The Bachelor recap: Retail therapy
Rose lovers, I am honestly stunned. This week, The Bachelor went to Austria — and yet there was no mention of the Von Trapp family, nor did they make a pilgrimage to Salzburg for a Sound of Music-themed date. On the plus side, though, Clayton put his remaining women through some long-overdue psychoanalysis. Oh, and he chose his final four.
It's still nighttime in Croatia when the episode begins. As you may recall, Sarah is about to make her triumphant return to the ladies' hotel room clutching her date rose. And Mara is, in a word, irked.
"Something was brought to Clayton's attention in efforts to tear our relationship down, but to be honest, it only made it stronger," Sarah announces to the group. "It's no one's place to tell Clayton what they think I am ready for, and I hope that you can tell me who brought this to him."
At first, no one says anything, though Mara can't stop herself from smirking and rolling her eyes. Finally, she fesses up ... kinda. "I talked to him about how I felt about my situation, and that it was wild to me that one person got two one-on-ones, when two people have not gotten a one-on-one," she says. "And that's that … I've been here since day one ready for an engagement. I don't know what you're here for."
Sarah retaliates with what is, unless I'm mistaken, a blatant lie: "Clayton identified this as a last-ditch effort by someone who feels like they're going home." Uh, he did? I just went back and watched the end of last week's episode and … no, no he didn't. He acknowledged that Sarah's second one-on-one might have put the proverbial target on her back, but that's it. In fact, it was Sarah who labeled it a "Hail Mary" during her tearful confessional.
Anyhow, it has the intended effect on Mara. "That's great," she scoffs. Sarah stalks off, victorious, crowing about how Mara will soon be in a "middle seat" on a flight home, drinking "cheap wine" as she heads back to the "Jersey Turnpike." Ah, nothing like the snobbery of an inexperienced 23-year-old New Yorker. (And as a former inexperienced 23-year-old New Yorker, I would know.)
When the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party rolls around, all of the women are anxious that the tension between Sarah and Mara will cause "drama." And they're not wrong! But first, Clayton's about to do something very sweet for Serene:
Yep, that's a jar of "fireflies" in honor of Serene's cousin, who passed away. "It's really just an honor that she's here with us as we go on this journey and build these memories," says the Bachelor. Awwww, that's really cute, and Serene absolutely LOVES it: "I think I'm falling in love with Clayton." Not much else of note happens during the cocktail party, until this totally impromptu confrontation between Sarah and Mara — which just happens to unfold in this nicely-staged area outside.
Mara, you see, is still smarting from Sarah's crack about a "last-ditch effort from a woman who's going home," and she's not going to let it go unanswered. Mara informs Sarah that her comment was "insensitive and a little ignorant," and accuses her of acting "as if Clayton's, like, a trophy to be won." Sarah looks perplexed, and she flat-out denies Mara's next complaint, which is that Sarah at some point dismissed the other women as "in-between" filler. "Confidence is great," adds Mara. "Overconfidence is not cute — and that's kind of where you're headed … It would behoove you to take a little step back in your comments."
Of course the other women are eavesdropping. Producers wouldn't have it any other way. And you know what? The women are Team Mara. "Last night, we all felt uneasy about the way Sarah presented things," notes Rachel. "It did kind of seem like it was her and Clayton against the house."
Clink! Clink! Clink! Looks like Jesse Palmer is here with his Butter Knife of Bad News. Sorry to all the ladies who didn't get to speak with Clayton tonight. Rose ceremony roll call: Susie, Serene, Gabby, and Genevieve join Teddi, Sarah, and Rachel in the Circle of Safety™. Look, I'm not surprised that Mara's getting the boot, but Eliza, too? Ridiculous. But it's probably for the best. Eliza is a radiant, bilingual queen who can do a lot better. She didn't even get an exit interview! Sometimes, I just want to punch this show in the face.
Cue Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik, rose lovers — Clayton and his harem have moved on to Vienna. (That reminds me, I need to watch Amadeus again — such a good movie.)
Susie gets the first one-on-one date in Austria. If the other women feel jealous now, just wait until they find out that Susie's on her way to … the Pretty Woman date! It's time for the conspicuous consumption montage.
Dang, those dresses by Austrian designer Eva Poleschinski are very pretty. Take a shot every time Susie says this date is "like a fairy tale"! (Actually, don't. You'd end up hospitalized.) "If ever there was a moment to celebrate you for being the individual that you are, that's what today is about," says Clayton. Susie is so overwhelmed by the experience she gets a little teary-eyed. "I just feel like today just brought us so much closer," she gushes. "He made a point to tell me what he sees in me and that is why I think it meant so much."
When Susie arrives back at the hotel laden with bags of free loot, the ladies simply cannot deal.
"I'm so jealous," moans Gabby. "Her date sounds like my dream scenario." Soon, a bellman walks in with cherry on top of the envy sundae: The gorgeous red Eva Poleschinski gown that Susie tried on earlier in the day. "I feel like a princess for real," says Susie. It's true — she looks amazing.
The limo whisks Susie away to the Schönbrunn Palace, where Clayton is waiting for her outside. At dinner, Susie admits that she almost feels uncomfortable with such lavish pampering. Both of her parents came from "humble upbringings" and their struggle has instilled in her a need to be independent, financially and otherwise. Clayton reiterates how wonderful he thinks Susie is, and then the inevitable happens:
Congratulations, Susie — you've made it to hometowns. (And if my instincts are correct, the final two.) And now, rose lovers, it's time for what may be the most ludicrous/amazing moment in Bachelor franchise history:
Yep. The Bachelor flew 73-year-old singer Chris de Burgh to Vienna so he could perform his 1986 hit/crime against music "Lady in Red." Fortunately for Susie and Clayton, they're too busy smooching to hear the song itself.
The final group date before hometowns is here, and much to Genevieve's chagrin, she's on it — along with Sarah, Teddi, Rachel, and Gabby. In a first for this show, the date card quoted Sigmund Freud ("How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved"). When in Vienna, ladies, do as Freud did and get on the damn couch! And here to help is a lovely Austrian psychoanalyst whose last name I'm not even going to try to spell.
Thanks for skipping the chyron, Team Bachelor! We'll just call her Dr. Katherine for now. She informs the ladies that Vienna is the birthplace of Sigmund Freud and the "hometown of modern psychotherapy." It's a practice that's all about "unveiling the deepest layers of fears, emotions, anxieties" — in other words, it's just like reality TV. Dr. Katherine will lead a "couples therapy session" with Clayton and each of the women, in order to weed out who is the hot messiest of the bunch.
The intro has the intended effect: All of the women are freaked the eff out. "I've never been to therapy, for a reason," admits Genevieve. "Because I don't like talking about things that make me upset and crying." That's a shame. But hey, at least you don't have to go first. Gabby, you're up!
Clayton praises her for "becoming more vulnerable emotionally" over the past few weeks. Gabby begins crying as she talks about a past time in her life when she wasn't as able to access her emotions, due in part to her relationship with her mother. Though her mother's love felt conditional, Gabby says her dad has always been very supportive and loving. "So what you need is a very stable relationship," says Dr. Katherine. Clayton believes that he can give Gabby the security and stability that she needs.
Teddi goes next. Unfortunately, we don't get to see Dr. Katherine ask her any questions. ("Tell me about your childhood, Teddi … like, last week.") Genevieve looks miserable when it's her turn to sit on the couch. "I don't like talking about my feelings," she says. "So I try to kind of put it off as much as I can." Dr. Katherine urges her to express her feelings, but poor Genevieve simply can't do it. "Um … F--- … I think … [wipes sweat off palms] … I think …"
Eventually, Genevieve says that it's hard to talk about her feelings because she often doesn't even know what they are or understand them. Dr. Katherine wants to know what Clayton can do to help her Open Up™, but Genevieve does not have an answer. "I didn't want to ever put pressure on you because I understand how challenging this entire environment can be," says Clayton. "But I mean, hometowns are next week, and I've really wanted to get, like …" Genevieve finishes his sentence for him: " … to the point of feeling comfortable doing that?"
Yes, pretty much. Clayton ends the session and asks Genevieve to join him outside for a private talk. "It's really hard for me to see meeting your family when I'm not able to see what is inside the walls," he says gently. Cut to:
Alas, it's auf wiedersehen for Genevieve. "I have some stuff to work on, that's for sure," she says through her tears. Don't worry — you'll get there, lady. No pressure, Rachel, but you're next!
"It's been really difficult," she tells Dr. Katherine of the "journey." Still, Rachel says she trusts that Clayton will make the "best decision" for him. Clayton loves to hear it, but he's also a little worried that the pressure of watching him date other women will be too much for Rachel to handle.
Back in the holding pen, Sarah is talking about how excited she is for her turn on the couch. "I love therapy because I like talking about my problems to someone," she chirps. "And my connection to Clayton is really good." Once again, Gabby's face says it all, and then some:
Same, girl. As soon as Sarah sits down with Clayton and Dr. Katherine, she starts going on and on about how therapy is a big part of her life, and how she uses it as a "tool" to examine herself and find ways to "be better." Blech. Naturally, Dr. Katherine is armed with some button-pushing questions from producers ("Have you ever felt judged by Clayton or some of the other girls?"), and Sarah full-on takes the bait.
"This past week has been really hard on me," she sniffles. "Some people were insinuating that I just think I'm absolutely getting engaged at the end … It's really, really hurtful, you know?" Clayton says he feels "really good" about where he and Sarah stand, since they "pushed through" the drama last week.
Dr. Katherine, though, has a different take. When all the sessions are over, she gathers Clayton and the women and thanks the ones who shared "honest" emtions. "Some of them were not honest," she continues. "They were … it's called 'performative.'" Clayton is SHOOKETH.
"I think she's a little surprised by what she said," notes Rachel. "But hopefully it's obvious to him … He's going to have questions, and me, Gabby, and Teddi are going to have to be honest."
Indeed, the Bachelor does have questions. "To think that someone is putting on act is very scary at this point in the journey," he tells the women at the beginning of the post-date cocktail party. "So, if there's anything that you all know that I'm not seeing, I would like to know."
Good news, sir: The women are happy to spill the tea. Rachel offers a tearful account of the night Sarah came home from her first one-on-one date and shared a few too many details with her and Teddi. "She told us the details of the whole day, and [saying], 'We have this connection,' and that you guys were crying together," says Rachel. "Me and Teddi were like, I don't know how we're ever going to, like, get there [with him]."
Clayton's response is hilarious: "She said I cried?" The Bachelor says it's a "shock" to hear because "there's no truth to it." By now Rachel is full-on crying, whimpering about how it seems like Sarah is "manipulating" the other women in an effort to get them to "pull away." Gabby confirms Rachel's account, saying that "this has been going on for weeks and no one's brought it up." (Editor's note: Except Mara.) And Teddi makes three, informing Clayton that at times, Sarah's boasting made her feel like there was no point in sticking around.
The Bachelor does NOT love it. He summons Sarah for a come-to-Jesus talk. "I've been hearing that women in the house have felt uncomfortable and wanted to leave, based on what they were hearing [from you]," he says. "They felt that that there was no chance … Like, you and I had this extremely strong connection where, like, I had already made my decision."
I don't need to tell you what happens next, rose lovers.
Sarah cries and says she's been "thrown under the bus" and the other girls are just jealous that she got two one-on-one dates. "I've been a sounding board for them," she sobs. "I've listened to them when they've cried, and I've celebrated with them when they were happy. But then when it comes to me, I'm not allowed to feel anything!" She even pulls out the "I've thought about leaving" card, too. Blah blah blah… Waah waah waah…
And then, rose lovers, a miracle happens.
Holy crap — Clayton didn't fall for it! For once! Thank you, Dr. Katherine, for teaching him what "performative" means before it was too late. "I'm just gonna be real with you," he says. "I really feel like you were trying to fake-cry to me. It didn't feel genuine at all … And I think we're done." Correct!
Even a last-minute plea outside of the Reject SUV doesn't save Sarah from this unexpected humiliation. Hope those lashes are sweat-proof, honey — it's real humid in Paradise.
Once he sends Sarah packing, the Bachelor returns to the other women and says he simply cannot hand out a date/hometown rose tonight — which makes sense, since he didn't talk to Teddi, Gabby, or Rachel about anything but Sarah. "I want to make sure that I'm taking the time to make the right decision," he explains.
Part of that time, at least, will be spent on the last one-on-one date of the week. Please welcome… Serene!
After a carriage ride through the city and a snack of roasted chestnuts, Serene and Clayton waltz with a strategically placed Adorable Old Couple™ in the town square.
Dinner is a grand affair at Belvedere Palace. If this date feels a bit rushed to you, that's because it is! We've got about 20 minutes left in the episode at this point — and we still have a "very" "dramatic" rose ceremony to get through. They talk for a bit about meeting the parents — the last guy Serene brought home was her high-school boyfriend, LOL — and discuss past relationships. With that, there's just one more hurdle left to clear before Serene gets a hometown dates rose.
"Wow," replies Clayton. "I cannot tell you how happy that makes me to hear that." They smooch for a bit, and then he presents Serene with the rose. Congrats, girl! (Also, you can do better.) As a final touch, Clayton and Serene kiss in front of Gustav Klimt's classic painting "The Kiss."
Who says this show is lowbrow?
The time is upon us. Rose ceremony roll call! And your final four are: Susie, Serene, Rachel, and — oh for Pete's sake, Palmer, we know it's the final rose tonight! — Gabby. Which means, rose lovers, we must say goodbye to Teddi, the surgical unit nurse who at one point seemed like a frontrunner. Clayton walks her out — straight to the Reject SUV. No Bye-Bye-Bench chat for poor Teddi, folks.
"I was not expecting that tonight," she tells us. "It sounded like it was me from our last conversation … I do want to be someone's first choice, and I deserve that." Damn right, girl. And you're only 24 — trust me, all is not lost. Holy cow, next week is hometowns, rose lovers! Real, travel-to-different-states hometowns! Before you log off, please indulge me by answering a few questions: How surprised were you that Clayton sent Sarah home? Who do you think will get the boot after hometowns? And should we all file a class-action lawsuit against ABC for getting "Lady in Red" stuck in our heads? Post your thoughts below!
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