RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S8 E07

Even in a pandemic, epic transportation is still not a date

Welcome back, friends! We’re swiftly approaching Lockydown, ie. the part of this season that has the potential to be most interesting.

Is it weird to say that the restrictions imposed by the pandemic are interesting? It might be a bit weird. But a) it’s necessarily different, and b) these first few episodes have been incredibly, incredibly boring, so… here we are.

Before we dive into tonight’s nerdle, a quick ad: as should be extremely obvious, I am an academic, and my first scholarly monograph, The Consummate Virgin, was published last week. If you’re in a position to do so, I would love for you to have a word to your university library and get them to order it in. This book was based on my PhD, a lot of which revolved around romance, so if you come to these recaps for the nerdy stuff, you might like it.

(NB: it costs a bajillion dollars, so I wouldn’t recommend ordering a copy for yourself just out of interest. Academic publishing, man. However, the publisher often has some pretty sweet sales, so if you keep an eye on my Twitter, I’ll let you know if it ever dips into affordable price territory.)

Okay! Let’s nerdle.

I wrote last week about the Capilano Suspension Bridge Experiment, and the phenomenon of misattribution of arousal. A lot of people messaged me to ask me about this, so I thought I’d briefly discuss a couple of other studies in which this idea – ie. when we’re in extreme circumstances, we’re more likely to experience sexual attraction – has been tested.

#1: The Electric Shock Experiment

This 1989 study, by James B Allen, Douglas T Kenrick, Darwyn E Linder, and Michael A McCall, sought to test the findings that Dutton and Aron made in the suspension bridge experiment in a new way. The participants were all men, and like the original experiment, there was an assumed heterosexuality. Each participant was put in a room with a beautiful woman (again, how they recruited these woman and what the rubric was for attractiveness is beyond me). Half were told that they were going to receive painful electric shocks; the other half mild.

Before the shocks (NB: the shocks weren’t actually administered, the participants just thought they would be), the participants were asked to rate the beautiful woman – how much they liked her, how much they would want to date her, how much they would want to kiss her. The results showed that the participants who thought they were going to receive a painful electric shock assessed themselves as being much more attracted to the woman than those who thought they were going to receive mild shocks – thus replicating the rickety bridge/steady bridge findings from Dutton and Aron’s original experiment.

…so I guess they could try threatening Locky with electrocution before some of his Zoom dates if they want to push him in a certain direction (although he’s such a mountain of a man I’m not sure electrocution would actually work on him).

#2: The Horror Movie Experiment

I’m sure you can guess what the setup was for this 1986 experiment from Dolf Zillman, James B Weaver, Norbert Mundof and Charles F Aust. Participants were paired with a person of the opposite sex who was in league with the researchers (whether or not they were attractive was again one of the study variables, and again I can only shrug when it comes to working out how they determined it). Together, they watched a section from a very murdery horror film – one of the Friday the 13th films, IIRC. The companion (ie. the one in league with the researcher) pretended to be either distressed, indifferent, or masterful.

The findings played out in quite a gendered way. The male participants reported enjoying the horror film the most when they had a distressed woman to comfort, and the least when the woman was displaying that they had mastered any fear responses. It played out in the inverse way for women: they enjoyed the film the least when their male companion was distressed, and the most when a fear-mastering man was their partner.

(Heteronormative culture, man. It does a number on us.)

This played out in key ways when it came to attraction. Men who were initially deemed unattractive were able to become more attractive in the minds of the women by mastering fear. However, the same thing did not apply when women mastered fear – although it is worth noting that if she was distressed that did not seem to make her more attractive.

There’s a lot of stuff about gender in here which is not, shall we say, my favourite, but the interaction of fear and arousal is really interesting. Specifically, what we see here in a heterosexual dynamic is that men become more attractive to women when they demonstrate mastery over fear.

This should, in theory, position Locky as a god among men, given that fearlessness is his stock and trade – but how is this going to play out over Zoom? Are they going to make him watch a horror film on Netflix Party as a group date and comfort everyone in the chat?

There are a bunch of similar experiments, so if I run out of things to nerdle about, I might return to this to outline a few takes on the Capilano Suspension Bridge Experiment in future recaps. But for now: let’s see how things are playing out on the dawn of Lockydown.

We left last week on a cliffhanger, insofar as a global pandemic is a cliffhanger. ‘Ladies, Locky,’ Osher says solemnly, ‘I have something to tell you.’

That thing is ‘hey, pandemic, it’s on’ but it’s not ‘and we’re shutting down production’. Not yet, anyway.

…which means we have at least one more cocktail party to suffer through, heaven forbid.

Basically what Osher says is this: the pandemic is a thing! it’s much worse than when you entered the mansion four weeks ago! lockdowns everywhere! but you’re basically already in lockdown here, so you’re actually pretty safe!

He also talks about how the show is doing everything to keep them safe, and I really wish he’d provided an itemised list of what that is. What were the actual measures that the show took? I assume there was some kind of bubble situation, and – okay, look, I’ll level with you, what I actually want to know is whether or not Osher had to sleep at the mansion in contestant bunk beds with everyone.

The next day everyone is still a bit shaken, but they’ve had a chance to talk to their families and they’re mostly all right (with the exception of Bella, who notes she has Chekhov’s immunocompromised grandparents). Osher comes in again – furthering my theory that he lives here now – and tells them that a) all group dates are going to be at the house and on the grounds now, and b) there’s a group date right now.

This group date is with a psychic.

…you all knew I was going to pause here and go on a long rant about how the show needs to hire me as a romance expert, right? I’ll make it short. HIRE ME, BACHIE! I PROMISE NEVER TO SAY THE PHRASE ‘SPIRIT WORLD’! UNLESS THAT IS A REQUIREMENT!

Anyway, the psychic looks at Locky and says ‘fire engine?’ and he’s like ‘OMG HOW DID YOU KNOW I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A FIREMAN AS A KID’ like you couldn’t look at the big lug and immediately not know that. The upshot: he believes in psychics now.

The psychic goes around everyone and tells them things, and they’re all OMG SO TRUE! and I’m all OMG THESE IN-HOUSE GROUP DATES ARE MAKING US LOOK AT THIS HIDEOUS WALLPAPER EVEN MORE! and it’s all terribly uneventful…

…until we get to Bella. And the psychic straight up tells her that someone in her life has died/is about to die.

(Okay, fine, she doesn’t say exactly that. She says some bullshit like ‘someone is going through the door, and someone else will come through the door,’ and… look, I don’t believe in psychics, if that isn’t clear.)

Bella – understandably – gets very upset about this, especially given that her grandfather has cancer and is very ill. ‘I need to call my family!’ she declares. ‘I need to know if he’s all right!’

The timeline on this is a little confusing to me, given the show made it clear that everyone had already contacted their families that morning, but… it still makes more sense than whatever that Juliette vs Roxi beef was the other night, or Rights for Redheads, so I’ll leave it alone.

I was a little worried that the show was pulling something very exploitative here, but it’s okay: Bella’s grandpa is all right! she’s all right! everything is all right! suck it, psychic!

There’s a second part of this date, where Locky and each of the women on the group date sit down with the psychic and she gives them her spicy take on their relationships. She tells them a bunch of stuff about past lives and numerology and symbols and whatnot, typical psychic stuff, and… look, I totally understand why they did this date and it works much better than a lot of their other group dates, but as someone who is pretty firm in their not believing in psychics beliefs, I spent most of the time wondering where I could buy the wingback armchair the psychic was sitting in.

Oh, and the psychic predicted that someone called Bel was the best person for Locky, and she consequently got a rose. I feel like I have a fairly good handle on who’s on this show, so I’m very confident in telling you that Bel only turned up today and has never, ever been here before.

The next day, it’s time for a single date. Locky turns up at the door of the Bach mansion on a motorbike which seems much too small for him (seriously, I know he is a giant man, but is this the BMX version of a motorbike?) to ask Roxi on a single date.

This gives me cause to bring back an old refrain. It got a bit of a rest during Dr Space Bachie’s season, but here it is again: EPIC TRANSPORTATION (or quite small transportation, srsly it’s so tiny) IS NOT A DATE.

The destination is the Bach pad, where Locky and Roxi spend some time on a Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation.

I’m going to be real: I tuned out for most of this conversation. I noticed that all they showed of the cheeseboard was a couple of figs in a shot that focused on candles, and then I tried to think if I’d seen an actual cheeseboard all season, and I came to the dramatic conclusion that LOCKY DOES NOT LIKE CHEESE, which I feel like is a disqualifying characterisatic for a Bachelor, and I was all caught up in this conspiracy, and I only tuned back in when Roxi asked Locky to ‘bend her like a pretzel’.

Ahem.

Anyway. It’s cocktail party time. Roxi walks in with a rose, and everyone is like, ‘please god, let her not cry at this one, I swear to god’.

But there is some rose drama at this cocktail party. Osher walks in – banging his wedding ring very obnoxiously against a champagne glass, which he does a lot and is one of my favourite moves of his – and announces that five women (ie. a third of the women) will be leaving that night. ‘For pandemic reasons,’ he doesn’t add, but we can infer.

Everyone is obviously desperate to talk to Locky. First cab off the rank is Bella. ‘You’ve got nothing to worry about,’ he reassures her, and then they pash on (not, I would like to note, peck on, a truly cursed phrase that was uttered last week).

Remember Chekhov’s I Hope Roxi Isn’t Going To Cry Tonight? Roxi sees Bella and Locky kiss, and starts crying. ‘I thought this was going to be my moment!’ she sobs, to the bemusement for both the other women and Locky. ‘I thought this was going to be my night!’

It’s quite interesting, really. Roxi being upset makes sense if you think about it in a violation of the social contract sense – it’s largely agreed in the Australian version that pashing at the cocktail party is not on – but she takes it so personally. The rules of the Bachieverse is that only one person (ie. the Bach) is allowed to be solipsistic at a time. It must be quite difficult when that person isn’t you.

Onto the rose ceremony! We’re losing five women tonight. These turn out to be a collection of women who are surely mostly locks for the next season of Paradise: Areeba, Laura, Marg, Charley, and Gemma.

‘Clearly he likes basic girls,’ Areeba says dismissively. ‘I’m not basic.’

In case it wasn’t already clear: I love her.

But we’re not done! Post rose ceremony, as the crew traipse around breaking things down and the women file back into the mansion, Osher takes Locky aside. ‘Locky, I have to tell you something,’ he says. ‘We can’t keep everyone safe. We have to stop production.’

I thought they were going to cliffhang it there, but they kept it going a little longer. This was mostly to their detriment – Locky is many things, but ‘good at giving a speech about how we’re all going to be together again when we can’ is not one of them (he mostly said ‘you’re amazing’ about forty times) – but there was a great piece of cinematography at the end, where they showed Locky leaving, and six Zoom-esque squares all went black at once.

Tomorrow: it’s Lockydown, pals. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited for a new Bachie frontier.  

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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