RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S9 E08

And once more unto the Bach we go, my friends! Like I mentioned last night, we’re very much in the middle of the season now – the point where feelings are starting to develop and shit is getting real.

I think, however, that the show could do a slightly better job in terms of nudging those feelings along by changing up the way they’re constructing their dates. I’ve written ad nauseam this season about how TRANSPORTATION IS NOT A DATE, even if transportation has a long and storied history in romantic culture and Jimmy being good at it is competence porn. My firmness that transportation is how you get to the date, not the date itself, isn’t just a random assertion. As always, your pal Dr McAl has done the research.

Let’s think about those transpo dates for a second. Most of them really are just Jimmy showing off. Sure, he can show off in a good-for-TV way – well, better than I could, anyway, I doubt it would be great television to sit quietly in the corner of my office while I taught a Zoom class or marked an essay or wrote a book (did I mention yet I have a book coming out in 2022?). But driving planes and trains and automobiles is still not an activity that requires much participation from the other person beyond sitting and admiring. We have Brooke in the plane with him. We have Steph in the flight simulator. At the most extreme end, we have Jay blindfolded on a jetski, unable to participate.

While this might make Jimmy look great, and it might foster attraction, what it doesn’t do is foster any kind of bonding. What does foster bonding is problem solving, overcoming obstacles, and creativity.

Often, when the show is trying to foster bonding, they go for the adrenaline dates. I wrote extensively about what’s going on with that last season, when we were held in the thrall of Outside Boy Locky Gilbert – basically, if you can get someone’s adrenaline to spike, you could trigger something called “misattribution of arousal”, leaving people horny for each other after that kind of shared experience. However, if we think about a longterm relationship, you can’t just fling yourself out of a plane constantly (well, I guess you could, but it doesn’t seem like a great way to live). No, that’s where you need the skills I listed above: you need to be able to solve problems, and you need to be creative.

If I was in control of the Bach, this is something I would be thinking about a lot when I was crafting my dates: how can I put my couple in a situation where they need to solve a problem together? Where they have to work together to overcome an obstacle, and/or create something? A classic example of this is a perennial Bachie fave, the cooking date. This doesn’t work just because it inevitably ends in a sexy food fight. It works because the couple have to work together to create something. You can learn a lot about your compatibility with someone by making a meal together (cooking with me, for instance, one might learn that I definitely do not want to participate in any food fights, sexy or otherwise. If you get food in my hair, I will never speak to you again).

I read a scholarly article recently about “romantic creativity” which really made me think about this. The authors describe romantic creative activities as ones which “(a) engaged the two partners in a process of trying and discovering things (not necessarily new things); (b) was perceived by one or both members of the dyad as meaningful; and (c) focused them on a novel direction in their life together” (Verger & Duymedjian 2020, 32, emphasis in original). The example they gave was a situation where partners might decide to learn a language together with the goal of visiting the country where that language is spoken.

That’s obviously more than you could do on one date in the Bach, but if you scale it down, this could be a very useful model for a good date. Not only does it promote bonding through the shared activity, but it’s explicitly future oriented – making both halves of the couple think about whether that future is one they want.

Will they do any of that tonight, or will Jimmy just drive some more forms of transportation around? Let’s get into the episode and find out.

First up: remember last night when there was Chekhov’s “Oh, The Camera Is Off” Confession That Jimmy Actually Likes Brooke The Best? It comes home to roost immediately tonight. Brooke’s grandfather has died, and so she’s had to leave the show to go and be with her family.

Jimmy has a little Zoom with her about it. It’s sweet, but it’s fairly antiseptic, which makes me think they included that little snip last night for one of two reasons.

  1. We’re meant to read Jimmy as incredibly heartbroken, and this as the start of a fundamentally new love story for him as he adjusts to his normal.
  2. We’re meant to read Jimmy and Brooke as starcrossed, and thus be delighted if/when she comes back later down the track.

It could also be a combination of the two, in that we’re meant to read them as starcrossed, but if she comes back down the track, then Jimmy has to explicitly weigh what he saw with Brooke with whatever new love story he’s developed in the meantime.

Either way, it’s going to be fascinating to see what they do here, and how they tease this out over the coming episodes. (Or if they do anything with it. If that little clip last night did functionally nothing, then it’s going to be a very strange narrative decision.)

Anyway! Single date time. Jimmy meets Carlie on a bare concrete rooftop on the campus of Western Sydney University. I’m sure that campus attendance would have been low due to online learning, so he’s basically asked her to meet him on an abandoned roof in a ghost town. Definitely no murder vibes here.

Then, of course, in true Bachelor fashion, he throws her off said roof. Never has this show found a roof it doesn’t want to throw people off.

The specific manner of roof-throwing is ziplining. They zipline off the roof, grab a key, and then when they get to the bottom, unlock a box. In there is some 1920s-style clothing, because their Couch time that night? 1920s themed.

I really want to know what conversations happened in the production office that led them to combine “ziplining” and “1920s”. Truly, we’re in galaxy brain territory here.

Whatever the concept underneath the date, Jimmy and Carlie have a really nice vibe together. They pour a million bottles of champagne into a champagne fountain (please tell me the crew got to drink it and it didn’t go to waste!). They learn to hula hoop, which made me very worried about the champagne fountain. And they had a really lovely conversation. “Often, people like the idea of me, because I’m a lawyer, and I look good on paper,” Carlie tells Jimmy. “I want someone who likes me.”

“I see those different sides of you,” Jimmy says. “Like today, I saw how fun and spontaneous and adventurous you can be.”

Then they pash, and she gets a rose, and it’s nice. I don’t think Carlie is going to win, but… maybe it’s just me, but that whole “I look good on paper, but I want someone to like me”, oooof, that hits me where I live.

Next up, it’s a group date, and friends, I am torn on this one. Initially, I was like NO BAD BACHELOR WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS, NO ONE WANTS THIS, because it’s set in a high school. If you want to take your girlfriend/s on a lovely romantic date, here is a hot tip from me to you: don’t take them to high school.

However! Some of the activities they do within this framework are actually really fun. For example, some of the women have to do debating, where the topic is “does love at first sight really exist?”, which is a fun way to explore people’s attitudes to romance (although if you’re me, you spent this going OKAY, THIS IS WHAT IT SAYS IN THE LITERATURE, EXCUSE ME WHAT DID YOU SAY ABOUT HENRY VIII, I THINK YOU’LL FIND THE OPPOSITE OF THAT WAS TRUE???)

(Is this the date they should have done on the university campus? Surprise, ladies, your group date is a philosophy tutorial.)

The women who don’t debate have to do PE. They play poisonball – ie. all the women throw balls at them, and the one left standing is the winner. That turns out to be Sierah, who, along with Laura (who won the debating portion), has guaranteed extra time with Jimmy that night, at the high school formal.

That’s not the only thing on the table at the formal. There’s also a rose – and whoever wins it will get the next single date.

So: stakes. But before we continue, I feel like it’s important to know that they can’t play music on dates for sound reasons, so if you were imagining a replica formal that was actually big fun, please know that it truly must have been so excruciatingly awkward.

There’s a lot of drama about how Steph wants to talk to Jimmy but doesn’t get the chance, but it can be summed up in… well, that sentence, really. Basically, Jimmy talks to the people he’s obligated to talk to, and he ultimately gives the rose to Laura. She’s so delighted to receive it, and it’s nice.

What’s of more import is that a) there’s a rose ceremony immediately afterwards, and b) an ad screens that’s like GUESS WHAT, FRIENDS, DON’T CHANGE THE CHANNEL! THERE’S ANOTHER EPISODE OF THE BACH STRAIGHT AFTER THIS!

This is… unprecedented, and I really don’t think it’s a good thing. It’s certainly not a good thing for me, because I have to write recaps of this damn thing. It’s not a good thing for you, because it means you’re going to have to read reeeeeeeeeeeeeally long recaps. And it can’t be a good thing for the show, because it strongly suggests to me that the ratings for this season are so bad they’re rushing it out double speed just to get it over with.

Which: yikes.

Anyway, Sierah gets eliminated at the rose ceremony. I feel bad for her, because no one deserves the additional trauma of getting eliminated from The Bachelor at a high school added on top of their existing high school trauma. And I’m going to miss her, because wholeheartedly believing you deserve true love because you “dominated at poisonball” is a level of confidence and self-possession we should all aspire to.

Okay. Reset. Onto the next episode which I guess we’re all watching now, because Channel Ten has decided to burn this season.

Laura got the rose at the school formal, so she gets the single date. And guess what! It’s not transportation! From my nerdle to their ears, it’s a cooking date.

Jimmy and Laura are making pasta together. “I don’t know the rules,” Laura says. “I don’t know what it means be cooking in the kitchen with a man.”

This level of awkwardness pervades their whole date, although they do have quite a nice vibe together. Jimmy is clearly teetering on the edge of friendzoning Laura, and he’s close to falling right over, but she’s so hard not to like. “So many men have told me that I’m too much,” Laura tells him. “Or they tell me that I’m what they want, but it turns out they don’t want what I am all year round.”

“I like you,” Jimmy says. “You’re just the right amount.”

He wants to like her so, so much, but it’s just not there. And she knows it. He gives her a rose, but he pointedly doesn’t kiss her, and Laura reads that for exactly what it means.

And, poor woman, she’s mortified. Unsurprisingly! It’s mortifying! Jimmy tries to comfort her later when he finds her crying to her producer, but there’s just no getting around that it’s pretty easy to read when someone just… isn’t into you like that.

Sigh. Poor Laura. I like her so much. I hope her name is at the top of the Paradise list, if they ever do that again (although considering the main franchise is apparently in such a dire place they’re burning the season, I don’t think we’ll see it for a while).

As, I assume, a consolation prize, Laura is also on the group date with Ash, Holly, Lily and Tahnee – and all of their mums. I don’t know how they did this with quarantine and whatnot, but they’ve flown in a bunch of mums, which means we’re in for the most romantic date of all: sitting in a room with your romantic rivals who are also your housemates, watching as your respective mums all interrogate your shared boyfriend.

Tahnee gets the one-on-time and rose for this group date, mostly because her mum yells WHY HASN’T TAHNEE HAD A SINGLE DATE? at Jimmy for the entirety of her time with him.

Tahnee, if you were like “whomst?”, has allegedly been there the whole time. I don’t remember either. And I couldn’t tell you anything more about her either, because we don’t see their extra time. I do not think the show has any interest in taking her out of the whomst? bucket.

Someone who is not a whomst?, however, is Jay. Remember yesterday (which feels like a thousand years ago, god this episode is so loooooooooooooong) when Steph told Jimmy’s sister that Jay didn’t want kids? This has been weighing on Jimmy’s mind, so he takes Jay away for a game of tennis and a chat.

“What?” Jay says, surprised, when Jimmy asks her about the kids thing. “Of course I want kids! Where did that come from?”

Appeased, Jimmy is clearly thrilled (has Jay been his backup to Brooke the whole time? will this be the secondary love story he now positions himself in?), and he gives Jay a rose. Jay is obviously pleased, but also perturbed: who has said this about her?

“RUMOUR”, by the way, was the centrepiece of all the ads for this episode. It’s nice to know that it’s buried here, two hours into a double episode.

And it’s also just… not that interesting. Jay wonders aloud where someone would have got the idea that she didn’t want kids. Steph says that she’s heard that rumour, but avows repeatedly that she didn’t tell Jimmy’s family. Then they repeat her denying it about eighty times, in a classic “the lady doth protest too much, methinks” edit.

Some of the women try and crack the case of what’s gone on, but let’s be real: much like a few weeks ago, this doesn’t hold a candle to the great Who Called The Astro Bach A Dogcunt incident of 2019.

There’s also no consequences for this at the rose ceremony. In fact, they only get about halfway through the rose ceremony before Rebekah – a real person who has definitely been there the whole time and whose name I definitely did not have to look up – self-eliminates, seeing the writing on the wall.

It’s a smart move, honestly. If it weren’t for that, I would have escaped this season entirely without ever realising she existed.

Next week, we get a bunch of the scenes of JIMMY FINDING OUT THE TRUTH that were used in the promo for tonight’s episode, which bodes, um… well, it bodes. Let’s leave it there.

Sneaky end-of-recap reminder: you have to wait until 2022 for my reality TV rom-coms 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

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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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