Once more unto the fray, dear friends! We are down to seven contenders for the heart of the Honey Badger, and after writing giant cheques that I could not cash for the past few weeks, I am now confident that I know all of their names.
I feel like I can normally say that much earlier than Episode 12, which tells us a lot about how interesting this season has been.
So remember how we’ve been on a run of group dates which have been basically the opposite of romance? Like, there’s been the swimming carnival, the interrogation date, and then last night’s nightmarish corporate team-building date (among many, many others)? There’s only the most marginal improvement tonight. I will allow that there is a tiny improvement, but that’s only because no one whose job title is ‘transformational coach’ is involved.
The seven ladies are whisked off to the middle of the bush, divided into two teams, and bullied into doing a relay on segways. They each have to do a lap of the track, and then answer a question about Nick at the end. If they get it right, the next lady tags in. If they don’t, then they have to wait for a minute before they can answer again.
I feel like I don’t need to say this, but I want to confirm that there is nothing about the segway that is innately romantic as a mode of transportation. I mean, if nothing else, they’re only designed for one person…?
Just… call me, Bachie. I can help you fix this. Promise.
So they do the relay, and the questions are pretty basic but the ladies still get a lot of them wrong, which isn’t exactly saying great things about how well you can get to know a potential partner through the Bachie process. The ads made it seem like OMG ONE OF THE LADIES WOULD GET SO INJURED SHE MIGHT DIE!!!!1!, but what actually happens is that Brittney takes a spill, says ‘ouch,’ and jumps back up to her feet just about immediately.
You know what the most interesting thing about this is? The question Sophie has to answer in the relay is ‘Who would Nick most like to sit next to on a park bench? A) Nelson Mandela, B) the Dalai Lama, or C) Nikola Tesla?’, and the answer is Nikola Tesla. How are you dropping in random details like that and not giving me the backstory, Bachie? How are you failing at even this, which is such, SUCH basic storytelling?
Nick has to pick one of the ladies to have some Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation time with, and he picks Brooke, because even he’s given up the pretence that anyone else is winning this thing. They chat, he calls her feet ‘hooves’, he pronounces the word ‘cool’ exactly like Kath Day-Knight, and then they snog and he gives her a rose, the end.
Next up: it’s a single date. And — guys.
A date in this cursed season of Bachie is good. Bring me my smelling salts.
The recipient is Emily, aka the only lady who has not yet had a single date. She is a dance teacher by trade, and Nick takes her to the Opera House to watch a ballet rehearsal from the Sydney Dance Company. She’s obviously super excited at the prospect, and then super moved by the dancing, and then when Nick asks her whether she wants to take the opportunity to learn some stuff from the ballet dancers, she just about loses her shit with glee.
There is so much stuff which is awesome here.
First: taking someone to do something which they might actually be interested in and excited by is SUPER hot! There’s the secret to a good date right there! Romance: not actually that complicated!
Second, dancing is romantic! We all know dancing is romantic! That is the premise behind basically every dance film ever made! Not least because the dancing that the ballet dancers teach them to do is pas de deux, ie a dance for two!
Third, for once, the dude isn’t the one in power! Emily is the one who knows what she’s doing, and Nick is well out of his comfort zone! It’s a version of the thing that Bachie always makes people do when it pushes them off high buildings and whatnot, except with dancing and in tights! And because the lady is the one with the knowledge, some of the show’s problematic power dynamics are undone!
You know what would actually be a really interesting revision to the Bachie structure? If the contestants (rather than the Bachie, who I’m fairly sure actually does functionally nothing despite getting all of the credit) had to work with the producers to plan the dates, with the mandate that said date would have to share something of themselves and their interests with the Bachie. If the show actually wants people to fall in love, this kind of spectacularised performative version of communication would do a much better job than shoving people out of planes and whatnot, as well as mitigating some of the show’s nasty power dynamics.
(And it would give the contestants something to do in the house. You know they’re hella bored.)
This whole thing is really sweet, if you tune out while Nick spends a solid five minutes trying to work out the mechanics of the ballet jockstrap and talking about how it’s giving him a wedgie. He and Emily learn the dance — she’s good, he’s … enthusiastic — and then when they perform it for the lead dancers they do a great job, and it’s just so nice, which is about eleventy times more praise than I can give to any other date this season.
And what’s so sad is that I’m low-key positive that it’s an accident. Either they were like ‘hur hur hur, manly rugby player in tights, hur hur hur’, or they wanted to hear what Nick would sound like mangling French ballet terms. I’m just not convinced that they had this one good date in them when everything else has been corporate team-building and beekeeping and segways.
Despite the fact this is clearly the best date so far this season, things don’t go so well once Emily and Nick get to their Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation. ‘So, uh, do you curl your hair?’ Nick asks her.
‘A little bit,’ Emily replies.
‘…’ he says.
‘…’ she says.
‘…cool story, babe,’ he says.
Suffice to say that Emily does not receive a rose, which means she is WORRIED about her fate.
She is not the only person worried about her fate: when numbers dwindle this low, so does confidence. To make matters worse, at the cocktail party, Osher enters with a date card envelope. ‘There’s only one single date left before hometowns,’ quoth he. ‘You all have to fight it out tonight: Nick’s going to choose who gets it.’
This is an interesting diegetic manoeuvre. I don’t hate it — it generates a bit of a narrative — but it also smacks of desperation late at night on set. ‘Oh no, this season is sooooooo boooooooooooooring,’ one producer might moan.
‘Not even the segways livened it up!’ a second might add.
‘We could get the transformational coach back?’ a third might suggest (before Jodi, through sheer rage, develops the power to travel through space and time and materialises in the room to punch them in the face).
‘I know!’ a fourth might say. ‘What if we did the first impression rose thing again? But instead of that, it’s a date card?’
Basically, it’s the equivalent of that trick you can use to beat writers block where, if you’re at your wits’ end, you imagine a bunch of ninjas have burst into the room where your characters are, because something’s definitely going to happen with a bunch of ninjas. It’s not subtle, but it works.
The winner of the date card is Sophie. She is apparently emotionally reserved (maybe she is? I honestly don’t remember), and so has been searching for a way to express her feelings. Instead of the obvious answer — words, why does no one ever think of using words? — she’s decided the best avenue is to draw some kind of a diagram.
I have no idea what is happening. She draws a stick figure but gives it huge lumpy arms (Nick’s muscles, maybe?). Then she draws a butterfly and tells us she’s scared of them, and then suddenly the stick figure is on fire, and then she draws on a heart right at the end and it looks like the stick figure has been ritualistically sacrificed via stake-burning and had its heart ripped out, possibly by a butterfly.
…but Nick loves it, so maybe I don’t know as much about romance as I thought I did, and ritualistic stake murders where butterflies tear out people’s hearts are actually very on-trend in romantic culture.
I’m also not quite as good at reading the show as I thought was, because tonight’s rose ceremony victim was not Dasha or Emily (who I thought were dead certs to be in the bottom two), but Shannon, who had the very first date and who I thought was a lock to get to hometowns.
We were promised a DRAMATIC WALKOUT, but we don’t get that at all. Shannon cries, and when Nick leads her out to the car waiting to take her away, she mumbles a bunch of stuff that had kind of a self-help-y, wellness flavour but which made no sense. Like, the words didn’t seem to go together. It was a weird jumbled word salad.
And then all the other ladies are sad, and one of them apparently (and probably accidentally?) drops her rose on the floor, but … high drama, this is not.
Next week, maybe, the drama will arrive?
(Probably not. Let’s be real.)
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.