Colton wants everyone to know this episode that he’s looking for a capital-S, capital-W Strong Woman. He has a lot of Strong Women in his life and he’s looking for another Strong Woman to be in his life. One who goes to her job where she empowers and uplifts women because she knows that all women deserve a chance to be strong. Who wears a full face of make-up when she’s working out or calling her romantic competition deceitful and manipulative. All of her bras are sports bras and all of her sports bras are sexy. A Strong Woman is confident, not, like, in an arrogant or intimidating way, because that’s scary and not strong, but like in a sexy, laid-back way. What will her husband or boyfriend do for her? Nothing. She’s STRONG. She doesn’t NEED ANYTHING. Does she ever talk to her girls or anyone about anything other than how the other women in her life are deceitful? No. She’s too busy being strong. Ellen Ripley. Imperator Furiosa. Chrissy Snow from Three’s Company. And that is what we’re celebrating on The Bachelor tonight. Let’s get to it.
This is the point in the season where the front-runners start to emerge, or at the very least, the people we think will be the front-runners but who will be eliminated in the top six. But with this gang of lady-testants? You could replace every single one with another Instagram influencer and I wouldn’t. Even. Notice. The problem is, I don’t think anyone, including Colton, is very clear about what he’s looking for beyond “blonde” and “likes food.” As a result, this whole thing feels aimless and the women feel interchangeable. It doesn’t help that one of them literally cannot describe any important moment in her life. Just pick anything, Caitlin. You had to have had a great burger at some point. We can work with that.
Sydney starts the episode by saying she hopes the drama is all over. Oh, honey. Do you know what show you’re on? Courtney says there have already been high highs and low lows. Host Chris says that’s just the way love goes and he has to pay 97 cents to Janet Jackson.
Katie, Heather, Hannah B., Courtney, Kirpa, Tracey, Demi, and Caelynn are heading out on this first group date. Hannah B. begins smiling through the pain so intensely that both her eyes begin bleeding. The lady-testants put on their workout gear and head out.
Once, just once, I want to see a lady-testant show up for an “athletic” date in what a lot of women actually work out in: a T-shirt they got for free at an event their freshman year of college that’s three sizes too big and has been bleached by nightly benzoyl peroxide treatments and pink camouflage pajama pants. That’s real strength.
The date is learning how to be a pirate at Pirate’s Dinner Adventure. This appears to be some sort of Medieval Times knockoff with less historical accuracy. Colton is waiting up in the crow’s nest in a pirate’s outfit. There are some people who just cannot pull off period wear. Colton looks like the physical embodiment of the CW. His face is circa 2005. If you saw someone in an old painting with Colton’s face, you’d think it was some sort of “Trapped Time Traveler” situation.
After a quick demonstration of impeccable and precise acting and fight choreography, the women are told that their task is to be pirates for a while and that two of them will be chosen to compete at the end. They’re going to pick Hannah B. and Caelynn. Everyone else should take a nap until it’s time for their turkey leg dinners. At some point Caelynn wins, but I’m not sure how exactly, because one of the legs of the competition is climbing a ladder. This episode is defined by ill-defined obstacle courses.
It’s time for the evening portion of the date and they all head to an antique store. Did they run out of bars in L.A.? They couldn’t even hang out on the pirate ship a little longer? Katie steals Colton away first and they say they have soooooooo many things in common. Let’s name the things they have in common: sushi. Food. End of list.
We must realize something about Demi. Demi is doing an impression of a Marilyn Monroe GIF she saw on the internet once. If she really was about that spanking life, she would have done more than have Colton bend lightly at the waist and give him a gentle push with a paddle. She’s not a real threat, but to someone who has never had sex before, she’s really sexy. She tries to feel his dick with a fake hand and treats it like a challenging, exciting sexual encounter.
After a great time sitting down with Caelynn, Hannah B. decides that the best thing to do is to speak ominously and vaguely threateningly about her. Telling a man that if he likes someone else, you just don’t get what he wants and maybe he doesn’t want you when you don’t know how much he likes you is a MISTAKE. Hannah B. tells Colton that staying with Caelynn was the most hostile environment she’d ever been in. Colton has to just get up and leave. Hannah B. tries to kiss him, because in her mind, this is something that has brought them closer together.
Colton tries to talk to Caelynn about the situation and Caelynn bursts into tears. Caelynn is delivering us reality TV victim and for that, I applaud her. She gets the group date rose.
The one-on-one date card goes to Elyse! She’s one of the Ancient Council (read: she’s 31). She gets into a helicopter with Colton and they fly to San Diego to spend the day at an amusement park. Colton tells her that their date is going to be a group date. They are going to be joined by a mob of children. Elyse makes sure to mention their age difference 13 times.
The day in the amusement park is standard Bachelor date fare. It’s when they head to the evening portion of the date that things become VERY intense. Colton tells her that they’ve known each other for four days so it’s time for her to open up about her most traumatic life story. Elyse talks about how her sister was diagnosed with cancer during her pregnancy, chose to reject treatment so that the baby could live to term, and in doing so, ended her own life.
The thing that makes my ears perk up is the inclusion of “obviously” in various parts of Elyse’s story. The idea that “obviously” a woman would reject treatment to take her fetus to term. There is A LOT we don’t know about this story and the people within it, but saying “obviously” indicates there’s something happening in there that’s separate from just the details we get. On a show with sexual and cultural politics as weird and regressive as this one’s, a woman telling a story about her sister carrying a pregnancy to term and the baby being a trade-off in some way for her sister’s life tells us a lot about the types of pregnancy stories this show wants to hear. This type of story would be just as impactful and important if Elyse’s sister, or any other woman on Earth, chose to terminate the pregnancy, but we don’t get to hear those stories. We get to hear stories like this (which are painful and powerful and personal) and we get to hear Colton congratulate women for being virgins because it means they have self-worth.
After their emotional dinner, they head to a private concert with Tenille Arts. She looks like JoJo in disguise and she’s singing a very not-romantic song about a relationship that has gone wrong and hating yourself for loving someone. Elyse gets the rose.
Taysha, Nina, Catherine, Sydney, Onyeka, Cassie, Nicole, Caitlin are heading to the Strong Woman date of the week. Colton says he’s looking for someone who can be there for him as his rock. You don’t have to be the fittest woman to be his wife, but someone will be declared winner-of-the-day based on physical fitness.
THEY GET TO MEET TERRY CREWS!! Can you imagine how exciting it would be to meet Terry Crews? I’d just ask him to hold me against his pecs and whisper in my ear about healthy ways to express your feelings and survivor’s rights. Onyeka says White Chicks is one of her favorite movies and I briefly slip into a fugue state.
After a quick workout, the ladies head to the Strongest Bachelorette competition. Fred Willard is on retainer for The Bachelor(ette) in perpetuity, I guess. There’s a series of challenges to reinforce their fitness with their fitness to be wed. They have to push a 100-pound wedding cake, flip tires painted like engagement rings, and attempt to pull a limo. ABC tries really hard, but the driver in the front seat can be seen in a few takes and Caitlin gets to pull a moving limo behind her. At one point, she’s no longer moving and the limo is still rolling forward. The final three do a heavy heart race and Onyeka seems to think that the winner will get the group date rose. Oh, sweetie. That’s cute.
I almost wrote “nothing too important happens at the cocktail party,” but then I remembered that Colton sends Caitlin home. Sorry, Caitlin. Colton finally sits down with Caitlin after she’s been freaking out about not getting enough time with him. He asks her the easiest question in the world: “So like … what’s your deal?” She can’t name a single thing that’s important to her and what she wants out of life is someone to go to dinner with her friends. Colton is like, “I cannot do this and I am literally Colton.” She says in the limo that maybe he’ll realize the mistake he made and ask for her to come back. Nicole gets the group date rose.
Colton has been feeling like the relationships are getting more serious each day and the time has come to really get deeper. POOL PARTY!. Caelynn decides to tell Colton more about her feud with Hannah B. by revealing roughly zero details. GIVE! ME! SPECIFICS! This whole thing doesn’t paint Caelynn in as good a light as she thinks; her explanation for Hannah B.’s hatred of her is “I was more successful?” Colton is sick to his stomach and walks off to find Hannah B. Hannah’s response to Colton telling her that Caelynn thinks she’s deceitful is, “WELL, SHE’S DECEITFUL.” I’m gonna need one of these women to give me some specifics. How bad was this falling-out? Y’all are bringing it up and making it your storyline so give me the details! Hannah B. does tell him, “Just freakin’ trust me!,” which is exactly what a pageant queen who cannot be trusted would say.
It’s time for the rose ceremony. Hannah B. calls Caelynn a snake in her confessional and Caelynn is wearing quite possibly the most hideous dress I’ve ever laid eyes on. Hannah G., Taysha, Katie, Cassie, Kirpa, Sydney, Demi, Tracy, Courtney, Heather, Onyeka, and … Hannah B. all get roses. Is it time for the two-on-one date yet?