I get Dale. I just completely understand the whole Dale of it all. I mean, sure, who isn’t interested in a tall, thin, light-skinned former “football” player who looks like one of the kids from The Magic School Bus all grown up? Who isn’t just ready for a Degrassi: The Next Generation lookin’ motherfucker? I know I am. In that moment when Dale hugged Clare and just stood with her whispering that it was okay until she started laughing again, I fucking GOT IT.
Clare is someone who believes or was made to believe that her feelings are too big. That the way she feels things and experiences them makes her difficult to love, to be around, to find love. That she’s Too Much. Almost any adult, human woman that has deigned to have an opinion or tell a man to “please stop that” has been painted as Too Much. When you’re a Too Much Woman, the idea that someone exists who can see the largeness of your feelings is incomprehensible. You’ve probably been cast aside when you didn’t think jokes at your expense were funny. You’ve been told by a parent, a teacher, a guy friend who thinks he’s helping that you should really just quiet down. Even when you weren’t even doing anything! You probably felt that the only way to find love is with someone who had a bigger personality than you but the first time you had a real feeling, he fucking bounced.
What so many of us Too Much Women don’t realize is that we don’t need a man who is also Too Much. We just need a man who is just enough. They don’t have to match you or exceed you. They just have to have both feet on the ground. They have to know that your feelings aren’t too big or too much or too bitchy. They just need to create enough space for you until you’re feeling something more resembling your version of quiet.
That’s what Dale was able to give Clare in that moment. He wasn’t interested in running after Yosef. He just stood still with Clare and her feelings. And in that flickering, quiet moment, I got Dale. If y’all don’t, I guess we only have to deal with Dale and Clare for a few more episodes.
Until then, THERE IS STILL MESS ALL AROUND AND I’M LOVING EVERY GOD DAMN SECOND OF IT. This was a fucking action-packed, nonsense-filled episode of The Bachelorette. This episode was perfection and we still have a cocktail party to finish.
Let’s get to it.
The only thing that is of note here is this male Vivian Kensington, Yosef. Even before the cocktail party, Yosef has decided that he’s the arbiter of good taste and is going to inform Clare that she has disappointed him and for that, she should be sorry. Fuck off, my good douche! He says he wants to “wash his hands of this atrocity.” She didn’t fly everyone to a foreign country and have them commit a war crime. She made a few dudes who aren’t you take off their pants. So right away, he takes Clare aside and like Jasmine Masters, he’s got something to say. According to Pope John Yosef II here, it’s classless and tasteless and every moment he’s here is a moment away from his daughter.
Then Clare says, “I totally get where you’re coming from. My mom is dying.” Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod I AM SCREAMING. ARE YOU NOT SCREAMING?!?! Instead of Yosef snapping back to reality and going, “Oh, wait. I’m being a complete and total douche-nozzle here. We all made sacrifices to be here and while my own feelings of discomfort are certainly important to me, Clare is what’s most important here and she’s managing to have fun and stay present while her literal mother is dying in the middle of a pandemic. Ha ha! I’m an asshole! Let’s go ride a tricycle obstacle course or some dumb shit,” he does not do that. He goes ahead with his plan to tell Clare that he can’t believe she would condone seeing a little ass on this DATING TELEVISION PROGRAM. He tells her that she would make a terrible role model for his daughter. If you care so much about your daughter, maybe don’t go on a reality show during a pandemic because the odds are high you’re doing to have to put on a wedding dress and sing “I Want It That Way” or something else embarrassing.
And here’s the problem. He wanted Clare to tell him, “You’re right, zaddy. I’m sorry that I dishonored you. Give me a little spanking because I’ve been bad.” In that moment, he wanted her to admit that she was wrong and he wanted her to submit to him and when she didn’t, he couldn’t fucking handle it. He had the audacity to tell The Bachelorette that SHE was interrupting HIM. Get gone, my guy. Please exit the bubble. Clare spots this guy for exactly who he is, because she’s 39 and has seen some shit. So, she sends him home.
The rest of the guys hear a commotion and immediately form a Zara Men’s Phalanx around her. This is adorable and I love it. Yosef is yelling that she’s almost 40 and still single. Bitch, so what? Everyone knows that the coolest women at your family reunion are your unmarried aunts who arrive two hours into the function, sneak you a little whiskey, tell a story about how a certain cast member from Ally McBeal proposed to her and she turned him down, and then she has to go because she’s arguing a case in front of the Supreme Court the next day.
Clare then utters the line of the season: “I didn’t settle for men like that.” She didn’t and she’s right. Already, an amazing episode. Chris Harrison also comes to sit with Clare during her confessional to be like “umm … bitch, you love Dale?” and she giddily says, “He’s just so strong.”
Time for the Rose Ceremony. Dale and a bunch of Not-Dales (Zach C., Demar, Brandon, Jordan, Joe, Jay, Bennett, Eazy, Ben, Ed, Ivan, Kenny, Zach J.) get roses.
This week, everyone is “going” on a date but only one person will experience any meaningful time with Clare. Jason, Jay, Eazy, Chassen, Blake, Ed, Riley, and Dale are heading to the first group date that never materializes. Let’s have a bunch of guys who are already anxious about their connections with Clare sit around all day stewing in the sun, tell them the only fun active thing they might do all week is canceled and they have to share a cocktail party with Dale. Simply ruinous.
Meanwhile, Clare was given a pair of Dale’s pants and smells them with former Bachelorette Deanna. When you’re sniffing pants, it’s over. You’re about to be munching on panties and paying off his mama’s credit cards, Clare.
The group date arrives and Dale makes a speech about respecting everyone’s time and takes Clare aside. “I just need like five minutes, guys. Ha ha!” Clare takes him immediately to her suite and then to her bed. Please. Just let them fuck. Air the unedited footage. Air the split screen of each of their faces during orgasm. Apparently, Dale is gone for 45 minutes and Eazy heads to Clare’s suite to break them up and they try to pretend that Dale was just sitting in an armchair instead of operating Clare like a ventriloquist’s dummy.
After chatting with Eazy for a socially acceptable amount of time, Clare says to her producers, “Let’s just hurry this along kinda quickly.” You amazing, impatient bitch. The guys all try to convince Dale that what he did was kinda rude and selfish. But Dale doesn’t care. In fact, he doesn’t care SO MUCH that he interrupts Clare and some guy, I wanna say … Hay? Was his name Hay? IS there a Hay on the season? Whatever, it doesn’t matter. He’s a Not-Dale.
When the guys try AGAIN to let Dale know that his actions have hurt them in the following ways, he says he got lost on the way to the bathroom. WHAT A TREAT. This is a delight. Riley and Eazy are just trying to get Dale to admit that he likes Clare and he just wanted more time with her. If you make a big show about respecting the guys and the process, they’re gonna get annoyed. They don’t have a leg to stand on in this argument on a dating show, but they will be annoyed. Clare arrives with her hair completely matted in the back and one of Dale’s rings stuck in it. Dale gets the group Dale rose.
Up next is Zach 8’s one-on-one date. This poor idiot. He thinks this is his moment but it is not. Zach 8 and Clare are going to have a spa date and Zach is just maintaining an awkward stream of consciousness and Clare is not into it. They head to her private pool and Clare tries to give him a lil’ smooch before they head to dinner and Zach does not lean in. Clare is obviously from the Hitch School of Kissing where she goes 90 and he goes 10. Except he does not go 10. He goes zero. He doesn’t even put a hand on her waist. Clare immediately freezes up because she is not getting good vibes. Clare is all about vibes and Zach 8 has bad ones. Zach freaks out and tries to remedy the situation by grabbing Clare while she’s walking away. She heads back to her suite, sits on the bathroom floor and decides, “Oh, fuck this dude” and sends Chris Harrison to do her dirty work.
It should be commended that Clare is able to identify what she’s feeling, why she’s feeling it, admit that it might be her own trauma reaction, but decide that it’s not worth whatever exhaustion it would take to finish the date with Zach. When you get freaked out, it doesn’t matter why and it’s not going to get better.
Remember that story on Sex and the City when Miranda says a doorman told her her date wasn’t coming down … ever? That’s just what Chris Harrison did.
It’s time for the second and final group date of the week. Okay, important context here: at one point, Dale says he’s the best suited to make Clare feel better. So when Clare announces that there’s going to be a roast and all of the other contesticles and Dale will be in the audience, it’s fucking on.
Everyone has a couple jokes about Dale here and there, but Bennett goes full Alyssa Edwards at the RuPaul Roast and says to Dale, “Don’t get bitter, just get better.” Clare is UPSET. My favorite Bennett roast is when he says, “Your speeches make no sense. Zing!” He also refers to his room at the resort as a chateau and calls Dale a big diva. Zing. Clare leans over to Margaret Cho, who is there to inspire fellow Korean person Joe, and says that Bennett went a little too hard on Dale and wonders if it’s jealousy. YES, CLARE. At this point, you’re basically asking the other guys to make direct eye contact with you while you mount Dale as a display of dominance.
At the cocktail party, Clare takes each man aside and asks them, “So, Did Dale say he likes me or something? What did he say?” None of the guys want to take the bait and just tell Clare what Dale said. Which is honestly the wrong move. She’s fishing for something and if you just give it to her, she might move on. If you can spin it somehow into, “but that doesn’t mean anything to me, I just want to get to know you,” even better. But because none of the guys are willing or able to do that, Clare walks out, grabs the group date rose and says, “None of you are Dale so no one gets the rose.” PERFECTION. I HAVE NO NOTES.
On the way out of the cocktail party, Clare tells her producer that she doesn’t like all of those guys being mean to her fiancé. It’s over, you dummies. What the guys can’t fully grasp is that Clare doesn’t have to play fair. She can do whatever she wants. Most of the leads probably have one or two people in the front of their mind but they agree to just keep the show going, not for anyone’s benefit but ABC’s. The guys have misinterpreted that desire to keep the show going as some kind of honor or valor on behalf of the lead when they’re just trying to get the international trips and Neil Lane ring.
Clare doesn’t owe you anything and she knows that, and it’s making for marvelous television.