What exactly do I need to do to get you to hire me as a ‘love expert’, Bachie?
Hello again, friends! We’re into our penultimate week of Bachie season, which means there are only four episodes until I can resssssssstttt.
Speaking of rest: I’m technically on holiday right now, drinking wine in the Barossa, so tonight’s nerdle is going to be short. I want to talk about secrets, and I want to talk about structure.
We’ve been teased heavily that tonight’s episode will be one in which many secrets are revealed, and many lies are exposed. Specifically, this seems to centre on Ryan. There is an edit of the promo which suggests that Carlin might be the one dropping bombshells, but a) considering he’s already revealed that he’s married, I’m not sure what bigger bombshell there could be, and b) surely they’d lean harder on that in the ads. (Full disclosure: when I initially typed the previous sentence, I spelled ‘ads’ and ‘abs’, and I stand by that Freudian slip.) Who will it be revealing hidden truths? You’ll have to read the recap part of the recap to find out.
But we’re not there yet. It’s still nerdle time.
I’m not surprised that they’ve picked tonight’s episode – the last in ‘regular’ Bachie time before we head to hometowns – as the one in which they’ve set up a circumstance through which all the secrets are spilled. We’re at a crucial point in the narrative arc. We’re moving beyond the shit-gets-real phase, where everyone has real emotions (I mean, just think of Ciarran last week!), to the shit-gets-serious phase, where only the people who could potentially be in a relationship with Angie remain. We’re levelling up, emotionally.
This has a couple of important implications:
Firstly, there’s an emotional implication. I’ve written, like, 87 times in these recaps about how modern romantic culture is based heavily on notions of intimacy (Shumway 2003). This seems to be especially true in an Australian context, if my research holds. Inherent in intimacy is communication: love is conversationally based. Also inherent in this is work, wherein the lovers work together to build their relationship. However, it’s hard to have a relationship based on communication if one of you is keeping secrets or lying. You’re withholding something of yourself: you’re not doing the work to make things, well, work. Lynn Jamieson writes that intimacy is based on ‘mutual disclosure, constantly revealing your inner thoughts and feelings to each other’ (1998, 1). You can’t do that if you’re keeping secrets or telling lies.
Secondly, there’s a structural implication. I’ve also written, like, 87 times in these recaps about how romance narratives are structured – something helpfully set out for us by Pamela Regis (2003). Regis gives us eight elements (specifically of the romance novel, but I think they have broader relevance to romance stories). The one I’m most interested in here is the ‘point of ritual death’ or ‘black moment’. This is where it seems like things can never, ever work out between the lovers. It usually happens near the end of the book, and then that final climax is the lovers working out how to overcome it and live happily ever after.
Often, the point of ritual death occurs because a secret that one or other of the protagonists has been keeping is suddenly revealed. This makes the other lover mad: think of how often you’ve heard lines like, ‘has this whole relationship been a lie?’ (which ties strongly back to what I was saying earlier about intimacy and mutual disclosure). Suddenly, all the cards are on the table, and the protagonists have to work out how to move forward in this new landscape.
The point of ritual death is not optional in a romance novel. You have to have that moment where the relationship is tested, to see if their love is strong enough to survive. And, importantly, for what I’m talking about here, you have to have that moment where all the cards are on the table, where the protagonists can make an informed decision about whether they can or want to move forward with the relationship. You can’t just meet, fall in love, and sail smoothly to the end: the love has got to be proven, so to speak, to get from the shit-gets-real to the shit-gets-serious stage.
Does this always happen in the real world? No. Is it in the best interests of the producers of this show to use this pattern, to make us believe in a relationship, because we’ve been consuming stories like this for, like, ever? Absolutely yes.
Basically, what I’m saying is this: the person/people keeping secrets and/or telling lies might actually find themselves in a stronger position if they survive this episode, narratively speaking, because all those cards will be on the table at last.
But that’s a big ‘if’ re surviving the episode, so… let’s see if they do. To the recap!
We begin tonight with the final group date of the season. The boys have been presented with a clothes rack full of old person dress ups, and they’re psyched (well, possibly except Timm, who already dresses like an old-timey sailor, and who is now mad about the fact that dog man Ryan might look better than him).
This is clearly a riff on that date a million years ago where Sam Frost and Richie got dressed up as old people and went to play bingo. That was a great date, and this is a good one too, imo, because it has a clear logic behind it. Angie wants someone she can spend the rest of her life with, and so why not check out what that might look like when you’re old and magically suddenly love bingo?
…of course, what it actually reveals is that when Carlin is old he’ll look like George Clooney, but they tried, guys. They tried.
The bros are paired up with what Angie describes as ‘GILFs: grandmas I’d like to… fondle’. There’s one bro left over to dance with Angie, which is Alex. Who is Alex? Extremely good question. We’re into the penultimate week, and if I didn’t follow Ciarran on insta I would have no idea who he was.
(Alex was Ciarran’s in-house BFF. I MISS YOU CIARRAN.)
(Imagine how good Ciarran would have been on this date.)
(Shut up, YOU’RE crying.)
Anyway, so Timm’s partner is dance-flirting with him, but Ryan the dog man’s partner is dance-flirting with him in a way that the bros describe as ‘a little bit sensual’ and ‘concerning’. Also ‘a little bit sensual’ and ‘concerning’ is Carlin’s tight pants, and the camera spends like twelve minutes focusing on his arse while he dances, but neither he nor our favourite munted philosopher king can defeat the dull charms of Ryan the dog man, who wins the final single date of the season.
Angie says that Ryan is a ‘gentleman’. Normally I feel like this means ‘polite’ and ‘nice’, but here, I honestly feel like it’s a stand-in for a personality. I assume Ryan has one, but the show has yet to reveal what it is.
She also says that they have a physical attraction (sure, okay), but she wants to know if they can connect intellectually – because she (or the producers) clearly understands the discourse of intimacy, as outlined above. Therefore, she’s got a series of questions she wants them to ask each other, Newlywed Game style.
- They have both peed in the shower (the phrase ‘maybe we can both pee in the shower together’ is uttered, which… I don’t know how to react to that)
- They both prefer Heath Ledger to Ryan Gosling
- They both like dogs (NO SHIT, SHERLOCK)
- They both think lying is a dealbreaker (foreshadowing…?).
Anyway, you get the point. Angie and Ryan agree on everything. Like, EVERYTHING. Which in many ways is quite nice (you want to agree on things! eg politics!) but in some ways would probably be quite annoying, because how can you have a conversation with a second version of yourself?
The second part of the date is set in a wine cellar, but mostly for atmospheric, not wine, reasons. They’ve brought in a ‘love expert’ in to do ‘intimacy exercises’ with Ryan and Angie to ‘deepen their connection in mind, body, and soul’.
- I have no idea what this love expert’s qualifications are.
- ONCE AGAIN THEY HAVE HIRED A LOVE EXPERT WHO IS NOT ME, AND IT FEELS LIKE A PERSONAL ATTACK. WHAT MORE DO I FUCKING NEED TO DO, BACHIE?!?!?!?!
So Angie blindfolds Ryan and unbuttons his shirt and they make out, and blah blah blah, it would be pretty sexy if a) this love expert wasn’t there instructing her on what to do, and b) Ryan had a discernible personality. No, I’m not salty because once again they hired a love expert who isn’t me, shut up.
‘It felt like a sign when you walked in,’ Angie whispers to Ryan.
‘I feel absolutely out of control around you,’ Ryan whispers back.
…shit, imagine how boring he is when he’s in control. You must forget he’s there when he’s standing right next to you.
Finally: it’s a cocktail party. Ryan strolls back in calling everyone ‘mate’ and ‘buddy’. ‘Was the date about dogs?’ someone asks, which seems to me to prove that the lads also have zero idea of what Ryan’s personality is, if he has one.
‘I hope he bored her to death,’ BMX Matt mumbles, which doesn’t seem like an unrealistic proposition.
Then: enter Osher! He’s carrying a mysterious box, and summons the bros to dinner with Angie (which potentially-has-a-personality Alex describes as ‘drama with a side of lols’). The box contains cards with questions, which anyone can ask anyone. ‘Tonight might be the night for some wholehearted honesty,’ he tells the bros, because he, beautiful Osher, understands what it takes to get from shit-gets-real to shit-gets-serious.
All the bros agree, pre-Angie’s arrival, to be honest to all the Pandora’s box questions. ‘I’m still suss on Ryan,’ Timm tells the camera, and most of the lads seem to agree, which seems reasonable, considering most people have a personality and Ryan has demonstrated no sign of one.
The (more interesting) reveals are as follows:
- Carlin admits to having had his lips done
- Jackson applied for Georgia Love’s season (when he would have been in approximately Year 3)
- The big one: Ryan auditioned for Ali’s season.
Angie is majorly thrown by this last one, because Ryan has told her, in one of his few moments of vocality, that he would never, ever apply for the show unless she was the Bachelorette. ‘Oh god,’ she says to the camera. ‘What if he slides into Ali’s DMs too? I’ve got Ali’s sloppy seconds!’
(That’s verbatim, by the way. The language this season is so great.)
The reason Angie is so mad is because of one of the things she and Ryan told each other before: both of them hate lying. And what is this? Is it a lie?! Why yes: it is at best an omission, and even that seems like a wee bit of a stretch.
But is it a killer for him? No, of course it isn’t. Considering I’m not 100% convinced Angie has actually met BMX Matt or Ciarran’s BFF Alex, she has no choice but to eliminate them. Ryan makes it through to hometowns, along with the otherworldly handsome Carlin, meat pie twelvie Jackson, and everyone’s favourite munted philosopher king Timm.
Will no personality Ryan survive tomorrow, tho? Check back in for hometowns and we’ll find out together.
Sneaky end-of-recap reminder: I’m in Brisbane for Supanova this weekend. Swing by the author stand if you’re around and say hi! You’ll also be able to buy my books, and I’ll sign them for you.
The show airs on Channel 10. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.