Spoilers ahead for the August 6 installment of Bachelor in Paradise Season 6.
Before Bachelor in Paradise even kicked off its sixth season on ABC, a lot of the buzz surrounding Blake Horstmann and the drama he would bring to Paradise. The runner-up from Becca Kufrin's season of The Bachelorette came across as much less dreamy than when he was wooing Becca, as Caelynn Miller-Keyes and Kristina Schulman spent the premiere talking about how he'd slept with Kristina one night and then hooked up with Caelynn the next, before Bachelor in Paradise even began.
Both women were upset by how he treated them, and Caelynn in particular was bothered, stating that he'd called her a "mistake" and asked that she keep their hookup a secret. As for Kristina, she asked Blake out on a date for the express purpose of making him her "bitch." (She failed.) Throw in his attempts to woo Tayshia without Tayshia knowing any of this, and he came off as pretty sketchy. After just one night of Bachelor in Paradise. Good thing for his sake that the women outnumbered the men this week and he didn't have to worry about getting a rose!
The second episode of Season 6 gave Blake the chance to tell his side of the story, and the question is whether it will serve him better than Jed's side of the story served him when it came to the latest season of The Bachelorette with Hannah Brown.
Honestly? Blake's side of the story actually did make him believably look better, in my book, although it's still pretty gross that he jumped from one Bachelor franchise woman to the next within the span of a day. Does he look great? No. Does he look less villainous? I'd say so.
He was shocked on his date with Kristina when he realized she hadn't asked him out to restart a relationship or even reaffirm a friendship, but to confront him. He maintained that he didn't actually do anything wrong, and Kristina didn't put up much of a case that he did. The consensus seemed to be that what he did with Caelynn after Kristina wasn't great; still, it sounded like they both kinda knew he'd been free to do it.
The second confrontation of the night for Blake came after the tense return to Paradise, when he finally pulled Caelynn aside for a chat. Caelynn, who had been confiding in a lot of the other hopefuls in Paradise about what had happened and received particular support from Onyeka Ehie, broke down in tears and told Blake how she felt disrespected, ignored, and like she was a "dirty little secret" to him, since he called her a "mistake."
Blake was visibly shocked by how quickly Caelynn got upset and that she was upset in the first place. It appears that Blake called their hookup the mistake rather than Caelynn the mistake, which is admittedly kind of a thin but still important distinction. Once again, the feeling was that Blake had been gross in his behavior toward the two women, but neither made a very strong case against him in their actual confrontations.
Caelynn had more to say about him than to him, although her emotional state almost certainly had a part to play in that. No matter whose side you take, if you take a side at this point, it was pretty clear that Caelynn was genuinely very upset. So, did Blake clear his name in this episode? Was he just kinda sketchy and not quite as much of a player as he seemed in the first episode? Does he have a shot at love on Bachelor in Paradise?
Well, it's difficult to say at this point. Even if we give him the absolute benefit of the doubt and assume that he was wronged in every single way (which is probably not the case), his reputation is already seriously damaged. Most of the ladies of Paradise are firmly against him, with Tayshia turning from somebody who was swooning over him to somebody who wanted nothing to do with him as soon as Kristina dropped the bombshell about Blake and both her and Caelynn.
Hannah Godwin is still receptive to Blake, and some of the others who haven't formed a strong enough attachment to any of the guys that they feel guaranteed a rose might be willing to cozy up to him for the sake of lasting another week, but his bad rap may have doomed him. And I do have to reiterate that it doesn't reflect well on Blake that he 1) slept with Caelynn the day after sleeping with Kristina, 2) somehow didn't think it would come out on Bachelor in Paradise, and 3) didn't mention it in the slightest to Tayshia.
His behavior with Hannah G. may have rubbed a lot of viewers the wrong way too, although I'd put that more on Hannah than Blake. Hannah and Dylan have come across as the most solid of the early couples from the very first episode, and he practically looked like a koala hanging onto her throughout the second episode.
Still, she kissed Wills when he pulled her aside for a chat, upsetting Dylan when she told him. Then, when Blake pulled her away for a candle-lit conversation, she kissed him too. While that is kind of the point of Bachelor in Paradise early on and she does get points for being open with Dylan and telling him about both Wills and Blake, she loses points for claiming that they kissed her when she seemingly took the initiative to lock lips. Is there a love pentagon brewing on Bachelor in Paradise? And will it just get worse before it gets better?
Spoilers ahead for the rest of Bachelor in Paradise Season 6. According to reports of Bachelor in Paradise in the rest of the season, Blake and Kristina will basically be trading roses back and forth, with Hannah sticking with Dylan and both Tayshia and Caelynn moving on. After the first two episodes, I'm not sure what could happen that Blake and Kristina will be allies on Bachelor in Paradise, but if Blake's efforts to secure Hannah fail and Kristina can't connect with another guy, maybe they'll see each other as a last resort. Ah, romance. End Bachelor in Paradise spoilers.
Find out what happens next with new episodes of Bachelor in Paradise on Mondays at Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.