Welcome back to Day 2 of this year’s Bachie campaign! Unlike in the past, where we’ve had a cruisy two episodes a week, we’ve still got at least one more to come this week, so strap in and let’s test just how many words I can write about the Bachelor franchise in the space of a month.
(FWIW: I wrote the first draft of my novel Here For The Right Reasons within a month. Will the fact we have three Bachies see us pushing that word count in these recaps? Let’s see.)
Before we dive headfirst into the events of tonight’s episode, I want to talk a little bit about the discursive shift behind this season. I touched on this a little in last night’s recap, when we talked about all the various format changes. However, there’s also been a shift in the underlying assumptions about love and romance behind the show, and I want to dig into that a little more.
This is, at least as far as I can remember, the first time a season has taken a real position on modern love. They did it a little with Brooke’s season – a sort of “love is for everyone!” message, which is a gimme when you’re doing the first ever queer season – but they’ve really hung a hat on it this year. They’re at pains to tell us, over and over again, that dating these days is full of timewasters and terrible people: that it’s a jungle out there.
If modern dating is a jungle, then the Bachie mansion is being positioned as a sanctuary. In here, according to the logics of the show (as articulated through its mouthpiece, Osher), you can trust that the men are serious – as made evident by the presence of the three engagement rings. In here, commitment is real. Love is real.
I really like how sceptical a bunch of the women immediately are to the engagement rings: “I’ve seen Frozen, and I know it’s a bad idea to marry a man you just met,” one of them (Bella, an icon, an early contender for season MVP) tells the camera. You would never, ever get this kind of pushback in the US version, but I love that we get it here. As I wrote last night, I think pushing for proposals is fundamentally a very bad idea (both because it’s way too fast for the people involved, and because it reifies marriage as the only possible form of serious romantic commitment).
But back to the message here. I think it’s such an interesting choice for the show to actually take a position on love – to have an angle that they’re working here – when they’ve never done it before. We usually just get some hand-wave-y, “oh, yes, I’m here for the right reasons, I’m here for love” stuff, without much consideration of what that means, or why someone might specifically choose the Bachelor environment to pursue that in.
I’m not sure this is exactly the angle on modern romance I would have pursued. At least, I certainly wouldn’t have taken it as far as the mandatory proposing. However, I really love that the show has taken a position here, because it gives a clear yardstick: some criteria for what you should and shouldn’t be looking for on this show. For the first time, it actually articulates the right reasons that are so ubiquitous that I named a whole entire book after them. If you’re not here for lasting love – if you’re not here for commitment – if you are here just to mess around – then you’re not here for the right reasons.
I have no doubt we’ll see some of the women measured against this yardstick, but the first person we’re encouraged to measure against it is Felix, whose behaviour in this episode very much suggests that he is not here for the right reasons. I suggested last night that we might have a villain Bachie on our hands, and this episode really seems to prove me right.
But why do I think that? Let’s get into the episode.
We pick up right where we left off last night, with the women figuring out there is not one, not two, but three whole Bachies. Osher (or “Oshie-Woshie”, as Bella calls him) introduces the Bachies to the ladies, and sets out the new way things are going to work.
This includes not just the things we’ve already talked about – there’s three Bachies, and they all have engagement rings – but also the fact that the women are not locked in to dating only the Bachie who brought them to the mansion. In Osher’s words, the women should “go on all the rides at theme park before they find the one they’re going to stay on all day”. Bachie-swapping is not just possible, but encouraged.
This ties into a rhetoric of choice that the show is leaning on – the idea that the women actually have a choice in this iteration of the show, whereas they didn’t before. I’m pinning this here to nerdle about tomorrow night, because there’s a lot to dig into with that.
But back to the episode. Much like, ahem, a certain trilogy of reality TV rom-coms (cough buy Here For The Right Reasons cough pre-order Can I Steal You For A Second? cough keep your eyes peeled for news on the third one), this episode tells us three stories sequentially that actually take place concurrently: we get Jed’s night, then Thomas’, then Felix’s.
I am genuinely surprised by how much I am enjoying Jed (noting that we are grading on a curve!!). Before the show, I would have assumed he would be my least favourite of the three, and granted, he absolutely came across as a petulant little boy at times last night, but he is definitely also coming across as the most thoughtful at the moment. Not all of those thoughts are compelling or, you know, good; but I already have a much stronger grasp on who he is as a person than I did on Locky or Jimmy in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Anyway. Jed says that, because of his lifestyle, he wants a confident woman, and he thinks that a woman bold enough to go on The Bachelor must be pretty confident. Is it a good justification for finding love on the show? No. Is it still the most compelling one I’ve ever heard? Absolutely.
This segment really cements a) Jed’s two frontrunners, and b) our season villain.
Frontrunner #1: we spend some time with Jed and Angela (from the tennis court date), who are very sweetly nervous around each other. Jed asks if he can hold her hand, which I liked a lot. He also asked her before he kissed her on their blind date, so this seems to be part of a very positive pattern of obtaining consent. Good for Jed.
Villain: it somehow gets out that Jed kissed a few of the women on their blind dates, and Tash is furious. In an act of supreme villainy – like, she straight out admits it is a strategy, which is a sure way to get yourself the villain edit – she marches straight up to Jed, yanks him towards her by the collar, and pashes him (much to his surprise).
Frontrunner #2: Alésia (from the ice-skating date) hates it – both that Tash kissed Jed, and that Jed kissed other women on dates.
“Oh,” he says, when she brings this up to him. “I only did it if it was right in the moment.”
But then he reconsiders. “I really have to consider everyone’s emotions,” he tells the camera (a viewpoint that directly contravenes one of our other Bachies, as we’ll see later).
We flash back to his conversation with Alésia. “If you’d been the first date, I wouldn’t have kissed anyone else,” he tells her gently.
Then he takes her out the front, where no one else can see, and they pash. Like, they pash.
Picking a winner at this stage seems a little fraught, but: Jed looooooooves Alésia.
Thomas says he’s looking for “someone who is excited to live life”, which is the single most milquetoast requirement for a romantic partner I have ever heard.
His whole segment is pretty uninteresting, tbh. His biggest internal struggle is “holding his centre” while not being a dick to any of the women. He’s a serial monogamist, so he’s finding the fact he’s got ten women competing over him quite confronting.
While he apparently tries to talk to everyone – and he remembers what various women have told him about themselves, which is a green flag – we don’t get much insight into any of his contestants beyond the two we were introduced to last night. He sits down with Kiki. He likes her. He sits down with Leah. He really likes her. Not much more happens beyond that.
Unlike serial monogamist Thomas, Felix loves that he’s dating a million women at once. “I’m here to find love,” he says, “but I’m here to have fun as well.”
Cue the villain klaxon.
Like Jed, Felix has a fairly reasonable (when grading on a curve, anyway) explanation for why he wants to find a girlfriend on TV: “I love a fast-paced life,” he says, “and if a girl can get through this fast-paced process, they’ll be the one for me.”
But that’s where the similarities stop. When Jed wanted to make out with Alésia, he took her outside, where no one else could see. Felix wants to make out with Tilly, so he simply just… does it. In front of everyone. “I do what I want,” he proclaims.
Unsurprisingly, all the other women hate it. One, a woman named Ella, hates it so much she straight up leaves.
And what does Felix do? “If women are insecure, it’s offputting to me,” he declares. “If they don’t want to be here, they can walk out.”
Then he pulls Tilly aside again and pashes her AGAIN. Even more pointedly in front of everyone!
Blake Garvey whomst? Honey Badger whomst? If he keeps this up, Felix Van Hofe is going to snatch the Most Hated Man In The Nation crown straight off their heads.
The first group date
There are no eliminations on the first night. Rather, we shift to the next day, and the first group date.
After a brief bro chat where Jed and Thomas are like, “um… interesting choices, Felix,” but disappointingly do not call him out on his immense and obvious dickitude, we shift to the mansion, where Osher is setting out the new rules of group dates to the women.
We have another format twist here: only the women invited on the group date will be at risk at the rose ceremony. If you’re on the date, you’ll be able to spend time with the Bachies; but if you’re not, you’re safe from elimination.
I’m torn between whether this is unnecessarily complicated or whether it raises the stakes in interesting ways. It’s a little early to tell, I think, because we don’t really know who most of these women are yet.
Each Bachie has invited five of their contestants on the group date. It’s taking place in the Bach Pad – a lavish Gold Coast penthouse, complete with indoor pool.
(It also has a telescope pointed directly at the mansion, which I forgot to mention in my recap of last night’s episode. I… do not like this. Literally or semiotically.)
We get some mild Thomas and Jed content in this group date:
- Thomas continues to be obsessed with Leah. He wants to take her into his bedroom and have a “romantic moment” with her – ok buddy – but unlike certain other Bachies, manages to restrain himself.
- Jed spends some time chatting to our villain Tash, and finds out she was once engaged to Bachieverse alum Michael Turnbull, the runner-up from Sam Frost’s season.
- Jed also does some aggressive drumming when he feels like too many people are paying attention to shirtless Felix, which really hammers home that he’s barely out of adolescence.
- Bella, our truest icon, says that she loves three things – champagne, dick and oysters – and that they’re all present on the group date. It’s not especially plot-relevant, but it will 100% become a meme.
But really, this group date has one plot, and it’s that Felix is the absolute fucking worst.
Felix makes a half-hearted apology for his behaviour the night before – but really, as he tells the camera, he’s only sorry for being caught.
“I’m not a player,” he tells the women, doing his best to sound earnest. “I just got carried away.”
Then some of the women strip down to their bikinis so they can get in the pool and Felix promptly goes AWOOGA and his eyes fall out of his head.
Surely, though, he won’t make the same mistake again? He won’t make out with another woman in front of all the other contestants, after his extremely deep and sincere apology?
Nope. He sticks his tongue down the throat of a contestant named Naomi within about three seconds.
The rose ceremony
We’ve been promised that rose ceremonies will be an “open forum” – a sort of Bachie tribal council – but this one is pretty tame. All we get in terms of story is some seeding for what I assume will be a plotline among Jed’s contestants: one of them, Jasmine, really dislikes Tash, and decides she perhaps needs to become more of a steamroller herself.
Otherwise, though, it’s so early that these eliminations don’t mean much. Felix cuts a woman named Miki; Thomas one named Jacinta; and Jed one named Caitlin. I can tell you exactly zero things about these women.
What has been made clear, though, is that they’ve tried to get the most about-to-die roses as possible for all their ceremonial needs this season. No more of the tightly furled rose buds: the petals are about to start falling off. A metaphor for the future of the franchise, perhaps?
If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this recap – thank you! I assume that means you enjoy my writing, so don’t forget that I’m the author of a couple of reality TV rom-coms. Here For The Right Reasons (which is about a Bachelor-esque lead falling for a contestant he eliminates on the first night) is out now; while Can I Steal You For A Second? (which is about two contestants falling in love with each other instead of their Bachelor-esque lead) will be out in April and is available for pre-order.
You can also catch me on my website: jodimcalister.com.au