RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S9 E02

Welcome back, friends! We’ve negotiated Night One of The Bachelor Australia, we’ve met our cast of characters, we’ve bid adieu to the worst wallpaper in the world, and now it’s time to get into the  meat of the season.

But before we do that: let’s talk about me. Remember how I said last night I had some VERY EXCITING AND MYSTERIOUS NEWS?!

Well, now I can talk about it! I’m absolutely thrilled to tell you all that Author Jodi has signed a two-book with Simon & Schuster for a pair of rom-coms coming in 2022: Here For The Right Reasons and Can I Steal You For A Second?.

As you might be able to tell from these extremely subtle titles, these two rom-coms are set against the backdrop of a show that is, ahem, not unlike the one I’m recapping right here. They take place concurrently on the same season of a reality dating show, where ~reasons~ mean that everyone who was on set on the first night has to stay there – including the eliminated contestants.

(Yes, it’s lockdown reasons – but don’t worry, these are not, like, nitty-gritty pandemic books. They’re very very much rom-coms.)

I’m not going to tell you right now who the starring couples of the two books are, but suffice it to say that everyone involved finds love in some pretty unexpected places, even though going on a reality dating show pretty much implies that you’re expecting to find love.

I wrote Here For The Right Reasons during the second lockdown in Melbourne last year. If you read between the lines of my Bachie recaps from that period, you can probably tell that I, just like everyone else in Victoria, was going through it.

Much as the two 2020 seasons were not the greatest the franchise has ever produced, having it on every Wednesday and Thursday was really important for me. If there’s one thing that lockdown taught me – especially as someone who lives alone – it’s that routine is important. Sitting down to watch and recap the Bach every Wednesday and Thursday was one of the things that helped keep me on track.

I wrote a little during Elly and Becky’s season last year about the idea of “clock time” vs “narrative time” or “human time” (Abbott 2008; Ricoeur 1984). The first is measured in minutes and hours, the second in events. One of the reasons it feels like time goes all melty in lockdown is because there are no events to measure things by. Therefore, you have to make your own events: and Wednesday and Thursday Bachie nights were some of mine.

But! There is a but! Anyone who read my recaps of last year knows there is a but! Because neither of the seasons last year were particularly good, I spent a lot of my other melty lockdown time thinking about what I might do, what stories I might tell, were I masterminding some reality TV of the dating variety.

And thus was born Here For The Right Reasons.

The process of writing Here For The Right Reasons was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. It turns out that a) writing fiction about something you’ve researched and written exhaustively about critically, when combined with b) a time period that is simultaneously extraordinary and SO SO SO boring makes for a pretty weird cocktail.

I wrote the first draft very fast – faster than I’ve ever written anything (don’t worry, it’s been extensively edited and there’ll be more edits yet, I would never subject you all to one of my vomit drafts, unless you count these recaps). The speed wasn’t just because I was so full of thoughts and ideas and opinions and feelings about reality dating shows, although that was certainly part of it.

No, it was mostly because, in a time where nothing ever changed and every day bled into the next, I needed the structure of a story. I craved the rising action, the falling action, the push towards the narrative climax. I needed the conflict. I needed things to develop, to evolve, to change.

And, of course, I needed a happy ending. In case there was any doubt about it: in both Here For The Right Reasons and Can I Steal You For A Second?, everything turns out all right in the end.

But will they end up that way for Jimmy? Now that I’ve forced you to read about me for a very self-indulgent amount of time, let’s get into the actual reason you’re here and talk about the episode.

We begin our episode with the first single date. The recipient is the first woman we met last night, Brooke of the Sri Lankan love cake.

I have no issue with this. I do, however, have issues with two things:

  1. There’s no date card. Instead, there are two boarding passes – one for Jimmy, one for Brooke.
  2. The date is him taking her flying.

You know what I’m going to say, so say it with me, friends.

TRANSPORTATION IS NOT A DATE.

Jimmy takes Brooke up in some tiny plane that he probably said the name of but which slid right over my brain like water. She’s a nervous flier, and she clutches at his thigh so hard that he comments about it being her “turbulence penetration position”.

Actually, I need to add another thing to my list:

3. After a million pilot puns, no one turned “turbulence penetration position” into a double entendre.

You may have noticed the word “turbulence” in that phrase. It’s dark and stormy when Jimmy takes Brooke up in that plane. There’s thunder. There’s dramatic lightning. It’s a clear sign of one true, indisputable thing: if there is a higher power, they also agree with me that TRANSPORTATION IS NOT A DATE.

Also, even if we set aside the transpo thing: what a fun time, to go on a date where I have to deal with a crisis in my professional life and thus cannot really pay that much attention to my date. The dream, truly.

They have a lovely time afterwards on their Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation, though. I continue to quite like Jimmy on account of him being a decent conversationalist. He and Brooke talk a lot about the need for balance between nurturing and challenging in a relationship in a way that is genuinely very insightful – before, of course, they pash and she gets a rose.

But friends, I must add one more thing to my list:

4. THERE IS NO CHEESEBOARD.

I thought this was just a 2020 thing! I thought Locky just didn’t like cheese! But no! If there have been budget cuts, they have cut deep into the cheddar! and thus into my heart!

Here is your first spoiler from Here For The Right Reasons, friends: I ALWAYS pay attention to the cheeseboard.

Next is the group date (to which contestants are thankfully summoned by a normal date card, and not, like, a flight manifest or a stand-by list). It’s old faithful, the traditional first group date: the photo shoot.

This year, the theme is rom-coms. Instead of going for iconic rom-coms, they’ve gone for iconic narrative moments in the rom-com genre, which – yeah, you all know why I find this interesting, right? Right.

The shoots are as follow:

  1. A meet-cute in a library… if there were also two librarians (one elderly, one younger) and a janitor in the library pulling so much focus that the handsome boy barely noticed the shy girl in the cardigan.
  2. A wedding… where the bride got so involved in fighting the wedding crasher that the groom spent most of the time flirting with the celebrant.
  3. A birthday party… where one woman was the girlfriend and one was the best friend, and I was very confused about the rom-com-iness of it until I realised she was supposed to be his best friend a la My Best Friend’s Wedding.
  4. A climactic happily-ever-after, complete with kissing in the rain.

To talk about the first three first: I really like rom-com as a photo shoot concept, but the fact that it is a group date and most of the shoots are group shoots really complicate it. In nearly all these photographs, Jimmy is portrayed as someone simultaneously hitting on several women, which…

…is the premise of the show, Jodi, come on, even if isn’t the premise of the rom-com. Get your levels of textuality and metatextuality straight.

Anyway: the fourth shoot. This featured Jimmy and Lily and hooooooooo boy we haven’t had this much chemistry in a photo shoot since Dr Space Bachie and Abbie a few years ago. These shoots often involve the couple almost kissing, but this time, Jimmy and Lily not only did kiss, they really seemed like wanted to kiss, which is definitely not always the case.

Plus, it was raining, and she stripped off his shirt, and sure, you could make a case that they just got carried away in the moment, but there was some fire here, friends. Keep an eye on Jimmy and Lily the crane lady.

All the other women see this, and predictably, they do not love that their collective boyfriend is just fully pashing another woman in front of them. They’re also pretty unhappy that said collective boyfriend picks Lily to go on the Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation time afterwards, so… watch out for this narrative to continue to pop up.

Jimmy and Lily’s couch time also provokes Dr Space Bachie/Abbie flashbacks. He’s really drawn to her, but he’s very worried about the fact she’s 23, even though she does seem more mature than that age would warrant… it’s basically identical, which means, I assume, that Lily will be at the centre of Dogcuntgate 2: Electric Boogaloo in a few weeks.

Surprisingly, this drama doesn’t pop up too much in the cocktail party. Rather, it revolves around something that happened in one of the photo shoots. Sierah (she who got the spooky abandoned carnival music last night) is mad with a blonde woman called Tahnee who I am not convinced has ever been on the show before, because she thinks Tahnee pulled her hair on the photo shoot. Sierah also apparently wants to tell Jimmy she doesn’t love him, because she told him that she did on the photo shoot, and… look, it’s full of sound and fury and signifies nothing.

Also, somewhere in this cocktail party, Jay uses her special key powers to take Jimmy off to the business lounge. I was somewhat relieved to see, after the boarding pass incident, that they didn’t commit to full realism, in that it was just quite a nice lounge room and featured no food sweating in bain-maries or Sky News blaring from every available screen.

Finally: the rose ceremony. Tonight, we lose Jacinta, who I do not really remember, and Belinda, who I do. She delivers a truly iconic exit line in the limo – “how’s my face? Do you want me to look sadder?” – which surely puts her on the Paradise shortlist for whenever they decide to do that again.

And that’s our first week of Bachie done for 2021, friends! Around this time next year, I’ll probably be launching Here For The Right Reasons! I really am very excited about this book and I hope you are too!

Sneaky end-of-recap reminder: you have to wait until 2022 for Here For The Right Reasons and Can I Steal You For A Second?, but my Valentine trilogy is available right now for your lockdown reading pleasure. You can also catch me on 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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