Welcome back to Paradise! Host Chris Harrison promises season 5 will be the most “caliente” — and, of course, dramatic — yet, and with many tense relationships (see: Tia Booth and Colton Underwood‘s fling, Jordan Kimball and David Ravitz’s feud throughout Becca Kufrin‘s season, basically all of Arie Luyendyk Jr.’s women disliking Krystal Nielson) already established before even heading to Sayulita, Nayarit, emotions are sure to run high.
A new group of Bachelore/ette stars arrive in Mexico hoping for a love story like that of Jade Roper and Tanner Tolbert or Carly Wadell and Evan Bass — engaged by the end of the season, married shortly after and starting a family together back in the real world. Many have preconceived notions of who they’d like to connect with during their time on the show, while some (Joe Amabile, Kimball, Chris Randone) want to correct any misgivings America may have gotten about them after their initial appearances.
“That whole villain thing, you know, even if someone is, it’s cool to sit down with someone and see if they are actually what you perceive them as,” Kimball tells a group of women after he arrives on the beach.
Then there’s Bibiana Julian, who packed a plethora of bikinis in order to fulfill her unique desire for her time on Paradise. “If my ass gets blurred, I’m doing something right,” she tells the camera. “My goal here is to kill them with booty.”
Old Flames Die Out Slowly
Julian, 30, showed interest in The Bachelor Canada‘s Kevin Wendt when the both appeared on The Bachelor Winter Games, but he ended up dating Ashley Iaconetti just before she got with her now-fiancé Jared Haibon. Julian isn’t waiting around to see if she can rekindle things with Wendt, and the Canadian firefighter has his eyes on someone else. But that doesn’t mean he’s happy with how things ended with Iaconetti, who returns to Paradise later in the season to get engaged to Haibon (drama alert!).
“When Ashley and I left Winter Games, I knew I wanted to marry her one day,” Wendt, 33, admits in an on-camera interview. “And then all of a sudden Jared flips the switch and now he wants to be with her. I did try to make it work, but if you kiss another guy while you’re dating someone else, that’s cheating in my book. That really hurt me.”
He continues, “I heard through the Bachelor grapevine that Ashley and Jared are dating now, so time to move on.”
And Wendt knows exactly who he wants to move on to.
“I’m kind of hoping Krystal’s in Paradise,” he says. “She’s hot and she’s actually really fit. I feel like she could kick my ass. Like really hot.”
Lucky for him, the “villain” from Luyendyk Jr.’s season has made it to Mexico, but she’s noticeably different in a major way.
“Krystal sounds so different, isn’t that funny?” Booth says in reference to the Florida fitness coach’s hushed, sing-songy inflection. “Old Krystal would be, ‘Hi! Good morning.’ I can’t even do it as badly as her. Now she’s just like, ‘Hi, how are you doing? Good to see you.’ “
Though Nielson and Amabile, known as Grocery Store Joe or Mr. Went Home on Night One, have an initial spark, he ends up bonding with Kendall Long on night one. The two go off to a daybed, watch the storm come in and share the first kiss of Paradise season 5. “It felt right,” Amabile, 31, explains.
While she’s “shocked” that Amabile and Long, 26, hit it off, Nielson quickly moves on to Wendt. “You’re the hottest girl here. You’re a hot commodity,” he tells her before going in for a kiss.
“Kevin has pillow lips,” says Nielson, who appeared on Arie aka “The Kissing Bandit’s” season of The Bachelor. “I did not experience pillow lips on my season of The Bachelor, but I now know what pillow lips are and I appreciate them. He’s like a real man.”
RELATED VIDEO: Tia Booth Sets the Record Straight About Her History with The Bachelorette’s Colton Underwood
Tia Keeps Her Eyes on the Prize
Nielson may hold a little ill will towards her former Bachelor, but the most unfinished business remains between Booth and Underwood, who had a romantic weekend together about six months ago, before he appeared on Kufrin’s season of The Bachelorette. Booth comes to Paradise inspired by her hometown friend Raven Gates, who left season 4 with boyfriend Adam Gottschalk.
“At this point I haven’t talked to Colton since The Bachelorette,” says Booth, who saw Underwood when she helped pal Kufrin out on a group date during her season. “I would love to see Colton in Paradise because I do want to find love and do want to find that with someone. This could be the best summer of my life.”
Booth spends most of the first day waiting for the former NFL player to arrive — and letting other potential suitors know he’s on her mind. “I don’t think Tia’s over Colton,” Amabile concludes.
Ravitz is last to arrive, and Booth’s hopes are dashed. “I woke up thinking about Colton,” she says. “I wanted noting more than to just hang out with him today. I did not expect it to be this challenging.”
Harrison announces that it’s the ladies’ week to choose and one lucky woman will get a date card. As fate (or production) would have it, Booth scores the date care even though she harbors no desire to go on a date with anyone but Underwood. Knowing she must make a decision, the Alabama native surprisingly picks Randone to share the evening with.
“I was pleasantly surprised by Chris today,” Booth, 26, says. “I felt like our conversation was very easy and I felt good energy from him. I’m actually really looking forward to it. Tonight I’m going to focus on me and Chris in the moment not on Colton. I’m excited, I am. I haven’t been on a proper date in so long. Maybe since Colton.”
Swearing to put Underwood behind her, Booth goes on the date optimistically, but then brings up her former lover once more. “I have nothing to hide with it and he doesn’t either,” she tells Randone over dinner in an attempt to clear air that did not need clearing. “If something was gong to happen with us, I feel like it would’ve already happened.”
Randone and Booth cheers to putting Underwood in the past once and for all, and even share a kiss by a fountain as fireworks blast overhead. “I think there will be more kisses in our future,” Booth gushes. “I can’t stop smiling right now. Colton who? We don’t know him.”
Booth’s memory quickly returns the next day, though when — who else? — Underwood jogs onto the sand, already sweating through this periwinkle T-shirt. “The second Colton walked down on the beach, I felt these feelings kind of rush back,” Booth admits. “I don’t know why I’m nervous, but I can feel my heart beating out of my chest. Honestly, if Colton doesn’t ask me on a date today I would be shocked.”
Underwood’s armed with a date card, but doesn’t go right for Booth. Instead the 26-year-old chats up Long and then Angela Amezcua of Nick Viall’s season. His choices leave Booth and the rest of the cast confused about Underwood’s intentions, but without talking to her first, he ultimately asks out Booth.
“I obviously want to explore this because I wouldn’t have wasted a card if I don’t want to,” Underwood tells her. “I don’t want you to think though that it’s going to be so easy. I have to be fair to you. I have to be fair to myself. Like I’m not closing the door on us. I’m here to figure my s— out, and that also includes you.”
The two head out on a yacht for day of relaxation and reminisce the romantic weekend together that sparked it all, which included a hike up Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles, Colton getting bit by a dog and a big home-cooked dinner.
Underwood admits during the date that he got “blindsided by Becca,” and reveals to Booth that they did fall in love. “I think that Becca had potential to be the one, and then I found out that Tia came back to talk to Becca and pretty much told Becca that she still had feelings for me,” he continues in an on-camera interview. “It was tough because then I obviously went home.”
Booth responds, “It just sucks feeling like I was in the middle of all of this.”
Still, Underwood admits he did and still does have feelings for Booth. “As far as a relationship goes with Tia, I really don’t know what is there or what could be there, but part of me really wants to go and give it a shot and try,” he tells the cameras.
Though Booth wishes she could’ve gotten a concrete answer, she continues to enjoy their time together on the ocean and holds onto his “big” arms when they go out on a jet ski together.
“I caught the feels along time ago,” Booth says. “Where it goes from here I don’t know. But hell, I’m excited to figure it out.”
But their Paradise costars aren’t nearly as enthusiastic. Back on the beach, the remaining singles plot to confront Underwood for being here for the wrong reasons.
“He’s manipulating the whole f—ing thing,” Kimball tells a group of guys, including Randone. “He’s here for roses. He’s here to be on TV. He said he was over Tia.”
Astrid Loch points out that Booth and Underwood should come back from the date with a definite decision about whether they’ll continue their relationship, but even if they decide to end things, dating one another’s friends in front of each other presents an award situation for everyone.
“If Colton wanted to be with Tia, he would’ve made it crystal clear, 100 percent right away,” Randone believes. “You have this poor girl getting thrown back and forth.”
Even Julian admits, “I think it’s a little bit sketch.”
So even though a rose ceremony hasn’t happened yet in Paradise, it seems pretty clear who everyone wants to send home.
Bachelor in Paradise airs Tuesdays on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.