Spoilers ahead for the September 3 episode of Bachelor in Paradise on ABC.
Bachelor in Paradise is no less dramatic by this point despite the ends of a few love triangles, the end of the one and only piñata-related brawl, and the voluntary departures of some of the most conflicted contestants. By the end of the September 3 episode, Caelynn Miller-Keyes was facing a tough conundrum: stick with the blandly wonderful Connor Saeli or leave Paradise altogether with Dean Unglert, who came back for her. At this point, Dean is probably the better option. Yes, really.
Now, I've spent a lot of Season 6 hoping for Caelynn to find love, considering how miserable she was at the beginning, but I can't say I ever rooted for her to decide Dean is The One for her.
The writing seemed to be on the wall for Caelynn/Dean from the moment he admitted that he was living out of his van, while Caelynn seemed to be hoping and dreaming of a stable (and presumably stationary) future. She fell hard for him and was heartbroken when he decided to leave Paradise early, saying that their lifestyles wouldn't fit together. I was 100% Team Connor when she moved on to him after Dean departed.
But the events of the September 3 episode led me to believe that Caelynn should throw caution to the wind, leave Paradise with Dean, and go live in a van with him if he's what her heart desires. No, I'm not just saying that because he shaved the mustache, although that certainly didn't hurt.
Caelynn was upset to see Dean return at first, but she pretty quickly melted and showed that she was open to at least listening to his ideas for restarting their relationship. He declared that he couldn't stop thinking about her after leaving her, and he came back to ask her to leave Paradise with him. While Caelynn looked very tempted -- although nervous -- in the conversation with Dean, the ladies of Paradise gabbed about how she seemed more into Dean than Connor, and was projecting her feelings for Dean onto Connor.
Her reaction to Dean's return did show that she's still very invested in him, and not in the wishy-washy way that Clay Harbor is still invested in ex Angela Amezcua despite moving on with Nicole Lopez-Alvar after their relationship survived the big beach brawl. Caelynn seems like she'll spend the rest of Paradise thinking about Dean if she doesn't leave with Dean.
As much as I wasn't thrilled to see Dean returning to Bachelor in Paradise after he'd made the decision to leave (and totally ruined Caelynn's birthday), and as ill-advised as it's always seemed for vagabond Dean and his van life to come on the show filled with women looking for marriage and family, Caelynn really might be happiest if she at least gives Dean a shot. And the option he's giving her is for them to leave Paradise together, not for him to return to Paradise full time and turn their relationship into Demi/Kristian 2.0.
Bachelor in Paradise threw out the rulebook when Kristian Haggerty -- who was not an alum of any of the Bachelor series -- joined Demi Burnett to play out their relationship on the show. Demi had to break Derek's heart, and that she and Kristian stayed when they were set on each other while Derek was still looking for love seemed unnecessarily cruel to poor Derek, who wound up quitting Paradise this week after Tayshia shot him down.
That Dean is offering to sweep Caelynn off her feet and explore their relationship elsewhere makes the gesture and romance feel a lot more genuine to me than Kristian joining Demi. The Demi/Kristian reunion -- adorable though it was -- then them remaining on the show felt manufactured by Bachelor in Paradise to maximize drama, and it pulled me out of the show. They should have ridden off into the sunset, not stayed stagnant in Paradise when Kristian isn't even from the franchise! Dean's return feels truly romantic to me, and I think Paradise needs that right now.
While we have Clay being weirdly possessive about Angela, Blake either playing games with Kristina's heart or lacking any amount of self-awareness, Tayshia going back to wedding-ruiner John-Paul Jones after saying goodbye to Derek, and nobody giving the lovely Mike a rose, Paradise could use some genuine romance, even if that comes in the form of Caelynn and Dean riding off into the sunset in a van.
If Caelynn thinks that leaving to live the vagabond live with Dean will make her happier than making out with Connor, gossiping about the other contestants, reliving Stagecoach again, and thinking about Dean, then she should go for it. If Caelynn knows what she's getting into with lives-in-a-van Dean and isn't going to inorganically stick around with him like Demi and Kristian did, then may she live happily-ever-after!
Find out what Caelynn decides when new episodes of Bachelor in Paradise air Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.