The Bachelor Recap: Villain Origin Story

The Bachelor

Week Five
Season 26 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

The Bachelor

Week Five
Season 26 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: John Medland/ABC

In the pantheon of all-time great villains, Shanae has just knocked Hans Gruber off the list. She is iconic. She is toxic. She is not someone you would want to get stuck next to on your cousin’s bachelorette-party bus. (Every bachelorette-party bus has a Shanae.) Shanae has transcended even the Bachelor Cinematic Universe’s all-time villains; unlike Krystal, Corinne, or even Luke P., the other contestants in the house made Shanae. My first line of notes for this episode was “YOU STUPID BITCHES, YOU’VE MADE HER THE MAIN CHARACTER!” This is the Shanae show, and you all are just trying to catch up. Hopefully, Clayton will eventually tire of Shanae, but … he hasn’t yet?!? He might never tire of her! She keeps sitting on his lap, giggling, tucking one piece of hair behind her ear and saying, “Aren’t I a sexy baby?” What future Cupcake Wars can resist that?

At this point in the season, it’s very, very, very clear that Clayton is just woefully unprepared to be the Bachelor. I hate that I keep having to say this! But I will continue saying it because I do not believe in respecting men for their contributions to society! The vibe I get is Clayton either is a very inexperienced dater or bangs a lot of women but doesn’t actually stick around for the “relationship” part. Because anyone who has had to make some tough dating decisions would have the experience to recognize and dismiss someone like Shanae. Or they’d have enough of a backbone to say, “Y’know what? I like it! I like her! She’s hot and blonde, and honestly, that’s basically all it takes!” Clayton isn’t doing either. He’s pretending to be a sensitive, emotionally intelligent guy in a nice sweater when really he’s the guy you make out with to stop him from talking. “Oh, no, the pyramids are real. You know that right? … I know what we can do …”

Let’s get to it.

Okay, where are we in time and space? Quick, name three things you can see and two things you can smell to ground yourself. I can see: the Texas Medical Center. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. The biggest rodeo in the country. And I can smell: Galveston Bay. Garlic-butter crawfish … and the biggest rodeo in the country. We’re in Houston! We’ve come back from the group date, and everyone is freaking out about Shanae. You fools. This only gives her power. But there’s no time for that! It’s Serene’s one-on-one date.

Clayton is waiting for Serene at Pleasure Pier, and Serene runs and jumps into his arms. Have these two had a conversation? They’ve got the entire amusement park to themselves, and Clayton says all he’s looking for is Serene to be herself and have a ton of fun. Y’know what? I believe him. By the end of the date, Serene is impressed because no one else has ever closed down an amusement park for her. Serene, you’re not into Clayton. You’re into a segment producer at Warner Bros. She says she likes Clayton’s confidence, which is the first unique thing anyone has ever said about their attraction to Clayton. They head into the ice-cream shop, and Clayton puts on the most boring apron and sexily scoops ice cream for her. He asks, “What are you in the mood for? Besides me?” That! That is charming and silly! Give me horny, silly Clayton because that’s who he is, and his only move is to say a very corny line with a lot of confidence. After all we’ve been through, we deserve a horny, silly Bachelor.

Before the night portion of the date, Serene says people have always told her that something about her seems mysterious. Serene. I’ve been told that, too. All that means is you’re a Black woman who isn’t currently smiling. I dated a guy who kept trying to “figure me out” and “find out what makes me tick,” and all his guesses were fucking embarrassing. He would text me things like “I think I’ve figured you out — you value your family.” Yeah, dude. That’s not a secret or incredibly illuminating. What he meant was “you’re a Black woman who is not what I expected.” So, Serene, don’t tell Clayton there’s some mystery to you. He just doesn’t know you yet.

It’s time for the night portion of the date, and Serene and Clayton bond over being from a household that doesn’t talk about emotions. Well, in Clayton’s house, his mom listened to him, but it’s like … the same thing. I love that in the Bachelor Cinematic Universe, “My family didn’t really talk about emotions” is now an entry-level trauma dump. A traumuse-bouche, if you will.

Serene tells Clayton she’s experienced a lot of loss in her life in the past two years: Her younger cousin passed away, but she’s not entirely sure what happened because her cousin has struggled to maintain stability. Serene says she’s at peace even though she’s trying her best to get through it. Clayton says, “Yeah, that’s a lot.” Those are the first words he says! Not “I’m sorry for your loss” or “That must be so difficult,” but “That’s a lot.” My guy! Please! I’m begging you: Learn another phrase. There are so many women who will tell you more difficult things! Serene tells Clayton he’s got kind eyes so he’s easy to talk to. Sure! She gets the rose.

It’s time for the cocktail party? What day is it? Clayton knows he’s got to handle this whole Shanae thing, and he’s going to do it strategically. He starts by telling the women, “Yeah, a lot has happened, and being the Bachelor has not been easy.” It hasn’t? It looks pretty chill so far! He takes the winning team aside and asks them what happened on the date. Sierra is the one who tells him Shanae took the trophy and threw it in a pond. Was there a pond? It looked like it went into a bush. What the women don’t do in this moment that I think would really make Clayton turn his head when it comes to Shanae is let him know they’re losing confidence in him — he cannot possibly abide someone having a negative feeling, much less a negative feeling about him, and he might actually do something!

The women are all very confident Shanae’s time in the house is coming to an end, and man, oh, man. Fools! Clayton takes Shanae aside and basically tells her, “You have to apologize so I can keep you, okay? I really want you here, but you have to apologize.” You can’t give her the answers and then feel relieved she passed the test! So Shanae turns on her fake tears that we all know she can do at this point and apologizes to the women. For what exactly? Getting heated. Going way too far. Saying things she didn’t mean. The women start accepting her apology, and not one says, “Saying what things you didn’t mean? Going too far and doing what?” Demand a specific! My kingdom for a follow-up question!

Also why would you accept this apology?? Clayton makes out with Shanae to reward her! Everyone here is colossally stupid!!!

Time for the Rose Ceremony: Sarah, Marlena, Genevieve, Mara, Gabby, Susie, Eliza, Hunter, and Shanae get a rose because of course she does! Shanae will go home when Shanae decides to go home. Before she’s eliminated, Sierra looks dead in Clayton’s eyes and puts a hex on his home: “Choose a girl for the man you’re gonna become and not the man you are today. Don’t be stupid.” Then her eyes turn bloodred and she cackles so loud it shatters the mirrors.

Time to go international! It’s Toronto!

Clayton says Toronto is a great place to fall in love and he could even see falling in love with multiple women. Whoa, dude. You’re not supposed to want that. We’re trying to avoid that. He’s almost looking forward to falling in love with multiple women. I fully cannot wait for the shitshow this will become.

But first, it’s time for the one on one of the week. It’s Gabby’s turn! Everyone is excited for her, and Shanae says everyone is too happy for someone else getting what they all really want. I’m gonna say it: The narrative for the women on The Bachelor has increasingly become “We all have to be best friends! We love each other!” — to everyone’s detriment. It’s weird, and it’s robbing us of multiple sources of drama; the remaining ladytestants don’t actually want to go after Shanae so they don’t appear “mean.” Shanae is a truth-teller, and she’s the wrong person delivering the right message. Go ahead, cancel me!

Gabby meets Clayton, and they take a helicopter ride over Toronto then have a classic “walking through the city” date. But it feels like production doesn’t realize they can go places and do things on these city dates. Why are we playing children’s hockey in the street? This isn’t a real graffiti wall. Does Toronto have one of those Instagram museums? Just have them do that. Gabby gets on the ground to pet a dog, and girl, get up. You’ve taken cute and quirky too far. You’re lying on your back on a city street.

Before the night portion of Serene’s date, the next date card arrives. By process of elimination, Genevieve and Shanae are going on the two on one. Genevieve is an avid watcher of the show, and Shanae just says, “Maybe it’ll be fun!” You magnificent, diabolical bitch. This two on one is a miscalculation because it doesn’t seem like Genevieve gives that much of a shit about Shanae anymore and she’s completely shutting down as she realizes the power Shanae holds. I know the optics aren’t great, but Sierra was the only one even remotely equipped to take Shanae down.

It’s time for the night portion of Gabby’s date, and Gabby is the only one to acknowledge that this is all happening on a fast timeline and she needs to lay it all out there. She talks about how she didn’t receive a lot of love and security from her mom, and as a result, she has a hard time accepting love. She talks about how she’s done a lot of work in therapy to be in a place where she can pursue a relationship with Clayton. Clayton asks if she thinks she’ll be able to mend her relationship with her mom. It’s not “That’s a lot,” but it still struck me as a kind of immature response. Like when Tyra would tell contestants on ANTM that their estranged parents would see them on TV and be proud of them. That’s not usually how it works, Tyra. But again Clayton just can’t relate or offer up any part of himself to keep these conversations moving. Clayton, have you been to therapy? Do you journal? I thought your whole story line was you were an underdog who didn’t believe he would find anyone. Maybe you could relate? No? Nothing? Okay, Gabby gets the group date rose.

It’s time for the group date! The women head over to Distillery Lane to meet with Clayton. It’s going to be a regular, fun date until uh-oh! We’re doing comedy over here! Russell Peters is here to explain the concept of comedy roasts, and he demonstrates by saying, It’s season five, and now you’re the host! The contestants have gotten somewhat uglier! Clayton is from Missouri — he’s vanilla as fuck! Good lord. Are these jokes? Are these legally jokes? I don’t think so, and I like to think I am a bit of a joke specialist!

So now we must watch hot people attempt comedy. Lord, why have you forsaken me!

Marlena is up first, and she is under the illusion that doing well on the date activity will result in getting the rose, so she’s putting her all into it. Her joke is that because Clayton is from Eureka, Missouri, he kisses his mother with his mouth open or closed? Are you trying to make like … an incest joke … ? Why is this what’s happening? Marlena, no. Susie makes a decent bench-warming joke, and Eliza says Clayton has a dump-truck ass. Both fully amazing. Sarah decides to take her one good joke about Mara being the old lady Rachel showed up with one night one and turns it into a tight five about Mara’s age. Thirty-two is not old, first of all. Then Mara gets onstage and just looks Sarah in the eye and calls her a desperate bitch. I think brevity is the soul of wit, and each woman should have been limited to telling one joke. Time for the after-party!

Susie takes Clayton aside and does what Winston from New Girl would call a “honey roast” and says the things she likes about him. Two of the five are about his smile. Clayton loves this. Marlena wants Clayton to notice that she’s acing all the dates so rose, please! Clayton continues to have ridiculous sexual chemistry with Rachel, and they’re doing that thing where they’re cutting off each other’s sentences to smooch each other. He says he’s always thinking about her and someone else has to really step up to beat their connection. Eliza gives him maple-syrup shots, and Clayton says all the women are checking everything off his list, so we’re back to not knowing who his front-runner is. Rachel gets the group-date rose.

It’s time for Shanae and Genevieve to leave for their two-on-one date. Genevieve is very aware of how bad this is going to get and is completely unable to even put on a smile. Meanwhile, Shanae has written and rehearsed what she’s going to do, and she’s going to treat this date like a one on one. Goddamn it, she’s good. As their boat heads into Niagara Falls, Gabby’s voice rings out over the water: “Shanae is a succubus …”

To be continued …

The Bachelor Recap: Villain Origin Story