RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S5 E06

RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S5 E06
The Bachelor Australia Season 5
Background photo via Canva

Last night’s Bachie ended on an OMG CLIFFHANGER, so let’s not prevaricate: let’s dive right into it and answer the question WHAT WILL MATTY DOOOOOOOOOO?!

…the answer to this is that he did exactly what we expected he would do. He picks a rose up, takes a heavy breath, sets it down, and asks to see Sian outside.

‘So this isn’t going to work,’ he tells her.

‘Yeah nah,’ Sian agrees. ‘You’re basically putting me out of my misery.’

And so they part very civilly, the end.

This isn’t really a surprise. Last night, Sian was like, ‘I want to go!’ and Matty was like, ‘If that’s what you want,’ and she was like, ‘okay fine, I’ll stay.’ He didn’t really put the hard sell on her. But ugh, what an anticlimactic cliffhanger.

We do get something out of it, though. Afterwards, Matty comes in and very firmly asserts his control over the narrative to the ladies. ‘I’m not some puppet,’ he says. ‘I choose who goes on single dates. I choose who goes. It’s all me. All of this is real.’

There are a few ways we could read this – including as it being a stern warning that Doubting The Process Will Not Be Tolerated, On Pain Of Roselessness – but I think a lot of it has to do with the way that the concepts of ‘love’ and ‘story’ are intertwined. Matty is asserting himself as an actor and as a protagonist – that is, someone active – in the love story, not as some puppet that producers are putting through his paces. In the Western world, love is extremely tied up with notions of individual agency and choice: think of how, in so many Western romance narratives, romantic love comes into direct conflict with institutions (eg marriages arranged for financial reasons). Here, Matty is asserting his own agency, and thus asserting himself as a very modern, very Western romantic protagonist, because in modern Western love, any hint of passivity or manipulation is categorically Not Hot.

It’s always interesting what tensions are revealed when people push against the fourth wall. Let’s keep an eye on this one as the show progresses.

Afterwards, though, we’re very much within the walls, as the show settles back into its regular routine. It’s time for a single date, and this time, the recipient is, to the delight of absolutely every viewer (and if you’re not delighted by it then I want to have a very stern conversation with you about your priorities and your terrible life choices), actual queen Tara.

Seriously. I love her. I love her so much. Within the first thirty seconds of her date, she’s bellowed the phrase AHHHHH SHIT at the top of her lungs, and it only gets better from there. I want to go on a cross-country road trip on a motorbike with her like the Two Fat Ladies with their motorbike + sidecar.

Though maybe that’s not the best idea, because the reason Tara bellows AHHHHH SHIT is that Matty has turned up on a tandem bike, and she’s not a very good cyclist.

Luckily for her, they abandon this tandem bike pretty quickly – ‘when you’re on the bike, you can’t see each other’s faces, and that’s important on a date,’ Matty tells us, which, like, good point m8 – and move into an extremely spacious kitchen to do some cooking.

And I suppose they do indeed do some cooking. They both put on aprons, anyway, and when they eventually reach the Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation, they’re eating pasta. But the real point of this segment is Tara enthusing about Matty’s arse.

I don’t mean that she enthuses to the camera about it – although she does, with great gusto. (Token quote: ‘I’m so stoked that his arse is so good. That’s a good arse. A goooooood arrrrrrsssssse.’) She literally spends about five minutes rhapsodising about it to his face while openly and gratuitously admiring it. ‘I’m not a piece of meat, Tara!’ Matty says (jokingly), but it doesn’t stop her one bit.

I so desperately want her to be the Bachelorette. She would be the ultimate heroine for a THE THIRST IS REAL narrative.

She does tone down the arse chat once they get to the Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation – although Matty asks her what she wants to talk about, and you KNOW the words ‘your arse’ were a split second from coming out of her mouth. Instead, they talk about family. She wants to have one, which means the ‘okay, interested’ sign dings on immediately in Matty’s eyes, because when he says he wants to see a woman’s ‘mature’ side, what he really means is that he wants to know if they’re ready to have children immeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeediately.

But then she starts talking about how she’s insecure – about how he’s the Bachie, and she’s just herself. It’s basically a non-nautical reality-TV specific version of Kasey Chambers’ The Captain. ‘Why are you insecure?’ Matty asks her.

‘I don’t know,’ she says. ‘I just –’

And then he kisses her.

I’m in two minds about this. Firstly, I hate the your insecurities are unfounded because you have inspired the interest of my boner narrative. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate.

But secondly… *mumbles* itwasquitesweetokay.

Obviously, she gets a rose, and I wasn’t expecting this, but I think Tara might be a contender now? I still don’t think she’s going to win, but this is definitely going to make the #Tara4Bachie2018 campaign a bit easier.

Next up: the group date! This isn’t going to take too long to explain, because it’s a skydiving date, and you can literally just go and read everything I wrote last night about the classic Bachie jumping-off-high-places date if you want to unpack the symbolism.

I will say this, though. Isn’t it strange that a date in which you and the Bachie are both literally strapped to other people has become such a Bachie classic?

Despite the fact that the symbolism is a gimme, there is definitely some rhetoric we can unpack here. When he’s explaining this date to the ladies, Matty pulls out one of my least favourite Bachie buzzwords (well, buzz phrases): he says he wants to ‘get them out of their comfort zones’.

Protip, my friends: I, Dr Love, am of the firm opinion that dates that take place well WITHIN comfort zones are the best dates. If you went on a date with someone, and they were like ‘I’ve designed this date to get you out of your comfort zone,’ you would run screaming for the hills. There’s ‘fun activity’. There’s even ‘adrenaline-filled fun activity’. But this particular phrase has pernicious undertones, which Matty later (jokingly) literalises to Simone when he mwa-ha-has and says, ‘what else can I make you do?’ NOOOOOOOOOOOOOPE.

Speaking of Simone, the drama on this group date is largely centred around her. She’s terrified of heights, and so she’s shit-scared the whole time: screaming, crying, nearly throwing up, the works. But she does end up jumping out of the plane, because, as she says, she realises ‘she needs to’. I’m assuming this is code for ‘Jen and Leah would never stop bullying me otherwise’.

Although it might also be ‘I would fail the Bachie’s test and he would send me home if I didn’t do it’, because when Matty later asks her why she did it (for obvious reasons, he picks her for one-on-one time), she says ‘you made me’. She frames this as him making her feel safe, as a rock that would get her through things, but … ugh ugh ugh no, thank you.

After this, it’s cocktail party time, in which there are two points of note:

  • We learn that Elise was a Hockeyroo. I’d imagine that some of us are learning that Elise is a character on this show at about the same time, because seriously, she’s been SO background. She’s had an actual proper prestigious sporting career, and yet the narrative framing has been basically the exact opposite of Michael the Not-Socceroo’s career from Sam Frost’s season of The Bachelorette, which the show never, ever, EVER shut up about, even though his career was underwhelming at best. I think there’s quite a pernicious narrative about male sports stars being sexually attractive while women sports stars are not in play here, and I’m not into it.
  • A solid 90% of cocktail party drama comes from the fact that the etiquette of when to approach the Bachie is deliberately vague. Michelle the cop tries to cut in on someone, but she’s stopped by some other ladies, who tell her that the lady before her has not had enough time. Then everyone gets involved in an argument over whether access to the Bachie is ‘like a Ticketek counter’. In the melee, Jen, ever-villainous, steals Matty away herself. If they actually introduced rules that governed Bach access, they would have nothing to film a lot of the time.

This drama doesn’t especially affect the end result, though. The casualty of tonight’s episode is Natalie, ie the one who said Matty J turned her straight in the first episode, publicly farted, and then has done precisely nothing since, sending a whole lot of character establishment work down the drain.

But at least there was none of that ‘to be continued’ bullshit tonight. US Bachie has started regularly messing with the episode structure, and as a result rose ceremonies end up at the beginning of episodes, in the middle of episodes … all over the place. It’s not especially satisfying, so I’m glad we’ve returned to the classic routine again now. Romance needs its rituals, after all.

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

What do you think?