RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S8 E04

Meet the Blair Waldorf of the Bachieverse

We are back again! We have survived the cocktail party of very little consequence, and now, I sincerely hope, we have returned to regularly scheduled Bachie programming, dates and all.

…I still can’t get over the fact they tried to make that cocktail party into a full episode. Even the Dogcunt Incident, which was objectively fifty times as dramatic and entertaining, did not merit that treatment.

One of the primary reasons why they managed to milk a whole episode out of the cocktail party was Areeba. You know how in Paradise Timm was always claiming to be stirring the shit, when really he was just being an arsehole? He could take a few lessons from Areeba, who genuinely is shit-stirring, and is much, much better at it than he was.

I have a little theory on why Areeba is so good at this: she’s a student of the franchise. She gave this away a couple of episodes ago when she revealed that she knew that the person who gets the first single date rarely wins the show, and ohohohohoho, I am onto you now, my girl. Areeba has, as far as I can tell, made a detailed study of the show, and is setting out not to fall in love with the Bach – I think we can already tell that Areeba would be much too much to handle for Locky the oversized river boy – but to make good television.

Areeba is one of the main reasons why the premiere episode of this season was such a banger. Sure, she couldn’t have anticipated that Zoe-Clare would deliver one of the most iconically tone-deaf monologues of all time, but that thing where she just sat down in the middle of Locky and Zoe-Clare’s single time and refused to move? That was damn good TV. The same thing went for the never-ending cocktail party last night. She skilfully innovated with the format to create her own little group date with Juliette and Kristina (something she knew would probably piss off the other women, and create good TV) – and then, when NoteGate happened, she skilfully pivoted and swore eternal vengeance on Juliette: once again, good TV.

I absolutely refuse to believe that Areeba is not doing this on purpose. Every manoeuvre she makes is deliberately calculated to create narrative drama. So often we see the contestants who have apparently never watched the franchise before, and so they seem OMG! so! shocked! at everything that happens. In Areeba, I think we’re seeing one of the first great narrative manipulators of the Australian franchise emerge.

This isn’t to say we haven’t had contestants with knowledge of the franchise before. If you are at all immersed in the Bachieverse podcast world, you will know that both Alisha and Janey of this year’s Paradise fame are franchise superfans (as discussed on the Cocktails and Roses and Bachelor of Hearts podcasts respectively). Abbie from last year has also expressed franchise knowledge, and quite clearly used it to her advantage in her season: but I don’t think we’ve ever seen anyone do it quite as skilfully and deliberately as Areeba.

We often tend to think of reality TV contestants as victims of the show (Unreal, for instance, positioned many of them this way). This is one of the reasons I enjoy Areeba so much: she’s studied the franchise and she’s directing the narrative in the way she wants it go – becoming an active storyteller, rather than a passive character who’s had a story shaped around them. Once her time in the Bachieverse is done (like, she’s obviously going to Paradise, right? she’d rule that place), they’d be foolish if they didn’t hire her as a producer.

cough or maybe you could come and do a PhD with me Areeba I might have been joking when I offered that the other week but I don’t think I’m joking now seriously I’m in if you are cough

Let us conclude this love letter to Master Storyteller Areeba by seeing what narrative magic she’s managed to conjure up this episode.

We begin tonight with a single date (dates? Remember those? There’s more than just endless cocktail parties). The recipient is Nicole, who has decided to utilise the first power of the triple threat rose she won in the first episode, which gives her a single date, a spot on a group date, and time in the Bach Pad.

Confusingly, she brings the rose along with her. Does she have to trade in a certain number of petals per date, or…?

Anyway. Locky is like, ‘oh, hi, Nicole! We’re going to go on a super nice bush walk!’

But it’s not a super nice bush walk. He’s like, ‘oh… surprise! now we’re abseiling!’ and then like that’s not enough, he throws in surprise rock climbing on top.

I cannot even begin to tell you how furious I would be if someone invited me on a nice date that was supposed to be a leisurely hike and then tried to add fucking CLIFFS into the mix. They would be getting shoved off that cliff, let me tell you.

Locky’s like, ‘it doesn’t matter how well she does at it – it just matters that she gives it a red hot go!’ like he’s Nicole’s PE teacher rather than her date. If he’s allowed to do that, I’m allowed to tell all my dates that they have to answer riddles three before they get to eat wine and cheese, and then pat them condescendingly on the head and tell them all that matters is that they have a try and do their best.

Ahem. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll nerdle about this at length at some point, but if you want to know why they always do dates in and around high places… it’s classic misattribution of arousal.

So, they do the abseiling and the rock climbing, and if you told me Locky also made her hang glide and sky dive I would believe you, but finally they get to their Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation. Their conversation isn’t terribly thrilling – it’s mostly Locky finding out whether Nicole would be willing to teach dance in Bali, and being very happy when she says yes – but it’s nice. ‘I’m so glad she’s got the triple threat rose, because now I get to see her two more times!’ Locky enthuses. ‘And I get to… find out more about her!’

Locky doesn’t strike me as the brighest spark, but he seems to experience a lot more genuine joy than some of the Bachelors we’ve had previously, and it’s quite lovely to watch, TBH.

Next up: it’s a group date (which Nicole is on, in the second prong of her triple threat date). And I would like to put it out that that I SEE YOU, CHANNEL TEN. I know you stole this date from the Mud Bowl in the late-2000s VH1 celebreality show Rock of Love. You cannot put one over on me.

Basically, the women are split into two teams, and they have to play gridiron against each other. Locky is the… quarterback? IDK, I don’t know what the rules of gridiron are. (Does anyone in the Australian, predominantly female audience?) At the end of the date, Locky has to pick an MVP to take to a Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation.

Oh, and it’s raining, so the oval they’re playing on turns to mud instantly. Everyone is filthy, except Osher, standing suavely on the sidelines, delicately holding an umbrella, and occasionally using his Masked Singer voice to yell what I have to assume are football words.

I’m trying to decide which is a worse date: someone tricking you into rock-climbing, or being forced to play American football in the rain. It says a lot that I’d probably take the surprise cliffs.

Anyway, they play football, they tackle each other a lot, it’s very competitive, you can fill in the gaps yourself. The two contenders for MVP are Charley (the only person who recognised Locky from Survivor on the first night) and Roxi (who played Locky’s fiancée in the jewellery store photo shoot in the second episode). To Charley’s chagrin, Locky goes with Roxi.

(Oh! and while it doesn’t have much relevance to the overall date, they make a point of noting that Areeba has somehow tricked Juliette out of going on this date and substituted herself. I am fairly sure she’s a genius and I love her.)

This is an interesting little snippet of Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation time. I haven’t seen much evidence that Locky is especially good at having interesting conversations, but what he is good at is showing genuine enthusiasm and excitement about the person he’s talking to. When Roxi is like, ‘I have some trust issues around men,’ he goes into, like, panicked golden retriever mode, and retrieves a rose to make her feel better.

And then when she tells him that she had a sex dream about him, his eyes go round as saucers and he starts giggling like a teenager. He’s just such a giant happy horny himbo, bless him.

What I would not be happy about, however, is the food on this date. If I was expecting a Bachie cheeseboard and I got some hot dogs and twisties, I’d be furious. So many date violations in this episode, honestly.

So the equation currently stands thusly: Nicole got a pash but not a rose, while Roxi got a rose but not a pash. You can practically see the numbers float in front of Areeba’s eyes as she factors them into her grand master plan.

Speaking of Areeba: there’s a little interlude where she forces Juliette to grovel – despite the fact that she’s already conned Juliette into giving her the place on the group date! – before she graciously accepts her back into her circle of friendship. It’s all so extremely Blair Waldorf. Like, she makes Juliette kiss her hand. Literally.

God, I love her so much.

But back to Locky! Before we get to a cocktail party which I hope will not take another whole episode, he has the third prong of his triple threat date with Nicole. She comes to visit him at the Bach Pad. ‘I’m, uh, not the best cook, but I thought we could make chips and gravy together!’ he says.

I would like to put it out there that if you’re not a good cook, then making chips and gravy from scratch is probably going to wind up being very disappointing and you’re better off making a run down to the local fish & chips place instead. But what do I know, I’m just a humble recapper and not a giant mountain of a Bachie.

So it’s very cute, and they drink beers and kiss. The end.

Well, not quite the end, although the end to this episode is definitely premature. Back at the mansion, everyone is getting ready for the cocktail party. ‘Do you think Locky’s going to give Nicole a rose?’ Roxi asks anxiously. ‘Because it kind of devalues my rose if she gets one?’

You can guess what happens next: Nicole walks in with a rose, and Roxi loses her mind – and then she loses her mind again thirty seconds later when Juliette (urged on by Areeba the diabolical mastermind) whisks Locky aside immediately.

And that’s the end of the episode, because apparently Wednesday nights are just cocktail parties now?

Bachie. I know this whole recap is a love letter to Areeba, and the preview for next week makes it look very Areeba-heavy. But if the goddamn Dogcunt Incident – the greatest cocktail party in Bachie history! – doesn’t merit a whole episode, then none of this does either.

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

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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