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Hi everyone! Hey, have you heard that the U.S. presidential election is next week? It’s the most important election in our nation’s history (although so was 2016 and 2012 and apparently many others). Stuff is pretty heavy right now.
So let’s put all that away for a couple of hours and spend some time in the desert with our Bachelorette, shall we?
It’s Week Three. It’s literally the most uncomfortably awkward, cringey episode of The Bachelor/ette that I have ever seen. Let’s do this.
Cocktail Party and Rose Ceremony: Last week ended on a cliffhanger, before the Rose Ceremony, so we start off with the guys sitting around, talking about how awesome Clare is, and it’s ultimately just filler around the real drama of the night, and the first awkwardly uncomfortable moment of the episode: Yosef.
As we know, Yosef has seen some red flags in Clare that he wants to address, such as the fact that Clare wanted the guys to seek out time with her, and they didn’t, and the other fact that some of the guys played strip dodgeball on a group date that Yosef wasn’t even on.
Yosef talks tough in front of the guys, telling them he’s going to talk about his concerns with Clare, and Riley basically tells Yosef he’s being super disrespectful and to maybe calm the fork down. Yosef is 30 years old but he looks like a solid 42, and he talks about his daughter a lot, and I just don’t think that anything he says is sincere.
Also, he doesn’t know what the word “atrocity” means. He literally says: “I’m looking forward to telling Clare exactly how I feel and wash my hands of this atrocity.” That is a pretty serious accusation for a reality TV dating show, and unless The Bachelor/ette is a front for puppy mills and/or street-grade synthetic opioids, the word “atrocity” is not really applicable here.
Yosef interrupts Clare, who is talking to Jordan, and pretty much cuts to the chase, and by “the chase” I mean “the part where he just decides to be incredibly rude and dismissive of Clare, and that’s the high point.” I have tried to paraphrase for clarity:
Yosef: I know technically we’re here for you, but you’re also supposed to be here for meeeeeeeeee.
Clare: Okay, sure.
Yosef: No, you don’t understand. I’ve sacrificed a lot to be here, like not spending time with my daughter.
Clare: I get it. You know, my mom has dementia and is actually literally dying–
Yosef, smiling like a psychopath: Don’t interrupt me.
[Can we just pause for a second, and acknowledge that Clare’s mom has dementia, and Clare is really trying to relate to Yosef here, about the pain of missing time with loved ones when you know that time is limited, and all Yosef can see is that he was interrupted by the woman he is there to pursue. Again, he is the actual worst.]
Yosef, making scary intense eye contact: I don’t see how playing strip dodgeball translates into you having a husband. You are immature and you degrade and humiliate men by making them play strip dodgeball. Could you imagine if my daughter saw me doing that?
Clare, awesomely, with a face that shows she is totally over it: Uh, yeah dude, that’s why we didn’t pick you for that date.
Yosef, snippily: You’re old and why aren’t you acting more like an old lady? I expected more from the oldest Bachelorette, and have I mentioned yet that you’re old?
And then, this exchange, verbatim:
Yosef, literally and completely unnecessarily: You’re not setting the right example for my daughter … I’m ashamed to be associated with you. I can’t believe I sacrificed so much to be here, just to watch this distasteful and classless display. So appalled.
Clare, eventually, after some more back and forth: You are done, you are done. Never in a million years did I ever have to utter these words again. Do not ever talk to me like that. I never thought I would have to say that to a man. I stand by that. I would never want my children to have a father like you. Get out of here. Get out.
Yosef, stalking Clare after she has told him to leave and is clearly trying to walk away from him: You’re not fit to be the mother of my child.
At this point, some of the guys are starting to overhear what Yosef is saying, and I’m glad to say that they pretty much immediately express that he’s out of line.
As he walks away, Yosef gives us the line they’ve been teasing, yelling: “I expected way more from the oldest Bachelorette in history!”
He also yells “Remember, you’re almost 40!” and is Yosef just showing us that he can count? Because I’m pretty sure Clare — along with all of us — know that she’s 39, and, yes, 39 is almost 40, and 40 is not, like, a death sentence, guy.
The other guys yell back and tell him, in various ways, to go home. Which he does; Yosef gets into the back of a car, and is driven off, hopefully never to be seen again.
Then, we get this great moment from Clare: “To talk to a woman like that … I didn’t even do anything to that man. Sick, sick! … To sit there and say you’re the oldest Bachelorette, well guess what, I’m the oldest Bachelorette who’s 39 and single because I didn’t settle for men like that!”
I genuinely loved this. We’ve all seen the part where she says she’s single because she didn’t settle, but the part that really got me was where she said “I don’t even do anything to that man.” That’s what so much of gender toxicity is about, isn’t it? Clare did literally nothing to Yosef, and he just attacked her, fully loaded, throwing insults at her that he knew would hurt. Over a date he wasn’t even on. I would love to know what, exactly, he believes she owed him.
In the end, though, it’s pretty clear that all of this has gotten to her, and I don’t blame her. You can know that someone is a dirtbag and still be hurt by their insults. She’s breathing deeply and it looks like she’s trying not to cry, and it all feels pretty real and relatable.
But then, here comes Dale! He’s the first to swoop in and comfort her, and he takes her in his arms, and offers her soothing and comforting words, and then he does that thing where he touches his forehead to hers, and it’s super cute. Clare tells him she wishes she could spend so much more time with him. Clare asks if he’s just appeasing her, which is something Yosef told Clare the men were doing, and Dale takes the opportunity to say this: “I’m here to please you.”
In an interview, Clare says that all she’s ever wanted was a man like Dale, who will protect her and stick up for her, and make sure she doesn’t have to go through things alone. She says it’s not even the second rose ceremony yet, and she’s falling in love with him.
After a quick chat with Chris, Clare tells the guys that she doesn’t want to continue the cocktail party, and they will just skip ahead to the Rose Ceremony. Yikes. Clare keeps around, what, 17-ish guys? I don’t know. I don’t even really know all their names until we get down to 10 or so.
In a bit of foreshadowing, we see various guys talking about how they are looking forward to getting to know Clare and spend time with her. Chasen says he didn’t think it was possible to develop feelings so quickly (early-onset Stockholm Syndrome, perhaps?); Riley says Clare is a great woman, and someone he wants to be around. But if the teasers tell us anything, it’s that Clare is spending pretty much all her time with Dale.
The next day: Chris Harrison shows up to deliver a group date card, but before he does, he gets in this gem of a deadpan: “Last night was obviously emotional for Clare and you guys. It didn’t go as planned. This process will expose you, you’re going to be seen. Yosef was seen and exposed last night. That’s how this process works.”
Ha! I mean, choosing those words the day after a guy left because he was complaining about men being exposed in a game of strip dodgeball … that’s got to be on purpose, right?
The group date card says: “Today, we separate the men from the boys. Love, Clare.”
We will literally never know what this means, because the group date never happened, for reasons that aren’t made clear.
Maybe this is the point where Clare locked herself in the closet and refused to continue with the show (allegedly)?
Or maybe it was because she just wanted some extra girl time with former Bachelorette Deanna, who shows up at Clare’s door as Clare just happens to be hanging out on her couch, journaling, in front of a reality TV production crew, as one does. Deanna was the fourth Bachelorette in the franchise, and although she didn’t end up with the guy she chose at the end, she did marry the twin brother of a contestant who appeared on a different Bachelorette season. See? The Bachelor/ette process works!
We then see what appears to be some ironic editing, with shots of the guys talking about how much they’re looking forward to spending time with Clare intercut with Clare talking to Deanna pretty much exclusively about Dale. Somehow Clare has a pair of Dale’s pants in her room, and shows them to Deanna, and both women smell Dale’s pants, and I really can’t write it any other way because that’s exactly what happened, and it’s just as weird as it sounds.
Deanna and Clare talk about the feeling of “when you know, you know,” which I personally have never felt upon a first encounter with someone, but I’m told it happens, and it apparently happened to Deanna and her husband. This seems to confirm Clare’s apparent choice to fully lean in with Dale, who Clare says “checks the boxes I didn’t know were boxes.” Aw. I’m curious — have any of you experienced long-lasting love at first sight? Have you had the “when you know, you know” moments that have lasted? Please share in the comments — I want to hear your love stories!
So, after apparently making the guys wait for literally hours before confirming she’s standing them up, Clare brings us the second uncomfortably awkward moment of the episode, when she tells the guys she cancelled the date in exchange for an extra-long cocktail party. She tells them she’s going to get ready, and makes a hasty retreat.
The guys are, understandably, disappointed, and to be honest, I am too. But you know who’s not disappointed? Dale, of course. To him, it’s just another chance to spend quality time with her.
Group date: Clare is wearing a shorts suit and a lacy top and it’s legitimately one of my favorite looks. I know shorts suits are controversial, but Clare is definitely pulling it off here.
Dale jumps in straight away, asking-but-not-asking the group of guys — and not Clare, for some reason — if he can be the first to speak with Clare. He says he just wants about five minutes. The guys seem skeptical. Clare and Dale agree to go off together, but not before Dale cheerfully demands that everyone participate in a group hug, for some reason, and thereby delivering our third super-awkward moment of the episode.
Clare brings Dale back to her suite and they make their way onto the bed almost immediately. Dale is there for way longer than five minutes. At one point Clare says “Why are you so perfect?” and Dale says “I’m not perfect, you’re perfect!” and I just want to tell both of these people to maybe manage their expectations, just a little bit? Anyway, they start making out, and a shot of the moon seems to suggest the passage of time.
Meanwhile, back at the guys’ place, Zach J. gets the one-on-one date card. He’s so excited that he wants to get up and knock over furniture. That’s literally what he says.
On the group date, Eazy decides to take action, and makes his way to Clare’s place, thus initiating the fourth amazingly uncomfortably awkward moment of the night. Clare answers the door, her hair super messy and her shorts super wrinkled. She invites Eazy in and tells him Dale is there, leading to this exchange:
Eazy: So, this is awkward
Dale: Bro, do your thing.
Eazy: What’s up, Bro, do you mind if I grab her?
Dale: Yeah, we were just, like, having a conversation.
Then Clare demands a hug from Dale before he leaves.
THIS IS SO AWKWARD. How on earth is Eazy supposed to have a conversation with Clare now? He knows what they were doing. What was that conversation even like?
Dale walks back to the group, huge grin on his face, and sits down. The other guys are about a million miles away from smiling at anything at this point.
Eazy and Clare get up from her couch, and she suggests heading back. Eazy comes back alone, and we hear Clare asking a producer if they could hurry it along. We get some quick shots of Clare with various Guys Who Aren’t Dale, and each of them is just interrupting each other, and it’s basically an SNL sketch.
We get our fifth super-awkward moment of the night as Clare is chatting with Jay. She’s telling him she wants a guy who’s going to step up and step out of the box and do what they want, because she’s that way, when Dale steps into the room. He acts shocked — shocked! — that someone is in there, and makes to leave, but then Clare asks him to stay: “Do you want to come on over?” Jay can’t get out of there fast enough. He goes back to the guys and tell them he was interrupted. By Dale. They are not pleased.
Next we see shots of Dale and Clare kissing intercut with shots of the guys sitting around, complaining about Dale. Riley criticizes Dale for giving a “respect brothers” talk and then not actually respecting the other guys.
Chasen says he’ll go interrupt Dale, like it’s a big heroic effort, and this is how we got our sixth incredibly awkward moment of the episode. Chasen walks in on Dale and Clare kissing, opening the door with just enough time for Dale to strike a fake-casual, nothing-to-see-here pose, as though it’s not totally obvious what they were doing.
Chasen asks if he’s interrupting anything, which, yeah, obviously, but Clare says no, and invites him to stay.
For some reason, the smile on Dale’s face as he literally sidles out the door just cracks me up.
Dale rejoins the guys. Riley asks him what was going on, and eventually scolds Dale for giving the “band of brothers” speech, and Eazy is annoyed that Dale keeps going after Clare after giving a speech that he wanted to respect the other guys, and I again wonder if anyone on production can remind the guys the very premise of the show?
Group rose time! Clare arrives with some seriously tousled hair. It looks great, but it definitely looks, shall I say, loved up. (Ahem.) Clare tells the guys she’s loved all her conversations tonight, and there’s a rose on the table, and she has to give it out, and she just seems to internally say “fork it” and gives it to Dale. They say thank you to each other a lot.
Clare leaves, and the guys all descend on Dale. There’s fake applause, sarcastic mutterings of “Congratulations,” and it’s generally unpleasant, and there’s something about it that feels particularly objectifying with regard to Clare. Yes, this is a competition, and the contestants can play dirty sometimes, but even though getting time with Clare is seen as a “prize,” Clare, herself, is not actually a prize; she’s a woman making her own decisions. And maybe that’s why she’s a different sort of Bachelorette. Maybe she intended to play “the game,” but in reality, most 39-year-old women who are single are probably over playing games, and maybe that’s just where Clare is. Maybe she’s used to going for what she wants, and doesn’t feel obligated to wait around for any reason once she’s found it, and while it might not be as fun to watch, I respect her for that.
The guys appear defeated. Back at the room, the guys call out Dale again for saying he wanted five minutes when he actually took 45. Dale steps in it when he says he thinks he’s the “best suited” to spend time with her; the guys seize on this, with Riley ultimately saying: “He believes he’s the best suited man here, and after what happened tonight, after Clare gave him the rose, I think she might think that he is. If that’s the case, her credibility is in question. That’s going to cause some controversy.”
Indeed, Riley. Indeed.
One-on-one date with Zach J.: So, start to finish, this was tough to watch.
It starts normally enough. Clare goes to get Zach J. for their date, and greets all the guys. It looks like she’s really struggling not to just stare at Dale. In an interview Clare says she was pretty much ready to have sex with Dale last night, and it was really hard to hold back, and other than hoping she would have kicked out the camera crew before it got to that point, I’m glad we’re seeing Clare being a modern and experienced woman, who doesn’t have shame around sex. Good.
Meanwhile, in non-Dale agenda items, Zach J. goes into the date excited. He says he feels like a kid on Christmas Day. Clare perceives his energy as nervous, and it’s off-putting to her. Because there is literally nothing to do other than what can be offered at the La Quinta Resort, the date is a “spa day,” where Zach J. has his first pedicure, and Clare applies an avocado mask to his face.
Back at the dude ranch, the guys are in the pool, complaining about Clare’s obvious preference for Dale. They drag him a little bit, say it’s not fair, and they complain about Dale getting “extra time,” and at this point I would love it if someone could point out that none of these guys are actually entitled to time in the first place. Zac mentions the rumors that Clare and Dale had been in touch through social media before filming started, and I actually kind of hope that’s true, because it would put their initial meeting — and her preoccupation with him — in perspective.
Clare and Zach J. have taken their spa date out to the pool, and Clare’s dog is also there. Clare tells Zach J. that they should go get ready for dinner, and as they’re getting out of the pool, we have our seventh incredibly uncomfortably awkward moment of the episode. Clare leaned in for a kiss, and Zach J. didn’t seem to reciprocate immediately. He just sat there frozen, and at the last minute, Clare stopped just centimeters from his face. I thought my TV had paused, but then Clare pulled back, laughed it off a little bit, and continued making her way out of the pool.
Zach J. seemed surprised, and immediately tried to get the moment back. It got kind of physical pretty quickly; he actually put his hand on her throat to try to guide her face back to him, and then her stomach, and I can see what he was trying to do there, but she clearly didn’t want it. There was some back and forth of Zach J. asking what happened, and Clare saying it’s fine. Zach J. really did get in her physical space, and at one point while Clare was talking, he put his hand behind her neck and tried pulling her toward him, which is a move I wish guys would just stop doing altogether. Clare clearly didn’t want any of that.
Back in her room, Clare says that Zach J. made her feel uncomfortable. She says she went in for the kiss, and he didn’t, and then when she tried to walk away, he grabbed her. It scared her, and she didn’t want to be near him. He should have let her walk away. She says she might be more sensitive about it because she’s been traumatized in the past, and has worked hard to heal from that, but in any case Zach J. shouldn’t have gotten so physically in her space like that.
Zach J. is sitting at a table set for two, alone, sweating bullets, maybe because it’s the desert and it’s hot, but also maybe because Clare hasn’t shown up yet. Instead, we get Chris Harrison, who tells Zach J. that Clare isn’t coming to dinner. Zach J. looks like he’s about to cry, and he says there was a misunderstanding. Chris tells Zach J. that he’s going home.
I’d really like to hear your take on this whole thing. Here’s mine: Do I think Zach J. intended to scare or intimidate Clare? No. Is it possible she wasn’t actually intimidated and is looking for a reason to send a guy who is not Dale home? Maybe. Do I think this is an example of a man thinking he’s acting appropriately when he actually isn’t, because society has constantly reinforced that guys have the right to take up whatever space they want without considering the impact on those around them? Yes.
Final Group Date: It’s a roast. Yes, a bunch of non-comedians will attempt to put on a roast. As Bachelor Nation knows, this hasn’t been a good idea in the past. At least this time we get Margaret Cho! Who Joe, the anesthesiologist, is genuinely excited to see! Joe says he’s Korean-American, and he’s known about Margaret Cho his whole life. She’s a legend, and he doesn’t want to let her down. Aw. I like Joe. I hope he doesn’t let her down either.
The guys say they are glad to be on a date that has nothing to do with Dale, and this is approximately 23 seconds of foreshadowing, because they are promptly told that a roast needs an audience, and that audience will be the guys not on the group date. Including Dale. This seems like the appropriate level of burn for a roast date.
The roast itself is an ongoing stream of jabs at Dale, or at least that’s what it’s edited to look like. Bennett — the loafer-wearing Harvard graduate — went after Dale especially hard, and Clare was increasingly uncomfortable. Eazy says it looked like Bennett really landed some of his verbal punches, and Riley praised Bennett for saying what the rest of the guys had been wanting to say. Clare looks increasingly troubled, and even Margaret Cho described Bennett’s roast as “hostile.”
Clare says that if some of the guys are picking up on the relationship between her and Dale, it’s because, well, she likes him: “That’s the whole point. Are you new here?”
Also Clare: “Hate on! Hate on. You can’t hate on love though.”
And here’s another reason why I like Clare: She delivers good lines that feel both prepared and sincere at the same time. Her lines are good for TV, but they also seem to carry some earned emotional weight behind them.
Post-roast, Eazy and Dale are talking. Eazy tells Dale he got burned, and Dale says he owns it, that he can see why he had it coming. In what was actually a pretty nice heart-to-heart, Eazy tells Dale that sometimes it feels like Dale doesn’t respect the other guys’ time, and he comes across as wanting to portray a persona, and that Dale should show more empathy. Dale says he’ll own it, but that he wants to move forward.
Back on the group date, Clare spends her one-on-one time with each guy essentially asking them to explain why they hate Dale. None of the guys like this, and maybe they should have thought a bit more strategically about it — like, if you don’t want to talk about Dale, don’t talk about Dale. I’m just saying, maybe if they hadn’t focused so much on Dale in their roasts, Clare wouldn’t want to talk about it on their date.
In the end, Clare gives us our eighth and final extremely awkward moment of the episode, when she gives the group date rose to … no one! She says that she did not get what she needed from the guys, and that she has a lot to think about, and she’ll see them tomorrow at the Rose Ceremony. As Clare walks away with a producer, we hear her say this: “I really don’t think I can sit there and go ‘You dished on my fiancé so hard,’ like, I can’t be doing that! Like it doesn’t feel right.”
Fiancé! She just referred to Dale as her fiancé. Wow.
In an interview, Clare gives the rose to herself, and delivers this truly amazing speech: “Clare, thank you for showing up tonight. I just want to let you know that I’m so proud of you for being bold, saying how you feel, speaking up, living your truth, and showing up for me. You, tonight, deserve this rose.”
The guys from the group date complain and complain and complain, and Kenny, the boy band manager from Chicago, says “If you want to get crazy, let’s get [forking] crazy,” and did he just try to do a version of the Dad from the movie Us?
So, this isn’t the episode where Clare “blows up” The Bachelorette. But it certainly feels like she’s lit the fuse.
Next week, on The Bachelorette: Tears! An anguished Clare! Some angry dudes! A very, very serious Chris Harrison saying she’s “blown up The Bachelorette.” And … TAYSHIA!
Programming note: ABC obviously isn’t going to air the next episode on Election Day, so the next Bachelorette episode is set to air next Thursday, Nov. 5.