We open on Chris Harrison sitting on an overturned boat, his bare toes nuzzling sand. He's sun-dappled and reddened. He's usually an ace at listening, but Nick's spiel is so boring. Prattling on about his feelings and the risks. Heartbreak. Or worse, no feelings at all. Now he's saying something about what if the rug gets pulled out from under him . . .
Harrison's mind wanders back to the pool cabana and the likely condensation on his abandoned Pina Colada. He offers Nick a drowsy rejoinder: "You're scared."
"Terrified," replies Nick with a touch of excitement.
Harrison rouses his usual solemnity to deliver his next line: "Are you ready to quit and walk away from all this?"
Please say yes. Please say yes. Please say yes. Because wouldn't that be a cool monkey wrench in these godforsaken spokes.
The bachelors always start to breakdown right before the hometowns. They start mourning the end of group date fun. The jealousy games are hell for contestants, but Shangri La for bachelors.
Now all those bikini proms come to an end. Nick has to gear up to meet a bunch of dads. Leave the tropics and take red-eyes to rando towns across the nation. Four women will end up leaping into his arms and doing the ol' leg wrap, but 48 minutes later he'll be shaking hands with his miserable potential new best brother-in-law Doug, who won't provide intel on the back corridors of marrying into this family. He'll just smirk like an executioner.
Harrison is so not here for your histrionics today, Nick.
Neither is Bachelor Nation because:
The news about Rachel destroyed this whole episode because after she was confirmed as the Next Bachelorette, nothing else mattered.
Rachel is The New Queen of Bachelor Nation, her Majesty the real actual winner of this damn show.
Twitter exploded with glee as the whole rhapsody trended.
It is not just that the showrunners finally elected someone who seems genuinely genuine. Rachel definitely exudes that je ne sais quoi. She's confident and accomplished. Nice to the other women. A natural, easy beauty. She handles mansion madness without breaking down and freaking out.
That's all great.
But it's also that she's a Woman of Color. Finally. Black women represented. Granted, it's not like she was just elected president or something (although this is arguably Step One.)
This is about Representation. And it matters.
Yes, Bachelor Love is smeared-up bananas. We know this. But you have to invite everyone to the party. And for 33 seasons, this show has mostly invited a bunch of white swimwear dandies. People of color got pushed to the sides. Kissed off. Sent home way too early every time, if they arrived at all.
The other exciting part about this is that maybe something will actually happen that we need to see and that we haven't seen before.
Because it was cool to watch Nick and Rachel actually discuss race. She's dated white guys, but she's never brought one home.
The Bachelor always gets overtly weird about race (i.e. plantations, maids, island cultures, voodoo.) So of course, this trend continues when Nick takes Rachel to the part of Bimini away from tourists. And the camera cuts to a bunch of black men. See, audience? These aren't the tourists. These are the real blacks. It's grotesque and off-key.
Meanwhile, the white Danielle got to tour the touristy part of the island—and play some touristy basketball with black kids. Would Nick have taken her to the island's "authentic bar," or was that just for his woman of color?
The Bachelor is awkward about everything, but race especially. It backs away from the real conversations couples confront: politics, religion, hot button whatnots. Not just with the people of color either. Wouldn't it be cool to watch white couples discuss their whiteness and everything that attends that like the privilege of never having to discuss it or think about it as a thing? (If you saw Bachelor in Paradise, did you wonder if Grant and Lace ever discussed the race part of their code name Grace?)
At any rate, it's fun to watch Nick and Rachel go through the motions of what we now know will go nowhere. Next week, we all get to meet Rachel's parents and Federal Judge Dad who Nick has decided to call "Sir."
Good idea, Nick.
Vanessa's Powers of Clairvoyance and the Shipwreck.
Vanessa is all in on Nick. All the way in. Here's why: because she knows they are basically the same person and as soon as he admits his love they can continue to entwine: bodies and hearts, likes and dislikes. Vanessa wants to do and feel anything that Nick wants to do and feel.
Corinne surmises that Vanessa does not have depth. Corinne doesn't seem like the type to be on to something, and she's godawful over Vanessa's job as a special needs teacher. Is that an automatic stamp of virtue? "Emotionally-wise," Corinne explains, Vanessa just doesn't have much there. The editors have gobs of fun photographing Vanessa in the deep sea with a shipwreck as background amidst all the speculation on her lack of depth.
Vanessa finds visiting a disaster site romantic instead of foreboding.
Vanessa's relationship philosophy is the following: "You're only as happy as the least happy person in the relationship . . . I always say this.”
Classic co-dependence. Vanessa is absolutely falling in love and since she has a kind of Nick-Telepathy, she's certain of his love for her. She just knows.
You're only as in love as the least in love person in the relationship.
Nick tells Vanessa that he really, really LIKES her.
Which really, really pisses her off.
You're only as pissed as the least pissed. Nick wants to "take it slow." (He later repeats the same phrase to Corinne about a different matter.) The relationship is only as slow as the slowest person in the relationship. Hold up, what?
What bugs Vanessa more than the fact that Nick is not currently in love with her is the fact that her Nick-based extrasensory perception has failed. You can actually see the love eroding off of her by the end of the date as she sternly marches down the pier.
Lovely, windblown and confused.
Ever hear of the "Vagina Dentata?" Now known as the "Vajean Dentata" — Comes in Platinum, Gold and Silver
Let me keep this quick:
Feminist film scholar (aka expert) Barbara Creed argues (in a pretty famous book, The Monstrous-Feminine) that the shark movie Jaws is basically about men's fear of women, especially sexy women (#realfact). In brief, shark=platinum vageen. Vah 'Jean. Vuh-gine. How do you spell it, Corinne?
Anyway Nick, thanks for this lovely "let's swim with sharks" group date, because Kristina needs more trauma. (Alexis of the Shark-Dolphins, come back!) Nick's oiling Kristina's inner thigh and tossing her in the deep end. Also, Corinne needs more reasons to lose her mind. As usual, Raven sits quietly, breasts at the ready, awaiting her turn. She is later rewarded.
See how this works?
Placid women get roses. "Scary" women (talky, emotional) get rejected.
Check out this glorious bit of filmcraft by the thug producers:
Notice how Nick swallows Raven in the foreground. A mighty shadow beside them. And in the background, tiny as baby sharks, the diminished Corinne and shell-shocked Kristina.
Love is such a nightmare.
Corinne Crosses that Desperate Line Between Just Right Sexy and Scary Sexy.
Corinne's food — the kind she needs to survive — consists of champagne, cheese cubes, and male attention. If there is a lapse in any of these three, she will become "self-conscious." Which in her case is deeply uncomfortable and can only be cured by drunk naps or displays of sexability. Further, her best friend and biggest fan (Oh, god) is Nanny. Middle Name Slash. Last name Maid.
Nanny Raquel, like, not to blame you, but could you not have instilled some self-esteem in this bish? (I know, it's not you. It's All of Us doing this to women.)
Check out this Citizen Kane shot composition homage:
Corinne and her Vah-Zheeen lurk behind the closed door, "massaging" Nick. The uncorked champagne bottle dominating the foreground equals phallic sexability. The foil is the superficial glare of Nick's heart. The chair top represents lust and the tiny glimmer from the light-switch is the size of our hope that Corinne's sex plan will work.
Nick wants to "take it slow." Yes. Nick of the Sex with Liz. And Kaitlyn. And Andi. And all the rumored rest. Corinne knows how to make a man feel good, but she doesn’t know how to make herself feel good.
Let's get with Rachel on this one: grab Corinne's hands. Tell her to breathe and not to panic. Excellent advice, Rachel!
Anyway: Time to consider Nick's propensity for Weeping.
Nick has a philosophy on crying that is this: If you cause someone else pain, you should cry, not them. Because even though they are hurting, they are really hurting you. By hurting. Because of you. Which hurts you. (This logic is so Sean-Spicerian.)
This is why Nick weeps when he sends home Kristina.
And why he acts so put out when he has to cast off Danielle. She was too great a reminder that he comes from Wisconsin and not from the star-studded loins of gods who mated with celebrities. Poor Danielle. She was so Waukesha. And Nick is not going near Dullsville for the hometowns, which are "right around the corner," as he mentions a million times.
Raven's Hoxie, Arkansas Tumbleweed Town will be ordeal enough — for all of us. Danielle: you are the woman Nick would marry had he not achieved fame and consequence. Now he is greatness. And you, Danielle, are a certifiable normo.
Their break-up scene takes place amid candelabra that resemble the ropey carcasses of dead jellyfish. Nick oozes nausea. It's all too much for him.
He keeps declaring his stats (although he doesn't run the numbers on sex partners.) He's been on the show four times. Loved three times. Proposed twice. Been the bachelor once. He's not ashamed. He wants a great love. A different love. The kind that you crave.
He's describing a re-virginization campaign except of the Heart instead of the Body.
Nick must feel a love he has never felt before. Or else he really will have to walk off this show. (Which leaves the possibility for another season. After some counseling. Remember Brad, LOL?!)
Nick is probably gunning for a recurring role, what with these deluxe theatrics. Look, we're all fine with men crying. It's not that. Sob away, gents.
It's that Nick's calculated anguish — the "acting class" aspects of Nick's tear streaks — seems an affront when placed beside someone like Kristina. Immigrant Adoptee with Tragic Past. These exploitation rituals never end.
It's Lovesploitation. Garish. Over-the-top. Truth entwining with lies.
“You didn’t give me a fair chance," laments Kristina, "You’re letting me go.”
Nick bristles at the accusation and cries some more. Doesn't she know how hard this is for him?
This is Nick's heartbreak, Kristina! He is the dumpee!
Now get the hell out.
Image Credit: Instagram/therachlindsay; ABC, The Bachlor