CIARRAN LOOKS SAD AND TROUBLED THIS WHOLE EPISODE AND I’M ACTUALLY SO WORRIED ABOUT HIM, PALS
We’re rounding the bend into the second half of this season of The Bachelorette! Only three more weeks, and I can hang up my recapping hat for the year.
(I like writing these, but oof, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, pals. I had to work out how many words I’ve written in this recaps for something recently, and it’s well, well, well into the hundreds of thousands. Like, I’ve probably written more words about this show than I have in my books. It’s a lot.)
Before we get started on tonight’s recap, I want to touch on one of the issues raised in the episode: what it actually means to be the Bach. What does having that mantle bestowed on you mean?
It’s helpful, I think, to think about this in storytelling terms. The Bachie is the protagonist. They’re our eponymous hero. And they’re a specific kind of hero. They’re not just someone that’s stumbled along and oops! somehow accidentally found themselves as the Bachelor or Bachelorette. The Bach is, to name an archetype we’re all familiar with, the Chosen One.
We have certain requirements of a Chosen One, especially when the narrative that our Chosen One is embedded in is a romantic one. Their destiny is to find love, in the same way that, say, Harry Potter’s destiny is to defeat Voldemort. Because this is Harry’s destiny, we expect Harry to care about defeating Voldemort. In the same way, we expect a romantic protagonist who has been chosen for a position like this to care about love. This is why we all ended up hating the Honey Badger – he broke the terms of the contract for a Chosen One in a romantic story by ultimately declaring that he wasn’t ready for a relationship and later-days-ing into the sunset alone.
That said: this is a hard tightrope to tread, because you have to be – or be seen to be – genuine. While I’ve written many times in these recaps about how modern love is typically based in a discourse of intimacy, where love is something that the lovers work at between them (Shumway 2003), it still isn’t something that can be forced. That initial spark needs to be there to light the fire, which you then work on by metaphorically fanning, so to speak.
(This is precisely why I maintain that the Honey Badger could have got away with not picking someone if he’d played it just a little differently, tbh. ‘I’m not ready for a relationship’ = violating the terms of the Chosen One contract. ‘These women are great, but I’m not in love with them, and I can’t force it, because that wouldn’t be fair’ = he would have come out smelling like roses. Same action, entirely different result.)
The Honey Badgelor aside, if you’re the Bach, you have a good shot of finding these necessary sparks with at least a few people. I mean, even Ali managed to find some sparks last year, in a season that was populated almost exclusively by nightmare men, swarms of locusts pretending to be people, and one lone beautiful wood-nymph. Angie’s definitely found some sparks along the way, and she’s doing a great job of walking that line: she’s clearly genuine, she hasn’t yet forced any of her relationships to be things that they’re not, and she’s there to find love – ie fulfil the terms of the Chosen One contract.
But things are different when you’re a contestant. You’ve got to prove you’re ‘there for the right reasons’ – ie to find love. Think of how many times you’ve heard this phrase: we demand, over and over and over again, that the contestants all also fulfil the terms of the Chosen One contract, in case they ultimately end up being the Chosen One’s chosen one. But statistically, it’s not a terribly good bet, because you’re, what, one of twenty? Therefore, it makes sense that people have other motivations for coming in, as well as a vague hope of falling in love – but admitting that is instant disaster.
And that brings us to tonight’s episode, where Jamie does his best to drop Carlin in it by saying that Carlin’s true ambition is to be next year’s Bachelor. We know that Carlin has other shit going on and that being in this competition for a while is in his best interests in terms of visibility – he’s an actor/model/etc (although clearly not, like, a top one if he’s appearing in ads for the suit shop in my home town – no wonder he wants to raise his profile) – but this hasn’t been featured in the diegesis. Instead, all we’ve seen is that he’s a good dude – think here of how he warned Angie about evil Jess – who’s looking for love again after separating from his wife. This last is framed as his sole motivation: until tonight.
We know that being a Bachie contestant can be a route to becoming the next Bach. We lived through the reigns of Sam Frost, Richie, Matty J, and Ali. But if you’re forced to admit that’s your actual aim? Disaster. Because it shows that you’re being strategic, rather than prioritising love above all. This is one of the concerns that got raised several times about Abbie in the Astro Bach’s season: that she didn’t actually care about Matt, but that she just wanted to win. Now Carlin is being tarred with the same brush by Jamie: as a schemer, rather than someone beholden purely to sentiment.
But will Jamie succeed in smearing Carlin’s name? Read on, friends, and we shall see.
Before we get to the interesting shit, we have to sit through the shit that I hate. I thought we might have got away from it, but no: it’s time for the annual Bachie Parenting Date.
I understand the logic behind this. I do. The love script that we’ve all imbibed is one which includes kids, and so they’re often inscribed into love stories (think of how many unnecessary baby epilogues you’ve read, romance readers). But even if we accept this, these dates are even more demeaning than regular group dates, and I HATE THEM.
Anyway, the premise is this: it’s a school run. The bros have to change a fake baby’s nappy, then dress a schoolkid-sized mannequin in a school uniform, and then carry them to an arbitrary location. Jamie initially seems to have won, but oops! all the limbs and the head have fallen off his child, and it turns out that’s not good enough!
…yes, the symbolism is a bit on the nose.
Anyway, the eventual winner is Jackson – remember Meat Pie Jackson? I barely do. ‘I know I’m the youngest in the house, but now I’m a super dad!’ he crows. ‘I could be a twenty-five year old DILF!’
They head to their Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation, and honestly, it’s pretty boring. Jackson says if he had a son he’d want him to play footy. Angie’s like, ‘well, what if I ban footy?’ He’s like, ‘ummmm,’ and she’s like, ‘just kidding! Have a rose,’ and he says, ‘I brushed my teeth!’ because last time they pashed she said that to him because she’d just vommed, and then they pash again, the end.
Oh, and I suppose you need to know these two other things about this date:
1. Haydn admitted he doesn’t want kids, to Angie’s consternation.
2. Ciarran tucked in his mannequin’s shirt, because he wanted to send it off to school looking dapper. (Also he is a bit subdued and I am worried about him, the beautiful sunflower.)
Okay. Post regressive parenting date, the lads are all sitting around the mansion – wearing a lot of very silly hats, for some reason –when Osher enters with a single date card. ‘It’s super important to get one on one time with Angie,’ he tells the bros solemnly. ‘If you don’t, then you’ll never, ever, ever be together. Ever.’
Jamie’s ears prick up. He’s desperate for what he calls – ugh – ‘intimacy time’ with Angie.
But whose name is on the date card? Why, that would be Carlin. And has Carlin had a date before? Why, yes he has! And has Jamie had a date? Absolutely not!
Jamie immediately proves why he has not had a date, because steam starts coming out of his ears. ‘IF YOU KISS HER THIS TIME BE A GENTLEMAN ABOUT IT AND DON’T TELL US!’ he snarls at Carlin.
‘…um, what?’ Carlin replies.
Something’s clearly snapped in Jamie (or at least that’s what the edit wants us to believe, because they’ve added in a whole bunch of serial killer strings over everything he does). ‘I’m glad I put Carlin on blast,’ he says to the camera. ‘He’s got everybody fooled. But I’m going to tell Angie everyone who’s not genuine in the house, and he’s not genuine!’
Carlin and Angie go on their date. ‘I’m a bit worried that my connection with Carlin might be fading, because I’ve formed connections with some bigger characters, and I might be more attracted to that,’ Angie says, which is a very tasteful way of saying ‘Carlin might be a bit boring’.
And look, she’s not wrong. This date is not very interesting. They splash around on some water bikes, the end. But she does spend a long time rubbing sunscreen into his extremely chiselled abs, and who needs a personality when you look like that?
They go drink some rum, and then they head to drink some wine on a Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation, because ‘liquor before wine, you’ll be fine’ / ‘wine before liquor, never sicker’, etc. ‘I felt our connection fading, but not any more,’ Carlin tells Angie. ‘Being with you – it’s not hard. It’s easy. I’m here for serious reasons, and I’m here for you, Angie.’
Angie smiles, and gives him a rose, and they pash, and it’s all very nice. ‘Honestly, my only worry is that it could be too good to be true,’ Angie tells the camera.
I wonder if this could be extremely obvious foreshadowing. DUN DUN DUN.
Ahem. Back at the mansion, Timm is busy doing his favourite thing: winding up Jamie. ‘ANGIE HAS ASKED ME MANY TIMES TO TELL HER WHO IS GENUINE AND WHO IS INGENUINE,’ Jamie trumpets. ‘AND CARLIN IS INGENUINE!’
‘Why would you think that?’ Timm asks.
‘HE’S NOT AUTHENTIC! HE’S INGENUINE!’
This is not the first time the word – well, ‘word’ – ‘ingenuine’ has been used in this franchise, btw. Last year in the American franchise, there was a villain on Becca Kufrin’s season of The Bachelorette called Gold Hotpants Jordan who said it all the fucking time, and refused to be corrected on it, across seasons of both The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise. I’m pretty mad Jamie has made me think about Gold Hotpants Jordan again, to be honest.
Next, it’s the cocktail party – and for once, it’s genuinely dramatic!
The second Angie gets there, Jamie Kel-powerwalks up to her and is like OMG GIRL WE NEED THE FIRST CHAT.
‘Um, I can’t,’ she says. ‘We can have the second chat, all right? There’s something I need to take care of first.’
That thing is eliminating Haydn. ‘I feel like you’d be a lovely partner, but you don’t want kids and I do,’ Angie tells him. ‘So no hard feelings, but I don’t think we need to wait for a rose ceremony.’
Hayden agrees, and he goes, and it’s all very amicable.
You know who’s not amicable? Jamie. When he finally gets his chat with Angie, he’s like, ‘I HAVE BEEN A COWARD UNTIL NOW, BUT IT IS TIME FOR ME TO OPEN MY BURN BOOK AND TELL YOU WHO IS GENUINE AND WHO IS INGENUINE!’
Angie promptly sculls her champers. It’s a huge mood.
This is what Jamie has to say:
1. BMX Matt is too focused on his BMXing.
2. Ciarran is ‘ingenuine’. (HOW DARE YOU, SIR?! Also all throughout this Ciarran has been sitting moping on his own and I am SO WORRIED ABOUT HIM.)
3. Carlin just wants to be the next Bachelor. ‘You think he’s your knight in shining armour, but you’re wrong,’ Jamie tells her, because we all know that explaining to a woman what she thinks and then telling her she’s wrong is a real winning move.
Angie doesn’t pay much attention to the first two, but the third one, she says, makes her feel sick. ‘I have to go and deal with this,’ she tells Jamie, and then promptly goes into her a closet and cries. ‘What if I can’t see a huge faker right in front of my face?’ she sobs, presumably to a producer.
(We’re tying back into the issues now I wrote about in my pre-recap nerdle. See what I did there?)
When she’s pulled herself together, Angie goes to confront Carlin about it. ‘I promise you,’ he tells her, ‘that I have never once said I want to be the 2020 Bachelor. You can talk to any of the boys in here. They’ll back me up. I swear.’
Angie does just this. She chooses – interestingly, I think, in the context of the longterm narrative – munted philosopher king Timm as her honesty barometer. ‘So, has Carlin been saying these things?’
‘Nah,’ Timm replies. ‘I haven’t heard him say any of that. And if I had, I’d tell ya, hey.’
Angie goes to apologise to Carlin for doubting him, while Timm and most of the rest of the boys go to needle Jamie. ‘Why would you tell her that?’ Timm says. ‘If she gets rid of Carlin, man, I swear to god.’
‘I JUST TOLD HER WHO WAS INGENUINE,’ Jamie declares.
Timm looks round the corner at where Angie and Carlin are making up. It’s cold, so Angie’s wearing Carlin’s jacket, which has the rose pinned to the lapel. Timm doesn’t realise this, though, and promptly tells all the other lads that Angie’s taken Carlin’s rose back.
This causes some consternation from all the boys – for about ten seconds, until Timm realises his mistake. But someone who really reacts in a big way is Ciarran, who has been uncharacteristically quiet and mopey all episode. ‘Did she take his rose or not?’ he demands.
‘Just look round the corner and see for yourself!’ Timm insists.
‘All right, you bloody stupid geezer, I will!’ Ciarran explodes. ‘Fine! He’s got a rose! I can’t deal with this.’
And then he storms off into the night, and…CLIFFHANGER. BAM.
…except for the previews for the next episode, which make it look like your boyfriend and mine Ciarran is going to tearfully leave, and I’M SO SCARED, YOU GUYS.
Sneaky end of recap reminder: read my books. You know the drill by now. Also, if you’re in Adelaide, come see me at Supanova this weekend. I’ll be at the QBD Books stand.