You know when a hot dude swims onto your island and you’re really excited before you realise he’s bros with every toxic guy you know? Mood.
And we’re back! We ended last night on something of a bombshell, so let’s not delay – let’s get into it.
Of course, because this is Bachie-with-Jodi and we’re not allowed to do anything before I nerdle at you first: I want to think through the implications of said bombshell, revealed right at the end of last night’s episode. ICYMI, the bombshell was that Ciarran and Renee were still involved which he was in the Bachelorette mansion as one of Angie Kent’s suitors, and when he left – which was nominally because his grandma died – he did so to be with her. ‘Who do you think picked him up from the airport?’ Renee said to camera.
My initial instinct was that this bombshell was not exactly… well, bombshell-y. Ciarran is not the first and certainly won’t be the last contestant to go into the Bach mansion still attached to someone on the outside, especially now, when a successful turn on the show translates into some pretty good $$$ as an Instagram influencer. We like to think that romantic love is divorced from capitalism – as Eva Illouz writes:
In the marketplace, trading partners are ultimately interchangeable; relationships shift with economic circumstances. In romantic love, the person we love and feel united with is unique and irreplaceable; furthermore, ‘love is the most important thing in the world, to which all other considerations, particularly material ones, should be sacrificed.’ Romantic love is irrational rather than rational, gratuitous rather than profit-oriented, organic rather than utilitarian, private rather than public. In short, romantic love seems to evade the conventional categories within which capitalism has been conceived. In popular culture and ‘common sense,’ as well as in scholarship, romantic love stands above the realm of commodity exchange and even against the social order writ large (1997, 2-3).
However, romantic love has increasingly become embedded in a culture of capitalism – as Illouz goes on to say, we now experience a lot of romantic love through rituals of consumption, eg. dates. And when we get to the Bachieverse, there’s often a sense that contestants might actually be better off not winning in a purely monetary sense: there’s some wisdom circulating that suggests if you want to do well on the ‘gram, then coming second (especially if you’re a figure of audience sympathy) is the way to go.
Ciarran came into Paradise seemingly with it all. He got a great edit on The Bachelorette, and came away smelling like roses – both in the idiomatic sense, and in a specific Bachie-related metaphorical sense, in that people wanted to receive roses from him (cf. Abbie). I obviously don’t have the relevant data to be able to tell you how much influencer money he’s raking in, but I’d suggest it’s a decent amount.
But now we get to the sticking point. Ciarran’s success came from the fact that he came across as emotionally literate, in a way that a lot of other Bachelorette contestants have not been. He was able to carry on a coherent conversation (yes, it’s a low bar) and display emotion in a way that was refreshingly different from a lot of the feelings-are-for-chicks brand of Australian masculinity we often get. This was especially true in his teary farewell to Angie – he came across as not just in touch with his emotions, but able to express them, in a way that was real and sincere.
And that’s really the issue here: sincerity. The Bachieverse as a construct relies on the sincerity of its contestants: on them being there for the oft-quoted right reasons. Those right reasons certainly aren’t Instagram $$$ – the right reasons are a sincere desire to fall in love.
If a few of your random background contestants are revealed to be insincere and there for money, not for love: that’s fine. You can have a righteous Bachie banishment and we can all feel good about it. Even if it’s someone that gets quite a long way in the competition, you can still approach it with an element of righteousness (cf. Hannah Brown and Jed Wyatt in the most recent season of US Bachelorette). But when it comes from a contestant who seemed to be leading the way in terms of emotional literacy and expression? Whose departure seemed to come from a place of extremely sincere emotion? That’s the kind of thing that can rock not just the current inhabitants of Paradise Island, but the actual foundations of the franchise.
The TL;DR version of this is that although I’m loath to ascribe this much power to someone that’s clearly a fuckboi, Ciarran matters to the franchise because he was – at least in The Bachelorette – a dense signifier, laden with all that meaning. To have that signifier suddenly emptied out of meaning can genuinely be quite jarring for an audience, so I’m going to be verrrrrry interested to see how The Discourse™ around Ciarran evolves in the next little while.
All right. Recap time!
So as you’ll remember, we left things in a real state. Renee had spilled the beans that I’ve just discussed at length, and Ciarran was weeping and crying and swearing up and down that he’s going to leave.
He’s talked out of it by Jess, who asks him to stay another night (‘for me,’ she enjoins him), but this is less interesting than the visual picture he paints when he gives a weepy red-eyed talking head to camera while shirtless. If that isn’t Bach in Paz in a single image, I don’t know what else is.
Ciarran isn’t the only one threatening to leave. Timm, as you’ll recall, was being an absolute shithead and antagonising everyone at the not-MAFS dinner party. After Britt and Glenn both take him to task, he’s apparently so chagrined that he’s like, ‘…welp, I’m out of here’.
Ciarran’s love interest Jess was the one begging him to stay. In Timm’s case, though, it’s not Britt: it’s Jamie.
And hooooooo boy is this some begging. Like, there’s crying. A lot of crying. ‘Don’t go, Timm!’ Jamie wails. ‘You’re my best mate! I can’t do this without you!’
‘Shut the fuck up,’ Timm groans to camera. ‘He’s 40. I’m 27. How am I his dad?’
Jamie is the ultimate architect of Timm staying, albeit tangentially. He goes and begs Britt to make Timm stay, and Britt rolls her eyes and is like, ‘ugh, fine,’ and takes Timm away and strokes his hair and is like, ‘you’re sweet and nice and I want you to stay, all right?’ and lo and behold! he decides to stay.
I could spend a lot of time talking about how Britt and Jess both seem like extremely cool ladies, and the fact that they have to coddle Ciarran and Timm – two grown-ass men – into feeling okay after they behaved badly is really extremely very sad. And then I could ruminate on the fact that Timm and Ciarran were framed last year as antidotes to toxic masculinity, and we could all think about that for a while and bum ourselves out.
But a) I think you can do that on your own, and b) we can’t step away from this plot, which has taken something for a slapstick direction. When Britt took Timm away, she took him to her cabin. Jamie goes looking for Timm again, and when he finds the cabin they share empty, he starts calling his name like a lost dog, at first plaintively and then panicked: ‘Timm? Timm! TIIIIIIMMMMM?!!!!!!’
He sobs. He cries. He’s like, ‘my best friend is gone – I defy you, stars!’ Then he packs up his bags, slides on his backpack, and trudges out of there like he’s running away from school camp.
‘He doesn’t have his passport,’ Britt says to camera. ‘He doesn’t have a phone to call an uber. It’s two ks to the road. Mate, what are you doing?!’
Look. This is all framed as humorous. All the contestants are killing themselves laughing at the thought of Jamie pulling a Karen Brewer and running away from whatever the fuck that camp was in the Netflix Babysitters Club adaptation. And it is pretty funny that he didn’t think to, you know, check that Timm was actually gone.
Also look: I’m not interested in playing armchair psychologist here. But, like, I’ve been a weepy red wine drunk more than once, and much as Jamie was very noticeably clutching a glass of red wine through this whole incident, I don’t think you can chalk all of that up to the wine, you know?
What I’m saying is that I hope Bach in Paz are really paying attention to the psychological wellbeing of their contestants, and not leaving it up to island therapists Helena and Glenn.
Speaking of the island therapists: their union might have seemed perfect, but there’s a spanner in the works. The next day, we get a new entry on our dramatis personae:
Alisha (Nick’s season): Alisha was one of the trio of mean girls on the Honey Badger’s season, but was most memorable for her redemption tour on last year’s season of Paradise, where she and Jules existed infamously under an ‘umbrella of ambiguity’ until he ultimately screwed her over.
Alisha is a Paradise icon, tbh, and she deserves better. And given she takes two steps into Paradise, locks eyes with Glenn, and then both of them turn into the heart-eyes emoji… is she going to get it?
Jury’s out on whether Glenn is going to be ‘better’ than Jules, per se, but given that he’s immediately like ‘UM HI HELENA I JUST WANT TO BE FRIENDS K’, it’s clear that he doesn’t want to hang out with Alisha under the umbrella of ambiguity, if you know what I mean.
They have to wait, however, because Osher immediately whisks Alisha away. ‘I want you to find love, so I’m setting you up on three blind dates!’ he tells her. ‘And they’re with cleanskins: men who have never been in the Bachelor franchise before!’
A few things to note here:
1) YES PLEASE OSHER ORGANISE MORE DATES I’M NOT CONVINCED THESE PEOPLE ARE DOING A GREAT JOB WORKING IT OUT ON THEIR OWN.
2) Don’t know how I feel about the name ‘cleanskins’, given that these are typically the wines you should stay away from in the bottle shop and only started being produced because there was a massive wine over-supply and they needed to flog some stuff cheap.
3) These three men could have been anyone. ANYONE. But who did they cast? Three white blonde men who honestly could be triplets.
Chris (cleanskin): ???
Conor (cleanskin): ???
Tim (cleanskin): ???, one m.
I absolutely understand the impulse to introduce new people here. It’s one of the few ways the show has to combat the fact that so much of its drama takes place pre-show in the DMs. This could have been extremely cool! But then you go and cast three loaves of white bread and expect anyone to be able to tell them apart or care?
My nerdle in yesterday’s recap was all about the franchise’s poor diversity record, so yeah: insert those comments again here.
Alisha gets about as much out of these men as I do. ‘God, I wish I was talking to Glenn,’ she says.
Thankfully, she gets her chance later that night. After managing to miss each other all day, they find each other, have a very cute heart-eyes little chat, and in one night manage to overtake Timm and Britt on the ‘strongest couple in Paradise’ chart, despite the fact Alisha accidentally calls him Greg.
But the cleanskins aren’t the only fresh meat! In one of the coolest entrances we’ve ever seen on this, this fellow literally swam from the open ocean into Paradise:
Alex (Angie’s season): he got about three seconds of screen time on The Bachelorette despite making it to the top six, but I always remembered him because he looks like a younger version of Ridge Forrester (Thorsten Kaye edition) from my beloved Bold and the Beautiful.
Renee catches sight of him and is like ‘OMG, hello Christmas!’ And then Ciarran runs up to him and hugs him and announces that Alex is his BEST. MATE. EVER. and you can just see her shoulders slump.
It’s such a mood, honestly. You see a dude, he’s a total babe, and then you realise he’s friends with every single toxic man you know.
There’s already been so much plot in this episode, but it’s not over yet! It’s time for a date card. For some secret reason of the producers, the recipient is Conor Cleanskin.
I was very prepared to be very uninterested, but then Conor Cleanskin did a very good thing: he asked Conga Line Brittney on the date. She’s thrilled! She’s over the moon! She runs off to her cabin to get dressed!
…and then promptly throws up.
You know what I did not want to see in Bach in Paz, this artefact from a prelapsarian time of innocent horniness when people didn’t have to be afraid to be within 1.5 metres of each other all the time? Quarantine!
But Brittney has gastro, and that’s where she has to go. Alas for our poor Paradise Pagliacci.
That means there’s a date up for grabs, and Glenn pounces on it. He and Alisha go off to some resort, rub each other down with body butter, and make out hardcore. It’s the kind of date that clearly took about fifteen seconds to come up with, but it didn’t need to be any more complicated than it was. Glelisha is on.
Back on the beach, a rose ceremony is on the horizon, and all the men (remember, the women have the roses this time) are scrambling for position, with one notable exception: Toolie Jake. ‘Last time I was here I found love,’ he mopes. ‘This time it just isn’t the same.’
Jake realising that schoolies just isn’t fun when you aren’t there with your friends is truly him approaching the zenith of his toolie-ness.
He stews on this for a while. ‘I don’t believe in friendship roses,’ he says, as he watches Cass plan to give Niranga a friendship rose. ‘The rose means something to me. Paradise means something to me.’
Believe me when I say that I could write a lot of words on Jake insisting that the Bachie rose should be a dense signifier of romantic love and not be emptied out of meaning, but this recap is already, like this episode, so long, so I’ll spare you.
The rose ceremony begins uneventfully with Alisha giving her rose to Glenn. But then Cass gives her rose – in friendship, as planned – to Niranga, and Jake boils over. ‘OSHER, I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY,’ he announces. ‘I BELIEVE IN THE SANCTITY OF THE ROSE CEREMONY. I HAVE FOUND LOVE HERE BEFORE. FRIENDSHIP ROSES ARE TRASH, AND I WILL NOT BE ACCEPTING ONE, AND NEITHER SHOULD ANYONE ELSE. JAKE OUT (to try and get Megan Marx back).’
As he strides off, we see the impact of this speech settle into the mind of Pagliacci Brittney. ‘Why should I give a friendship rose to Jamie?’ she wonders, as Britt gives her rose to Timm, Renee gives her to Chris Cleanskin (who apparently goes by Gilly? I refuse to remember this until he gives me a reason to), Jess gives hers to Ciarran, and Helena gives hers to Alex. ‘I could give a rose to Conor Cleanskin, who has actually demonstrated interest in me!’
But then, alas, Mary gazumps her and gives her rose to Conor Cleanskin. ‘Ugh, Jamie,’ Brittney says, faced with very few options when it comes to giving her rose out.
That means we say farewell to Tim Cleanskin… which is probably a good thing. Who knows how many munted monologues two-Ms Timm would go on if there was someone else with his name hanging about.
Sneaky end-of-recap reminder: not only do I write about rose ceremonies, but I’ve written a book with a rose on the cover! If you like my writing (which, if you made it to the end of this monstrously long recap, I assume you do), don’t forget to check out my YA Valentine series, and you can always check in on me at my website: jodimcalister.com.au
The show airs on Channel 10. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.