By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Sep 15, 2021 at 8:06 AM

Thanks to the return of football, our "Bachelor in Paradise" crew had one less episode this week to do the right thing and send Brendan and Pieper packing much like they did with ... I've already forgotten their names. Smokey the Bear and Elianalana? The good news: They did exactly that! The bad news: That left "Paradise" with about an hour of show still left to fill – and I'm not sure the show figured out enough drama to do it. But hey, Lil Jon's there now so all is well – or should I say OOOKAAAAAAY! (I'm so sorry, I made a mistake; I'm trying to remove it.)

So after proudly getting Smokey and Ilianalenalana to call it quits early last week, Natasha, Demi and a few others suddenly remember that – hold on a second – Brendan and Pieper are still here doing exactly what those two did last week but arguably worse. Demi smartly points out that it's because Chris was a nobody with almost no Bachelor Nation footprint and therefore easy to bully off the show, while Brendan has lots of friends within the show's universe, and even on the beach right now. Yeah, suddenly a lot of people lost their courage and values when it came to Captain Turtlenecks and his significant other, PermaPout. 

Everyone gathers for the ritualistic pre-rose ceremony cocktail party, including current guest host Titus Burgess who calls out Smoky Dumpster Fire and Alanamanamana for rigging the game. "If you come here and you're already a couple, well, that defeats the purpose of the show," he says while the cast, crew, crabs and every other sentient thing within a mile awkwardly stares at Brendan and Pieper.

After hearing enough, Grocery Store Joe – who's noted multiple times this season that he doesn't like people coming onto the show with strategies – and a group including Natasha, Demi, Maurissa and Deandra go to confront Brendan about what all happened here. And if you think the smoke (bro) screen gave him and Pieper more time to come up with better answers, YOU WOULD'VE THOUGHT WRONG! These two are phenomenally bad at scheming.

To explain things, Brendan points out that, while they were out together in groups about a dozen times before "Paradise," they only went out together alone only a few times. (The supposed Boston trip Pieper took doesn't get mentioned – BUT SURE SEEMS LIKE IT SHOULD'VE.) And they don't want to leave because he's able to spend more time on the beach here with Pieper. (And also because it's a free vacation with cameras and clout and a free Neil Lane diamond.) Never mind being on a beach where people are literally conspiring to split you apart in the name of entertainment. Those answers don't sit right with our righteous mob, and when Brendan gets tired of it all and says he's removing himself from this drama, Maurissa asks the important question, "Removing yourself from 'Paradise' or from this conversation?" (*crosses fingers*) Please be the former, please be the former.

For now, it's the unfortunately the latter as Brendan and Pieper grumble some more about how people are calling him out for his mistakes – with a few more snotty and personal digs at Natasha and Deandra, saying they're undesirable – and VERY unsneakily talking in private (with cameras and mics) about their excitement about making more money. (Which ... isn't that kind of the reason why Aaron hated Thomas so much? Where's our guy now?!) Pieper also slappingly reminds Brendan that she didn't want to come here in the first place. SO THIS IS FALLING APART WONDERFULLY! Eventually, they decide that they're going to leave the beach (*throws confetti in the air*). Maybe they didn't like dealing with the tension. More realistically, maybe they realized that, as a cemented couple that nobody likes, the cameras would no longer be on them the rest of the season. No matter the reason, they're gone, and the world is a better place. 

So ... now what? "Excellent question," said the "Bachelor in Paradise" producers. "How about seeing whipped cream where whipped cream's not supposed to be?"

Indeed, we cut to Maurissa and Riley, the island's horniest couple, who apparently didn't have enough of eating terrifying things after their "Fear Factor" date with Lance Bass. So they play a game where they lick whipped cream off of each other – starting sexy enough with places like thighs, chests and mouths but ending with Riley's toe. WHY WOULD YOU DO FEET!? Those things are covered with sand and dead crab bits and saltwater – whether from the ocean or sweat from Riley's koala workout slippers – and broken bottles and broken dreams. Even those with a foot fetish have to cringe knowing that whipped cream toe definitely tasted like a poorly cleaned and poorly shucked oyster. But hey, apparently it must not have been that much of a turnoff because the two head off to the sex den and use up the rest of the Reddi-Whip. Sorry to anyone on the beach who wanted to make an ice cream sundae. 

Elsewhere during the cocktail party, birthday girl Tammy goes to chat with Thomas and hopefully win him back after his one-on-one date with Becca. She really hopes it went poorly – but Thomas bursts that bubble and says it went great, and actually he's gonna focus on his relationship with the former "Bachelorette" as opposed to her. IF ONLY SOMEBODY HAD WARNED YOU THAT THOMAS WAS NOT TO BE TRUSTED! In the end, he goes to be with Becca while Tammy cries and has the worst birthday ever – and that's saying something as last year she apparently got COVID for her birthday. So the bar for "worst birthday" was lower than the Earth's core – but never doubt Thomas' ability to sink below your lowest expectations!

So it's off to the rose ceremony, where Wells opens things up by handing out a surprise bonus rose to Natasha because she was the victim of some crappy plotting and shenanigans. That's nice ... a little ridiculous and Pandora's box-esque because she's CERTAINLY not the first to suffer due to someone else's lies and deceit. But still: Aww, good for her.

Everything else goes far more predictably. After giving each other rare beach diseases with their whipped cream feet game, Riley and Maurissa now give each other roses. Joe and Serena lock each other in along with Mari and Kenny, Thomas and Becca, and Abigail and Noah. Tia is apparently with Box Man James, while Ivan and Kendall are technically a thing? Sure, we'll see how long that lasts. 

The final rose belongs to Aaron, who has a chance to rekindle things with Tammy and give things a second shot – and on her birthday! But nah, he gives his rose to newly arrived model Chelsea, continuing the worst birthday ever. At least Tammy gets a giant cupcake to snarf down on her sad SUV ride back to society – and snarf it she very much does. Replace that cupcake with a bag of Pop Corners, and this would be a very relatable moment. Demi and Jessenia and Deandra are all gone as well, replaced by Lil Jon, the new guest host who sprays everyone with champagne and stares down Noah for daring to do a very bad impression of him. I wouldn't know anything about that.

He's not the only new arrival as some guy named Blake who was allegedly a cast member once shows up. You'd think a guy with the nickname "Tatty Daddy" due to his plethora of tattoos would be memorable – but you would think wrong! He's certainly memorable for James, though, as the new arrival steals Tia away for his date, leaving our sentient Hollister mannequin staring into the middle distance on the beach, looking very stressed out about things and probably drinking, like, everything. 

Meanwhile, Natasha's bonus rose is looking more like a curse than a blessing as she's the awkward single person surrounded by everyone making out on the beach. At least there's apparently a dog there to hang out with – and, even better, there's a new arrival! It's Dr. Joe from Clare and Tayshia's season – and unlike Blake, people know who this person is and REALLY like him. Best of all, he borrows Natasha for a date where they drink comedically large margaritas. But seriously, these things are hilarious; they're full-sized Olympic swimming pools with stems – literally, in the case of one unfortunate fly who flew too close and drowned himself in alcohol. (What a way to go out.) This is a good lesson everyone: Make sure you check your open beverages for bugs. I learned this lesson the hard way last weekend and got stung on the tongue by a wasp that wanted a sip of my Octoberfest beer. Worst makeout session ever. 

Anyways, because Dr. Joe is a great human, he trades for Natasha's buggy moat of marg, and the two continue flirting. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG!? Of course, the producers snuck in a mean surprise here: Dr. Joe is best buddies with Brendan – so much so that when Natasha breaks the news to him about Brendan being a douchebag, Dr. Joe devastatingly gasps, "MY Brendan!?" So yeah, the show can't even give Natasha a nice and happy rebound as Dr. Joe shuts down quickly, sounding suddenly very non-commital to Natasha after the Brendan news. But at least they got to drink margaritas the size of Honda Civics, so not all was lost. 

Back on the beach, Serena and Joe trade the L-word and makeout to celebrate the occasion ... all while Kendall is just down the way. She's having a bad time – but you know who's having an even worse time? Ivan, who tries to kiss the woman he's supposedly dating on this show but gets totally Heisman-ed so she can continue tearfully watching her ex makeout with his new girlfriend. So that relationship is ... not gonna be a relationship much longer, especially as it seems like Kendall is packing up and calling it a show.

The previews for next week try to make it seem like this inevitable Kendall and Joe convo is going to be dramatic and tense next week, but I bet it takes all of five or ten minutes and ends with Joe even more locked in on Serena and Kendall locked into an SUV ride ... hopefully with a cupcake. Everyone should get misery cupcakes now. But I'm sure the dating gods will come up with a new way to torture and separate these two. (*sees preview footage of a tropical storm forcing the cast to evacuate*) Wow, they move fast!

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.