SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the August 16 season premiere of “Bachelor in Paradise.”
The beach is open!
After a two-year hiatus, “Bachelor in Paradise” returned to screens for the first time since 2019. Although this arm of the “Bachelor” franchise has been historically hosted by Chris Harrison, the series now sees comedian David Spade temporarily taking the reigns as the first of several celebrity guest emcees for the seventh season.
“Let’s re-meet the people we’ve already met 100 times,” he joked, as he segued into introductions.
Twenty-three contestants arrived on the beach over the course of six different franchise seasons. James Bonsall, Connor Brennan, Aaron Clancy, Tre Cooper and former villain Karl Smith joined from Katie Thurston’s recent season of “The Bachelorette.” Serena Chew, Jessenia Cruz, Abigail Herringer, “Queen” Victoria Larson, Serena Pitt and Mari Pepin-Solis arrived from Matt James’ run as “The Bachelor.” Two of Tayshia Adams’ final four arrived (Ivan Hall and Brendan Morais) and were joined by two other rejects (Kenny Braasch and Noah Erb). Six of Peter Weber’s women arrived: Natasha Parker, Victoria Paul, Kelsey Weir, Maurissa Gunn, Deandra Kanu and Tammy Ly. Tahzjuan Hawkins from Colton Underwood’s season and “Grocery Store Joe” Amabile from Becca Kufrin’s season were the two “Bachelor in Paradise” alumni who both returned to the spinoff for a second time.
Abigail was the first on the beach and was followed by everyone else, who arrived one at a time. Serena P. emerged as a crowd favorite and was favored by Joe, Ivan and Brendan almost immediately. But Joe’s crush did little to ease his anxieties about returning to the beach.
“Grocery Store Joe” was eliminated night one on Becca’s season of “The Bachelorette” before becoming a “Bachelor in Paradise” success story. He walked away from Season 5 of the latter in a relationship with Kendall Long — but the pair called it quits two years later. Throughout this episode, he was vocal in his hesitation, often off on his own and not engaging with other contestants. He worried he made a “mistake” returning to the franchise and felt unsettled being back in the place where he and Kendall first made a connection. During his initial conversation with Serena P., he admitted that he was awkward but that it “felt like talking to Kendall.”
Folks trickled in and began to make initial connections before Spade called a “family meeting.” There, he laid the blueprint for paradise: Each week, more people would arrive and the distribution of roses would alternate between the men and women. With 13 men and 10 women, the men would hand out the roses this week, and three women would be eliminated. Bartender Wells Adams arrived and gave a rallying speech at the success stories of paradise.
With that groundwork, pairs started to form.
Mari and Kenny (who proudly arrived completely naked to show off his 40-year-old ripped body) connected and laughed about their 15 year age difference. Tre and Tahzjuan paired up, despite her admission that she had previously gone on a date with Tre’s uncle. Connor and Maurissa cuddled. Aaron and Tammy had an initial spark. Ivan and Jessenia spent time in the hot tub together. Natasha and Brendan share some quality time walking the beach.
Others were less successful, including Victoria Larson, the self-declared “queen” from Matt’s season who had rebranded as a “goddess” and refused to approach any of the men.
“My goddess energy didn’t quite kick in,” she said.
Abigail and Noah’s relationship progressed the fastest; they were awarded quality time together with the first date card. The two spent dinner talking about themselves and their past relationships, where Abigail revealed to Noah that she liked taking things slow, and Noah said he wanted to get to know her more than the quiet girl shown on Matt’s season. They ended the night breaking piñatas together before sharing one of the first kisses of the season.
Their first kiss had competition — as a montage of make-outs showed five other couples sharing a smooch during the first night.
Joe and Serena P. even joined as the sixth couple to kiss after they cuddled up on a daybed. Despite discussing Joe’s breakup with Kendall, the conversation was lighthearted as they unpacked his fears and joked about their 12-year age gap. He changed his tune from anxious to excited, as he reflected on the potential with Serena P.
The next morning, people began to prepare for an elimination ceremony and tried to find last-minute opportunities to couple up. In the midst of the frenzy, Demi Burnett came down the stairs, which caused more chaos.
Demi most famously got engaged to her girlfriend Kristian Haggerty during the Season 6 finale of “Bachelor in Paradise.” After originally competing during Underwood’s season of “The Bachelor,” Demi and her fiancé made history as the first same-sex couple in Bachelor Nation. The two broke up in late 2019.
Demi’s return to the beach marked the end of the first episode, but the beginning of love triangles to come.
“Bachelor in Paradise” airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.