By Kristen Baldwin
September 17, 2019 at 11:00 PM EDT
John Fleenor/ABC
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Three proposals, one breakup, one post-Mexico reconciliation, at least one metric ton of shade, and a brand-new Bachelor — it was a busy night for Bachelor in Paradise fans. Let’s recap, rose lovers!

FANTASY SUITES

Chris B. and Katie: Heading into the final night in Paradise, things are still a little hinky between these two. “Before I can even think about accepting the Fantasy Suite card, I’m going to need a feeling in my gut that tells me whether or not it’s right,” says Katie. But once they’re at the hotel, Bukowski assures Katie that he’s falling in love with her and that he’s looking forward to the future. You better believe that she LOVES it.

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The two smooch and head to the Fantasy Suite.

Dylan and Hannah: These two are still as schmoopy as ever, and the only thing holding them back from having Jorge the former bartender marry them on the spot is the fact that they haven’t met each other’s families. But that’s sure as hell not going to keep them from the Fantasy Suites, of course.

Kristian and Demi: “At the end of this now, I feel like I am actually, undeniably myself,” says Demi, as she and Kristian sip wine on the couch. “I’m so in love with you.”

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These two are adorable, dammit.

Clay and Nicole: We all know that Nicole is 100 percent on board with being Mrs. Clay, but the former football player wisely points out that there are still some things they need to talk about. “I have reservations,” he says. “I just want to be certain, and I don’t know why I’m not 100 percent confident.”

Given his doubts, Clay adds, he doesn’t feel comfortable asking Nicole to leave Miami to live with him in Chicago. “I’m not 100 percent ready to move in together,” he says. “I think we have more to explore.” No one watching is likely very surprised to hear this based on how he’s acted thus far, but Nicole is shocked — shocked! — that Clay is expressing reservations about her Happily Ever After. “I honestly don’t feel good right now,” she murmurs in that odd, monotone way of hers. “You’ve honestly never brought up these doubts before… All of a sudden, you’re backing out.”

She’s not wrong: Clay informs Nicole that he doesn’t think they should go to the Fantasy Suite and should instead spend the night separately so they can think things through. She is not thrilled with that plan.

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While Nicole cries and watches the fireworks alone, all the other couples get down to business in the Fantasy Suites. Well, on the plus side, at least she’ll get a good night’s sleep?

PROPOSAL DAY

Clay and Nicole: Though she feels sick to her stomach, Nicole puts on a brave face, dons a white sundress, contours her jawline within an inch of its life, and heads to the Proposal Platform to get an answer from Clay.

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Bold and to the point. I like it! “I’m not there yet,” says Clay. “Having those feelings is not easy for me and it’s scary… I know what I want, and that’s for us to take things slow and to leave here together. I want you, I do.” As annoying as Clay can be and has been this season, the guy is actually being pretty reasonable right now. They should take time to get to know each other more before moving in together or (God forbid) getting engaged.

But Nicole will hear none of it. “I deserve a love that is so deep the ocean would be jealous!” she declares. “That’s it, Clay, I’m sorry… I can’t tell people that we’re together knowing that you don’t love me back.” With that, she hurries back up the stairs and into the back of the Reject SUV. “I was so happy just a day ago,” she says tearfully. Clay, meanwhile, asks his driver to “stop at the local pub.”

Chris B. and Katie: After seven years of Bachelor-related failure, Christopher Bukowski is ready to put a ring on it: “I’m in love with Katie.” Still, he’s not sure yet if he’s going to propose — he’s just going to go with his gut once they get to the platform. “I just feel like I’m the luckiest man in the world right now,” he tells Katie. “You make me feel calm, comfortable. You make me feel like myself, and…”

Awww, you guys, Chris B. is crying! And now I’m crying! I’m actually crying real tears about Chris Bukowski and his “journey” to find “love”! What is happening right now???

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Of course, she says yes, and they embrace tearfully. “Who woulda thunk?” Chris marvels. “I’m so happy right now.”

Dylan and Hannah: Man, the humidity in Mexico is murder on hair product!

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But Dylan soldiers on, determined to propose to the woman he’s loved since week one. “I could never love anyone as much as I love you,” he tells Hannah. She loves him right back, but Hannah also once allowed a guy to ask her dad’s blessing for her hand in marriage (do people still say that?) on national television… and it did not end well. “I am terrified and really scared about being broken again,” she admits.

Dylan’s all, Totes get that, and we’ll meet your parents soon, but the camera’s rolling now, so

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For a second, it seems like everything is about to go very wrong for Dylan. Hannah’s first response is, “Wait!” and then “I’m shaking.” Finally, her beloved cannot stand the suspense any longer. “You have to answer!” cries Dylan, and only then does he get his “yes.”

Demi and Kristian: How’s this for some morning-after bliss?

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That fruit plate looks delectable. As happy as Demi is, though, she still feels like she doesn’t deserve a future with Kristian. “Honestly, she’s too good for me,” she says. “Why would someone that amazing ever want to be with me?”

Shake those insecurities off, Demi, because Kristian does want to be with you, and she actually wants you to propose… like, right now! “Demi, you changed my life forever,” she says. “Demi, I’m in love with you and I give you my whole heart, and I promise to protect yours now and forever.” Hang on, I just ran out of Kleenex. Damn this stupid show!

Okay, I’m back. And just in time for Demi’s sweet declaration: “Like you said, I came here to find myself, but I found myself in you.” Then, because Demi doesn’t have any pockets in her pretty orange dress, she reaches around the rose podium for the familiar Neil Lane box. What comes next is, for this show at least, quite groundbreaking:

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Not only is Demi proposing to another woman, but she’s also doing it while wearing Lucite heels. Incredible!

AFTER THE FINAL ROSE

And we’re back in the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, which once again has undergone a Paradise-themed makeover with Mexican blankets and tropical flowers. After Harrison introduces all 931 cast members (Mike and Derek get the biggest cheers from the audience), we roll a highlight reel that concludes with Christian and Jordan’s knock-down-drag-out over a piñata. To that end, there are two big burly security dudes on set to prevent any violence. (Big Paulie can’t do everything, you know.)

The host kicks off the reunion by asking Derek and John Paul Jones to rehash their beef. Derek says that he told JPJ that sure, you can have sex with Bachelor fans who DM you after the show, but you shouldn’t. JPJ disputes this: “I asked Derek directly if he’s ever hooked up with any of his Instagram followers and he said you ca— he does, and you can.”

So, what’s the truth? Has Derek ever hooked up with one of his followers? “You don’t need to answer that!” interrupts Jordan. “Social media’s become a lot like a dating app, and people do reach out to each other. So, Derek, you don’t have to answer that. And if you did, that’s okay — you’re a human.” Wow, the male model is actually making a lot of sense. Anyway, JPJ feels no need to apologize, and Derek is pretty much over it, so let’s move on… to the Jordan and Christian showdown!

“I acted in self-defense,” says Jordan. Mike does not buy it.

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And the indignities keep coming. When Harrison asks Christian why he was able to have a civil dispute with Clay, but things got physical with Jordan, Christian has his insult-answer ready: “There’s a difference — a gentleman and a boy are two different things. Clay’s a gentleman.” This is enough to get Jordan heated.

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Christian retaliates by calling Jordan a “bitch,” and then Demi scolds them both: “Act civilized! This is a TV show. Good, God!” Well said, girl.

Harrison then tries to dredge up some ancient history involving the “ladies,” specifically the short-lived beef between Tayshia and Hannah over Blake’s trip to Birmingham. Hannah insists that Blake only visited her in Birmingham to have a conversation about “the whole Stagecoach situation,” not to make a “weird pact.” Huh?  I’ll be honest, rose lovers, I know it’s only been like six weeks, but I seriously have no clear recollection of what any of these people are talking about, nor do I really want to spend much time trying to care. Long story short, Hannah is still hurt that Tayshia called her a “player” and a “puppeteer” during the time that she was dating both Blake and Dylan. Tayshia is still irked that Hannah said she “mean girl’ed” her. And Dylan and Blake both look like they’d much rather be at the bottom of the ocean in a lockbox than in that studio right now.

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Perhaps this could all be avoided if everyone just took Jordan’s advice. “Next year for Paradise, just stay off Instagram,” he says. “Or just don’t go to Stagecoach.”

Up next: The ConnorCaelynnDean triangle. Though Caelynn still feels guilty about leaving Connor in the Paradise lurch, she says she had to follow her heart, which led her to this guy:

ABC

Caelynn’s even slept in the van a few nights, if you can believe it. (What if she has to pee in the middle of the night? WHAT THEN DEAN?)

This conversation segues easily into Caelynn’s previous drama, the pre-Paradise saga at Stagecoach. Kristina says she and Blake had dated briefly before the festival, but mostly they were just friends with benefits. Caelynn says she and Blake had been “talking” for months prior to the festival, and she only found out about his Stagecoach hookup with Kristina about a week prior to filming.

Blake, meanwhile, says he knew he was going to take his “bumps and bruises” for playing around with so many different citizens of Bachelor Nation before filming. “Did you and Hannah have a pact or a plan to take a relationship into Paradise?” asks Harrison. (Oh, so this is the “weird pact” Hannah was talking about!) Blake’s answer is hilarious because it is both an assent and a denial.

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Well, that settles that! Really, Blake just wanted to chat with Hannah before two of his angry exes descended on Paradise with their tales of his dickishness. Good try, buddy. Sorry it didn’t work out.

Remember how in week one Caelynn told Wells that Blake called her two weeks before filming and said, “No one can know about us, we’ve gotta lie our asses off in Paradise”? Well, now she walks that back quite a bit, saying that they both agreed that they wouldn’t “make it a big deal,” and the actual reason she was so upset in the early weeks was because Blake was ignoring her. “I know that you’re not a bad guy,” she tells Blake, “but I was hurt.”

And she’s still hurt that he released her text messages, which she says were “very perfectly selected” to make her look bad. “I’ve never felt so, like, exposed or violated in my entire life,” says Caelynn, which is a pretty serious statement given that she was drugged and raped in college. “That to me is the lowest of the low.” Blake did delete the texts after the interwebs spewed forth a tsunami of slut-shaming in Caelynn’s direction, but it’s cold comfort to the former beauty queen. “You called me right before you posted those,” she fumes, “and I told you that was going to happen!”

All Blake wanted to do, he says, is combat the lies Caelynn was telling on TV — that he “sweet-talked” her into bed and then tried to “silence” her about it — but for everyone on that stage, releasing the texts was a bridge too far. “Say sorry, dude,” says Derek. “That’s it.” Eventually Blake does apologize, but it’s one of those “I’m sorry you’re upset” apologies: “I am so sorry that you got attacked, and I am so sorry that you are feeling the way you are, I am.” Hang in there, Caelynn. At least you can rely on Dean and his cool bolo tie.

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Uh-oh, it’s filler time. When we come back from commercial — during which Dean comforted a tearful Caelynn backstage, while Kristina soothed a weepy Blake — we’re treated to a segment on “Bachelor Nation’s growing family”: Jade, Tanner, and Emmy, and Carly, Evan, and Bella.

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And man, Jade looks good for a woman who just gave birth to her second child… in her closet! Carly’s going to have another baby soon, too, and because producers have three hours to fill, we’re about to find out if she’s having a boy or a girl.

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So, it’s a… bartender? Just kidding, just kidding — congrats on your baby boy, guys.

Our final hot seat of the evening goes to Tayshia, who’s here to discuss her unexpected romance — and last-minute break-up — with John Paul Jones. Ever since she left Paradise, Tayshia’s been thinking about JPJ and their “whirlwind romance.” She had so many regrets that she actually flew to St. Michaels, Md., to ask JPJ to take her back.

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That’s gotta be his parents’ house, right? There’s no way JPJ lives in such a tastefully appointed home. “I’ve avoided you at all costs,” he says. “I didn’t follow you on Instagram.” But he’s not mad, and when Tayshia starts telling him how much she missed him, he’s like, Woah, dude. “What’s happening right now?” he asks the assembled camera crew.

What’s happening, bro, is that Tayshia wants to get back together. “Woooo!” he hollers. “Look at my girlfriend — isn’t she hot?” Chris Harrison is right, wonders never cease. Back in the Thunderdome, JPJ joins Tayshia on stage, and within like 30 seconds he’s down on one knee… but don’t worry, he just wanted to recite some Shakespeare to her again. (Hamlet this time.) Keep it weird, you two.

Now for the only straight Paradise romance that really matters: Katie and Chris B. I should have known something was wrong when Bukowski wasn’t on stage with the others. Even though Katie and Chris got engaged in the finale, things have gone south since filming ended. “I was just so head over heels,” says Katie, her voice shaky. Now, says Katie, “communication’s been hard. [deep breath] I’m exhausted.”

Harrison points out that Katie is not wearing her honking Neil Lane rock, and that only makes her more emotional. “We’re still engaged,” she says. “I just put in so much effort every day and I love him so much, but I put in so much that my tank empties. And if I’m not getting it filled, I break down.” Katie is not getting her tank filled, and no, that’s not a sexual innuendo — it means that Chris is just not very good at showing (or telling) Katie that he loves her as much as she loves him.

“Do you feel like he is your husband and is going to be the father of your children?” asks the host. Katie takes another deep sigh before answering. “I fell in love with potential that may never come to fruition, but I’m just praying it does.” Guys, I just hate watching Katie Mo cry! Dammit, Bukowski, get your butt out here and fix this!

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Um… Yes. But we’re gonna need a little more here, Chris. While he gushes about how loving and caring Katie is, and how amazing she is, what he doesn’t say is anything along the lines of “I love her so much and will do anything to keep from losing her.” It’s this type of withholding — whether conscious or something he can’t control — that is making Katie feel insecure in their relationship. “It just doesn’t feel fair,” she says, breaking down in tears again. Chris says he wants to give her all the things she needs, but… he just can’t?

“Chris, why do you have such a hard time expressing your love?” asks Harrison (who really doesn’t get enough credit for his relationship counseling skills, I must say). “Are you capable of being that man for her?” Bukowski says he “definitely” is, and Katie believes it too — but so far she’s only been getting “glimpses” of his devotion. “You tell other people that you love me, but you don’t act like it towards me,” she tells Chris. Good God, Bukowski, just say I love you. SAY IT! “I honestly feel the best when I’m with you,” says Chris. “My family loves you, my friends love you, and… I love you, I do.”

Huzzah! Big Paulie, please be a dear and bring Katie’s ring back in here. (Yes, it’s weird that production had the ring, which indicates that Katie took it off right before going on stage, which in itself indicates that this whole thing was orchestrated for the cameras… but I’m not mad about it. This show was, is, and always will be a TV-version of “reality.”) Bukowski puts the ring back on Katie’s finger, and then the host offers him some very important advice:

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Hell yeah! Be better, dammit! But as soon as we cut to commercial, Chris heads backstage to stew about what just went down. “I’m not upset, I’m surprised,” he informs Katie, who followed him outside. “You blindsided me, for sure.” Huh? Katie has been telling you this whole time that she needs more for you, so none of this should come as a shock. “I knew this would happen,” sighs Katie, as Chris walks away. “What was I supposed to go up there and say? ‘I’m happy! Let’s have babies!’” I fear Big Paulie will have to take possession of that Neil Lane sparkler once again.

Oh yay, it’s time to talk about Dylan and Hannah.

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Yeah, not much here to report, other than Hannah’s inevitable move to California. It happened. Okay, NEXT!

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That’s right: Please welcome Demi and Kristian to the stage! Things are going well with these two; in fact, Demi just moved to L.A. to be closer to Kristian (and, you know, all those cameras). Though her “journey” was difficult, Demi says overall her Paradise experience has been “liberating,” and that the response has been overwhelmingly positive. “The hate that we get is drowned out by all of the love,” she says.

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“She’s the easiest person to love ever,” Demi says of her fiancée. “She’s so selfless, and I look up to that, because I know I can be self-absorbed at times.” She also points out that “we need more Dereks out there in the world.”

The segment ends with Kristian proposing to Demi, because this, ladies and gentleman, is a relationship of equals. Plus, Demi needs a ring too, you guys! Time for the product shot, and for Chris Harrison’s voice-over praise for Neil Lane:

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Welp, rose lovers, there’s only one more order of business to get through.

AND THE NEW BACHELOR IS…

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Yeppers, it’s Pilot Pete. I have many thoughts about this choice, and you can read them all right here. And before you go, don’t forget to tell me how you’re feeling about this season of Paradise: Will any of the couples stay together? Should the show institute a “no Instagram hookups” rule? Would you sleep in Dean’s van, complete with a weighted blanket and drawers he built himself? And will you be watching Peter’s season of The Bachelor? (Be honest.)

Thanks for taking this “journey” with me, rose lovers, and I hope to see you back here in January.

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