RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S9 E12

It’s hometowns! We’ve only got four women left vying for Jimmy’s pilot heart, and – if you’re somehow unfamiliar with the concept – tonight he meets their family and friends, potentially in their hometown, pandemic permitting.

This concept is fairly self-explanatory, so in my little pre-recap nerdle tonight, I want to spend some more time unpacking the Three C Equation to Love in the Bachieverse that I touched on briefly last night. One thing I really like about this season is that it’s set these three things out with a relative degree of clarity: chemistry, connection, and compatibility.

This is what these three things are, as far as I can tell (I am absolutely willing to be corrected on this):

Chemistry: instant, ineffable, and inexplicable. You either have it or you don’t. Sometimes referred to as a “spark”, or possibly “attraction”, and often equated with the physical.

Connection: the most hard to pin down of the three, this seems to exist at a more emotional level. It’s reliant on a spark to some degree, but it’s definitely something you can work on and build.

Compatibility: how your lives fit together, in terms of who you are and what you want. Do you want the same things? Are your rough edges going to fit together or rub each other up the wrong way?

We’ve seen numbers one and three on the list particularly highlighted this season. Ashleigh, for instance, was sent home because she had no chemistry with Jimmy. Last night’s drama over Brooke was a big compatibility problem. Connection is harder to pin down, but I feel like it’s perhaps reliant on the other two. You’ve got to have at least one of chemistry and/or compatibility to build a connection. We could perhaps argue that the whole drama about Jay last week was connection-related. Jimmy thought they had a connection, but now he’s a bit worried that she’s faking it for clout.

I suspect what the show is leading us to is a particular vision of love, where all three are balanced. Let’s take a quick tour through our remaining four women and see where they sit:

Jay: definite chemistry. Compatibility re-established after the “does she really want kids?” drama. Connection in question, due to the whole clout question.

Carlie: definite compatibility. Connection developing possibly faster than anyone else’s after a reasonably slow start. Chemistry… not sure.

Brooke: definite chemistry, definite connection… very suspect compatibility.

Holly: definite chemistry, definite connection, definite compatibility.

Or to put this another way: I would be very, very surprised if Holly doesn’t win this.

What I’d really like to put some thought into is whether we can map this chemistry/connection/compatibility paradigm over to real life. One concept I like a lot (and I’m fairly sure I’ve written about at length in these recaps before) is David Shumway’s (2003) notion of romance/passion vs intimacy. Passion is uncontrollable – you either have it or you don’t. This kind of love is something you fall into, whether you want it or not. Intimacy, on the other hand, is that emotional closeness that comes as you build a relationship, and it’s definitely something you can develop and work on.

Chemistry clearly fits under that passion umbrella. Connection and compatibility are probably more intimacy territory, but neither quite fits. I’m also not convinced that “connection” as a concept makes sense outside of the Bachieverse – I did a very scientific poll on Twitter, and about 75% of the people who responded said that this isn’t a word they ever use in the context of their romantic relationships. Obviously this is not a reliable data collection method, but I’m not sure that we can talk about a concept being particularly influential if it’s not in the lexicon.

Nevertheless, considering the Bachieverse is supposed to give us a fairy tale love story, the way they portray an idealised kind of love is definitely interesting, and can probably tell us something about how we imagine love societally. So if you have any thoughts on this Three C Model of Bachieverse Romance, I would love to hear them!

But for now, let’s get recapping.

Carlie’s hometown

I don’t have a lot to say about this one, mostly because I was trying to work out which vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula they were at. (I’m almost positive they’re at Green Olive at Red Hill.) And then I got busy stressing about how Carlie and Jimmy were just wandering through the vines which you are NOT ALLOWED TO DO, GUYS, because do you know how bad it would be if you tracked phylloxera or something in there?

Aside from this, this was the cookie-cutter hometown. Carlie told Jimmy to be scared of her dad and her brother. Jimmy was appropriately scared of her dad and her brother. They gave him a mild grilling and then agreed he was a good bloke. The patriarchy continues on.

Probably the most interesting thing that happened was that Jimmy called Carlie “predictable”, and then had a crisis over how that wasn’t a very romantic thing to say. Which, like, fair, it’s not a sexy word, but clearly the appeal for him in Carlie is her stability, which scores high in the compatibility area of the Three Cs Romantic Matrix.

Then Carlie tells Jimmy that she could see herself falling in love with him, which is about as far away from “I love you” that you can get while keeping “love” in the sentence.

(In the most recent season of the US Bachelorette, there was significant drama over the fact that the Bachelorette refused to say “I love you” to more dudes than the winner. They’re in a whole other universe of love declarations there.)

Jay’s hometown

Jay and Jimmy meet beside a pond. It looked freezing, and I was happy for them. Hometowns is the one date where you can generally assume that you won’t be summarily thrown into the nearest body of water to prove your love.

They’ve met there because it’s where Jay likes to run. Jimmy likes to run there too, and hey, what do you know? Compatibility!

Then we get another C – connection – when they get to the AirBnB where Jay’s dad and her friends are waiting. Jay’s dad has made curry. Jimmy and Jay have talked before about their shared cultural heritage and in particular their love of Fijian curry, so this is a reminder of all that they share.

But there’s still a disconnect. One of Jay’s friends pulls Jimmy aside and is like, “so why did you want to be the Bachelor? Because Jay’s dated someone in the public eye before, and when it ended, she was heartbroken.”

“…Jay’s dated a famous person before?” Jimmy says.

Specifically, he says that this “triggers” him. I’m not sure he knows what that word actually means, but… let’s move on.

Jay’s friend also tells him that Jay wants to be a TV presenter of some kind, which also sets Jimmy on edge. This, combined with the Instagram rumours of last week, is really giving him some serious doubts.

But when Jay looks at him and says she could see herself falling in love with him (yep, pretty much the same phrasing as Carlie), he relents. “Maybe she did come here for fame and to have a laugh,” he says. “But maybe the feelings are real?”

This is a small-ish moment, but it’s actually quite interesting. I’m not sure the possibility that someone could turn up for the wrong reasons but then actually fall in love – or that they could be there for love AND Instagram, rather than love OR Instagram – has ever really been raised before.

Holly’s hometown

There’s no date portion on this one (that we see, anyway). Jimmy meets Holly in a house (which he does not enter before knocking, which I found a bit weird). She tells him who he’ll be meeting – her mum, her friend, and her friend’s parents, who were like secondary parents to her in what sounds like a fairly trouble adolescence.

(Sidebar: I love when we see a chosen family in these circumstances. I’m thinking of Brooke in the Honey Badger’s season or Heather in Sam Wood’s – you can get some really lovely family moments.)

Holly’s friend grills Jimmy a bit on what his career will mean for Holly. “She wants to be a mum,” she says. “If you’re away all the time, she’ll effectively be a single mum.”

“Yeah, but when I’m home, I’m there 24/7,” Jimmy says. “My dad made it work for us, and that’s what I want to do.”

Minor compatibility issue sorted! What drama there is comes later. Holly is having trouble “opening up” (drink) and vocalizing her emotions, and consequently does not tell Jimmy that she could see herself falling in love with him. Instead, after they part, she sobs a bit, and then runs after him to give him one last, longing hug.

Brooke’s hometown

This was always going to be the dramatic one, after last night.

It starts calmly enough, with Brooke and Jimmy meeting and eating eclairs in the park. But when we get to her family’s place, it all kicks off.

First, while Jimmy chats with the male members of Brooke’s family, she sobs in the kitchen about how hard it’s been to see Jimmy flirt with other women at the cocktail party.

Secondly, there’s clear consternation at the dinner table when Jimmy talks about his work schedule and how often he’d be away. Eventually, Brooke’s brother takes Jimmy outside. “You need an independent woman, but that’s not Brooke,” he tells him. “She would really struggle with being on her own that much. She needs to be here, with her friends and her family. She relies on them. She needs them.”

I know Brooke has admitted that she’s co-dependent, but the way they talk about her in this episode makes her sound like a child, or possibly a puppy. Like, she’s a grown woman! I’m frankly amazed that the show didn’t build a stage five clinger edit around her. I’m glad they didn’t, because that edit sucks, but they’ve built it on less.

But then Brooke makes the biggest romantic declaration of all the women. “I’m falling for you,” she tells Jimmy, skipping right past merely being able to see herself falling for him. “And that scares me.”

They pash, but Jimmy is clearly conflicted. “Brooke could make me happy,” he tells the camera. “But I don’t think I could make Brooke happy.”

(He also casually mentions wanting to make decisions with his heart and his gut but sometimes needing to use his head, and I immediately started thinking about how this maps onto the three Cs. Chemistry = gut, connection = heart, compatibility = head? Open to input.)

The verdict

So we had two hometowns which went fine, and two which had red flags, correct? And even Holly’s was a bit pinkish, given her lack of semi-mandatory emotional declaration?

Turns out Jimmy loves red flags, because guess who he gets rid of?

Carlie, who has never had a red flag IN HER ENTIRE DAMN LIFE.

Look, watching this, it’s clear that they maybe didn’t have as much chemistry as some of the other pairs, but Carlie seems so rad. I’m not sure she’d particularly want to go to Paradise, but she wouldn’t be the worst person in the world to throw into the mix as a Bachelorette…

We have no time to dwell on it, though. The previews for next week reveal that the famous person that Jay dated was once the Bachelor New Zealand, and now I WILL NOT REST UNTIL I KNOW WHICH ONE IT IS. There is a massive difference in vibe between the four NZ Bachies so far – Art Green, Jordan Mauger, Zac Franich, and Moses Mackay – so come back next week when this information has surely been leaked, and I’ll give you a full vibecheck.

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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