By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Sep 08, 2021 at 9:26 AM

When this "Bachelor in Paradise" season is all said, done and decrabbed, Brendan and Pieper better send Chris a gift basket or five. Tonight was supposed to be about calling out those two cynical opportunists – but thanks to Chris' botching of ... well, generally everything, the two got knocked off the top of the beach's most hated list and, instead of getting booted off the beach, barely had any screentime on Tuesday night. Chris died for their sins – and all just so he could end up getting rejected for an Uber ride. This is the risk you take when you willingly call yourself a "Smoke Bro."

We start the week's second episode with Demi desperately trying to have sex with Kenny, and Kendall is wowing her fellow contestants with bird intercourse trivia. So everyone's clearly having a normal one – and to make things even more chill, there's a new arrival. Not a contestant but another guest host, this time Titus Burgess of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" fame. And he arrives with news of a big fancy party ... for some of the contestants, not all of them. See, this is where "Bachelor in Paradise" could've had some game to decide who gets to be VIPs and who gets to stay on the beach, thinking about their life choices. And after all, what better way to test these new relationships than by making them work together as a unit to achieve a goal? 

But "Bachelor in Paradise" is no fun, so instead Titus just tells everyone who the producers have already decided are going to attend – including Kenny and Demi getting an RSVP, but Mari getting jilted at the door. FEEL FREE TO STEAL MY VERY GOOD IDEAS, SHOW!

Arriving at the party, Jessenia says that she's hoping for no surprises, so I haven't seen a more doomed party since Carrie White's high school prom. They find themselves an empty club to dance the night away, and while they do their best to make a festive evening out of it, it's still a dozen people dancing in a big echoing room alone together. Not exactly a hopping scene – but to make things more interesting, Titus Burgess summons a whole flock of potential beach residents: Chelsea, Mykenna, Alayah and Alana. Alayah AND Alana? That is frankly rude. How am I supposed to keep these two identically named people apart in my brain? Here's an easy tip: Alana is the one with her tongue down Smoke Bro Chris' throat and making Jessenia cry, while Alayah doesn't exist and gets no screentime.

Indeed, Alana is very much into Smoke Boi Chris, and while he talks about being concerned about what Jessenia must be thinking during their private time, that doesn't stop him from making out with Alana – AND JUST IN TIME FOR JESSENIA TO WALK IN! Who could've seen this coming?! (Producers ... it was the producers.) Jessenia and Chris try to have a conversation about how he's mucked up their connection, but Alana keeps swooping in trying to steal him away and reading the room poorly. By the end of the night, Alana and Dumpster Fire Boi Chris are hardcore making out on the dance floor while Jessenia is about six feet away. It's a poor look – not only because generally speaking making out with a new girl while your girlfriend is watching is, in technical terms, a douche move but, according to some of the castmates, suspicious and potentially Brendan-and-Pieper-esque as well. 

But here's the real twist of the night: There was a surprise musical performer – AND IT WASN'T COUNTRY MUSIC! WHAAAAAAA!? (*brain explodes, "Scanners" style*) Indeed, instead of their usual generic country act, "Bachelor in Paradise" brought in a generic pop star act: Olivia Holt, who got not one but two whole songs to perform. A shame no one was paying attention to her in the room beacuse everyone was side-eyeing Chris and Alana.

After the party cleans up, Mari meets up with Kenny, and the two hash out their problems: Mari felt hurt that Kenny hooked up with Demi, while Kenny doesn't like that he becomes an option to Mari seemingly only when she needs a rose for the week. But the two still have strong feelings for each other, to the degree that they both say that they would leave and go home together. They don't do that – but they at least sound like they're going to try again with their relationship.

And now ... to tell Demi. I'm sure this will go smoothly.

The good news for Kenny: Demi's already annoyed with the state of things, more wanting answers than anything else. The bad news: She's LYING, because when Kenny comes to give her answers, she throws a big ol' conniption, ranting about how Mari sucks and is evil (!?) and that she's more fun anyways. On one hand, I get why Demi feels hurt; she and Kenny went to the sex den maybe two days ago, and now he's bailing on her for his ex. It can't feel GOOD. At the same time, this is the same woman who showed up on the beach proudly bragging that she was gonna steal everyone's man – and now the opposite happened. If you stir the pot, it might just end up splattering back on you. She'll be fine, though; she's way too much of a character for "Paradise" to send home anytime soon. What are they gonna focus on to entertain us – more Noah and Abigail? LOL.

While Demi plots a double homicide, Smoke Bro Chris realizes that MAAAAYBE he handled things poorly the night before. But look at the good side: Could it get any worse? Oh, look at that: Alana's now joining the beach, so yes, things CAN get worse. She immediately talks to Chris and asks him out on her date card, to which he says yes and gives a big awkward speech to his fellow contestants about how they might hate him for this, but he has to follow his heart. Joe's response? "Nobody's going to hate you because nobody cares about you." CLEAN UP OF CHRIS' ROASTED REMAINS, AISLE SEVEN!

So Alana and Chris go off ziplining and making out VERY poorly while everyone else at the beach complains about their seemingly strategic approach to the show and Brendan and Pieper giggle and high-five in the corner because somehow nobody cares about them anymore.

As for other relationship news, Chelsea also arrives from the party and takes Aaron away on a horseback riding date that the show loses interest in quickly. Also: Becca FINALLY gets to play with the help of a fresh date card – but with everybody basically linked up (wow, the James erasure), she's not sure where to go. She does have some feelings about Thomas – however, he's with Tammy. But Becca and Tammy have a strangely mature conversation, though, about how Tammy says that Becca shouldn't hold back and has her permission to explore whatever she wants with Thomas. Because if they have a real connection, they should pursue it – because that's the show. And also because the producers needed just a little extra drama to fill two hours.

And indeed, as soon as Thomas and Becca leave, Tammy immediately regrets everything and starts crying that she may have lost her guy – which, judging by their sweet enough date, is quite possible. BUT IS IT A SWEET DATE!? Brace yourself for this, but the beach isn't quite confident that Thomas' intentions are pure and that instead he's trying to score himself a Bachelorette for more clout and attention rather than love. Listen, we all agree Thomas is at least a little tool-esque – but can we just let the guy live? Everyone seems VERY sure that he's dishonest all the time, and I'm just not seeing the evidence for it right now. But yeah, wait until Aaron hears about this; I'm sure he'll have THOUGHTS – loud, overly aggro THOUGHTS!

Luckily for Thomas, though, everyone's distracted by how much they hate Chris instead – so much so that Grocery Store Joe, Jessenia and Riley casually confront him after his date about how much he and Alana planned for this all to happen. They hate that this seems orchestrated and that Chris talks so much about Instagram followers – and, somewhere, Brendan and Pieper are just cackling. Seeing her man get bombarded, Alana pipes up to ask if anyone wants to hear what she has to say on the matter – and the answer is a definitive NOPE! Thanks for playing, Alana, but we're in the middle of an eviction right now – but actually, as Riley, Joe, Jessenia and, well, everyone gathers together to tell Dumpster Fire Smoke Bro Chris to pack up and leave. 

So Alana and Chris are having a bad time. Alana pitches the idea of maybe Chris trying to amend things with Jessenia. Yeah, sorry – that ship has sailed, hit multiple torpedoes and sunk. Chris then throws out the idea: What ... if we did leave together? After all, we do seem to like each other! Bad news, Smoke Bro: Alana likes free vacations and cameras more. Unfortunately for her, they mishandled things so poorly that they have no choice really but to bail – but not without one final indignation for Chris as he tries to get in the SUV with Alana, and she says that's not his ride, he can take the other car. FOLKS, I'M NOT SURE THEY'RE GONNA MAKE IT WORK. 

So that was all fun and entertaining ... and now we're doing Brendan and Pieper, right?

That's certainly where Natasha's head is at – and where mine is too. After all, Brendan and Pieper did exactly what Chris and Alana did, just arguably even worse with even more blatant cynicism toward the show and blatant cruelty toward another contestant. The only reason why they haven't seen the group's full wrath yet is because, honestly, Chris and Alana maybe had all of four combined minutes of screentime before "Paradise," so they're expendable. But Brendan and Pieper? Far more embedded and intertwined in the "Bachelor" universe.  

But they gotta go – and next week, they won't have a Smoke Bro screen to hide them. 

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.