By Kristen Baldwin
August 20, 2019 at 10:00 PM EDT
ABC

Welcome back, rose lovers! Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like Team Paradise could have tried a little harder with these intros this season. I mean, they didn’t even try to make Caitlin’s interesting.

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Then again, I suppose she didn’t give them much to work with. Anyhow, let’s recap.

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Caitlin and Blake and Kristina: Yes, Kristina is back in the mix — but not because she wants to pursue a relationship with Blake. “I just want his rose,” she says bluntly. To that end, she pulls Blake aside to plant some doubts in his head about Caitlin. “I truly don’t want you to look back on this experience and be like, ‘Actually, I wish I would have done [something else].’”

Of course, this irritates Caitlin to no end, and she finds plenty of sympathy with the other women. “I wouldn’t put it past Kristina to try to ruin any [of Blake’s] relationships,” says Tayshia. “She’s made it clear why she’s here,” adds Caelynn. “She literally called it a rose hunt.”

I’ll admit that it pains me to see everyone talking smack about Kristina. And it kind of pains me to see Kristina acting like a cold-hearted rose hunter. But on the other hand, good for her? Why shouldn’t she get a free, extended stay in Mexico — especially if she provides some decent drama for the cameras? For God’s sake, people, the woman had a terrible childhood. Let’s cut her some slack.

When Caitlin tries to scold Kristina for “pursuing friendship roses,” the Russian beauty is not having it: “There’s nothing wrong with me wanting a friendship rose to stick around!” Correct. Paradise basically only has one rule: No fighting over piñatas. Everything else is fair game.

Katie and Chris and Jen: “There’s gonna be girls coming,” Katie informs Chris early in the episode. “You do what you want.” It’s pretty clear Katie is just trying to be the “chill, cool girl,” but all Chris hears is I’m not that into you. “It kinda sucked to hear that,” he says sadly. “I feel like she’s a little bit more, um, not as serious.”

Enter Bachelor and Paradise vet Jen.

Dean thinks she’s “one of the most beautiful girls in Bachelor Nation if not the entire planet Earth.” And Caelynn says Blake was “hanging out” with Jen during the time he was (allegedly) ghosting her. Jen chats with Blake and Dean, but ultimately, she settles on Chris. “Do I have any reason to worry?” asks Katie. Short answer, honey: Yes.

Chris agrees to go with Jen on the date, but not before telling Katie that he doesn’t want to “degress” what they have. (I think he meant to say “regress,” but why quibble over grammar? It’s Paradise!) And with that, they’re off for a catamaran ride, complete with champagne and mutual sunscreen application.

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Oh, did I mention the sea is a little rocky? “Cheers to not dying today,” says Jen. “Cheers to not throwing up,” replies Chris. Unfortunately, the magical power of the “cheers” does not work for him, and pretty soon Chris is hurling over the side of the boat. Once they get back to the beach, though, Chris tries to salvage the date by bringing her upstairs (there’s an upstairs???) for more champagne on solid ground. He and Katie might be at “different points” in their lives, he tells Jen, and he’s ready to find a wife. And what better place to look than the Paradise hot tub!

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Yuck. There isn’t enough chlorine in the world, folks.

Eventually, Chris heads off to find Katie, and when she asks him if he got “clarity” from the date, he mumbles something without making any eye contact with her. “I think that maybe I needed that wake-up call to realize how much I like you,” Katie says. “I really like you. I really like you… I wanna be with you.” This should be exactly what Chris needs to hear, but he’s concerned Katie’s feelings are motivated more by panic than genuine emotions. “There’s like a feeling that I have that’s, like, a little bit of doubt,” he says. Booooo! Get it together, you crazy kids.

Clay and Nicole: Now that Nicole has broken free from Christian’s testosterone spell, she’s so happy she could sing. Literally.

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Well, she’s definitely a better singer-songwriter than Jed… but Nicole should probably stick to her day job. (And to her credit, she has a day job.)

Derek and Demi and Kristian: We rejoin Demi during her chat with host Chris Harrison. After telling him about Kristian, the woman she was dating back home, and saying “I can’t imagine not having her in my life,” the host poses the million-dollar question: “Can you imagine not having Derek in your life?”

There’s a pause before she answers. “He would give me a lot of the things that I need,” says Demi. “And I thought the closer I got to him, the less I would even, like, think about Kristian — but it was the opposite.” Harrison hears Demi out and assures her that he supports her no matter what choice she makes.

Derek, meanwhile, is feeling “a pull-back” from Demi — and unfortunately for him, it’s about to get worse. Harrison arrives and informs Demi that the show has “come to a decision” about her situation. He sends her upstairs where… Kristian is waiting for her! Demi bursts into tears and they embrace.

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Am I getting a little teary, too? Yes, rose lovers, I am. As contrived (and some might say exploitative) as this situation is, it still warms my heart to see a network television dating show embracing a same-sex romance. Take that, garbage fire known as 2019!

Kristian says she came to Mexico to show Demi the “level of commitment” she has to their relationship. Demi confesses that she’s been “really conflicted” about her feelings for her and for Derek. “I’ve been crying all the f—ing time,” she says. “The more I was away from you, the more I thought about you… The second that I saw you, like, I knew exactly — like, it’s you, and it’s always been you.”

Awwww, that’s really sweet… but poor Derek! He’s such a good guy. And as soon as Demi sits him down for a talk — “You’re the best dude on this beach, hands down” — he knows it’s over.

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“She is here now,” Demi says of Kristian. “And whenever I saw her, I knew it was her.” Derek, bless his gentlemanly heart, handles this revelation — and the news that Kristian is staying in Paradise — with grace and class. “I’m glad that you’re moving toward what makes you happier,” he says. Still, he’s clearly hurting. “I feel like I’m just in the same situation as always where somebody picks somebody else over me,” he says through tears. Demi assures him that he is, in fact, “enough” and that there’s nothing he did or said to change her mind. “It’s just what my heart feels.” Goddammit, am I crying again? This stupid show!

Derek goes off to have a good cry (the poor guy!), and then Demi brings him to meet Kristian, which he says he needs for “closure.”

“I’m not sure even what to say,” Derek begins. “There’s no animosity between us… It’s just hard.” Kristian thanks Derek for being a “good guy” and for introducing himself. “It means a lot,” she says.

Derek finally strolls back to the group, and someone asks him what’s going on. He sounds so defeated when he answers — “You’ll all see in a minute” — it just breaks my heart. Then comes the big reveal.

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“We’re gonna stay in Paradise, and we’re gonna have a really good summer.” The gang cheers. “We love you, Demi!” Dylan calls out, and everyone hugs. Then producers send Demi and Kristian out on a date. Before she leaves, Derek hugs Demi. “You look beautiful,” he says. “Just have a good time.” Dammit, am I crying AGAIN? GO TO HELL, SHOW!

At dinner, Kristian wants Demi to know that she’s feeling a little hurt about the whole Derek situation. “It made me feel like, I don’t know, that you, like, doubted us,” she says. “And that you had to test that.” Demi apologizes for being a “skeptic” and owns up to being scared of commitment. That said, “Yeah I’m scared, but I don’t want to run from it anymore,” says Demi. “I will do whatever I need to do to make sure that I am with you.” She and Kristian seal their new commitment with a kiss and mutual “I love yous,” and all is right in Paradise. Except for poor Derek. (Side note: If Demi and Kristian were already at the “I love you” phase of their relationship, why did she come to Paradise in the first place? Don’t answer that.)

3 MOST GIF-ABLE MOMENTS

1) Chris Harrison, therapist to us all

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Feel free to save this GIF and pull it up any time you need some encouragement.

2) Nicole living her best beach-bum life while Clay keeps it tight

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This woman is doing Paradise right.

3) The one question you never thought you’d hear on Bachelor in Paradise

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“I have no idea who that is — Nelson Mandela?” says Demi, during a game of celebrity. I don’t know what’s worse: Demi’s ignorance or the fact that Wells says Will Smith played Mandela in a movie… when he’s probably thinking of Morgan Freeman in Invictus.

Welp, rose lovers, we’ve made it through week three. Before you go, please answer the following: Will Derek stay in Paradise? Has Katie completely blown it with Chris? And who among us hasn’t asked for guacamole while in the midst of a mental breakdown? Post your thoughts below!

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

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