SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched the Sept. 6 episode of “Bachelor in Paradise.”
The new arrivals once again disrupted paradise.
Two of the most teased newcomers arrived on Monday night’s episode of “Bachelor in Paradise”: Kendall Long, formerly of Arie Luyendyk Jr.’s season of “The Bachelor,” and Pieper James from Matt James’ season both came with history and their eyes on someone.
Kendall arrived and made a beeline to her ex-boyfriend, Joe Amabile. The two dated on Season 5 of “Bachelor in Paradise” for two years before calling it quits in early 2020. Joe — who had been spending time with Serena Pitt — was rattled by Kendall’s arrival but the two had a cordial conversation.
She admitted to still having feelings for Joe and said that not having him in her life had been difficult. The pair broke up due to their unwillingness to move (Joe wanted to return home to Chicago, Kendall wanted to stay near her family in California), but Kendall brushed past that logistical hurdle.
Joe reminded her of their situation: he was bothered by her unwillingness to consider the Midwest but he had tried to compromise when they were together. As she recounted their breakup, he spent time correcting her omissions, including that he returned to Los Angeles after their breakup to work things out and have her reconsider the move. But her vow to “never move for a man” was the ultimate nail in the coffin, and she now wanted to find love elsewhere on the beach.
The two ended on relatively good terms, hugging it out before Joe grabbed Serena to fill her in. He was honest in his recount and admitted that it could be awkward on the beach with his ex. He wasn’t sure what sort of emotions that their reunion would bring up, but committed to pursuing Serena full-time. “This is where I’m at: I don’t know what’s gonna’ happen. It’s gonna’ be weird. But right now — you are my main priority. And I really, really like you,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Kenny Braasch, Demi Burnett, Tia Booth and Mari Pepin-Solis love square continued. Kenny and Tia returned from their date to a remorseful Mari and a drunk and territorial Demi. Kenny rejected Demi’s proposition for the “boom boom room,” and instead, went to bed.
The next day, Pieper’s arrival reverberated across the beach. Pieper and Brendan Morais were rumored to be dating outside of the show before filming began. Despite that, Brendan arrived had been pursuing Natasha Parker during the previous weeks. Natasha had confronted him about the Pieper rumors early in the season, to which he downplayed their relationship, saying they were “casual” and only hung out “a few times.”
However, Pieper’s arrival brought the truth. She greeted the cast before fixating on Brendan and inviting him on a date. He pretended to be shocked and agreed to join. Before he left, he pulled Natasha aside, talked in circles and gave her a half-hearted excuse about exploring his relationship. She again referenced the rumors and asked him why they didn’t explore their relationship outside of the show, to which he denied a relationship ever existed.
However, on the date, it was evident there was a relationship. Pieper immediately jumped into the conversation saying that she was excited to pick up from where they left off. Brendan was awkward and careful with his words while catching her up from his first few weeks, and Pieper was seemingly offended at how he portrayed their relationship to the rest of the cast. She accused him of “downplaying” what they had and was confused as to why he addressed her like a stranger.
Brendan cracked. In a clear attempt to be politically correct for the cameras, he talked in non-specifics to make Pieper understand his web of lies. He admitted that “certain things” had to be said and done to “navigate” them to this specific moment. While he did not reference leading Natasha on specifically as a casualty of his actions, he admitted that he did what he needed to do in order to be there when Pieper arrived. He said that confessing to the cardinal sin of arriving with a girlfriend would “not have been a good look.”
“Thanks for playing the game,” she said.
They joked about it after, and he referenced his formal language and tone of voice. He said he couldn’t communicate his plan, and she laughed that everyone on the beach can “hate them together.” They ended their dinner on the same page.
Everyone noticed the next day. The cast had heard Brendan deny rumors of the pre-existing relationship for weeks, but many commented that the pair “didn’t seem new.” Frustrations rumbled around that they were being disingenuous to the process, and they were only on the show for clout. No one was more bothered by the new couple than Natasha, who pulled both Pieper and Brendan separately to ask for clarification.
Pieper and Brendan had not compared narratives, and Pieper was honest with Natasha when she asked about their pre-existing relationship. Brendan’s story and Pieper’s recount did not align, highlighting the lies that Brendan had been spewing to stay on the beach. Despite him calling their relationship “casual,” Pieper said that they had seen each other up until the night before he left for filming and that she had visited in him Boston as they navigated a long-distance relationship.
Natasha said that their plan felt calculated and she felt played, only to be juxtaposed with cutaway shots of Brendan saying that Natasha had “no other prospects” and he hadn’t deprived her of any other opportunities.
After Natasha wrapped with Pieper, she went on to have a similar conversation with Brendan. He immediately became defensive when confronted with his dishonesty and accused Natasha of “selective hearing” of what he was saying.
“Brendan, that’s a lie,” she said.
Brendan and Pieper cuddled up after their chats with Natasha. They were being accused of being clout-chasers and there for social media followings, then they were shown discussing their Instagram follower counts during a rare reference of the “Bachelor” influencer ecosystem.
The episode ended with Brendan — once again aware of his surroundings — covering his microphone and whispering to Pieper, “I incriminated myself enough where it’s like, I am screwed.”
“Bachelor in Paradise” airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.