RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S4 E13

RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S4 E13
The Bachelor Australia Season 4
Background photo: Robert Sheie (Flickr)

Limerence, transpo dates, and the significance of baked bean jaffles in the Australian romantic narrative.

It’s Bachie-with-Jodi time again! Our sunflower prince’s harem is down to five ladies, so we are officially approaching the pointy end of things: the point where the phrase ‘but now feelings are really involved’ is increasingly uttered.

The word ‘love’ is thrown around a lot on Bachie: obviously, the Bachie is on a journey to find love, while the contestants are encouraged to fall in love with the Bachie. Whether or not love is possible in an environment like the show is obviously a bit of a debate, and one I’m not going to weigh in on: I mean, I’m not here to hold a referendum on people’s emotions. But it is worth noting, I think, that the kind of love that the contestants are encouraged to fall into is what we in the love game call ‘limerence’.

Limerence is not dissimilar to the more vernacular ‘having a crush’: it’s that special brand of romantic infatuation I’m sure we’ve all felt at one time or another. It’s characterised by wanting to be with one’s object of affection all the time, by imagining futures together, and intense desires to form a relationship.

GIF source: Pretty Little Liars
Source: Pretty Little Liars

Perhaps unsurprisingly, limerence is something which is generally felt at the formation or reformation of relationships. Once a relationship has been formed, it’s generally theorised that limerent love eventually calms down a bit, moving into passionate love and companionate love. Limerence isn’t a state that can really be maintained. However, it is the subject of a lot of our love stories: most romance is about relationships being formed, rather than relationships fully formed. And our ongoing interest in it is, arguably, because limerence is one of the most intense emotional experiences there is: there is nothing quite like that state of romantic infatuation. So say the attachment theorists, anyway.

… and so of course, it’s not really surprising that Bachie as a show attempts to invoke limerence in its contestants. If the Bachie picks the limerent contestant, then wow! what a love story! But where the limerent contestant is eliminated? You can spin an epic heartbreak story there: or, if the contestant is pushing the boundaries of ‘acceptable’ limerence into what seems like desperation, a whole other story gets told. In terms of this season of Bachie, Alex is the one to watch in this regard: this season’s editing is pretty indecisive, and they can’t seem to decide whether they want to portray her as obsessive and desperate or just in love — or, more correctly, limerence.

Anyway, now you know a cool new word, so we can get to the recapping.

The ladies are sitting around, being all limerent — Alex describes their collective emotional state re Richie as ‘holy bloody hell, I adore you’ — when in walks Osher. But — SHOCK! — he does not have a date card to pull out of a mysterious orifice. Instead, he tells them, Richie is taking them all camping: and he’s waiting out the front to pull them up.

(He also gives the interesting little monologue about all the different forms of transportation Richie has utilised on these dates. I am FASCINATED by the fact that transportation is the place where romance and capitalism most obviously collide in Bachie. I don’t know what I make of this, but I’ll think on it. Report back later for further instruction.)

Rachael, it turns out, is the only really experienced camper in the bunch, and once they get to the camp site, she takes charge, and becomes the queen of tent setting-upping. ‘I don’t really get worried about anything. Except for men,’ she tells Richie confidently.

Rachael is a gem. She is CLEARLY a gem. Why have we not spent more time with Rachael, beyond her extremely giffable face? The editing and producing on this season of Bachie is unbelievably terrible.

Anyway, as night falls, the ladies and Richie continue setting up camp. Olena is not very good at it and hates the outdoors. We all know that if you hate camping, you basically hate romance, amirite? This is not going to count in Olena’s favour.

Richie pulls the ladies one by one into the bush for private chats, and as night falls, this becomes increasingly creepy. Given the nature of so many stories set in the bush and the wilderness, this entire date feels like it’s teetering on the edge of a total genre shift: like at any moment it could go from being romantic to being the Blair Witch Project, or Wolf Creek, or Picnic at Hanging Rock.

… my goodness, that would be a twist. This entire season of Bachie might have me back on board if that happened.

That said, there is a longstanding link between nature and romance — typified in movements like Romanticism — and it’s something which is particularly prominent in Australian narratives, given the popularity of genres like RuRo. So I quite like this date, actually: I don’t think a baked bean jaffle would function as a romantic object in any other articulation of the franchise.

The next morning — after a late night game of I Never, which our local Mr Bingley has apparently never heard of, because he is, like, an innocent lamb — the ladies tease Richie for looking like absolute ratshit when he wakes up. I’m amazed that there isn’t a more suggestive edit to Richie’s claim that he is sooooooo tiiiiiiiiired after a night in the middle of nowhere with his five girlfriends, but clearly the producers and editors lack my filthy mind. (YOU NEED IT BACHIE, CALL ME.)

While the other ladies cook breakfast, Richie and Olena go for a walk. The soundtrack is extremely murdery and they have an awkward conversation while sitting on a dead tree. COULD THAT BE SOME SYMBOLISM? HMMMM I WONDER.

Richie then decides it’s time for some ‘fun activities’, and so hijacks Nikki, Faith, and Rachael into a game of canoe water polo. It feels uneasily like something you might play on Year Eight school camp, which is not — if my Year Eight school camp was anything to go by — the scene of great romance. I’m not unconvinced that ‘fun activities’ is actually an oxymoron.

Afterwards, Richie pulls Faith aside. They have a long conversation and he seems concerned that she tends to laugh a lot when they should be having Vry Srs Feelingz Chats. But honestly, I was a bit distracted, because they’re mysteriously sitting on a wagon.

WHOSE WAGON IS IT? THEY’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WILDERNESS. NO ONE IS SUPPOSED TO BE AROUND. WHY ARE THEY NOT MORE CONCERNED ABOUT THIS MYSTERIOUS MURDER WAGON?

Seriously, this date could go down a different generic path at annnnnnnnnnny second. I know they want you to think that the doom and gloom music they play during this chat is because Richie and Faith’s love is doomed, but YOU CAN’T TELL ME IT’S NOT MURDER MUSIC.

Source: Blair Witch Project, Tumblr

Next up is another ‘fun activity’: Richie makes Alex and Olena go billycarting down a hill with him. OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Alex at least puts up a good show of enjoying it. Olena is barely even trying to hide her distaste now, and is smiling through gritted teeth. ‘Do you think Richie will test Olena with this date?’ the other ladies wonder elsewhere, apparently unaware that this is a horrifying question.

Anyway, there’s lots of squealing and falling over in this billycart interlude, and it looks like nothing more than the ‘good clean fun’ montage you get before the camera pans to a terrifying monster lurking in the bushes, waiting to murder them all. Also the monster is an unsubtle allegory for sex, because we all know how this genre works.

For the rose ceremony, they return to the mansion. It’s a bit strange to return to the bosom of capitalism after being out in the wilderness for the whole episode, but … eh, I’ve given up expecting any kind of consistency from this season of Bachie.

Tonight’s victim — perhaps a little unexpectedly — is Faith. I guess the fact that she laughed a lot while talking to Richie was way more unforgivable than the fact that Olena hates all the things that Richie likes. Huh. Go figure.

(I like the things you like, Olena. I like you a lot, but I hope you don’t win. I hope you find a lovely gentleman caller with whom you can go on many lovely indoor dates. Possibly on the next season of The Bachelorette.)

Faith is the first of the ladies to get the ‘I’ll walk you out’ + ‘thanks for the memories’ rejection speech, which seems like a peculiarly painful little ritual. Expressing gratitude to the Bachie for the experience is generally held to be the ‘classy’ approach to these situations, and it’s what Faith does. But the idea of thanking someone immediately after they’ve dumped you … ouch, Bachie. That one has some sting in the tail.

Source: Tumblr
Source: Tumblr

The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.

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Jodi is a Lecturer in Writing and Literature at Deakin University. Her research focuses on the history of love, sex, women, and popular culture, so reading romance novels is technically work for her. Shed a tear for Jodi. Jodi is also an author, and her series about smart girls and murder fairies is published by Penguin Teen Australia. One time, the first book, Valentine, was featured on Neighbours, and she nearly fainted with joy.

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