By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Nov 21, 2022 at 5:26 PM

I admit: I'm a little exhausted by this season of "Bachelor in Paradise." Like one of the Genevieve's many tear-soaked tissues from this season, I am wrung out. "Bachelor in Paradise" is meant to be a nice palate cleanser, or a light dessert after the hefty main courses that are "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" – but this, the longest "Paradise" season in the spin-off's history, is simply too much dessert. Sure, it's fun and tasty at first – but after a few bites, you realize it's about to feel more like a chore than a treat to finish. And also for some odd reason there's a chunk of the dessert filled with Maryland blue crab, pit beef and Old Bay seasoning. 

That's right: We're leaving the scenic beach for ... Baltimore, for obvious filler the very essential resolution of Eliza and Justin's connection, with the former showing up at the latter's front door to win him back after ditching Rodney. They sit down on a couch while Eliza explains that she made a mistake choosing Rodney and now she wants him back. I'm just SO GLAD we left our sunny exotic locale for a couch in a modestly decorated one-bedroom duplex. But hey, it's all worth it to see how this moving two-day-old romance ends, with Justin ... saying that, when Eliza had the choice, she didn't choose or fight for him. So, he's going to take this moment to choose himself and pass on Eliza, who leaves the apartment in tears and surprised disappointment. NEVER MIND, THIS TANGENT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT! This is exactly the ending this subplot deserved, just two people mishandling every possible relationship in their path and dooming themselves to be alone while leaving emotional carnage in their path. THE PROCESS INDEED WORKS, PALMER!

Back on the beach, everyone's mourning the loss of their dear friend Rodney. He was so young, so innocent, so ... totally alive and just no longer on the show. That's not what you'd think watching the episode, though, because everyone's in tears like the beach just screened "Schindler's List." Several contestants are sobbing out "Why him?!" Johnny's questioning the meaning of life. Andrew doesn't even know what love is anymore. If a two-day relationship – born while the guy was technically dating someone else – can't survive, THEN WHAT CHANCE DO THE REST OF US HAVE!? Everyone's talking about how important and special these "Paradise" connections are – all while Logan's quite literally dated everyone with a pulse on the beach. But yes, won't someone think about the sanctity of "Paradise."

As the bird pecking at a dead fish head portends, the vibes don't get better the next day – much to expat Florence's dismay. She's here to have fun, and now everyone here is crying like dads watching "Field of Dreams." She's not the only one struggling with the beachside sob fest, as Mara from The Unspoken's One season shows up all eager and excited to a whole beach of grieving bummers. The vibes are so bad that EVEN LOGAN'S NOT DOWN FOR A DATE WITH HER. Girl, consider yourself lucky. Instead she heads out on a one-on-one date with one of the Christian Yelich twins, even if Mara's skeptical about the age difference between the two. Florence isn't a fan either – especially since she was with the Christian Yelich twin before Mara swiped in. 

So what's their exciting date? Churros – no, not eating them but BECOMING THEM. Our Christian Yelich look-alike "never thought I would be a churro." Sir, you were just turned into a human taco a week or two ago; this is somehow the LEAST strange Mexican food LARP you've done this season. 

While those two take Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me" all too literally, back on the beach, Victoria and Johnny get even closer by chatting about one another's families – a big step for Johnny, who opens up about his brother who's in prison. I've been dubious of Johnny's commitment level since we saw what happened to Gabby during "The Bachelorette" – but this guy might really be in this relationship for the long haul! Even he thinks so, saying that he's "becoming more open to the possibility of getting engaged." DAMMIT, AGAIN WITH ALL THE HEDGING! Still, I'm rooting for the kids. 

As for a couple I'm very much NOT rooting for, I present Logan and Kate. He's still confused about why Kate seems so mad at him all the time – especially with that "you need to step it up" ultimatum at the rose ceremony. She argues that she's tired of steering the ship, while he retorts that he's done stuff for their relationship like ... proclaiming that he was committed to her in front of other people. Wow. The two tiff it out a little more – complete with Logan bringing up that SHE ACCEPTED THE CONTROVERSIAL HAYDEN DATE BEFORE COMING TO HIM ABOUT IT – but eventually decide they're going to stick together. Why? I have no idea. They both seem annoyed by one another – and considering they're on a beach vacation for free, this is as good as life is going to get. Imagine them trying to discuss a mortgage. DOOMED!

As for other testy relationships, we return to poor Florence who's steaming on the beach because she spent A WHOLE THREE DAYS with the Christian Yelich twin – and now he's bailed on her for Mara. And to make matters worse, when the two come back from their date, he's pretending Florence doesn't exist. The beach is NOT about this behavior either, backing Flo. Logan criticizes the twins for being too immature and young which OH, THE POT HAS OPINIONS ABOUT THE KETTLE, DOES HE? Meanwhile Danielle compliments Flo by calling her "the hottest crusty old sea hag you've ever seen," which ... thanks? Not the best coalition in Flo's corner – but it ends up working out because Christian Yelich twin one admits to Florence that he sees a better connection with her and breaks up with Mara. Mara takes it in stride, though, and just does a shot with everybody at the bar. See, THAT'S how you handle a breakup!

Elsewhere, Andrew's in a funk because ... seemingly everything, most recently Rodney's departure. But luckily some new ladies arrive: Ency and Lyndsey from The Unspoken One's season. And the former just happens to have her eyes set on him. Judging by how much Ency trivia he JUST HAPPENS TO KNOW offhand, he seems to have eyes for her as well, eventually accepting her one-on-one date. 

As for Lyndsey's date card, that one's a little testier because she has her sights set on ... LOGAN!? HIM!? WHAT IS THIS GUY'S DEAL!? He is the Pete Davidson of this damn show – but at least Pete Davidson has famous comedian money and a car assumably better than an orange Honda. When Lyndsey takes Kirkland-brand Pete Davidson aside, credit where credit is due: He doesn't entirely Logan it up. He says he's going to discuss the situation with Kate and see how she feels – and, if we're thinking deviously, put her in the same situation as she put him in. 

So the two talk, and it ... doesn't go great, exploding into a more broad debate about their entire relationship. Kate's not happy that he even has to ask about a date with another woman considering the conversation they had earlier. They're locked in now, she argues – as opposed all those EONS AGO when Kate had her date and confusion with Hayden. Apparently the definition of eons is not "a long amount of time" but instead just, like, two days. Meanwhile, Logan's upset that he thinks Kate looks down on him which (*mentally replays last three episodes of Kate regularly insulting his financial standing, lifestyle, age and entire existence to anyone who will listen*) not wrong. Somehow, though, at the end of this, they decide to stick together, complete with Logan rejecting Lyndsey's date card. And Lyndsey's so devastated by Logan passing that she immediately leaves the beach in tears. GIRL, IT'S LOGAN; SAVE YOUR TEARS!

At this point, we could just about make an entire "Bachelor" cast out of Logan's exes. "The Bachelor: John Tucker Logan Must Die" edition: I think it's a winner, ABC. Does anybody have Bob Iger's number!?

More on that in a second: First, we have an actually decent connection to check out with Andrew and Ency, who have a cute date on the beach ... playing ring toss at a cactus? And then playing football – but like INTENSE football thanks to Andrew. Ency's wanting to play cute flirty catch, while Andrew's chucking the ball into the mesosphere trying to win at a game of 500 and take down a passenger aircraft in the process. Even so, they're having fun and sparking a connection – complete with massive oysters. Ency's never consumed ANYTHING so large, a sentence I assume she quickly had second thoughts about. 

Hilarious double entendres aside, they have a great time – which means Jessenia's about to have the opposite. So Andrew comes back to the beach and splits with her ... but very strangely. Instead of just explaining that he's found a better connection, he talks about how he's been in a funk lately and that he thinks Ency might be able to pull him out of it – which kiiiinda sounds like him saying their relationship's been a bummer and a lie. Jessenia's been here happy and in love while he's suddenly like, "Oh yeah, I've been so sad with you as it turns out." Just a strange approach from a guy who's normally handled things pretty well. 

No time for that, though, because RACHEL AND GABBY ARE HERE! Listen, I know the "failed Bachelorette to 'Paradise'" path worked out for Becca – but please don't tell me these two are here to date on the show. It's sad when the stars of the real deal to have to come onto the spinoff to try again after the franchise failed them. It's like watching Brie Larson in those Nissan commercials: You won an Oscar; you shouldn't have to shill cars anymore. It just makes me think too hard about how the system's failed and broken. 

The good news: They're not here to compete on "Paradise." The even better news? They're here to TALK SH*T! Somewhere you can hear Hayden sigh a MASSIVE sigh of relief that he's gone. Logan, however: NOT SO LUCKY!

As the ladies gather around the Bachelorettes to hear what they have to say about their respective beaus, let's start with the nice intel first. Brittany says she's dating Tyler, and Rachel has nothing but nice things to say about him: great guy, super kind, totally ready for a serious relationship. Everyone cheers and coos in support while Brittany's head is about to get so big, it'll be registered as the beach's first official skyscraper. (I kid: As the MVP of this season, she would NEVER!) Victoria's next, asking about Johnny – and while Gabby isn't QUITE as effusive, she's supportive of their relationship and cheers them on. 

And then ... we get to Kate, who gets the displeasure of asking about her boyf and stirring a small roast of Logan. After seeing just how many cast members Logan's dated this season, Rachel and Gabby do their best Michael Bluth impression on "Arrested Development" and say: "... him?" noting that he treats his time on these shows like HE'S the "Bachelor." Rachel tops it off by saying that, after his constant flip-flopping during their season, she doesn't respect Logan. "What do I do with this information," nervously mutters Kate after the roast session. I DON'T KNOW, BREAK UP WITH HIM LIKE YOU'VE WANTED TO DO PRACTICALLY THIS ENTIRE TIME!?

While Kate ponders the easiest decision on the planet, Tyler and Brittany get a one-on-one date in which they OOPS! the show could not care less. The producers eventually get around to checking in on the two at dinner, doing the Paul Rudd "look at us; who woulda thought?" meme before dancing together in an empty street. Between this and the cactus ring-toss with Andrew and Ency, I'm starting to think the show spent all of its remaining budget on Eliza's trip to Baltimore – and considering how hilariously that ended, MONEY WELL SPENT! Still, it's sad a happy functioning relationship can't get any screen time. (See also: Brandon and Serene, who've spent all season long in reaction shots because their relationship is too perfect and drama-free to focus on.)

Why spend time on happy love stories, after all, when we can spend time with bizarre ones like Aaron and Genevieve!? Yes, the beach's most volcanic pair are back at it again, having a very important argument about ... the definition of pain? Am I reading this right? So while in the mic room, grumbling about life, the two get into an argument over whether or not itching is pain. Aaron believes that itching is defined as low-level pain while Genevieve (CORRECTLY!) says that itching is its own category of discomfort. Obviously. I mean, no one itches a mosquito bite and says they're in pain. Point to Genevieve!

Now, this SHOULD be a cute and silly argument, a little fun tiff – but somehow, because these two are NOT GOOD TOGETHER, it escalates into a shouting match complete with Genevieve packing her things to head back home. Of all the things these two have been through on this beach, "itching versus pain" is really the one that's going to break the camel's back? Logan doesn't think they're healthy together – and when Logan is uncertain of your relationship's long-term viability, you are in a bad place. The two eventually chat things out at the last moment, with Genevieve saying that the two need to be able to talk things out and Aaron countering with "you're the one with your bags packed to LEAVE THE COUNTRY!"

In the end, the two manage to overcome their disagreement and stay together on the beach. Congrats to them for figuring out that tricky conversational dilemma that all couples must have at some point. You know, those famous universal relationship speed bumps: first road trip together, moving in together, discussing finances ... and debating whether itching is low-level pain. I can certainly tell you one thing that's high-level pain: ENDURING YOUR SUBPLOT! These two give off real "we should have a baby to solve our problems" energy – and I wish them the best of luck with that. 

Just as a calm sets on the beach, we get a new arrival – actually TWO new arrivals, holding hands coming down the stairs. OH GAWD, IT'S NOT JARED AND ASHLEY AGAIN, IS IT!? No, thankfully it's Becca and Thomas, another rare "Paradise" success marched out to give the impression that this show isn't always a complete hot mess. While they're there, since Becca did the real-life marriage proposing to Thomas, they also announce the beach will host a Sadie Hawkins dance. So cue the worst part of high school: prom-posal season! (Well, for everyone except Logan and Kate, who just have a terse conversation about it. YOU LOVE TO SEE A COUPLE IN THEIR HONEYMOON PHASE!)

So yes, it's time for prom: famously a drama-free, stress-free atmosphere where nobody ever falls apart emotionally while pop songs mockingly play in the background! WHAT COULD GO WRONG!?

It starts off fun enough. The dance is '90s themed, so everyone comes dressed in their finest retro threads – and it wouldn't be a '90s-themed prom without everyone busting out some randomly choreographed dance routine. So far, so "She's All That" approved. 

Unfortunately, Jessenia is feeling more "Drive Me Crazy," still bummed out about how she and Andrew broke up. So she goes to confront Andrew about why they ended, calling him out on treating the show more like a guy's trip – which, between him and Aaron, is increasingly a problem with this spin-off. It was charming at first, but now it feels more like the fellas are copping a free vacation off ABC ... which is even more charming but also makes for bad dating show entertainment. Andrew responds that he's not doing well, stuck in a funk and trying to get out of it by hanging out with his friends. OK, sure – but then don't bring these women's genuine emotions into your messy, not entirely sincere feelings right now. It's all a little ridiculous. 

Ency, however, is like, "OH, YOU WANT RIDICULOUS!? HOLD MY ZIMA!" She sees Jessenia and Andrew chatting and is irrationally convinced that it's his ex trying to weedle her way back into his heart – and him letting it happen. So she decides to cut in and sass about how he needs to stop giving Jessenia validation. Never mind that a basic ability to read body language would hint that Andrew and Jessenia are NOT having some flirty conversation but are instead having some serious and chemistry-devoid closure. Ency, however, INSISTS that Andrew walk away from the conversation. Poor girl: She's wholly unaware that, if she just stayed out of things, Andrew and Jessenia would end things forever, and he'd probably come back to Ency happily on the dance floor.  

Instead, however, she drops an ultimatum – which Jessenia sassily calls out and Andrew declines, in the process only adds to the tension of his (again, PROFOUNDLY un-romantic) air-clearing with Jessenia. While Ency steams off to the now-ruined dance party, Andrew and Jessenia finish their chat – with Andrew revealing along the way that, actually, he's been in a funk ever since Teddi left because that's where his heart still lies. Well, that makes a little more sense, Andrew – though it doesn't make things feel any better for Jessenia, who wraps things up and leaves the show sad that she always chooses guys who aren't ready. 

That's not all, though! Andrew hates how he feels and how he keeps hurting other people while dealing with his feelings – so he decides he's headed off the show as well. Ency – maybe realizing that she made things worse rather than better before – tries her best to barricade Andrew from leaving her and the show. And I mean literally barricade as she pulls, grabs and begs him to stay. But the call of the SUV is too much, and Andrew leaves – and so does Ency. At least she gets to leave with dignity, though ... loudly snotting into a raggedy napkin in the back of a lonely SUV ride. ANOTHER PROM SUCCESS!

So while the crew cleans up that disaster of a dance, "Bachelor in Paradise" will now clean up the rest of this season with a two-night finale. Who will break up? (*fingers crossed for Logan/Kate and Aaron/Genevieve*) Who will get engaged? (Sorry, you get no credit for guessing Serene and Brandon.) And who else needs a break from this goofy, messy, prolonged season?

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.