We’re so, so close to being done with the dread reign of the Honey Badgelor!
This is the penultimate episode, and so there’s only so much more ‘holy strewth crack-a-jack getaway sticks laughing gear hooroo’ nonsense we need to put up with.
We’re down to the final three contestants: Sophie, Brittany, and Brooke. In the US — and many other versions — of the Bachie franchise, this would mean that it’s time for the ‘fantasy suite’ dates, where each contestant is offered the opportunity to spend the night with the Bach. However, the Australian franchise has removed sex almost entirely from the diegesis, which means: a) these final dates have been reframed simply as ‘fantasy’ date; and b) we don’t need to think about the Honey Badger boning.
…until I said that, anyway. Sorry.
But let us not dwell on these dark thoughts, and get right into the recap.
You know what is an ominous way to set up a date? Saying ‘it’s probably the scariest one we’ve done yet!’
I’m sure there are people who would be into this. I have my fair share of murderino and horror-movie-loving friends. But as a general rule, your super romantic dates should not be measured against an exponentially increasing scale of horror.
Nick’s taken Sophie to Albion Park. For a moment, I thought that was the scare, but then, ‘we’re going skydiving!’ he cheerfully announces.
Sophie is not into it. She is not even a little bit into it. But we’re past the point where you can gracefully refuse this kind of thing, and so up they both go in the teeny-tiniest plane in the universe.
This incredibly romantic fantasy date includes the following incredibly romantic phrases:
‘I should have brought a spare pair of grundies!’ (Nick)
‘Sophie looked like she was bogging herself!’ (Nick)
‘Nick’s about to wee himself!’ (Sophie)
‘That could have been a very messy pair of undies!’ (Nick)
It turns out they can’t jump out of the plane after all, because it’s too windy and it’s not safe. It was a bad idea to begin with, and then it failed, and if that isn’t a metaphor for this entire season I don’t know what is.
It picks up a bit at the Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation, but not much. ‘LOVE PASSION JOURNEY FUTURE VULNERABLE,’ Sophie says, almost certainly reading off a bunch of flashcards a producer is holding up behind Nick’s head.
‘Aw, Soph, you’ve come so far!’ he says, and they pash.
Britt is not entirely happy with the Badge. She cornered Cass last episode about the media allegations that she and Nick were in lurve, but she never got the chance to talk to Nick about it. Sensibly, she wants to do that, even though Cass has been eliminated. Good for you, Britt.
…although that goes away pretty quickly as soon as Nick drives up in an ice-cream truck. ‘I just want to enjoy the day!’ she says.
They eat ice cream and chat. ‘Nick said I remind him of old Hollywood!’ Britt says. ‘That sets the tone in, like, a classic way. So the first thing we do is go to the top of a lighthouse.’
If you’re trying to work out how those three elements connect to each other, I’d give up. I haven’t been able to work it out, and I have a doctorate in this.
Also, two things:
1. How is climbing hundreds and hundreds of steps romantic? Stop trying to sneak all these workouts into dates, Bachie!
2. There is clearly someone on the Bachie production team that thinks ice cream trucks are the height of quirky charm, because they get wheeled out in almost every season. I really want to have a chat to them about why that is.
For some reason, post-lighthouse, Britt and Nick get two Couches of Wine and Intimate Conversation. The first is outdoors, where they’re serenaded by a string trio.
I paraphrase a lot, but I would like you to know that this description from Nick, of what a string trio is, is 100% verbatim: ‘a bunch of units on an instrument that fang out a few beats.’
The second couch is indoors. I wondered for a moment whether there was going to be the surprise introduction of a fantasy suite card, but maybe it was just inclement weather, because all that happens is that Britt is like, ‘so, that Cass thing, what was up with that?’ and Nick is like, ‘not that much, honestly,’ and she’s all, ‘I’m into you,’ and they pash.
This is the moment where you’d expect the phrase ‘I’m in love with you’ or ‘I’m falling in love with you’ to be wheeled out, but the closest we get is ‘I’m all in’ from Britt. Cass aside, this has largely been a curiously unemotional season.
‘Nick’s someone I could see a future with,’ Brooke tells us. ‘I could see myself potentially falling in love with him.’
Note once again the distance between the contestant and the concept of love. Brooke could ‘see herself’ falling in love with Nick at some point in the future — which is very different from saying that she’s in love or even falling in love with him now.
Nevertheless, this is probably the most emotive declaration so far, and it leads to the most romantic date (although, of course, the bar is very low).
Nick picks Brooke up on a motorbike. While I’m not into it personally, two people/one motorbike is a romantic trope, so I’ll allow it.
They go to some gazebo somewhere at some estate, where an art project has been set up. ‘You paint on my body,’ Nick tells her. ‘I’ll paint on yours. And then we’ll look in the mirror together and see what we’ve created.’
‘Created’ is a bit of a stretch. When they eventually do look in the mirror, the painting is actually gorgeous, so I’m pretty sure there’s a paint-by-numbers stencilled onto their bodies and they’re just colouring in. I could believe that Brooke could improvise something as lovely as the end product on her own, but not Nick.
They wash the paint off in an outdoor shower and get their pash on, and it’s at least five times steamier than both the other dates put together.
But who can be surprised? The premise behind Sophie’s date was ‘jump out of this plane! (or not)’ and the premise behind Britt’s was ‘climb 300 stairs!’ When the premise behind your date is ‘lovingly explore all the details of each other’s bodies!’ it makes sense that it’ll be a little more, ahem, sensual.
That said, it doesn’t end on an especially good note. ‘Nick,’ Brooke asks, once Brooke and Nick make it to their Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation, ‘do you like me? Do you actually like me?’
It’s always awkward when a contestant asks the Bachie to express their feelings, because they’re prohibited from substantively replying (contractually prohibited, I understand). But my goodness, I don’t think anyone has ever been as inarticulate about it as Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins.
‘I, uh — well, in terms of all the girls, I respect you,’ he stammers. ‘But I’m struggling a bit feelings-wise for all of you. All of my three girlfriends.’
I’m not sure that this is what he meant, per se, but … way to say that you’re not really into any of them, Badge.
The rose ceremony
The music is ominous, and might well it be. The three ladies are lined up for the rose ceremony, when Brooke just walks out.
‘Where’s Nick?’ she asks Osher, and he leads her to him.
And there, wearing a stunning dress, Brooke articulates her needs and her boundaries (and so consequently makes a wonderful case as to why she should be the next Bachelorette, because this lady is a born decision-maker). ‘I’m not getting what I need from you,’ she says to Nick. ‘I need someone that I know likes me, and wants to be with me, and you’re not giving me any of that. You’re very special, and I care about you more than you know, but I need to go home.’
Nick doesn’t try and convince her otherwise. ‘I’ll … uh … walk you out,’ he says.
They hug goodbye, and look, it really is a little bit sad, because Brooke’s had ‘WINNER’ written all over her from Day One, and you can tell that Nick doesn’t want to let her go.
But it’s very hard to sympathise with him. Sure, he can’t be like ‘I love you, you’re the one,’ but FFS, Nick, you can at least tell the girl you like her.
Tomorrow night, Britt and Sophie duke it out for Nick’s heart, while doing their best to pretend that the whole Brooke thing is a non-issue.
There is some precedent for this before in Bachie history. In Season 9 of the US Bachelorette, Brooks Forrester left Desiree Hartsock’s season in the same position as Brooke did (ie third). It was a tearful, emotional parting, and Desiree admitted that it had been Brooks for her the whole time.
It didn’t stop her from accepting the proposal of Chris Siegfried a few days later, though. They’re married with kids now, so, like, it can work out.
But there’s another relevant Bachie precedent here. In Season 11 of the US Bachelor, Brad Womack caused a national controversy by not picking either of the final two women. Ellen DeGeneres called him a ‘jerk’ on her show for doing it, and the scholar Dana Cloud argues that this was because his ‘violation of the romantic contract exposed the emptiness of [the show’s] promises’ (2010, 414).
I would bet you a lot of money that Nick is going to pull a Brad Womack tomorrow.
I should add an addendum to this. Brad’s refusal to choose was so discursively problematic that the US show made him the Bachelor again in Season 15, as a way of proving that yes, the show DID have the potential to work for everyone. (He did pick someone that time, but it didn’t work out.)
Here’s hoping that, if Nick does what Brad did tomorrow night, he doesn’t pull the Full Womack and return for a second season. I don’t think I could handle the Honey Badgelor II: Electric Boogaloo.
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.