Does anyone else fall into a fugue state immediately after an episode ends and forget everything you just watched? Do the sounds of 20 hot blonde women screeching at the exact same frequency trigger the reset button deep in your brain, and you sleep the sleep that has no dreams? I know it is my responsibility to track the arcs and threads and themes of the season, but I gotta be honest, y’all, the second an episode ends, I walk into the closet and power down like a Roomba that’s been running all day. I watched the first two episodes back to back and realized I had absorbed nothing. So I watched them again, and that time, I woke up in a Target two towns over. How did I get there …
And not much is motivating me to follow along because this is getting hard to watch. If I hear the word shrimp or any words that are even a near-rhyme with shrimp, I’m going to fucking lose my mind. But the absolute worst part of it is I don’t know who is going to save us! It won’t be Clayton. He’s too busy telling every human woman he comes across that he has a strong connection with them and that they’re beautiful inside and out. It won’t be Jesse Palmer. I caught him taking the petals off a rose like it was a cupcake and taking a big bite. We cannot rely on him! And it certainly won’t be the other women. They think Clayton is seeing them for the first time because they’re all 24 and he’s tall. Also, Clayton says feelings are starting to develop and they’re getting serious. The whats are doing what and they’re getting what?!?! No no no no no no I’m powering down help!!
Let’s get to it.
We are not even at the rose ceremony. We’re in that weird pre-rose ceremony twilight. The ladytestants are sitting around hoping the situation with Shanae will be resolved, and even if they haven’t had a personal problem with Shanae at this point, it’s becoming more and more obvious that Shanae is an issue. Elizabeth is concerned Shanae is in the house at all because she’s unpredictable. As the episode goes on, Shanae gives off what can only be described as “Ali Larter in Obsessed” energy. Clayton knows this is affecting his time with all of the women, so the best way to deal with it is to awkwardly enter the rose ceremony and take absolutely zero control of the situation.
Clayton takes Shanae and Elizabeth aside and says he’s interested in everyone having accountability. It’s really interesting to note the three words they taught Clayton this season to make it appear as if he’s a deep and interesting person: accountability, connection, and awkwardly smiling while you wait for the lady to stop talking so you can kiss her. That last one isn’t a word but he uses it in every conversation.
Here’s the problem with how the other women are trying to address Shanae: When it comes time for Clayton or anyone else to ask her what the problem is, she doesn’t lie. Is it true she made a second skillet of shrimp and offered some to Elizabeth, who ignored her? Yes! Is it true she heard Sierra and Genevieve plotting to bring up her behavior to Clayton? YES! Is it true she had a little sexy dress that she wanted Clayton to see? YES!!! The problem is what she does around the honest information. That’s where her bullshit lives, but she’s telling Clayton “the truth.” She’s good. Shanae is fucking good. In trying to deal with all the bullshit, the other women get dragged into Shanae’s darkness! And when it comes to the darkness, Shanae is Audrey Hepburn and the other ladytestants are Alan Arkin. That is to say, she’s entirely comfortable in the dark and has laid a series of traps for the other ladytestants.
Clayton is frustrated this isn’t going anywhere, but he’s also not willing to do literally anything to help the situation. He stares out into the night and says, “We’re talking about shrimp.” Elizabeth decides to remove herself from the situation because she’s a lady and Shanae says “a big one.” Goddamn it.
Shanae returns to the group, and y’all, they just yelled about shrimp for 13 minutes. Then they yelled about how they don’t want to yell about shrimp. It was exhausting except for when Genevieve shouted “Is this about shrimp?” Because yes, it is about shrimp. This all could have been avoided if Elizabeth had accepted some shrimp. Honestly, at some point, one of these women needs to just fake-apologize to Shanae to disarm her, but no one is willing to do that. So that’s how we end up with Shanae coming to Houston.
Rose ceremony time! Marlena, Teddi, Rachel, Mara, Sierra, Susie, Jill, Serene, Genevieve, Hunter, Lindsay, and Shanae all get roses, and of course Shanae gets a rose. Because this is a television program and because Clayton is a big ol’ dummy. Shanae has pretty pretty blonde hair and gives him kisses.
But there’s no time to reckon with the implications of giving Shanae a rose because we’re off to Houston! Lyndsey is from there! Hunter says, “We are gonna see everything that’s bigger and better” whatever that means!
Clayton is by himself in his hotel suite, and he’s musing about how some of his closest friends are … Houston residents. His friend Clarence stops by. I am not invested in Clarence. I am not invested in this show trying to sell us on Clayton the family man. I’m barely invested in “Clayton the serious Bachelor” because Clayton’s biggest worry is that at some point, he’ll have three women left or two women left or even four women left and he’ll have to decide who he likes the most. My guy, that’s the whole premise of the show. That’s how deciding on anything works and also how numbers work.
The first date of the week is for Rachel! Clayton says she’s charismatic, a pilot, so intelligent, absolutely beautiful, and humble! They’re riding horses at Hill House Farms, which I Googled to make sure it wasn’t a plantation. You can never be too careful. Clayton says, and I quote, “Country Clay might come out, whatever that means.” Dude, you said it, you should know what it means!
While they’re riding horses, they stumble on a barbecue hosted by a random family and Clayton says, “Can we join in?” What? Everything that’s happening no longer makes sense. Who is this family? Why are they having a barbecue? Why don’t we get introduced to anyone? Why are they asking Rachel such personal questions? Why is Rachel holding that beer like she’s never drank one before? Why is Rachel whispering so much? WHO IS THIS FAMILY??!?!?! At one point, Clayton says he loves this date because you really get to know someone when they’re around friends and family. When you say that, you’re supposed to be talking about your friends and family. You can’t just put your date around some third-party friends and family and hope you glean some information. At the end of the barbecue, Clayton tells the family they crushed it.
Clayton and Rachel head to a dock and make out and whisper to each other. He jokes that he’s been playing hard to get and she jokes, “Maybe I’ll be over you tomorrow,” and Clayton says, “Please don’t be over it tomorrow.” That’s the most honest depiction of Clayton’s internal struggle ever recorded.
Guys. Who was that family?
The date card arrives and it’s for Sarah, Eliza, Teddi, Marlena, Jill, Susie, Mara, Sierra, Hunter, Lyndsay, Genevieve, Gabby, and Shanae because of course it is. That means Serene is getting the other one-on-one date, but don’t expect to see it this episode!
For the night portion of the date, Clayton and Rachel head to dinner, and Rachel tells him how her biggest fear in a relationship is that her partner won’t support her dreams of being a pilot. Her last boyfriend apparently read stories from the female partners of male pilots and extrapolated that data onto Rachel. She says all she wants in a relationship is for a partner to support her job. Clayton immediately says, “I’ll support your job” and Rachel is in love. She says Clayton sees her, and it makes her cry. This is the absolute bare minimum of supporting or validating a partner. Just repeating the question back as a complete sentence. It’s very easy for anyone to say they’ll support someone’s career because no one wants to think they’re the type of person who wouldn’t support their partner. But how would Clayton support Rachel? Would he be a stay-at-home dad if they had kids? Would he move for her work? Would he travel with her if necessary? Is he willing to listen to her talk about her job even though he has no idea who Amy is and why everyone at the hangar hates Amy? There’s always an Amy, and you need to remember why Amy sucks! That’s what support looks like! Clayton whispers to Rachel, “I’ll never dim your light,” and I suddenly felt like a Sim trapped in a pool with no ladder. She gets the rose.
Before the group date, Shanae is pretending to sleep and overhears Gabby, Genevieve, and Sierra scheming to bring up Shanae to Clayton. Shanae listens in at the door like Ellis from Smash and says, “Clayton can send me home, but these bitches can’t send me home.” Again, she’s not technically wrong.
It’s time for the group date that’s also an ad for an electric car you can plug your grill into! I guess that’s something you’d want! The ladies are lulled into a false sense of security that the date might just be a tailgate but haha, fuck you! It’s the Bachelor Bowl! This year, the Bachelor Bowl is full tackle, so it seems like either a sadist or pervert made that decision. Marlena is bringing the entirely wrong energy for this date, but honestly, I’m just excited to see her run. She’s an Olympian! Sierra and Marlena take the time to tackle Shanae even when she doesn’t have the ball. The losing team has to head back to the house, and Shanae is on the losing team. The game was obviously rigged to inflict the most emotional damage on Shanae so she would lash out. I’ve never seen the Texans’ mascot, but I’m surprised a giant shrimp didn’t saunter out of the locker room to dance on the sidelines.
It’s time for the evening portion of the group date, and there’s about 40 minutes left in the episode. We’re not getting Serene’s one-on-one, huh? Well, Sierra spends all her time convincing the other women to tattle on Shanae or telling Clayton that Shanae doesn’t have the character to be Clayton’s wife. Sierra! This is not the correct strategy, and let’s be honest … Shanae and Clayton would probably be a good match. But Shanae decides to clear her own name by showing up at the group date after-party. Shanae sits down with Clayton and tells him she heard Genevieve, Gabby, and Sierra talking shit about her, but she had this sexy dress that she wanted to wear. It feels so good to get that off her chest.
The women on the group date are talking about how glad they are that Clayton is probably very upset with Shanae and that he can finally see what a toxic Karen she is. Marlena says, “You don’t marry toxic.” Smash cut to Clayton and Shanae making out on the bar. Oh, no. Oh, no, you fools! You completely overestimated Clayton’s ability to turn down a woman paying attention to him. Clayton doesn’t want to get to the bottom of anything. He doesn’t want to conduct an investigation or ask one difficult question. He doesn’t want to “live” “by” “his” “principles.” He wants to say, “It’s a nice bar. Very sturdy.” That’s all he wants to do. He’s a doof! Let him be a doof! You don’t leave a third-grader in charge of the accounting department. They do not have the skills to guide a team of professionals to success.
In the meantime, Shanae has been given just the right amount of positive reinforcement to learn absolutely no lessons. She throws the winning team’s trophy in the bushes. I look forward to her presence in the final four.