A specter is haunting The Bachelor — the specter of drama. This week’s episode has solidified, for viewers and contestants alike, that starting drama is a curse that gets you sent home. Tahzjuan was the first axing. Then Christina Mandrell (who, apparently, might have started more drama than we anticipated; Jesse Palmer, please release the lost tapes). Now it’s Anastasia. Kylee, keep your bags packed.
Zach is clearly dedicated to his search for a wife. This is all well and good in a perfect world, but The Bachelor is far from perfect. In fact, it’s the manifestation of our most base desires to see (a) hot girls fighting each other and (b) hot men wanting commitment. Zach appears to be the latter but doesn’t want to put up with the former. And while the show may be called The Bachelor, it’s just as much the stories of a group of women from different backgrounds and experiences as it is the story of one man looking for a wife. If our villains get sent home 45 minutes after they find their footing, why should we care about them at all?
The problem here is the show is trying to have it both ways. Producers want to make Zach the lovable, Sean Lowe type of Bachelor, but they also want to bring the drama and intrigue of recent seasons. Most of the time that kind of drama is caused by the lead fucking up massively, and right now, we don’t hate Zach! Hooray! But the show also can’t expect us to pull us in with petty, one-episode drama about Instagram followers.
I think the conclusion here is we — and the show — have to accept that this is a boring season. Hopefully the reward for this Faustian bargain is a lasting relationship between the lead and his first-placer that will result in podcasts, brand collabs, and babies to come. If not, what was even the point?
Okay, rant over. Let’s get into it.
Jesse comes in and announces that the ladies are headed to the Bahamas, and the girls freak out because usually the first destination is somewhere domestic and generally horrible, like Cleveland. As the girls explore their sponsored accommodations, we get our (now-weekly) shot of Zach showering, and at this point I will need to post a final shower count at the end of this season.
Katherine — who is now nicknamed “Kat,” because we’ve officially replaced Cat-with-a-C — gets the first one-on-one. Another thing I will be making a final count of at the end of the season? Zach’s cringiest one-liners, because this one — ”I’m just a Bahama Papa looking for his Bahama Mama” —makes me want to crawl out of my skin. They’re going snorkeling on a yacht today, but before they can hop in the water they have to put sunscreen on each other, which, for some reason, takes up at least 20 precious minutes of this episode. They stop to kiss. They stop to dance with no music. They stop to compliment each other on how hot they are. At this point, they’re both going to be sunburnt, and I have no sympathy!
After looking at some underwater sculptures that were clearly planted there by the Baha Mar Resort Complex, Zach and Kat sit on the beach and talk about how great of a date this was. After Kaity’s one-on-one last week and now this, Zach’s type is clearly blonde nurses whose names start with K. That’s fine! Honestly, put the rest of the contestants out of their misery and stack the cast full of ’em if that’s how this is going! During the night portion, Kat opens up about how she and her mom don’t get along, which has made her feel unlovable. Zach tells her that she is lovable, which will unfortunately backfire when he ultimately sends her home. But actually, maybe he won’t! He says in a confessional he feels like that date was too good to be true, and to punctuate that sentiment, he and Kat get fireworks after dinner. (In a truly hilarious moment, upon seeing this, Aly, who’s been sitting in the hotel, says, “Dammit, she got fireworks.” She knows what fireworks mean, she’s a player of the game!) If Zach’s type is blonde nurses whose names start with K, who’s to say he won’t marry one?
Time for the group date! Aly, Kaity, Ariel, Davia, Genevie, Anastasia, Kylie, Mercedes, Charity, Gabi, Jess, and Greer are on it, meaning rodeo-clown dancer Brooklyn, previously known solely for having beef with Christina, gets the one-on-one. While we’re here, can we discuss how Genevie’s arm is miraculously healed? And why won’t they tell us what happened? Did she fall out of one of those flimsy Bachelor Mansion bunk beds? Was she put on the injury report after the fifth annual Bachelor Bowl? Did stealing Zach for a sec get a little too rowdy? We deserve answers!
This group date is a fish fry/party, which is chill, because Zach’s a cool Bachelor, okay? But nothing is really chill in Bachelor World. Gabi can’t kiss Zach because she’s allergic to shellfish, and Zach has been slurping down conch fritters all afternoon. Anastasia asks Zach for a kiss at the limbo competition, and he gives her the wimpiest peck in the entire universe. But it all really kicks off when Kylee comes to steal Zach from Anastasia for a chat. When Anastasia resists, Kylee quickly jokes, “I don’t want to fight you,” which is a completely normal thing to say! But Anastasia starts running around saying Kylee threatened to beat her up. Yes, Stassie Baby, obviously you would lose a fight to Kylee, but you don’t have to keep pointing it out like that!
The ladies waltz into the after-party holding hands like everything’s fine. And initially it is. Zach gets in quick makeout sessions with Kaity, Jess, Charity, and Gabi. I was going to roast Zach for how much he called the women “awesome,” but really, how many ways are there to say, “You’re hot, can we please kiss now?” Everything comes crashing down, however, when Kylee gets back at Anastasia by revealing that all she really cares about is Instagram followers! Gasp! Shock! Horror! Let’s stop lying: That’s all anyone on this show really cares about, but you can’t admit it. It’s like Fight Club. The first rule of Instagram followers is to not talk about Instagram followers. They should really include that in The Bachelor welcome packet, but alas.
Charity — who is wearing a dress that unfortunately reminds me of Joseph’s amazing technicolor dreamcoat — confirms that she did, in fact, overhear Anastasia talking about Instagram followers. Side note: Charity has low-key been involved in all of the drama but hasn’t gotten any of the blowback. Maybe it’s because she has the disposition of a particularly battered Red Cross worker, but either way, good for her. Anyway, Zach confronts Anastasia, and the usual happens: Anastasia is shocked, Zach gets confused, Anastasia denies, and Zach is once again confused. Ariel gets the group-date rose because she comforted him and told him her favorite color was green. Go figure!
It’s time for Brooklyn’s one-on-one, but before that, can I ask: When is The Seniorette happening? We’ve been seeing ads for this seemingly since pre-pandemic times. Have they not found a hot enough grandpa, and if so, can I propose Gabby Windey’s sweet grandfather?
Nevertheless, Brooklyn and Zach go ATVing, which is why he picked her, because she likes mud. I would be a little insulted if that were me, but Brooklyn takes it as a compliment because it means he knows her. Have some standards, girl! In the second-most-awkward moment of the episode (I’ll never forget Bahama Papa), he and Brooklyn fist bump after they kiss, which he calls “the knucks.” Coincidentally, “the knucks” are what Anastasia thought Kylee was going to do to her face after she pulled Zach on the group date. I love thematic consistency.
During the dinner portion, Brooklyn tells him about her previous abusive relationship, which she says ended about a year ago. I commend her for sharing this on a national platform — usually these girls are pressured into “opening up” on the one-on-ones, even if they don’t really have anything insightful to say. However, this was a truly emotional moment that might have actually brought awareness to the issue of domestic violence. Zach takes it in stride, telling her he’s blown away by her bravery. After all that, they dance to an acoustic guitar player and she gets the rose. Hey — it’s still The Bachelor.
At the cocktail party, Zach immediately pulls Anastasia for a chat and sends her home. This puts Kylee in a tizzy because she can see the writing on the wall: A witch has clearly put a curse on anybody who dares start drama in a Zach Shallcross season of The Bachelor, and she’s the next victim. While Zach speaks with people who already have roses, like Kat and Ariel, Kylee’s freaking out and crying. Now Davia is freaking out and crying. Careful, it’s spreading! Obviously, the rose ceremony starts before Zach can give them any sort of reassurance. Kylee threatens to leave before she’s sent home, but clearly someone gave her the hint that they can’t cut all the villains just yet. Charity, Kaity, Gabi — who appears to be wearing some sort of floral curtain instead of a dress — Jess, Mercedes, Aly, Greer, and Kylee all get roses, meaning Davia and Genevie are sent home. Genevie, please reveal what happened to your arm on your Instagram story; it’s been the biggest drama of the season yet.
Next week, we’re headed to London, where Zach appears to get COVID. He’s sitting on Zoom in a full tux, and this is actually the funniest, campiest thing that could ever happen to this season. Time to mask up, Bahama Papa!
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