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The Bachelor Recap: Subterfuge in Croatia

The Bachelor

Week Six
Season 26 Episode 6
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

The Bachelor

Week Six
Season 26 Episode 6
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: John Medland/ABC

There is so much stuff happening. Do you ever feel like there’s just too much stuff happening at all times all around you? This episode alone, in no particular order: a two-on-one date, a one-on-one date, another one-on-one date that’s actually just an interrogation, a group date, a secret clock-tower date, a cocktail party, a rose ceremony, people drinking from two bottles of Champagne at the same time, and a trip to Croatia. ALL IN THIS EPISODE! That’s entirely too much stuff. After a beginning of the season bogged down in all the same stuff (Shanae and the Shrimpettes), The Bachelor is throwing everything at us. When the real problem is …

Who gives a shit?

When I saw in the opening preview that Mara and Sarah were going to be in a feud, I asked myself, “Who gives a shit?” Sarah is clearly doing everything in her power to end up in the final four, and Mara is being sent home immediately, if not sooner, so who gives a shit? This means nothing! Sarah is 23 years old, and Mara is giving all of us over 30 a bad name by reducing what she brings to the table as, “I cook. I clean. I’m good in bed.” I’m tired of cooking. I’m tired of cleaning. And I’m absolutely, positively EXHAUSTED at being good in bed. I’m no longer bringing anything to the table, and I want that for all of you.

When it came to the two-on-one, WHO GIVES A SHIT?!?! I’m sure production told Clayton to send Shanae home at this point because they’d wrung as much drama out of Shanae as they could, and they knew Clayton’s dumbass would keep Shanae if given the opportunity because he’s as deep as a menstrual disc. What connection or relationship does Clayton have with Genevieve? Where is the narrative satisfaction? This is not the type of two-on-one we were raised on. We’re losing recipes!

Is anyone remotely emotionally invested in this season? What’s the difference between Rachel and Susie? Who is Eliza? I’m begging for something to inspire me to give a single, solitary shit. And if the thing that I would care about is happening at the end of the season, the show needs to start speed-running us to the finale. Let’s get to it.

WE’RE STILL DOING THIS TWO-ON-ONE DATE. This is the cheapest-looking date setup I’ve ever seen. These are two of the cheapest Home Depot (or whatever Canada’s equivalent is, I assume Tim Horton’s home) outdoor vinyl rattan settees. Genevieve’s tactic is to stress how difficult it was to find out she was on the two-on-one date because there isn’t really a story reason why she should be paired with Shanae, and she’s been emotionally crumbling in the last few weeks. Clayton kisses Genevieve to close the conversation file in his brain.

When it comes to his sit-down with Shanae, she does something every great reality TV character does: create story. She tells Clayton that Genevieve thought that she wanted to go home, and now that she’s on this date, she’s giving off that actress vibe. Shanae has given the episode narrative structure and emotional conflict. She’s a monster, but she’s a producer’s dream. Shanae also manages to stare directly into the sun long enough to force some tears out. What else is there to say about a young, thin, blonde, white woman forcing tears to get what she wants? There are entire textbook chapters about white women crying. There are entire documentaries about white women crying. Greater minds than I have written more words about the impact of white ladies crying. There’s NOTHING MORE TO SAY.

But Clayton is dense enough to still take anything that Shanae says as some version of the truth, and he conducts the most anemic questioning of Genevieve. This also begins the trend of Clayton handing out the rose with the absolute biggest fake-out possible: “I want to give this rose to someone who told me the truth about who is and isn’t an actress. So Shanae, I cannot give you this rose.” Nothing Clayton says is rooted in any reality I recognize. Genevieve gets the rose. Shanae is a terrible person and a great reality-TV star. I look forward to everyone involved learning nothing from this experience and sending her down to Paradise!

When we cut back to the hotel, and a production assistant comes in and makes a whole meal of selecting the eliminated contestant’s suitcase, the HOUSE ERUPTS in orgasmic joy at the idea of Shanae being sent home. They all start chanting, they pop Champagne, PEOPLE ARE CRYING. It looks like the liberation of France. Everyone gets a chance to deliver a quippy line to celebrate Shanae’s elimination and production left them all in. Was Marlena’s “herpes outbreak” joke really that funny?!?!

It’s time for the cocktail party and the rose ceremony, and Clayton comes in and says this week, he learned that he can make tough decisions. Every time Clayton summarizes what he learned that week, it sounds like someone reading a kindergartener’s note home. “Clayton did learn how to make tough decisions and follow his heart, but he ate three buttons. Watch his stools.”

Mara begins her episode-long breakdown where she insists she’s not getting any time with Clayton and he’s pursuing only the young, un-wifely women. Then, girl, go home! Despite his progress report, he’s not going to make better decisions and production isn’t going to help you out. This isn’t time for you to figure out if you want to be with Clayton. That’s not the setup here. Mara goes outside and chants her strong-woman mantras.

Clayton thanks everyone for their patience, and he’s following his heart and doing his best. Then he shows them a handprint turkey he made. Time for the Rose Ceremony. Sarah, Serene, Susie, Teddi, Eliza, and Mara all get roses. It’s time for another international trip, and they’re going to one of the most romantic places on earth: Croatia!

Clayton can see a future with each of these women, and he’s ready to push through and “Approved Copy to Read: There’s no better place to fall in love than Croatia.” The first date of the week is Teddi! She’s plucked off the pre-approved girls’ hang on the streets of Hvar and the second Clayton walks off with her, thunder starts and the skies open up. They walk through the streets and talk about how many pretty alleyways there are in the city. It’s finally time for the night portion of the date, and Teddi has something to tell Clayton that the audience has known for weeks now: She’s a virgin. This story of her virginity is … a whole story. Her mom got pregnant at a young age, so Teddi’s parents were very protective and pressured her to avoid that same fate.

Listen, I don’t mean to tell you how to raise your kids, but if you’re worried about your daughter getting pregnant, teach her about consent, contraceptives, and the benefits of non-penetrative sex for women. An IUD and a reliance on hand stuff would avoid a lot of those concerns. But as a result, Teddi has decided that she’s not exactly going to wait for marriage but wait to be in love. How convenient for this game show where the final round is unlocked by telling the lead that you’re falling in love with them. Clayton asks her lots of questions to figure out exactly where the limits of this self-imposed love boundary lie. “Do you have to be in love at the start of the day you lose your virginity, or can you say it right before? Does the other person have to be in love too? Can it be in writing?!?!” She says that love means feeling safe, and she feels safe with Clayton. She’s allowing herself to fall for him. Clayton gives her the first-date rose.

It’s time for the group date! The ladies head out into the walls of Hvar and find two knights fighting each other. It looks like one is a medieval knight with chain mail, and the other looks more Roman era with leather armor. Listen, it’s fine if you want to mix your military eras, but at least give me an explanation as to why two people with wildly different armor classes are fighting each other. But PLOT TWIST: The Croatian warrior is a woman! She tells the ladytestants that Croatian warriors fought alongside men and they showed their purity of heart on the battlefield. Again, who gives a shit? This is just an opportunity for Mara to continue to get in her head because she’s on another group date while Sarah is getting her second one-on-one date. Mara has also fallen into the trap that winning the group date guarantees getting the group-date rose. It doesn’t matter who wins the shield-pushing contest or eats the most fish heads; it matters who makes the king’s pants move the most while they do it. When it’s time for Mara to make her plea to her king, she does it all in rhyme, the most unsexy poetic device, and says again that she’s good in bed and good in the kitchen. DO YOU HEAR YOURSELF! THIS IS NOT INDEPENDENT-WOMAN RHETORIC!! If all you wanna bring to the table is your ability to be a traditional wife, FINE. But you can’t turn around and talk about how the other women aren’t worthy of being a wife when your only qualifications for a good wife are from the 1950s.

When they head to the night portion of the date, Clayton decides to whisper directly into Rachel’s mouth, and Rachel tells him that she’s getting in her head because she likes him so much. She’s scared but so turned on. Rachel is good. This is not the first football player she’s tricked into buying her a steak dinner. Mara sits down with Clayton and uses her entire time to talk at him about how there are other women in the house who aren’t ready to get married, and they’re so young, and they’re not serious, and also they are Sarah. Sarah. I’m talking about Sarah. Because Clayton fucked up the Shanae thing so badly, he’s desperate to appear conscientious, so he furrows his brow and asks Mara a follow-up question for the first time in his life. He also says, “Well, words are words,” which … is kind of a point. Okay, Clayton! You’re getting it. But Mara thinks that this will get her a rose. No one gives the snitch a rose.

Rachel gets the group-date rose, obviously. Mara is upset because she can’t help but feel exhausted that Clayton isn’t giving her anything. Then leave, bitch! Go home!

Clayton heads back home after the group date, and there’s a note at the door. “Meet me at the clock tower …” Clayton somehow thinks that this note will lead him to more evidence about the women who aren’t there for the right reasons. Clayton thinks that an anonymous informant will be meeting him at midnight with a dossier of evidence. But no! It’s Susie! Clayton is so scared and not turned on … until Susie tells him that it’s for a good reason, and they climb up to the top of the clock tower. She tells him that she wants to tell him how she’s feeling, and she knows now that she’s falling in love with him. When she did this, did I think about how she said she’s an aggressive competitor and she doesn’t show that side to the other women? Yes. Yes, I did. Fuck yes, Susie. Lock down that rose! Clayton says this is the validation he’s been looking for, and he knows the process is working. He can see himself falling in love with Susie, and that’s all he needs to hear.

But before anyone can celebrate this young love too much, Sarah still has to pass the gauntlet of being accused of not being ready to get married. Clayton goes to Jesse for advice, and Jesse looks and sounds like he’s been Photoshopped into this conversation. Jesse talks like an NPC in a video game. “Keep your heart open. Trust in your heart. Watch for Minotaurs in the forest.” So, Clayton sits down with Sarah at a table in the dark and just tells her that he’s heard a rumor that she’s actually 23 and 23-year-olds are chaos magic. Clayton claims that he wants to find a wife and settle down, despite no one knowing what that means or how he arrived at that conclusion. When Sarah hears this information, she fucking breaks down. She is so invested in her relationship with Clayton, she cries after she spends time with him because she can’t believe how lucky she is. She’s shown him sides of herself she doesn’t show anyone else, and she’s ready to be engaged. Clayton says, “Thank you for that information,” and walks away, faces a wall, and powers down. Sarah picks up the napkin and uses the tiniest little corner to wipe up her tears without messing up her makeup.

Then Sarah’s emotions turn from shock and sadness to white-hot rage. “Who the fuck did this? What the fuck was that!” Someone is upset in their relationship and trying to throw Sarah off her game. Someone is throwing her under the bus. But before she can hatch her plan of revenge, Clayton comes back and tells her she cried enough, so she gets the rose.

An accusation was made, and Sarah says that the liar will be sent home, and if they wanted to take her out, they should have made the lie more specific. She knows she’s dealing with an amateur. Someone is about to feel some Croatian justice.

To be continued …

The Bachelor Recap: Subterfuge in Croatia