By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Oct 12, 2022 at 5:56 PM

When this "Bachelor in Paradise" season began approximately 173 needless Ashley and Jared tangents ago, I had no idea who Brittany was. She's from Matt James' season – one that even by the standards of terrible "Bachelor" seasons was MONSTROUSLY terrible – and was most notable for getting unwittingly dragged into one of its worst subplots: a late arrival accused of being a sex worker. So yeah, her existence was happily Bota Box labotomied out of my brain, leaving me utterly face-blind when she arrived on the beach this season.

A few episodes later, she's gone from a nobody to the best person of the show, the MVP of "Paradise" and maybe my frontrunner for 2024 presidential candidate? OK, maybe that's a bit much – but between swerving sleazy dudes and defending her fellow ladies' relationships, she's gone from a mystery to a mega-star and one of the most consistently entertaining parts of a fairly inconsistent season on the beach.

Case in point: the Salley debacle. After pleading the last several days for more women to balance out the beach, the men finally got a new female arrival: Salley. Not her luggage – the actual human being Salley. On her way down to the beach, she explains that she ditched not one, not two, but THREE whole flights because she had work matters to deal with back home – which doesn't entirely fit with Wells' elaborate story from before. The "Bachelor" franchise perhaps embellishing things for dramatic effect? WHY I NEVER!

So after her bout of literal flightiness, Salley's here – and Genevieve is NOT A FAN, not because the newcomer is making moves on her new beau Aaron but because she apparently got cozy with Justin back at "Bachelor in Paradise" Beach 2.0 aka Stagecoach. I swear, I NEVER hear anyone else talk about this damn music festival except on this show. Is it actually just a "Bachelor" convention with a kickin' soundtrack? And more importantly, can ABC send a camera out there and make a spin-off? Who says no?! It'd be nice to finally get privy to this drama rather than getting around to it secondhand. Plus, can it be any worse than "Listen to Your Heart" aka "Oops! All Jeds."

Sorry, this is all distracting me from the greater point which is WHY DOES GENEVIEVE GIVE A SINGLE CRAP!? Girl, you don't have to care about Justin's business anymore – thank the heavens, for all of our sakes, because you two were ANNOYING together. You have a incredibly handsome and caring guy that you genuinely connect with to focus on now – DO THAT! But Genevieve just can't help herself, seeing Justin hitting on Salley and immediately murmuring about how she can't be trusted. She goes off to interrogate the newcomer with her new bestie ... Shanae? Huh, maybe these two didn't get along during The Unspoken One's season because they're actually too alike. NOTHING BUT TWISTS THIS SEASON ON "PARADISE!"

Anyways, the two confront Salley about her long-winded road to get here, to which she explains that she had work stuff to deal with ... with her ex, because she works with her ex. Huh ... well that's messy. Unsurprisingly, Salley is not about this interrogation and gets increasingly upset. AND SHE HASN'T EVEN FOUND OUT ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED WITH HER SUITCASE! After Romeo desperately tries to swindle in and pretend to help her, she goes to confront Genevieve and Shanae about why they dragged her personal business into the show while everyone else's mess gets to be politely left behind. This raises EVERYONE'S hackles on the beach, and with everyone now grumping about Salley's attitude, she decides she's done and bails.

So, in conclusion, ABC's tried to get Salley on this show four times across two seasons ... all for about five minutes of total screentime. Wells' painful reenactment lasted longer than her actual beach stay. Her vibrator probably got more screentime! And in the end, no one comes away looking great; Salley seems annoyingly indecisive while Genevieve and company come off needlessly territorial, like the cool kids bullying the outsider for doing the exact stuff they do but not given the proper cool-kid clearance. Safe to say Salley and this show should just see other people. 

Fortunately for the guys, the next day brings a fresh arrival. Unfortunately for the guys, it's a guy. BUT whiplashing right back to being fortunate for the guys, it's pizza-obsessed douche bro Peter – last seen serving a guy a slice of legal action with a subpoena on the Men Tell All and now here to make every other dude on the beach seem infinitely better in comparison. Seriously, even Romeo seems palatable compared to this guy's non-stop product placement and smug self-satisfaction. He's like if a can of pizza-scented Axe body spray wished to be a real boy. He flirts with Victoria a bit, but she gets tired of him acting like the live-action Little Caesar's mascot, only capable of saying "Pizza pizza!" Even Shanae's not about it – and when Shanae thinks you're too toxic and annoying, YOU SHOULD HAVE CONCERNS. 

Unfortunately, Brittany doesn't have concerns and accepts a date with Pizza Petey – a decision she unsurprisingly COMES TO REGRET VERY QUICKLY! Together on a yacht in the ocean, the man just can't stop talking about his very important and very sexy pizza business – and when he's not talking about pizza, he's talking about how he's the most attractive human to ever grace the planet. But seriously: The two go off floating in the water, and while it's hard to hear because apparently the show's doing its best "Open Water" impression, the subtitles say that he asks Brittany about his best feature – and when she says his eyes, he asks, "What, nothing else?" The man is clearly the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer of his own fan club of one.

It's ALL worth it, though, because Brittany – who's spent most of the date using every part of her self-restraint to not leap off the yacht to escape – tops the whole mess off by hilariously dodging Peter's attempt at a kiss, swerving around his head and explaining that she doesn't like getting that close this quickly in a new relationship. The woman managed to be fair and respectful while simultaneously applying an embarrassing Heisman-like stiff arm that inspired me to full-body shriek in cringey glee. IT'S THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS! That takes skill to both be that kind and that killer at the same time. 

In case Brittany juking out yet another douche wasn't enough, back on the beach, Casey and Michael are once again back at their Statler and Waldorf act, burning Peter more than one of his pizzas. I'd be fine if these two bailed on competing on these shows and just started "Mystery Science Theater 3000"-ed them. That's not one but TWO spin-offs I've gifted you this recap, ABC. I'll expect my check in the mail ... 

Eventually Brittany and Peter return back from the date from hell – and even then, Brittany maintains decorum and generosity, refusing to bad-talk Peter while he's right there and instead taking some of the ladies well aside to spill the tea politely from afar. (Amongst the gathering is Ashley, who's somehow still here and giving off tremendous Steve Buscemi "how do you do, fellow kids" energy during this whole bit.) Even so, by this time Peter knows the date wasn't a winner, but he has his own theory about why things went sideways: CERTAINLY he's not the problem so obviously Brittany's an Instagram clout-chaser who thinks she's somehow better than him. Welp, that last part's definitely correct – the rest is hot nonsense. I look forward to you going back to your pizza shop VERY quickly. 

Anyways, later on, the universe repays Brittany back for enduring Peter's date with himself by bringing sweet adorably dorky Andrew into her orbit. As it turns out, the two get along really well – so well that the two end up making out at the end of their cute chat. Finally: Brittany gets an interaction with a guy on this beach that doesn't require swerving! YOU'VE EARNED IT!

Elsewhere on the beach, Accountant Fabio is off thrust-ercising when he receives a date card – which he uses to get some private time with his new crush Jill. He's jazzed. She's jazzed. The whole beach is jazzed – in part because she deserves a win after the Romeo/Kira mess and in part because they think these two high-energy goofballs are perfect for one another. And indeed, the two have a blast together at their full moon ceremony, which includes howling, tantric breathing meditations, more howling, oil rubbing, even more howling and nudity. Inspired by all this thoughtful activity, Jacob drops a powerful insight: "When you go underwater and you can't breathe, you understand how valuable air really is." It's true: Drowning really does make you miss oxygen. Makes you think. Anyways, the two have a great time and end the date lounging in two separate bathtubs like they're recreating those old Cialis ads. 

As for everyone else, Brandon gathers the whole cast together on the beach for a small birthday party for Serene – who usually hates her birthday because people never showed as a kid and she never had much. This one, though, is perfect. They're so precious – LEAVE WHILE YOU CAN! Though at this point I think even the "Paradise" producers know this couple is too lovely to putz with, unless they want to face Bachelor Nation's wrath. As for less engaging couples, Logan tries to win Shanae back from James' big, sexy-armed grasp by ... making an impromptu snokel tour with champagne in a pool? She seems kinda disinterested. I KNOW I CERTAINLY AM!

And speaking of things I'm not interested in whatsoever, time for an update on Ashley and Jared. Yep – still here, now with less farts and more sex! That's right: They've finally had sex in the Boom Boom Room ... complete with the show mocking their special moment with a montage of obvious metaphors and a timer. Nothing like finally reconnecting in private with your loved one and getting your alone time together ... all while America smirks at you. Truly an excellent way to rekindle the passion. Really thought this approach out. Great use of everyone's time. (*cracks open a fresh box of wine*)

Back to a relationship with some dramatic stakes and purpose, though: Jacob and Jill, who come back to the beach happy and cooing over one another. Surely nothing could ruin this! NOTHING AT ALL! Surprise: Something screws it all up – but in an actually surprising development, it's ... Kira? Wait, I thought we sent you away? That you had your chance and it didn't work out so now you're gone? But here she is, marching toward Jacob because she has "unfinished business" to take care of – aka a lot of women left the show faster than expected and the producers had to drag an also-ran back onto the beach to manufacture some tension. 

Anyways, she takes Jacob aside to explain that she felt blindsided that she didn't receive his rose because she thought they really had a connection and that he "feels like home." OK, we were all there, Kira – and you two didn't have a connection. You wore a collard green bikini in the desperate hopes of scoring a rose from the one guy remaining on the beach who had no established relationship already. It was pure strategy, nothing sentimental. And surely Jacob remembers that's how things went too, and will nip this odd situation in the bud, right?

... right????

... RIGHT!?!?!?

Nope, Captain "Drowning Makes You Miss Air" just keeps dragging out his chat with Kira, even holding her hand – all while a once-giddy Jill watches on waiting for her boyfriend to do the right thing and move on. Eventually, though, she can't anymore and rages off to bed. Only a true hero and champion of the people could salvage this doomed situation.

Wait, what's that? (*cue your favorite superhero theme*) IT'S A BIRD! IT'S A PLANE! NO, IT'S ... BRITTANY! Indeed, while Jill stomps off, Brittany and her impeccable BS detector run over to Jacob to snap his well-toned butt back into reality, asking him what the heck game he thinks he's playing. And with that wake-up call, Jacob quickly remembers to tell Kira that they're done (again) and goes off to apologize to Jill for putting his brain on ice there. Meanwhile, Brittany has now dodged not one but two kisses from douchebags, reminded Romeo to figure out his relationship first before hitting on her, snapped Jacob back into reality to save his romance and in general done her damnedest to keep the beach from exploding into furious jealous ash. M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P! Somebody's miraculously gone from nobody to somebody who could be a "Bachelorette" ... 

She's certainly had a better run this season than Kira, who now dejectedly walks away for a SECOND time from "Paradise." BUT WAIT! A sad woman with a potential rose to give away is basically the Bat Signal for Romeo, just the most shamelessly desperate opportunist on the beach ... which is saying a lot because Kira is here again. Anyways, he races over to comfort her and even throws in a (very fake-looking) cry for good measure. The man's REALLY working for this rose.

Just one problem: Kira ... doesn't have a rose. Instead, she wants him to leave the show with her – leading to the wildest comedy on TV since Lucille Ball worked the conveyor belt at the chocolate factory. After he says they really have a connection, she proposes that they leave – and we get a silent minute of the gears in Romeo's brain slowly yet surely realizing that he's trapped himself into leaving his beloved beach with a woman he has no interest in. He just ... keeps staring at Kira, eventually dragged over the finish line and dragged out of the beach, an arm around Kira and a dead-eyed smile at the camera. He's basically if a "I've made a huge mistake" "Arrested Development" meme was a whole human being.

And honestly, I can't imagine a funnier and more deserved ending for these two. Two painfully desperate opportunists, leaving here hand-in-hand in a remarkable act of mutually assured destruction. I give this relationship exactly four seconds beyond the beach – all four of them spent reenacting the final moments of "The Graduate," but hilarious. 

It's a terrific finale to a pretty terrific episode – Brittany being a champion for herself and others, Salley's bizarre subplot wrapped up in record time, Casey roasting Pizza Pete to a crisp, Brandon and Serene being adorable together, Romeo and Kira creating a match made in hell. Ashley and Jared might even be gone now that they've officially re-sexed up their marriage! It was a night almost as great as EITHER OF MY SPIN-OFF IDEAS – CALL ME, ABC!

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.