'Bachelor Pad' Preview: Who Are the Early Front-Runners?

While former champ Michael Stagliano comes back for more, first-timers -- and master manipulators! -- try to show the vets who's boss

Now that Emily Maynard is engaged to her soulmate Jef Holm, Bachelor/Bachelorette fans need to get back to the drama that keeps them watching these ABC shows in the first place. The scheming, drunken hook-ups and house fights will be back tonight when season 3 of Bachelor Pad premieres at 8 p.m. EST.

So, who will triumph on the new season? Well, obviously, it's the schemers, backstabbers and gossip mongers! Based on this criteria, it's not hard to discern who will be the front-runners this season. Out of the 14 Bachelor/Bachelorette castoffs and six super fans that have gathered at the Bachelor Pad mansion, certain characters stand out as a little extra manipulative. Watch a teaser here:

"Oh my god, I love this game so much," says last season's winner Michael Stagliano (from The Bachelorette, season 5 with Jillian Harris). Michael, who watched his ex-fiance Holly Durst fall in love with nemesis Blake Julian last season, has already proven that he's a fierce competitor, but he may be more interested in finding love this time around. Will his quest for love get in the way of winning?

Speaking of distractions, the ladies may need to beware of how they play the game. By now we know that contestants don't move into the mansion to make friends. But if the gals put all of their efforts into exhibiting sheer cattiness, they may lose their footing. 

Rumor has it that Jaclyn Swartz (from The Bachelor, season 16 with Ben Flajnik) eventually hooks up with Ed Swiderski (from The Bachelorette, season 5) and the pair make it pretty far. But before that, early in the first episode, she "confides" to Rachel Trueheart (also from The Bachelor, season 16) her suspicions that their former season 16 competitor Blakely Jones is also one of their fellow contestants here. And neither lady is happy about it.

"Her personality is like in your face," snipes Swartz. "She talks in baby voices…She's like 82! I think, though, as much as I want to kick her to the curb, let's keep her around." Enter Blakely, and naturally, there are kisses and compliments all around. "I hate her so much it hurts," Swartz tells the camera. "But I need to play it cool."

Of course, Blakely herself knows how to get her mean on. "Don't let these hoochies get in your mindset," she instructs her partner, Chris Bukowski (from The Bachelorette, season 8 with Emily Maynard). Oh, she's probably not as down and dirty a Swartz, but no doubt she'll hold her own this season. Watch a clip here:


And naturally Bachelorette villain Kalon McMahon (Maynard's season) will have his chance to stir the pot -- and woo Ben Flajnik's runner-up Lindzi Cox! Fans of Emily's season watched Kalon's manipulative ways play out on TV. His dark side may certainly come in very handy as he plays for the final $250,000 prize. And, if the rumors are true about him and Cox, he may help his girl propel to the top of the leaderboard alongside him.

We're not sure how Bachelor Pad veteran Erica Rose (from The Bachelor, season 9 with Prince Lorenzo Borghese) will fare because she always manages to get under people's skin, but producers may want her to stick around to deliver some of her famous lines. The gal is funny (without trying to be?) Watch a clip of her confronting one of the super fans here and get ready for tonight's show -- enjoy!


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