The two-night premiere of Bachelor in Paradise continues with the not-so-secret arrival of mystery woman Clare, whose “DVD from the beyond” message from her late father remains unviewed. The runner-up to the Juan Pablo sweepstakes (which really means she won, no?) is back in Mexico for a third shot at love and taking aim at the early couples.

She’s got her sights set on Tanner, Kirk and Jared, who are paired up with Jade, Carly and Ashley I. (sort of), respectively. Though unfortunately for newbie sister Lauren, Clare seems to have as much regard for Mikey as the self-proclaimed slut.

Her initial appearance in the dark of night coincided with a storm brewing off shore, complete with rolling thunder and lightning strikes. Is it any coincidence that Ashley I. ended up in tears and Ashley S. in an ambulance? Yes. Yes it is.

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I don’t … I don’t even have words for the “Almost Paradise” theme song intro with the cast members posing under banners of their names. I just … I just can’t. In the same way I can’t when it comes to Ashley I. She just needs to stop. Everything.

Clare enters the fray, and Tenley is the only one excited because she finally has company in the over-30 club. She reads her date card before pow-wowing with the ladies to discuss dibs, and it’s hands off Jared, Kirk and Tanner. She shifts her focus to Dan, who is apparently now attached to Ashley S. after traveling to the ER with her for dehydration. And Jonathan is together with Juelia? 

Clare gets crabby and consults a skittering crustacean as she ponders whether to ask out last-ditch options JJ or Mikey. She chooses the latter, even though she’s not into beefcakes, because he pulls her aside, begs to go on the date and admits he’s always had a crushy crush on her. And she finds desperation attractive, so off they go.

Too Close for Comfort

The date is tantric yoga in a tree house overlooking the ocean, so they strip down to compression shorts and yoga pants and bump butts. It’s more of a wrestling match than namaste, and Clare has the distinct pleasure of Mikey’s uber-sweaty body and feet being rubbed all over her. 

They end with a dip in a pond, and Mikey raves about her sexiness. It prompts her to offer a drawn-out diatribe about coming into paradise open to all possibilities and not wanting to jump into something right away and blah blah, I don’t like you, blah. 

He responds by asking if he can kiss her, and she’s like, uhhhh, no, were you not just listening to my subtle attempts to tell you I have no interest in you? He decides he respects her for “wanting to get to know him” and is super stoked to see where it’s going now that it’s “real.” Testosterone is so clueless sometimes.

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Crazy is as Crazy Does

The next date card goes to Ashley S., who chooses Dan because he makes her feel either like a woman or a child, or in her case, possibly both. She calls their time at the emergency room getting side-by-side IVs the best first date of her life, and she compliments his face. 

He’s interested too, and they share post-dinner kisses by a Mariachi band. 

Meanwhile, Tenley feels left out of the rose sweepstakes, and she worries object-of-her-(and everyone else’s)-affection Jared won’t like her because she’s older. She confides these fears in Mikey, who for some reason has a tiny ponytail on top of his head. He tells her she’s a hot lady, and she spies Jared walking on the beach and takes off after him. You can only imagine Ashley’s reaction.

The waterworks once again flow, and I think they need to drop her in LA to help combat the drought. She drunkenly decides that tonight is the night to confront Jared and “claim [her] stake.” I don’t know if it’s the booze talking or if she’s just a dumb 16-year-old girl. 

A Silicon Carpet Ride

Lauren builds up Ashley’s confidence, in part because sister dearest getting a rose is the only way she gets to stick around. So Ashley steals Jared because she hates it even more when they go for old ladies, and she sloppily proclaims her awkwardness and his cuteness. 

He responds that they had a fun day, and that’s about it, and she says she’s worried about other girls. At least she picks up on the fact that he’s not giving her a definitive answer, and she and Lauren are ready to go home and die old and alone. 

Then they talk about the other girls’ breast implants. Juelia’s are saline!

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Gold, Douchencense and Myrrhorrhea

It’s time for the first cocktail party and rose ceremony of the season, where couples pair up or go home. And who knows, maybe we’ll have another relationship of convenience that no one sees coming and lasts for a few months. Looking at you, Michelle Money and Cody.

JJ in particular is relishing the role of having power, and he wants the women to present gifts at his feet as if he’s Sayulitian Jesus (pronounced Hay-soos … it is Mexico, after all). Tenley’s on nervous overdrive, and she’d be bummed to go home this early. She speculates that it’s down to her or Jillian for JJ’s rose.

The block box aficionado got assurances and a kiss from JJ during the premiere, so she’s feeling confident that he is eating out of her hand. Tenley ups her game, putting her legs on JJ’s lap, pretending that he’s sweet on the inside and inviting him to kiss her if he pleases. And much like Clare, JJ also finds desperation attractive. It always is when you’re blind to it.

Seeing that everyone else is taken, Jared cozies up to Ashley and peppers her with compliments. It puts Ashley on Cloud 9, until she overhears Jared promising his rose to Clare and agreeing to spend time with her even if she gets a rose from someone else. Can you possibly guess how Ashley responds? (Update: It doesn’t appear she actually heard what he was saying, and her 19th breakdown is attributable solely to the fact that they were having a conversation. Or is it 20?)

Who is the First Woman to Leave Paradise?

Let’s get the easy ones out of the way first. Tanner gives his rose to Jade, while Kirk picks Carly. Dan chooses Ashley S., and Jonathan offers his flower to Juelia. Mikey is next, and Clare hesitates for a moment before accepting, being not quite sure he’s picking up what she’s putting down.

Then it gets interesting. Jared takes center stage and offers his rose to Ashley I. (and Lauren). That leaves JJ to select either Jillian or Tenley, and following the mantra of “What have you done for my junk lately?” he stuns Jillian by sending her home. Tenley lives to love (and make-out to save her butt) another day.

Jillian leaves in tears, knowing it will be tough to think about how much fun everyone is having and that new people will be passing her in midair on her flight back to America. She really does hope to find love someday, and she’s sorry it didn’t work out for her in paradise. JJ might’ve just picked a fight with the wrong strongwoman, and he may have been better off eliminating Ronda Rousey. Either way, at least we know he can take a punch.

The first casualty is in the books, and that means a new arrival, a power shift and, of course, more tears. After all, Ashley I. is still around. And she’s about to get freaky with someone.

You can watch Bachelor in Paradise every Sunday and Monday at 8pm on ABC. 

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order