Previously on The Bachelor: Nick’s family rapidly sussed out that Romy is garbage, and Romy became furious at the wide dissemination of the fact. Tonight on The Bachelor: the timeless tale of balloons and disappointment.
“When it comes to a good date, it’s about getting on the weather maps, finding out when the best day is, finding the right girl, and having bucketloads of fun,” says Nick. Translated, what he means is, “When it comes to a good date, it’s about waiting for a producer to call you up and tell you that you have to go in a hot-air balloon today.”
Nick has chosen Rhiannon for this date, and just in the nick of time: one more day without a date and all the photos of Rhiannon would’ve started fading like in Back To The Future. They will be travelling in a heart-shaped balloon, or rather, in the basket hanging underneath the heart-shaped balloon. This is symbolic of the fact that people think love is all about the heart, but the action happens in a smaller organ lower down.
Rhiannon is scared of heights, naturally: to apply to be on this show you have to list your fears, and they make you face them on your date. If a woman says she’s scared of snakes Nick will take her to a cobra farm.
As they float high above the earth, Rhiannon tells Nick that she misses her dog. It’s weird how you never miss your dog until you’re in a balloon. In response, Nick tells Rhiannon that he once had a budgie, which he starved to death. Is this a joke about his underpants commercials? Or does he genuinely enjoy animal torture?
Back at the mansion, the women sit around and discuss what might be happening in the balloon, while tactfully avoiding the elephant in the room: why has Alisha still not been apprehended by the authorities? We quickly flash back to the time that Vanessa Sunshine said that she despises all your human “feelings”, as you call them. Then an envelope comes in and reveals that a group date will be undertaken, to a vague and ill-defined location. The scenario screams “murder”, while each woman who is chosen for the group date screams incoherently. Except Vanessa Sunshine, who has never been excited and doesn’t intend to start now. Romy is disappointed that Vanessa Sunshine is coming, describing her as “the bane of my existence”. This is surprising, because up till now we’d all assumed that the bane of Romy’s existence was the human race’s shared concept of shame. Vanessa Sunshine explains that she didn’t scream like an idiot when her name was read out because she’s not an idiot, and to be honest that’s fair enough.
Back on the date, Nick and Rhiannon sit on some hay and Nick pulls out a question card. If Rhiannon answers correctly she goes through to the fast money round. “What does love mean to you?” Nick asks, triggering a painful sequence involving Rhiannon talking incomprehensible nonsense for about half an hour. “I’m talking absolute gibberish,” she says, accurately. Nick is disappointed in her answer, as he’d hoped she would say that love is about fly-fishing or something.
The real problem is that Rhiannon is nervous because she has been obsessing over when she’ll get to kiss Nick, which just proves the old saying, “It doesn’t matter how bad your moustache is, someone might want to kiss you anyway”. Nick pulls out another card and asks her whether she falls in love quickly. Rhiannon says some more gibberish, but thankfully it’s shorter this time.
Nick gives Rhiannon a rose. Rhiannon is delighted. He kisses her on the cheek. She tries to wrestle him to the ground. She tells him she wants to kiss him. She asks him if he wants to kiss. He tries to politely imply that she’s being weird and creepy. She asks him if he wants to kiss again. He laughs awkwardly. She completely fails to read the room. In a cutaway Nick expresses his concern that kissing multiple girls on the show might not be fair, marking a major milestone in Bachelor history: the first Bachelor to ever exhibit a faint awareness of how to be a human being.
We now see a weird behind-the-scenes bit where Rhiannon explains at length to an anonymous producer that she doesn’t know how to get a man to kiss her. The producer tries to be sympathetic, but is impatient to get off-camera and adjust his shorts. Rhiannon starts to cry as she explains to this random man that the basic concept of the show is awful. I mean she doesn’t say it in so many words.
Next day, it’s time for a Hyundai ad, and by coincidence, the cars are full of bachelorettes. In one car Brittany, Cass and Vanessa Sunshine happily enjoy each other’s company. In the other car Alisha talks loudly while laughing for no reason, and Romy bitches about how awful it is that Vanessa Sunshine has never once told her she’s pretty. Later, Vanessa Sunshine explains that not everyone is going to get along in life. Cass stays quiet, not even listening because she’s too busy planning her wedding.
The women arrive in the woods, where the smell of fresh horse manure fills their nostrils. Which means one thing: TAFKAAG is here. Nick is here too, so it looks like yet again TAFKAAG has to go home without getting to touch another person. They will be camping. “Camping under the stars,” Nick says, but that seems unnecessary: all camping happens under the stars.
TAFKAAG drops a bombshell: tomorrow night there will be a rose ceremony just for the six of them. This means it is extremely important to make a good impression in the camp, and for the women to make every possible effort to crawl into Nick’s tent and sexually harass him. Not that I’m indulging in foreshadowing or anything.
Vanessa Sunshine has turned up in heels. “I think Vanessa Sunshine is way out of her element,” guffaws Romy, who is a down-home earthy humble daughter of the soil. Vanessa Sunshine, however, reveals that she grew up in the country and once had a pet donkey, so she’s prepared for a life with Nick. She also shows herself to be pretty good at putting up a tent, prompting Romy to scoff that she’s just pretending to be good at putting up a tent to make it seem like she’s the sort of person who can put up a tent.
Nick takes three women on a mysterious quad-bike ride, so that Nick can see how good at quad-biking they are so that he doesn’t enter into any committed relationship without being fully informed. Two of the women are Romy and Vanessa Sunshine, which is calculated to cause “maximum drama” as Alisha says in the voice of a woman who has spent her whole life genuinely believing that people enjoy her company.
Romy expresses her belief that Vanessa Sunshine will suck at quad-biking. Romy makes sure she rides right behind Nick, because that means Vanessa Sunshine won’t be right behind Nick. Vanessa Sunshine turns out to actually be pretty good at quad-biking, and Nick compliments her on this. Romy can’t believe that Vanessa Sunshine would be so devious as to not crash her quad-bike. “She’s gotta go,” Romy says, not because she’s obsessed with Vanessa Sunshine to a creepy, Kathy-Bates-In-Misery-esque extent, but because she really really cares about Nick’s feelings and doesn’t want to see him end up with someone who isn’t a conceited backstabbing tool.
Nick and Romy have some alone time. Romy sorrowfully informs him that although she hates to throw anyone under the bus – pause for laughter – she thinks Nick needs to know who Vanessa Sunshine really is. She tells Nick that she overheard Vanessa Sunshine say that she’s not sure she’s attracted to Nick. This is entirely consistent with how furious Romy was last night that Blair would be so incredibly bitchy as to pass on the details of a private conversation. If there’s one thing you can say about Romy, it’s that she is entirely ethically consistent.
Nick is confused by what Romy has told him, and scared that if he angers her she will try to suck his blood again. He seeks out Vanessa Sunshine to find out the truth. Vanessa Sunshine tells him that she doesn’t get along with Romy and that Romy doesn’t think Vanessa Sunshine has the right intentions. She goes on to say that in a way this is understandable because on the night she arrived she noticed that Nick looks like a giant chicken at a roller-disco and was hopeful that he might one day turn into someone attractive. She explains that for her, attraction is not something that happens right away. Nick is stunned by her revelations, as he had inexplicably been under the impression that that hair and moustache was a good way to go. Vanessa Sunshine hopes that he will make his mind up about her himself, rather than just going on what Romy says. Nick doesn’t know what to do, as he has inadvertently got caught in the middle of a fight between an experiment in artificial intelligence and a human bowel obstruction.
Also, Shannon is there.
At dinner, Vanessa Sunshine displays her campfire cooking skills. Romy feels nauseous, scarcely believing anyone could be so immoral as to cook hamburgers right there in front of everyone. Romy speaks to Alisha, in Alisha’s capacity as The Bachelor journal of record, and tells her that she is going to worm her way into Nick’s tent so that she can explain to him that even though it might seem that she has developed a disturbing fixation on Vanessa Sunshine, she is actually a very nice, positive person, not like that bitch Vanessa Sunshine.
Cass is awoken by the sounds of Romy entering Nick’s tent for what sounds like a session of undirected laughter therapy. As far as can be told, Romy and Nick do not say any actual words, they just giggle: Nick in a similar way to how he did when Rhiannon was begging him for a kiss, and Romy in a similar way to Cruella De Vil. Cass says she feels extremely uncomfortable about the situation, but then Cass feels uncomfortable with the fact that Nick has ever met another woman, including his mother. Nevertheless it is an extremely inappropriate move by Romy. There’s a word for women who crawl uninvited into men’s tent in the middle of the night, and that word is “reality show contestant”. Which is three words, further proving how recklessly Romy disregards social mores.
In the morning, Romy says she has a spring in her step and is pretty happy because she got to grab some handfuls of Honey Badger. She takes Alisha into the woods to make her report. “How long were you in there?” asks Alisha, still refusing to stop laughing. “About ten minutes,” says Romy, but it’s important to remember that ten minutes with Romy feels like seven hours with a normal person, or with a diseased reptile.
Next Nick asks Cass to join him for an allergenic drink in a field. “She’s gonna die,” says Romy. “I think she’ll cry. Hahahahahahahahahaha.” It’s a pretty nasty thing to say, but it’s probably healthy that Romy is managing to direct her hatred at someone other than Vanessa Sunshine.
Sitting on the grass, drinking champagne and getting itchy legs, Cass and Nick discuss Romy’s frontal assault. Nick is offended that Cass would question his honour – here he is, a 30-year-old man choosing to date two dozen women simultaneously on television, and she suspects he might behave in a less-than-gentlemanly way? Madam, you forget yourself! Cass is relieved that nothing penetrative happened in the tent, and takes this as confirmation that she and Nick are now engaged.
Next, Nick throws a rope over a tree branch. At first it seems that he is about to hang himself, but actually he’s making a swing for Cass to sit in, like a three-year-old might. This subtle hint is lost on Cass. “I don’t think there’s any need to rush with Nick and me,” says Cass, slightly depressingly. As she sits on the swing, she explains to Nick that she is still madly in love with him and it’s wonderful to be alone with him in the woods where she can pretend that all the other women are dead. “I’m excited to see what happens,” says Nick, leaving unspoken the words, “like you know how you get excited when you think someone is under your bed with a knife?” He says his feelings are evolving for Cass, and he no longer feels he needs police protection.
It’s time for the rose ceremony. Six women enter. Five women leave. And the other woman leaves too, but goes in a different direction. Just like Thunderdome. TAFKAAG emerges from the wombat burrow he has been squatting in since yesterday morning to tell Nick he has a big decision to make, even though it’s actually the easiest decision he’ll ever have to make in his life. “I’m literally shitting myself,” says Romy, and frankly I take her at her word.
The women still need to get dressed up even though they’re in the middle of the bush, because god forbid a woman get a rose while wearing jeans. TAFKAAG returns. “As you know, Nick’s here because he’s searching for true love,” he says, and he delivers his lines so well that if you didn’t know he had an IQ of more than 30, you might think he really believes what he’s saying. “I’m sorry, but one of you will not return to the mansion tonight,” he adds, and the really harsh thing is that the woman who loses will be left in the woods and have to live there permanently.
Nick pops his head and up and starts slinging petal.
Cass gets a rose because it’d be cruel to deny her one out here, so far from the nearest emergency room.
“Vanessa sucks the sunshine out of my life,” says Romy, and the nation, as one, sees what she did there.
Brittany gets a rose as a reward for doing all the driving on the trip.
Alisha gets a rose because presumably she has some kind of dossier on the producers’ sexual proclivities.
“Romy is desperate,” says Vanessa Sunshine, which is true. “She has no self-respect,” she adds, which is untrue: Romy has lots of self-respect. Too much, if we’re honest. What she lacks is any other-people-respect.
Shannon gets a rose to compensate her for the fact that nobody has spoken to her for two days.
After a lot of dramatic music…
And close-ups of Romy smirking…
And Vanessa Sunshine scowling…
Romy gets a rose, because Nick is hoping to be in a tent again soon.
So Vanessa Sunshine has to go home, which is sad for her, although not that sad because let’s be honest she cared only as much about Nick as any of us do. But it means that Nick has done something absolutely unforgivable: he has made Romy happy.
“Can you take the time to say goodbye now?” TAFKAAG says. None of the other women make even a tiny move towards Vanessa Sunshine to say goodbye. Romy just grins at her, like the cat who ate the pensioner. There’s no doubt about it: the ladies on this show have a lot of class. Vanessa Sunshine says a quick goodbye to Nick and wanders off to start her new life as a forest sprite. In voiceover she says that Nick didn’t think she was the one for her and she doesn’t even care and it’s not her problem and she’s only on this show because she took a wrong turn trying to find the Pointless set.
Tune in next week, when three new women show up and Nick makes all the girls bounce around on big balls for reasons that are a complete mystery. Also someone runs away from home.
Hey, if you’d like to get an even bigger dose of me, why not check out my books, Error Australis and Aussie Aussie Aussie, and see how these recaps would look if they were about Australian history.