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‘The Bachelor’ recap: Pool party politics

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Oh boy, rose lovers. This week on The Bachelor, our man Joey faced his first “she said, she said” test — and while he didn’t fail outright, he also didn’t send the guilty party packing.


Let’s recap!


“I’m not someone who loves drama,” Joey announces as the episode opens. “To even hear the word ‘bully’ scares me.”


Wait, who called who a bully? We’ll get to that. But let’s back up and start from the beginning. The week opens with host Jesse Palmer, in one of his many cozy sweaters, rolling up on the Bachelor mansion to give the women the rundown for the next few days. They should know the drill by now: Two “very fun” group dates, and one “very romantic” one-on-one date. (Just once, I’d like Jesse to say, “This week, there will be two awkward and embarrassing group dates, and a one-on-one date where you won’t be allowed to eat and you will have to dance about four feet from a singer-songwriter you’ve never heard of.” Dare to dream.)


Group date no. 1 goes to Edwina, Kelsey A., Lexi, Allison, Madina, Chrissa, Lea, Sydney, and Maria. Maria thinks her “big misunderstanding” with Sydney — about whether or not Maria was “age-shaming” Madina last week — is all in the past, but it’s not for Sydney. “It really sucks to be on a date with Maria,” she grouses. Still, the vintage store owner says she’s going to “make the best of it.”


The ladies head to the High Street Arts Center, where they’re greeted by Joey and these Golden queens:


The ASKN ladies arrive on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



Kathy makes the big announcement: “There is no better way to help this fabulous man find Mrs. Right than to have… a pageant!” Sorry, ma’am, but I’m going to have to disagree with you there. The women have one hour to prep for the pageant, which will consist of the “Lazy Sunday Chill Loungewear” competition, the interview portion, and the talent competition. Sydney, for one, is excited, because she competed in the Miss Massachusetts Teen USA pageant in 2012. Yeah, that tracks.


The Mrs. Right Pageant kicks off with the Sunday Chill Loungewear competition — which should absolutely replace swimwear in all pageants going forward. Everyone looks cozy-cute, and Maria gives her walk a goofy twist by throwing her (not actually smelly) sock at Joey. April kicks off the interview portion with a question implying that Joey’s, uh, equipment might stop working in 30 years’ time. “Hey!” says the Bachelor, mock offended.


Joey’s man-bits work fine, thank you very much.

ABC



Calm down, buddy! It’s just a hypothetical. No big surprises during the interview portion. (Is it wrong that I was hoping someone would pull a Miss South Carolina?) The talent competition, however, does feature some highlights. Edwina sings a song she wrote for Joey, and she’s quite good. Maria busts out some dance moves, and Chrissa makes a few dying-moose sounds on the trumpet. Sydney, who reminds us again that she’s been in a pageant before, scoffs at all these efforts and believes she’ll blow Joey away with her talent. What’s her talent, you ask? Um… yelling.


Sydney gets shouty on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



I guess it’s supposed to be some kind of cheer, but no one seems inclined to clap. “That was hilarious,” says Edwina, giggling. “Sydney was just going to blow our minds away, and that’s what she did.” Next up is Lexi, who announces that her talent is being “the world’s best kisser.” I think you can see where this is going, rose lovers…


Lexi shows Joey her talent on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



The other women do NOT love it — but who cares? They’re not the ones choosing the pageant winner. Indeed, Lexi takes the crown and the sash. “I gave Mrs. Right to Lexi because I felt like she was the one who surprised me,” says Joey. “It was out of her comfort zone, and that’s what today was.”


Joey crowns his Mrs. Right on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



The women are salty. “There are a lot of people that feel that Lexi put less effort but got more reward,” says Lea with a sigh. Girl, he’s looking for a wife, not the next American Idol. Just get over it.


At the afterparty, Joey tells Kelsey A. that he was “blown away” by her pageant performance. “I’m just so excited about you, Kelsey,” adds the Bachelor. “I almost can’t describe it, but it feels so right.” Then they smooch. He says Edwina, meanwhile, is a “great person” who is “so sweet,” and that Allison (the remaining sister) is “extremely attractive” and “fun to be around.”


You know who’s not fun to be around right now? Maria. She sits down with Joey and begins carping at him for giving Lexi the Mrs. Right sash. “Today was actually really hard for me,” she says. “If it was a kissing contest, I would have loved that better, because that’s what you validated today.” Look at poor Joey! He was not expecting to be scolded tonight.


Joey gets scolded by Maria on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



“I’m a little surprised that it was so uncomfortable for you,” he says. “You work a crowd, and you are a ball of energy.” The Bachelor goes on to say that he can be “very low-key” at times and that he needs a partner who can understand and like his mellow side. He doesn’t really address her complaints about the kiss, but Joey assures Maria that there is “obviously” something between them. “I do want to know more [about you],” he adds.


Last week, Madina told us that she was going to talk to Joey about her insecurities about her age (she’s 31, which essentially classifies her as a Paleozoic Era creature in Bachelor terms). We never saw that conversation, so this week, producers have Joey “check in” with Madina about how she’s feeling. “When I talked to you at the cocktail party, you were saying… that you were kind of upset about something that happened in the house,” he says. “I wanted to see if there was something that you wanted to share.”


Clearly, Madina does not want to spend her brief time with Joey rehashing all the stuff with Maria — but she also doesn’t want to avoid his question. “I don’t know,” she says hesitantly. Madina says she wants to be honest with him, but not at the expense of spending more time getting to know him. Still, she summarizes the drama thusly: “The sum of it was my age, and from what I heard, some girls were apparently saying, ‘She’s not even that old,’ which felt, like, invalidating. Then yesterday, one of the girls came up to me and was mad that I wouldn’t tell her who told me [about the comment]. If I had to describe it, I felt like I was being bullied.”


Madina says it almost jokingly, with a tone that says, “This is so silly,” but Joey is immediately on high alert. Not the b-word! He asks Madina if she’d be comfortable revealing who made her feel that way, and God bless her, she declines.


Madina’s lips are sealed on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



Yes! Normalize not tattling over stupid s— on this television program! Still, Joey is quite upset, because now he’s worried that there’s a bully in his harem and he has no idea who it could be. He heads back to the holding pen and launches into the “I’m not someone who loves drama” speech that we heard at the beginning of the episode. “If there’s something I need to know, I need to know it.” He almost sounds angry. Can you imagine making our sweet angel baby Joey angry? For the love of God, ladies, get it together.


Anyhow, Kelsey A. gets the date rose.


Joey has one last thing to say before heading out for the night. “I know there’s things that happen in the house, and I’m the type of person to rise above it and not talk about it,” he begins. “But to even hear the idea of the word ‘bully’ scares me because I am trying to find my forever person.” With that, he exits, leaving the women to stew in their own anxiety.


“What the f— was that about?” mutters Maria under her breath. Madina fills the silence by telling the women about her conversation with the Bachelor. “I told him how I felt about the other night when I was waiting for him,” she says. Then she turns to Maria. “I didn’t refer to you as a bully — I said I felt bullied.”


Maria’s response: “Wait — you referred to me as a bully?” Girl, no. Weren’t you listening? She literally just said she did NOT refer to you as a bully. Pay attention! Maria seems to take no comfort in the news that Madina didn’t even say her name, and she just starts in again: “Can you explain to me how you felt bullied?”


And so, we’re back where we were last week. Maria seems to have a very hard time accepting or understanding the idea that her behavior might have been off-putting to someone else. Rather than take responsibility for hurting Madina’s feelings, she demands that Madina explain her feelings. It’s quite irritating, which might be why Sydney decides to jump in with, “I also felt bullied as well.”


Maria’s all, Zip it, blondie. You’re the one who started this! Eventually, she does manage to offer Madina something close to an apology. “I’m sorry you feel that way,” she says. “It hurt me that something was told to you that hurt you, and I wanted to clear that air.”


Oh, but Maria’s not done. “Sydney, missy troublemaker, you need to stop! You’re making things worse!” Sydney shoots back that Maria is “catty” and she doesn’t want to be friends with her anyway.


“I don’t understand where this is coming from,” Maria says. “I’m so confused!” Sydney decides she’s done contributing to this particular narrative, so she gets up and leaves the room. “Oh, my God, I feel so weird about you,” Maria whimpers. “You’re so weird.” The other women just sit there silently, but most of them appear to be Team Maria. “This whole thing has just been blown out of proportion,” says Allison. “I do not think Maria is a bully.”


Everyone’s still talking about the dust-up the next morning. “Sydney called Maria a bully,” says Edwina. “But she’s not that person… I feel like Sydney is blowing it out of proportion. I’ve seen people who have been bullied, and this is not the case.”


Let’s put a pin in this minor drama and head to the beach, because it’s time for Joey’s one-on-one date with… Jenn! After picking out some surfboards and wetsuits, they head down to the water to surf some waves. Jenn admits to being terrified of sharks (same) and “intimidated” by surfing (same), but she’s excited to try it with Joey because he makes her feel safe.


Before hitting the water, they toast with a beer. “You’ve got to look in my eyes [when we drink],” says Jenn. “It’s seven years of bad sex if you don’t.” Duly noted. (Also, should they maybe not be drinking before trying to surf?)


Joey and Jenn share a surfing smooch on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



Jenn and Joey have a good time on the waves. “When I’m with Jenn she has something about her that gets me feeling very, very giddy,” says the Bachelor. “I think that we just click in a lot of ways.” As the sun sets, they head back to the beach and make out in the surf.


That night, Joey and Jenn head to dinner at… the Hollywood Forever cemetery and funeral home? Um, that’s an interesting choice. I guess producers are just trying to drive home the “til death do us part” aspect of marriage.


Over food they do not touch, Jenn Opens Up™ about her family history. “As a kid, my parents’ relationship got really bad,” she says. “They were just fighting all the time… As a result, I kind of had to take care of myself.” Growing up in that stressful environment took at toll on Jenn, and she says she felt “unwanted” by her dad. “I never really felt truly loved,” she adds. “My dad is not a part of my life anymore.”


Joey expresses sympathy for her, and the Bachelor is pleased to hear that she’s ready to be with a “genuine and good person” like him. They smooch for a bit, and then Joey takes his date outside for the big finale.


Joey pops the question on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



“Marry me? It’s a bit early, don’t you think?” Jenn jokes. No, silly, the light up sign in the sky wants to know if you’ll accept this rose! (Answer: Yes.)


On to group date number two! Katelyn, Autumn, Rachel, Daisy, Evalin, Kelsey T., Starr, and Jess meet Joey at his favorite place in the world: The tennis court!


Joey greets his dates on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



Today, the women will be competing for glory in the first-ever Bachelor Open. Fortunately, they have some experts on hand to help them warm up: James Blake and Pam freaking Shriver. The women clearly don’t know who either of these tennis legends are, but the Bachelor has enough enthusiasm for all of them. “I’m the one fan-girling right now just being next to them,” he gushes. Okay, but why couldn’t ABC spring for a real tennis ball machine? You’ve got Olympic gold medalist Pam Shriver out here using a Nerf tennis-ball cannon made to play fetch with dogs.


Tennis legend Pam Shriver serves up shots on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



Rude.


I suppose it’s all in keeping with the theme of the Bachelor Open, which is just an excuse to make the women attempt to play tennis while dressed up in very silly costumes. The teams are as follows: The Babies (Autumn and Daisy); Hot Dog and Bun (Starr and Rachel); The Beehive (Jess and Katelyn); and Lobster and Butter (Evalin and Kelsey T.). First to five games wins the coveted (?) trophy.


“The women 1,000 percent understood the assignment today,” says Joey. “The outfits are hysterical. They’re owning it, and it’s a good game!” Indeed, the Cry Babies serve up some solid trash talk on the court (“We just drank our formula so we’re ready!”), but Hot Dog and Bun win the first match. Lobster and Butter manage to defeat The Beehive in round two, so it all comes down to a final culinary matchup: Hot Dog and Bun vs. Lobster and Butter. (Great, now I’m hungry.)


Starr and Rachel are in it to win it…


Why does anyone agree to be on reality TV???.

ABC



…but Lobster and Butter deliver a full shut-out, 5-0.


Evalin and Kelsey celebrate on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



The best part of this tournament is that there’s no mean “losers go home” twist; all the women get to attend the after party, which is how it should be. Katelyn sits down with Joey first, and her opening line is… a choice. “I actually need to tell you about something,” she says. “So, I have, like a family curse.”


Ummm… what? Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. All the women in Katelyn’s family, including her mom and her five aunts, are single. (Is that really a curse? Discuss.) Joey, bless his heart, just goes with it. “Why do you think that’s the case?” he asks. “If they’re anything like you, I find it hard to believe that you’re still single.” (Good response, sir!) Katelyn says she’s had a few serious relationships, but she does not want to “settle.” As for her mom, she values her independence. The Bachelor puts a sweet spin on it, telling Katelyn, “It really just sounds like you’re surrounded by strong, independent women, which is kind of amazing.” (Even better response, sir!) This man is a gem.


Next up is Rachel, who greets Joey with a hug… and instantly gets her earring stuck to his sweater.


Rachel has attachment issues on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



Man, it’s really tangled up in there. “We might need help!” Joey calls out to the crew. A producer arrives and helps free Rachel from the Bachelor’s shoulder — and by the looks of it, no earlobes or earrings were harmed in the process. Once they actually get to talk, Rachel tells the Bachelor about her father, who sounds like a first-class gentleman. “I mean, like, my mom’s never touched a door handle, and he’ll just play her favorite song randomly,” she explains. “It’s just really the little things that my dad does, and he has such a gentleness that I see in you.” Of course, Joey LOVES it. They share a smooch, and no one gets stuck.


The Bachelor also has a romantic chat with Kelsey T., and then he and Daisy sit down for the first time since their one-on-one date. She wants to know if Joey has any questions about her cochlear implant or any of the other information she shared with him last week. He doesn’t, so she moves on to her next question: “Do you want to touch it?” Joey’s all, Sure, why not?


Joey checks out Daisy’s implant on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



“It makes me a little different,” says Daisy, to which the Bachelor replies, “No, it makes you special, not different.” (Three for three in perfect responses, my man!)


This time around, Joey doesn’t have to give a scold-y speech before handing out the group date rose. “I really do appreciate all of you,” he says, before offering the rose to Katelyn. Take that, “curse”!


Joey gives Katelyn the date rose on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



Meanwhile, back at the mansion, Sydney is still bad-mouthing Maria. “She’s intimidated by me because I’m the only one who stuck up for Madina,” she complains. Sydney is worried that she’s now “associated” with “drama,” so Lea urges her to use the cocktail party to show Joey that she’s “a graceful, admirable, well-valued woman.” Unfortunately, Sydney interprets this to mean, Tell Joey all about why you think Maria sucks, which she plans to do. “I’m not one to, like, tattle,” says Sydney. “But it’s to the point where it’s, like, crossing the line.”


Look, is Maria a little abrasive? Sure. Does she sometimes fail to strike the right tone when communicating with her fellow contestants? Absolutely. But is she a “mean girl,” as Sydney claims? Absolutely not. This is very much a bitchy pot calling the annoying kettle black situation. And it’s all about to come to a head.


The morning of the rose ceremony, Jesse arrives at the mansion to inform the women that there will be no cocktail party… because Joey wants to have a pool party instead! And not just any pool party. A (promotional consideration provided by) KFC pool party!


Eat the chicken, Daisy. JUST EAT IT!.

ABC



Look, you can’t blame ABC and Warner Bros. for taking KFC’s money — but seriously, what does KFC hope to gain here? Are they angling to increase market share among Instagram girlies ages 23-31? Good luck with that, guys.


Fortunately for Joey, producers make the women do all the performative “OMG I love KFC so much” stuff for the cameras before he arrives. Today, the Bachelor is just looking to hang out with the ladies and have a fun time. Good vibes only! Cut to:


Sydney talks smack on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



And there it is. Sydney pulls Joey aside and tells him that on the group date after he gave his speech about bullying, Maria “instantly” started “attacking” Madina, and that she simply had to say something. “I just, very cool, calm, and collected said, ‘Maria, I think she just thinks you were insensitive to her feelings,’ and then I became Maria’s target,” Sydney reports. “She, like, verbally attacked me and I just sat there.”


Girl, what are you doing? Maria did not “attack” you or Madina, nor did she call you “embarrassing” or “dumb” — which we know because the entire interaction was on camera. Sure, Joey hasn’t seen it yet, but he will. Then again, if Sydney’s goal is to be the villain star of Women Tell All — and possibly Paradise later — then she’s doing an excellent job.


Naturally, Joey immediately goes to find Maria, and naturally, Maria is very upset and disheartened by the accusations leveled at her by Sydney. “You can only take me at my word. I’m telling you no, [it didn’t happen],” says Maria, after an emotional pause. “What I did say to her was, ‘You’re calling me a bully, and now Joey thinks I might be one. Why?’” Maria goes on to say that she’s been bullied in the past, and she would never treat anyone like that. “I just thought the least of my problems here would be the girls in the house,” she continues, her voice shaking. “What I can say is this: Sydney, if you like her, there’s no way you can like me, because we are completely different people.”


Joey doesn’t know who to believe, but he does draw one very astute conclusion: “If I’m being honest, how Maria was talking to me felt more real than how Sydney was talking to me.” You are correct, sir! Please feel free to send Sydney’s pot-stirring butt home!


While this is going on, of course, the other women are just left alone to twiddle their thumbs poolside. “This is the worst pool party I’ve ever been to in my life,” says Rachel with a sigh. “The whole drama between Sydney and Maria I think is kind of robbing some of us of time with [Joey]. So, it sucks.” And what happens next sucks even more.


Tink! Tink! Tink! Enter Jesse Palmer with his Butter Knife of Bad News. The pool party is over, because Joey “needs some time to be with his thoughts before tonight’s rose ceremony.” Sorry, ladies! After he leaves, Sydney has the Caucacity to announce to the group that she had to tattle on Maria because she was being attacked, adding, “I’ve tried to squash the situation with Maria.”


Oh, Sydney must think it’s Opposite Day! Maria correctly points out that Sydney just confused Joey more, to which Sydney shoots back, “This is where we have manipulation, guys.” All the other women just sit there, saying nothing, which is lame. They all know Sydney is full of it — so they least they could do is counter her obvious lies. But no one wants to be Sydney’s next target, I suppose.


What a bummer way to end the week. Let’s get this rose ceremony over with already!


Rose ceremony No. 3 on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



Rose ceremony roll call: Lexi, Lea, Kelsey T., Rachel, Madina, Daisy, Jess, Edwina, Autumn, Allison, Maria, and Sydney (ugh) join Jenn, Katelyn, and Kelsey A. in the Circle of Safety™. Welp, that means it’s time to say goodbye to Chrissa, Evalin, and Starr (who, by the way, I swear I have not seen before this week’s episode). Anyhow, I suppose we should have guessed that Sydney would stick around, because producers aren’t going to miss out on a chance for a two-on-one next week. Preview:


Maria and Sydney head into battle on ‘The Bachelor’.

ABC



Side note, though Evalin was very emotional before the rose ceremony, her exit interview was quite inspiring. “I’m sad to leave, but I have great things waiting for me at home. I have a job that I love, a family that I take care of, and the only thing missing is somebody to share that with… I know my guy is out there, and in order to find him I have to leave.” Hell yeah, honey! You’re gonna be ok.


What a wild leg of Joey’s “journey,” rose lovers. You’d better get your rest before next week, which will feature two (!) episodes, God help us all. Before you go, a few questions: Who are your (very early) picks for Bachelorette? When was the last time you had KFC? And did you ever think you’d see the day when The Bachelor host make fun of himself for announcing “the final rose tonight”? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @KristenGBaldwin.


The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.


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