Almost there! This inaugural season of Australian Paradise has taken approximately seventeen hundred million billion years, but we have made it to the penultimate episode.
(Seriously, though, this is the fifteenth episode. The Bachelorette only gets 12. Come on now, Channel Ten.)
We’re at the pointy end of things now. Most of Paradise is taken up with a prolonged getting-to-know-you phase, but now the pedal is to the metal and we’re screeching through the shit-gets-real stage to the stage that lies beyond: the stage where shit gets serious.
All the singles are gone. All we have left now are couples: Jake and Megan, Sam and Tara, Grant and Ali, and Jarrod and Keira. And over these final couple of episodes, they have to pull themselves out of their befuddled half-drunk laze-on-the-beach mode to decide whether their holiday romance will survive when there are not free cocktails constantly on tap.
The four couples need to decide whether they’ll proceed to a ‘commitment ceremony’, which is really interesting wording, because it has such a sense of ritual. Obviously the declarations of love in the main franchise are ritualised as well, but because there isn’t a formal term for them, it seems a little less weighty than this ‘commitment ceremony’ that Paradise is building up to.
It makes sense, though. Without the element of suspense over who the Bachie is going to pick, they need to create narrative stakes somehow.
So let’s see what all our four couples are up to.
Jarrod and Keira
Jarrod loves Keira, you guys. Like, he really loves her. He loves everything about her. She’s, like, the perfect guy for him. He loves her. He loves that he’s given her pash rash. Did he mention that he loves her?
If I hadn’t seen Sophie’s season, I’d be all ‘the Jarrod doth protest too much, methinks’. But I have, so this — frighteningly — seems like par for the course for him.
Keira is a bit more even-keeled about the whole thing. ‘I really like him,’ she says, ‘but I want to know that I’m not just getting caught up in the fairy tale of being here.’
Speaking of a) keels, and b) fairy tales, the fact that the site of Jarrod and Keira’s final date is on a boat in the middle of the ocean is pretty interesting. Symbolically, the ocean is a liminal, uncanny space, outside the realms of the real (much like the woods in fairy tales). When you’re meant to be having a serious conversation about the future of your relationship, this doesn’t seem like the best place.
Not that they have much of a conversation. ‘All we do is make out!’ Keira announces.
And then, to escape the conversation some more, they jump off the boat into the ocean. But at least that leap-of-faith, diving-into-the-unknown symbolism makes romantic sense.
They finally sit down to have their conversation later that evening, on dry land. ‘All my family told me that if I was going to go on TV again, I should just be Jarrod, and I would meet the girl of my dreams,’ Jarrod announces.
This sounds like pretty terrible advice to me, but it seems to be working for Jarrod, so who am I to talk?
‘BTW you’re the girl of my dreams,’ he adds.
‘Awww,’ Keira says. ‘I just worry that things won’t be the same when we get out of here.’
‘I hear you,’ Jarrod says. ‘I worry about that too.’
But then they … just don’t address it? They decide to go for a walk on the beach, and then Keira’s like, ‘I don’t want this evening to end,’ and Jarrod is like, ‘me neither,’ and there is some gently implied boning.
Implied boning, you guys. In the innocent little Australian franchise.
Bring me my smelling salts.
Grant and Ali
The first portion of Grant and Ali’s date is on some weird tandem bike that runs on train tracks. ‘This is like a metaphor for how fast our relationship is moving!’ Grant says.
- Grant, buddy, leave analysing the symbolism to me.
- A horse is chasing them, and no one mentions it, and I have SO MANY QUESTIONS.
- Really? A bike is a metaphor for how fast your relationship is moving? It’s not exactly a Ferrari. (The horse would be better, tbh.)
Bikes and horses aside, their relationship is moving fast, because Grant reveals he’s thinking of proposing to Ali. ‘I just need the answer to this one question,’ he says.
That question revolves around whether Ali will move to LA to be with him. ‘I like my job,’ she says. ‘And all my friends and family are here.’
Grant handsomes at her.
‘But what the hell, I’m more than ready to move to LA to be with you!’ she exclaims, and there is much pashing.
…just five minutes before this, Ali assured us that she had been very logical this whole time. I know that’s exactly the word I use for getting attached to a dude who lives in a different hemisphere and has one broken Paradise engagement under his belt already.
And let’s just note right here that at no point does Grant suggest he could move to Australia, even though he is a fireman, which seems like an extreeeeeeeeemely transferable skill.
Also, I feel like I’ve said this a million times, but the fact that Grant’s like ‘engagement or bust’ with no in-between options is so, so emblematic of the differences between the US and Australian franchise.
Though maybe they’re not quite as different as they might seem, because once again, we get some lowkey implicit boning. Australian Paradise is doing, like, the Clayton’s version of fantasy suites right now.
At least they haven’t gone the full American route, where there’s a letter from the host inviting them to spend the night together. I don’t think I could handle it if they got a letter that was like, ‘hey guys, boning is totes an option, here’s the key to a hotel room, Osher xoxo’.
Sam and Tara
My favourite thing in this whole episode is Tara spending like five minutes trying to explain to the camera how Sam’s hair works.
It truly is a mystery. Tara has been hot and heavy and up close and personal with that confusing manbun/mullet/frullet hair for fifteen episodes now, and even she doesn’t understand how it works. I never stood a chance.
Their date is a cooking date, at which Tara excels and Sam sucks. She has to gently reward with him praise like he’s a very small child every time he, like, chops an onion.
I know a lot of people are on board the Tara/Sam ship now, but I will be over here, refusing to be charmed by it until the bitter end. If you have to reward him for performing simple tasks, the amount of emotional labour in your future is immense.
NB: this cooking date involves 100% less vocal arse appreciation from Tara than her last cooking date. I guess Matty > Sam in the arse stakes.
When they get to their Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation, Sam confesses to Tara that he is a huge commitment-phobe. ‘Usually, I just get through the honeymoon phase, and then I peace out,’ he says.
‘Okay,’ Tara says.
‘But when I think about my life, and factoring you in … I want to factor you in,’ he goes on.
As far as romantic statements go, this one is … understated.
Sure, he goes on to say a bunch of stuff about how she’d be a great wife and mother and he’s never felt like this before, etc, etc, but … ‘I want to factor you in.’
Tara doesn’t seem to mind, though. She smiles, tells him she loves him, and affectionately strokes his hair.
…although that last one could have something to do with her continuing effort to unravel its secrets.
Jake and Megan
‘Megan is so great! I can’t imagine my life without her!’ Jake enthuses.
‘Jake is fine, I guess, but I’m going away for work for a couple of months after the show, and I’m concerned that he can’t stay committed to me during that time,’ Megan says.
And if her diplomatically saying that ‘I am concerned that Jake is a giant fuckboy’ weren’t enough, she adds, ‘and we don’t really have any intellectual conversation.’
They certainly don’t seem to have much intellectual conversation on their date (another boat date), which mostly revolves around them reminiscing about the ‘obstacles’ they’ve had to overcome (ie him dicking over Florence, her pashing Thomas).
But once they get to the Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation, Megan gets serious. ‘Can you commit to me while I’m away?’ she says.
‘Yes,’ Jake says, after several seconds. ‘Absolutely.’
The expression on Megan’s face makes it look like she was hoping for an easy out.
‘I’m looking for something serious,’ she tries again. ‘Like, not just a few months, or a year. Something lasting. Something really, really serious.’
‘That’s great,’ Jake says. ‘Me too.’
The ahhhhhh-where-is-the-exit expression on Megan’s face intensifies.
‘I’m falling in love with you,’ Jake says, and then cracks up laughing. ‘God, I can’t even say that with a straight face.’
I know I always love it when men can’t keep a straight face when declaring their love to me. Adds that extra level of sincerity.
‘I’m, like, ninety percent sure that I could have a relationship with Jake,’ Megan tells the camera.
That’s what her voice says, anyway. Her face says, ‘I just want an easy out from this relationship without hurting anyone’s feelings rightttttttt nowwwwwww.’
Somehow, I suspect we will not be seeing Jake and Megan at tomorrow’s commitment ceremony.
Tomorrow: OH GOD FINALLY THIS WILL BE OVER.
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.