I’m sure that definitely sped things up, but once Jade and Tanner happened I think this was the show’s (unfortunate) destiny. Now Harrison’s goal is to just keep adding to the list of couples that have made it from this show, “Jade and Tanner. Carly and Evan. Ashley and Jared...”
I used to watch a lot of reality shows, and I’ve noticed the first couple seasons are loose, strange, fun, interesting, and bizarre. They’re what hook us originally. But once producers find a hook for the show they become more and more scripted and the contestants just want to be on TV, so they’ll follow whatever narrative the show wants. This season was awful, but it was also infinitely easier to film than prior seasons. Producers had this whole season figured out before the first contestant showed up. I’m sure there was some room for couples to break up/get together, but nothing was going to be a surprise. Blake and Stagecoach was going to start, Demi’s “relationship” was going to follow, then Caelyn and Dean would have their shit go down. This was set up to have content evenly spread out over 21 days, no dead spots, and no “good” footage wasted because other storylines were more important. Just following people around for 21 days and hoping you catch stuff is too risky for ABC. And signs are that ratings are up, which justifies the process.