The Bachelor recap: Discomfort zone
Holy whiplash, rose lovers! Sarah's edit on The Bachelor has really taken us on a "journey" this season. When we first met her, she was presented as a Nice Person Dealing with Her Dad's Tragic Illness. Then this week, she spent most of the episode as the Crazy Clingy One Who Doesn't Realize What She Signed Up For™… only to exit the show as the Bullied Sad Girl. It was a lot.
After a cold open featuring an asinine moment from Matt and Serena P.'s date — Get it? Asinine? Because their kiss was interrupted by a donkey??? — we get back to the rose ceremony drama from last week. "I'm blacking out. Like, I can't see," murmurs Sarah, huddled behind the couch. Matt takes her for a walk outside to get some fresh air, while the other "ladies" fume.
"Sarah got herself so worked up all night that, like, physically she could not handle it," gripes Anna. "And now she's having, like, this really pure and intense moment with Matt." Adds Victoria, "This is The Bachelor, not The Sarah Show — but Sarah didn't get that memo." (Oh honey, the pot called to let you know… you're black!) Anyhow, let's finish up the rose ceremony roll call. The last five roses go to: Khaylah, Mari, MJ, Anna, Kaili, and…
Blech. Sorry Marylynn, but if Matt's the kind of guy who will let producers talk him into keeping "Queen" Victoria around for three whole weeks — well, let's just say you can do better. Also saying goodbye tonight: Alana, Sydney, Kristin, and Illeana. Farewell! I was almost able to remember your names without looking them up here.
The next morning, Chris Harrison arrives in his rustic plaid shirt, and he has an announcement: Matt wants all of the "ladies" to feel uncomfortable this week! What a fun, not-at-all obnoxious theme for everyone to enjoy. To that end, the Bachelor has allowed Harrison to "curate" several activities that will take people out of their comfort zones. Gird your loins, Rachael, Bri, Lauren, Kit, Serena C., Victoria, Khaylah, Anna, Kaili, and Katie — it's group date time!
Just a quick question: What is Matt wearing?
Is he auditioning for a remake of The Brady Bunch Movie? Or is this fashion? I truly have no idea.
I've got to give it to producers — the introduction to the group date activity is kind of brilliant. When the women walk inside, Bachelor Nation mascot Ashley I. is on stage reading a steamy passage from Chris Harrison's debut romance novel, The Perfect Letter. (Perhaps Team Bachelor got the idea from this video, which Harrison shot for Yahoo! Entertainment when I was the editor in 2016.)
Though I was really hoping the "ladies" would have to read other erotic excerpts from the novel, in fact, they have to write their own sexy "love story" about Matt. During the writing montage, most of the women opt for romance-novel level titillation ("a shiver traveled up her naked spine"), but Victoria goes for full-on smut:
Dang, girl — you kiss your Trump flag with that mouth?
Once again, the "studio audience" consists of the remaining women who aren't on the group date. (Gotta say, it's a smart move on the producers' part — it gives them reaction-shot footage and foments more drama among the sister wives!) Sarah, for one, is not happy about having to listen to the other "ladies" read their sexual fantasies about Matt aloud. "This is going to be so brutal," she moans. "It's like such a wake-up call and a reminder, like, 'Oh yeah, he has these relationships with other women.'"
The Bachelor goes first — this show is an equal-opportunity humiliation machine, after all — and boy, does he know how to turn a girl on.
Is it hot in here, rose lovers? Welp, it's time for the "ladies" to do their thing. Anna goes first, with a Fantasy Suite tale about "breasts" and "excitement" and "the full package." Bri's story involved rubbing "earth" on Matt's "rock hard muscles"; Kaila's envisions Matt "pushing her against a wall" in front of "spectating eyes"; and Khaylah's bleep-heavy story is so naughty it even makes Chris Harrison squirm.
Ooof, I really did not need to hear about how Rachael's "groin immediately fluttered with desire." (Can groins flutter? Don't answer that.) It should come as no surprise that Katie, the woman who brought a giant vibrator on night one, has written a story so explicit, practically every other word is bleeped. Plus, she ends her performance by simulating a loud and boisterous orgasm. The other women are, in a word, shooketh.
And it's only gonna get raunchier. By that, I mean, it's Victoria's turn. Her reading is rife with bleeps and gasps from the women in the audience, but there are plenty of genuine laughs, too. (I'll admit, "He screamed, 'Yes, Queen!'" was pretty funny.)
In general, the "ladies" seem to have a good time. "My cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing so hard," says Rachael when the readings are over. "That was such a fun group date." Oh, did I say the women had fun? Sorry, I meant, everyone but Sarah, who felt that the experience was "like a knife through my heart." Even though she knows intellectually that being on The Bachelor means competing with other women, the reality of it was too much for her to handle.
Sarah continues stewing in her feelings of jealousy and insecurity even after the date is over. She doesn't even come down to the sitting area with the other women for the ceremonial reading of the date card. (Congrats, Serena P. — the next one-on-one is yours.) Peiper rightfully calls out this behavior as ridiculous: "You can't really be in denial. People are going to keep getting dates, you know?" Yep.
Uh-oh, rose lovers. Sarah's on the move. She's… yep, she's about to crash the post-group date cocktail party. (With the assistance, no doubt, of someone on the crew who pointed her in the right direction.) Apparently, Sarah needs to inform the Bachelor that when he pays attention to other women, it hurts her feelings. This is sure to go well.
Sarah barges right in and interrupts Matt's conversation with Katie.
Today's group date was "a lot to process," Sarah says, adding that being on the show has been "harder than I expected." Back in the holding pen, the "ladies" are irritated. "It's disrespectful," whiles Victoria. "It's incredibly annoying," adds Khaylah. Katie agrees, and so she decides to walk back in there and reclaim her time with Matt.
"Are you guys done?" she says, addressing Sarah directly. "Can I get my time back?" Sarah asks for five more minutes, so Katie goes to wait it out about 10 feet away. It's unclear how long Sarah and Matt have been talking when Katie interrupts her interrupter a second time. "I'm just checking back in, trying to get my time on my group date," she says. When Matt doesn't take charge and end the conversation — come on, bro! — Katie just sits right down on the couch next to them. You know what, rose lovers? I absolutely respect that flex. [Screams into the void for 3,491st time about Bachelors who sit like silent lumps while women bicker right in front of them.]
At long last, Sarah rises to leave — but first she wants to go apologize to the other women on the group date for infringing upon their time. "There was just, like, something weighing on my heart," she explains. "I just wanted to be the bigger person and let you know that I'm here and apologize." Do the women accept her apology? Let's go to the videotape.
Survey says: Hell to the no. "The damage is already done," replies Kaylah. "Couldn't you have said this at another time?" Kit adds. "Chris Harrison said everyone's getting time this week," Serena C. reminds Sarah. So yeah, the apology does not go over well, and Sarah leaves in tears. Victoria follows her outside (no doubt at a producer's urging) and chides Sarah for changing the "vibe" of the date for the other women. Oh look, now Katie's here. She's all, Unless you showed up to tell Matt that you're going home, kindly back the eff off. "I'm annoyed, I'm exhausted, I'm pissed off," Katie huffs.
Now that Sarah's gone, everyone can enjoy the rest of the evening, right? Wrong. Even though Matt has yet to talk to several of the women, including Serena C. and Anna, he decides to call it a night and hand out the date rose.
Congrats, Rachael. Sorry everyone else.
On to perkier pastures. Serena P., please slather on some butter gloss and report to the living room. It's time for your one-on-one date. First though, Matt — sporting his second turtleneck of the week — wants to talk to all of the "ladies" about what happened with Sarah on the group date. "She's not here," the women tell him. "We haven't seen her." Oh no, Matt, please don't leave Serena P. waiting while you go provide more aid and comfort to Sarah. Please think about how bad that will make your date — not to mention all the other women you're dating — feel. Please?
The Bachelors never listen to me, rose lovers. Instead, Matt finds Sarah in her bed and cajoles her to come join him for a chat in the other room. He says it would be a "tragedy" if she left early, because their connection is real. "I will continue to remind you how much I care about you," he says. "I have real feelings for you." And Sarah LOVES it. "That was so sweet and so comforting," she coos. "This relationship is really real."
Meanwhile, the other women are just stuck waiting on the couch, and they're getting angrier with each moment that passes. "I think it's rude and now it has been longer than five minutes, and it's Serena's date," says Victoria. "It's been way too long," snipes Jessenia, rolling her eyes. Finally, finally, finally, Matt returns to whisk Serena P. away for a romantic picnic with a donkey.
"Hey buddy, you're really killing the mood," giggles Serena, though you can tell she's actually annoyed. "I'm gonna smell like donkey after this!"
Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself. Matt and Serena P. begin with a bit of horseback riding through Nemacolin's bucolic grounds. Then they sit down in the middle of a field and share a makeshift charcuterie board while talking about their families. Serena P. reveals that her dad was very against her coming on the show, because… well, she doesn't really explain why, but it's not that hard to understand. After all, how many parents would actually want their child to compete for a spouse on television? (Except Barb, of course.)
One other notable highlight from Matt and Serena's conversation: Matt had a pet turtle when he was a child, which Serena thinks is "weird." Huh? How is a pet turtle weird? Obviously, Serena has never read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.
Over dinner, Serena reveals that she's not a "casual dater" and has in fact only ever had one serious relationship. "I thought he was going to be it," she says. "I was wrong, and the breakup was one of the lowest points of my life." As for Matt, he says the last relationship he had lasted about four months — but he wasn't really feeling it, so he ended things. "I was only looking to date somebody if I was gonna marry them," he explains. And here's another fun fact about our Bachelor: He's never been in love before. But hey, there's a first time for everything — and why not do it on TV?
That aside, Matt and Serena seem to have a flirty, giddy chemistry. He thinks her energy is "infectious"; she thinks he's someone she could fall in love with. You know where this is going, rose lovers.
And with that, the Bachelor dons his cute turtle swim trunks and makes out with Serena in the hot tub.
Knock knock knock! It's the third date card of the week at the door! The "ladies" are all gathered in the sitting room as instructed — all but Sarah. "The fact that she's hiding and she's not facing the mess she made is more telling than anything to me," says Anna huffily. But lo, just as Rachael is about to read the date card, who sneaks in but Sarah. "Can I squeeze in?" she whispers, taking her place on the couch. MJ, for one, is not about to let Sarah's absence slide.
"We didn't know where you were! And after what's gone on, Sarah, I was worried about you," she says angrily. "And I don't know how to feel right now." Once again, Sarah apologizes for crashing the group date, and for holing up in her room for so long. "Yesterday I was planning on going home because I was really overwhelmed by this process," she continues. "And I wanted to talk to him about that."
Victoria begins openly scoffing at her rival ("Nobody knows you"), and Abigail pipes up to offer this critique: "If you don't want to be here, then why are you taking someone else's rose who does want to be here?" (Can you imagine being the person who pissed off sweet-as-pie Abigail? Yikes.) Anna balks at Sarah's claim that things have been "hard" for her — she's all, Bitch, you had a one-on-one and extra time with him! What are you whining about?
It definitely becomes a bit of an unfair pile-on, but Sarah doesn't do herself any favors with her "I was thinking about leaving" argument. "If I talked to him every time I felt insecure, no one would be having time right now," Anna retorts. The women keep harping on Sarah for a few more minutes, and then Kit strikes the final blow: "I hope that your connection with Matt is very strong right now because the rest of your living situation here is going to be horrible."
Was Sarah being needy and a little annoying? Yes. Did the women have the right to share their frustrations with her? Sure. But did things need to go from "airing of grievances" to "flat-out mean girl bullying"? No, no they did not. "I just feel so, like, emotionally beat up," sniffles Sarah.
The next morning, Sarah is up in her room crying when Katie — no doubt prompted by producers — knocks on her door. She wants Sarah to know that she did not like how the women treated her last night. "For me, that was hard to watch," she says. "I did not like that at all." Still, Sarah has her mind made up: "I've decided I'm going to leave." It's not just that the women were mean to her, she says. "I haven't really opened up to you about the situation with my dad," says Sarah. "He has a terminal illness." Being away from him right now — when he may just have weeks to live — is just too hard.
Hearing this, Katie begins to cry. Knowing what Sarah's going through "changes everything," she says. "My dad passed away in 2012, so I 100 percent encourage you to be with him," says Katie, as tears stream down her face. "I missed out on my goodbye to my dad, so I would never want that for you." Awwww, give her a hug already!
See, rose lovers? All it took was a little kindness — the way Katie walked in that room and began a conversation without judgment — and Sarah was finally able to be honest about why she's been acting so nutty. "Matt deserves the best, and I just don't feel my best," says Sarah, before heading off to give the Bachelor the bad news.
As for Katie, she rejoins the "ladies" and informs them that Sarah is on her way out. "She has a really big family thing as well looming over her," she says, and then offers a somewhat self-righteous "reminder" to her fellow contestants: "Stay classy in this process because we don't know [each other's] stories."
Hmmm… I wonder how things are going with Sarah and Matt right now.
Oh, boy. Just when it seemed like Sarah was going to exit gracefully, she decides to throw the other women under the proverbial bus on her way out. "I was just, like, completely attacked by so many of the women in the house, and I just feel like I'm not welcome," she says weepily. "Some of the women in there are just really cruel and malicious, and it's, like, really hard for me."
Matt reiterates how "real" his feelings for her are, and how "hopeful" he is about their relationship, but Sarah has her mind made up. "I've prayed about this and I've thought about it, but I just feel really called to go home and be with my family," she says. "I just don't think I'm ready for this." The Bachelor is disappointed but understanding. "When you're ready, some guy is gonna be extremely lucky," he says. "I'm bummed that it's not me, but I've learned so much from you already."
With that, Matt walks Sarah to the Escape SUV and sends her off with a hug. Then he stares pensively into the distance, perhaps trying to remember how many potential wives he has left.
Pssst… buddy: It's 18. You have 18 women left — for now. Next week, five more "ladies" arrive, and Anna thinks one of them is a call girl. Should be fun! Before you sign off, rose lovers, let me know your thoughts. Do you think Sarah will come back? (I hope not, for the sake of her mental health.) Are Matt and Serena P. a good fit? And why is this the first time we got to see a Bachelor or Bachelorette with hiccups? (These people drink champagne all the time!) Post your thoughts below, and I'll see you back here next week.
The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC