Welcome back to the best Bachelor recap you’ll ever read! Clayton is slowly but surely whittling his women down to the final four. Four lucky women who will have to explain to their parents, siblings, meemaws, and drunk uncles that the man they have given their hearts—and probably, in dark alcoves of the Bachelor Mansion, their right hands—to is a man whose idea of formalwear is wearing the nicest Dick’s Sporting Goods hoodie he has with a blazer over it. What fun!
Sarah – 1; Olds – 0
But before we jump into the Hometowns countdown and who makes the final four, we still have to get through last week’s rose ceremony and the eight remaining women. If you’ll recall, when last we left off Sarah had just been sabotaged on her one-on-one date by Mara. Mara, at 32, is something like the ancient crone of the house. If this were a Disney movie, her character would be portrayed with a hunchback and at least one facial wart to emphasize her oldness. Since this is not a Disney movie, but rather, a sick social experiment we as audiences have been brainwashed into returning to every Monday night, production has replaced humpbacks and warts with bitter regret and insecurities. ABC, man. They really know how to champion every woman!
THE WORLD PORTRAYING 30: 30 is the new 20
ABC PORTRAYING 30:
Sarah confronts Mara after the date and it’s a little like watching the bratty preteen you babysit make a cutting remark about your relationship status in order to distract you from enforcing her bedtime. Their hostility continues into the rose ceremony where Mara asks Sarah to “chat real quick.” This is Staten Island code for “you’re about to sleep with the fishes.” I would be scared to follow Mara into a dark corner. You may not come back with all of your body parts intact, Sarah…
Their chat, of course, results in a kind of verbal violence the likes of which I have not seen since that one time I taught middle school English for 10 months and they made me chaperone the lunch room as part of some new teacher hazing. The thing is, their beef is actually not at all about Clayton and it is absolutely about their ages and insecurities around said ages. They both seem to want to validate their age constantly. Sarah wants to prove that she is a serious candidate for marriage and Mara wants to to prove that she is not a serious candidate for Botox, it’s all just an early stage preventative measure, you can ask her dermatologist. I don’t think Mara even likes Clayton all that much. She would probably vibe with a tree stump if it promised to walk down the aisle with her! I don’t think Sarah even likes Clayton all that much either. She just polled her followers and they really want to see more boyfriend content on her feed!
But this isn’t about what Mara wants or what Sarah wants, this is about what Clayton wants (as terrifying as that may be). And, ew, 32 is not what he wants. He loves women at any size and any age—in the theoretical sense, not the literal sense because, again, ew—but come on, he may want to procreate soon! And didn’t he read on Twitter once that women past the age of 26 are, like, geriatric in terms of pregnancy? So, really, he had no choice but to send Mara home at the rose ceremony because it’s just science, you know? He believes science, so what choice did he really have? He did it for the kids, okay!!
Production Is Obsessed With Susie
It’s official (insert Janis Ian’s voice here): ABC has a big lessssbian crush on Susie. It’s the only explanation for how good of an edit she’s received this season. To reward her for being the first woman to publicly admit feelings for Clayton, they give her a second one-on-one date. Honestly, she admitted to loving Clayton. Clayton! Of all people! The woman deserves a goddamn Purple Heart at least.
Not only is she rewarded with more one-on-one time with Clayton (is that a reward? I can’t tell), but she is bestowed the coveted Pretty Woman themed date. You know, the date where the Bachelor picks her up in a hot car and takes her shopping in designer stores with money that’s most definitely not his? Ah, yes. The Pretty Woman date. Because nothing says “everlasting love” like the aphrodisiac of blatant capitalism. My favorite part of the Pretty Woman date is when the women act like the guy dreamed up this scenario all on his own. Oh, honey. Without ABC’s purse strings, you’d be lucky if he could afford the Gap.
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Now, one thing that was interesting to me was when Susie made the comment about the date feeling “foreign” to her. She said that usually she has walls built up and doesn’t allow men to treat her that way. “That way” meaning nicely and/or with any financial frivolousness. Wow. That is the most relatable thing I’ve heard on this show. I, too, would absolutely not know what to do if a man wanted to treat me to a shopping spree. Treat me? To a thing where he spends his own money… on me?! That can’t be right. I’m better equipped with handling dates where the guy Venmo charges me after the fact to split the $10 apps we ordered.
Sigmund Freud Would Like To Be Excluded From This Narrative
The group date this week is inspired by the works of Sigmund Freud, as Clayton and the girls embark on a couples therapy journey. Why Sigmund Freud? Why therapy? Does ABC ever need a reason to sabotage the emotional well-being of their contestants? I think not.
The date card reads, “how bold one gets when one is sure of being loved!” which is a Freudian threat if I’ve ever heard one. I will say Clayton knows how to spin this. He’s like, “it’s for your own personal growth” but really he just wants more of them to say they’re falling in love with him. Honestly, genius.
ABC: We support therapy, we loooove therapy
Most of the women are happy to reveal every skeleton in their closet. After all, they did sign a legally binding contract at the beginning of the season requiring them to share at least one emotionally damaging secret or forfeit their pinky finger. Genevieve, however, is not having it. She’s barely even had enough alone time with Clayton to share her last name, let alone reveal any deeply personal stories.
I do feel for Genevieve at this moment. She looks like she’s being held at gunpoint to be there. It’s clear she doesn’t feel comfortable and instead of, say, supporting her and speaking to her from her comfort level, Clayton and the therapist take the mature route of bullying her into submission.
CLAYTON: ~wHy WoN’t YoU oPeN uP tO mE~
GENEVIEVE: *opens mouth*
Perhaps she would open up if you gave her a fucking inch! Also, I think it’s rich that Clayton’s demanding she break down her walls for him when I could not tell you one intimate detail about his own life. What do we really know about you, buddy? Hmm? I know more information from the back of a yogurt label than I do about this guy’s past.
He sends Genevieve home and if she didn’t need therapy before, she certainly does now. Don’t worry, Genny. It’s definitely not you, it’s him.
Before leaving the therapy date, the therapist announces that she’s seen all she can see. Ominous. Also, Clayton, there are some girls who were honest and some who were performative during the therapy sessions. You be the judge!!
Clayton quickly realizes that Sarah might be the performer. She’s cocky and self-assured in their relationship, which obviously means she’s a psychopath. He finds out that Sarah told the rest of the girls that he cried during their one-on-one date, which is a gross exaggeration of their actual time together. Clayton can take a lot from these women. Lying, manipulation, bullying women about their neurodivergence—all fine. But insinuating that he—a man!!—cries?! That lying bitch has got to go. I love how shocked Clayton is that a 23-year-old can’t be trusted. Of course she can’t be trusted! Her frontal lobe won’t even stop developing for two more years!
When Clayton confronts Sarah she tries her damndest to channel every acting tidbit from her freshman year drama class, but try as she might, the tears just won’t come. Amateur. In the end, this is her damnation. Perhaps if, like Shanae, she was able to pull out the waterworks he might have believed her tall tales for another day. Instead, he calls her out for fake crying (!!!) and sends her home.
Y’all. When he said “it feels like you’re fake crying to me right now” and she said “that’s only because I have no more tears left to cry”…
My god, that’s good television. I may have squealed so loudly my dog passive-aggressively got up and moved to another room. Finally, ABC is giving me what I asked for: undiluted, petty drama. Bless you.
Roses & Eliminations
And now on to the roses and eliminations! This week we covered a lot of ground. We saw the end of Sarah’s one-on-one date, a formal rose ceremony, Susie’s one-on-one date, Serene’s one-on-one date, a group date, and another formal rose ceremony. Clayton and the ladies even traveled to Vienna, where I may or may not have taken bets as to when Gabby would ask if this is where the sausages are made. The format of this episode felt less like it was the result of a high-quality production value and more like it was the result of a college student on Adderall trying to get through finals week—but whatever gets this show on the road, amiright, ABC?!
Here’s a final body count for roses and eliminations:
☆ Susie (rose ceremony 1/one-on-one date)
☆ Serene (rose ceremony 1/one-on-one date)
☆ Gabby (rose ceremony 1/rose ceremony 2)
☆ Genevieve (rose ceremony 1)
☆ Rachel (rose ceremony 2)
☆ Mara (rose ceremony 1)
☆ Eliza (rose ceremony 1)
☆ Genevieve (group date)
☆ Sarah (group date)
☆ Teddi (rose ceremony 2)
That means that Susie, Gabby, Rachel, and Serene will be dishonoring their family names next week for Hometowns. Until then!
Images: Giphy (5); @thebetchelor /Instagram (1)