Damn. Now I know how Popeye’s felt when it ran out of them sandwiches. I’m here. Everything is okay. You’re safe now. Let’s get to it.
Ooooooooooh baby! This episode has more white-lady tears than a sold-out screening of Little Women. This level of lacrimal intensity is unmatched and, quite honestly, fuels me. Alayah returning on the group date and then GETTING A ROSE is something I put on my The Bachelor vision board each season. I hope she’s eliminated and returns every single episode and Peter must give her a rose like some SoCal Sisyphus while every single ladytestant watches. I would give everything I have for a mid-season reveal that this has been an experiment à la The Good Place, designed to torture former beauty-pageant winners and Instagram influencers. You could take my firstborn child if you told me that by the first international trip, Chris Harrison peeled off his skin to reveal that he was a lava monster sent to destroy girls with too many vowels in their names. One Eemeelie’s Bad Place is my Good Place.
Because, honestly, to every single woman on this season — this is precisely what you signed up for. It’s a goddamned game show, and if you think the man you have about 55 days to get to propose to you can’t be trusted, then go home. According to Alayah, you get to have your cell phone back. Any woman on season TWENTY-FOUR of this television program complaining that the women who have more time with the Bachelor have an advantage need to be shipped to an island where all they have to worry about is posting #sponcon. Plus, what kind of strategy is getting pissed with Peter? Kelsey bit the inside of her cheek so hard she tasted blood, and told Peter she saw Alayah coming back as a boon for their relationship, and she got the one-on-one-date rose. Natasha, Deandra, and Sydney are coming at Peter with a lot of energy and I’m not here for it.
The episode starts with quite possibly the funniest announcement for a trip ever. Chris Harrison gathers the ladytestants and tells them they’ll be going to a city full of art, culture, and rock and roll. That’s right, Cleveland, Ohio. Y’all. I thought this was a bit and he was going to be like, “JK. You’re going to Nashville.” Everyone sits completely still as if Chris Harrison’s vision is based on movement and if he can’t see them, they don’t have to go.
But no, it really is time for a Cleveland Board of Tourism–approved montage about Cleveland. Peter says he’s super excited to be in Cleveland because it’s where Superman came from and where Clark Kent was born. Um. I’m fucking sorry, Peter. Superman was not “from” Cleveland. He was born on the planet Krypton and landed in Smallville. If you mean the creators of Superman, Siegel and Shuster, then yes, “Superman” “came” “from” “Cleveland.” For their part, the ladytestants are walking around the city saying, “Wow! I didn’t expect Cleveland to be this nice.” I expected someone to say, “I thought the entire city was going to be on a large trash barge, but it’s actually livable! With a vibrant downtown!”
It’s time for the first one-on-one date of the week and it goes to Victoria F. How does this woman keep any hydration in her body when she immediately cries it out? She’s terrified that Peter is going to make her skydive and hyperventilates in the SUV as she drives on the tarmac. Peter’s go-to move is to take a woman up in an airplane, and I can’t be mad at it. While I was single, my go-to move was to invite someone to my improv show.
On Victoria F. and Peter’s date there are two things to talk about. First, Victoria F. toasts that their sons are going to have a hot mom and a successful dad. I mean. Wow. So that’s all Victoria F. sees herself bringing to the child-rearing equation. The role of the mother is to be hot and the role of the father is to be successful. Then Peter asks if Victoria F. “wants sons.” What in the fresh feudal hell is this? This is fucking terrifying. Up until now, Peter hasn’t really exhibited any backward views and tends to support the idea that women are people, but “Do you want sons?” My sweet serfdom. Get me out of here. Also, Peter says he wants four kids (with no concern for the fact that his wife will have to push four humans out of her body and spend, like, five years of her life pregnant or recovering from pregnancy) because if they have three kids, one would have to sit alone on all the roller coasters they’d ride on as a family. This feels like a bad “Am I the Asshole?” post on Reddit. “AITA if I want my wife to have four children so that I don’t have to sit by myself on the Magnum XL-200?”
However, the most notable thing on their one-on-one date is that Chase Rice, alleged country star and former NASCAR pit-crew member, used to date Victoria F. This is delicious. Can you imagine how thrilled ABC was when it realized it could kill two birds with one terrible country song? It could satisfy whatever record-label obligations it has and make Victoria F. so uncomfortable, she’d turn into a human tear. When Peter gleefully said, “Maybe we’ll dance to a Chase Rice song at our wedding,” the entire production crew had one shared hive-mind orgasm.
The big question is, what was Victoria F. so worried about? If she dated Survivor: Nicaragua contestant Chase Rice, and their breakup was before she came on the show and she no longer has feelings for him, what is the problem? She’s an adult human woman. There’s got to be something more there, because that was quite the reaction over just the presence of her boyfriend. I think that Victoria F. is concerned that someone will accuse her of what they’re all accusing Alayah of being: there for the wrong reasons.
So Victoria F. sits down with Peter on the evening portion of the date and tells him that she dated Chase Rice and she broke up with him because she didn’t feel anything for him. Peter just keeps repeating, “Wait, what? The guy from earlier? Wait? The singer? Wait. What?!” and all Victoria F. can muster is “Mmhmm.” She rushes off because she’s so worried that Peter would run away from her and she’d ruin the moment.
Victoria F. is a master at using her tears to get a boy to like her. She pouts, sheds one artful tear, and says that it’s so embarrassing for her to even be alive and she hopes she doesn’t drive Peter away. And of course, Peter runs right to her. It’s beautiful and something only a woman capable of snagging the co-writer of Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” could pull off. She gets the rose.
It’s time for the group date and everyone except Kelsey is going. The women are all concerned that they’re not going to have enough time with Peter because there are 13 of them on the date. These li’l dummies have no idea what is about to happen. They head to the Cleveland Browns’ stadium for a football game.
Um … they’re really tackling each other. We all know about, like … concussions and shit, right? Netflix is making one new documentary a week about a sport where people’s heads are being thrown against other people’s heads. Plus, with this and the pillow fight last week, does Peter love seeing women throw their bodies on one another? Because if he does … twisted. Victoria P. says that she has a back injury and she doesn’t want to make it worse. Do we know about this back injury? Because this is a great ploy from a woman saying she hates to see Peter get manipulated.
The winning team gets to have a cocktail party with Peter, and of course, the two teams tie. Everyone is pissed. Man. This episode is crushing it. When it’s time for the cocktail party, half of the women agree that Shiann should get to steal Peter first because she was the game MVP. Victoria P. will have no part of that and steals him away first. Everyone gets mad as if that’s not the exact way to play this game. Hey, if you’re a person who likes to take things slow and let your partner come to you, maybe The Bachelor isn’t the place for you.
But that’s not the only completely unacceptable thing because this is when Alayah returns. I was that GIF of Sheree deviously laughing. Alayah had time on Google and wants to clear her name. She says that not only does she know Victoria P., but they took a trip to Vegas together. This admission is followed by an ad for Vegas featuring its new city slogan: “Vegas: For Trips You’d Rather Not Admit To.”
All of the other ladytestants are freaking the fuck out and Peter has no idea what to do. He keeps saying that there’s no reason for Victoria P. to lie to him. Yes, there is, and you just didn’t see it because you want to bang her. You believe anyone is trustworthy before you bang them. Victoria P. launches into another masterful weeping session and says, “My truth is the truth.” My God, she’s putting in WORK.
Peter stares into a shark tank and ultimately asks Alayah if she wants to come back to the season. Alayah acts completely stunned that something like this would happen. She was only passing through Cleveland and had no intention of staying. She gets the group-date rose and you can see Natasha’s head spin a full 360 degrees. Alayah also takes time to tell her gals that Victoria F. dated Chase Rice and the internet knows all. Considering what other pieces of gossip are on the internet about Victoria and the weird “White Lives Matter” modeling she’s done, I am really excited for this feud to continue.
Then Peter goes on a date with Kelsey and it could not be a more standard “walking around the city” date. They dance the polka and eat pierogi like they are exotic delights from another country. Kelsey, you’re from Iowa, and I’ve spent enough time in Iowa to say you should know what a li’l potato dumpling is. Kelsey also claims that Peter is passionate about dancing the polka in town squares. For the night portion of their date, Peter puts on a Love Actually–esque turtleneck sweater. This solves it. I was wondering exactly what type of hot Peter is and he’s Love Actually hot. He’s British interconnected-love-story-rom-com hot. You don’t need abs because you’ve got a kind face and you’re willing to raise your neighbor’s clumsy son when his mum gets mistakenly arrested as an ecoterrorist. Kelsey’s story is that she found out her dad was leaving her mom before her mom did and as a result, she’s built up a tough exterior. Peter talks about his grandmother and mom emigrating from Cuba in really vague terms and honestly, this would be a really interesting thing to hear Peter talk about. It’s unclear how much Peter, or even the show, is willing to discuss his heritage, but it would let us get to know him as his own person rather than as a footnote to Hannah Brown’s season and a windmill sex machine. She gets the rose.
It’s time for the cocktail party and everyone is ready to barge in there telling Peter that he fucked up. Before that, Victoria confronts Alayah, saying that she had no right telling everyone about Chase Rice, and Alayah says she didn’t tell everyone … just a few people. She’s a stone-cold bitch and I love her. In this interaction, Victoria F. calls Alayah manipulative and fake and says she’s going to tell Peter all about Alayah. The whiplash between Victoria F.’s weepy personality with Peter and this enraged vibe with Alayah is STARK.
At the cocktail party, Peter takes Victoria P. aside first and she flips out on him. “I don’t want to talk to you right now. We can talk right now. No. I’m too frustrated. I don’t want to talk right now.” Maybe she knows that she’s only got about 15 more minutes of fabrication left in her and she can’t be alone with Peter or else this whole thing unravels. She says that she feels like Peter doesn’t trust her and she would NEVER speak out against another woman. Except if that woman is manipulative, but that’s not her story to tell.
When they get back to the party, every woman who takes Peter aside tells him how disappointed and frustrated they are because they suffered major bodily injury and he bent the rules of the dating reality show they’re on. These women need a little perspective. Alayah can’t figure out why everyone is against her and she turns on the waterworks with Peter. Peter just wanders the grounds of this Ohio manor while the women all accuse each other of being liars. I mean — all the women who don’t like that Alayah is there could just go home and not continue to be on national television. I wonder how many will do that …