By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Aug 25, 2021 at 7:31 PM

There I was, enjoying my Tuesday night and making a delicious homemade dinner (and by "making a delicious homemade dinner," I mean "heating Velveeta shells"), when suddenly I hear a chilling sentence from my significant other in the next room: "Is there another new 'Bachelor in Paradise' episode on right now?"

And indeed, there "Bachelor in Paradise" was on screen, demanding FOUR HOURS of my week's time – complete with not one, not two but THREE SAD BOI CONNOR UKULELE SONGS! How dare you, ABC? That's valuable time that I could be using ... uh ... oh, who am I kidding, I'd just be drinking through something else on TV. 

Anyways, my brain may have broken from this revelation – but thankfully I wasn't the only one having brain ruptures on Tuesday night, judging by the activity on the "Bachelor in Paradise" beach. 

After surviving Monday night's culling, the ladies now have the power of the rose – and they are jazzed. Tammy, in particular, gets pumped when boys cry, while Deandra's already moved on past pretending she's interested in Karl and is ready to see what new visitors arrive. Unfortunately for her, the first new arrival is not on the table: former boy band star and "The Circle" non-contestant Lance Bass, who introduces himself with the help of an old school boombox blasting "Bye Bye Bye." Fun fact: Serena P. was about two years old when that song came out back in 2000. Huh, I didn't know that this season was set on the beach that makes me old!

After Lance makes his introductions, the contestants head off and get to their favorite pasttime: tempting fate and the producers' sense of cruelty! Indeed, the boys get to complaining about how much they hate Thomas, which might as well put a Thomas-shaped Batman signal in the sky. Lo and behold, Thomas – last seen getting literally shown the door on Katie's season – rumbles down the "Bachelor in Paradise" steps and letting everyone know within audible distance that's tall. Yeah, dude, we have eyes – but Thomas thinks this is somehow a great line with the ladies, because as he takes each woman aside for flirting, he lets each of them know that he's six foot six and at constant risk of concussing himself on awnings. What does he think this is: a Tinder profile? Did he bring a requisite fish to hold too?

Anyways, after he chats up everyone, Thomas (who is 6'6" if you didn't already hear) asks Serena P. on a date because this show will not stop until Grocery Store Joe is in absolute emotional shambles. Thankfully, even with the help of his six-pack abs, a banana boat and some other inflatable device with an awkward makeout nubbin in the middle, Thomas doesn't win over Serena during the date. Was it because he looks like real-life Gaston and always talks like he's carefully rehearsed his lines? Or because he used the phrase "side pickle"? According to Serena, there just wasn't an emotional spark ... but also the fact that he's in the middle of a hurricane of fellow dude hate wasn't enticing either. Plus, the way Thomas talked about Tre, acting like he's his dad and saying he's "emotionally not strong" and needs protection, was a turnoff too. So yay for Grocery Store Joe! Can't wait to see how the producers torture you next week!

Meanwhile, as other people are dating and pursuing roses, Karl's off punching oxygen, intimidating crabs and making everyone uncomfortable on the beach with his karate practice. This is the behavior of a man who knows he's going home next week – but hey, at least it results in a tremendous "my god, it's Jason Bourne" reference. Anyhoo, this has been your requisite Karl in "Paradise" update – moving back to relevant contesants. 

And NOBODY is more relevant this week than Riley, the beach's latest arrival and a man with beautiful tree trunks for arms. His abs have abs. It cannot be emphasized enough: The man is handsome, and everyone on the beach is having a meltdown from the hotness – which is no good for Tahzjuan, who was already hot enough as is. She can't put together coherent sentences, the self-fanning reaches dangerous speeds and when it comes time to actually say hi to Riley, she can't bare to turn around and speak to him. FINALLY, SOME REPRESENTATION ON THIS SHOW FOR THE PAINFULLY AWKWARD! Everyone on these dating shows has some level of romantic social skill – but here's someone who speaks to those in the crowd who can't talk to the opposite sex without humiliating themselves and wanting to bury their screaming head into a pillow immediately afterward. She's an inspiration. 

Riley is unfortunately less amored and instead finds himself falling for Maurissa. The two bond talking about where Maurissa's from (Montana) and what Riley does for a living (lawyer, which is a surprise; I thought his profession was "real-life Jax from 'Mortal Kombat'"). You may have forgotten that Connor was with Maurissa before Riley's arrival – because MAURISSA CERTAINLY DID! Those arms must be basically two big memory-zappers from "Men in Black" – and honestly, fair. 

But Connor's not feeling intimidated. Nope, he's feeling just fine thanks for asking, nothing to worry about here, just the world's studliest dude sweeping his girlfriend off his feet and taking her away on a date. Surely she'll come back feeling the same way about Connor. And surely she's dressed unrecognizably to the nines because she doesn't care that much about this date. SSSSSSURREELY. The man just transformed into the "this is fine" dog in a house on fire cartoon – but with 100 percent more tragic ukulele songs. So like the "this is fine" dog in a house on fire cartoon, but if I was rooting for the fire. 

So while Connor is back on the beach, feeling totally fine about everything totally fine relaxed even what could go wrong, Riley and a beautifully gussied-up Maurissa head to Lance's Basserie for dinner – the first romantic date in Maurissa's entire life. And what does Lance Bass have planned for this breakthrough moment in her life, the first time she's really felt swept off her feet on a date and treated to a meaningful night out by a man? FEAR FACTOR! But actually "Fear Factor," as Bass lifts their cloches to reveal a feast of nasty ingredients, from pig snout to tripe and tongue – not mixed into a tasty dish and not even seasoned, mind you, but just slapped on a plate for nervous noshing. Truly the "Bachelor" franchise cares about love and romance. 

Thankfully, they don't have to eat the nasty bits and bugs: Instead, it's basically truth or dare as Bass asks them intimate questions and they have the choice to answer or om-nom. For instance, when Bass asks how many sexual partners they've both had, they both decide to dig in on their charcuter-eegh – tongue, in this case, which they determine isn't that bad after all. Most of the questions, though, they have no problems answering, such as revealing they've never slid into a celeb's DMs and they both masturbate regularly – complete with Maurissa pointedly saying "I am a very sexual person" and Riley responding with a big-eyed gulp. Yep, sorry Connor; you're gonna need a lot more sad boi ukulele songs.

Indeed, the meal eventually leads to a makeout session – even with tongue and tripe breath AND with Lance Bass awkwardly standing in the corner not knowing what to do. And after an ACTUAL date, bonding over both wanting lots of kids who can make their own sports team of champions, Maurissa and Riley take a trip to a nearby bedroom to get down to the business of making that soul-crushingly dominating future AAU team. And on the topic of future crushed souls: Connor is still on the beach, thinking he has a chance. He probably thinks that ukulele won't end up in a campfire by the end of this season too. Dream big, dreamer. 

That connection's not the only one on the rocks, as Natasha confronts Brendan about the lack of chemistry in their relationship. Brendan sounds like he's napping during their entire conversation so yeah, I'm gonna say the spark isn't there anymore. Amazing what having a potential secret girlfriend will do to a young healthy relationship ... 

Tahz and Tre are also at risk, because Tre could see that his beau on the beach seemed genuinely upset about not getting picked by Riley for his date – not exactly the reaction you like to see from your potential significant other. To make matters worse, while trying to figure out her next move, Tahz gets menaced by a mean crab bully who wants in on her confessional time. GET YOUR OWN REALITY SHOW, CRAB! I HEAR "FBOY ISLAND" IS CASTING A SECOND SEASON! Eventually, though, Tahz becomes friends with her crustacean co-star, and after a little chat, the two agree that she should give Tre a second chance. How sweet ... or how clearly a sign that this woman's lost her mind.

No matter the case, she affirms to Tre that they're together, locked in with a kiss – complete with confirmation that he's a better kisser than his uncle. JUST WHAT A GUY LIKES TO HEAR!

In other Tre-related news, remember all that stuff 6'6" Thomas said about him during his date with Serena? About how Tre is an emotionally weak guy who needs protection from big strong manly guys like Thomas (who's also tall by the way)? Well, prepare yourself for a shock, because that all got back to Tre – and right after Tall Thomas and the rest of the regular-sized dudes from Katie season had a big healthy conversation to admit to past mistakes and bury the hatchet too! WHAT HILARIOUSLY TRAGIC TIMING! So Tre takes Height-Advantaged Thomas aside to have one final chat with his skyscraper-sized nemesis, telling him that he hasn't changed at all, that they're never speaking again and that he's trash. But at least tall trash, I'm sure. 

So Tre's brushed his hands clean of Thomas for the rest of "Paradise" – but I've got a good feeling he's the only one. After all, Aaron's still on the beach – and if there's a fight to be had, he's gonna pick it. I guess we'll find out next Monday ... or ... wait, GOOD GOD, IS IT ALREADY BACK ON!? IS IT ON AGAIN RIGHT NOW!? IS THE SHOW COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!?

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.