We just have to get to it, right? I could do my usual thing and trifle about with some fake-out intro where I tell you that an ABC executive is somewhere in a traditional Icelandic turf house, throwing her headphones against a wall. Or a series of half-assed wordplay: “Northern lights? More like Late Night Fights.” I’m a hack. We can admit it. But no, this is what the absolute entire season has been building toward, and why get in the way of absolute fucking chaos? A chaos that will tear the timeline and Reddit apart for WEEKS.
Let’s get to it.
Uh … we can all agree that Gabby and Rachel’s dates narratively don’t matter, right? They could have just shown us their dates as silent movies while a pipe organ played in the background. If you had asked me who was going to implode this whole situation and who Clayton had the strongest feelings for, I would have picked Rachel, because we’ve only seen them make out in various swamps and barbecues across the world. They’re two possums in love. But no! It’s Susie! Our President’s Choice Hannah Brown is the one who will take down this entire season. I can only hope she’s standing in a window somewhere, sipping a glass of white wine, watching Clayton’s life fucking implode.
Clayton started the episode being in love with Susie and open to falling in love with Gabby and Rachel. How did we get here? No, I’m genuinely asking. How did we get here? How on earth did Clayton end up telling every woman that he’s in love with her, and not only was that acceptable but inevitable? My dear friends at Love to See It said on a recent episode that it seems like Clayton got over the fear that he’d be rejected once the women started confessing their emotions to him, and he had to catch up by falling in love with everyone right now! But there has to be more to it than that. Does he think he’s only allowed to sleep with multiple women if he’s in love with them? Does he not know what love is? Does he listen to songs by Foreigner and go, “Me too, Lou Gramm. Me too”? (I had to Google both the band that sings “I Want to Know What Love Is” and the lead singer of that band because it’s a white hymn and I wanted to get the details right.)
I mean … ugh … if we could just … oof … the thing is … I can’t believe I’m going to say what I’m about to say but: Clayton is right.
I’m so tired. I’m just exhausted and spent and dear God, we’ve got four more hours of this, but goddamn it, Clayton is right here. I’m sorry, you cannot come onto The Bachelor on season TWENTY-SIX of this television program and expect the lead to not sleep with other people in the Fantasy Suites without clearly communicating that to them. Then to add to that Susie’s reasoning that if Clayton is really the person for her, he will just intuit what she needs from the relationship, especially if it goes against the entire concept of this entire week of the game show that Susie is not the main character of. Saying that she hoped he would just do the thing that she wanted without her having to talk to him is fully wild. Just. Wild.
Then you add in when Clayton said (and Susie confirmed) that Susie told Clayton to explore his other relationships. I’m sorry, ma’am. Not only did he do what you never told him not to do; he did what you told him to do. This is impossible. This is a logic puzzle that only someone capable of mind reading would be able to do. Clayton is not capable of that. Clayton is just getting the hang of sight words. You might think he’s reading Last Stop on Market Street, but he’s just heard his mom read it so many times that he can recite half of it from memory. Do not be fooled!
Susie is allowed to change her mind. She’s allowed to be fine with the idea of him being with other women, but when faced with the reality, she’s allowed to want him to be exclusive with her. But she has to tell him that.
Besides, if Susie is right in this fight (which she’s not; come at me, I’m not scared of you, you’re just comments on the computer, you’re not even real!), that means the entire concept of Fantasy Suites must be abolished. That’s what we’re advocating for here, the idea that someone who is dating multiple people cannot and should not have physical intimacy or deep feelings for more than one person. This is a slippery slope! If you want moments like “I had sex and Jesus still loves me! I did it in a windmill twice!” and then Hannah saying, “Actually, it was four times,” then we gotta allow the leads of this television program to have sex with multiple people. If sex is deeply important to you and something done only within a committed relationship, do not go on The Bachelor. It’s a place for big sluts who wanna bang in whimsical buildings.
And you guys, Clayton was so excited! He wanted to have such a good time in Iceland! He got to kiss three hot ladies and that’s all he has ever wanted!
Let’s give a moment of attention to Gabby and Rachel, who walked in from their overnight dates with sex face and sex hair and had to pretend they spent the whole night doing jigsaw puzzles. Gabby basically pulled a condom wrapper out of her hair and had to be like, “How does it look now?” Rachel has the first date, and Clayton takes her 400 feet down into an inactive volcano. Clayton really appreciates that they have a strong physical connection, and he realizes that if he doesn’t open up to Rachel he might lose her. This creates another theory: Clayton only told the women he loved them so he could keep going in the process, because he felt the vibes were off. Which, yeah, dude! The vibes are off! You’re bad at this! Clayton hasn’t been able to generate any real romantic moments this whole season. Plus he can’t say something he likes about these women that doesn’t involve himself. You gotta be able to say something you like about your partner that is only about them and how they move through the world. They’re a hard worker. They’re a good tipper. They’re passionate about bird conservation. Something!!! Not “I love them because they love me.”
By the morning, Clayton has said “I love you” to Rachel and is causally shouting it from the Reykjavik streets. He is also walking home in his sweatsuit and fancy overcoat.
Now it’s time for Gabby’s date. The order of these dates has been designed to inflict the most psychic damage on Susie. She basically has to take 6d12 of psychic damage and do a Constitution-saving throw at the start of each date. This was also when I started to write in my notes “Is Clayton aware of this incredibly complicated test?”
Gabby hopes her date is going to be whale watching with champagne and strawberries. She requests champagne and/or strawberries no fewer than three times in this episode. We haven’t discussed it much, but Gabby has such #BimboResurgence energy. That blooper of her spraying sunscreen and walking through it like Miss Piggy? She’s giving me Lorelei Lee and she should be our next Bachelorette. (I’m not scared of you, computer illusions!) Gabby and Clayton drive around in a dune buggy, and Gabby says she trusts him with her heart but not with this dune buggy. At a post-buggy café ride, Clayton puts on a very Velma sweater and she tells him she wants him to explore his options and choose her after that exploration. It is now unclear if she actually means this. It feels like Clayton is in that riddle where two parrots guard two doors and one lies and one tells the truth. But instead of parrots, it’s three aspiring Instagram influencers and they’re guarding a room full of Durex Ultra Thin condoms. Gabby says Clayton can appreciate all the different sides of her and that the other parrot only tells lies.
It’s time for Susie’s date and we’ve already seen her lurk around the hotel where all the women are staying and stare into a fight clutching a glass of wine. There was also one incredible moment where she stepped out into the hallway and leaned her back against the door and looked sullen like she was in a soap opera. Susie produced her own B-roll for the episode and y’know what? It paid off.
Going into Clayton’s date, he’s already vaguely aware of the fact that he’s telling everyone that he loves them and he’s going to end up hurting someone. He seems upset about this but not enough to preemptively deal with it. Clayton and Susie head to a geothermal spa, and this is all I want from a romantic international date. Susie and Clayton are scrubbing each other’s bodies and making out in a glass outdoor shower. For two people about to emotionally demolish each other, they have a lot of chemistry. This would have been a good time for Susie to introduce the idea of her boundary around the Fantasy Suites, but I understand not wanting to have that conversation in a bikini.
We’ve already talked a lot about this fight, but I need to talk about what could have prevented a whole lot of the strife: Both of them needed to stop talking. How they felt was very clear. Susie expected Clayton to read her mind and respect her boundary without communicating it. Clayton expected Susie to follow the very clear rules of this television program. Once Susie made it clear that this boundary of hers wasn’t up for discussion, she needed to stop talking about it. Once Clayton explained that he had already banged Rachel and Gabby and he couldn’t undo it, he needed to walk Susie out.
Watching it, the most infuriating thing was Susie not realizing that she had actually broken up with Clayton, leaving no wiggle room for discussion but wanting the interaction to continue, and Clayton looked frustrated and disappointed that he had failed a test he didn’t even know he was taking. Clayton was asking Susie to get off-camera with him, take seven hours, and really figure this thing out. The idea of discussing anything with someone you’re dating for seven hours sounds like a fucking nightmare. Susie kept explaining her position and not realizing that every time she said, “Well, I hoped you would,” Clayton just felt worse and worse. She needed to just say, “Now that I’ve started talking through how I feel, I realize this is a stronger and harder boundary for me than I thought and I need to leave.” Because she was basically saying that without being aware of it.
Clayton had the worst reaction after Jesse did absolutely nothing and Susie asked him to come inside. She basically said, “I believe everything you said. Maybe I’m asking too much and I feel so shitty. But I’m not willing to accept it and that’s that.” And Clayton didn’t even have a bad reaction. He had A Reaction. He was upset. He is allowed to be upset! I’ve been begging for this man to express an emotion and it’s a bummer that his first onscreen emotion is unhappiness, but it was a reasonable one! Being upset or angry or sad or disappointed when someone you really like breaks up with you is not unreasonable.
And, unpopular opinion, you’re allowed to not be a perfect communicator and get worked up when you’re upset. Who among us hasn’t had a shitty fight with our partner or during a breakup? I immediately start to cry regardless of my baseline emotion and must walk away, come back five minutes later once I’ve gathered my thoughts, and deliver the monologue I prepared while sitting in the bedroom. Have I ever lost my train of thought mid-sentence and wound up arguing a completely different point? Yes. Have I passive-aggressively prepared a snack and kept arguing when it became clear that we were going to miss dinner and I needed sustenance? Of course. That’s just the human experience. Have I ever just laid out a list of demands and sat silent until they were met? And I’m proud of it. This was a shitty fight! Two people reached an impasse and just were bad arguers. I’m a bad arguer sometimes!
I look forward to the discourse that Clayton is a toxic gaslighting gaslighter who is also an actor who is not here for the right reasons because he was a human man who failed an unspoken test. Do your thing, Twitter and Reddit! See you at the rose ceremony from hell!
Bonus Content: The Women Tell All Superlatives
• Class Clown: The Concept of Bloopers
• Least Changed: Shenae
• Most Comebacks: Sierra
• Host With Most …………. Pregnant Pauses: Jesse Palmer
• Highest Hand: Genevieve
• Best Dick: Cassidy’s Fuckbuddy
• The “Why Am I in It?” Award: Aaron Clancy
• Most Possum-Like Animal: An Armadillo
• Best State to Rot in: Ohio
• Most Likely to Have Sex in a Palapa: Teddi
• Most Inventive Storyteller: Sarah
• Loudest: A tie between all the women. Please stop shouting. Dear God. My ears are bleeding.