When the moon hits a leaf like a Slyman’s roast beef,
You’re in Cleveland
When Key Tower looks cheery over lovely Lake Erie
You’re in Cleveland
Say my name in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
And we’ll sing “Cleveland Rocks!”
Sung to the tune of Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore,” that’s a little ditty I composed just now after Googling “things in Cleveland.” Because episode four of The Bachelor was all about Cleveland, baby!! The Forest City. The North Coast. Home of Drew Carey, Halle Berry, Mehmet Oz. Seat of Cuyahoga County. The 52nd-largest city in the United States. Cleveland!
If you’re surprised that the “Rock and Roll Capital of the World” was the location of the Bachelor’s first foray outside of L.A., well, so were the women. Following Chris Harrison’s announcement at the beginning of the episode that they would be packing their bags to join Peter in Ohio’s second-largest city, there was a silence as heavy and loaded as one of Cleveland’s famous pierogis. Over the course of the next two hours, though, and with the help of some subtly crafted scripts from producers and Cleveland’s tourism board, the women and Peter will come to realize that they “love Cleveland,” as Victoria F. says, and that it has “definitely impressed me,” as Peter says.
Speaking of Peter and Victoria F., they have their first one-on-one date in Cleveland. Victoria F. is driven onto a tarmac to meet Peter who, in case you had forgotten, is a pilot. Victoria F. had apparently forgotten, because she seems completely stunned that Peter is flying them to a surprise location. After they take off in a small plane the size of a Honda Civic coupe, Victoria F. wails about how afraid she is of heights while Peter points out the sights. “That’s Cleveland down there,” he says helpfully.
Peter flies them to Cedar Point, an amusement park near Cleveland that they have all to themselves. They go on a slingshot ride, and seem to have fun even though it’s raining and they both get soaked. Over beers inside, they discuss how they both want an even number of children — that way no kid is left out when families pair up to go on rides at an amusement park, Peter says. I guess that’s a good point. Victoria F. proposes a toast that really bums me out: “Cheers to our sons having hot moms and successful dads.”
Before she and Peter can conceive an even number of socially regressive sons, however, they get to go to a concert together. Victoria F. is excited at first, and she and Peter seem very lovey dovey. But as they approach the concert area, the look of excitement on her face changes to confusion, and then horror as she realizes that, oh my God — the person they’re seeing in concert is Chase Rice, country singer, and Victoria F.’s ex-boyfriend!
A quick note here: Victoria F. seems to use the term “ex-boyfriend” loosely. In a radio interview he did after filming the episode, Rice said that he was “really pissed off” about how his Bachelor appearance went, and that he and Victoria F.’s relationship had really just amounted to a one-night stand. “We spent a night together in Charlotte,” Rice said. “She’s a cool chick from what I know of her.” Rice also claimed that he was “pretty surprised” that the producers ended up milking this connection for drama, and that he was just there for the music, which … sure, buddy …
Anyway, Victoria F. freaks out when she sees Chase. She and Peter dance and kiss in front of him, and then Peter, still oblivious to the romantic dynamics at play, gets Chase’s number after. He seems excited to have a new friend. Victoria F. can’t stop crying, because she’s convinced that the fact that she unknowingly walked into a concert thrown by someone she once made out with will ruin things with Peter, even though he kicked off the season by repeatedly bringing around a woman he had had sex with four times in a windmill.
That night, over dinner in Cleveland’s City Hall, Victoria F. tells Peter about Chase. She builds up to the confession with the kind of tearful, devastating remorse of someone telling you they accidentally backed over your Golden Retriever in their driveway, except that she’s just admitting she dated other people before coming on a nationally televised dating competition show. “Chase?” Peter says when she tells him. “The singer Chase? Who was doing the concert?” Yes, that Chase. Peter sits for a moment, contemplating this wild ride that we call life, while Victoria F. runs away to cry some more. Peter finds her and tells her it’s fine. Actually, isn’t it kind of funny that they danced and made out in front of her ex? “Like, you only live once,” Peter laughs. So true. They make out.
The next day, it’s time for the group date. “Cleveland has really impressed me, to be honest,” Peter says again, of his own free will maybe. “It really is one of the best kept secrets.”
All 13 of the remaining women who are not Victoria F. or Champagne Kelsey (she’ll get a one-on-one date later) go on the group date, which is at FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns. Twelve of them do rigorous football drills on the field, while Victoria P. says her back hurts, and gets Peter to give her a massage.
The participating girls are then divided up into two teams called the Eliminators and the Killer Bees (it’s unclear who picked these names), and told that whichever team wins this football game will get to enjoy a cocktail party with Peter tonight, and the other will be sent home. High stakes.
The women play hard. Shiann is the running star, and proves she could easily be drafted to an NFL team, like, say, the Cleveland Browns. With a glorious final run for the Killer Bees, Deandra ties up the score, which seems like it’s a good thing at first, but is actually terrible for everyone, because it means 13 women will have to compete for Peter’s attention at the cocktail party that night, instead of just six.
The girls needn’t have worried, though. Peter doesn’t end up paying attention to any of them, because at the cocktail party, who should show up but Alayah. [Crowd gasp]
Yes, last week’s villain is back, and she wants to set the record straight. Victoria P. lied about … something, Alayah tells Peter, who looks almost as confused as he did when Victoria F. told him the Chase thing. The rest of this portion was very confusing to me. Victoria P. sort of admits that she did know Alayah more than she let on, but still says Alayah is lying about … something. She aggressively wipes tears from Alayah’s eyes at one point like she wants to comfort her but also claw her eyes out. Regardless of what is going on, Peter seems convinced by Alayah, and lets her back in the house. Not only that, he gives her the group date rose. All the other women are absolutely furious. Alayah placates some of them by bringing gossip from the outside world about Victoria F.’s relationship with Chase.
I would argue at this point that producers tried to cram a skootch too much drama into this episode, but that’s Cleveland, baby. The Mistake on the Lake. C-Town. Go big or go home.
After all that kerfuffle, Champagne Kelsey goes on a one-on-one date with Peter. It’s a night cruise on the lake. Peter wears a black turtleneck and says, “Look at the beautiful skyline. Cleveland.” Kelsey tells him about her parents’ divorce. They make out. Cleveland.
At the rose ceremony the next day, all of the girls are still mad at Peter. “I did enjoy my time in Cleveland with y’all,” Peter starts to say, but he’s cut off. Don’t try to use sweet words about the great city of Cleveland to soften them up, buddy. Deandra says she’s never been so unrecognized by someone. She points out the bruises she and the other girls still bear from the football game. They’re working so hard on this show, and Peter’s just ignoring them and getting distracted by this Alayah drama!
Peter says he hears them, and then proceeds to ignore all of them to go talk about the Alayah drama. He says he’s confused. He made one bad, easily reversible decision — to bring Alayah back — that made all the girls furious and now … what is he to do? What would General Moses Cleaveland, who first settled Cleveland back in the 18th century, have to say about all of this? Maybe a drive along Cleveland’s famed Euclid Avenue, or a stroll through the famed Cleveland Museum of Art would clear Peter’s mind.
We’ll find out next week, I guess, because the episode ends with a “To Be Continued … ”