Does free will exist, or are all of our actions determined in advance by a greater power? This a question I found myself pondering when I learned there would be not one but two episodes of The Bachelor this week: Monday’s episode would be three hours long, and on Wednesday, there would be another two-hour episode. With five hours of Bachelor coverage looming ahead of me, I began to surrender to the idea that I am, in fact, powerless, that what I see as free will is an illusion, and that ultimately, what I do and how I spend my time is controlled by a force greater than myself (the American Broadcasting Company).
That being said, let’s jump in!
As you’ll recall from last week, Peter and the women are in beautiful Cleveland, Ohio, and everyone’s furious with Peter because he brought back Alayah, a woman he had eliminated and whom everyone hates for reasons I’ve already forgotten. While the rest of the women fume, Peter pulls Alayah aside and explains that he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks he should do (ask her to leave), but that he’s going to do what everyone else thinks he should do anyway (ask her to leave). Alayah is then driven away in a large black SUV to the warehouse, where they keep all the discarded Bachelor/ette contestants until they need to be revived for a season of Bachelor in Paradise.
Back inside the mansion, Peter tells the women about Alayah, and explains that even though it may look like he’s a penis-brained dummy who has no idea what he wants, he’s actually a penis-brained dummy who knows exactly what he wants. The women seem placated by this assurance, and they all make out with him. At the rose ceremony, Peter eliminates Deandra and two other women no one seems to know. They are shuttled to the same warehouse as Alayah.
The next day, Peter announces they’re all leaving wonderful Cleveland, oh no! But it’s okay, because they’re all going to Costa Rica now, the Cleveland of Central America, maybe. Peter marks his arrival by immediately splitting his forehead open in the most tropical-resort way possible: bonking his head into a golf cart and then smashing it into the to-go beverage glass he was carrying with him. The producers included security-camera footage of the incident, which was nice of them, and we can all laugh about it because Peter’s fine.
With 22 new stitches on his face, Peter takes Sydney on a one-on-one date. It starts with a scenic helicopter ride around a volcano, during which Peter unfortunately says, “I think you can literally say love is in the air right now.” On the ground, he piggybacks Sydney to a little lounge-slash-picnic setup, and repeatedly tells her how mysterious he thinks she is, probably because he hasn’t spoken to her before. In order to get to know her better, he makes out with her loudly, their slurpy kissing making the exact same noise as sink water struggling through a hair-clogged drain. When they come up for air, Peter tells Sydney she’s the best kisser in the house, which seems incredibly rude to the other dozen women he’s constantly making out with.
Over dinner that night, Sydney opens up about how difficult it was to be raised by a single mother and to grow up mixed race in Alabama. Peter nods sympathetically and then takes her to a hot tub, where they hump and make out for seven hours.
Meanwhile, back at the house, Kelsey — of Champagne-facial notoriety — has not stopped sobbing once since landing in Costa Rica. It seems she was unaware that the man whose affection she would be competing for on a nationally televised dating competition would also be dating other women. Tammy, who is also nominally competing for Peter’s attention, tries to console her for a while, but eventually gives up, saying in a testimonial, “Kelsey is a hot mess. She’s been crying for weeks. I don’t think when my grandpa died I cried for that long.”
Kelsey continues sobbing on the group date, which is a photo shoot at a waterfall for a Cosmopolitan spread. Cosmo editor-in-chief Jessica Pels is there, and she explains that whomever they like best will get to pose with Peter for the March digital cover of the magazine. Hannah Ann is confident she’s going to win, because she once modeled for those Sonic Drive-In ads.
In their group shots, Hannah Ann and Victoria F. make out with Peter, to a chorus of boos from the other women. Their efforts are rewarded, however, by Pels, who announces that Victoria F. won the challenge. (Months later, when the episode aired, Pels explained in an editor’s letter that they had not used Victoria F. and Peter’s cover, because Victoria F. had previously modeled “White Lives Matter” attire. “Ultimately what felt right was choosing not to publish the digital cover on our website.”)
That night, Peter’s usual make-out tour at the group-date cocktail party is interrupted by Kelsey, who is still sobbing and reveals that she’s falling in love with him! Peter smiles and responds by offering her a meek, “I’ve been thinking about you a lot,” which seems to satisfy her, but not enough to make her stop crying. Tammy, who doesn’t even really pretend to be interested in Peter, uses her time with him to tell him that Kelsey “had a mental breakdown” while he was on his one-on-one date with Sydney, the best kisser in the house.
Another, more mature Bachelor might question why a contestant who has spent so little time with him is choosing to shit-talk another woman instead of getting to know him. But not Peter! Peter is a messy, penis-brained dummy who lives for drama, so he immediately goes to tell Kelsey that someone said she’s having a mental breakdown. This makes her cry even harder, and to prove how okay she is, she splashes her way through the four inches of her tears that have accumulated on the venue’s floor and tearfully asks: “So, do we wanna talk about who said I was emotionally unstable today?!”
Not present for all of this is Kelley. If you don’t remember who Kelley is, that’s fine. That’s kind of how she wants it. Kelley is a lawyer who met Peter at a hotel two weeks before the show started, and they hooked up. That was the pinnacle of their relationship. Upon landing in Costa Rica, Kelley explained that her priority was not Peter, but enjoying a nice trip. “I would love to spend time with Peter, but at the same time, he’s dating several other girls,” she said with a shrug. “So, if anything, I’m just looking to have fun.”
Unfortunately, Kelley’s pleasant vacation is interrupted by Peter, who takes her on the next one-on-one date. Peter is annoyed that Kelley hasn’t tried hard enough to compete with the other dozens of women for his approval. To see if they’re compatible, Peter takes Kelley to a shaman in the woods, who performs ceremonies of unspecified origins.
When Kelley asks later, over dinner, what kinds of ceremonies these were, exactly, Peter ignores her question and instead demands to know why she isn’t pandering to him. Kelley proceeds to roast the shit out of Peter, whose penis brain doesn’t pick up on it. She wonders why he engages with, and rewards, all the drama in the house, and says she’s looking for someone who challenges her. Peter, suddenly, is faced with a secure, self-actualized woman, and you can tell he doesn’t know how to handle it. He gives her a rose, probably out of fear, and they make out for a while.
Incredibly, the episode is not over quite yet.
The next day, Kelsey sobs her way over to Peter’s villa (who knew the women could just go there?), and cries to him about how the women are saying mean things about her alcohol and pill consumption. Peter, thrilled to be faced with drama again instead of emotional maturity, runs and gives Kelsey a rose.
The women are not pleased by Kelsey’s self-scheduled date, and are further dismayed when Chris Harrison comes and informs them that Peter has decided to cancel the cocktail party and go straight to the rose ceremony that night, because he’s already made up his mind. I will say this for Peter: Although he doesn’t seem especially thoughtful, and he clearly just wants to spend his time traveling and making out with hot girls, his commitment to making a messy, dramatic season is admirable.
Indeed, his decision sends the women into chaos. I mean, just look at what it has done to Mykenna’s tongue.
The women all scream at each other some more — Tammy shouts at Kelsey about crying too much, Kelsey cries louder, and everyone else gets mad at Tammy for saying that Kelsey was “popping pills” when all she takes is Adderall and birth control. Eventually, Peter appears. In a sort of makeshift cocktail party, Tammy and Mykenna both take him aside to plead their cases. For a second, it seems like Peter may just turn it into a cocktail party anyway, but for once in his life, he sticks to the plan, and eliminates Lexi and Shiann.
And now, finally, we can go about the motions of our lives, pretending like our choices and actions are of our own design when, really, somewhere in a hot tub filled with models, Chris Harrison is pulling the strings. See you all Wednesday.