RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S5 E05

RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S5 E05
The Bachelor Australia Season 5
Background photo via Canva

It’s that time of week again! We’re getting to what is essentially the beginning of the middle of this season of Bachie now, which means I can almost tell all the nine million blonde ladies apart. Almost.

We open what looks like about ten minutes after the last rose ceremony. The ladies are wearing pyjamas and robes instead of cocktail dresses, but they’re all still incredibly made up, so unless Channel Ten (who, we must remember, have basically no money) put them through makeup TWICE, then it’s totally like four seconds later.

Osher is really trying to up the ante this time, because he produces not just a date card but a bottle of booze from his sartorially impossible trousers. (HOW DO YOUR PANTS WORK OSHER? PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS WIZARDRY.) The booze, alas, is not so the ladies can drink away the memory of the unnecessary lady-on-lady hatred they unleashed at the last rose ceremony. It’s to make a stupid joke. The date card is for Florence, and it suggests that she might need some Dutch courage before her date.

Because she’s Dutch. Geddit?

…just remember, Bachie, that there’s an open offer on the table from me to you to be your date consultant, which would include writing these date cards. You have better options than this waste of perfectly good booze.

(Also, remember how Matty was impressed by the fact that Florence listened to him and so got all the Matty trivia questions right in the board game last week? And now she has a single date? NOT A COINCIDENCE. Chatty boy knows what he likes.)

The reason that Florence might need a few cheeky shots before going on her date is because Bachie has wheeled out an old fave: the jumping-off-high-things date.

The romantic symbolism of leaping off high things is a bit of a gimme, which is why a) it’s such a Bachie staple, and b) I won’t spend too much time on it. It’s a literalisation of some of the language we use around love.

  • There’s the idea of a ‘leap of faith’ – the idea that to surrender to love you have to surrender yourself to the unknown with no guarantees it will all work out all right.
  • Even more literally, when you fall off something high, especially when you do it with someone you’re romantically interested in, you’re actually enacting ‘falling’ in love.

Interestingly, Matty actually spells all this out: ‘Jumping off a building is a lot like falling in love,’ he says. ‘You just have to give into it.’

What this proves is that a) Matty is a decent semiotician, and b) HE’S STEPPING IN ON MY TURF. Explaining the romantic symbolism is my area, Johnson. Stick to Baching and stay in your lane.

Anyway, in this case, they’re jumping off a twenty-six-storey-high building. Florence is appropriately nervous about it – which she expresses by saying ‘My whole body is yelling “abort mission, you stupid bitch”’ – but they do it, the end.

…yeah, there’s not really much you can say about the jumping-off-high-things date apart from ‘we jumped off a high thing’. And I wonder if it’s purely correlation that contestants who go on the jumping-off-high-things dates rarely win the whole shebang, or whether there’s something causative there. Like, if you need an Activity™ to carry your date and can’t make it alone on the strength of your conversation, that’s probably not a good sign.

Whoever planned this date certainly didn’t have a lot of faith in Matty and Florence’s ability to carry it via conversation, because there’s not just one, but TWO activities. After they jump off the high thing, they go to a little garden where someone is there to help them make a cast of their interlocked hands. They have to choose the best way to hold hands, and they choose a simple palm to palm grip. While Florence says this is because that’s the way they held hands jumping off the building, it’s certainly symbolically interesting that they chose that over the more stereotypically romantic image of interlocked hands – ie with the fingers interlaced.

But then, finally, they make it to the Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation – where GASP Florence says she ‘doesn’t need Dutch courage’ to make it through the conversation. I fully expected Bachie producers to rush in and remove her for so deeply transgressing the Bachie Booze Code.

And maybe the producers were right to give Matty and Florence a few activities, because their conversation is really not terribly interesting. It gets to the point where Matty starts literally translating her body language into actual speech (like, to her face: ‘you raised your eyebrow: what does that mean? Does it mean you’re flirting with me?’), which says as much about his particularly verbal communicative mode of romance as it does about how awkies all of this is.

But it seems to work for both of them, because they get their mack on and Matty gives Florence a rose.

Next up is NOT the group date, as those of you who have been following along using the handy Bachie ritual guide I wrote for you a couple of weeks ago might expect. No, it’s time for another date as classic as the jumping-off-high-things date: the Thunderdome date. Two (wo)men enter. One (wo)man leaves.

As these dates are the locus of ULTIMATE DRAMA, it’s almost always nemeses that go on them, and this time it’s no exception: the chosen two are Jen and Liz. (If you don’t remember why they’re nemeses: on the very first night, Liz called Jen’s dress putrid, Jen overheard, drama ensued.) Personally, if I were running Bachie, I would have chosen Jen and Leah, because a villain-off would have been a bit more interesting, but alas, I am not.

The limo drops Jen and Liz off at… okay, let’s be real here. I’m sure it’s some very nice house in some very nice place and it probably cost a very nice amount of money, but the way they’ve shot it? IT LOOKS LIKE A MURDER HOUSE.

And then as Matty greets Jen and Liz, there is legit a shot of them FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A HIDDEN WATCHER INSIDE THE DARK HOUSE PEERING OUT AT THEM THROUGH THE WINDOW. Later, as they were sitting and drinking wine together at a very small table in a very large, very dark room, I half-expected the camera to pan to the wall, where SOON would be written in blood.

Seriously. Who made the choice to shoot this like a horror film?

Though maybe it makes sense, because despite the fact that these dates are usually all DRAAAAAAMMMMMMAAAAAAA, it’s actually quite civil, and they have to get their suspense from somewhere. Matty chats to Jen and Liz together, and even though they’re sworn enemies, they’re very polite to and about each other… though this might be because Matty steals a question straight from last year’s US presidential debate and asks them to discuss what they like about each other.

It gets more interesting when he pulls them aside to speak to them one-on-one (and not because Matty returns from spending time with one to find that the creepy killer that was watching them through the window earlier has attacked the other one). When he talks to Jen, she makes it very clear that she understands the narrative structure of Bachie and what she has to do: to become ‘wifey’ material (language ripped straight from Unreal), she knows she has to ‘open up’. Thus, she discloses vulnerabilities etc to Matty, he accordingly feels like she’s being genuine, and is impressed.

Liz, on the other hand, appears to be honest with him, and it doesn’t go that well. He asks if she wants kids, and she says no, that she hasn’t thought about it much. You can see the red flag waving in Matty’s eyes (he, we must remember, wants to father children, like, yesterday). And then she makes a semi-awkward analogy by saying that she thinks relationships are like bank accounts, and you have to keep adding to them to make them work.

‘I’ve never heard anyone compare relationships to bank accounts before,’ Matty muses.

Matty. Mate. I have some bad news for you about romance and capitalism.

What we get, essentially, is a juxtaposition between the artful Jen and the artless Liz. Liz is the one that gets eliminated in this Thunderdome date, but she’s also perversely the one that comes off looking better. This is because we’re trained, as consumers of love stories, to prefer the artless over the artful. If you know you’re in a love story – and, even worse, if you try and specifically script that love story so it works out how you want by embodying a particular character or following particular prompts – then we, as narrative consumers, become immediately suspicious. This is one of the reasons why Jen (and Leah, for that matter) have been edited as villains: their villainy comes, to some degree, from the highlighting of their artfulness, of their ‘playing the game’.

Anyway, Liz goes, Jen gets a rose, and even though she doesn’t kiss Matty she tries to make the other ladies think she did, because she considerately wants to prove that point about artfulness I just made.

Then it’s time for the cocktail party. The ads for this episode made it seem like ULTIMATE DRAMA would go down, but it’s actually quite a short segment. Matty takes Laura to the secret garden (which is apparently still a thing, even though it hasn’t been mentioned since the first episode), where he gives her a rose. However, we don’t see any of that conversation. Possibly it’s because it makes it clear that she is, like I think she will, totally going to win, but nominally, at least, it’s because this portion of the episode is all centred on Sian having a bit of a meltdown.

(Sian, if you don’t remember/have only been following Bachie via these recaps, is Jen and Leah’s offsider, but she hasn’t really done much of note before now.)

Sian is annoyed that she hasn’t spent much time with Matty, and this escalates and escalates until she locks herself away before the rose ceremony, crying and saying she wants to leave. It takes two separate producers – who they actually show on camera, which is very interesting, as I don’t think I’ve seen this on Australian Bachie before – to convince her to come down and have a chat to Matty about how she’s feeling.

And then… it’s strange, really. I think it must be very heavily edited, because she goes from telling the cameras to get out of her face to telling Matty she wants to leave to apparently talking herself into staying with very little interjection from him or anyone. It didn’t feel like a logical progression of thoughts. Which, like, fine, maybe it wasn’t, she was clearly upset, but still.

Actually, it exposed that tension between the artless and the artful in an interesting way. Sian says that her desire to leave has nothing to do with Matty, who she thinks is great and who she really likes and can see a romantic future with, but that it does have to do with ‘the process’: ie the construction of the Bachie narrative and all that makes that possible. Remember how I wrote a while back about how ‘love’ and ‘story’ are intertwined? Sian’s fine with the love and not the story, it would seem.

But Bachie the show is allllll about story, and so it pulls a narrative technique endlessly irritating to lovers of the romance genre: the cliffhanger. About halfway through the rose ceremony, Matty picks up a rose, only to take a few deep breaths and then… DUN DUN DUN HE PUTS IT DOWN and ‘to be continued’ flashes up on the screen.

…I think it’s pretty clear that what’s going to happen is that he’s going to decide to eliminate Sian anyway and he’ll take her outside and tell her that quietly instead of going through the ritualised breakup of being last woman standing at the rose ceremony (prioritising the personal – ‘love’ – over the structures of Bachie – ‘story’), but you’re going to have to wait until tomorrow to see if I’m right.

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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