The Bachelor season premiere recap: Just a guy from Missouri
Holy cow, it's season 26 of The Bachelor, rose lovers. Maybe it's just me, but this premiere felt like a major throwback: The show is back in the mansion after four Bachelor/Bachelorette seasons away; the Bachelor himself is once again a big ol' hunk of bland man-meat; and producers are back to casting so many identical-looking blondes that when I try to tell them apart, I feel like I'm going insane. Do they seriously expect us to believe that these are four different women?
I don't think so.
Welcome to week one of Clayton Echard's "journey." Let's recap!
We begin with a moment that every parent dreams of: The day your adult child comes home and announces that he is going to look for a wife on reality TV. That said, Kelly does seem happy for her boy.
Congrats, mom. From there, we cut to Casa Bachelor, where producers have secretly replaced the original host with
Folger's Crystals another tall white man.
Apparently, this man was once a football player, but I'll always think of him as the Bachelor who called the wrong name at the rose ceremony 21 seasons ago in 2004.
Let's not spend much time on the Get to Know Clayton segment. The relevant bullet points: He's 29; he "believes" in the "process"; he's from Eureka, Mo.; he has very white teeth; and he, too, used to be a football player. The only shocking moment came when Clayton managed to say that he is "just a Midwest guy" who "doesn't really like the spotlight" with a straight face. Rose lovers, when I tell you I cackled…
Before we move on to this season's women, a few points of clarification. When Jesse Palmer says he's never been to the Bachelor Mansion before, it's because the series didn't shoot there until 2007. Also, when Jesse Palmer claims that "so many men and women have met their soulmates right here," he's exaggerating. The actual number of Bachelors and Bachelorettes who have met their soulmates at Casa Bachelor is… [quickly adds up all the non-Paradise marriages since 2007, then subtracts divorces]… 5! Six, if you count JoJo and Jordan, who aren't technically married yet, but they've been engaged for eons.
Let's meet Clayton's potential wives!
Shanae, 29 (Recruiter from Sycamore, Ohio)
With only 840 people in her hometown, Shanae needs to look elsewhere to find a mate — and Clayton will do! "I'm very competitive getting what I want, whether it's a man or a card game," says Shanae. "I want it, I'm gonna get it." Well honey, I hope you want the villain edit, because you're for sure gonna get it.
Gabby, 30 (ICU nurse from Denver, Colo.)
This former NFL cheerleader-turned-essential healthcare worker is ready to seduce Clayton with her "goofy" humor.
"I can't wait to meet him and touch him," she gushes. "He's just so muscly." That he is, Gabby.
Rachel, 25 (Flight instructor from Clermont, Fla.)
After six years in flight school, Rachel is on a mission to find a husband.
"I don't know that much about Clayton," admits Rachel, "but he has really nice teeth." That he does, Rachel.
Daria, 24 (Law student from Baldwin, N.Y.)
Daria is in her fourth year at Yale Law School, and she also has very traditional ideas about gender roles. She likes Clayton because "he looks like the type who is a protector, a provider, and a family man, which is all really attractive." If you say so, Daria!
Susie, 28 (Wedding videographer from Virginia Beach, Va.)
When she's not recording weddings for posterity, Susie studies jujitsu. The former beauty queen says she's "a little bit wild," so we've got that to look forward to rose lovers.
Elizabeth, 32 (Real estate advisor from Denver, Colo.)
This "confident," "gregarious," and "driven" woman has a career she loves and the money she needs to live an independent life. Now all she needs is her "person."
Teddi, 24 (Surgical unit nurse from Highland, Calif.)
Here's yet another successful young woman who has everything she wants in life… except a mate. Teddi is a virgin, but she wants us — and her mom — to know that if she makes it to the Fantasy Suites, she's going in.
"I definitely want to wait until I'm in love to have sex, just because I have waited this long," she explains.
Salley, 26 (Spine surgery robot operator from Charlottesville, Va.)
Yes, Salley's chyron says "previously engaged," but that ain't a job, and I refuse to equate this woman's existence with her relationship history. For the purposes of this show, however, Salley's heartbreak is all that matters: She recently called off her upcoming wedding due to a "lack of trust in the relationship." And when I say "recently," I mean really recently.
Girl, WHUT? No. Just no. Over the next commercial break, why don't you take some time to rethink your decision to participate in this show. Perhaps you'll come to your senses. Cut to:
Yes, Salley has just shown up at Clayton's hotel room to let him know that she's an "emotional wreck" and isn't sure she can go through with this reality TV dating show thing. "This weekend has been extremely hard for me," she tells the Bachelor. "I was supposed to get married yesterday. Part of me is being pulled home, but I didn't want to fully come to that decision until I met you."
The proper response to this is, "Thanks for telling me, Salley. Obviously, you need more time to heal emotionally before you embark on another serious relationship. Let me walk you to the Self-Elimination SUV." Instead, Clayton does this:
Oh, FFS. Come ON, Clayton. You don't have to do EVERYTHING the producers ask you to do! The Bachelor gives this whole speech about how he "shut off for years" after his last serious relationship, so he understands what Salley is going through. Still, Clayton wants Salley to stay because he feels like "there's potentially something there" between them. Dude, what? Because you held her hand for 3 minutes on a hotel couch? Because like you, she looks like she was carved out of cream cheese? Get it together, pal!
Salley is torn. Though she was dead set on going home before this conversation, now she feels a "connection" with the Bachelor and isn't sure what to do. "I want to accept it so bad. I do," she frets, before heading outside to call someone (her mom? her bff?) for advice. After some tearful deliberations with a producer, Salley makes the right choice. "I want to accept that rose, but my heart is just not in the place where I can," she tells Clayton.
Though he's disappointed, Clayton thanks Salley for her honesty and walks her to the door. "That was tough," he says. "The first rose I have given out as the Bachelor was rejected... This is not the way I was hoping to start my journey to find love." And that's exactly why the producers had you offer her the rose, buddy!
Whatever, get in the limo, Clayton. Your "journey" is about to begin. Send in the limos!
Sarah, 23: This wealth management advisor from New York City kicks things off by giving Clayton a "little tiger token." For the sports impaired among us, this is because both Clemson University (Sarah's alma mater) and the University of Missouri (Clayton's school) have football teams dubbed the Tigers. Okay, that's cute. I'll allow it.
Lyndsey W., 28: Blonde. An industrial sales rep from Houston. Um… that's all I've got.
Genevieve, 26: This bartender from Los Angeles says she's "so nervous" and goes in for two hugs. Clayton seems into it.
Ency, 28: "I'm half-Persian, half-Korean," says Ency, a sales manager from Burbank.
She concludes her introduction by giving Clayton a nice message in Korean: "I would love to find a friendship with you that develops into a romantic love." Bilingual? She's definitely too smart for this guy.
Susie the wedding videographer is next, and — bless her heart — she zaps Clayton with one of those good old-fashioned joy buzzers, the kind you'd find at a magic shop. "Did you feel the electricity between us?" she asks, laughing. Here's hoping Susie breaks out a Whoopee Cushion at the cocktail party!
Claire, 28: This spray tanner from Virginia Beach decides she's just going to "wing it" with her introduction to Clayton — because what she originally had planned was "really cringey." Probably a good choice, honey.
Serene? Is that really a name? I guess so. Anyhow, love her dress, love her smile, love those earrings.
Teddi the 24-year-old nurse is next. "You are beautiful," gushes Clayton. He continues gushing as she walks into the mansion. "I don't even have words for her. Teddi, you make me feel some type of way!" Okay, looks like we might have a First Impression Rose contender, folks.
Tessa, 26: Aww man, look how confused poor Clayton looks when Tessa, a human resources specialist from Connecticut, explains to him that her name is "asset" spelled backwards.
It's not a riddle, dude!
Lindsay D., 27: Another nurse! Did Clayton tell producers he has a thing for caregivers or something? "When I found out you were going to be the Bachelor, I was so excited," says Lindsay, a very blonde woman from Jacksonville, Fla.
Daria the law student arrives with a rose necklace (her last name is Rose, and she would like a rose), and then… wait a minute. Clayton, what are you doing? You're not supposed to be inside the mansion yet!
He's just SO happy to be here, guys. Back to the limo exits!
Kate, 32: "You are a tall drink of water," coos this real estate agent from Lake Hollywood, Calif. (Lots of women seem to be leading with the "Wow, you're tall!" observation.) Kate has an idea for how she and Clayton can get over their nerves: "If we each hold one of my nips." Then she reaches inside her dress, and…
Oh, those nips! Good one, Kate. Also, props to wardrobe for figuring out how to stash mini-liquor bottles in that low-cut halter dress.
Sierra, 26: She's a recruiting coordinator from Texas, and she's also a sci-fi fan. "Don't freak out, but I'm your wife," she informs Clayton. "I just got back from the future, okay? You end up choosing me anyways, so do you just want to get out of here?" Dating? Where Sierra's going, they don't need dating.
Inside, Lyndsey W. — the blonde who didn't make much of an impression out of the limo — is worrying that Clayton will never remember her. Outside, women are hoping to prove her right. Meet Melina, 27:
Lyndsey calls the moon shoes a "questionable decision," but hey, at least Melina's GIF-able. We've reached the "wacky entrances" portion of the evening, rose lovers!
Hailey, 26 (another nurse!) hands Clayton a jar of pickles to open for her. Jill, 26 — an architectural historian from Rhode Island — arrives carrying an urn.
"These are the ashes of my ex-boyfriends," she says. "I brought them here just in case you make the same mistake." Ah, who doesn't love murder humor?
Marlena, 30 (former Olympian), throws a penalty flag out of the limo window and then penalizes Clayton 15 yards "for being so fine." (He LOVES it.) Jane, 33 (social media director) drives up in a vintage car. "I've been called a cougar once or twice," she purrs, as the chyron flashes "33" for her age, complete with a little "ding" sound effect. "But I like to consider myself vintage, like a classic car."
SHE IS 33-YEARS-OLD, PEOPLE. Sometimes, I'm almost able to forget that this show is a crime against women, and then some obnoxious crap like this happens. Even Clayton seems confused. "She's a cougar?" he asks, perplexed. No, sir, SHE IS NOT.
Hold up — who is this foxy single?
Meet Holly, 63. She thought tonight was the season premiere of The Senior Bachelor (a.k.a. The Bachelor: Old AF), but no such luck. Fortunately, she's brought along another woman who is a bit more age appropriate: Rachel the flight instructor!
Ivana, the 31-year-old bar mitzvah dancer, gives Clayton the silent treatment. Literally. She doesn't say hello, she doesn't tell him her name, she just blows him a kiss and walks inside the mansion.
It's a high-risk, high-reward strategy. We'll see if it pays off. (Spoiler: It does not.)
Kira, 32, shows up in a doctor's lab coat with nothing but red lingerie on underneath. Mara, the 32-year-old "entrepreneur" from New Jersey, says she's "a little spicy and a little saucy," while Rianna, 26 (another nurse!), shows up wearing a cowboy hat. "Originally I was gonna, like, ride a horse up here," she coos in her Texas drawl. "But then I was like, why don't we save a horse, and you can ride a cowgirl!"
Also, this happens:
I'm assuming that's a German sausage? Gabby, the nurse with the "goofy" sense of humor, arrives bearing a pillow emblazoned with a photo of Clayton: "I just want to sit on your face!" (Surprised this made it by the censors, tbh.) Elizabeth the real estate advisor smacks the Bachelor in the butt with a little whip, and Hunter, 28 (HR specialist) arrives with a special friend in tow.
That poor snake really wants to get the hell outta there.
Next up is Samantha, 26, an occupational therapist from San Diego. No limo for her; instead, she's wheeled up the mansion's flagstone driveway in a gold bathtub.
Get the poor girl a robe — nights are chilly in the California mountains!
Cassidy, 26 (an executive recruiter from LA) also eschews the limo and rides up to Clayton in one of those mini motorized trucks. What happens next is reminiscent of Michelle's premiere, when Daniel the firefighter rode in on a toy fire truck, and he was quickly followed by another fireman, PJ, who showed up in an actual fire truck.
Shanae's here, everyone! Now the party can start.
Clayton almost makes it through his opening toast ("To new beginnings, to stepping out of our comfort zones, to growing together…") without a blunder, but then he spills his drink on himself. "That was not planned," he chuckles, blushing. The ladies LOVE it. "It was just so endearing the way he spilled the drink," says Hailey in her little baby voice. "Clayton seems so sweet."
The first one-on-one chat goes to Susie, and it features some of Clayton's favorite phrases: "I cannot believe this" and "I'm just a guy from Missouri" and "this is so out of my comfort zone." Susie says she's an "out of the comfort zone kind of girl," so perhaps they'd be a good match.
Elizabeth is next, and she's got a small, black-and-white photo of her great-grandparents with her. "There are so many things that had to happen for them to meet," she tells Clayton, before handing him the nearly 100-year-old picture. "I wanted you to hold on to it as a symbol of, everything in this life happens for a reason." First of all, Elizabeth: No, it doesn't. Second of all: How are you just handing this century-old family heirloom to a total stranger?
Oooh boy, here comes Teddi. She claims that even before she knew Clayton was going to be the Bachelor, she singled him out while perusing Michelle's men on The Bachelorette. "I'm like, 'If [the Bachelor is] this guy, I'll be really happy, because I think he's really cute and he has such a kind smile,'" she allegedly told her sister.
Clayton just LOVES it. "There's just something about you," he says. "I'm so happy that you're here." The poor guy is completely tongue-tied around her. "This is wild, but… I think, um… yeah." Just kiss her, you dope.
The two of them are still smooching when one of the contestants (Cassidy? Rachel? Hailey? I dunno, she's blonde) notices and alerts the other women. Shock and dismay ripple through the group. "Oh my God!" "They're kissing!" "Someone stop them!" Only Clare seems unfazed: "Game on, bitches!"
That's right. Time to tamp down what's left of your pride and go for it, ladies. Paging Dr. Love!
After performing this "physical," Kira announces the results in a weird, semi-robotic monotone: "I have good news, you do have a heart. Now let's see if we can make it beat a little bit faster." She leans in for a kiss, and while it's not as passionate as Clayton's smooch with Teddi, the other women are still very displeased.
With that, the scramble is on. Every woman there wants to be the next one to swap spit with the Bachelor. Eliza asks Clayton in German, and he obliges. "Du bist ein gutter küsser," she giggles. (That's "you're a good kisser" in German.)
Cassidy gets a smooch, too, after falling out of her mini truck during a race with the Bachelor. Spray tanner Claire lures Clayton outdoors for a little tailgate party, complete with chicken wings, a cornhole game, and a cooler of beer — but her plans to lock lips with the Bachelor are foiled when Mara interrupts.
The entrepreneur gestures to the bowl of ranch dressing next to the wings and says, "When you're done with that sauce, come to me so I can give you some real sauce." Claire tries to ignore Mara, but the situation is just too awkward for Clayton. Mumbling something about a "rematch," the Bachelor walks away with the lady in red.
When Claire gets back to the living room, the ladies ask her how her chat with Clayton went. "Not the vibe," she says, shaking her head. "He's 100 percent too nice for me." Claire's fellow contestants are shocked — shocked! — by this announcement. They simply cannot fathom that someone does not want to marry a man who has been hand-picked for them by reality television producers. Can we get a medic to check on Ency — it looks like her head is about to explode!
And Claire's not done trash-talking the Bachelor. "He sucks," she drones. "I can't be with, like, [bleeping] America's sweetheart… I hated him." It doesn't take long for all of the other women to hear (or hear about) Claire's complaints. Do I really need to tell you that one of them runs off and tattles to the Bachelor?
Man, first Salley rejects Clayton's rose and now Claire is walking around shouting that she hates him? If I didn't know any better, I'd say maybe producers overestimated this guy's appeal. Anyhoo, it's time for Clayton to go grab Claire from the living room and get to the bottom of this slanderous mystery. He's all, "Um, do you hate me?" and she's all, "I mean, no, but we're not compatible," and then he's all, "Cool, lemme walk you out." (I'm paraphrasing.)
Having kicked Claire to the curb, the Bachelor returns to the main room and addresses the assembled ladies. "I don't think it's fair to have somebody here who doesn't want to be here when there are so many phenomenal women in this room," he says. When no one else raises their hand to leave (LOL), Clayton resumes his cocktail party courtships. Genevieve and Clayton bond over their parents' loving relationships, while he and Rachel have a flirty chat about travel and frequent-flier miles. But the First Impression Rose goes to…
Called it! Congrats, Teddi.
Tink! Tink! Sorry, ladies, but Jesse Palmer just rang the champagne flute signal with his Butter Knife of Bad News. The sun may be coming up, but you have miles to go before you sleep. Rose ceremony roll call!
Serene, Susie, Eliza, Rachel, Ency, Sarah, Kate, Cassidy, Elizabeth, Kira, Shanae, Sierra, Mara, Marlena, Genevieve, Melina, Gabby, Jill, Lyndsey W., Hunter, and Tessa join Teddi in the Circle of Safety™. And that means it's time to say goodbye to Hailey, Ivana, Jane, Lindsay D., Rianna, Samantha, and Daria. (And you know what really sucks? None of them are likely to get a spot on Paradise — but Claire probably will.)
In a brilliant move, the ceremony ends with Tessa raising a toast to "the most supportive and beautiful group of women I've ever met in my whole life" — and then that segues into a "this season on" supercut, featuring all sorts of fighting, name-calling, crying, and bleep-heavy outbursts.
We made it, rose lovers! And I have questions for you: Were you disappointed or pleasantly surprised by night one of Clayton's "journey"? Does it bug you that the show has (apparently) already given away the final three women? Thumbs up or thumbs down on Jesse Palmer? And finally, WHERE IS THE SNAKE GOING TO SLEEP? Post your thoughts below!
Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.