No one’s happiness should rest in Jamie’s hands. No one’s.
We’re back on the beach! Paradise is not a show that gives you room to digest the happenings – instead we’re flung right back into it.
The cynical among us would say that there just isn’t that much to digest, but if that was true, then I wouldn’t have been writing these very nerdy for recaps for the last 63947397498327 years. Before we get to the recap bit of the recap, I want to pick up on and explore a little detail from last night’s season premiere that I thought was quite interesting.
In the anonymous questions dinner, Cassandra (yeah, they weren’t that good at maintaining anonymity) asked Ciarran about how his relationship with his ex Renee ended. This was for two reasons: 1) she’s good friends with Renee, and 2) she might potentially/maybe/who knows want to make out with Ciarran.
Ultimately, Cassandra was satisfied with Ciarran’s answer (I’m not exactly sure why, because he cheated and didn’t seem to exactly cover himself in glory, but whatever), and decreed that if Renee came in to Paradise, she’d check with her first, but otherwise she had no objection to potentially maybe who knows making out with Ciarran. She then promptly got rinsed in the Discourse™, because we’ve all accepted that really, no matter what, dating a friend’s ex is a real dick move.
However: the fact that Ciarran is Cassandra’s friend’s ex is actually a fairly classic obstacle, if we think in terms of the romance narrative! In A Natural History of the Romance Novel, Pamela Regis argues that one of romance’s eight essential elements is the barrier between the protagonists: there has to be a reason that they can’t be together (2003, 30). If two people meet, both think each other are a bit of all right, and then hook up, that’s not a terribly compelling narrative (although yes, it is kind of what Bach in Paz is about, don’t @ me). But if they meet, each think the other is a bit of all right, but there’s a force holding them apart… that’s when it gets good, because now there are stakes. There’s something for their love to overcome.
Now, obviously what works in narrative doesn’t necessarily translate well into real life. Would I put money on the fact that Ciarran and Cassandra’s attraction is strong enough and important enough to merit her overlooking the friend code? No, especially after tonight’s episode. But it does provide a good framing device for the show to use if it wants one: two people are attracted to each other but they can’t be together because ~reasons~ is a romance classic for a reason.
…not that I think the show is going to pursue this framing for Ciarran and Cassandra, at least not at this stage. We ended last night with him engaging in a Australian reality TV classic – some doona dancing – with Abbie, which seems like it could be juicy. Let’s get into the recap.
We begin tonight with a date card – and it’s for Abbie. There’s no mystery to who she’s going to take: ‘Ciarran, want to come on a date with me?’ she asks, and he immediately assents.
I kind of wish she’d made him sweat a bit, tbh. He deserves to have some pressure put on him.
If we’re measuring by conversation? This is a spectacularly uneventful date. If we’re measuring by getting it on in a waterfall? Literally so much happens, friends.
Back at the beach, other drama is forming. Mostly it revolves around Jamie being terrible at maths. ‘I’ve promised my rose to a few different people,’ he anxiously tells Timm. ‘Abbie, Britt, Mary, Cass…’
Timm proves that he became a national icon for a reason: he just straight up wanders off and goes paddleboarding, very effectively removing himself from the discourse. It’s such a flex.
Timm wanders into a vague flirtation with Janey, but Brittany (the one that can form a full sentence) isn’t having any of that. She pulls out a Bachie big gun: a bath.
It is, of course, very awkward. Trying to wedge two people into a space that small is always awkward, and as much as the show tries to make them romantic, I’m convinced that any bonding that results from Bachie baths comes from intense shared awkwardness and trauma (cf. the infamous chocolate bath). But Timm and Brittany squeeze themselves in there, and OOPS they’re so close together, and OOPS they’re making out. Excellent strategy.
Back to Jamie, though. While everyone definitely finds him extremely creepy – kind of like the island’s weird uncle who just won’t stop talking – he might not be entirely shit out of luck. Conga Line Brittney is on the prowl. ‘Timm’s out of the picture,’ she says, laughing and watching as Timm frolics with can-form-a-full-sentence-Brittany. ‘He’s created a new picture. With me not in it. Ha ha ha.’
She doesn’t have a lot of options, so she decides it’s worth giving it a shot with Jamie. But then, ‘um, I just feel like I’m not vibing with anyone,’ he says to her. ‘Including you, sorry.’
She takes it on the chin, but then she breaks down in her talking head, and… ouch. Truly, Conga Line Brittney is the most tragic figure this franchise has ever produced. She’s like the living embodiment of that Pagliacci meme.
She isn’t the only one getting let down: elsewhere, Glenn informs Mary that the triangle with him, her, and Helena is really more of a biangle featuring just him and Helena. ‘Well, shit, no more women better come in,’ quoth Mary.
So of course, immediately enter:
Jess (Matt’s season): Jess was on Dr Space Bachie’s season for about five seconds, but she clearly made an impression on some of the other women. Cassandra (also from that season) describes her as ‘quite cocky’ and ‘a bit of a bitch’, which really predisposes me strongly to like her.
Oh, and Cassandra greets her with ‘wow! hi! have you lost weight?!’ which does not predispose me to like her. Get it together, Cassandra.
When Ciarran gets back from his date with Abbie, he lays eyes on Jess, and it’s like… Abbie who? Cassandra who? His tats recognise her tats, his soul recognises her soul, and his eyes turn to love hearts. ‘So you were just on a date with Abbie,’ Jess begins.
‘Yeah, there’s some sexual chemistry, but otherwise it’s just a friend thing,’ he says. ‘You, on the other hand…’
And then they promptly go and make out HARD.CORE. on a bed that I sure as hell hope isn’t the one he was doona-dancing with Abbie on last night. Ciarran sure doesn’t fuck around (except to the extent that he, you know, does).
Of course this news gets back to Abbie, because let’s face it: this is schoolies, but it’s also school camp, in that everyone’s sharing rooms and who sneaks into whose room is immediately the subject of immense amount of gossip. ‘Oh shit,’ she says when Osher announces that there’ll be a rose ceremony. ‘If it’s not going to come from Ciarran, I’ve got to find a rose from somewhere.’
Then Jake sits down next to her, and while she doesn’t say anything, the expression on her face clearly says NOT YOU, FOOL.
But Abbie sighs and gives it a bit of a go, because sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to in order to get drunk on a beach on Channel Ten’s dime. And then even this dire option gets snatched away from her by Cassandra (who’s also realised she’s not getting a rose from Ciarran), and truly, it is a bit depresso.
(I’ve worked exactly what Jake’s vibe this season is, btw. There’s obviously a strong dose of American Jared Weird Kid™, but more than anything? as a veteran of a Bachie season from several years ago and the OG season of Paradise? Jake is 100% absolutely a toolie.)
Speaking of depresso: Conga Line Brittney has another crack at Jamie. And you know what? it seems like it’s a success! Sure, he begins with a monologue about how he loves Timm more than life itself, but then he’s like, ‘you know what, Brittney? I would love to give you my rose.’
Joy! Joy for Conga Line Brittney!
…right up until Abbie, likewise in deep need of a rose, goes to chat to Jamie, and he promises one to her as well. Brittney looks over and – her eyes, pals. Her eyes.
It really hurts me that someone as shitty and creepy as Jamie can hurt someone with as pure a heart as Conga Line Brittney. It is proof that the arc of the universe really does not necessarily bend towards justice.
Something that’s really remarkable about all this rose-shilling is that NOT ONE PERSON has thought to ask Niranga for his. He has said, by my count, one sentence in the whole two episodes he’s been on. Either he has a secret love story developing in the background that they haven’t seen fit to screen, or everyone has just forgotten he’s there. Either way, I’m annoyed.
If Niranga does have a secret love story, it’s with Mary, because that’s who he gives his rose to. Predictably, Timm gives his rose to can-form-a-sentence Brittany, Glenn gives his to Helena, and Ciarran – who seems to have forgotten Abbie’s existence entirely by this point – gives his to Jess.
This leaves Jake and Jamie, the two weird old(er) men that no one is really interested in. Jake gives his rose to Cassandra, which leaves Jamie: torn between Abbie and Conga Line Brittney.
Honestly? I thought the producers would step in and do some nudging here. I did not think they’d let someone who is as good on TV as Abbie is get eliminated this early. But either they didn’t nudge or Jamie didn’t listen, because he gives his rose to Brittney, which means Abbie and Janey (who? yeah, me neither) are the ones going home.
‘I’m fine,’ Abbie fumes, as she marches out of Paradise. ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.’
This is both a) a neat coda for her original Bachie exit, and b) a truly gargantuan mood.
Sneaky end-of-recap reminder: not only do I write about rose ceremonies, but I’ve written a book with a rose on the cover! If you like my writing (which, if you made it to the end of this monstrously long recap, I assume you do), don’t forget to check out my YA Valentine series, and you can always check in on me at my website: jodimcalister.com.au
The show airs on Channel 10. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.