Let’s just all have a quick scream. Okay? Whatever you gotta scream about, you can just stop for a second and scream. You might be screaming about the whole … y’know … everything, or you might need to scream specifically about your co-worker that never mutes their Zoom when they clearly have someone in the other room fixing what sounds like 13 sinks at the same time. Just scream about it. I myself am going to be screaming about a few things — most mainly, the fact that Victoria couldn’t even hold it together for two goddamn episodes before straight up accusing another ladytestant (a woman of color, no less) of being manipulative and toxic.
Oooh, that felt good. It feels good to just admit when you feel a powerful rage surging within you. Y’know you’re not going to do anything about it except take up your entire therapy session to talk about how Victoria reminds you of a girl in your English class who insisted on reading all the offensive words in Of Mice and Men. Your teacher told everyone that they didn’t have to read anything that made them feel uncomfortable out loud, but The Victoria definitely made that choice. Victoria is totally the kind of person to take your wet clothes out of the washer and put them on the ground to put her laundry in the machine. Of course, it’d be foolish to not wonder if some of this rage you feel is caused by … you know … but no, it’s mostly just her. It’s her and her visible bra. Why is your bra always out, woman! Why does it look like a sports bra in the back? Get it together. It’s her, and the fact that she is Lola from Big Mouth grown up and unleashed unto the world. I do not care if you have to take an Uber to school because your dad lives in another state, because you need to get it together while I scream into the void.
All right, all right — let’s get to it.
The Fat Bird resort looks amazing and Matt is jogging among the beautiful leaves thinking about the fact that he hasn’t found true love, but he’s seen other people have it and he wants it. True love is the PlayStation 5 of emotions.
Chris Harrison drops off the first date card of the season, and it goes to Bri! She wore her worst outfit that morning! Ugh, she has to casually drape her sweater over her shoulders and draw attention up to her face! The humiliation. Matt James picks her up and walks her over to two ATVs. Matt is feeling hopeful that he’s going to dive deeper with Bri and they speed off with all the women watching and Victoria slowly developing a complex that someone else is getting attention. Victoria asks if Bri is good at riding at ATV and if she has any weaknesses to exploit.
Meanwhile, Matt and Bri dash off into the mud and they’re splattering each other. Bri climbs onto Matt’s ATV and he starts doing donuts and flips them over. The way this is edited, I genuinely thought they were injured. They somehow fall into each other’s arms like when James Bond throws Brandy Alexander off his snowmobile in the mountains of Norway. The most notable part of the day portion of the date, besides Matt chopping wood to fuel up the wood-fired hot tub, is when he went on a rant about how he’s going to do better to protect Bri and how he’s going to apologize to Bri’s mom for damaging her. He vows to protect her from now on. What in the promise ring is this man talking about? Matt is behaving like Bri is his parents’ car and he got into a fender bender.
Back at the resort, Victoria is continuing to descend into madness like a Batwoman villain who has been shown up by the Caped Crusader for the first time. “I hate this girl-power shit! All of you are either fucking fake or liars! I’ll show Barbara Gordon who is the real boss of Gotham!!” All the other women are trying to avoid making eye contact with the unstable person in the room. Victoria says she doesn’t want the group date because she can’t be her most authentic self. If this is this woman holding back, I do not care to see what her unleashing looks like.
Also, can we talk about how the show played sexy R&B music when Matt took his shirt off to chop wood? What a deliberate deviation from the show’s sonic palette.
Matt and Bri kiss in the hot tub after staring at each other for 20 full seconds. His romantic style is very “17-year-old at a lake house.” Either way, he’s staying up past curfew to head to the night portion of the date with Bri! They bond over being raised by single mothers and Bri says that during quarantine, she realized that her mother has started a new family with a fiancé and a pregnancy, and Bri is looking for her new family. Matt says he appreciates Bri sharing with him, so she gets three vulnerability victory points and is able to either trade those in for two resource cubes or play a bird into the temple section of the board. Bri gets the rose.
Fireworks explode over the resort and the ladies rush out and they can sense that Matt and Bri are making out. Women can align their periods with the lunar cycle and sense when the guy they like is making out with someone else. While they’re all outside, Victoria wants to remind everyone that she is authentic and real and for multiple people to insult her character is bullshit. Chelsea looks fucking done and says, “Please, don’t speak for other people,” while rubbing her eyes. Victoria makes direct eye contact and says that Marylynn was RUDE TO HER. She said, “I wanna pick your brain and understand you.” What a fucking monster. Marylynn responds in quite frankly the calmest voice I’ve ever heard on this franchise. She says she told Victoria that she wanted to get to know her because they were going to be roommates. Who hasn’t had this roommate? I had a multi-hour fight with my sophomore year roommate where I tried to explain to her, “If we’re best friends, we should go do things together and have fun,” and her rebuttal was “If I don’t want to do something, I’m not gonna go even if you do. What’s wrong with that?” I did not know how to explain to someone who I ate dinner with every day that we should actually like each other and spend time together.
Victoria says that Marylynn is psychologically disturbed and she doesn’t feel safe sleeping in in the same room as her, so she takes her blanket and crown to the couch in the living room because that’s what a queen would do.
The group date has EIGHTEEN WOMEN. Chelsea, Serena P, Abigail, Sydney, Illeana, Kristin, Fibonacci, Lauren, Jessenia, Serena C, Kit, Kaili, Katie, MJ, Mari, Peiper, Rachael, and Victoria are all headed on the group date. (I snuck one fake name in there. Can you find it?) This group date is a full mess.
Does ABC know that they had a show that was about sexy young girls being kidnapped in the woods and hunted for sport? I might be the only human who wasn’t an actor in Big Sky who remembers it, but seeing the women stalk into the woods in slow motion while Chris Harrison and Matt James watch and laugh as they beat the shit out of each other was a lot. Someone get Ryan Philippe in there to save these girls. It’s all packaged as a way to show Matt James that they’re willing to fight for him, but when you see Mari being lifted off the ground clutching a stuffed heart, we’ve gotten too far from the metaphor about fighting for love.
Also, I’m not fighting for love anymore; there are other things we need to fight for right now. There is a whole pedagogy outside and I might have to take up arms against bigots in bison outfits. I’m too tired and we got BIGGER ISSUES.
The red team wins the Fight for Your Love 5k Fun Run Race for the Cure and gets the after-party. And Mari too because fuck it, why not. At the after-party, Matt sits down with Lauren first and talks about being a man of faith. He’s worried about bringing it up on dates because of the preconceived notions about religion. We seem to have gone full 700 Club here.
I would sincerely like to know the difficulties of dating as a Christian when 65 percent of the country is some sort of Christian. I’m not upset at him being religious or that he wants a relationship where faith and religion are important. What strikes me as A TAD RICH is this idea that it’s somehow hard to date as a Christian person. Because there doesn’t seem to be any space on this here television program that any of these women might be a different religion and he’d be willing to explore that with them. It would be fascinating to have a lead on this show be delighted about the possibility of an interfaith relationship.
ANYWAY. Matt gives the rose to Lauren because they share the same values. Oh! I forgot to mention that when he sits down with Victoria, she lays out her sob story, which is “Sometimes I think I look kinda fat” and “Sometimes other women are mean to me.” AAAAAAHHHH!!
The next date card that arrives is for Sarah. She’s excited to spend time with Matt but she’s also … got something to tell him. They head up in a biplane and Clare is somewhere gritting her teeth to a fine powder. “Matt got a BIPLANE! Hold me in your Party City arms, Dale.” After flying around in a plane, they sit down in the woods where no one would find them if they went missing. #BigSky. Matt asks, for the third time this episode, “What about your pops?” Sarah says she loves him and he’s great but … she has something to say about him.
They head to the night portion fo the date and Sarah wrings her hands because she knows she has to be vulnerable but it’s just so hard. YEAH. BECAUSE HE’S A STRANGER! Please stop expecting total intimacy with these people you don’t fucking know. Sarah tells Matt about how her father was diagnosed with ALS and he has since lost his ability to walk and speak. Sarah quit her job to be a caregiver for him. She feels like she’s been able to reciprocate all the things he did for her in her life and she’s grateful that they’ve gotten so much time together. That would be something that might be difficult to tell someone because lots of people don’t know how to handle illness, in themselves or others. It’s definitely something you’d want a little bit of actual intimacy before telling someone.
Matt says he’s going to pray for her dad and says he loves that she’s selfless. One actually very sweet thing he does is ask her if there’s anything he can do to support her. Not exactly what the lead is supposed to do, but very sweet. They make out and head to the hot tub. She gets the one-on-one rose.
It’s time for the second rose ceremony and Victoria’s transformation into villain is complete and her nemesis is … a person who just doesn’t want to do this! After the producers have Matt reassure Marylynn with the exact same passion he’s had for every other woman on this franchise, Victoria sits down with him to unleash her evil plan. She tells him that she should have said more about the “Sometimes girls are mean to me sometimes” of it all. “Marylynn is toxic and manipulates the situation by crying and is toxic.” Matt immediately jumps to Victoria’s defense because how could this happen!
Matt, it is way too early in the season for you to fall for this and Victoria’s accusations that a woman of color is just manipulative, mean, and toxic are a little too transparent. Can we just not do this? Matt takes Marylynn aside and she is visibly frustrated there’s nothing she can say to change his mind.
Meanwhile, every single woman to whom Victoria slurs this theory of toxicity says: “Marylynn? Who seems emotionally intelligent and kind? Her?” Marylynn finally sits down with Victoria and immediately apologizes. She says, “I’m sorry I hurt you. I want to acknowledge how you’re feeling,” and Victoria takes that as simultaneously as a denial of reality and an admission of guilt. She turns on the Karen tears and says that Marylynn is bullying her by trying to apologize. This isn’t fun or cute and Marylynn is incredibly hurt by the whole experience.
Time for the rose ceremony. Pieper, Kit, Magi, Rachael, Abigail, Chelsea, Jessenia, Katie, and Serena C. all get roses, before Sarah steps off the risers and says she’s about to pass out. Matt rushes over to her and the medics file in. Sarah says she’s seeing stars and is about to black out.
TO BE CONTINUED…
(Oh no, is that Victoria in the preview for next week? AAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!)