We have reached the point in Paradise when this ordeal — weeks on the beach, sweatered in humidity and sand — is starting to reveal itself as an actual ordeal. Oh, you thought Paradise was going to be hours on the beach with endless quesadillas and booze? Well, that's actually what it is, but there will also be no television, books, or music. (Has anyone on this beach heard "God Is A Woman"?!) There will also be no air conditioning. Boredom will infect the beach! There is only so much time one can spend idling in a hammock. By this point in the show, the women are less willing to entertain men, and the men seem even more desperate to get their kicks in before the curtain falls. When Shushanna arrives in Paradise this episode, one girl refers to her as "fresh." This is how stale things in Paradise have become.
The staleness is affecting everyone in different ways. Some couples are clinging to each other harder than before. Others are flirting with leaving Paradise, maybe just because they want some air conditioning.
We'll start with the couple that hogged the first hour of the episode.
Tia & Colton
In the midst of all these lazy quesadillas, Tia Booth got too comfortable. She flew too close the sun. She fell into Paradise hubris, confident that her relationship with Colton — a milquetoast, will-o-the-wisp of a man — was fine. At the start of this episode, Tia says the deadliest words: "I feel confident."
Naturally, she shouldn't be. Colton is actively wondering, am I fully invested in this relationship? A.k.a., should I leave Paradise so that I can comfortably wear hoodie vests again? It's very hot for hoodie vests in Paradise.
"I feel like right now I'm forcing it," he tells Kevin. He then erupts in tears, telling the camera that he's never really tried to make himself happy. Colton's always thinking about other people. Colton's inner publicist is working very hard in this episode.
He later admits that even his football career was an effort to please others. This is just like that! (To be clear, he just compared Tia to his time in the NFL.)
To Tia's credit, she takes the breakup in stride. Yes, she cries, but she also admonishes Colton for doing this to her. He can't keep waffling on women like this. He has to learn how to love! He must find a woman! He must settle on a woman so that he doesn't keep hurting other women!
Meanwhile, ABC is airing ads that the next Bachelor will be announced tomorrow...
Jenna & Jordan
Happily ensconced in a relationship, despite the dissolving relationships around them. Jenna has a minor breakdown following the Tia versus Colton drama, but Jordan swoops in to remind her that, hey, he's obsessed with her.
Eric & Angela
The couple that was solid last week fell apart when Eric took a date with Cassandra, a newcomer. Things mainly get confusing after Eric's date with Cassandra, which will ultimately send Angela home.
Cassandra & Eric
Eric and Cassandra have a lovely date, slurping at popsicles and agreeing that they are generally interested in one another. In Paradise, I find, it is hard not to be interested in people. Their relationship actually shows promise. Eric, being a Bachelor fave, might stand a chance to finally, finally find a partner through this franchise.
But Eric forgot that, especially in Paradise, the bonds between women run deeper than the bonds between couples. Following their date, Angela pulls Cassandra aside for a symposium. Angela reveals that, until recently, she was Eric's #1. He has maybe lied to Cassandra.
"I wouldn't want someone who flip flops like that," Cassandra says, aghast. Nevermind that this the point of Paradise; how dare Eric flop around like a limp pool floatie!
This leaves Eric and Cassandra in limbo — until he gives his rose to her. Cassandra just won.
Astrid & Kevin
They are so lucky! Kevin is falling in love with her! According to Kevin, she's out of his league.
"I've actually never felt good enough in a relationship," Kevin confesses. Remember: He has some Bachelor-related hangups, partly in the form of Ashley Iaconetti, who, conveniently, got engaged on this episode.
This is the one "all in" couple of Paradise. Astrid says that she's in love with Kevin before he says he's in love with her. Now, that's vulnerability. They cement their relationship with a "date," which, with this budget, is just a private dinner among a bunch of Instagrammable pool floaties.
Christen & John
They are on a date? For some reason? Why wasn't this a bigger deal? John was dating Olivia? Also, he's doing advertisements for Venmo these days?
Christen, the artist formerly known as Scallop Fingers, is a late addition to the season. She is therefore a diversion tactic — a last-minute character (replete with a nickname!) there to keep the main cast from getting bored.
Annaliese & Kamil
Breaking at the seams, thanks to Kamil's new dalliance with Shushanna. Annaliese is unhinged, weeping openly on the beach like she's auditioning for a new season of Laguna Beach.
"She's gonna have a mental breakdown," says Chelsea, who is our de facto commentator now that she is officially sans man.
Annaliese is convinced that she could marry Kamil, despite the fact that he's said all of ten words during this season of Paradise. He had more to say on the "Men Tell All" two months ago than he has on this show. Nevertheless, following his date with Shushanna, Kamil promises himself to Annaliese.
Shushanna & Kamil
Kamil is playing a dangerous game. He told Shushanna that he'd been "friendzoned" by Annaliese. Then, he kissed Shushanna. Shushanna had Annaliese-related concerns, but Kamil assuaged them on their date. Their date involved a giant banana boat.
Ashley & Jared
Midway through the episode, Jared Haibon and Ashley Iaconetti materialize, looking smug. Look, bikini-coated pleebs! You, too, can find love on Paradise! It will take years and you may have to shed a few tears. You might also have to start a podcast empire and parlay your Bachelor-related fame into lasting relevance.
In relation to their timeline, Jared says wryly, "Timing is everything." This is true! But really, time is everything. A relationship doesn't spring up out of nowhere — generally, these things take time, and Jared and Ashley managed to remain relevant long enough to form one.
They get engaged on the Paradise beach, bringing their relationship full circle.
Olivia & John
Meet John, the secret playboy of Paradise. He has dated: Chelsea, Jubilee, Caroline, Christen, and Olivia. What's worse is that he gets so little screen time, we can't even tell if he's interested in any of these women. Are he and Olivia a couple? It's unclear, although Olivia did say in this episode that their date — which aired last week — happened only yesterday. So, this couple is new. Olivia therefore has very little ground to stand on when John accepts a date from Christen. (My guess? He wants to get out of the hotel. He needs something to do!)
She later gifts him a piñata, a sign of a solid girl. In return, he gives her his rose.
Chelsea & Kamil
In a last-ditch attempt to stay in Paradise, Chelsea tells Kamil that she's interested in him. Alas for poor Chelsea, his rose goes to Annaliese.
Jordan & Shushanna
Jordan Mueger, a New Zealand import, arrives at the last minute to disrupt Paradise. He gives his rose to Shushanna, which will keep her in Paradise just long enough to stir up more strange drama. Next week, there's going to be a "Russian witch hunt" involving Shushanna. Does no one involved in production on this show remember what happened in Salem? They're just going to call a woman a witch? On television? For fun? Okay.
The Couples Ranking
4. Cassandra & Eric: In the (slightly editorialized) words of Eric, this may be Miracle Season. If we all just hold on for one more episode.
3. Jenna & Jordan: A round of applause for the couple that didn't cause any drama this episode.
2. Olivia & John: I am praying for this candy-fed couple.
1. Kevin & Astrid: They made out in a Bloody Mary-shaped pool floatie!