This week’s episode of The Bachelorette will never die. It is a time capsule. It, like Late-Night Steve Kornacki Thirst Twitter, is a perfect expression of a certain kind of 2020 madness, the sort that comes from spending entirely too much time with only your own thoughts and the social media profiles of 30 eligible men for company. Only three things might have made this episode of The Bachelorette more perfectly suited to this week/month/year/what even is time anymore:
- Canadian Blake storming in on that proposal to say, “I think you’re aboot to make a huge mistake, eh?”
- Chris Harrison suddenly appearing in Clare’s suite to personally administer a fresh COVID test to Clare and Dale so that they might bang with confidence.
- The limo door opens. A pair of stilettos gently touch down on the pristine pavement of the La Quinta Quality Budget Inn And Resort. The camera begins to pan up, but then, BREAKING NEWS, 642 more votes have been counted in Philadelphia; someone wheels sexy sexy Steve Kornacki over to ABC for a quick update on the numbers, and then it’s back to Tayshia. But Tayshia, too, has heard the siren song of impeccable data analysis and adorable tie discomfort, and not knowing that Kornacki is gay, immediately whispers to the camera, “I feel like I just met my husband.”
There was also, thank the stars, food! Let’s get into it.
Nope. No time for that shit! But one of them, at least, had a drink or two.
This is going to be a weird one, because this “unprecedented” episode of The Bachelorette was, like day three of election night coverage, somehow both riveting and very, very boring.
This episode revealed that the rumors about this season are true, which frankly the show itself has been making clear since almost the first week. That renders this two hours of stuff that pretty much anyone watching could have predicted would happen. So, here goes:
Yes, Clare did basically fit two-thirds of her season into one half of one episode. It’s like she decided to have breakfast for dinner, only instead of pancakes and bacon it’s a fantasy suite and an engagement ring.
Yes, Dale did propose to her, despite having known her for about 10 minutes. I assume the timeline of their relationship will live in my brain like this: November 3, Steve Kornacki begins election coverage; November 4, Dale completes quarantine in the scenic parking lot of the La Quinta Spa; November 5, Clare breaks up with the 16 other men she’s dating, none of whose names she’s bothered to learn, and Dale proposes; November 6, Kornacki calls both Pennsylvania and Clare, the latter of whom he congratulates on her first wedding anniversary, and then sleeps for nine weeks.
And yes, we did get a new Bachelorette for the remaining men. More on that last piece in a bit. But first, let’s check in on the first 12 years of Clare and Dale’s marriage.
A few things. But who can blame her for skipping the salad? She was stuffed from having her cake and eating it too.
Who needs coffee when you’re high on destiny? Let’s attempt to move through this courtship almost as swiftly as Clare does. Having watched the footage/listened in as Bryce* climbed on top of a table Norma Rae-style and started shouting “union! union! union!” an out-of-breath Chris Harrison bursts like the Kool-Aid man into Clare’s business suite and delivers the line we’ve seen teased at least 300 times since this season began: “Congratulations, you’ve just blown up The Bachelorette.” He gently—and I mean that sincerely, because Harrison is a next-level host and a world-class fibber—asks her what she wants to happen next, and she replies (I’m paraphrasing), “I don’t give a hoot about anyone but Dale and Steve Kornacki; they both remind me of my dad. I just want to spend as much time with them as I can.”
Her Keurig isn’t even plugged in. She doesn’t need caffeine. She’s got Dale’s nice smell.
* — I don’t think any of them are named Bryce but at this point I have learned two more names than Clare has, and those names are Bennett and Blake. So fuck it, they’re all Bryce until Tayshia meets them next week.
Oh god, the palpable relief I felt when this scene began. Clare goes on a date with Dale. It’s their first date, Dear Reader. Within five minutes Clare will declare her love for Dale. He declares the same, mostly. It’s difficult to tell if he’s surprised but has truly also been swept up in quarantine madness, or if he’s surprised and is now feverishly trying to remember all his lines for the season finale. They don’t eat the hunk of meat, the greenish-orange wedge, or the exuberant napkins.
Then they retire to Clare’s executive cabana, kiss on a bed, and touch butts a lot. The next day, Chris Harrison tells Dale that Clare just “broke up” with Blake, Bennett, and all 14 Bryces, and that he has to propose that very eve.
You know what? Respect to the Bryces. They handled this about as gracefully as could reasonably be expected. Sure, they’re baffled—Canadian Blake in particular just does not get it—but they wish her well, more or less sincerely.
Here’s the thing I want to point out, because the internet is full of people just reveling in Clare’s crazy female ways: I absolutely believe that Clare got twitterpated over Dale via his social media posts, particularly the ones that underline the losses they share, and that some combination of anticipation, quarantine-brain, and pheromones led to heightened emotions and the feeling, at least on her part, that this was all destiny. But none of this happens without the producers. The powers that be must have at the very least strongly encouraged this course of events, and the fact that Tayshia was already there, all quarantined and ready to roll, strongly implies that production maneuvered all these pieces into place. It’s a win-win for them. The vast majority of viewers will fall into one of two camps: They will either buy this love story wholesale, or they will gleefully roll around in the idea that Clare is bonkers, a dickmatized, delusional Bridezilla-to-be.
It’s garbage. Is this a rational decision on Clare’s part? Probably not, but it’s not a rational time, nor a rational show. How is this all that different from a normal season? It’s not. It’s just on 2020 time, which is to say that time means nothing. What Clare has done, essentially, is simply accept the premise of the show at face value. It’s all bullshit, it’s all real, it’s both. Anyone who truly enjoys this show should send her an Edible Arrangement. Put her in the reality TV hall of fame.
Y’all, the rest of this episode is essentially one long “next week on The Bachelorette.” Chris Harrison tells the guys that, hey surprise, they need to
check their total number of Instagram followers search their hearts and decide if they want to stay and continue their respective journeys to find love. If they are, in fact, there for the right reasons, they are politely invited to put on their best ankle-length trousers and shoes without socks and come to the La Quinta Conference Room And Business Center to find out what happens next.
And honestly? This is maybe the most honest this show has ever been. Not one of them is actually there because Clare Crawley was named the Bachelorette. Each and every one of them is there because their agents submitted them and/or they submitted themselves because they want to be on television. Only the poor therapy-date Bryce has any excuse for being peeved, and he’s mostly posturing. The rest of them feebly pretend there’s any chance that they’ll say no, and show up as directed.
Then Tayshia gets out of a car in a hot dress, and apparently walks immediately into a photoshoot for new promo images. And that’s it. We, the men, and their bare ankles will all have to wait for next week.
In the closing credits, a still-engaged Clare makes a salad. Good for you, Clare.
This week, it’s a tie. First, everyone who watched the last season of The Bachelor:
And second, this handsome devil:
Alexa, play “Wind Beneath My Wings.”