RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S5 E04

RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S5 E04
The Bachelor Australia Season 5
Background photo via Canva

It’s Bachie o’clock again! In this episode, Matty makes the ladies play a lifesize board game based on him, and so making a bunch of handsome gentlemen play Dr-Jodes-opoly is now my new #1 life goal.

Before we dive into the main body of the recap, I want to give a shoutout to one of the unsung heroines of this show. I would be extremely surprised if she wins Matty’s heart, but she’s certainly won mine, because of her amazing rhetorical turns.

Let us all pause for a minute and raise our glasses to Tara. After he met her on the red carpet, Matty muttered ‘what a legend’ to himself, and I would like to second that tenfold. Here are some of tonight’s Classic Tara Moments:

  • ‘He’s going to think she’s the sickest person.’
  • ‘What do you mean I’m not sexy?’ *suggestively eats a banana*
  • And my personal favourite, while comforting the other ladies not picked for the single date: ‘When I’m eating dinner, I save the best for last. I eat my veggies first and save my schnitty. We’re the schnitty.’

…we’re all campaigning hard to make Tara next year’s Bachelorette, right? Right. #straya #betheschnitty

Even though Tara is obviously the star in all our hearts, the actual star of tonight’s episode is Cobie, the recipient of the single date. I was pretty surprised by this, because Cobie’s been getting the ridiculous person edit, not the wifey edit, so … there you go, Matty J (or producers deciding for Matty J): you’ve surprised me.

This is a horseback riding date, which Matty (‘Matty’) has chosen because a) he knows Cobie loves animals, and b) he used to do Pony Club as a kid. I am very excited by this, because he also revealed in The Bachelorette he did ballet as a kid, and I am HANGING OUT for the ballet date.

Though we shouldn’t disregard how excellent this horse-riding date is, for a number of reasons.

Reason Numero Uno: Let’s talk about why horse-riding and romance are often associated with each other, symbolically speaking. Spoilers: it all has to do with one of Bachie’s favourite buzzwords: the journey.

Before the advent of cars, trains, epic Bachie super-yachts, etc, horses represented the primary mode of transport. If you wanted to get from place A to place B and it was too far to walk, horses were your only option. Thus, they’ve become associated with the idea of the quest, of voyaging out into the unknown and exploring new territory.

Romance loves a quest. There are a few reasons for this. First, if you have your protagonists on a quest together, you have a classic forced proximity narrative, accompanied only by your trusty horses. Second, there’s an association with the idea of the knight riding out in service to or to seek his lady, which is tied to some of the ideas of courtly love I wrote about yesterday. And third, the external quest mirrors the internal journey of the romantic couple, as together they travel into unknown territory.

And who’s along for the ride – or, more correctly, providing the ride? Horses.

(There are also some, um, interesting psychoanalytic theories about women and horses, but let’s not go into those here.)

Reason Numero Due: This date gives rise to what surely must be the most sustained shot of a horse penis in primetime TV history. Matty’s horse starts pissing, and he stares, and Cobie stares, and the camera stares, and so we’re forced to stare, and honestly there are like twenty seconds of this show devoted to horse peen, and maybe I should have gone into some of those psychoanalytic theories, because as far as filmic decisions go, this one is … interesting.

But let us return to the date. Cobie has never ridden a horse before, and so Matty talks her through the process. ‘It was nice that she hadn’t ridden a horse before,’ he tells the camera, ‘because it meant –’

DON’T YOU DARE SAY IT WAS NICE SO YOU COULD MANSPLAIN HORSERIDING TO HER, thousands of women scream in unison at their televisions.

‘– it could really be a memorable experience for her,’ he finishes, and we all relax a bit.

Speaking of relaxing, Cobie is clearly nervous when they’re on horseback, but once she gets her feet on the ground, she relaxes demonstrably. Matty announces that they’re going to wash the horses, and she reacts like someone’s just told her that Beyoncé will be coming in to perform live for them.

And then they have a water fight, because when you have two people and a hose some things are just inevitable.

After the horse-riding part of the date, Matty and Cobie retire to the traditional Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation. Cobie is still OMG SO HYPED about not only RIDING HORSES, but also WASHING HORSES, OMG MATTY, and Matty is like, ‘um … yeah, washing horses is … nice.’

But from this inauspicious beginning, a little bit of something quite nice grows. They talk a little about being in love, and about how it’s better to establish a friendship and let love grow from there. Matty is very into this line of conversation – as it is, we must remember, completely in line with his communicative mode of romance – and so the tone changes.

…and then Cobie busts out a poem.

I was going to say that poetry on Bachie never works, but I would be wrong, because last year’s winner Alex won over Richie Strahan the Beigest Bachie by reading some truly dreadful Bec Hewitt-style poetry. But I will say this: doing poetry on Bachie will always make you seem ridiculous to the audience.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The most important one is that Bachie contestants are generally not, shall we say, gifted wordsmiths. (With the interesting exception of Matty – it would have been interesting to see what he would have come up with if my TV best friend G Love had forced him to put pen to paper.) But there’s another reason, and that is that love poetry is, by its nature, quite sincere. It’s a raw expression of emotion: which is why ‘love’ and ‘poetry’ go together so often.

However, we’re accustomed, as a culture, to be quite suspicious of sincerity. Postmodernism has, like, happened, and so we want to look for irony, we want to poke fun, we want to deconstruct. And so something about the sheer sincerity of love poetry becomes a bit ridiculous, especially in a situation like Bachie, where most of the audience wants to laugh at a lot of the contestants.

This is especially true of a contestant like Cobie, who has been set up as ridiculous this whole time – she’s there to overreact to things and to be a giffable face and not much else. But this whole scene is really quite nice. She reads her poem, and, look, it’s not good, but Matty sincerely listens, and tells her it’s excellent, and gives her a rose. And then she says, ‘I want to kiss you, but I need you to meet me halfway,’ and he does, and honestly, he just seems like such a lovely dude.

The next group date is a little more casual than the regular kind – or maybe it just seems that way because instead of Osher coming in and pulling a date card from his sartorially impossible pocket, Matty just sort of wanders in and summons the ladies to the backyard. There, he (well, ‘he’, we all know how this works) has set up a live action Bachelor Board Game that he wants all the ladies to play, like some kind of reality TV Alice Through The Looking Glass.

Two things:

  • Imagine walking into a house full of people who wanted to date you and saying, ‘HEY GUYS LET’S ALL PLAY A BOARD GAME BASED ON MEEEEEEEEE.’ Like, just imagine what that must feel like.
  • I knew immediately that like seventeen of my friends heard the phrase ‘Bachelor Board Game’ and replaced it with ‘Ideal Birthday Gift For Dr Jodes’. You’re all brilliant and I love you. xxx

Anyway, this game. Various squares have various powers. There are some where, if you land on them, you and Matty both have to answer compatibility questions. There are others where you have to answer random trivia about him. (Florence does especially well at this section, and Matty likes how much she listened. Adding that one to the growing file for the 74 Bachie articles I’m working on.) There is a spot which sends you to gaol – AKA a go-go cage – and yet others which, for some reason, require you to hit another lady in the face with a banana cream pie.

Look, I have been studying romance and romantic tropes for a long time now, but as far as I’m aware, taking out your romantic rivals/sister-wives with pies is not generally part of the romantic narrative.

Oh, and there is another spot where you get to choose to either kiss the Bachie in front of everyone or move ahead three spaces.

Only one lady (in the diegesis, anyway) lands on this spot, and it is Cobie. She hesitates, and this leads to some of the greatest dialogue that has ever been uttered in the Bachie franchise, yelled from the sidelines:

  • ‘I’D KISS HIM AYYYYYY’
  • ‘I’D BE PASHING ON’

Bless this show. (And yes, at least one of those is from absolute legend Tara.) #straya

But despite all this encouragement, Cobie chooses to take the three spaces.

Matty gives exactly zero shits, as he doesn’t seem to be that into kissing ladies in front of other ladies – let us never forget the ‘she pashed and he dashed! You’d be devooooooooooo’ incident – but Cobie is OMG EATEN UP INSIDE WITH ANGST. And what she does next will TEAR THE HOUSE APART.

That is how they phrased it on the ads, anyway. What really happens is that it starts five minutes worth of cocktail party drama.

So what happens is this (deep breath):

Matty is talking to Simone, and they haven’t been talking long when Cobie comes up and is like ‘um can I talk to you Matty’, and Matty is like ‘sure’, and Simone goes and announces to the rest of the ladies that she is pissed off because she’d basically just sat down and anyway Cobie already HAS a rose so all of this is SO unfair, and Jen and Leah jump straight on this bandwagon even though they were both Simone’s sworn enemies like three minutes ago, and Jen authoritatively declaims of Cobie that ‘she’s a hustler, she’s a bitch!’ and then Leah goes to interrupt Cobie and is like ‘babe, you pissed a lot of people off’, and Cobie is like ‘m8 I don’t care and I’m not done here’, and Matty is in the middle of this being like ‘what the actual fuck is happening’, and Leah is like ‘just saying’ and goes back to tell the other ladies, and Jen is like GASP ‘that Cobie, what a snake in the grass’, and Laura who is sensible is like ‘um, Cobie seems perfectly nice, how about you all just chill and stop being high school mean girls’, and this is somehow just as offensive as Cobie’s original offense.

Bear with me a moment while I catch my breath.

Anyway, TL;DR: Cobie pissed the Resident Mean Girls™ off, and they yelled about it a lot. And also Laura was the voice of reason, and that makes me even more sure that she’s going to win, because the diegesis is doing its darndest to portray her as Mature Romantic Heroine Who Has Her Shit Together in the mode of my queen Georgia Love.

(Tara also vocally defends Cobie here, because she is 100% the schnitty.)

Oh, and somewhere in here Florence teaches Matty rudimentary Dutch, and he seems pretty into it.

As Cobie has a rose, all this draaaaammmmmaaaaaaaa has exactly no impact on the rose ceremony. Tonight’s victim is Belinda, the love coach who made Matty stare into her eyes for a full minute on the red carpet that first night while she timed it with a kitchen timer. And therein she sowed the seeds of her own doom, because you’re not going to win a boy whose romantic mode is talkative by making him not talk.

Next week: a Thunderdome date! I’m guessing that the two ladies will be Jen and Leah, because even though they’ve formed a collaborative alliance, there can only be one alpha Regina George…

The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.

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Jodi is a literary historian currently working as a lecturer at the University of Tasmania. Her research focuses on the history of love, sex, women, and popular culture, so reading romance novels is technically work for her. Shed a tear for Jodi. Jodi is also an author, and her debut YA paranormal novel Valentine is due out in February 2017. One time, she was invited on a special private tour of the set of The Bold and the Beautiful, and it was the single best hour of her life.

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