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Bachelor in Purgatory: season three, episode 3

The eye of the storm

Bachelor in Paradise is a television show in which the discarded men and women from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette come to a place called "Paradise" (technically a resort in Mexico) for a second (or sometimes third, and occasionally fourth) shot at love. Each week, they pair off in a game of sexy musical chairs. Throughout the season, the surplus human beings are granted blissful reentry to the real world, and two more men or women are added to the cast as tribute. Who knows how long this could last. Probably forever. We'll stick around for as long as it takes, because we need to know if love is real and we need to know what two dozen hot people will do to find it. We need to know if a game show about love in Paradise is more game or show or love... or Paradise or purgatory.

Kaitlyn Tiffany: Hey you guys! We're still at the beach! Still looking for love! Hope you haven't forgotten about us, because we've completely forgotten what it's like not to have a BAC of 4.9 percent, a belly full of someone else's saliva, and a microphone battling our lower back sweat underneath a wallpapering of flesh-colored tape. This week in Paradise, almost a billion events occurred but the plot did not move forward in any tangible fashion. That's why they call this Paradise and not Hamlet!

bachelor in paradise

What the show lacked in narrative substance it made up for in unprocessed novelty. This week they gave us a HOKEY medical emergency plot, yet another conversation between a woman and a disinterested animal, and a very odd North by Northwest visual reference that didn't really do it for me.

Let's start things off with last week's cliffhanger: Evan's daring attempt to separate Amanda and Josh from each other's mouths and replace Josh's mouth with his mouth, but without anyone noticing. Evan's first stab at the magic trick fails, but because Amanda didn't push him backwards out of the treehouse while rejecting him he takes this opportunity to pull out his best stalker language, like "I got what I wanted, a glimmer of hope," and "There was just something in her eyes, a sparkle." Evan seems like a nice enough guy, but his vocabulary walks the line of a budding pick-up artist.

the paradise bookstore is a den of manipulation, also it doesn't exist

The producers, perhaps not convinced that Evan would work his way up to full-on bunny boiling quickly enough on his own, produce the snot out of the man's willingness to pick fights with human protein disposals. Evan "stumbles" upon info from former Bachelorette Andi Dorfman's tell-all book, which alleges that Josh, holder of Amanda's heart and upper thigh, is a verbally abusive scumbag. Evan hasn't read the book but he knows the contents of it nonetheless. Apparently the customer service attendants at the Paradise bookstore are human encyclopedias!

Nick who is also waiting to make a move on Amanda, and who has read the book, also takes a moment to warn her about its contents. Specifically he would like her to know that the parts about Nick are somewhat true. I'm not sure why he would bring this up, since most of the passages about Nick relate in some way to him being bad at sex, but thanks Nick. Noted!

Lizzie Plaugic: I love how Evan was like, "I've only just heard about this book, and I haven't actually read it, but I find its contents deeply troubling." His dopey meddling makes Josh sweat a lot, but Josh should know by now that this is all part of the game, and Paradise is a game with no winners — only people who haven't lost yet. Evan says Josh is "hiding behind inspirational quotes," and later says "sometimes doing the hard thing is not the most popular thing," which some might call an inspirational quote.

bachelor in paradise

Evan says he always puts himself into a "self-assigned protector role," but Evan is apparently not doing enough to protect his own body, because not only does he pass out from drinking too much Chardonnay, but he also must go to the hospital due to the life-threatening condition of a swollen ankle. Because Evan is a mischievous little minx, he uses his hospital run as an excuse to get Carly to hang out with him. By some force of circumstance, dwindling prospects, and heat stroke, this ploy works. By the time they leave the hospital, Carly decides she's "back on the Evan train," despite the fact that the Evan train is awkward and uncomfortable and prone to sudden medical emergencies. Carly looks just off camera, and ever the audience surrogate, you get the sense she's thinking what everyone is thinking: "How did it come to this?"

But enough about Evan. This week, unabashed Bachelor superfan and one-time Bachelorette fantasy league winner Chris Plante is here to offer some insight into this week's carefully constructed chaos.

bachelor in paradise

Chris Plante: Bachelor in Paradise is, in theory, the platonic ideal of Bachelor brand and its pursuit of monogamous love. Planned dates are comparably closer to dates or vacations a normal couple might take! Relationships are tested not by rival suitors so much as the ever present gaze and gossip of peers! No flashy proposal or helicopters or gossip rag profiles much up the process! And there's no prize wedding ring the size of a Snickers Bite-Size!

Viewers want a show in which pretty people find true love, and this is, arguably, the closest we have ever seen to that indecent proposal. And I can't think of a three-hour stretch of the Bachelor in Paradise series that better encapsulates my on-again / still-on-but-mildly-disgusted relationship with the program and its intentions than this week's two-night, three-hour emotional decathlon.

'bachelor in paradise' is, in theory, the platonic ideal of the 'bachelor' brand

First, the good: after wasting hours on Hurricane Chad, the producers remembered that for BiP to flourish, each episode requires less conflict and more cheese. Evan's showdown with Josh could have been a disaster of macho violence, but instead we got a treatise on the "friend zone." Evan's face, crumpled in defeat, was like watching an embodiment of Reddit get hit in the nards by a rogue football.

And then came Daniel, who is, let's be honest, a gift to Bachelor Nation. Often crass, constantly vexing, the guy has a heart of gold and the mouth of a text randomizer. It's hard to tell how much Daniel is in on his own joke, because he delivers everything with an emoji-grade straight face, only betraying a goof with a slight grin, and only after quadrupling down on the "fact" that, yes, he "seriously" would like to give Nick Viall a test drive — but only "on Fridays."

KT: Daniel is great, thank goodness for Daniel. Right before the rose ceremony this week he kicked Sarah several times to show how much he likes her, then asked her to pull a bee stinger out of his surreally chiseled chin. "Luckily it doesn't hurt that much and it's not my lips," he added — quite smoothly, I would say! — before laying one on Sarah. The kiss is quite obviously bad, but it's the thought that counts and we've had our fill of saliva already, thank you very much.

Moments like this were few and far between this week. Not only did the producers introduce New Hottest Girl Caila to wriggle between Jared and Emily, they immediately brought back Ashley, from Bachelor in Paradise of yesteryear, to bask in the horror of her ex-boyfriend macking on Caila with the Incredible Hair. Ashley is escorted into Paradise by Chris Harrison, who must be on bath salts because he honestly can't stop asking Ashley if she's still a virgin and whether or not Jared ever made it past second base. Umm that's not how you make polite conversation, Chris?

bachelor in paradise

In fact, almost no one can stop talking about the fact that Ashley is a virgin. Not Chris Harrison, not the Twins and their posse of gossips, not Nick, who I had previously considered normal, and not the people hired to act out a definitely offensive fake Aztec sacrifice ritual on Ashley's date with Daniel. But Ashley can't be just a virgin, of course. She has to be a crazy virgin. The best kind. The producers helpfully edit quick cuts between a rain storm and torrents of Ashley tears, not-so-subtly implying that her emotions literally cause hurricanes. Oh, and they make her talk to a parrot, which tries to convince her to drown Caila.

CP: Here's my rule of thumb: the more an episode is like the schticky retro opening titles, the better. Smiles, practical jokes, awkward winks to camera, a self-aware flourish to the editing, a flagrant conversation between producer and viewer: this is what I want, and this is what I got from this week's first two hours of BiP.

On Tuesday night, when Ashley showed up, she walked into one of the most awful emotional traps I've seen the producers lay. "Hi Ashley, we know you have an obsession with a man who can't outright shut you down, but will never actually love you. So how about you try one more time to win his heart on television? By the way, your buddy who promised not to make moves on the man of you dreams, well, we arranged for her to take him on a romantic, tropical one-on-one date."

This isn't a winky Daniel-like gag: I'm serious when I say I think the show's creators are okay with emotional scarring cast members like Carly and Ashley I. But like, why? Why be this awful. And why these women or any women or any humans?

KT: There are no answers to Chris' questions, so instead let's ask some different ones that are easier to answer. Lizzie, who is in Purgatory this week and who escaped for a brief respite in Paradise?

PARADISE: Nick and Jen

bachelor in paradise

LP: Everyone kept forgetting about Nick this week, until Jen (Ben's season) showed up and found out Nick was her only option. Good for Nick! Jen and Nick exchange pleasantries about how happy they are to have organically found each other on this island. They make out on a beach until a swarm of crabs come to take back their territory and Nick literally says "I don't want to die here." At least you'll die next to Jen's boobs, which got as much camera time as Jen's face.


bachelor in paradise

KT: Poor Carly, can't stay off the Evan train even though kissing him makes her throw up and she is deeply annoyed by everything he says. She even seems vaguely aware of the fact that Evan's medical emergencies were fake as hell, but she doesn't go running because she knows she's stuck on an island covered in monster crabs and meddling bookstore employees. Remember, this girl came into Bachelor in Paradise vowing to "test drive some cars." So what is she doing on this one-way train to erectile dysfunction city? I don't know, but I wish someone would shake her like the producers shook a definitely legitimately passed out due to serious health problems Evan.

Come back next Wednesday, and if the Paradise crabs haven't feasted on our bloated corpses by then, we'll recap another week of love, lust, betrayal, and belly button juices.