Welcome back to the best Bachelor recap you’ll ever read! (Endorsed solely by me, of course). Once again ABC has done a phenomenal job of depicting raw human vulnerability, of shining a spotlight on the human condition. You know, if the human condition involved two of the blondest women on the planet earth and a pile of shrimp.
For two weeks in a row now, Shanae and her shrimp agenda have been holding the Bachelor mansion hostage. In fact, shrimp has not had a PR moment this big since Topanga Lawrence’s husband found shrimp in his Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Of course, Shanae’s grievances with the house are not about the shrimp—they were never about the shrimp—it’s about Shanae securing her intro gimmick for Bachelor in Paradise and torturing the oldest person in the house (Elizabeth, at a whopping 32) while she’s at it, because what’s a good laugh if the olds aren’t at the center of it?
And where is Clayton during all of this? Manifesting his disappearance into the nearest bush. During the rose ceremony, Clayton tries to be a mature, calming influence and so he pulls both Elizabeth and Shanae aside so that they can work out their issues in a supervised environment. Rookie mistake. My dad used to have a similar approach when my sister and I would fight over who got to wear the Limited Too Soffe shorts to school that day (you know, the ones that said “SOCCER” in straight glitter over the ass) and all it ever resulted in was enough verbal carnage to leave a grown man traumatized for years to come.
THE WOMEN: Shrimp shrimp Shanae shrimp shrimp Shanae SHRIMP SHRIMP
One thing I will not do during this recap—nay, REFUSE to do during this recap—is refer to any moment from tonight’s events as “ShrimpGate.” The writer in me is horrified at the creative liberties this generation has taken with butchering that term. Imagine orchestrating Watergate, one of the greatest scandals to ever occur in a United States presidency, and then for the rest of your life people add “gate” to any issue that becomes marginally dramatic. This does not, of course, stop the women from using that term to describe the Shanae drama no less than 100 times in one rose ceremony. While Elizabeth holds hands with another group of olds for moral support—a prayer circle of women, fortified by the mutual trauma of turning 30 single—Shanae sits victoriously across from her.
LINDSEY: It’s frustrating because Clayton is taking Shanae’s word as gospel
If the other women were hoping Clayton could spot an evildoer in their midst, they are sadly mistaken. Clayton has not only abandoned the women to Shanae’s antics, but he’s actually abandoned The Bachelor process entirely. He cancels the rest of the cocktail hour and moves directly into the rose ceremony where he promptly sends home… Elizabeth?! Despite Shanae dominating the cocktail hour with her dissertation on sea cretins, Clayton decides to keep her around for another week. See, this is why men should be kept in caves and only brought out for breeding purposes or when they finally develop critical thinking skills—whichever happens first!
The women are devastated. How are they supposed to focus on simultaneously dating the same man when this woman won’t stop talking about shrimp? How! At one point, Gabby, puffy-eyed and grief stricken, sobs brokenly into her coffee, “it’s hard when evil wins.” Jesus Christ. Shanae isn’t a Death Eater. She’s just a blonde girl with a bad attitude. Gabby, there are people that are dying!
The women’s animosity towards Shanae only intensifies during the next group date when Clayton subjects them to a playful game of tackle football. Not flag football or powderpuff football, but actual tackle football. I hope the producers have a body bag on hand, because blood is about to be shed. There might be cleaner fights in a gladiatorial games than what’s about to happen on this football field.
But first Clayton treats the women to a tailgate, a nice feast before they fight to the death. How civilized. The tailgate also doubles as a car commercial with Clayton pointing to each car like he’s a Price is Right model. ABC’s shameless product placement knows no bounds.
In terms of the actual game, I’ve seen greater feats of athletic prowess in middle school gym classes. One team is led by Shanae and her unquenchable thirst to gain as much air time as possible. The other team is led by Sierra—who, at any moment, is wearing enough body glitter to be mistaken for a Cullen—and Marlena, an Olympic athlete. Every time I see this Olympian I’m sad for the state of our world. I mean, my god, this woman is one of the top athletes in the world and she’s been reduced to competing against a harem full of women for the attention of a man who is the equivalent of a human protein shake. *sighs so deeply it creates a new fault line* We did not march for this, ladies!
Of course Marlena absolutely obliterates the competition. Was there even a suggestion that she wouldn’t? Her team is thus allowed to move on to the evening’s cocktail party. Tbh, Sierra and Marlena should be the only ones invited on that group date. They carried the team. That body glitter worked overtime for its night out.
Shanae turns up anyways because as my boyfriend once said about me on College ACB: you can’t stop crazy. I believe Shanae’s exact words when asked why she showed up were, “I deserve to be here” which is… BOLD. You know Clayton’s got to be like, “hopefully the sex is worth all of this??” Oh, Clayton. He pretends to yell at her for breaking the sacred rules of Bachelor Bowl and coming to the after party even though her team expressly lost… and then promptly abandons all moral arguments in favor of making out with her on top of a bar. OH CLAYTON.
The episode ends with Shanae grabbing the winning team’s trophy and throwing it dramatically into a nearby bush while screaming, “this isn’t The Bachelor, this is the Shanae Show!!” But the things she can do with that tongue, amiright Clayton?
Worst Branding: The “Worldwide International Journey”
I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the location change for this week’s episode. In past seasons, ABC has taken pride in whisking contestants off to whatever armpit of America fits their location budget (and is legally allowed for those who have court mandated conditions for their domestic travel). But with COVID wreaking havoc the last few seasons ABC has had to settle for papier-mâché-ing hotel conference rooms to vaguely resemble whatever Pinterest-inspired imagery represents their old travel locales. So when Jesse Palmer gamely told the women that they were headed on a “worldwide international journey” I mistakenly assumed we would get to see an actual journey and not just a three-hour flight to a Houston airport. Shame on me. That does not quite fit the description, but okay, Jesse Palmer.
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Randomest Date: Crashing The Family BBQ??
The only other date that was shown this week was Rachel’s one-on-one, and I was genuinely excited to see more of this seemingly average person. Is she beautiful? Definitely. Is there a Meghan Markle-esque quality to her looks that sent me down a Google Images rabbit hole for over two hours last night? Also yes. But she does have the personality of a Hallmark card: a cute and sweet outer presence that warms your heart to encounter but that you immediately throw away because, you know, boring. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t still want to watch her interact solo with Clayton. But instead of watching two average blonde people have lukewarm conversation while basking in each other’s stock image hotness, production had them… crash a random family’s bbq?!
You read that right: Clayton and Rachel seemingly stumble upon a regular family, grilling regular food in a regular park and just ask to join their meal?? You aren’t Jesus Christ, you can’t just break bread with strangers! The look of horror on this guy’s face as he takes in Clayton’s former professional football build and then eyes the amount of meat he bought to feed is average-sized family is sending me, y’all. I mean, these are the kinds of things that get you on a list in New York! In fact, this date concept is so far outside the scope of acceptable, realistic social interactions that I’m not able to even fully appreciate Clayton and Rachel’s chemistry. ABC, it’s one thing for you to ruin my night every Monday, but to ruin this stranger’s family outing on his day off?
Roses & Eliminations
Not much happened in terms of actual narrative progress. Who needs things like structure and story arcs when you have the live action equivalent of a Scooby Doo villain reducing a group of college-educated women to raging balls of hellfire in body glitter? But for those of you who are interested in the semantics of last night’s episode, here’s a run-down of roses and eliminations:
- Rachel (one-on-one date)
- Elizabeth (rose ceremony)
- Melina (rose ceremony)
- Kira (rose ceremony)
Images: ABC/Felicia Graham; Giphy (4); @thebetchelor /Instagram (1); ABC (1)