Josephine sang us out on Episode 3 with a self-styled show tune she performed for Nick. The lyrics were improvised and fully nonsensical: "There's no way I can disguise that I'm so into you, and maybe into me and you, too." The look on Nick's face suggested he was watching the lights dim on some crusty cabaret stage, envisioning a sad future: Josephine, some 37 years hence, still drunk, now clutching a feather boa, and still belting out that same weird song.
We adore The Bachelor because it is so deft at delivering truth — or "reality" — doused in glitter and someone's 8th glass of wine and that stuff known as tragedy. The squirrels bolted, as did the birds, during Josephine's little concert. A housecat ran for cover, but Bachelor Nation was glued, as always, to the promise that, at some point (not during this song, obvs), we'd witness love.
The fact that we instead witness ever-increasing levels of hysterical embarrassment is just part of the journey. Besides, Nick totally has a thing for theatrics: shark dolphin costumes, "flasher" raincoats, his own tears, and flagrant rule-breakers.
Nick is an unpredictable dude. There is no knowing what will entice or repel him.
Puking? He's fine with it!
Sleeping through a rose ceremony? That's charming!
Cheating during the Nick-cathalon? Cheers! Congrats!
Having an honest conversation? What? No. Go home now. RIGHT NOW.
Nick keeps the women in a state of heightened anxiety due to his lethal connection to what his heart tells him. Enter the ill-fated Dominique. It's practically convention for some Group Date lonely-heart to ask for "reassurance." They usually get a "thank you for your patience" speech and a few kisses. But when Dominique played this card, it was the death knell.
Within seconds she was in the back of the reject-mobile (The Bachelor's ever-ready black SUV), with cameras aimed at her crying face. No parting words, only silence.
Nick is one ruthless mofo.
Getting More Mileage Out of the "Liz Situation"
This episode started with the Rose Ceremony, which put the lame in lame duck. A few rose-less women departed, but the main show was reserved for more epic drama: the big Sex With Liz reveal followed by some Corinne Gone Wild.
Liz was the first to get sent home, Effective Immediately-style. Nick seemed to take a perverse delight in strutting into the Pre-Rose Ceremony cocktail party with his blue floral tie suggesting innocence while his humble brag signaled scalawag.
He seemed all too happy to brief the women about Sex With Liz. He kind of loves to say it.
His morning-after request for Liz's phone number (and her "no thanks") was supposed to absolve him of all wrong-doing, even though Liz had some angle about how he didn't "fight for her" (i.e., BEG for her number or commit any legwork in tracking it down).
The camera pans across the women's expressions, all stamped with some version of "WTF, Nick?"
Christen's face always holds a trove of thoughts and ideas, none of which get said aloud. No one gives Nick a speech about lies or transparency. No one walks the hell out.
Here we witness the Normalization of Nick and his antics.
Time for the women to Take Turns Talking to Nick on all those benches in the mansion's backyard.
But First Corinne, The Youngest Adult Alive
Because it's so normal to walk up and say, "Can I steal you?" while Nick is slurping whipped cream off Corinne's exposed breast. (Please tell me you noticed Reddi-wip was a proud sponsor during tonight's episode? Let's reward them with our enthusiastic patronage. Get a whole case!)
Corinne. Oh, Corinne. Wherefore art thou, Corinne, you total maniac? (Answer: canoodling with Nick and some whip cream, later cavorting in a pink princess jumpy castle dressed in bikini only.) Corinne dresses up in that sexiest of outfits — the khaki double-breasted trench coat, accessorized with stilettos, squirtable dessert topping, and smiles.
Nick is so down with all this. For the first few licks. But then he's like, "Babe, slow your roll." Because the other women are catching wind of these hijinks, and what with the Sex With Liz revelation just minutes before, it's all starting to feel tawdry.
Corinne seems to think the one-two punch that is the Trench Coat-Reddi Wip seduction will thrill Nick to such heights that he'll forgo the stupid rose ceremony thingie and forget about all those other fully-clothed women.
To Corinne, sexiness is a fly strip, and once a man gets stuck there: end of story. She doesn't consider the awkward sticky aftermath; she just goes for it.
Lucky for everyone, Nick arises from the deep red futon some production staffer dragged across the patio to stage the Reddi-wip almost-porno. He ambles off with a miffed Jasmine G.
Corinne cries and then does what toddlers usually do post-tantrum. She drifts to sleep.
Here we must make mention of Raquel. Corinne's "NANNY." She is conspicuously absent.
The science people figured out that adolescent brains are still developing up until age 27 or something so . . . in that case, where is Raquel? Why is this show hosting an unaccompanied minor?
Further, who signed Corinne's permission slip to order in a Bouncy House? Why didn't anyone (Raquel?) tell her not to straddle Nick in the Bouncy House on television? And this would all be so hilarious if it wasn't so disturbing.
Corinne seems shocking, but she's a regular BachNation fixture. They always make a spectacle out of the psychologically wounded. The irresistible villainy of Chad Bear was marred by his obvious active grief and possible insanity. Remember Ashley S., "Onion Girl," whose eccentricity would drift into what seemed legit madness?
Is there such a thing as clinical insecurity? Corinne admits to chronic jealousy. Everybody here suffers something.
The Bachelor is not sensitive to sensitivity.
Its game seems to be to toughen its contestants up. To see how much rejection and humiliation they can all handle. To find out their threshold for emotional anguish.
Nick is the perfect bachelor because he withstands public shaming with ease. He has a P.R. sensibility and he wields an oscillating combination of mercy and tyranny. He nuzzles Vanessa while she leans into several barf bags. (That's kindness.) Then congratulates Astrid on her track & field coup. (That's dickish.)
The Backstreet Boys Are Still Extremely Famous
The happiness highlight of Episode 3 was not Nick spouting tears of joy at his "terror" that this was all going to work out. It was the rapture inspired by The Backstreet Boys, those fantasy cuties of yesteryear who make us all remember what it was like to be a little girl.
Corinne (who is still a possible actual child) was bored to death with the Backstreet Boys, because "who?" and also because she thinks she's a worse dancer than the others, even though she blended right in. Danielle L. won the date for being not embarrassing at dancing.
Group dates always spotlight the idea that dating is akin to swordplay, a game with winners and losers.
I'll always wonder why women don't band together — on this show and in general.
Why don't they form a Women's Club? Retreat to their own Locker Room? Why don't they protect each other and fully vet this Nick guy? Put him through some rigorous confirmation hearings before they agree to let him "ride" hapless Corinne who they should defend instead of hate?
Why didn't they get all furious that Liz was "sent home" before they had a chance to assess all her intel and figure out if Nick was worth anyone's while?
Instead of being mad or jealous about Sex With Nick, why didn't they get the down and dirty details about Sex With Nick?
Does he just look good while he runs around the track, or does he have any other skills?
But, No. None of these women are working together for the greater good. They're trying to outrun each other at The Nick Games.
Astrid is a "kind of" winner. Which is an American phenomenon of late. She leaps into the prize hot tub; Nick's already simmering within it.
During the immediately previous track competition, Rachel actually won, but she failed to clutch a giant engagement ring that was waiting at the finish line. The thing smashed to pieces (ideally, a premonition) and Astrid scooped the dead shards and jumped into the bubbling water — a kind of ick cauldron baptizing a clearly illegitimate winner.
The Hot Tub is The Bachelor's "ground zero" of supposed eroticism.
I want to see one filled to the brim with Reddi-wip before this season's end.
Another moment of extreme hotness (that fizzled) concerned Dolphin girl writhing with Nick upon an enormous image of himself, shirtless and flexing.
There must be a way to dangle this floor mat poster thing off the balcony of the mansion? As a kind of beacon to the women while they're lolling poolside. A reminder. Not only of Nick's mouthwatering appeal, but its true scale.
I hope it doesn't end up subject to protest. Vandalized. A tooth blackened with sharpie, devil horns, a scrawled, villainous mustache?
These women always seem on the verge of insurrection — until the next ceremony or contest, when they fall back to silence and complacency. But there's still a hint of skepticism and revolt behind some of their eyes.
A tiny flicker of hope remains. Onward BachNation, to next week!