It’s an exciting time for Bachelor Nation, as we prepare for the return of Bachelor in Paradise, a highlight of the year for many viewers. We got a tease of the beachy spinoff during Charity Lawson’s finale of The Bachelorette, answering some of our questions about who might find love in Mexico, and now ABC has confirmed the first Season 9 contestants who will hit the sand. It’s an interesting group, spanning multiple seasons of The Bachelor/Bachelorette, and I’ve got some questions, particularly where two of the cast members are involved. But first, let’s take a look at who we’ll see when the new season premieres on September 28.
First Wave Of BIP Season 9 Cast Members Confirmed
Not surprisingly, Charity Lawson’s season of The Bachelorette has provided us with a good number of men for Bachelor in Paradise Season 9, including Brayden Bowers, Aaron Bryant, Peter Cappio, Sean McLaughlin and Aaron Schwartzman. Blake Moynes from Clare Crawley/Tayshia Adams and Katie Thurston's seasons will also appear, as well as Will Urena from Michelle Young’s season.
As for the women, Zach Shallcross’ exes from The Bachelor contribute eight to the player pool, including Greer Blitzer, Jess Girod, Kat Izzo, Olivia Lewis, Mercedes Northup, Kylee Russell, Brooklyn Willie and Cat Wong. From Clayton Echard’s season, we’ll see Eliza Isichei, Sam Jeffries and Rachel Recchia, who of course, went on to lead her own season of The Bachelorette.
There’s a lot to be excited about in this cast. Brayden Bowers is sure to bring that Big Earring Energy to the sands of Paradise, and it’s interesting that he’ll be reunited with Aaron Bryant and Sean McLaughlin — two of the men he didn’t see eye-to-eye with on Charity Lawson’s season. Sam Jeffries made quite an impression in the preview for BIP Season 9, though I have really no interest in seeing anyone deliver a “poop baby.”
Above is just a taste of what’s to come this September, as many more of our favorite alumni will trickle in over the course of the season, and that leads to my big questions regarding two of them:
What’s Going On With Blake Moynes And Katie Thurston?
Four former leads of The Bachelorette are set to appear on Bachelor in Paradise Season 9, with Rachel Recchia being the only one confirmed by ABC so far as a contestant. However, what about Katie Thurston? She and Blake Moynes got engaged at the end of her season (following a brutal roasting from Thurston’s Aunt Lindsey), only to have her start dating another of her former contestants — John Hersey — just a month after she and Moynes broke up.
I was hoping the cast announcement might provide some insight into what was shown in the preview, where it’s unclear whether or not she’s there to date. In the clips, Katie Thurston tells Jesse Palmer that Blake Moynes may not be happy to see her, and someone else comments that it's the first time they’ve spoken since their breakup. Check out the promo below:
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It’s been nearly two years since Katie Thurston and Blake Moynes ended their engagement. Could this really be the first conversation they’ve had in all this time? While I don’t doubt that Bachelor in Paradise would put a formerly engaged couple on the beach together — just look what they did to Grocery Store Joe, with Kendall Long interrupting his proposal to Serena Pitt in Season 7 — I seriously doubt Thurston is back as a contestant.
For one thing, she’s one of the stars of the CW’s FBoy Island Season 3, which premieres in October. So is she back to host a date? Get closure with Blake Moynes? Both? Neither? For what it’s worth, Hannah Brown and Charity Lawson will also be joining the group in Mexico, and both of them are in relationships, so my guess is that Rachel Recchia is the only former lead who’s actually back to find love.
Speaking of things we know, Ashley Iaconetti confirmed that she and Jared Haibon will not be returning for Season 9, which is probably welcome news to a lot of fans after their Season 8 appearance. I’ve still got plenty of questions, but we’ll all likely have to tune in to have them answered. Good thing that’s not too far away. Bachelor in Paradise premieres at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, September 28, on ABC, immediately following the kickoff of The Golden Bachelor at 8 p.m., which could result in some hilarity for the dating shows. Keep an eye on the 2023 TV schedule for everything else that’s coming soon.