One thing I have to give this show credit for is it certainly has a way of wiggling its way back into your good graces. Sure, we got yet another newcomer this week—Robby (anyone notice how a “battle of the Ken dolls” kept being teased, yet how there was really zero conflict at all?)—and newcomers are a total waste of time this late in the game. But on the whole this episode felt like it was about what it should be about: fun and funny moments, and the actual substance of the relationships. Even if a focus on that substance (or lack thereof) results in that relationship’s demise, it’s still way more interesting and thought-provoking to us than watching what feels like BS, for-the-’gram couplings.
One of the two big bombs dropped this week was Kendall and Joe. As much as I like and have always liked Kendall, this was a rare miss for someone as self aware as she is. She’s a thinker who has the ability to prioritize logic and rationale over hot-headed emotions. Joe may not be as effusive as some women might require to know how he was feeling, but it always, always comes back to my rule of Show, Don’t Tell: Joe SHOWED Kendall how he felt in his dedication to her, his patience and understanding with her (particularly when Leo came around), the endless time he spent with her (“I’m with you ALL day long”). And Kendall, who has proven to be highly perceptive, is thus the kind of person who easily could and should have read between the lines of Joe’s actions towards her. In other words, though he never completely and profusely expressed the depth of his feelings for her, she’s very much the type of personality who shouldn’t have needed that to feel it.
Now, I don’t think Joe is without fault. He seems to have a bit of bro mentality and has a difficult time expressing his feelings, and I for one would have been irked if I were in Kendall’s shoes when he’d broached the topic of an engagement with a big, shit-eating grin on his face, like he wasn’t serious. Many women (and men)—myself included—value effusiveness highly. We’re Words of Affirmation people. Showing is nice, but we’d sure like to be TOLD how adored we are and how seriously our partner feels about us. Kendall could very well be that person. But when Joe finally did express being very serious about the long term with her, she said, “It’s like the last minute where I have to hear all this stuff and I don’t know how to process it. Like I don’t know how to feel about it.” Frankly, if she felt the same way, it would be easy; there would be no “processing” necessary. Which means that Kendall simply wasn’t as into Joe as he was into her. That much is obvious. But I do personally feel, if Kendall truly just wasn’t that into Joe, she should have owned that with a simple and sincere apology. But instead she attempted to turn things onto Joe. She made it sound as though, if he hadn’t waited until the last minute to tell her everything—which is very possibly something he would have done had he felt it would’ve been reciprocated—that things might have turned out differently. Not only was this patently wrong on a factual level, it showed, in my opinion, an underestimation on her part of Joe’s intelligence. I’ll put it this way: I don’t think Kendall would fall for the excuses she was trying to give both Joe and us, the viewers, in her departure. If you don’t think you’d believe the excuses you’re giving, you probably shouldn’t be giving them.
I have a real heart for Kendall because I relate to her. I’m probably making a lot of assumptions based on relating to her, but to me, she’s a unique breed who is hungry for experience and knowledge and, yes, that true cerebral connection. She wants to taste many flavours in this life, and to feel completely seen and understood. I personally think she’s looking for something she just hasn’t found yet. (I remember looking for it too and wondering if I’d ever find it.) She definitely will, and in that sense I think she was right to let Joe go. And not wanting to be with someone doesn’t remotely mean you don’t love them—they’re just not what you’re looking for, that it’s not the right breed of love. I only wish that, when this breakup went down, Kendall had taken responsibility and not attempted to justify her (lack of) feelings as a result of anything Joe had done.
The other big bomb, and probably the biggest, most disappointing bomb we’ve ever seen on Paradise, was the end of Astrid and Kevin. For this beautiful relationship to end the way it did reminded me of so many of my single girlfriends’ dating stories. It usually goes along the lines of: Girl meets Boy, they share something unique and special, it’s easy and effortless. They profess some sort of love for one another. Girl, who is extremely reasonable and pragmatic (as Astrid definitely is), tells Boy that what she values above all else is honesty, even if it’s not what she wants to hear. Boy agrees. Then out of the blue, Boy pulls the rug out from under Girl, blindsiding her and thusly proving he must have been dishonest somewhere along the way.
I expected better from Kevin, who’s been this season’s nice guy, the great friend and good listener. For me what doesn’t line up is the consistent strength of this relationship over the last few weeks with the lack of desire to even give it a try in the real world. After all, it’s not like the only options were to break up or get engaged. And arguments about things going south after previous Fantasy Suite situations are moot to me. (Also, how hilarious is it that Fantasy Suites now seem to come with an essence of DUH DUH DUH, like they’re something to be feared rather than anticipated??) Astrid is not Jasmine Lorimer or Ashley I, and she deserves the respect of NOT being lumped into the same expectations bin. I appreciate the obvious baggage that Kevin has, in addition to the fact that he clearly struggles with some sort of anxiety. When he said to Astrid, “I’m having an actual mental breakdown right now,” while an exaggeration, I did believe he was suffering from a psychological pressure he was not equipped, at least not in that environment, to handle. That said, Astrid has been nothing but a supportive, understanding partner. She even said, gently, “What’s wrong? Calm down.” On the whole, in addition to being a stunning specimen, Astrid is simply one of the most dignified, classy and intelligent women to grace Paradise in a long time, probably ever. I have a feeling Kevin, with a little distance and perspective, may come to regret this decision. What sane man wouldn’t?