Somewhere in a warehouse far from the lights and glamour of the Vegas Strip, an ABC executive lights a cigarette and flicks the match into a dirty, dusty corner. The match fizzles as it burns out. “Bring them in,” the executive snaps at her team of goons. They rush out and return with five men with hoods over their heads. One of them is crying. The executive walks over to the men and blows smoke right at them. The smoke is disorienting. “What’s happening?!” one of them yells through the hood. “What’s happening is that you’re going to do whatever I say. What’s happening is your life is over unless you cooperate,” the executive coolly replies. “We’ll do whatever you want. Please, we have families,” another one of the men mutters through sobs. The ABC executive whips off the man’s hood. She blows smoke in Brian Littrell’s face.
“You’re going to teach your iconic ‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)’ choreography to a group of nail-salon owners, pro-basketball dancers, and a man who has three failed reality-TV relationships for a crowd in Burbank and then pick which 26-year-old has the best chemistry with a 36-year-old man. That’s what you’re going to do. Plus, you can do one plug for your Vegas residency at Planet Hollywood.”
Don’t believe it? Then you try explaining what the fuck the Backstreet Boys are doing in this episode. I feel bad for every other Bachelor and Bachelorette who had to suffer through third- and fourth-string country-music stars.
Anyway, ABC really banked on the ladytestants having a problem with Nick’s prior relationship, huh? Most of them just shrug through Nick’s emotional ramblings about the issue. Nick, no one cares. Someone will still like you. It’s 2017. Women understand that you may have banged a person or two. He makes a bigger deal of it at the cocktail party, but I’ve basically blocked that out because Corinne decided that now was the best time to try out her Sexy Carmen Sandiego role-play. She actually trots out to the cocktail party wearing nothing but a trench coat and a can of whipped cream. Maybe she thinks Varsity Blues is a sexy vintage film. She keeps opening up her coat, I presume to show Nick her nipple. Meanwhile, Brittany is off somewhere crying at the palpable uncomfortable sexual tension. Jasmine steals Nick away and spends the rest of the episode reading Corinne. From there, Nick puts his boner back in his pants and goes off with the other women. Corinne has a meltdown because she showed a man her nipple and he didn’t immediately have sex with her. She’s been taught some strange things about adult relationships. I guess that happens when you’re raised by a non-speaking nanny and a well-worn VHS copy of Wild Things.
It’s time for the rose ceremony and Corinne has literally fallen asleep upstairs, clutching her group-date rose. Astrid, Taylor, Whitney, Kristina, Danielle L., Rachel, Vanessa, Raven, Jaimi, Dominique, Sarah, that shark-ass bitch, Brittany, Josephine, and Jasmine G. all get roses. On her way out, Hailey thinks that Nick being attracted to someone like Corinne is upsetting and shocking. We’re all with you on that, Hailey. Also, that dress is a-mah-zing.
After Host Chris drops off the date card, the actual Backstreet Boys stop by the mansion to let the ladytestants know that they’ll be performing onstage with them. They’ll even pick the ladytestant who has the best chemistry with Nick to slow dance with him, seventh-grade-dance style. Listen, I love me some Backstreet Boys, but I don’t know if they’re a cappella ready at a moment’s notice at age 40. I need someone to do the math to figure out if Corinne and that shark-ass bitch, the two youngest ladytestants, are even old enough to remember “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).”
During the first group date, Corinne has trouble maintaining any rhythm or keeping up with the “planned dancing.” Maybe if you were a little older, you would already know all the “planned dancing” because you would have practiced it in your bedroom over and over. This makes Corinne feel uncomfortable and she runs into the bathroom to cry on the shoulder of some unnamed other brunette. (I have to ask: If she’s this terrible of a dancer, is she good in bed? Where does her sexiness come from? It doesn’t appear to come from comfort in her own body.) Onstage, the Backstreet Boys pick Danielle L. as having the best chemistry with Nick, which is a huge insult to Jasmine G., who is an actual dancer. At the post-group-date cocktail hour, Corinne gets some time with Nick so she can mend their relationship. After they make out, she declares that she’s “MADE CORINNE GREAT AGAIN.” Then she naps in the interview room. Corinne is television’s greatest character and what we as a country hath wrought. Danielle L. gets the group-date rose.
Also, Corinne admits to the other ladytestants that she has a nanny. She lists everything her nanny does for her and really thinks it all makes her nanny happy and she’s not the one to stop a woman’s happiness. Corinne, your nanny isn’t happy because she gets to make your “lemon salad,” whatever the fuck that is. She’s happy because she gets a paycheck every week from your family. She’s pulling the world’s greatest con. Corinne doesn’t know how to do laundry or make cheese pasta (which is just a fancy way to say Kraft Mac & Cheese).
For this week’s one-on-one date, Vanessa and Nick take $5,000 zero-gravity rides. I asked my boyfriend if we could go take a zero-gravity plane ride and he said, “No, it looks like a trick. A trick on my mind.” Apparently, it was all too real for Vanessa because she pukes in a bag after flipping around too much. Nick consoles her and holds her hand and even kisses her after she pukes and says, “Still tastes fine.” That made me puke. While on the date, Nick talks about how he’s finally feeling optimistic about the prospects because he has such a good connection with Vanessa. He’s talking about Vanessa in a weird way, like she’s a plot device in his story. The woman who showed him he could love again. I hope she isn’t the woman who gets left at the altar for Kate Hudson or somebody in the romantic-comedy version of Nick’s life. She gets a one-on-one rose.
The next group date is a track-and-field day with Olympians Carl Lewis, Allyson Felix, and Michelle Carter, all of whom are actual heroes and deserve better than this. The subtext and text and supertext of this group date are Dominique’s growing anxiety because she hasn’t had any quality time with Nick and he doesn’t notice that she’s getting too in-her-head. Y’know? Something that no human can notice about another just by sight. Astrid wins the final foot race even though Rachel steps on her hand in an epic maneuver. Because Astrid won the final race, she gets some quality time with Nick in a hot tub. She gets into the hot tub in her workout clothes. That’s foul.
At the cocktail hour, Dominique takes Nick aside and asks why he didn’t know she was feeling weird and nurture her. You’ve had one conversation with him three nights ago. He doesn’t know when you’re being weird. Either way, Nick says he doesn’t feel the same thing he feels with some of the other women with Dominique, so she is dismissed. Nick is being savage this time around. He doesn’t like you even a little bit, you’re gone. Rachel gets the group-date rose. I cheered in my apartment: “AGE-APPROPRIATE! EDUCATED! A SISTER!”
Finally, instead of a cocktail party, Nick wants to host a pool party because he’s a dirty, dirty man. The ladytestants have never been more horny for a man on Earth. Raven vigorously rubs sunscreen on Nick’s abs and Jasmine tries to eat his pecs. Corinne has another sexy surprise in store: a bouncy house. Y’know, that classic sexy move. Nick is into it. He’s picking Corinne up and flexing for her. He also talks to her like he’s her daddy. Not like her daddy but her daaaadddddyyy. He’s very into her extreme sexual candor. All the other women are watching over the walls of the mansion as Corinne straddles him on the floor of the bouncy house next to some third-grader’s Band-Aids from the last party it was rented for. When Nick grabs Corinne’s ass, all the other ladytestants flip out. Vanessa takes him aside and tells him that she should just go home if he’s looking for someone like Corinne. Raven tells him he’s making a mistake. Taylor questions his motives.
All the while, Corinne is somewhere wrapped in a cucumber peel, being fed lemon salad by the same PA who got tricked into inflating that bouncy house. Better him than the nanny, I guess.