A perfect quartet of New South Welshbros.
It’s hometown time again! It seems like just yesterday we were sending Dr Matt off to be terrified by Helena’s papá, but now here we are, at the very same point with Angie.
…well, not the very same point. Dr Matt had 14 episodes to get this point. Angie only had ten. Episode count parity is not exactly the number one priority for the feminist movement right now, but when we’ve sorted everything else out, we should definitely have a look at this.
I talked a lot about the implications of the hometown dates in my recap of the analogue episode in Matt’s season, but I want to expand on it a little here, in light of what I wrote the other night when our dear sweet prince Ciarran left us (may flights of angels sing him to his rest), and also last night, where I talked about moving from the shit-gets-real to the shit-gets-serious stage. Hometowns are a key narrative marker for when we move from the former to the latter, for a few key reasons:
- You meet the contestants’ families. Families, it will surprise no one, have historically played a huge role if not in romance, then certainly in marriage. A marriage represents a joining of families, and so even if the stakes aren’t quite that high yet, you want to know if you’ll fit. No one wants sucky in-laws.
- You get to see the contestants in context. This is what I wrote about in my recap of the hometowns in Matt’s season, where I talked about how this episode adds a dimension of setting. Hitherto, we’ve had plot and character against what we can think of as a fairly neutral backdrop. Things can suddenly make a lot more sense when you throw setting in the mix.
To expand on this: this is the first time that Angie gets to see the boys outside the Bachie bubble. This bubble is what I talked about when I discussed Ciarran’s exit: we see an intrusion of the real into the artificial world of the show. Arguably, Angie and Ciarran were never closer than at the moment of his departure, because that’s when we got to see them deal with something real. Going and having a barbecue with someone’s family isn’t quite that dramatic, but it gets that same ball rolling. What would this relationship look like in the real world?
The Bachelorette is, as Misha Kavka argues (2012), one of those second gen reality TV shows where reality is not so much what happens when the cameras are on, but exists as a result of the intervention of the show: that is, the real ‘reality’ is what happens when the cameras turn off. Hometowns provide a sneak peek – and so make some of the contestants more legible, more readable, more comprehensible for Angie in a way that we have not seen before.
Anyway, let us not linger here. To the recap!
Angie meets Timm in his hometown Terrigal, sneaking up on him at a lookout where he is quietly singing to himself, Timm-style. (She describes him in the video package as ‘quite switched on’, which are… not the words I would use). ‘So, um, I actually live in Melbourne,’ our favourite munted philosopher king tells Angie, ‘but for me, home is where Mum and Dad are, so… here we are.’
I don’t know whether to be concerned or excited that I might potentially run into Timm on the streets of Melbourne, but I definitely have some emotions about it.
Timm self-describes as a ‘mad café enthusiast’, which is not something I would have picked for him, but look, he contains multitudes. ‘You’ll meet my parents, and my brother,’ he said. ‘Oh, and my mate Jackson, and his mum. She’s like my second mum. Oh, and I have her name tattooed on my arse. To rile him up, hey.’
Angie is a little taken aback – ‘…are you secretly in love with your best friend’s mum?’ she asks – but swiftly dismisses this as ‘standard Timm’.
Timm really is a gift of a contestant. If we hadn’t been blessed with sweet prince Ciarran this season, Timm’s cult following might be even more enormous.
Timm’s parents apparently run a motel in Terrigal (or at least that’s what the show wants us to believe), and I cannot overstate how deeply I would like to watch a show based on Timm’s life centred around this motel. You’d definitely have a lot of material for storylines: not least because Timm’s mate Jackson seems like he miiiiiiiiiiight be a little bit in love with Timm.
Look. I do not say this lightly. The love of friends is very pure and wholesome and important. And men definitely need a chance to express their platonic love for each other in an open and emotionally healthy way! But when Jackson is all I NEED TO PROTECT TIMM and immediately takes whatever the opposite of a shine is to Angie, there are… questions.
And Jackson went and got Timm’s mum’s name tattooed on his arse. They have matching mum’s-names-arse tattoos. Read into that what you will.
And and and: ‘I need to make sure Angie doesn’t pick Timm in the end,’ Jackson tells the camera. ‘I’m super jealous, because I think Timm might actually be falling for her.’
… you see what I mean, right?
Jackson puts his sabotage plan into action when he gets Angie alone. ‘I know Timm looks like Tarzan but he has a heart like Jane,’ he says. ‘You’re not allowed to hurt him.’
‘The only reason I would have for not picking him is because I’m not sure if he’s ready,’ Angie says.
Jackson seizes on this. ‘TIMM IS A PARTY BOY!’ he declares. ‘PARTY BOY! NOT READY TO SETTLE DOWN!’
Angie considers this. ‘Interesting,’ she says. ‘Well… I’m not here to fuck spiders.’
Let us take a moment and just appreciate how wonderful Angie is. Truly, she is a national icon.
Because she is wonderful, she picks up on the fact that Jackson is sabotaging Timm pretty quickly. ‘I just think Jackson doesn’t want to lose his party buddy,’ she tells the camera.
Party buddy. Yep yep yep cool cool cool cool cool cool no doubt no doubt no doubt.
Angie asks Timm about it afterwards. ‘I don’t not like to party,’ he tells her. ‘But when you find a girl that you like… you cut all that shit out, you know? People change. It’s part of growing up. And I have such strong, serious feelings for you, Angie. They hit me like a bus. ’
‘I trust you,’ Angie tells him. ‘And I trust our connection.’
I’m putting it out there: I don’t think Timm is going to win. I think Ryan has been going to win since the day he slid into Angie’s DMs. But if Timm did win, I would be absolutely fucking delighted: because you know what? His heart really seems to be pure and true, and I ship this.
Ryan appears to come from my hometown Wollongong (I missed the chyron, but I’m pretty sure I recognised the beaches), so I feel like I kind of need to apologise for inflicting such a boring contestant on the world.
Despite being so boring, Ryan certainly has been the locus of drama this season, including now. Angie is upset: not because he applied to be on Ali’s season, but because he lied to her about it.
One of the reasons Ryan is so boring is because a lot of the relationship-building between him and Angie happened offstage in the DMs, so we’ve missed a lot of the most interesting stuff. He’s interesting to Angie, because she’s got all this context. He’s legible to her in a way that he’s not to us – until now, when she’s unsure of whether or not he’s been lying to her.
Ryan’s explanation is a little half-hearted, tbh. ‘Oh, the show called me and asked me to audition,’ he says breezily. ‘I didn’t even know it was Ali. I didn’t think anything of it, to be honest.’
Angie wants to believe him so much. So much. But you can tell that she’s not quite there yet.
(Oh, and all this happens in the presence of a dog. Because remember, that’s all we know about Ryan: dogs.)
Later, when they meet the family, Ryan confesses to his brothers that he’s feeling rattled by the fact that Angie thinks he’s a wee bit of a liar. Somehow, from this, one of his brothers discerns that he has serious feelings about Angie. It’s another example of where this Ryan/Angie narrative has fallen flat: we’ve got nothing of the context, and so it all feels empty.
Anyway, all of Ryan’s brothers tell Angie that Ryan is totally telling the truth, okay, nothing to see here. ‘Maybe I need to get out of my head?’ Angie wonders to the camera.
IDK. Sometimes it’s pretty necessary to be in your head. That’s where the thinking happens.
But Ryan tells her, ‘I’m dead-set falling for you so hard,’ and I don’t know, maybe I’ve just been all jaded and cynical before, because it really did seem quite nice.
(Jaded and cynical is not really my brand, though, so… jury’s still out on the dog man. I, unlike Angie, am still firmly in my head.)
Jackson (not to be confused with Timm’s mate Jackson: this is Meat Pie Jackson) is from Sydney, and we’re treated to a package of his greatest hits, including his truly memorable offer to let Angie spew in his top pocket on their helicopter date. Importantly, though, all these greatest hits are from the first three episodes, so it’s safe to say that this is not a narrative the show has invested in.
Angie meets Jackson at his family’s pie business, where he and his whole family work. Angie describes it as an ‘emPIEre’, which… ten out of ten. Angie for PM.
Bringing a coeliac vegetarian to a pie factory doesn’t seem like the most wonderful idea ever, but Jackson does it anyway. He presents her with a cloche. ‘I’m hoping to make up for the fact that I presented you with a meat pie the first time I met you,’ he says, and whips off the lid to present her with a gluten-free vegan pie.
Bless. If there was any hint that Jackson was a contender, this would be very sweet.
‘By the way, my dad’s a bit scary,’ Jackson says, when Angie has a mouthful of pie. ‘He really wants to make sure I don’t end up with a freeloader.’
You can imagine how well Angie receives this statement. Play the sad trombones for Jackson.
And ouch, I think we already knew that Jackson wasn’t a contender, but the monologue that Jackson’s dad delivers to camera, when we get to the meet-the-family portion, seals it. ‘Angie’s a reality TV star,’ he says. ‘We’re a hardworking family. Always have been. Jackson can’t chase her up to the Sunshine Coast. He’s staying right here in Sydney forever, at the family business, where you never get a day off. Ever. Ever.’
I know it’s a family business, but Jackson, buddy, consider unionising.
‘So… how do you feel about me?’ Angie asks Jackson at the end of the night, in what seems like a last-ditch effort.
Jackson word-vomits a bunch of shit that she isn’t that impressed by (very reasonably). Hear that key turn in the lock, pals.
Carlin is also from Sydney, giving us a perfect quartet of New South Welshbros. ‘I think I’ve been falling for Carlin for a long time,’ Angie gushes. ‘He’s always been pure and honest with me.’
Hmmm, I wonder if her belief in him could possibly be shaken? I wonder whether that will happen, you guys.
To be honest, my belief would be shaken the instant that Carlin said these cursed words: ‘I’m going to take you to the gym that I work at. I’ve designed a workout just for us.’
(Apparently Carlin got into gym stuff because he was bullied in high school and he channelled his feelings into weights? I just doubled down on being a nerd. Was I supposed to get into weights?)
Carlin tells Angie that she’ll be meeting his brother, his sister-in-law, and his niece – and that she’ll be the first person to meet them since his ex-wife. This seems like a fairly innocuous statement, but the music they put over the top of it suggests that Carlin added, ‘oh, and our favourite thing to do together is war crimes’.
The reason for the war crimes music soon becomes evident, when Carlin’s brother tells Angie that Carlin has ambitions of being an actor. ‘I thought the personal training was his passion?’ Angie asks.
‘Oh no, he likes his acting,’ his brother says. ‘I mean, I guess this whole experience could be good for his acting career?’
He hastily backpedals, and is like, ‘…but I should really emphasise that Carlin’s super into you, maybe he went in there for career reasons, but I can tell that he likes you a lot,’ but it has limited effect. ‘HAS CARLIN BEEN LYING TO ME THIS WHOLE TIME?!’ Angie asks the camera, over a fresh chorus of the war crimes refrain. ‘PLEASE DON’T FUCKING TELL ME JAMIE WAS TELLING THE TRUTH.’
Girl. I’m fairly sure that Jamie is even less reliable than a broken clock.
The conversation that Carlin and Angie eventually have is intense, to say the least. ‘So acting was your main goal in coming here?’ she asks.
‘I came here for serious reasons,’ Carlin says. ‘You know that. I de-emphasised my acting career, because I know what it sounds like when you tell someone you’re into acting. I’m not hustling you.’
Angie wavers, and then Carlin makes what I think might be a misstep. It starts well –‘I feel so strongly for you, Angie’ – but where it ends up is probably not the best approach ever. ‘Surely you can understand where I’m coming from,’ he tells her. ‘You’ve been on a bunch of reality TV shows before. It’d be easy for someone to assume that you were here for fame, not love.’
‘I am here for love, though!’ Angie insists. ‘I’m not acting!’
‘And neither am I!’ Carlin says. ‘I want to find a way to tell you how I feel that you’ll believe, but I don’t know how to do it.’
Then they both walk off in opposite directions and cry.
You know all the stuff I wrote about yesterday about points of ritual death in romantic narratives? This is one for Carlin, right here: and if he survives it – it might actually help them make their relationship stronger and that potential happy ending more believable and interesting.
And guess what! Carlin does survive! He is extremely surprised, but I am not. Our victim, of course, is Jackson. If the show would like to create genuine suspense, it needs to run a little bit of a longer game in terms of cultivating love stories.
Going into the final week, though, things are a bit more of a mystery. I’m pretty set in my belief that Ryan will win, but I honestly couldn’t tell you if it’ll be Carlin or Timm joining him in whatever overseas country is paying the show tourism money this year.
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
The show airs on Channel 10. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.