Clayton and the women head to Croatia, where Mara accuses Sarah of being too young for marriage.
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4. Season 5 (Jesse Palmer)

It was a big week on The Bachelor, rose lovers! Clayton threw Shanae into Niagara Falls (metaphorically), and we finally learned why Sarah made this cry face…

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This is literally my slack icon.
| Credit: ABC

…and it has nothing to do with Clayton's "I was intimate with both of you" confession.

Let's recap!

When we rejoin the two-on-one date between Genevieve and Shanae, the boat ride around Niagara Falls is over, and the trio have moved on to the Awkward Picnic portion of the day.

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Genevieve, Clayton, and Shanae
| Credit: ABC

The Bachelor pulls Genevieve for a one-on-one chat first. "This week has been tough," she says, before her voice chokes with emotion. "Being vulnerable is not easy for me… But I'm really trying. My feelings are growing every day." Genevieve apologizes for seeming "distant" at times, and she tells Clayton that she's "all in" and "here to find love." The Bachelor seems reassured by this, and the two of them smooch for a bit. (If they talk at all about Shanae, we don't see it.)

Meanwhile…

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Shanae fondles the rose
| Credit: ABC

Not so fast, toots. When it's Shanae's turn to sit down with Clayton, he starts the conversation by asking her to explain how things are going in the house after her "apology" to the women. Naturally, Shanae just starts bad-mouthing Genevieve, saying it's hard to trust her, that she's "two-faced" and gives off an "actress vibe." I should add that Shanae is basing all of these statements on this whopper: "Last night, I overheard her saying that she's wanting to go home, that she wanted to pack her bags. Did she mention that at all?"

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Clayton is confused (again)
| Credit: ABC

Oh great, now Shanae's turning on the waterworks, crying about how hard it's been "being single for five years," and how she's never been in love. This little performance is intercut with Shanae bragging in her confessional about how she made herself cry on cue. "I was like, 'C'mon, Shanae! Cry!' And I did!" Rose lovers, that's how we know things are about to go south for Shanae: Producers know that if Clayton kept her around after viewers saw her openly mock him for buying her crocodile tears, we'd lose what little respect we have for him.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Even though Clayton probably already knows what he's going to do, producers needed some dramatic footage for their promos — so when the Bachelor sits down with the two women, he poses this question to Genevieve:

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Rude.
| Credit: ABC

Of course, Genevieve is stunned. "Uhhhh…. whoa," she stammers. "No, I'm not an actress… Is there any reason that that question is asked? Because honestly, that really shocked me." Rather than ratting Shanae out, Clayton sighs in frustration — "I don't even know what to say" — and then steps away to excuse himself. Though producers may have been hoping that Genevieve would lay into Shanae for her BS as soon as the Bachelor left, instead she sits in stony silence — knowing, perhaps, that an outburst would only serve her rival's purposes.

Of course, Shanae can't help but poke the bear. "To be transparent, I did tell Clayton I overheard you yesterday," she says. "I thought you were going home." Genevieve remains calm, bless her, and does her best to disengage from the conversation. Oh good — Clayton's back! Buddy, just put us all out of our misery and hand out the rose already.

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Clayton and Genevieve canoodle by the falls
| Credit: ABC

Thank you, reality TV gods. Now for the best part of all: Watching the rest of the women celebrate after the Suitcase Ninja takes Shanae's bag away.

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Gabby gets her drink on
| Credit: ABC

As always, Gabby is a MOOD. And Marlena's toast is perfection: "Cheers to finally curing the herpes outbreak!"

Onward and upward, rose lovers. When Clayton arrives at the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party, he's very pleased that the women are in a bubbly mood. "I heard a lot of singing on the elevator on the way down," says the Bachelor. "That's very encouraging… Cheers to a great night."

Sarah pulls Clayton first, and gushes about how "real" her feelings for him are. Then they smooch for a bit. Speaking of making out…

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Rachel and Clayton get busy
| Credit: ABC

Could somebody please get the hose? Rachel and Clayton are at it again.

Though we're six weeks into this "journey," we haven't really seen much of Mara. But that changes tonight, rose lovers! "I've been waiting and sitting patiently," she says. "I'm ready to show him more and more of me." To that end, when it's her turn to sit down with Clayton, she comes prepared… with poutine!

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Carb-tastic!
| Credit: ABC

Just as the Bachelor is swallowing his first bite, though, in walks Serene. "Damn, that was hella quick," sighs Mara. Fuming, she gets up and walks out, managing to hold her tears in until she's out of Clayton's earshot. "I'm a grown-ass woman, I know what I have to offer, and I came here to find love," she says, as Marlene comes to comfort her. "I came here for love, and I'm so tired of this!"

Hang in there, mama. I don't really see any chemistry between you and Clayton… but your "journey" isn't over yet. 

Rose ceremony roll call: Sarah, Serene, Susie, Teddi, Eliza, and Mara join Gabby, Rachel, and Genevieve in the Circle of Safety™. This means we must say goodbye to Hunter and Marlena — boo! "I'll find love when it's my time," says Marlena sadly. Damn right, woman! (Would love to see you on Paradise… but would also love for you to just go live a wonderful life off-camera, away from this ridiculous franchise. I'm torn.)

Anyhow, on to Hvar, Croatia! Damn, it's beautiful.

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I want to go to there.
| Credit: ABC

"There is literally a castle right there!" squeals Serene. "It is frickin' beautiful." Quick question, though — what the hell is Sarah wearing?

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Is that... a shirt?
| Credit: ABC

Pssst… honey! You forgot to put a shirt on over your lacy bustier!

Once the women are all settled at an outdoor café, Clayton arrives to pick up his one-on-one date… Teddi! Sorry, Mara, but looks like it's another group date for you this week. "It's super discouraging, week after week, for him to grab another girl," she says. "And some of the girls are more girlfriend material." I suppose she means, "girlfriend" as opposed to "wife"? Either way, I think it's pretty clear at this point that Clayton, 28, is unlikely to choose anyone older. Almost all of the frontrunners — Susie, Rachel, Teddi, Eliza — are his age or younger. (Except for our 30-year-old queen, Gabby.)

But I digress. As soon as Clayton picks Teddi up for her date, it starts raining. Still, they have a grand old time strolling around, stopping in shops, and exploring the city. It's all pretty blah, but Teddi informs us via voiceover that she has something "big" to tell Clayton — so let's just skip ahead to the Open Up™ dinner.

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Teddi tells all
| Credit: ABC

Okay, girl. You do you. Teddi explains that her mom had a baby in high school, and so growing up she felt a lot of "pressure" to stay celibate. Now that she's an adult, though, Teddi has decided that she's ready to have sex — but she wants to wait until she's in love. Clayton's all, "I would have never known!" which is, of course, a supremely stupid thing to say… but that's our boy, isn't it? The Bachelor also wants to know if Teddi is prepared to be "fully vulnerable" during this "process" — especially since she's never been in love. Of course, Teddi says yes, and she wants Clayton to rest assured that she is "allowing [herself] to fall." Cool, cool — let's move things along, folks.

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Clayton smooches Teddi
| Credit: ABC

Knock, knock, knock! There's an Accent Table of Doom at the door! Back at the women's hotel suite, Mara is praying that her name will not be on that group date card, and it's not — until the very end. She'll join Serene, Rachel, Susie, Gabby, Eliza, and Genevieve on the next group date, which means Sarah is getting her second one-on-one date. Mara is understandably discouraged.

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Mara is sad
| Credit: ABC

"It's just hard to be hopeful in this moment," she says through tears. "He's literally going for the youngest girl in the house, who I couldn't imagine is actually ready to get engaged."

After a good night's sleep, though, Mara heads into the group date with a positive attitude. "Today, I'm gonna go big," she says, "because I'm sure as hell not going home." Well, that's not up to you, honey. It's up to this badass:

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Katrina the knight
| Credit: ABC

That's Katrina, and she's a Croatian knight. "For centuries, Croatian women have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with men, fighting for virtues such as honor, dedication, bravery, and above all, purity of heart," she informs the contestants. Today, Katrina has planned a series of "quests" for the women to prove their worthiness as wives. Suit up, ladies!

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Are you not entertained?
| Credit: ABC

The competition starts with feats of strength, in which Mara and Susie both excel. ("There's, like, a savage within me," chirps Susie.) Rose lovers, I wish I could tell you that this date did not include a gross Fear Factor food challenge — a la the Vikings date on Michelle's season — but it does. Pig's liver, cow's stomach, baked brains, and fish eyes. "There was a lot of vomiting, a lot of dry-heaving, some gagging," notes Mara, who seems totally unfazed by the grotesque buffet. "The only competition in the food challenge was Serene." Indeed, here's Serene downing some fish eyeballs:

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Serene drinks in some fish juice
| Credit: ABC

Clayton is impressed. "That's a true warrior," he marvels. For the final portion of the date, the women must kneel in the town square and declare their love for the Bachelor. Mara whips up a little poem for the occasion ("I cook, I clean, and I'm great in bed/ Come on, Clayton, use your head") — but she is thwarted yet again when Serene is crowned the challenge winner.  

With only nine potential wives left to choose from, Clayton is starting to think about the upcoming hometown dates. That night at the cocktail party, he kicks things off by asking Rachel if she feels ready to introduce him to her family. "I truly think you don't even understand how I feel," she coos back. "I am falling for you so hard… I would love to bring you home to my family." And he LOVES it.

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These two need an ice bath.
| Credit: ABC

Blech. Get a room, you two.

The cocktail party continues without incident, until it's time for Mara to sit down with the Bachelor. She's openly frustrated that Clayton keeps giving roses and attention to younger women who Mara believes are not "in the mindset to be a wife." And tonight, she's gonna do something about it.

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Mara runs her mouth
| Credit: ABC

Oh yeah, rose lovers. Mara comes in hot. "You've been adamant about saying that you're looking for a wife, and looking for children and long-term," she says. "But the roses that are given out, the one-on-ones that are given out, don't reflect that. And to see that somebody is getting a second one-on-one, where I have yet to get my one?" In other words, Clayton, you are "directing your attention" to all the wrong women, and Mara is 1-800-OVER-IT.

The Bachelor is stunned, and possibly a little scared. "Okay," he says carefully. "What is it specifically about these women that, like, you know that they're not here for a marriage?" he asks. Mara says some of the women have said as much out loud (things like, "I couldn't even picture myself being engaged in two months") and others are, in her opinion, too young. Clayton's all, "Uh, Sarah's young — do you mean her?" and Mara does not deny it: "She's definitely one of the people that I would think is maybe not fully ready," she says.  

The conversation ends with Clayton thanking Mara for her honesty and assuring her that he'll do "due diligence" as he continues his wife hunt. The conversation does not end, however, with a kiss or any other evidence of chemistry between them, because Clayton is just not that into her. Case in point:

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Rachel gets another rose
| Credit: ABC

Congrats on the date rose, Rachel. Mara, honey, everyone can see that this man is not your "person." Please just accept it and don't do anything rash.

Uh-oh…

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The Bachelor gets a mystery invite...
| Credit: ABC

Crap. Is Mara trying to finagle her own after-hours one-on-one date? That would be super awkward. Oh, never mind — it's just Susie the Secret Savage. "Sarah's about to go on her second one-on-one, and now I'm feeling insecure about losing him," she explains. "I have to do something at least just to tell him how I feel." Hence the clock tower rendezvous.

As they stand on the balcony looking over the city, Susie confesses to Clayton that she's been having a hard time watching him "make connections" with other women, and as a result, she's been putting up "walls." But Susie says she's done being an emotional mason, and tonight she's here to tell Clayton one very important thing: "I do feel as though I'm falling in love with you." And you know what, folks? He LOVES it.

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Susie and Clayton smooch at the clock tower.
| Credit: ABC

"This might be the happiest I've been since I've been on this journey," he says. "Tonight, she told me everything I needed to hear."

Skipping ahead to the next night, Clayton is hanging around waiting for his one-on-one with Sarah to start. Or maybe they already had the day portion of the date and it was so boring producers just cut it completely? Either way, suddenly Jesse Palmer shows up, and Clayton fills him in on everything Mara said about Sarah maybe, possibly not being ready to get married.

Palmer wants the Bachelor to know that he totally gets it. "You're scared," he says. "I was scared during my journey around this same time… Trust in yourself, and trust in your heart that you're going to make the right decision." Dude, haven't you been paying attention? Clayton never makes the right decision! Anyway, Sarah's here now. Let's listen in…

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Clayton needs some answers.
| Credit: ABC

"It was brought to my attention last night by someone that people here may not be ready for what it is that I'm looking for, and that it's not possible for them to be engaged by the end of this journey — and you were the person that they were speaking of," says Clayton gravely. "Do you see it as a very real possibility that you could be engaged by the end of this?"

Sarah is shocked — shocked! — that someone would dare suggest that she, a 23-year-old with eyelash extensions and Instagram Face, might not be ready for a life-long commitment.

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Tears. So many tears.
| Credit: ABC

"I really could see a future with you," she says, as tears begin streaming down her face. "I want you to just, like, know in your gut that I'm nothing but honest with you... I've shown you, like, sides with me that I don't normally show to people. And it really is because you really are special to me."

Okay, okay, we get it, Clayton gets it, everybody gets it — you're "ready" to be "engaged." The Bachelor apologizes to Sarah for upsetting her, and says he just needs a moment to think things through. As soon as he's gone, Sarah breaks down again, and then runs around the corner to cry in the arms of a producer.

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Three guesses, genius.
| Credit: ABC

Oh, I don't know, honey — maybe the woman you called a gap-toothed cougar during the roast date last week? The one who ended her roast by calling you a "stupid bitch"? Perhaps you should start there, Sherlock. Sarah assumes it's someone who is "questioning their relationship" with Clayton. "It's a bitch-ass move," she sobs. "Why would you do that to me?"

Eventually, both Sarah and Clayton make it back to the table — and yep, she's still crying. "I just can't help but feel, like, [it's] interesting timing for someone to bring this up," she whimpers. "Like, right after I am getting a second date… I'm scared of losing you and losing this." Don't worry, Sarah. Look what happens next!

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Sarah and Clayton
| Credit: ABC

"This is a strong connection," says Clayton. "And I can tell that you're pouring in everything that you have into this."

With that, Sarah takes her rose and her tear-stained face back to the women's suite, where they're all assembled in the living room waiting to see what happens. Unfortunately, they'll have to keep waiting because…

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Again! Ugh.
| Credit: ABC

Sigh. Before you go, rose lovers, a few questions: Have you already forgotten about Shanae? What do you think is the acceptable minimum age for marriage? And would you mock me for predicting that Rachel and Susie will be the final two? Post your (spoiler-free) thoughts below!

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