Demi stirs the pot and Tammy exposes another contestant.

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Welcome back to paradise, Bachelor lovers! I'm Maureen Lee Lenker, and much like the hosting duties on this show, I'll be sharing these recaps with my esteemed colleague Kristen Baldwin this summer.

Tammy says she feels like she's been on this beach for seven years, and you know what, girl? Same. But thank God, here comes to Demi to stir the pot. Literally.

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Credit: abc

Heartfelt-exploring-her-sexuality Demi from the previous season of Bachelor in Paradise is gone; she's here now to make trouble, which she seemingly loves more than a Taylor Swift chorus and a production of The Music Man combined. After telling a bemused David Spade she'll be going after the men and not the ladies, she immediately heads to the beach to make heads roll. She pulls aside a litany of men, including Connor, Kenny, and Brendan. But it's Brendan who gets her date card. Which Natasha is decidedly not happy about.

bachelor in paradise
Credit: abc

They head off on their date while Connor impresses Tahzjuan with some truly terrible puns. Tahzjuan, if you think that's impressive, you should try the EW staff.

Things start great on Demi and Brendan's date. They're riding jet skis; they're making out. But record scratch, Brendan is not here for Demi's suggestion that they spend more time together exploring and growing. He's talked to other people, and he wants to wait and see if their paths cross again. Well, Demi is not having it. As she reminds us, she's the "cream of the damn crop." And honestly, this has never happened to her before. Well, except with Colton, and that doesn't count cause he's gay. Her words, not mine.

But that's the least of Brendan's problems because back on the beach, a game of BIP telephone is happening, which is just like regular telephone except with more gossip and backstabbing. Mari tells anyone who will listen (and that's everyone) that Brendan was seeing Pieper from Matt's season back at home. The news spreads through the beach quicker than an STD, and Natasha is, needless to say, even angrier.

But some couples are experiencing their honeymoon phase, including Ivan and Jessenia. And there are also some people like Kelsey and Victoria P. who are struggling to find a match. Victoria P. tries to force a connection with James. Or is it Jordan? She can't remember. To be fair, Victoria P., we couldn't remember his name before this episode either.

She tells him she's attracted to him, but he says he hopes their connection can go deeper than that. But to us, she admits that her energy healer friend told her she'd get the chills with the right person, and she's not. Trust the crystals, Victoria.

Jessenia gets the other date card of the episode, and surprising no one, she chooses Ivan to accompany her for a date at a table in the middle of a pool. Did I just discover my dream first date scenario? Maybe!

But oh God, wait, is this? Could it be? It's a genuine connection and a serious, heartfelt conversation about something other than how hot the other person is. Folks, it's a Bachelor in Paradise miracle. Ivan gushes about how special Jessenia is, and it's cute as hell. Then, Jessenia tells Ivan she really respected his conversations with Tayshia about race, people of color, and how he wasn't afraid to have serious conversations and go there.

She opens up about the online abuse she suffered in the aftermath of Matt's season, particularly in light of the revelations about Rachael Kirkconnell and the conversations it sparked, ultimately ending in Chris Harrison's exit from the franchise. She admits she'd never experienced that type of racism until after being on the show.

Dear, sweet, wonderful, enlightened Ivan acknowledges how much harder people are on the women of this show and says he felt for all of them. But Jessenia says it was worth it because she feels safe here with him, and he straight up promises her his rose. They make out in the pool, and okay, we have my favorite couple of the season right here. These crazy kids truly seem like they could make it for the long haul.

Demi returns to the beach without Brendan, and immediately tells everyone how their tongue wrestling became a rejection. Victoria L. assures her she's only a minor idiot (aw, thanks, girl) because of the Pieper situation. Demi comes in with the line of the night. "He wants to have his cake and eat it too. Everyone is the cake, and the beach is the eat it too," she proclaims, completely misunderstanding how any of that works.

Brendan comes back to an ambush, first from Demi, then Natasha. First, Natasha inquires about Demi, and don't worry, they had fun, but she didn't set Brendan's soul on fire. Let's all eye-roll together.

But when they get to the real issue — Pieper — Brendan gives a classic player explanation. Yes, he "hung out a bit" with Pieper, but they never had any "labels." Run for the hills, Natasha. But she doesn't. Instead, she buys Brendan's line that he's had deeper conversations with her than Pieper, getting lost in those admittedly beautiful eyes. Demi gives the performance of her life, crying over a guy she rode jet skis with for a half hour.

Other couples continue to connect: Karl and Deandra, Connor and Maurissa, and Victoria P. and James, who protects her from the sequoias cicadas and learns some wild things about Louisiana men.

But since Demi is taking a break from her pot-stirring duties to have a good cry, Tammy steps in to fill the void. She starts telling people that Victoria P. has a boyfriend back in Nashville, breaking down Victoria's playbook, which involves returning to Nashville and getting her country singer boyfriend on TV (maybe this show needs to take a break from Nashville contestants). There's a lot of maneuvering and no x's and o's in this playbook.

bachelor in paradise
Credit: abc

It's time for the first rose ceremony and cocktail party of the season. There's already a lot of established couples, but Serena C. decides to shoot her shot at stealing Aaron from Tammy. He obliges by making out with her but is only all too happy to let Tammy straddle him immediately after, to the point where he can't get up cause he's too excited. Honestly, would've probably rather seen that than an entire episode of Kenny's naked bod.

Demi gives the girls a lesson in wooing men with "sex eyes," which sounds much better than it looks. Please, ladies, never look at a man like that. Or anyone.

bachelor in paradise
Credit: abc

But Victoria L. decides to give Demi's tricks of the trade a try on Tre, despite him being firmly attached to Tahzjuan. He politely humors her, but it's mostly just an opportunity for Tahzjuan to light into Victoria L. about stealing her man. Victoria gives a classic non-apology, saying she's sorry her actions affected Tahzjuan. No, Victoria, you're not sorry. Then, she calls Tahzjuan crazy and breaks down sobbing. Some real attempts to get Emmy nominations from the ladies tonight.

Tammy is done watching Victoria L. fool James. She pulls him aside and gives him the country song backstory of Victoria's cheating ways. Victoria and her unnamed man even have a dog together. Woof! James is blind-sided, and Tammy coins a new term, "rose-chasing." Could this be the new "here for the right reasons?"

But Kelsey lives in Nashville with Victoria, too, so James calls her in for confirmation, which she is only too happy to provide. James' whole experience has been turned upside down, to which Kelsey astutely replies, "Welcome to Paradise."

James needs some clarity from Victoria, and she denies that she has a boyfriend back home. Yes, she dated someone from February to May, but they broke up before she came here, and he encouraged her to "step into this with an open heart." Sounds real suspicious.

James thinks so, too, because he calls her out on not knowing his first name. Damn, go, James. Victoria immediately gets very defensive, all but confirming she's been caught in a web of lies. And then she forgets his name again while breaking down in the confessional. Victoria, you are not helping your case.

Tammy uses the opportunity to tell anyone who will listen about the drama. Victoria confronts Tammy and Kelsey about their revelations, saying she thought they were friends. She's disappointed they didn't come to her first. Mhmm, sounds like a girl who's just mad she got caught. Victoria goes straight into millennial therapy speak, saying she's going to set healthy boundaries, and then walks away. Tammy compares her to medusa in a stony-faced manner. (Sorry, I had to).

But what, is Tammy's playbook actually accurate? Victoria is leaving, telling James the best thing for her to do is to walk away from this and wishing him the best. And when she leaves, she smiles in a way that is positively, well, gorgon-like. Clearly, Tammy had her number all along. Someone get a football coach that playbook; it's Super Bowl material.

bachelor in paradise
Credit: abc

James tells everyone about Victoria's choice, admitting he has no idea what to do now and making himself open season for the other women not assured of the rose. Of course, Demi immediately sets her sights on him — but so does Kelsey.

At last, it's the season's first rose ceremony, hosted suavely and confidently by Wells Adams. The majority of the ceremony goes as expected:

Ivan to Jessenia

Noah to Abigail

Joe to Serena P.

Connor to Maurissa

Tre to Tahzjuan

Karl to Deandra

Brendan to Natasha

Aaron to Tammy (too bad, so sad Serena C., good effort)

Kenny to Mari

The question mark of James remains, but before he can announce his pick, Kelsey almost faints from the heat. Demi calls bulls--- thinking she's faking. But I don't know, she looked pretty sweaty. The milk of magnesia can't help you now, Kels. But whether it's real or fake, it's not enough to elicit a pity rose from James. He chooses Demi, so her drama will continue for at least one more episode.

And it's goodbye to Serena C., Kelsey, and Victoria L. Thank the bachelor gods that we've said goodbye to two scheming Victorias in one week. But never fear, the trailer has assured us more drama is coming to Paradise.

What do you think, rose lovers? Are Ivan and Jessenia for real? Was Victoria P. really playing James (and us) the whole time? Is Brendan a player or just an idiot (or both)? Sound off in the comments below.

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