The Bachelor in Paradise broadcast began with Kendall pulling Joe aside for a chat after shocking him with her entrance in Paradise. She admitted to Joe she wasn't "okay" after their breakup in January 2020 and she was "surprised" he seemed to be doing so well.
But Joe revealed how he had considered quitting the show several days into the process because it's the place where he and Kendall had fallen in love, and Kendall -- who insisted she was "glad" Joe stayed -- recalled the spots on the beach where she and Joe had their first conversation and their first kiss.
Kendall said she and Joe had been avoiding serious conversations for a while, and Serena Pitt watched from a distance. Serena started crying, worried she'd have to continue pursuing a romance with a guy whose serious ex-girlfriend is on the same beach.
Serena feared Kendall's presence would get in Joe's head and change his mindset about them.
"We were really in love, and for me, it hasn't been easy," Joe told Kendall.
"It's difficult for me to not have you be a part of my life. I do want you in my life... in some capacity, and it's hard to not have that," Kendall said.
"You try to move on, but for some reason, it doesn't feel right and it's hard to... At first, I was absolutely terrified of coming."
Kendall explained their breakup was difficult for her because they never fell out of love -- it was logistics that broke them apart, meaning Kendall wouldn't even consider moving to Joe's hometown that he loves, Chicago, IL.
"I still love Joe," Kendall told the cameras in a confessional, "and I hope he still has love for me."
Serena confessed she was "anxious" and "freaking [herself] out," even though she knew Joe was into her and believed they'd still be in a good place.
Joe clarified to Kendall how it wasn't hard for him to come to Bachelor in Paradise but once he stepped into their memories, he began reminiscing about their past and began feeling a certain way.
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Kendall asked Joe what was happening, and Joe shared how he really liked one person but was moving slow with her, and Kendall explained she couldn't wrap her mind around having Joe be her "everything" to now having absolutely no communication between them.
"What happened was we broke up, we fought... we had our differences... but then I came back to [Los Angeles] four months after and I was pushing to have that conversation," Joe said.
"You were pushing to have my move to Chicago," Kendall argued.
"I was pushing to have you try -- yeah, to come move to the city where I grew up in, where my friends and family are. I think if you just would've tried, we could've figured something out," Joe explained.
Kendall said things probably would've ended the same way because she had made it clear from the start of their relationship that moving away from her hometown, L.A., was "a dealbreaker" for her.
"I wasn't going to change my mind and I think you were hoping I would," Kendall said.
"Your thing was that you didn't want to move anywhere for a man... I should've been more than just 'a man' at that point, and we could've tried it," Joe explained.
Kendall said she didn't want to sink back into logistics but she needed some closure, and Joe realized Kendall still loved him.
"I don't know if I still love Kendall. I'm telling you the truth... I have something going on with Serena that I don't want to just throw away. I don't. This is messy. I need to figure out what to do," Joe lamented in a confessional, adding that he felt "confused" and his reunion with Kendall was "going to be a problem."
Joe thought it would be best to just be completely honest with Serena, and so he explained how Kendall made it seem like she wanted to be with him again but also wanted closure so they could remain friends and she could date in Paradise.
Joe didn't understand what exactly Kendall wanted from him, and so he assumed more conversations with Kendall would be coming and things would probably be "weird."
"Coming to Paradise, I told myself I was over her," Joe told Serena.
"Being back here, now with her here, I don't want to mislead you, in case I'm not. But I am. I also don't want this to potentially ruin your chances here if this just ends up getting too messy and you're uncomfortable."
Joe, however, told Serena that she was his "main priority" and he really, really liked her. Joe warned Serena the situation was going to be strange and then insisted, "I am over her. I am."
"Okay, I believe you -- kind of," Serena sweetly replied with a smile.
Joe said he wanted to continue on the pace in which they had already been moving, and Serena hesitantly agreed. She just asked Joe to be totally honest with her going forward because she didn't want to watch him reignite his love for Kendall on the beach.
Serena and Joe discussed how they'd like their romance to work out, but Serena felt very vulnerable and was scared to get hurt. She acknowledged the ball was in Joe's court, which was a really scary thing for her.
Afterward, Noah decided to approach Abigail about their fizzled-out romance because he said he didn't want to give up on their relationship.
Noah explained to Abigail how he had pushed back a little in their relationship because he didn't feel he got much from her emotionally or physically when he made a move and tried to advance things, and Abigail admitted she could have been a better communicator.
Noah told Abigail that they had some serious "potential" and so he wanted to keep running with their relationship.
"I thought I messed it up, but [this time apart] made me realize how much I really do care for you, and I want to try to do this," Abigail said.
Noah and Abigail therefore determined they'd like to continue being "the power couple" on the beach. Noah realized he and his love interest had over-complicated things and almost self-sabotaged their romance, and so he was glad to get things back on track.
Meanwhile, Mari also still had feelings for Kenny and said she missed him.
Although Kenny had a great time on his date with Tia Booth, Mari said she knew what she wanted and should go after it.
Mari was apparently willing to fight for Kenny, who had also been dating Demi Burnett in Paradise.
Mari shared with Kenny how she still really liked him and didn't enjoy watching him with other people. Mari said she needed to see Kenny with other women to solidify her own feelings for him and she wished she had never even suggested being open to dating other people.
"We were so strong and everything was going so well, and I regret that a lot," Mari admitted.
As Demi lamented about being sick of Mari's drama and playing a game, Kenny complained about Mari flip-flopping from one extreme to another.
"I felt so strongly [for you] that I got scared," Mari confessed. "I knew what was there... and I never felt so strongly for someone so soon and... I've been thinking about you this whole time."
Kenny said he needed time to think things over and would revisit this conversation with her the following day, and Mari insisted that she was seeing things a lot clearer.
Kenny told the cameras it was tough and it "hurt" to be exclusive with Mari and then hear her say she wanted to explore Paradise. Kenny said he liked Demi but definitely had "something special" with Mari.
Kenny decided he wasn't going to just jump back into a relationship with Mari, but he struggled to completely trust her again.
Demi said she was "losing [her] mind" as she watched Kenny and Mari talk from a distance because she wanted Kenny and didn't understand why she's not enough for him. Demi expressed being "pissed" over Kenny's lack of focus on her.
"I think Mari sucks. I think she's mean, I think she's a brat, I think she's entitled, and I don't like her," Demi complained.
Kenny then sat down with Demi and revealed how he wanted to continue his conversation with Mari and also talk to Tia again. Demi said the situation wasn't cool and she didn't like it at all.
With that being said, Demi asked Kenny to go to "The Boom-Boom Room" with her again -- but he rejected her! Kenny appeared to say that he just wanted to go to sleep.
"I wanted Kenny to fight for me. I wanted to feel solidified with him, but I just feel like he's waiting for Mari," Demi told the cameras.
"He's, like, obsessed with her in some weird, f-cked up way. I did not fight this hard just to be placed in his pocket. That's a sh-t feeling and I feel like an idiot!"
Kenny joked that Demi was about to cut his throat and wear his head as a mask, and that he didn't know what to do going forward.
The next day, Kendall was anticipating a brighter day in Paradise, and Brendan was shown telling Natasha that he's not a manipulative person and wouldn't be able to play her even if he tried. Brendan told Natasha that he really enjoyed their conversations and laughs.
"I see a real future. I'm very hopeful about everything that I have going on with Brendan," Natasha gushed.
But then Piper from Matt James' The Bachelor season arrived on the beach, and everyone was aware of a rumor Pieper and Brendan had dated before Bachelor in Paradise. Natasha was stone-faced after seeing Pieper, and she was interested to see how Brendan would react.
Brendan had previously explained to Natasha that his romance in the real world with Pieper was just "super casual" over the course of a month-and-a-half and he actually had deeper conversations with Natasha than he ever had with Pieper.
Brendan had told Natasha that he felt the strongest connection with her, but his face lit up once Pieper entered Paradise.
Pieper, with her Date Card, immediately asked Brendan out, and he quickly replied, "Yes."
Natasha said everything she had feared could be true and she hoped Brendan didn't start something with her when he had another woman in his heart the entire time.
Brendan called Pieper's appearance in Paradise "a coincidence," and he told Natasha that Paradise is all about exploring relationships to find your perfect match and so he wanted to pursue a romance with Pieper as well in order to not potentially cheat himself out of anything.
"Yes, we hung out a few times and we've talked a few times, but it's been super casual and this is an opportunity for us to have deep and meaningful conversations that [you and I] have already had here," Brendan explained.
Brendan said he needed to do what's best for himself and he'd never keep Natasha from an opportunity to explore something, and Natasha began feeling like she was just a placeholder for Pieper.
Natasha broke down into tears as her friend, The Bachelorette alum Becca Kufrin, consoled her. Natasha had worked so hard to make Brendan feel comfortable, and she knew him breaking up with her would be really hard.
During her date with Brendan, Pieper shared how she was in Paradise for him and hoped to pick up where they left off and continue moving forward.
Brendan explained to Pieper how many women had been interested in talking to him and he had connected with Natasha. Brendan said people assumed he had been waiting for Pieper to arrive the entire time and so he explained how they were never an official couple with plans to leave Paradise together.
"I just feel like you're kind of downplaying what we had leading up to coming here. I'm trying to understand where's the disconnect, because I came here for you," Pieper acknowledged. "I feel like I'm missing something."
Pieper told the cameras she and Brendan had "a budding, progressing" relationship in the real world and she never would have appeared on Paradise if she wasn't sure they genuinely had something.
Pieper asked Brendan to show more of the real him because he was confusing her, and then Brendan revealed the truth about his intentions.
"There were certain things that had to be done and certain ways I navigated this to bring us to this particular moment. I can't have a girlfriend entering this whole journey, like, if you have a full girlfriend going into Paradise... it's not a good look," Brendan explained.
"So if I tell everyone, 'Hey, Pieper might be coming, so nobody talk to me,' what would happen is I would go home."
Pieper replied with a smile, "And then I would be here just twiddling my thumbs."
Brendan continued, "Obviously I was just navigating this in a way to allow myself to potentially, hopefully be here while you're here."
Pieper said, "I get it. Thanks for playing the game. I just wish I was a little more privy to that before."
Brendan told Pieper that it made him sad for her to think he had downplayed their connection and he hoped she could trust him and trust what they had built prior to Paradise.
"The optics of it might look weird and awkward... but trust me, we have to have each other's back. It has to be me and you first and foremost before anyone else on the beach, and that's going to be the only way we get through this," Brendan explained.
"We need to take advantage of what Paradise would promote together."
Pieper said she was totally fine with everyone hating them as a couple and it felt good to have Brendan clear the air.
Pieper said her spark with Brendan never died, and she added, "He is my boyfriend and we're dating and I'm here to continue our relationship. We are very much aligned on what it means to be here together."
When Brendan and Pieper returned to the beach, Tammy Ly noticed their "very strong connection" and how Brendan allegedly acted totally different with Pieper than he had behaved with Natasha.
Most people on the beach believed Brendan and Pieper's pre-Paradise romance was a lot more serious than Brendan had let on, and Deandra Kanu said Brendan never should have joined the Bachelor in Paradise cast if his heart belonged to Pieper.
Natasha set out to discover the truth, and so she went straight to the source by talking to Pieper.
Pieper said she and Brendan had met a little over two months prior and she saw him right before he flew to Mexico. Pieper recalled hanging out with Brendan about 10 times, and Natasha recalled Brendan saying he had met her a month ago and only hung out with her twice.
While Brendan told his friends that he never kept Natasha from getting to know another man, Deandra said it seemed like Pieper and Brendan just wanted to date on TV so they could become stars. And Tia also said it seemed like Pieper and Brendan just want to gain more social-media followers.
Pieper assured Natasha that she and Brendan didn't have a plan, but Natasha explained how she felt lied to and betrayed by Brendan.
"I'm not trying to be a TV couple where we're blogging everything we do or whatever," Pieper said.
But Pieper confirmed she and Brendan were a couple all along "without the labels." Pieper said there was an understanding that she and Brendan were together, and Pieper concluded, "I know why I'm here."
"I feel like a casualty in [Brendan]'s convoluted plan. I just don't think you guys should be here," Natasha told Pieper.
Natasha let the cameras know that she felt "played" and "swindled" by "a con artist" who had "lied" and "manipulated" her.
When Brendan and Pieper reunited on a daybed, they laughed about the situation, and then Natasha asked Brendan to speak with her.
Brendan explained to Natasha that while he enjoyed spending time with her, they had no intimate connection and never broke past a friendship into a romantic relationship.
Brendan suggested he had given Natasha the opportunity to date other people and said just that when giving her a rose, adding that she had "selective hearing" and must have heard what she wanted to hear.
Natasha laughed at Brendan and accused him of not being direct. Natasha said the situation was "f-cked up," but Brendan said his date with Pieper turned his feelings for her into strong feelings and made him realize a relationship with her is what he wanted to pursue.
Natasha argued that Brendan's "strong feelings" for Pieper did not develop in one night and she would have dated other men on the beach had she been made aware of that earlier on.
"What would you have explored, Natasha?" Brendan asked.
"There were other people I was interested in on the first day. There were other conversations that I had. It wasn't just with you Brendan, I'm sorry to burst your bubble there," Natasha snapped.
Natasha told Brendan that he had lied to her by saying he and Pieper had only hung out twice, but Brendan said he didn't remember saying that and meant "twice" as in dates he had alone with Pieper rather than with a group of people.
Brendan revealed Pieper had also visited him in Boston, and Natasha said, "I feel like you're a liar."
Natasha told the cameras that Brendan had made her feel really bad and insecure, but Brendan said he had never held her back from finding or getting to know another guy.
Natasha said the time she and Brendan had spent together was "bullsh-t" and she never should've gotten involved with him to begin with.
Natasha concluded, "I asked him, 'Would you go on a date with someone else now that she's here?' [And he said], 'Probably not.' So again, why are you here? I think his plan was to just make it through until Pieper came and then they would continue to build their connection together here -- on ABC."
Pieper was then shown bragging to Brendan about having 70,000 Instagram followers before she left for the show, and Brendan mentioned how Pieper had screentime before she even arrived on the beach due to rumors about their relationship.
"I think you did the heavylifting for me so I could just swoop in," Pieper told Brendan.
"I paved the way," Brendan confirmed.
Joe said he doesn't see the point in someone coming to Paradise with a strategy, as Pieper discussed with Brendan how it would've been "stupid" of them to put a label on their relationship before going on the summer spinoff.
Brendan then told Pieper of Natasha, "I was just getting so annoyed by her."
"I know," Pieper said.
"I'm just surprised she's still here, I guess," Brendan said, before assuring Pieper that he wouldn't date anyone else on the show.
A few minutes later, Pieper said some people would probably think he's a jerk after the show, and Brendan attempted to cover his microphone and replied, "I incriminated myself enough where it's like, I am screwed."
Natasha said she wished Brendan had just been honest with her and stepped up as a man in revealing his feelings for Pieper.