Welcome back to the beach, betches! We’re now officially halfway through the season. Let that sink in. Halfway. Through. The. Season. Even just typing that exhausted me. And I get paid to be here! I can’t imagine how I would feel if I was here of my own free will and not because I’m financially dependent on grown adults making sexual innuendos out of shrimp. Alas, we all have our crosses to bear.
Last week, in an unprecedented move, ABC tried to switch things up with their show formatting. By “switch things up,” I mean they copied Love Island’s homework and hoped we wouldn’t notice. Well, the joke is on you, ABC, because I’m a single woman in my 30s who only derives pleasure from watching bikini-clad degenerates with stunted amygdalas hump each other for Instagram followers. Of course I noticed.
After ABC separated the women from the men, the producers brought in newer, hotter cast members to tempt the original Paradise crew. “Tempt” implies that they have an urge or an inclination to do something wrong, but something tells me the only thing these guys find “wrong” is having to make do with their right hands. Now that ABC has wasted six hours of my life that I’ll never get back, they’re ready to send the OG women back to Paradise to reunite with their men.
Let’s get into it!
Lace’s Last Stand
When last we left off, Lace had just returned to the men’s side of the beach. If you listen to Lace, the women are being kept in a secret bunker where they are denied food, water, and their skincare products. The only entertainment they are allowed is to listen to ASMR recordings of Jesse Palmer describing in detail which female body parts the men have corrupted since they left. The only reason Lace is even on that beach is because she was able to somehow Shawshank her way out of her cell.
LACE AT THE SIGHT OF WELLS’ TIKI HUT:
In reality, the women are living in a palace of AC and working wall outlets, surrounded by actual bartenders serving actual drinkable beverages and ogling their own harem of ridiculously attractive men. But Lace is not here to talk about semantics. She’s here to get Rodney back. She’s still waiting for Rodney to return from his date with Eliza, when she will demand that he either leave the beach with her or live out his days with the spectral energy of her hurt feelings haunting his future romantic connections. It’s his choice, really.
I love how Jesse Palmer keeps saying Lace will “burn down” Paradise. The woman is 32. Whatever spark existed in her spirit was snuffed out the day she started taking antacids before happy hour.
Meanwhile, the men are like “Yooo, Rodney is going through it!!” As if navigating a relationship with a woman in her 30s is the equivalent of walking through a field of live landmines. You know, erratic and could possibly kill you, but you don’t know when.
Rodney, to his credit, is very sweet about the whole thing. He tells Lace he doesn’t want to waste her time and he hates thinking he hurt her. He’s really trying to soften the blow, but she’s not upset over you, buddy. She’s upset that she’s going to have to re-download Hinge. Don’t flatter yourself.
Lace does leave with one final warning: that all is not as it seems over on the women’s side of the island. “We’re getting to know the new guys, too,” she says. “NEW GUYS?”, Brandon shrieks as Lace evaporates into a cloud of smoke and tequila. That’s right, Brandon, there are new guys. Did you really think they were just doing face masks and syncing their cycles? Well, think again. Not all fun and games now, huh?
Boo, You Whores
Speaking of the women, they are absolutely blowing their one chance at having the upper hand over these guys. While the OG men have been desecrating hot tubs and sucking tequila out of other women’s navels, the OG women have been generating enough renewable energy with their tears to end climate change. The guys think they know where they stand with the women. They have no idea the women are being tempted as well. Why wouldn’t they use that to their advantage??
Jesse Palmer comes in and tells them that he’s not sure what they think is going on over at the guys’ side of the beach, but just to make it clear, they are 100% “connecting” with other women.
Yes, we’re picking up what you’re putting down. Honestly, this is the pep talk the ladies needed. Don’t they know that the best relationships are built on lies and schemes until eventually you wear the other person down enough with your bullshit? Newsflash: get your fucking ass up and work. It seems like nobody wants to work these days.
The only one who’s even slightly doing this right is Victoria. Though she initially hit things off with Johnny, she decides to go on a date with Alex during Hotel Amour. “Physical touch is my love language, and Alex just gets that,” she says about a man who used his index finger to barely scratch her head once. I really hope that’s not a precedent for how else he’s going to use that finger.
But just because she’s going on dates with Alex doesn’t mean she isn’t still conflicted about Johnny. “I’m used to doing life with Johnny!!”, she moans. Honey, sweetie, baby. IT’S BEEN THREE DAYS. That’s not doing life. That’s doing a vacation. Who’s gonna tell her?
Meanwhile, back on Fboy Island, Logan is torn between three women: Shanae, Sarah, and Kate. While he accepted Shanae’s rose at the last rose ceremony and went on a date with Sarah last week, now he only has eyes for Kate. I love that the only explanation production can come up with for these sudden romantic feelings is grainy footage of Logan and Kate mumbling incoherently to each other with a time stamp of 1:30am. Say less.
The thing about Kate is that she is also in a love triangle with Jacob, who is kind of dating Jill. This does not stop her from asking Logan to go on a date with her. They do a weird massage thing where Kate says things like, “I can’t wait to tear your skin off so we can start fresh and raw,” and then treats his back like her own personal slip-n-slide. She loses me when she starts beating Logan with a cactus paddle. “Am I expected to give a tip?”, Logan jokes. Honey, I think you’re already sporting one.
But Logan is going to have to face the music at some point. During Tuesday night’s episode, Jesse tells the women that they are finally allowed out of their kennels and can return to Paradise.
JESSE: It’s time for you to go back to the beach
ME ALONE IN MY LIVING ROOM:
Shanae is one of the first to be set loose on the beach. She says she’s all in on Logan, as if she didn’t try with every fiber of her being to be all in on someone else. (She made a run at Tyler, but he was more interested in Brittany). I get it though. Logan has big “last man on earth” energy.
“I went on a date with someone else but he wasn’t you!” she tells Logan, and leaves out the part where she tried to turn the boom-boom room into Tyler’s personal carnival stand. You can tell Logan was hoping she would admit to some more concrete cheating so he would have an easy out. Instead, he’s going to have to stare directly down the maw of the beast and tell it he’d rather exchange bodily fluids with a girl named Kate. Good luck.
The one thing I don’t appreciate about all of these reunions is how the OG guys are acting like the OG women are monsters for having feelings. “Here comes Laceifer!”, they cackle when Lace walks calmly down the beach. “There’s the Shanaedo!!”, Aaron giggles as Shanae cries by the ocean. “Pompeii is about to explode!!”, Brandon squeals (also about Shanae crying). Don’t you guys think you’re being a little tough on them? The scariest thing about these women is their reading levels. Maybe the peanut gallery should cool it.
Speaking of scary things, I’m worried that this might be the end of Jill’s screen time. Jill is hoping their full moon ritual meant as much to Jacob as it did to her delusions, but their reunion doesn’t go as planned.
JILL: My biggest fear is that Jacob didn’t miss me at all and I’ve just been sitting here rotting.
JACOB: But rotting is a form of growing, no?
Jacob admits that he “kissed” Kate while Jill was away. That is a very nice way of describing the UTI you gave that woman in a hot tub. He tells Jill that even though things didn’t work out with Kate, he would rather date a banana leaf than continue things with her. While I appreciate Jacob’s point of view, it’s a wrong point of view. Jacob and Jill are different sides of the same penitentiary. They’re meant to be!!
Personally, I don’t want to conceive of a Paradise without Jill in it. Who else is going to deliver us with such finite wisdom as this: “he sold his couch for cash and I cried over him??” You think Genevieve is going to have such prowess over her comedic timing? She has about as much control over her delivery as she does those hair extensions. They just don’t make them like Jill any more!
But I know Jill is going to be just fine. Karma is a cat purring in her lap cause it loves her, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
Other Things That Happened
If you were hoping to come to the end of this recap and find something like “and then there was a rose ceremony” well, I hope you’re used to disappointment. For weeks now, ABC has been dangling the prospect of a third rose ceremony. No, there haven’t even been three yet. Yes, that high-pitched keening sound is just me screaming into the void.
This week, ABC continues to focus on dragging out over-played plot lines instead of moving the season along. I, for one, cannot give more attention to their bullshit. So, with that said, here is a list of couples that production desperately wants me to care about and I absolutely refuse to. You’re welcome.
Genevieve + Aaron: Stay together. Watching these two on screen makes me feel like a prisoner of Azkaban. You can’t tell me Genevieve’s wailing doesn’t acutely feel like a dementor is feeding off your will to live. But good luck with Aaron!
Brittany + Andrew: Break up. Like Victoria and Shanae, Brittany was one of the few women to explore new relationships in Hotel Amour. She tells Andrew she’d rather be with Tyler, and the only thing I wrote in my notes about the exchange is “Why does Brittany look like the Olsen twins’ medium?” So… do with that what you will, I guess?
Victoria + Johnny: Move into the gray area. Victoria would like to have her cake and eat it too. She tells Johnny that while she still really cares for him, she would also like to explore things with Alex. Ladies, this right here is what we’ve been marching for. Equality is being able to treat your significant other with the same care and respect a guy named Ian would give his iguana. You do you, honey.
The thing is, Victoria is right to have her doubts about Johnny. Is that a Sanskrit tattoo that says “live laugh love” on his forearm? Methinks it might be.
When Victoria asks him a simple adult question like “What are your career goals?”, his only answer is that he’s passionate and motivated. These are things you say in your interview to be a YMCA lifeguard. The woman said she’s ready to have kids, and his five-year plan is about as mature as Kraft macaroni and cheese. Of course she has her doubts!!
And that’s all she wrote, friends! The descent into madness continues next week. See you there!
Images: ABC/Craig Sjodin; Giphy (4); ABC (1)