Slight spoilers are ahead. It wouldn't be Bachelor in Paradise without some IRL drama. On the second episode of the 2021 season, rumors started spreading on the beach that Brendan Morais was seeing Pieper James prior to coming on the show. Pre-show drama already? We're listening...
When confronted, Brendan tried to clear things up. He said that he and Pieper met about a month and a half before production began, but that things between them were casual and that's why he came on the show anyway. It may sound like a very Stagecoach-y line, but it's actually very likely that Brendan and Pieper were both already cast on Bachelor in Paradise and had signed contracts months before they struck up any sort of connection. Fans only began snapping photos of them hanging out together in late April and May, which was shortly before filming began on June 8.
What really happened between Pieper and Brendan?
According to Us Weekly, by the time Paradise started filming, the two had been seeing each other only for a couple of weeks and were doing the long distance thing. "Either he'll fly to New York and hang with her, or she'll fly to Boston to hang with him," UsWeekly's source claimed. "They're keeping their relationship under wraps since they're trying to make it work long-distance and it's still new. They both are super into each other and are getting to know each other and are just having fun going on dates."
Since Bachelor in Paradise began so shortly after that, and their own connection was so new, it's not all that unreasonable that these two would have decided to follow through on their commitment to appear on the show. Besides, being on Paradise means they could get paid while hanging out with their friends and maybe find a spark with someone. Plus, since they don't live in the same place, Paradise offers a chance to connect in-person. During episode 2, Brendan said he didn't know whether Pieper would be joining the show, but Bachelor cast members from the most recent season showing up on the beach is not exactly unprecedented for this show. Also unprecedented? Producers knowing enough about contestants' dating lives to cast a special someone from their real worlds. Last season, Demi Burnett's pre-show crush Kristian Haggerty was brought on midway through Paradise, and Blake Horstmann was confronted on the beach by both his Stagecoach hookups, Caelynn Miller-Keyes and Kristina Schulman.
To be clear, though, Brendan seeing Pieper before Bachelor in Paradise is not the same on the drama scale as the Blake situation. For one, Brendan isn't really triple timing the Paradise women like Blake was with Caelynn, Kristina, and his Paradise crush Hannah Godwin. Although Natasha felt that she and Brendan had a strong connection, others mentioned that it seemed like Brendan was holding his emotions back — the theory being that he was waiting for Pieper. He even rejected Demi on their date so as not to keep leading her on.
Rumors are starting to float around Paradise 🤐 pic.twitter.com/vz7CCyxOmX— Bachelor in Paradise (@BachParadise) August 23, 2021
Is Pieper coming to Bachelor in Paradise this season?
Both Brendan and Pieper will hit the beach this season, but what's unclear is whether or not their time will overlap. The contestants have no control over when people hit the beach, but the trailer confirms that Pieper comes to Paradise later this season. Is it possible that Brendan was just holding out for his special friend from the real world? Sure! But it's also entirely possible that their connection was new enough that he was open to getting to know the rest of the cast. And even if it turns out that Brendan was waiting for Pieper, while he probably shouldn't have gone on the date with Demi or spent so much time flirting with Natasha, this is Paradise.
The show is about exploring burgeoning, and more importantly, overlapping connections, whether those are made on the beach or off it. Also realistically, we know that the people of Bachelor Nation know each other in real life and DM each other on Instagram — it's basically impossible to build a Bachelor in Paradise a cast without any previous connections. In fact, most of us are counting on it.