Not all who wander are sockless
Third-last recap of the year, friends! There’s still miles to go before we sleep, but at least we’re inching closer to the end.
We’ve inched so close to the end that we’re at hometowns. I spent my pre-recap nerdle last night talking about narrative and time, and how ‘clock time’ is different from ‘narrative time’. If you want a refresher, the former is based on measurements of time (seconds, minutes, hours) while the latter is based on events. The whole premise of the Bachieverse is that you can make clock time fundamentally irrelevant if you cram enough narrative time in: that is, if you go through enough events with someone, then it doesn’t matter than you’ve only known each other for a couple of weeks.
These events are very clearly set out by the show and are intended to mimic real life (well, ‘real life’, romance is much more complicated than this) milestones in a love plot. You meet someone (the premiere). You get to know them (dates). You confess your feelings to them (literally every second scene). And then, once you’ve achieved a certain level of seriousness, you meet their family.
In last night’s episode, we had an interesting illustration of the ways in which this acceleration of narrative time can fail. Sam had a long chat with some of the other lads about the fact that he hadn’t spent enough time with Becky to feel comfortable introducing her to his family. Inconveniently, he didn’t draw on any knowledge of narrative theory and specify whether he meant clock time or narrative time, but realistically, the answer is probably both. He’s spent very little clock time with Becky, because such is the way of the Bach, but he’s also been afforded little narrative time (or, as I suppose we might think of it, ‘quantity time’ and ‘quality time’). He had one post-group date bit of alone time and one ‘mini-date’ (whatever that is). If the only date you’ve had with someone is ‘mini’, then it makes sense that you wouldn’t have progressed far enough along the romantic pathway for something as serious as meeting someone’s family.
Sam, of course, got eliminated, so this is all much of a muchness in his case. But we’re still faced with a problem, the same one I addressed in my nerdle last night. We’ve got two Bachies, which means half the time for their respective love stories, and a truncated episode number. In addition, I think we can all agree that the storytelling hasn’t been… ahem, wonderful this season. (Tell me a fact about Becky other than that she’s Elly’s sister, she’s from the country, and she once cheated on a partner. This isn’t the characterisation you want for a protagonist.)
What I’m getting at here is that the show hasn’t really delivered on its promise to make clock time irrelevant by speeding up narrative time, because we haven’t really got through those milestones that we’d need to buy into the accelerated narrative. I love Adam the rock boy, for example, but he and Elly have been on one date, and we’ve been shown precious little of their other interactions. Is that really enough for us to buy into a narrative where she’s comfortable meeting his family?
The one exception is, as I said last night, Becky and Pete, whose narrative has been fairly well set out (Becky’s characterisation aside). If the ads are to be believed, their story is going to be a big focus of tonight’s episode, so… let’s get started.
We learn that the sisters are going to be separated somewhat because of undertaking hometowns with their various suitors. This will apparently be hard on them as they won’t be able to compare notes, which really made me wonder where the fuck all the previous note-comparing scenes were. Surely that’s the benefit of having two Bachelorettes? Like, show me the conversation where Elly is like, ‘Becky, Adrian is clearly an enormous fuckboi’ and Becky needs to explain why she likes him.
Sigh. Another opportunity missed. But let us take to the first half of the hometowns.
Elly and Joe
This is one of the other storylines that’s been relatively well-established, in that we all know Elly and Joe boned pre-show. I haven’t really understood why everyone’s been framing this as a plus – if it didn’t work then, it’s not going to work now – but this date made me understand.
Joe has a really cute dog.
If they’d just told us that from the beginning, so many of my concerns would have been assuaged!
Elly and Joe play with said cute dog for a while before heading off to a socially distanced lunch with his family. ‘So have you been on a skydiving date yet?’ Joe’s brother asks.
‘I haven’t really been on any dates yet,’ Joe replies.
Joe’s brother raises an eyebrow.
‘Well, I already know him,’ Elly says. ‘I didn’t really need to go on dates with him.’
‘That’s a shit excuse,’ Joe’s brother mutters.
Elly isn’t that shaken, though. She navigates a conversation with Joe’s brother where she tears up saying how much she likes him and how hard it is to have multiple men she’s interested in, while Joe chats to his mum. ‘If you end up with her, it’ll be like a fairytale!’ his mum enthuses.
I’m not sure ‘couple meet, have a dirty weekend, drift apart, meet again on reality TV, get together, do a bunch of Insta spon-con’ is typical of fairy tales, but… details.
Afterwards, Joe and Elly do a bunch of making out. ‘I can see myself starting to fall for you,’ he whispers to her.
I noted this especially because it’s such a hedged romantic declaration – this, coming from the guy she already knew before the show! If you needed another example of how little narrative time we’ve been allowed (ie. less than we need!), this is it.
Becky and Pete
I’ve written several times that this is the story that’s been developed the best (some actual character development for Becky aside), and that continues here. This little scene develops not just the attraction between Becky and Pete, but forces us to consider the obstacle between them: he’s in Adelaide, she’s in Newcastle.
First, the details of the date. They can’t go to Adelaide, so Pete tries to bring Adelaide to Becky by taking her on a bike ride + picnic. (I don’t get it, tbh. If it were me, I just would have been like HERE IS SOME BEAUTIFUL SOUTH AUSTRALIAN WINE, mostly because having exercise surprised on me without my prior consent sounds like a great way to ensure there won’t be a second date.) Then they go to an AirBnB and Zoom call his friends, two married couples.
They talk together for a while, before Becky splits off with one couple and Pete calls the other on the phone outside. (Did they not spring for the premium Zoom subscription?) ‘I’ve moved for love before, and I don’t really want to do it again,’ Becky says. ‘I wish someone would move for me for a change.’
Pete, as we know, runs a business in Adelaide, so: voila! An obstacle! Something they’re going to need to work together to overcome!
One of Pete’s friends tries to handwave this way with ‘oh, if it’s meant to be, they’ll make it work,’ but: no. How you make it work – how you overcome the obstacle – is fundamental to any romance narrative. This is what I really want to see.
Afterwards, they kiss and suchlike, but look for this obstacle to pop up again – if they’re doing their job in terms of storytelling, anyway.
Becky and Shannon
First of all, I would like to note a first in this season.
SHANNON IS WEARING SOCKS.
I’m not sure what superpower he has that is enabling him to evade the Bachie monster that consumes socks, but I would like to applaud him. This is no mean feat.
There’s no pre-date hangout here, which is interesting: rather, Becky meets Shannon out the front of the house, and they go in to meet his two brothers and his sister in law. ‘OMG LOOK AT HOW CUTE YOU TWO LOOK TOGETHER!’ his brothers scream. ‘YOU’RE ADORABLE!’
I’m very here for their energy. I have three brothers, and I would love it if they would say supportive things to each other like OMG LOOK AT HOW CUTE YOU TWO LOOK TOGETHER! when one of them brings a partner home, rather than just hanging shit on each other. Ten points to Shannon’s family.
However, it really seems to intimidate Becky. ‘Wow, everyone here really cares about Shannon,’ she says, clearly realising that she… doesn’t, so much.
She steels herself. ‘I know what I have to do,’ she says.
She has a chat to one of Shannon’s brothers and his wife. ‘I like Shannon a lot,’ she says, ‘but seeing how much you all love him has made me realise that I don’t. I want to tell him tonight so he can be with you guys and you can support him.
They nod sagely.
(Sidebar: it is so interesting that the intensity of familial love has made Becky realise that her romantic love for Shannon pales in comparison. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this dynamic play out before in the Bachieverse.)
Becky takes Shannon outside. ‘I – just – I see friendship with you, Shannon,’ she says, ‘but…’
‘Hey,’ he says immediately. ‘Hey hey hey. Are you falling for someone else?’
‘Then I can’t be mad,’ he says. ‘Falling in love is a beautiful thing. I’m sorry it’s not with me, but I can’t be angry if you’re falling in love with someone else. That’s beautiful.’
This scene illustrates two things:
- We truly have no cultural ritual for the breakup, if Becky’s faltering attempt to find words is anything to go by.
- Shannon is actually really nice? I’m not sure this is the reaction I would have expected from this season’s horny wolf-man, and it was a pleasant surprise.
Here’s hoping Shannon gets a guernsey when Paradise returns in 2022 – and that his brothers look after him well in the meantime.
Next week: hometowns conclude! And the show concludes! And I can finally rest!
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