It’s Sex Week!!! Sex Week. Sex. Week. After a supremely boring season, this is what we’ve been waiting for. It’s what Jesse Palmer teased no fewer than 20 times last week. I’m not going to bother you with another rant about how Zach is inherently unknowable or compare Fantasy Suites to some type of beloved fast-casual meal (though Chili’s emailed me this week and said it liked my Triple Dipper reference, so perhaps this time I’ll compare Zach and Kaity’s relationship to an Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Onion). No, it’s time to break down how supremely Zach fucked up this episode.
First of all: Zach’s right. Fantasy Suites always cause drama — that’s what they’re designed to do! There’s a reason they’ve held the girls in a separate suite like zoo animals in heat. But this just won’t do for Zach. As we’ve discussed many times, despite being the lead of a reality-TV show, Zach has a medical-grade allergy to drama. So, after talking it out with Sean Lowe, he decides he won’t be having sex with any of the women. Now we finally know why this man has been showing up on our screens every week! Apologies, Sean, I thought you were only here for the nostalgia factor, but you’re actually just a primer.
This all raises the question: Is Zach super-Christian? Sean, presumably, avoided sleeping with all three of his finalists because of his faith. But Zach seems like he’s doing it only to avoid ruining his tropical-paradise vacation with lady tears. Joke’s on you, Zach: If you’re trying to game the system, The Bachelor producers will outgame you. That or your own dick will.
It’s just so much worse for Zach to sleep with one of them after making this huge declaration that he wouldn’t sleep with any of them. Not only is it a dead giveaway about who he likes the most, it also leads to an embarrassing confession that he’s just a silly ol’ horndog. In a typical Fantasy Suite scenario, you can hint at the fact that you had sex without outright saying it. You can call the night magical, you can say it brought you closer, you can say whatever, but now, since Zach broke this big declaration, everything’s very explicit. Clearly, Gabi thought this was gonna be a Wink, wink, I won’t tell anyone and we’ll live happily ever after type of situation. But now Kaity’s the victim, Gabi feels bad about herself, and we’re all going to have to discuss this with Zach’s parents next week. Let’s get into it.
Zach arrives in Krabi, Thailand, which, coincidentally, was the site of Sean Lowe’s Fantasy Suites, in case the comparison wasn’t blatantly obvious enough. After our 7,000th recap of Zach’s connections, he breaks the no-sex news to Jesse, who is, to use Zach’s word, flabbergasted. Jesse certainly didn’t do this during his Fantasy Suites. Let’s be clear: Jesse fucks. Zach thinks about this while taking yet another thorough shower. Shower count: five. My brain is atrophying.
It’s time for Ariel’s date, and because we’ve all seen the preview, none of this really matters, right? Producers can plan all the extravagant dates they want, but the entire time we’re just thinking, Is she the one he does the nasty with? Ariel and Zach get into a tuk-tuk, we’re thinking about sex. They walk into a night market, we’re thinking about sex. They slurp down a few grasshoppers, we’re thinking about Zach. And. Ariel. Fucking. And sucking. We’re no better than Zach himself.
The only reason why this date does matter is it gives us a glimpse into Zach’s slow descent into madness. Now that there’s something he officially can’t have, he starts to become the Joker of his own season. His left eyebrow is twitching as he snacks on a cricket. He gets a feral glint in his eye as Ariel talks dirty about street intestines. He’s practically vibrating after they make out in front of a street performer. I now believe Zach when he said he had an “animalistic desire” to have sex with these women; this entire date, he’s looked like a Labrador retriever presented with the task of patiently waiting for its dinner. He can’t sit still, he’s drooling, and there may have been an accidental boner involved.
As Zach and Ariel roll up to the night portion of their date, they’re spied upon by the Woman in the Window, a.k.a. Gabi. She’s been lurking around, feeling nervous about her and Zach’s connection. But since she’s presumably quarantined to her room, all Gabi can do is flit around the edges of their date like the Ghost of Fantasy Suites Yet to Come — and boy, will they come. (I’m so sorry.)
Zach and Ariel eat at a restaurant called the White Lotus because you literally can’t make this stuff up. Ariel reiterates that she’s falling in love with Zach, and he rewards her by letting her know he won’t be touching her tonight. Ariel seems disappointed, probably because she’s wondering why the hell she bribed him last week with pizza and gefilte fish. When they get to the hotel room, though, it’s a different story. Zach is so wired that, when they walk into the suite, all he can say is “Bed!” They make out in the pool. They make out in the aforementioned bedroom. But they do not have sex. Via the power of Sean Lowe, Zach holds strong.
The next day, it’s time for Gabi’s Fantasy Suite. They’re taking a boat to a private island, and is it federal law that all Bachelor couples must do the Titanic pose while on a boat date? Gabi’s still anxious about her connection with Zach, which is ridiculous because Zach looks at her as if he were a starving man and her Vermont blood ran warm with maple syrup. After basically zero prompting, Gabi starts crying because her Fantasy Suite is second and she’s previously been chosen second in relationships. She runs off, telling her producer she feels stupid and foolish and disgusting and ugly and wow, those are a lot of negative adjectives! Let’s whip out the self-care journal, girl! After all of this crying was previewed a million times, I’m disappointed Gabi’s meltdown isn’t about Zach sleeping with another woman. I feel stupid and foolish and disgusting and ugly! I want mess, not another one of Zach and Gabi’s therapy sessions.
During the night portion of the date, Gabi finally admits she’s falling in love with Zach … and, once again, he rewards this vulnerability by telling her he won’t be fucking her tonight! What the hell, Zach?? At this point, he’s going to classically condition the girls into thinking I love you = Wear your ugliest pajamas. Gabi’s face looks like the emoji where the mouth is just a straight line. She makes herself feel better by telling us Zach doesn’t need to test-drive anything because he knows he’s getting a Porsche. These people need to cool it with their sex metaphors. That’s my job!
But! The next morning, after a deeply embarrassing conversation about Zach’s propensity for tighty-whities, he reveals there may have been some driving last night. J’accuse! I’m sorry, none of us believed Gabi would be the one he’d sleep with, right? Ariel was definitely the Alabama No. 1 seed in this situation. I was even prepared to accept Kaity because of the overwhelming power of love or whatever. But Gabi? The girl who’s been on the verge of tears since Estonia? Who routinely labels herself as “crusty”? I guess this is why he instituted a sex ban — Zach knew he was powerless to lady tears.
Jesse comes in for some much-needed bro time because Sean couldn’t catch a flight last minute. Zach admits he and Gabi did have sex but maintains it was what they needed for their relationship because otherwise she would have found another therapist. But now he needs to break HIPAA and tell all the other women he did have sex. Logically, this is what he must do, especially after so confidently declaring he would be Virgin Zach this week. But this is a trap of Zach’s own creation: Normally, the women don’t need to know anything about the other dates unless they give the lead some sort of Susie/Madi Prew type of ultimatum. Now he must admit to the love of his life that he had sex with another woman, which is something no normal person would react positively to. Zach looks extremely disappointed in himself. Turns out the real drama was inside him all along.
First up on Zach’s apology tour is Gabi. She and her claw clip thought they were getting the day off to revel in postcoital bliss — nope! Your sex life is actually getting exposed on national television. Gabi’s confused because she sure didn’t admit anything more than a cuddle session in her confessional. While she may not have been No. 1 pick in the sex draft, she’s obviously No. 1 in a prisoner’s-dilemma situation.
So why is Gabi so confused? Did Zach tell her they’d keep it quiet and then change his mind when the hotel cleaning staff found a condom in the trash? Did she just look the other way because she assumed they’d get engaged? She immediately knows the repercussions of this: She’s now the girl who broke Zach’s sex ban. This is tough, especially given that her entire story line to this point has been “fairy-tale love story.” To make her feel better, Zach tells Gabi he’s falling in love with her. Does Zach not understand he’s now tainted this special moment? He had a late start, but clearly once Zach starts making tactical errors, he falls faster and faster into the inherent pitfalls of being the lead.
After all this, Kaity still has a Fantasy Suite. She and Zach explore some mangrove forests in a kayak with a clear bottom because Zach’s all about transparency. This whole date is extremely ominous. It’s storming and thundering. It’s lit like an episode of Game of Thrones. It’s so hot that Zach’s sweating out every glass of Champagne he’s had this week. Finally, they stop at a half-submerged bench and Zach breaks the news: He tried not to have sex, but he did, sorry? Kaity is rightfully pissed because who the hell would want to hear that? Imagine your sandals are soaking wet and you’re learning your man has a weak constitution — that’s the situation she’s in. In Kaity’s confessional, she imitates Zach’s “sorry” in such a thick Canadian accent that I was violently snapped out of the moment. Why is this horrible situation the first time we’re learning that Kaity’s from Ontario?
Kaity’s feet are cold, so she and Zach move this talk to the (extremely dimly lit) forest. The editors seem to let us have the raw footage here because there aren’t many cuts to break up this fight, which feels like it lasts an hour. They don’t really come to a resolution besides Kaity stomping off and telling her producer she doesn’t know if she can spend the night with him. I mean, yeah — where do they go from here? Is Zach back to his sex ban, or is it just a sexual free-for-all here? And where is Ariel in all of this? Is she just back at the hotel munching on some crickets, thinking everyone’s good and pure?
Basically none of this is answered. Kaity just shows up to the night portion of the date and reiterates that he still likes him despite his sluttiness. When will Zach face consequences for his actions?? Zach admits he’s Catholic. This all makes sense now.
Do Kaity and Zach have sex? Who knows? That fight took up so much airtime that we’re suddenly at the rose ceremony. Ariel goes home because she’s somehow the only person who hasn’t banged Zach. She was screwed — not physically, of course.
Luckily, it seems Zach will face consequences next week — while he’s off saying good-bye to Ariel, Gabi whispers that she feels like she has a scarlet letter on her chest. This feels like a Marvel post-credits scene. Only one more week of this!
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