It's the math of love triangles…

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Happy Labor Day, rose lovers! To mark the end of summer, Bachelor in Paradise has an extra-juicy episode for us.

But before we get into all of that, I must ask a question raised by the never-ending opening credits: Why does Chris C. need the C when there is no other Chris on the beach? Harrison is gone. Is another Chris coming? Serena dropped the P as soon as Serena C. left. What gives?

Moving on! This episode is all about love triangles (or quadrangles in some cases). First up, it's Kendall and Joe. Kendall pulls Joe aside to talk, and he immediately asks if she's okay. She's not great, she's not awful, she's just okay (sing it with me Sondheim lovers, "I'm not good, I'm not nice, I'm just right"). She doesn't understand why Joe is so emotionally stable when she is not.

He breaks it down for her, explaining that at first he wasn't okay. It stirred up too many memories being in the place they fell in love. But Kendall is glad he stayed, so they could have this conversation. Honestly, you felt like the only way to talk to Joe was to corner him on the beach in the middle of a new relationship? Okay.

While Kendall might be "okay," Serena is definitely not, fearing what this could mean for her and Joe's future together. She cries in the confessional and then says she doesn't know why she's crying. Serena, c'mon, anyone would cry in this situation and we all know why. Even Wells says he thinks there's a good chance Joe and Kendall will get back together.

Kendall and Joe have a real heart-to-heart with them both admitting life without each other has not been easy. "It's difficult for me to not have you be part of my life," says Kendall. "The reason we broke up was not because we didn't love each other, it was because of logistics." Okay, but Kendall, sometimes the logistics are important. They are pretty essential to keep things afloat. Have we learned nothing about infrastructure and planning during the pandemic?

Kendall on Bachelor in Paradise
Kendall is here to 'find love'
| Credit: ABC

We all get a flashback to the beginnings of Joe and Kendall's relationship on the beach, as well as a montage of kisses. Joe is upfront and explains the situation with Serena. Kendall says, "It's really difficult for me to go to us being each other's everything to in a really quick period of time just be nothing." Then Joe gets real with her, telling her she's skipping over crucial details. He came back to Los Angeles four months after their breakup to talk. Kendall accuses him of coming back to push her to move to Chicago.

Joe admits he's frustrated she would never even give the city where he grew up and his friends and family are a try. But Kendall insists she told him from day one of their relationship she didn't want to end up in Chicago, and he just hoped she'd change her mind. But oh, Joe volleys back with "Your whole thing was I don't want to move anywhere for a man; I should've been more than a man." As much as I am rooting for these two, this feels insurmountable if neither is willing to give on this. Like I said, sometimes logistics are what matter most.

But what Kendall really wants more than anything is closure. Joe is now hopelessly confused, conflicted over whether he still loves Kendall and his desire to not just throw away what he's started with Serena.

Kendall tells the other girls that regardless of what happens with Joe, she's in Paradise to stay, to "find love." Quotes are all her (or at least her tone of voice). Hmm, methinks the lady doth protest (or relent) too much.

Joe, who is once again here to remind people he's one of the most decent men to ever appear on this show, asks to talk to Serena. He's extremely upfront with her, telling her about his conversation with Kendall and how it evolved from her coming back to Paradise for him to her needing closure so they could be friends and she can move on. But he tells it like it is, admitting there's still a misunderstanding between them as to why she's even there.

He tells Serena he came into this experience believing he was over Kendall, but he doesn't want to mislead Serena in case he's not. But he is. He thinks. He gives Serena an out, understanding if she wants to bounce before it gets even messier, but tells her she's his main priority. She believes him. Kind of. Just so long as he promises to be honest with her no matter what happens. I do trust Joe above anyone else on this beach to keep that promise.

This prompts Joe and Noah to have a heart-to-heart, during which Noah realizes he still has feelings for Abigail and they should try again. They talk, she apologizes for not communicating well, and he reciprocates. They agree to communicate better going forward. Now they can go back to being #couplegoals for everyone on the beach. Noah ponders what went wrong before: Was it the environment? Poor communication? Him being a dick? Guess we'll never know (but psst, it's the last one).

All these serious talks are making Mari realize she has very strong feelings for Kenny and that she only talked to him about being open to dating other people because she was scared. As soon as Tia returns with Kenny, Mari grabs him and spills her guts. "I still really like you and it's been a very hard last few days seeing you with other people." Kenny gets that look on his face men get when you ask them if they remembered to take out the trash.

'Bachelor in Paradise's' Kenny
Kenny is confused
| Credit: ABC

She admits she regrets everything that happened, specifically what she said to set all this in motion. Wait, is Kenny a prophet? Or does he just know the power of his bod? He definitely predicted this.

He tries to pump the breaks, explaining he needs to respect his date with Tia and what he's had going on with Demi. But to us, in the confessional, he admits there is something special between him and Mar. But he can't just jump right back into it.

Now Demi is pissed. She takes Kenny aside to ask about Mari — who, in case we weren't clear, she thinks is mean, entitled, and a brat. He says he had a fun date with Tia and he's planning to talk to her again tomorrow. Demi is not pleased he didn't just come back and tell her she's more fun. Kenny backpedals, explaining he might only talk to Tia for a few minutes tomorrow. Sure, Kenny, sure.

Demi doesn't like anything about this, but Kenny says he has told everybody everything, including Tia. Which, to be fair, he has. Demi laughs in a creepy way that suggests she's about to disembowel Kenny (Tia did try to warn you, bro). She tells him he's in a "little pickle." That's a new term for about to be murdered in your sleep I've not heard before.

Demi makes one less bid for Kenny's affections, leaning over and whispering in her sultriest voice:

'Bachelor in Paradise'
Demi attempts a seduction
| Credit: ABC

Someone round up some platinum female recording artists for a new version of "Lady Marmalade." Demi just coined the new "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?" But wait, is Kenny exhibiting self-restraint? (Or maybe just self-preservation?) He declines, explaining that his plan was to come back from the date and go to bed. Well, he is 40, maybe naked volleyball really took it out of him.

And just to prove he's not totally unaware of the mess he's created, he tells us all of his concern that Demi is going to cut his throat and wear his head as a mask. Now THAT would be the most dramatic finale ever.

It's the next day, and Thomas is trying to impress Kendall with the fact that he used his time being unemployed to teach himself to juggle. Wow, Thomas, really bulked up on useful life skills to help you succeed. What's next for you, learning to ride a unicycle?

'Bachelor in Paradise'
Thomas auditions for the circus
| Credit: ABC

Kendall pretends to be impressed, probably to make it stop. Jessenia reflects on how quickly everything has changed, particularly Kendall-Joe-Serena and the whole Kenny situation. She says now Kenny and Mari are talking, but this looks like more than talking.

Bachelor in Paradise
Kenny and Mari get cozy
| Credit: ABC

Natasha and Brendan seem to finally have found their groove. Natasha expresses her concern to him how it feels like so many guys here are just trying to win dates to wait for their match to show up on the beach. Brendan says he could never do that; he's a bad liar and not a manipulative person. This feels like foreshadowing, but Natasha is happy with where they're at so far as to be hopeful and see a real future.

So, of course, here is Pieper to bring her crashing back to reality.

Bachelor in Paradise
Pieper is here to ruin everything.
| Credit: ABC

Of course, Pieper says she is explicitly here for Brendan, and hooboy, Brendan knows the s--- is about to hit the fan.

Bachelor in Paradise
Brendan is concerned
| Credit: ABC

Pieper has a date card, and she doesn't need to talk to anybody first, she asks Brendan out immediately. Can't fault a girl for knowing what she wants.

Brendan and Natasha go to chat first, and he returns to his excuses that this was all very unexpected and this is just a huge coincidence. Brendan, I think you pronounced "going exactly according to plan" wrong.

Bachelor in Paradise
Natasha can't handle the truth
| Credit: ABC

He reiterates that his previous "hangouts" with Pieper were super casual, but now this is an opportunity for the two of them to have deep meaningful conversations. Ah yes, because the hallmark of Bachelor in Paradise is all the deep, meaningful conversations. I didn't realize all the times Brendan told Natasha he was having fun was a dissertation on relationships.

Y'all, let me just be honest, I would much rather a guy own that he's a player and be brassy and confident (see: Thomas) than mumble his way through life pretending like he's the victim to avoid having to ever take responsibility for his choices/the fact he doesn't want to commit.

Brendan says he would never hold Natasha back from exploring something if the roles were reversed. Yes, because you don't actually care about her, Brendan!

As Brendan and Pieper leave on their date, Becca comes to comfort Natasha, hugging her and telling her she loves her. I know Bachelor contestants spend a lot of time outside the show together, but when did these two become BFFs?

Natasha questions how much she's tried to be understanding and patient and worked hard to make Brendan comfortable. Natasha, no, you deserve to be with someone who doesn't make you work to make them comfortable. Even if Pieper didn't show up, treat yourself better.

Pieper is on a totally different page, already declaring their date a special night. Brendan explains what he's been up to with Natasha and how in demand he's been with the ladies. Gag me with a spoon. He admits he's certain that everyone else thinks he's just been waiting for Pieper. Ding ding ding!

But Pieper is confused and feels like Brendan is downplaying whatever they had before Paradise. But then Brendan begins the villain speech to end all villain speeches. "There's certain things that had to be done, certain ways I had to navigate to bring us to this particular moment," he says. So, yep, you were totally playing Natasha. He tells Pieper this entire time he's just been doing things to make sure he was here when she showed up. Pieper gets it, he was playing a game the whole time. Oh but, excuse me, she's into that.

"We have to have each other's back," Iago Brendan continues. "It has to be you and me first and foremost before anyone else on the beach. That's the only way we're going to get through this being in this position we want to be in. Utilizing this time here and taking advantage of what Paradise would promote together." Um, is this a date or a production of Glengarry Glen Ross? Always be closing, Brendan.

Pieper and Brendan seal their agreement to make everyone hate them together with a kiss. Now, they just hope it goes according to plan. Sorry, what?

It's the next day and — shocker! — Brendan and Pieper are attached at the hip. Everyone can see how different he is with her from Natasha and how their relationship doesn't exactly feel new. How can you really tell on a show designed to go from zero to 100 in one day, though?

Bachelor in Paradise
They deserve each other
| Credit: ABC

Maurissa astutely proclaims, "They should've just kept Paradise out of Paradise." The rest of the beach is more suspicious than Congress during the McCarthy hearings.

Natasha decides to get to the bottom of things by talking to Pieper. In what should be no surprise by now, Pieper's story does not at all match what Brendan told Natasha. They met two months ago, not one, and they've hung out at least 10 times, not just two. They were together right before he left for Paradise.

Elsewhere, Brendan is working overtime to get himself a spot in the next Villainous expansion pack, saying that Natasha had zero prospects outside of him and that he didn't keep her from anyone else.

What I'd like more than anything right now is for Pieper and Natasha to recognize Brendan for the trash he is, become BFFs, and I don't know, start a business or something. Alas, that does not happen. Natasha accuses them of planning this whole thing to be on TV, and Pieper denies it, but also kinda not.

Next, Natasha pulls Brendan aside and confronts him. He's back to wishy-washy excuses about hoping this would grow beyond friendship. Record scratch, he thought he and Natasha were friends? She has the same reaction as me, and he plunges the knife telling her they certainly weren't intimate or romantic. Yeah, Brendan, that's because you rejected Natasha's attempts to be just that.

Brendan tries to gaslight Natasha. "I specifically said to you I don't have those type of feelings for you on a romantic level, but you're such an amazing person I want to give you this rose and give you an opportunity to be here another couple of days and to meet people," he says. Uh, can we get an instant replay on the season? Brendan, when did you say that?

Natasha does not fall for it, saying no he never said that. "No, I didn't say that," he admits. BRENDAN, WHY ARE YOU STILL LYING AT THIS POINT? What game are you even playing? He accuses Natasha of having selective hearing, and that's the final straw. She wants to know if he's here for this TV show? Because that's what it feels like.

She probes further. Would he go on another date now with someone else? Probably not, because this one date where they hatched an evil plot talked for a bit made his feelings for Pieper so much stronger.

Natasha is MAD. She would've explored other options if Brendan had only been honest with her. Then he reveals Pieper even visited him in Boston before. Oh yes, long-distance trips to visit a guy are the very definition of "hanging out" with "no labels."

Brendan once again tries to excuse his behavior by telling Natasha he didn't hold her back from establishing other connections (subtext being that no one wanted her). I know everyone gave Blake a realllllly hard time a few seasons back (deservedly so), but Brendan makes Blake look like Prince Charming.

The talk on the beach is now about how Pieper and Brendan are just here for their careers. Tia sums it up best: "It's a mutual agreement — we give each other roses, our Instagram followers will go up, and we'll get paid to be here and it'll be a great f---ing time."

Pieper and Brendan do nothing to help their case by talking about an Us Weekly article about them, as well as her swiftly increasing number of Instagram followers. Then she brags about how many times her name will come up on the show before she even got to the beach.

Brendan is annoyed Natasha won't just leave, while the rest of the beach is mad that Yzma and Kronk don't get the hell out since they're just here for a free vacation and some airtime. Brendan, then pulls the shadiest move of all trying to muffle his mic while telling Pieper he's "incriminated himself enough."

Bachelor in Paradise
Brendan offers up Bachelor-gate tape
| Credit: ABC

Look, I'd love to say this is the power of editing and it's a moment taken out of context. But I think it's safe to say Pieper and Brendan are absolutely not "here for the right reasons."

What do you think, rose lovers? Am I being unfair, or are Pieper and Brendan the worst fame seekers this show has ever seen — or at least the worst to get this far? What happened to Becca and Kendall for 90 percent of this episode? Are Joe and Serena as solid as they look? Sound off in the comments!

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Bachelor in Paradise

Chris Harrison goes international with a cast of former bachelors and bachelorettes looking for love… and a chance to extend their reality fame.

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