Welcome back to the best Bachelor recap you’ll ever read! As if it wasn’t already a blow to my ego to be single and 30 on Valentine’s Day, ABC wants to rub salt in the open wound by making sure my only viable plans for the evening are to sit shackled to my TV watching beautiful, college-educated women throw themselves at the human equivalent of whole milk. God damn you, ABC. God damn you.
Let’s Get Ready To Rumbleeeee
If you were hoping that ABC would stick with the V-day theme and produce an episode that could actually convince people with fully-functioning frontal lobes to believe there’s a chance at finding love on reality TV—think again! This week starts with where we left things last episode: the two-on-one date. I can’t think of anything that screams “everlasting love” less than a two-on-one date. The rules are simple: two women enter, only one leaves. In any other reality this is the plot of a Dateline episode, but okay.
Shanae is already gearing up to con Clayton out of choosing another perfectly normal girl to give his rose to. She knows that what Clayton truly wants isn’t someone who loves lazy Sunday mornings, drinking coffee in bed; it’s someone who will cut his brake wires after he forgets to load the dishwasher just once. Come on, it’s written all over your face, buddy!!
SHANAE: I’ve been through hell and back for Clayton. I deserve to be here.
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And, look, I know I shouldn’t, but is anyone else secretly rooting for Shanae? Yes, I know she’s vile and unhinged, but my god can the woman put on a good show. Like, imagine if she won the whole damn thing and Clayton is just watching this at home with her now in abject horror. I mean, we’ve endured six weeks—six weeks!—of the Shanae Show. At this point, her reign of terror has gone on for so long that I no longer want her to leave. I want this whole season to be Clayton just being obviously conned. Give the people what they want!
During the date, Genevieve tries her best to focus on her alone time with Clayton. If I were her, I would be wondering why she’s on this date at all. She’s had beef with Shanae, sure, but everyone has had beef with Shanae. Why pit her specifically against the gorgon? I get the feeling that Clayton just liked her the least out of the other girls and was deciding between boring and crazy. A question that has plagued the male species for eons.
While Genevieve’s strategy is to play it safe, sane, and stable (booooo), Shanae’s strategy is to just continue creating chaos. It’s like Shanae’s foreplay demands role play, but the role play has to consist of her acting like the victim of middle school bullying. She tells Clayton that Genevieve is actually the unhinged one, that Genevieve was inconsolable at being chosen for the two-on-one and just “wanted to go home” already, and that Genevieve is the actress who’s been faking her way through her conversations with Clayton. Jesus Christ, this bitch is good. She could literally shit in her hand and tell Clayton it’s gold and he would believe her. You have to applaud the audacity.
SHANAE: Getting this rose tonight is going to feel better than sex.
Yes, well. Certainly sex with Clayton.
Clayton is putty in Shanae’s hands. He asks Genevieve—in front of Shanae!—what her secret agenda is. Is she an actress who’s been lying to him this whole time? Jesus fucking Christ. I’ve seen vegetable peelers with better cognitive reasoning skills than what Clayton’s displayed this entire season. Congratulations, Clayton. You’re one of the dumbest Bachelors in this franchise. And I say that having had to watch Chris Harrison explain penetration to Colton a few seasons back!
Clayton, unsure of who to trust, asks for a few minutes alone so he can think things through. I’m not sure what Mother Willow over there is going to tell you that you don’t already know, but okay. At this point he has to know Shanae is sociopathic, he’s just deciding if that’s worth the tantric sex in the fantasy suites. Only if your orgasms depend on knife play, buddy!
After wallowing by the falls for way too long, Clayton decides to give Genevieve the rose. Is it just me or does Genevieve not only look shocked to be receiving said rose, but also a little disgusted at having to accept it? If a man called me an actress and a liar to my face, never apologized for it, and then shoved a half-hearted rose at me as an “apology,” that rose (and his favored body parts) would find themselves at the bottom of Niagara Falls.
With Genevieve in, that means Shanae’s out… for now. I get the feeling that roses are not legally binding enough to hinder Shanae from, say, using her passport of her own free will to show up at their next locale. Court ordered mandates are more her love language, you feel me?
Clayton: A Grower, Not A Shower
I wasn’t expecting a lot when ABC announced Clayton as their new Bachelor, but I was expecting him to have at least a few brain cells to rub together. Boy, was I wrong. There were multiple points throughout the episode where Clayton commented on his “growth” as a person, to which I feel compelled to ask: when and, like, how have you actually grown?? After Shanae’s exit, no one was prouder of Clayton than Clayton. The women were crying like their country had just been liberated, while Clayton basked in being the liberator. At one point he says something like this week has challenged him to grow as a person, and I’m not sure what he wants from us. A “congratulations” for not picking the girl that gets his dick wet? You’re looking for a wife, not someone to send you nudes in your DMs!
As if to highlight his new role as “mature” and “cultured” and “Patron Saint of Turning Down Blowjobs From Psychos For The Greater Good” Clayton tries to educate the women on their new travel destination: Croatia. Honey, they know where Yacht Week is. This isn’t amateur hour. Once in Croatia, ABC can’t help but contrast the “growth” Clayton was bragging about by cutting to b-roll of Clayton thinking deeply on a boat. Ah, yes, that’s so different from the Clayton he was in Toronto. And, of course, Clayton has the uncanny ability of making gorgeous Croatia look like the creek in his granddad’s backyard. It’s just the way he sits on that boat.
Later, his growth is put to the test during his one-on-one date with Teddi. She reveals that though she’s hot and smart and not even a little bit religious, she’s actually still a virgin. She’s never been in love before and she wants to wait until she’s in love to have sex. Meanwhile, Clayton is looking at her like she’s the riddle he has to solve after meeting a troll under a bridge.
TEDDI: I’m a virgin… does that worry you?
He’s like “wow, you’re a virgin? But I’m actually attracted to you??” Yes, Clayton, believe it or not, attraction is not actually dependent on if someone has their hymen or not. Crazy! I truly can’t wait to see where this new “grown” Clayton takes us next!
Mara Is Too Old For This Shit
With production’s golden goose Shanae out of the house, they need to find a new evil to curse the contestants with. And what could be more evil than a woman in her 30s! That’s right: production has set their sights on Mara to be the new season villain. To be fair, Mara is having a hard time this week and it has nothing to do with the tangled web ABC wants to weave. It’s like she woke up and realized that she is 32 and on The Bachelor. *shudders*
The thing is, this show is not meant for us olds to succeed. I say “olds” not because any of these women are actually old, but because traditionally contestants who’ve aged out of their parents’ insurance plan don’t make it far. The Bachelor leads are quick to say that they’re looking for a mature woman to wife up and settle down with, and then promptly choose a woman whose most recent career achievement was putting together a pancake breakfast for the Alpha Delta Pi alumni event. So, I don’t blame Mara for looking around the room and asking herself wtf. No, actually, what the fuck.
CLAYTON: When I look around this room, I see my future wife.
At 32, Mara is the oldest contestant on the show and the only contestant to be shut out of any one-on-one dates. When Sarah, a woman nine years her junior, receives a second one-on-one date, Mara’s head practically does a 360° spin around her body.
This is not to say that I’m Team Mara by any means. I just understand how infuriating it is to watch dudes gaslight “older” women by saying they want maturity and then actively choosing the opposite. And it’s not that younger women aren’t mature or ready enough for marriage, it’s just that these women on this show aren’t mature or ready enough for marriage. They’re ready to quit their jobs to become full-time Instagram peons. That’s it.
Later, during the group date, Mara confronts Clayton about his favoring younger women and wow wow WOW she is really laying it all on the table.
MARA: It’s your journey, Clayton…
Mara tells Clayton that Sarah is not ready for marriage. She implies that this is something Sarah said to her and not a personal observation of Mara’s. Mara, Mara, Mara. This is not the way to go about winning, honey! Going after Sarah feels like low-hanging fruit. You’re better than this.
Plus, I mean, the age difference between Clayton and Sarah is actually not that crazy. Sarah is 23 and Clayton is 28 (he has the maturity levels of a 13-year-old, but is still technically 28!). But I do see Mara’s point. Sarah was going to frat formals last semester and now suddenly she’s ready for matrimony? She literally still drinks jungle juice out of garbage cans at parties. Neil Lane cannot in good conscience adorn that Kool-Aid stained hand with one of his rings.
Mara’s accusations cause Clayton to confront Sarah on their one-on-one date. I see his devotion to personal growth and thinking for himself is working out great for him! The rest of the episode is a pandemonium of sobs and wails. Sarah cannot believe anyone would call her young. She has a Linktr.ee with all her personal swipe-up codes on her IG handle, for god’s sake. They don’t just give swipe-up codes to babies, okay!!
She survives the one-on-one date with a rose… but barely. And may god have mercy on Mara’s soul if Sarah ever finds out who threw her under the bus. Hell hath no fury like a woman-who-has-yet-to-need-Botox scorned.
Roses & Eliminations
As always, ABC has left me with nothing but anarchy and fragmented story lines to make sense of for this recap. Narrative arcs are so 2021…
- Genevieve (two-on-one)
- Teddi (one-on-one)
- Rachel (the group date)
- Sarah (one-on-one)
- Shanae (two-on-one)
- Hunter (rose ceremony)
- Marlena (rose ceremony)
Images: Giphy (5); @shanae.a /Instagram (1)