Let’s take a break from the hellmouth that is Australian politics and sink into something that makes about eleventy billion times more sense.
In times like these — when the government is in chaos and we don’t know who the PM is and it’s impossible to keep track of who’s on whose team and who’s resigned and who’s un-resigned and who’s re-resigned and what even is a Liberal Party — there’s something strangely comforting about The Bachelor.
We know that Nick Cummins is the Bachelor. We know he’s going to end up with one (1) person at the end of this (for a while, anyway). We know people will be eliminated in each rose ceremony, and they won’t return. Every episode might bill itself as the MOST DRAMATIC EVER, but that’s within specific parameters. No one’s going to come in and call a spill and unseat the Honey Badgelor. Osher’s got everything under control.
…actually, is Osher running for PM yet? Nothing too bad ever happens when Osher’s at the helm.
I reckon I have a more solid track record on policy too. https://t.co/vxMOzRI7Rv
— Osher Günsberg (@oshergunsberg) August 24, 2018
We’ve settled well into our comfortable routine of single dates and group dates and cocktail parties and rose ceremonies and the fact that if a football can be rammed into a scene, it’ll be rammed into one (current ball count: five). So let’s take a break from the hellmouth that is Australian politics and sink into something that makes about eleventy billion times more sense.
We open tonight with Nick frolicking about in an akubra in the nearest equivalent the producers could find to a billabong next to a coolabah tree, because guys, guys, GUYS, did you know he was ocker? ‘I’m a pretty lucky unit,’ he tells us. ‘Last night, Dasha told me she had a little whippersnapper!’
Never, ever, ever has a contestant managed to change branding as quickly as Dasha. In the first episode, she was very clearly The Sexy One™, all in slinky, sheer black: she literally greeted Nick by flipping onto his face like she was Tessa Virtue and he was Scott Moir. But here, she’s a delicate pastel earthmother, walking barefoot onto the riverbank. In the space of the blink of an eye, they’ve flipped her into wifey mode.
My sense is that they did not expect Nick to like her as much as he did: they put her in to play an archetype, and she (and he) turned out to be a person. There’s something really pleasant about the fact you can see the narrative taking a turn they did not ask for. For a few stolen moments, there’s actually something real about reality TV.
This date is a fly fishing date. I’m pretty sure they planned it when they still had ‘the sexy one’ written under Dasha’s name on the whiteboard, because it involves both her and Nick waving around gigantic extremely phallic fishing rods. But even though there are points where Nick is clearly trying not to talk about his boner, the focus is more wholesome. Dasha is fascinated by the waders they have to wear. She keeps repeating the word, and when she calls them ‘Darth Waders’, Nick absolutely loses his shit laughing.
It’s kind of sweet. I did not especially want to be charmed by it, but I was.
When they shift to the Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation, they talk about family and priorities and generally get much deeper than I expect the producers thought their Bach would ever get with The Sexy One™. But honestly, the thing I was paying attention to was the cheeseboard: OR LACK THEREOF.
Once we have a functional government again, I hope they announce a royal commission into the Bachie cheese budget, because it has been sorely lacking. SORELY.
Anyway, he gives her a rose — offers it to her in Russian, actually, which he says took him about six hours to learn — and they pash. Nick is a bit more reticent on the kissing than some previous Bachelors (see, for instance, the Romy incident, where she was desperately trying to mack onto him and he was like ‘whoa whoa whoa there’), but when he does decide to get his pash on, it is ON. Zero to a hundred.
The group date is next. Thankfully, it’s a bit better thought out than last night’s hot mess of a … I don’t even know what it was. The symbolism is very obvious, but a bit of obviousness never did anyone any harm.
There are two teams, a red one and a blue one. Essentially, they’re playing paintball, but instead of guns filled with paint pellets, they have bows and arrows. There’s also no paint — just Osher adjudicating — so maybe it’s not that much like paintball. Maybe it’s more like dodgeball. But … eh, you get it.
This isn’t the first time Bachie has whipped out the bows and arrows — I assume these are reused props — but at least this makes sense in terms of romantic iconography. Bows and arrows are associated with Eros/Cupid (depending on whether you’re going with the Greek or the Roman name), the son of Aphrodite who would go around shooting people with his magic arrows and making them fall in love with each other.
I’m not sure how romantic the God of Love would have found forcing your twelve girlfriends to compete with each other over you while being ‘good sports’ so you could pick the best and fairest. But given the shit that classical gods were constantly getting up to, maybe it would be a nice change of pace.
I am really not into dates where the women have to compete with each other to win some time with the man. Like, no thank you. I’d rather not. But I will forgive this date a lot because of one glorious, golden moment: one of the ladies shoots Nick in the balls with an arrow.
The Bachelor getting shot in the nuts by one of the women he’s forcing to compete for his affection is a big damn mood. That is all.
At the end of this whole shenanigan, Nick has to pick a best and fairest to spend a little bit more time with him on a Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation. He picks Cat — ie the series villain — because of … I don’t know, reasons.
And — oh dear, this is so uncomfortable. Cat really wants to make out with him, and he’s edging his way away from her on the sofa, so she loops her arms around his neck and bats her lashes at him, and he’s like ‘errrr’ and kisses her on the cheek, and she’s like, ‘seriously, bro?’, and he’s like, ‘yes?’ and she’s like ‘…ugh, fine, whatever.’
I mean, at least she didn’t go full Romy and start licking his neck and trying to cannibalise his ear, but a lot of these interactions between lady + Bachie have been verrrrrrrry awkward this season.
A lot of it is because Nick isn’t quite sure how to say no, as the Bachie. He wants to set his boundaries and enforce them, clearly, but everyone kind of assumes the default setting of the Bachie is permanently set to pash. He doesn’t want to seem rude by rejecting these ladies, and he doesn’t reeeally know how to turn them down without hurting their feelings, and it’s getting very uncomfortable to watch.
I don’t often say this about Bachies, but poor guy. That must be no fun.
Oh, and one other notable thing happens on this mini-date: Nick refers to Cat (affectionately…?) as ‘old shagger’.
I have no further comments to make on this at this time, because I honestly don’t know where to start.
There’s relatively little drama at the cocktail party — Blair turns up in activewear and makes Nick do some shit with a basketball, presumably to fill the episode’s mandatory ball quota (series ball count: six). There is, however, a little bit of drama at the rose ceremony, where, post-ceremony, one of the eliminated women marches up to Nick, looks him straight in the eye, and says ‘I can’t believe I shaved my legs for this.’
This would have been such a great mic-drop moment, except we had absolutely no idea who she was. (Was she one of the crew? Did she sneak in the back?) We were given no lead-up narrative, and so this was a passing curiosity, not a payoff.
It did make me wonder, though. Was there a narrative here that could have been something if they’d edited it differently — one where Nick created some expectations in this nameless woman and then eliminated her without warning? And did they omit it because it would make Nick come off badly, and if we reeeeeeeeally dislike our Bachie at this point in the season, the whole thing would fall apart? Is it easier to frame this moment of what could have been immense narrative tension as an over-emotional overreaction because of this?
We’ll never know, of course.
But I’ll sure as hell speculate.
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.