to James, the less problematic (though decidedly less sexy) option. After the ceremony, Wells tells everybody to head down to the beach to meet the newest guest host. Surprise … the host is Wells! I’ve been asking for this since my first recap of the season, and the Bachelor Gods have finally answered my prayers. He tells the cast to “Go on dates, make out with people, don’t fight with people,” giving our resident hothead, Aaron, a warning gesture during the last point. Basically, he encourages everyone to do a vibe check and make sure that they still want to be here with the person they’re currently with, which is very reasonable given that engagements are on the horizon.
The next contestant to arrive on the beach—who did not hook up with a castmate at the hotel, I might add—is Anna Redman, one of the instigators from Matt James’ season. She assures us that she’s gone to therapy since then and is ready to start fresh. She douses herself in pheromones for good luck (yes, really), then pulls aside Kenny, who turns her down because of Mari, and Thomas, who turns her down because of Becca, before chatting with James, who’s grinning like the Cheshire Cat at the sight of her. We learn that he’s the only one on the beach that hasn’t been on a date, and he’s chomping at the bit to go on one with Anna.
Lucky for him, she invites him along to yet another erotic food date. I’m not one to kink shame, but the producer in charge of planning dates might want to rethink some things. James and Anna arrive at their massage date—sexy, right? Wrong. Instead of, you know, lotion and massage oil, the couple gets rubbed with chocolate sauce and cinnamon, because who doesn’t want to be a human churro? As if that mess wasn’t enough, they’re put in another sticky situation: it’s time for snake massages. Yep, you read that right, they lie down and have live snakes slither on top of them. Too bad they can’t talk to snakes like Harry Potter.
Mykenna Dorn from Pilot Pete’s season, who rivals Justin Glaze for bizarre facial expressions, is the next fresh meat on the beach. Unfortunately for Mykenna, every guy there is already accounted for. It is the last week, after all. She chats with Thomas, Riley, Ed and Aaron, before inviting Aaron on the date. He replies, “Yeah, let’s chat real quick, yeah?” I’m from the Midwest, and can confirm that “Yeah, no” means no, and “No, yeah” means yeah, and that Aaron is not actually consenting to the date. Essentially, he tells her that he isn’t emotionally available (okay, that might not be the exact quote, but I’m good at reading between the lines) and thus has to decline. Mykenna breaks down and cries alone on the beach, with the rest of the cast watching her like a caged animal at a rundown zoo. This sad scene prompts Forehead Ed to pity-invite himself along on the date, which Mykenna begrudgingly goes along with and Natasha is pissed about.
On the date, they go roller-skating down the hallways of a resort, which, while boring, is decidedly better than being made into human churros. They eat dinner in a disco-themed room and then kiss, which was definitely a pity-gift from Mykenna for saving her from total embarrassment.
Double, double, toil and trouble
Following a conversation in which Kenny tells Mari that he doesn’t think she’s matching his energy, the producers need to save one of their more promising couples. They send in a local “bruja,” or witch, to cleanse Kenny and Mari’s energy, who are super into the ceremony. After gazing into a mirror together and touching each other with a candle, they realize that they’re both on the same level and all is well. Love square, whomst?
Even though it’s only been five or so years since Serena P.’s actual senior prom, it’s time for Paradise Prom! The theme is 80s, which is hilarious because Grocery Store Joe (GSJ) and Kenny were actually alive then, while half of the cast was just barely born in the 20th century. There are a ton of cute promposals: GSJ writes “PROM?” in the sand for Serena; Thomas asks Becca with balloons that spell out “PROM;” Riley asks Maurissa with stuffed animals and Kenny asks Mari with a poster over his crotch, because of course he does. Tia is NOT thrilled to be going solo, and single-yet-again Natasha conveniently finds herself sick.
At the prom, the contestants—who are decked out in shoulder pads, puffy sleeves and side ponies, obviously—dance to an 80s cover band that is probably the most stomachable musical performance this show has ever had. Straight out of left field, Aaron decides to give Tia a corsage, and the two end up kissing and dancing together right in front of Chelsea. Brutal.
Wells comes on stage to announce Paradise superlatives and Prom Queen and King, and once again I have to say, #WellsforBachelorHost. Noah and Abigail are voted “Most likely to live happily ever after,” Maurissa is “Best kisser … of toes” (ew), Kenny is “Biggest flirt” (true) and Joe and Serena are voted Prom King and Queen, to absolutely no one’s surprise.
It’s prom, so you know there’s going to be a dramatic breakup. What you might not have expected is that it’s Abigail and Noah. Just the night before, Noah told Abigail that he was falling in love with her, and she didn’t respond very enthusiastically. On prom night, she’s ready to confess her love, but Noah decides that it’s too late and ends things. How does one go from falling in love to being over it a mere 24 hours later? I’m not sure, but Abigail is rightfully completely blindsided. She leaves and Noah goes after her, but she escapes into the women’s bathroom. Ah, young love.
Best minor moments
At Paradise Prom, Maurissa says, “I’m definitely up for some dirty dancing tonight.” She certainly had the time of her life!
Ed complains, “I never see Grocery Store Joe, he’s always making out or sleeping.” GSJ is living the dream.
Chelsea says, “I want to have fun with Aaron, I’m always trying to have fun with Aaron, but Aaron is busy having fun with James.” Duh, because their bromance is the strongest relationship on this beach.
It may be the finale, but it’s honestly not too grand. With Noah and Abigail calling it quits, it’s pretty clear which couples are going to get engaged, but first we have to witness some awkward breakups and, of course, trips to the Boom Boom Room.
Wells shows up in a button-down that is such an aggressive shade of hot pink I’m surprised the cast didn’t go blind. He tells them that he made the executive decision to cancel the cocktail party, since everyone should know where they stand by now with engagements right around the corner. Here’s where the roses went: Joe’s to Serena, Kenny’s to Mari, Riley’s to Maurissa, Thomas’ to Becca, Ed’s to Mykenna, Aaron’s to Tia and James’ to Anna. Chelsea and Natasha say their goodbyes, and I can finally stop having secondhand embarrassment for Natasha every other episode.
Who called it quits?
It might almost be cuffing season, but in Paradise, it’s not leaves that are falling. Couples are dropping like flies, likely because they realize they have already gotten sufficient screen time aren’t ready for that commitment just yet. Mykenna tells Ed that she doesn’t see a future with him, which is code for “Your forehead is huge and I’m out of your league.” James breaks up with Anna and reunites with his true love, Aaron. “We came in together, we gotta ride out together,” he says. “Let’s do it, bro!” In a matter of seconds, Aaron dumps Tia, who doesn’t give a flying f*ck about him, and goes riding off into the sunset (well, the Elimination SUVs) with James.
The biggest casualty is Becca and Thomas. Becca, who’s gotten engaged on this show twice already, is scared of how good things are with Thomas, so naturally, she calls their relationship off. “I feel like sometimes it’s too good to be true, and that scares me,” she says. I’m a big Becca fan and I’m not too into Thomas, but this breakup seems abrupt. I guess it’s better than getting engaged to another Arie Luyendyk or Garrett Yrigoyen, but poor Thomas is so sad that he sobs. While I love a man who’s in touch with his emotions, he rivals Kim Kardashian for the ugliest crying face ever.
Who went to the Fantasy Suites?
First comes love, then comes marriage. But before a “Bachelor” franchise couple walks down the aisle, there naturally has to be a trip to the Fantasy Suite. After all, before you get engaged, it’s important to spend an intimate night together … talking, you pervs! We’re talking raw-dogging their emotions and getting really deep about their future. In all seriousness, Fantasy Suites are always a highlight of each season for me, because the way the contestants leap around saying the word “sex” is like watching an intense game of hopscotch, but with activities that are definitely *not* recess-approved.
Paradise success story Dean Unglert and Caelynn Miller-Keyes—who are no longer living in a van, by the way—arrive to cheer on the final three couples. The thrust of their message is “get engaged tomorrow or GTFO.” No funny business will be tolerated, except, you know, that kind of funny business. Remaining couples Kenny and Mari, Riley and Maurissa and GSJ and Serena have made it over the hump and are ready to plunge ahead into the Fantasy Suites.
GSJ and Serena
At a romantic dinner, GSJ and Serena talk about how excited they are to do “normal things” together, by which I assume they mean HelloFresh #ads and podcast appearances. Like most things between these two, the conversation is pretty bland but sweet, and the happy couple heads off to the Fantasy Suite, presumably to continue being vanilla.
Kenny and Mari
While a much spicier couple than GSJ and Serena, Kenny and Mari have a nice conversation as well. Kenny says that people didn’t expect him to get married or have kids—he is, after all, a good 40 years old—but here he is, in love. “It took me 40 years to find the love of my life, and it was worth the wait,” he says. I never thought I’d say it, but I’m kind of into these two together. After this sweet declaration, it’s time for some more taco-eating, so the pair heads up to the Fantasy Suite together, actual tacos in hand.
Riley and Maurissa
Riley has a history of suppressing his emotions, but he wins the award for the cutest pre-Fantasy Suite spiel (I guess letting his guard down is his preferred form of foreplay?). He paints a picture of his ideal Sunday morning for Maurissa, which is complete with letting his wife sleep in and making breakfast for their daughter. I guess this is why Riley is so jacked—he’s filled to the brim with Husband Material. “When I see you, I see Sunday morning,” he tells her, and my heart melts. The moment is ruined when they start some more erotic whipped cream nonsense, but lucky for us, cameras are not allowed in the Fantasy Suites.
Who put a ring on it?
Three engagements means three inevitable breakups. That being said, I’m rooting for each of the final couples, and I truly hope they’re able to successfully navigate the post-Paradise world. The best part of this episode is that we don’t have to suffer through watching the guys meet with Neil Lane to pick out gauche engagement rings. They benevolently do this off-camera, although the rings are still as gauche as usual.
Kenny and Mari
Our favorite boy band manager is the first to propose, and his pants are so tight that he struggles to kneel down. (Also, he’s 40, so it may just be early signs of arthritis.) “Mari, I am so f*cking in love with you!” this hopeless romantic exclaims, and she accepts his proposal. “I asked Mari to Mari me,” Kenny jokes, as members of Bachelor Nation let out a collective groan. While these two are pretty hot and cold, I think they thrive on the chaos, so I hope things work out.
Riley and Maurissa
We all saw this one coming! Well, everyone except for Maurissa, because Riley has been playing some screwed-up mind games with her. That morning, after Fantasy Suites, he told her he still had a lot of thinking to do, and Maurissa is rightfully nervous. The games don’t stop there, though—on the proposal platform, Riley says, “Maurissa, I love you, but I just need to be sure.” After a cruelly long pause, he finally pops the question. Personally, I’d dump the guy right then and there for that jackass move, but she gleefully accepts. Super romantic.
GSJ and Serena
Three smooth proposals would have been too easy, so the conniving producers bring back Kendall Long, GSJ’s ex, to talk to him while he is LITERALLY ABOUT TO PROPOSE. Like, he’s already on the proposal platform, tacky Neil Lane ring in hand. Thankfully, Kendall just wishes him the best, and the worst she does is tell him that there will always be a part of her who loves him. Being GSJ, he is exceedingly polite to her, but after she leaves he is so displeased that he almost stops smiling for the first time this season. This mind game is way worse than Riley’s, but GSJ is still set on proposing to Serena.
Wait, did you hear that shattering sound? That was the sound of my heart breaking into a million little pieces. GSJ gets down on one knee and proposes to a woman who is not me. The audacity. Anyway, Serena happily accepts and says, “Oh my God, my family’s gonna kill me.” I don’t think my parents would be thrilled about a 12-year age gap either, but if the Pitts have a serious issue with it, you know where to find me, GSJ.
Fashion faux pas
I haven’t done this section since I recapped Tayshia’s season of “The Bachelorette,” but there were too many not-haute couture moments in this episode. The worst offenders: Kenny’s flamingo shirt, which makes it especially impressive that he actually has a fiancé; Wells’ flaming hot pink button-down, which makes it especially impressive that he’s engaged to Sarah Hyland from “Modern Family” and Natasha’s rose ceremony top that was definitely just an upside-down bikini top inspired by the Gen Z TikTok trend.
Where are they now?
Before the episode concludes, we get an update on our favorite contestants. We learn that all three engaged couples are still together, Becca and Thomas have reunited and are in love, Abigail and Noah have gotten back together, Aaron and James have moved in together and, best of all, Natasha has over 460,000 followers on Instagram to Brendan’s 240,000. If that isn’t poetic justice, I’m not sure what is.
With that, it’s time to leave Paradise and go back to real life (ew). But not to fear, Bachelor Nation, ABC wouldn’t leave us in the lurch. In just two weeks, Michelle Young will begin her journey to find love on Season 18 of “The Bachelorette,” premiering on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. CDT. Personally, I couldn’t be more excited to watch this badass woman every week, and I hope you’ll join me. Until then, cheers to this rollercoaster of a show, and here’s to hoping that GSJ and Serena, Riley and Maurissa and Kenny and Mari are, indeed, here for the right reasons!