Hello! With great sadness, I have to tell you that I’m filling in on Bachelorette recap duty today, so you’re stuck with me rather than the inimitable Ali Barthwell. I’m so sorry; somehow we’ll have to muddle through together until she’s back next week.
So: Hannah and this cavalcade of goobers. The topline story of this episode is that Hannah is extremely into Luke P., even though his promises that he’s falling in love with her sound about as convincing as a teenager telling his parents that he’s on top of his homework. “I’m starting to fall in love with you” is the kind of meaningless Bachelor nonsense rhetoric that makes the whole franchise spin around, the sort of thing that you say when you know you can’t go full-on love yet but you are absolutely going to crush these other losers in the race for Hannah’s affection.
On some Bachelorette seasons this would backfire terribly. If anyone had told Rachel that he was starting to fall in love with her on the very first group date, she would’ve shot him a witheringly sympathetic stare and then gently told him to calm the heck down. But give Luke P. some credit: He’s doing a decent job of telling Hannah what she clearly wants to hear.
The initial context for all of this is a pageant. Hannah’s a pageant queen, remember, and even though we were told repeatedly in the first episode that she’s not going to be just a pageant queen anymore, I guess we’re still gonna do some obligatory pageant stuff. The men are the ones in the pageant this time, of course — it’s a Mr. Right Pageant, “judged” (I use the term loosely) by Hannah, America’s Next Top Model alum Miss J, and RuPaul’s Drag Race superstars Alyssa Edwards and Alaska. The pageant is a bald excuse to make the guys parade around in Speedos; most dudes’ swimsuit walks are filmed slowly and lustily, with lots of opportunities for reaction shots from Alyssa Edwards’ perfect O-shaped mouth of surprise. Alyssa and Alaska, it need not be said but I will say it anyhow, are perfect.
Then there’s a talent competition, which we see almost none of except for Jed, who sings a very heartfelt original song with a guitar, and then a speech from Luke P. Jed’s musical skills are about at a level where if he were a guy in your college dorm room and he pulled out a guitar and started singing, everyone would be like, “Oh yeah that guy, he’s pretty good!” But then later during the Battle of the Bands the group looking for a new guitarist would say something like, “I don’t know, I think we should consider a few other options.” It’s fine, is what I’m saying. Pumped up by Alyssa and Alaska’s enthusiasm, it’s certainly enough to pass for an impressive showing.
So then Luke P. gets up, and because he’s apparently all in and he’s gonna win this thing, he comes out and decides to demonstrate his true talent: Getting a frontrunner edit on a dating reality show. He stands in front of the judges and tells everyone that he is “starting to fall in love” with Hannah, and everyone makes obliging shrieking sounds and he kisses her.
Luke P.’s correctly assessed (intentionally or through lucky bumbling) that Hannah wants someone who’s gonna step up and be very clear about what he wants. She wants someone to “fight” for her. She “wants a bold man,” something she says more than once and something that would seem to suggest that she basically wants one of these guys to stand up, slaughter the entire competition in a Battle Royale, and then ride away with her in an uncomfortable two-people-one-horse situation. She responds very well to his declaration of “start of love.” She wants someone who’s devoted to her.
There is also another group date where essentially nothing happens (roller derby being commentated by Fred Willard, who looks like he has zero idea what’s going on or why they’re making him do this). There’s a nice enough one-on-one date with Tyler G., who has a very sexual profile (his nose my god), and who seems like a perfectly decent guy.
But really, the only story of significance outside of Luke P.’s potentially premature ejaculation of his “starting to fall in love,” is Cam. He’s a guy who says things like “A. B. C.: Always Be Cam.” He refers to himself in the third person more than once, including saying “this is a very Cam thing to do.” In this case the “very Cam thing” is barging into a group date he wasn’t invited on with a bouquet of flowers. He wants to make sure that Hannah doesn’t forget about him while she’s on dates with a bunch of other people. It’s hardly an unprecedented move in Bachelor/ette lore, but it’s unusually aggressive for the first round of group dates. Hannah dispatches with Cam pretty quickly, sending him back to the Mansion.
But come elimination time, Cam does get the shaky, dramatic final rose position. She keeps him around, and whether that’s a producer-driven decision or not, it does open the door for what seems to be the primary question of this season. Hannah “wants a bold man.” So what’s the right kind of bold? Where is the line? I will say the best part of the Cam story is the bit after Hannah kicks him out of the group date. He’s outside the building giving a post-mortem interview with the producers and not one, not two, but three of the guys on this group date come out and have essentially identical conversations with him about how unfeeling and thoughtless he’s being. They may have been sent out by other producers because it seemed very stilted and obvious, but still. Cam. You’re never gonna reach Chad heights of creepiness, so maybe try a little less?
This brings us to the one actually dramatic moment in this episode. It’s right before the rose ceremony, and Hannah is so turned on by Luke P.’s excessively early “start of love” that she’s actually stripping him down. This … does feel unnecessary. Look, I am hardly one to tell her to take it slow! She should do whatever she wants! But it makes me worried that she couldn’t have foreseen what would inevitably happen, which is that a producer would probably tell Jed to go over and interrupt them. All we see is the interruption, so there’s no way to know if that’s exactly how it went down, but c’mon. No way did he just wander over there on his own.
So Jed walks in on Hannah and Luke P. getting very steamy, very early in this show. He’s sad, and frustrated, but he turns it around admirably well. I’m a Jed fan, maybe? But the bigger question is how this goes for Luke P. now. Hannah’s obviously very into him, and things do seem to be tilting in his favor. But Luke, my dude, when you come out of the gate strong like this, you make it your game to lose. The only direction to go from here is down! Producers are going to be throwing roadblocks at you left and right now! You’re already getting a neediness edit in the next promo! It’s gonna be a long road for you, friend.
Anyhow: Connor J., Davon, and a guy whose name I had to Wikipedia later (Matthew) get sent home. Let’s hope Cam follows them shortly.