'Bachelor in Paradise' week 2 recap: The agony of ecstasy

Warning: This recap of the “2017/08/21” and “2017/08/22” episodes of Bachelor in Paradise contains spoilers.

In the popular 1980s romantic comedy Hellraiser, unlucky-in-love characters seeking fulfillment would first have to solve an intricate puzzle box, which summoned dozens of hooks that literally ripped them apart before a group of demons arrived to sentence them to eternal damnation. Now, obviously, Hellraiser is frequently mislabeled as a “horror” film, but that’s only true in the sense that romance and dating are a terrifying horror show and always have been. Why do we subject ourselves to the nonstop agony of love? Because after years of humiliation, awkwardness, and rejection, some of us just MIGHT have the chance to sit in our partner’s lap while a strange woman sonograms our unborn child on national television. In other words, sometimes it’s all worth it.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about this week’s installments of America’s realest and therefore most disturbing dating show, Bachelor in Paradise!

We began on a humid night, with the electricity of possibility surging through the playa, and the low but undeniable thrum of jungle drums calling people toward their destinies.

Yes, the citizens of paradise had become frisky and hopeful in the leadup to their first official Rose Ceremony. OK fine, Iggy and Dean did not make out, but you won’t convince me that “jokingly” feeding each other food in this way isn’t also romantic. And the two do have chemistry!

The first big thing to throw the tropical camp into disarray was the arrival of this guy, who of course was the creator, master, and father of this guy:

Even more unsettling than the jump-scare induced by this menacing dummy was the baffling concept that Adam was not only desired by all of the female castmembers of Bachelor in Paradise, they borderline lusted after him! I mean, he seems nice enough, but come on ladies. It’s like that old saying, “He’s only fit to be humped a moth.”

Anyway, Adam arrived and immediately asked Raven on a date, which, sure. She’s kind of the female version of Adam in that she seems nice enough yet everyone behaves like she rolled down off Mount Olympus or something. Are these times so desperate? Fair enough. On their one-on-one they ate salsa and then did salsa.

Speaking of menacing dummies… Just kidding Dean is very nonthreatening. The Second Cold War really heated up this week when Dean could barely hide his contempt-slash-boredom toward Kristina. Because you and I are obviously Team Kristina in that she seems lovely and wonderful, this episode was particularly painful as the editors and producers reaaaallly put her through the wringer. Just ups and downs and false hopes and broken dreams. I can’t decide if it was brave or shady that Dean straight-up told Kristina to “pump the brakes” only minutes before the Rose Ceremony, leaving her no choice but to give her rose to a guy who openly does not want to be with her. Isn’t dating wonderful?

So yeah, that night it was time for the most stressful and desperate phase of Bachelor in Paradise: The Pre-Rose Ceremony Cocktail Party. And friends, I think this is when this show truly shines brightest. Everybody involved knows full-well it’s a musical chairs situation yet they still attempt to openly manipulate each other into coupling up like it’s actual romance. It’s all essentially a dressed-up version of last call at a particularly sad singles bar. That’s why I appreciated Alexis, heretofore uncoupled, just sort of casually telling Jack Stone to pay her more compliments if he wants that rose. And he did! And she clearly did not care, but was amused by the attempt anyway. I can’t speak for all of you, but Alexis is by far my favorite character on this show and makes me pray ABC decides to greenlight a spinoff called The Bachelorette DGAF.

For those who find Robby both sexy and creepy (crexy? seepy?) you had to appreciate this moment in which he attempted to seduce Amanda while also acknowleding that he was breaking the bro code, as he’s still friends with Josh back home. There was a lot wrong with this scene, not least of which was Robby’s mint-green bowtie and the torrents of melted hairspray pouring down his face. So nobody would fault Amanda for telling him that she might gag if they kiss. OK she didn’t say that out loud but we could see it in her eyes. Run, girl!

Poor Alex was the most shameless in his scramble, basically approaching every woman and telling them they were “a cool girl” and that they vibed well. If you can believe it, nobody took the bait!

Though Kristina was by far the most tragic character this week, Ben Z. ran a close second. Here he was receiving a pity rose from Danielle, who was so over this show she was already eyeing the exit. Still, Ben Z. seemed very stoked to stick around, self-respect be damned!

Vinny was one of the four kicked off the beach (along with Alex, Nick, and Iggy, who wasn’t even afforded a driving-home confessional!) and as he’d predicted, wearing a rose-patterned shirt had hexed him. Especially when he nearly choked himself to death with a seatbelt in the drive back to the other hotel. Thankfully he somehow survived the ordeal.

The next day everyone was feeling good and relieved to still be there. Robby was so excited he debuted his sleeveless T-shirt-tank-top hybrid! Because what even was that? Lookin good, you hunky weirdo!

The group’s chill reverie came to screeching halt when Danielle No. 2 arrived, and her entrance was the kind where all of the dudes described how hot she was to the camera for 10 minutes before she so much as opened her mouth. Dean put it best with, “On a scale from 1 to physically attractive, I’ll take physically attractive for 500, please.” And for that, Dean belongs in jail. Also, because Dean and Kristina’s relationship was ESPECIALLY brittle, obviously Danielle #2 asked Dean on her date.

As you can imagine, Dean jumped at the chance to make Kristina feel even worse.

Now, to be fair, it’s both of their faults for starting a relationship off-camera and then expecting it to remain drama-free after arriving on Drama Island. But it was definitely hard not to feel for Kristina in these situations. Dean’s perfectly allowed to see other people, but it’s amazing what people are comfortable doing when they know it will crush someone else emotionally. So yeah. Dreamy Dean was now Nightmare Dean.

I don’t know what on earth Alexis and Jasmine were getting up to together, but it involved pretending to slap each other across the jacuzzi and also heckling Taylor and Derek. In other words, they are the winners of this season and they were the best and I would watch this for days, thank you.

There was a brief, heartwarming moment when Dean returned from his date with Danielle #2 and sought out Kristina to make sure she was OK, and he even downplayed the makeout he’d had with Danielle #2 in the attempts to reassure Kristina she was still his #1 crush. But then minutes later during a group hang, he conspicuously brought out a piece of birthday cake for Danielle #2, allegedly to celebrate her “half-birthday.” That is obviously ridiculous and embarrassing — even Danielle #2 was like “What, why, OK?” — but it was enough to put Kristina over the edge. He’d tricked her into being into him again only to show her rival more affection!

Again, there are no real rules in dating, except the one: YOU WILL HURT. And that Kristina did. Poor lady.

The closing credits of Monday’s episode contained a truly hilarious moment, in which Danielle #2 truly cemented her villain status by delivering pizzas to the gang only to accidentally drop them face-down into the sand right before their eyes. The image was honestly so shocking that I emitted a small scream. How could she? Anyway, in her on-camera interview Alexis pretended to sob about it, and I was dying.

The bit just got funnier and funnier, as she tearfully recounted that Derek had taken a bite of the sandy pizza, and even more disgusting, Taylor had made out with him afterward. “I didn’t sign up for this,” Alexis wept. And now Alexis is officially the only one I’m rooting for, not only on this show but in life. Alexis has my heart but she deserves the world!

The next day, a pattern emerged: New gal, new drama. In this case it was the arrival of Sarah, who for reasons unknown, picked Adam to go on the date. Maybe a parrot had whispered in her ear that it would really crush Raven’s heart if she did so, so she did so!

Elsewhere Lacey spent several hours pouting into the camera about how she deserved a one-on-one date card, and almost miraculously she was presented with one! She of course picked Diggy, who had previously mouth attacked her right before the Rose Ceremony, thereby extending his paid vacation. And guess who accompanied them on their horseback riding date? Jorge! But because Jorge is treated like a human prop on this show, he awkwardly sat next to them on the sand and recounted the time his parents had had sex on this beach to conceive him. It was hilarious! What a rascal.

And, again, because Lacey had had a nice date with Diggy, it meant that the next woman to arrive — Dominique — immediately asked Diggy on a date. The insidious part came when Taylor attempted to comfort Lacey about the rejection even though Taylor herself had encouraged Dominique to ask Diggy out. See, even when Taylor is allegedly happy and content with her personal hunk-blanket, she’s still out undermining her castmates. Relax, Taylor! You’ve got a Derek to climb around on!

I am assuming you’re sitting down, mostly because who is even physically capable of standing against the crushing force of gravity keeping us pinned to the floor every day forever, but if not, you’re going to want to sit down for this: Wells might not be an official castmember, but he’s DEFINITELY in the mix romantically! He was way more prominent in this episode, at first positioned as a sort of young, sexy stand-in for Chris Harrison in that he sparked conversations among the cast and provided tons of insight on what was going on with everyone. But then, when Danielle #1 quit the show out of frustration and boredom, he casually helped her with her suitcases and then mouth-attacked her right before she got in the SUV! According to the music and commentary, he’d just done the most romantic thing in the history of the Bachelor franchise. But according to our hearts and brains… WHAT even?

Even Danielle No. 1 was frazzled AF. Just because they’d talked at the bar a few times didn’t mean we had any expectation of Wells and Danielle #1 being a thing. But they were! In the five seconds prior to her leaving Bachelor in Paradise! Again, too real. And yeah, how very shocking that Wells is going to be a permanent romantic object this season.

Then Bachelor in Paradise turned into the worst episode of Maury I’ve ever seen.

Much like how last week’s episode couched its sexual assault conversation in between montages of how great and romantic the Bachelor franchise is, we got another segment about how happy Jade and Tanner are, and how happy Evan and Carly are, and how everyone’s pregnant now! Which, fine, happy for you guys. But was it truly necessary to perform an on-air sonogram on Carly’s womb?

The answer is yes, because life is a miracle! It was also slightly more fun to talk about than potentially brand-damaging sexual misconduct allegations.

The less said about DeMario’s closing interview the better. But he seems nice and really worthy of our compassion, and it truly was unfortunate that anybody assumed he’d assaulted anybody.  But the Bachelor producers are still straight-up misleading us about what exactly happened and how this all went down. DeMario himself brought the most clarity to the subject when he confirmed that a third party had observed him and Corinne do things while intoxicated that could present an “HR issue” for the company. That made sense! Yet both Chris Harrison and the panel of castmembers he interviewed conspicuously omitted any specifics of what happened and by implication made it seem like Corinne had leveled slanderous lies against everybody, which she hadn’t. I’m sure her interview next week will provide perhaps even more clarity, but still. This entire situation is so frustratingly vague and makes the Bachelor franchise seem as shady as we ever suspected it was. Such a letdown.

But then again, dating and romance can be very unfun sometimes, so this at least feels on-theme! Let’s all do this again next week!

Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC

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