On last week's episodes, Joe continued to dig himself into a hole as Samantha made it clear their "relationship" was over. By the end of the three hours, a new Paradise addition, Justin, wasted no time asking out Samantha, who accepted. Following the drama, Joe faced Juelia on After Paradise, and although he admitted to treating her pretty horribly, the segment ended awkwardly without much resolution.
Now that you're a few weeks in, how do you think After Paradise is going?
Chris Harrison: The last two weeks especially were the way the shows were intended to be, and we've finally found our formula and hit our stride. There was a weird balancing act between what we love about the "Tell All" and "After the Final Rose" and the novelty of the talk show format. So, there was a marriage that needed to happen, and I just wasn't sure [how it would go]. There are also things that won't get serviced if you wait for the big reunion show, like Dan and Ashley S. [Their break-up] wasn't that big of a deal, but I wanted to talk to them about it. So, the fun thing is to watch the show and come up with the things [Jenny Mollen and I] really want to talk about. I can cover a lot more that we wouldn't be able to if we just waited. This is a grand experiment and a guinea pig for the big show, but with the success, I can't imagine this wouldn't carry over to Bachelor or Bachelorette.
What is your opinion of Joe after both what he did and his apology on After Paradise?
Harrison: I don't know. I would like to think I'm a good judge of character after 14 years of this, but I'd say the jury is out and I need more time with him. The problem with live TV is that I have four minutes. With the "Tell All," I can have an hour with the guy and they edit it down. So, I feel like I needed to go further, and there were so many things I wanted to talk to him about. He said it best after the commercial break. I shook his hand and said, "I think you did fine," and he said, "Well, what else could I do? It's not like it could get worse." He was backed into a corner and he couldn't defend that, so he took the only path he could which was to admit he was wrong and try to redeem himself. I think Jenny had a great point, in that we've seen him do this before, where he sweet-talked his way out of things. So, how do we believe he's not doing it now? Is he sincere? I don't know. With all that said, I respected the fact he made the attempt [to apologize] Monday, and whether or not you believe it, he seemed contrite and really feels he made an ass of himself.
What's next for him on the show?
Harrison: Moving forward you will see Samantha take the place of Joe as the villain. Like he said, I think she's so worried about protecting her image, but when you start lying, it's a snowball effect. If she and Joe had just said, "Hey we did this, but we want to be together" it's pretty hard to fight against that. But it's the lies upon lies and manipulation that set everyone off. So, Samantha will become more of the puppet master and Joe becomes a sad figure in this. You almost start to feel sorry for him. Karma is a bitch and some people think he got what's coming to him, but you'll see this sad side of a boy chasing a really pretty girl and her just abusing him. He just wanted Samantha. Did he go about it in a really bad way? Yes. Did he make massive mistakes? Yes, it was indefensible. But I think he drank the Samantha Kool-Aid and now he's a desperate guy trying to get the girl. He tries to essentially blackmail her into a relationship heading forward.
What about the couples like Jade and Tanner and Kirk and Carly that seem strong?
Harrison: Right now they're solid, but if we've learned anything, things can change quickly in Paradise. Things seem serene with all the couples, but that will not remain. And there are more new arrivals coming to shake things up.
Now that Jared told Ashley I. it's over, will we see each of them go off with other people? Harrison: Ashley's soul will continue to crumble. She'll cry and there will be more major meltdowns as everything is the most dramatic thing in her life no matter who or what it is. Jared is slowly trying to become a free man and will hopefully get to meet someone in Paradise. That's the tough thing when you get "taken," you're covered up. So, everyone left him alone and it's not what he wanted. Now that he's re-emerged, he'll try to get back out there.
Dan seems to have become the season fan-favorite among viewers, including myself
Harrison: It's funny. We thought the same thing would be true for Samantha because people didn't get to know her, but that didn't turn out to be the case. Honestly, that will go down as the biggest surprise to me in Paradise. I thought she was lovely and that this would be a great addition — who knew she would be the biggest controversial figure in Paradise? But Dan is a good guy, a sweet man, and he's a professional. I enjoy talking to him, and if he leaves here without a woman, it won't be long for him.
As we saw in the preview, Bukowski is back!
Harrison: I even said when he showed up, "Why would you do this to yourself again? You've been on, like, five times and it's never worked out!" But God bless him, he's giving it another shot. He's coming in more humble and with hat in hand hoping it works out this time.
Bachelor in Paradise airs Sundays and Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.
Check out a sneak peek below: