It's week two, rose lovers, and things are getting real! (Sorry: "real.") Zach took one lucky lady home to meet his family; a Bachelor Nation alum tried (and failed) to join this season; and two women hashed out their night-one conflict with a surprising lack of histrionics.
Day two of this "journey" gets off to an exuberant start, as the 20 remaining women storm the gates of Casa Bachelor and celebrate their luck with a mimosa toast. Enjoy the camaraderie now, ladies. Also, drink up — Palmer's here.
ABC Wait, who?
What's with the chyron? Did producers think we forgot who this guy is, or that he's almost twice the Bachelor's age? Ohhhhh… I see. They're going heavy on the chyrons to re-identify the contestants, because they know that none of us watching at home bothered to retain anyone's name.
The host drops off the first date card. Brianna, Brooklyn, Katherine, Mercedes, Bailey, Davia, Cat, Genevie, and Kylee, please board the party van. You're going on a group date! The van drops them off outside some kind of soundstage, where this newly minted Grammy nominee is waiting for them.
ABC Latto greets the ladies.
Her name is Latto, and she's up for Best New Artist this year. While I have heard her song "Big Energy" many times before, I would not recognize Latto if I tripped over her. The same can probably be said for many of the women on the date, but of course they all act super excited and talk about how "obsessed" they are with her music.
"What's up, ladies?" says Ms. Latto. "I'm looking for some bad bitch energy today!" Yes, because when I think "Zach Shallcross," I think "man who's looking for a bad bitch." I mean, just look at his dance face:
ABC If you have to ask...
"Nope!" replies the Bachelor. Gotta love the self-awareness. After Zach and the ladies dance it out, Latto announces that more women are arriving to join the date. But don't worry, they're not here to make a play for the Bachelor — they just need their monthly dose of camera time to ensure they don't start suffering withdrawal symptoms.
ABC Tahzjuan, Victoria, and Courtney
Please welcome [heavy sigh] Tahzjuan (Colton's season, 2 seasons of Paradise); Victoria F. (Peter's season; last season of Paradise); and Courtney R. (Ben F.'s season). "Latto brought us in for the bad bitch alumni that we are," says Tahz, who always sounds like she's about to either pass out or fall asleep. "She needed help, like, judging, and we were more than willing to offer that up." Whatever, toots. Neither you nor Victoria are in the same league of brilliant villainy as Courtney, who was such a force on her season that she even got her own auto-tuned theme song.
Latto then challenges the women to show off their inner "bad bitch" by working the catwalk to the best of their abilities. Uh, sure! Production gives them some tacky props to work with — elbow-length satin gloves, kitten ears, a hot pink wig, and whatever's going on here.
Yes, that's Genevie failing to keep her crown in place while strangling Zach with a gymnastics ribbon. Sexy!
"Some of the girls need to try a little harder," notes Tahz. Kylee, a former NBA dancer, takes the note and busts out her parquet floor moves before planting a smooch on Zach. Brianna also brings the flirty energy, strutting down the catwalk shooting (fake) bills out of a money gun and planting a cute peck on the Bachelor's cheek.
The final task involves taking the stage to tell Zach about a time in their lives when they were a bad bitch for real. What does that even mean? "When you stood your ground," explains Zach. "When you just were yourself." Kylee is up first, and she tells a story about the time she was in a beauty pageant and her mother, who is white, was struggling to style her natural hair. The judges warned her against competing with her natural curls ("only straight hair wins"), but Kylee was undaunted. She kept her curls for the competition anyway — and won. Nice work, Kylee!
Most of the other stories must have been pretty boring, because we only get quick, context-free snippets of each. Brooklyn ends hers by inviting Zach to the bar for a tequila shot…
ABC Every time someone says "him and I," take a drink.
… and then a kiss.
"You're all bad bitches in my eyes," Latto tells them at the end. But the winner is… Wait, there's no winner? Why am I slightly disappointed? Oh, well. On to the after party.
Katherine sits down with the Bachelor first, and they bond over how they're both looking for something serious. (Um, shouldn't everyone technically be there because they want a relationship?) "There's something here. I dunno," says Zach. Katherine agrees. Even though they have a "best friend thing" going on (uh, since when???), Katherine wants the Bachelor to know something important: "You're not just my friend." You don't say?
ABC Katherine and Zach
Brianna is next to grab some one-on-one time, and she's feeling increasingly on edge. Would I even still be here if I hadn't won America's First Impression Rose? Does Zach even like me? And so on. Brianna is so worked up that she can barely talk to the Bachelor without crying, and she tells the Bachelor that she considered going home on night one because she was certain he wasn't interested. Of course, Zach assures her that she's "here for a reason," and to prove it…
ABC Brianna and Zach
"I want this group date rose so bad," gushes Brianna as they part ways. The night is going well. A little too well. Producer pawn, activate!
ABC Like a bad penny...
Oh, joy. Tahzjuan is back. Remember how she said that if Zach asked her to join his season, she'd jump at the chance? Well, I guess he didn't ask during the day portion of the group date, so she's crashed the cocktail party to ask him. Cat, whose conversation with Zach was interrupted, scurries back to the ladies in the holding pen to report the bad news. "She's trying to move in!" groans Katherine.
Correct. "I'd love to add myself to the mix," Tahz tells the Bachelor, and he is quite taken aback. He says he needs a few minutes to think about it, which of course gives the other women time to get Tahz alone and confront her about her intentions. "Like, today, some of you guys missed your opportunity to really connect with Zach," Tahz drawls. "You guys are here for love. I'm also here for love. And if my conversation makes you uncomfortable, then that speaks for itself." As you might imagine, the women do NOT love it.
ABC The women confront Tahzjuan
The interloper then has the audacity to head back to the holding pen with the other women and take a seat. "You guys aren't all going to marry Zach," she scoffs. "You guys do know that?" LOL, she's not wrong. After an awkward and painful silence, Zach returns to pull Tahz off to the site to deliver his decision… but we don't get to see the conversation.
All of a sudden, Zach is back, and he has an announcement. "Tahz wanted to join the group, and [unnecessarily long pause]… I couldn't say yes to that," he reports. The women are thrilled, but Tahz, for all her bravado, is hurt and embarrassed. "Not gonna cry," she whispers. "Like, bad bitches don't cry."
ABC Good advice.
That's right, faceless producer! Crying is healthy and healing. Anyhow, Katherine gets the date rose. Congrats, ma'am.
The next morning, Katherine, Jess, Brianna, and one of the raven-haired women (Gabi?), sit in one of the pool cabanas talking about kissing with tongue. Jess says she doesn't usually involve her tongue in kisses, and Katherine frets that maybe she used too much tongue in her kiss with Zach the night before. The black-haired one is like, "Knock it off, you got the rose."
Meanwhile, Christina Mandrell is prepping for her date, which just happens to be the first one-on-one of the season. She's excited (and a little nervous) to tell Zach that she has a daughter. But that's nothing compared to the shocking (and quite distressing) news Zach just dropped on her: His first concert was…(shudder)… Nickelback! The official band of mediocre white men everywhere. Rose lovers, when he said that I gasped so loud it scared the dog. Blech. It pains me to tell you that Christina LOVES it.
But not as much as she loves the helicopter ride!
ABC Get a room.
Naturally, the pilot makes sure to swoop over Casa Bachelor, just to make sure the other women feel as unworthy as possible. But wait! There are more "romantic" surprises to come! Christina Mandrell, you just won… a trip to Zach's childhood home to meet his dad, Chapman, his mom, Megan, and a whole bunch of other family members there to celebrate Megan's belated birthday! (Side note: While trying to confirm the spelling of Zach's dad's name, I found this story about a crypto lender holding his retirement fund hostage. Free Chap's money!)
"Knowing that family means so much to Zach, it's really cool that he chose me to be on this date," says Christina. She mingles easily with Zach's sisters and cousin. "Should we tell her about the rash?" asks one. (Um, yeah, you probably should…?) The family seems to like Christina, and they go hard to embarrass Zach by showing her embarrassing pictures, like this one:
Is that Halloween, or Stagecoach 2016? Hard to say. "I think you're literally wearing a red flag in that picture," jokes Christina. Mama shows her pictures of Zach as a baby, which makes Christina miss her own daughter even more. She begins to steel herself for dinner, knowing that she'll be telling Zach that she's a mom, and it could end up being "too much" for him.
Don't worry, honey. You're in the previews for next week's episode, so clearly things go well.
"I do have a daughter, and she's five — almost six. She's my world," says Christina of her little girl, Blakeley. She's also excited to find a life partner who can join her in raising the child, because single motherhood is no joke. "She just started kindergarten, I had to send her off to school by myself. I want to have those experiences with somebody." There is absolutely no way Zach is ready to be a dad right now, and he's pretty honest about that. "It's scary, don't get me wrong," he admits. "It's something I do need to think about, because it scares me s---less."
Once alone in his confessional, Zach gets emotional. "I don't know how to react to this," he frets. "I'm scared of it, and I think sometimes you have to be selfish." His eyes fill with tears, and he walks away. I appreciate that Zach is taking this seriously, rather than just going with the Bachelor bubble flow and pretending that it'll all just magically be fine.
Back at the dinner table with Christina, Zach reiterates how scared the idea of instant parenthood makes him feel — but he also reiterates how much he likes her. "I really, really appreciated my time with you," says the Bachelor. "You, like, are showing, like, me signs of someone I really wanna spend, you know, a long time with… I want to get to know more about Blakeley, but I also want to figure this out for myself, too, if I am ready for this." In other words, Christina Mandrell gets the rose.
ABC Christina and her rose.
For whatever reason, a black SUV picks Christina up from the date — maybe this always happens, and we just don't usually see it? Either way, she rides back to Casa Bachelor secure in her safety for the week.
Group date number two is really just a glorified cocktail party. Zach gathers Victoria, Gabi, Kaity, Ariel, Kimberly, Aly, Charity, Jess, and Greer. "Tonight will be the first time I have a first conversation with quite a few of these women," says the Bachelor. But tonight will NOT be the first time I struggle to tell quite a few of these women apart.
Ariel, who is one of the women who has yet to talk to Zach, sits down with him first. She's excited to show the Bachelor just how "sensitive" she can be. To that end, she suggests that they both write down their "biggest fears" about this "process" and then read them aloud. Ariel's is getting her heart broken, while the Bachelor's biggest fear is essentially falling for someone who isn't here for the Right Reasons™. But wait! This whole thing has been a set-up. Ariel has a second-biggest fear, and she asks Zach to read it aloud: "To not be kissed tonight." I'm not sure if that is grammatically sound, but it works.
ABC Ariel and Zach
Well played, Ariel.
But Zach's lips are just getting started. He smooches Greer, Kaity, and Charity, too, before sitting down with Jess. She asks him to share a unique fact about himself, and he reveals that he was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis as a baby. His parents were told he might not survive, but Zach says his mom refused to give up on him. Now he feels "a crazy sense of purpose" and that he's on this Earth for a reason. "I don't think I've ever actually said this out loud," admits Zach. Jess thanks him for his candor and then they, too, share a smooch.
As woman after woman comes back from her smoochy-smooch time with Zach, Gabi — who has yet to talk to him — is spiraling, right on cue. "It's hard not to pick yourself apart in this environment," she says with a sigh. And that, dear girl, is by design.
When her time finally comes to sit down with the Bachelor, Gabi has a very ambitious agenda. "I'm gonna wrap in quirky, fun, here's where I'm from, who I am, and then get deep, all in one," she informs the other women half-jokingly. "And then I'm going to tie a little bow on it, maybe give him a little [makes kiss noise]." Good luck with all that, toots!
The chat… does not start out well. Gabi jumps right in by announcing that she likes to give people nicknames. "Can I call you Zacharius? Zachy? Zachy-poo? Zachary?" (Short answer: Please don't.) From there she veers into a conversation about how close she is with her family, and how she needs a partner who wants a solid family life. From what we can see, Zach doesn't really get a chance to say much. And when Gabi gets back to the holding pen, she's worried that all her "word vomiting" will drive the Bachelor away.
Welp, she'll have to wait for the rose ceremony to find out, because Jess gets the date rose. Congrats, hon. Gabi, distraught because Zach didn't even mention his chat with her during his pre-date rose speech, flees the scene in tears. "What did you bring to the table? Nicknames," she scolds herself. "Did my conversation with him literally mean nothing?" Of course not, Gabi! Do things that "literally mean nothing" air on national television? (Don't answer that.)
The final cocktail party of the week arrives, and Zach puts his foot in it right away. As part of his "let's have a great night" speech, the Bachelor thanks Christina for being such a good sport about meeting his family with no warning. "I also didn't tell them about that," says Christina with a giggle, as the other women try to hide their dismay. Hmmm… I can't decide if hiding the family visit was a smart move or a dumb one. I'm going to go with the latter, because Christina should have realized that nothing stays secret on The Bachelor — and now she looks like a frontrunner and liar-by-omission. Someone get the bullseye stencil — time for production to paint a target on Christina's back.
In her second sit-down with Zach, Gabi is far more composed. She thanks him for taking the time to talk to every single woman and reiterates how grateful she is to be there. And he LOVES it. "With you, I get giddy and butterflies in my stomach constantly," says Zach. Well prepare to fall even harder, bro, because Gabi just brought you some of your favorite candy: Peanut butter cups. "Do you want to Lady and the Tramp it?" she asks. Of course he does.
ABC Zach and Gabi
Good job, Gabi! From worst to… well, maybe not first, but at least she's no longer last.
Meanwhile, in the driveway:
Sure, why not? As the night wears on, Brianna starts coming apart at the emotional seams. "I feel like it would have been smooth sailing if I hadn't gotten America's Frist Impression Rose," she says. It also sucks for her to see Christina sitting pretty with a rose after meeting Zach's parents — because Christina hurt her feelings on night one by saying, "I hate you, just kidding."
Christina and Brianna
Rather than continuing to stew over it, Brianna pulls Christina aside and tells her how she feels. Though she doesn't remember making the comment — which I think is reasonable, given how long the damn night was — Christina apologizes for hurting Brianna's feelings. Brianna mostly accepts the apology, though she's clearly skeptical about Christina's claim that she doesn't remember the remark.
From there, Brianna gets her sit-down with Zach. She explains about how nervous she was that people might resent her on night one because she already had a rose. "For the most part, it was good," she continues. "But one person… Do you want to know who it is?" Zach demurs, adding that he's very anti-drama, and that if the situation has already been handled, there's no need to give him all the messy details. To Brianna's credit, she chooses not to tattle — though I'm sure the temptation was there. The Bachelor sympathizes with her position, but he does want Brianna to know that it seems like she has "a lot of walls up," which makes it hard to have anything more than "strict and serious" conversations. Ooof.
And on that note, Brianna, here comes Jesse Palmer with his Butter Knife of Bad News! The only thing you can do now is pray to whatever God you choose that Zach will decide to give you another chance to loosen up.
Rose ceremony roll call! Brooklyn, Genevie, Greer, Aly, Charity, Kaity, Gabi, Ariel, Anastasia, Kylee, Davia, Mercedes, Bailey, and Brianna (phew!) join Katherine, Jess, and Christina in the Circle of Safety™. That means we must say a fond (?) farewell to Cat, Victoria, and Kimberly. Sorry, ladies. But the good news is, you won't have to listen to Nickelback!
Do you have any favorites so far, rose lovers? Do you think Christina Mandrell is genuine, or do you believe she's a manipulator as the previews suggest? And are there still grown women in the year of our Lord 2023 who insist on living the "girls don't fart" fallacy? Post your thoughts below!
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