It’s Night #2 of our second four night Paradise marathon (that is WAY TOO MUCH BACHIE, Channel Ten), and time for things to get literary. Be prepared for the saga of the Fake Love Letter. I can’t remember a case of poison pen like this one before, so buckle your seatbelts, kids.
Last night, we learned that while male friendship is deep and emotional and makes you cry when you do wrong by your mate, female friendship is shallow and full of sniping, because ladies just can’t stop competing over guys. Men adhere to the doctrine of mates before dates, but for ladies? They’re always putting dicks before chicks.
Sigh. Given that the actual romances in this season have had barely a second of screentime, it’s a bit much to hope that female friendships would, but we basically only get to see relationships of any kind in this show when they’re dysfunctional.
Which — as I wrote last night — is not a good thing, because it robs your narrative of stakes, but you’ve all heard this rant before. Onto the recap.
So, this is where we’re at:
- Elora and Simone are still fighting.
- Michael is still wondering whether he has a chance with Lisa, but it has not occurred for him to, you know, ask.
- Eden is swiftly realising that eliminating Nina was a career-limiting move.
- Apollo is still the purest cinnamon roll this show has ever seen.
And into this environment we have a new entrant:
Thomas (Jasmine’s season): Thomas is from the first (and so far, only) season of The Bachelorette Canada, where he came in sixth — and was nicknamed ‘sexual tongue’ by Bachie Jasmine, so … winky face. He has a manbun and is an ‘international model’, which gave everyone who watched Sam Frost’s season immediate flashbacks to David the International Moll. Thomas also bills himself as ‘Hercules’ — which is intensely hilarious, considering Apollo lives here now.
Thomas is — let’s be real — super hot, so all the ladies are like, Damnnnnnnn, but the one whose eyes nearly fall out of her head is Megan. This is incredibly unsurprising, given that she is currently attached to Jake the fuckboy. Who among us would not want to level up in that situation?
I’m amazed more of the women haven’t tried to level up (with Apollo), tbh. Lisa comments to Tara that the two of them have got the best two men — ie Luke and Sam — and I was horrified to realise that she’s absolutely correct. The bar for men on this island is so damn low.
Michael interrupts this horrifying realisation from Lisa to take her aside for a chat. ‘So … do we have a shot, you and me?’ he asks her.
‘Nope,’ she replies.
This sends Michael into a tailspin. ‘I’ve been attracted to other ladies here — Tara, Ali — but Lisa’s been my touchstone all along,’ he tells us mournfully. ‘I have to leave Paradise.’
I don’t want to doubt Michael’s feelings here, but, um … we’ve seen exactly no sign that Lisa has been his touchstone all along. This is extremely Not Good storytelling from Channel Ten here.
Anyway, Michael leaves, and he does it while wearing a shirt practically competently. Sniff. Proud of you, lil buddy.
He’s not the only one heading for the door. “I think we can make this work outside of Paradise,” Lisa tells Luke.
‘Um, what?’ Luke says.
He makes some noise about not being ‘certain’ about Lisa, but let’s be real: if you were on an all-expenses-paid holiday on a beach where the cocktails never stopped flowing, would you want to leave early?
There’s some minor drama, and Luke and Lisa look like they’re headed for splitsville, but then they have a chat and they decide to leave together.
Going to make a call here and say that we will not notice their departure at all, given that they were basically treated as extra furniture once they coupled up.
NB: They decide to leave after — and only after — Lisa assures Luke that she’s not putting pressure on him and doesn’t expect him to be ‘the one’. This is a stunning departure from the US, where you basically leave engaged or heartbroken. I will never not be fascinated by the national differences in this franchise.
Back at the beach, a date card has arrived. The recipient is Elora, and she thinks for -0.689738 seconds before she decides who she wants to take: Apollo, obvs.
‘She was invested in Apollo before she got here,’ Tara says, wrinkling her nose as they walk off. ‘That’s weird.’
If she thinks that’s weird, I shudder to think what Tara would think about my well-developed headcanon where she solves mysteries with Sophie Monk while Apollo pinch-hits as their Jonathan Creek-esque assistant (and also falls in love with her).
Anyway, Elora and Apollo go and drink mimosas, while Elora is like OMG I TICK OFF EVERY SINGLE ITEM ON HIS LIST OF DESIRABLE ATTRIBUTES IN A PARTNER while Apollo smiles and nods politely. They don’t do more than kiss on the cheek — ‘I just want to be respectful,’ quoth Australia’s biggest dreamboat — but Elora has stars in her eyes as they walk back to the beach.
Those stars disappear pretty fast when Apollo makes a beeline for Simone at the bar. If looks could kill, Simone would be incinerated.
Speaking of looks, Sexual Tongue Thomas has finally decided to use his date card. He picks Megan, and leads with the astonishing line, ‘We have a connection, we have eye contact, everything you want.’
It turns out that eye contact is not quite enough for Megan, because she turns him down. (‘I have a tendency to run away when things are good,’ she says, and proceeds not to run away from Jake, so make of that particular equation what you will.)
Thomas then gets turned down by Leah and by Simone, so he goes and broods at a picnic table alone, his curtain of hair falling around him, looking especially vampiric.
But someone is determined that he will not be desperate and dateless, and that person is…
And look, I don’t want to go endorsing any plans this weird stalkery man has, but this is actually quite sweet. Jarrod rounds up Apollo and Sam, and is like, ‘hey, Thomas, we’re going to go on a date — we’re going to go and drink some beers at the pub. Bro date!’
Instead of the pub thing, the four of them end up going on the actual date, which involves a milk bath. They all try and get in the bath, and mostly they just end up laughing, and Jarrod doesn’t quite fit in the bath so they leave him out (even though, given his sunburn, he probably needs this bath more than the rest of them put together), and it’s quite nice, really.
It’s quite nice if you set aside the whole ‘the love of a bro for his bros is pure and true, and it’s all those ladies that make things complicated and awful’ framing, anyway. But the bar is so low now I barely even noticed, honestly.
Hey, remember how American Jared is still there? I did, but purely because I think it’s funny that he’s the designated island weird kid after being the most popular boy in the school in his US seasons. He enters the narrative during the cocktail party, but not exactly of his own volition.
So what happens is this:
- Ali tells Jared that she thinks it was ‘so sweet’ that he wrote a love letter to Elora.
- Jared is like, ‘excuse me, what? I did no such thing!’
- Everyone on the whole island GASPS WITH SHOCK.
- Megan has to break it to Elora gently that the love letter was a fake, leading to much crying.
Everyone suspects Simone is the culprit, having written the letter in an effort to distract Elora from her pursuit of Apollo. But the actual poison pen artist turns out to be … drumroll … Eden.
Shrug. He thought it would be ‘funny’.
Fuckkkkkkkkkkkk this guy.
When Eden sees that Elora’s upset, he’s like ‘oh wow, that backfired’, but, like, how did you think it was going to go, pal? What on earth possessed you to think that that would be a hilarious joke that people would react well to? Like, on what planet is ‘lol, fake love letter’ hysterically funny?
Nina dodged a bullet, y’all. She dodged it real good.
Eden does try to apologise to Elora. ‘The letter didn’t come from a place of jealousy or malice towards you,’ he assures her.
I know I personally am always writing fake love letters and planting them in the bedrooms of people who’ve refused to date me, and I do this out of a place of serenity, calm, and wanting nothing but the best for them. That is a logical thing that makes sense and isn’t a red flag at all, oh no no no.
Let’s talk about love letters for a second, actually. Letters only pop up occasionally in the Bachie franchise, but they’re always meaningful. For example, in the seventeenth season of US Bachie, eventual winner Catherine Giudici wrote a letter to Bachie Sean Lowe in the finale, and not only did she win, but they’re the only American Bachelor couple still together, so make of that correlation what you will.
There’s this sense that you can express in a love letter the feelings you can’t necessarily say in person. Roland Barthes argued that love letters revolve around four words — je pense à vous (I think of you). They’re a space where you can show that wholehearted focus on a person as a romantic object that might come across as way too intense IRL. A love letter, by definition, is about love, not other stuff, or it wouldn’t be a love letter. Martyn Lyons argues, on the same lines, that the essence of the love letter is the notion that ‘I have nothing to say to you except that you are the one to whom I want to say nothing’ (1999, 233). Saying nothing to each other in person can be kind of awkward, but the love letter allows you to express your nothing articulately.
But Lyons also notes that ‘[p]ersonal letters have tactical objectives. They carry rhetorical ploys to provoke certain feelings, and they manipulate the reader’s emotions’, (1999, 233), and that’s exactly what we see in tonight’s episode. Eden uses a fake love letter to manipulate, and given the intense emotional weight placed on love letters, it’s an extreme dick move: arguably even more dickish than lying to Elora’s face about something.
Ugh. Just when you think the bar can’t get any lower, one of these fucking bros goes and limbos under it.
Honestly, the only thing that is actually funny about this joke is Jared’s unwitting involvement in it. Firstly, the fact that Eden identified him as the best scapegoat heavily implies that he didn’t think anyone would actually tell Jared about it, because Jared’s the weird kid. And secondly, Jared’s been on the receiving end of a feels letter in Paradise before, and the look on his face when he realises someone has gone around telling people he’s the giver of a feels letter is pretty spesh.
It seems pretty self-evident who’s going to go home at the rose ceremony. Only one man is leaving, and only one man has played an incredibly cruel prank, right? And when Simone gives her rose to Apollo and Leah gives her rose to American Jared, it becomes immediately obvious that Elora is going to have to choose between incredible douchebag Eden and incredibly hot Thomas.
“I’m so confused,” she moans.
“I was very hurt by what you did,” she tells Eden. “But I’m not going to let this place change me. You deserve to find love. I give my rose to you, Eden.”
Did you not see how handsome Thomas’ face was?
Did you not see the way he aggressively didn’t play any hilarious hurtful pranks on you?
SERIOUSLY WHAT DID YOU NOT SEE HERE?
I can’t even, you guys. I literally cannot even.
It looks like the producers literally could not even either, because the previews for tomorrow night seem to very strongly imply the return of Sexual Tongue Thomas. Let us hope he returns to push Eden the shithead off a cliff.
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.