I typically have some sort of beef with someone’s behaviour every week on Paradise, but rarely am I as disappointed as I am this week. For example, Chris may make terrible choices over and over (and over) again, but it’s not like he lets any of us down. (Our expectations were on the low side to begin with.) But with Leo, I sincerely didn’t think he was capable of acting like such a fool. I’m actually a bit sad about it. Leo was an easy favourite of mine on Becca’s season and he was one of the few Paradisers I was genuinely excited to see more of. But instead of a timely love story or at least some dry commentary, we’ve just gotten a case of the rare reverse redemption story. Leo went from a one-dimensional but fairly flawless Bachelorette edit to looking pretty terrible in a matter of one episode.
Look, on one hand, Leo is correct: The comparison may be extreme, but in Paradise, kissing isn’t unlike a handshake. There’s a lot of “trying out” various people, “exploring options” (despite those options being funneled in at a limited, contrived rate) yet keeping those very options “open”… this is all the Paradise contestant’s prerogative. And let’s be clear: it’s not like Kendall didn’t have Joe waiting back on the beach for her; in fact, she very likely kissed him since returning from her date with Leo. It’s not like she and Leo had some exclusive arrangement. The issue is Leo’s execution; his choices during and after his “handshake” with Chelsea. Leo’s choices last night were pretty much a step-by-step guide on how NOT to behave when you’ve returned from a date with someone you really like yet somehow managed to make out with someone else that same night. Let us dissect his red flags…
Step 1: Lie
I don’t care what anyone says: in this scenario, the withholding of information is lying. Remember, Leo’s calling card was being “easy to talk to.” His big selling points were his good communication skills and emotional maturity. So for him to make out with Chelsea yet assume that information was irrelevant to Kendall, who has expressly stated she values honesty over all else, isn’t just wrong, it’s dumb. But we know Leo isn’t dumb, so he can’t blame this choice on poor judgement. Which leaves the more sinister option of calculation. Leo knew this information would not be well received, or else he would have mentioned it on his own.
Step 2: Dedicate your energy to the wrong cause
Upon being outed in Step 1, the next steps say a lot about a person. If indeed Leo cared for Kendall the way he claimed to, a good move for would have been to put his drink down (seriously, this guy is not a good drunk) and focus on proving to Kendall why his making out with Chelsea didn’t matter. Given the fact that Kendall is INSANELY reasonable, if the kiss really did mean nothing, this would be an easy feat to accomplish. All he would have to do is apologize (or eloquently explain himself) and generally not rest until her mind were at rest about it. Instead, Leo dedicated his valuable time and energy to sniffing out his “snitch”—the person who had the gall to tell Kendall about this make out, despite the fact that EVERYBODY ELSE KNEW—and pick an unfounded, sulky fight with them about it. Oh, and claim he’d planned on telling Kendall himself. Sure, brah.
Step 3: Nix responsibility
Leo seems to have taken a page from Chris’s copy of How To Blame Friends and Manipulate People. He twisted Kendall’s words and actions, intentionally hurting her and calling her an actress. Yet, to retain her interest and flatter her, he also claimed he wanted nothing but her happiness and that he couldn’t believe she was single. He said in an ITM that any girl getting as upset as Kendall did probably wanted exclusivity, in which case she should have told him that. Um, Kendall never expressed requiring exclusivity (she was the one with Joe, after all), only honesty. Leo had a million excuses for why his kissing somebody else was no big deal, sidestepping the one fact that it wasn’t about the kiss. Instead, it was that the kiss didn’t align with his other words and actions. This is something Leo has proven fully intelligent enough to comprehend, making his stubbornness and inability to be wrong the biggest red flag of all.
The shining star amidst two hours of grueling, judge-of-character-questioning disappointment? None other than our resident Canadian! It always makes me strangely proud when the one or two Canucks we ever see on the American franchise are always such paragons of integrity and decency. I confess I never had a particularly strong opinion, whether positive or negative, about Kevin back on Jasmine’s Bachelorette Canada season. (I can’t comment on his Winter Games showing, unfortunately!) But he has been shooting to the tip top of my Paradise pile. His conflict resolution with (the unreasonably lovely) Astrid was pretty much as good as one can hope for in a normal relationship, let alone on Paradise where we haven’t seen an ounce of healthy relationship growing pains. He is a respectful platonic friend to several women, including but not limited to Kendall, Krystal and Annaliese. He has proven a good listener, self aware, and considerate. Best of all, in the context of being 34 years old and not caring about such things (whether or not this is true): he referenced the possibility of folks going on these shows for Instagram followers, easily the biggest 4th-wall breakage this season has and will see. Kevin, your homeland sees and applauds you!