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‘The Bachelor’ Recap: Annaliese Puts on a Clinic for How Not to Win

Plus: Arie actually eats food, Bekah M. plays psychoanalyst, and, finally, the show casts a heaping number of dogs

ABC

In her short stint as a contestant on The Bachelor, Annaliese exhibited a slew of traits that tend to make people unmemorable: timidity, awkwardness, and a near-crippling sense of fear triggered by virtually every scenario she encountered. But Annaliese deserves to be remembered more than almost any other contestant I’ve ever seen on this show.

Annaliese introduced herself to Arie (and all viewers of The Bachelor) as “the Kissing Bandit,” a play on a nickname Arie developed during his time as a contestant. But as I noted at the time, she didn’t use her costume as an opportunity to kiss Arie. In fact, she hugged him, a bunch. This was foreshadowing.

Her first group date with Arie was a demolition derby, which provoked a traumatic childhood memory of a bumper-car play session gone awry. The Bachelor dramatized the experience with a vivid reenactment. Her second group date with Arie, on Monday night’s episode, featured dogs, which also provoked a traumatic childhood memory, and which was also accompanied by a Bachelor reenactment.

(Truly, we are witnessing the height of The Bachelor’s cinematic powers.)

Two possible things are happening with Annaliese: Either she was preposterously unfortunate and The Bachelor managed to cue up her two biggest bugaboos on back-to-back dates, or Annaliese fears 97 percent of things in the world. Either way, she fears crashing cars and puppies, and yet boldly plowed forth with her attempt to date Arie, a dog-owning professional race car driver. (Also, rather than working with the dogs, she was assigned the duty — heh, duty — of cleaning up the dogs’ poop. Sounds gross, but look at Vanessa from last season smiling while shoveling up cow manure. If you can handle crap, you can be a Bachelor champion.)

Shockingly, things didn’t work out. Her first conversation with Arie on Monday night devolved into a discussion of how uncomfortable being on The Bachelor can be. Later, realizing she hadn’t been bold enough on her first attempt, she cornered Arie. On a balcony that Arie maybe considered jumping off of, Annaliese pointed out that other girls had said the best way to kiss Arie was by making a move, but that she wasn’t comfortable making a move, waiting for Arie to connect the dots and kiss her.

I’m not sure whether Annaliese realized this, but she actually was making a move. Unfortunately, drawing attention to the fact that your potential kissee has not yet felt enough passion to kiss you is the worst move.

So Annaliese circled back later, and asked Arie point blank if he saw any future in their relationship. After she mentioned it, he realized that he didn’t. Her time on the show was over.

Annaliese spoke to Arie about their potential romance like she was writing a reply-all email reminding her coworkers about the appropriate time for sending reply-all emails after somebody else accidentally sent a reply-all email. I look forward to her appearance on Bachelor in Paradise, surely beginning with a dramatic reenactment of her rejection by Arie, unless, that is, she decides that appearing on reality television is her new most traumatic experience.

MVP: Each Dog

As previously noted, one of the group dates asked the show’s contestants to get dogs to perform tricks for an audience of children. As it happens, the dogs in question did not know how to do any tricks.

These dogs were bad at performing tricks, but were so good at being dogs that they made every contestant on the show look stupid. They are truly great dogs.

Best Cameo: Fred Willard

I was going to give it to Kenny from last season of The Bachelorette, a professional wrestler who swooped in to participate in a wrestling-themed date, but he didn’t even get any mic time, which is basically what wrestling is all about. So I’ve gotta give it to Fred Willard, whom the show’s producers coaxed into replicating his performance as dog show announcer Buck Laughlin from Best in Show. He instantly and admirably reinhabited his character from a 15-year-old movie.

This is the second straight week the show has put Chris Harrison in a chair to commentate a Bachelor event with somebody willing to make jokes, and both times have been wonderful. Harrison doesn’t actually get to speak much in his superfluous role as host — but maybe the show needs to just make him a permanent Statler with a rotating cast of Waldorfs.

Best Strategy: Bekah M.

Within a few seconds, Bekah psychoanalyzed Arie. She told Arie that he was intrigued by her because she’s “unsafe.” “You know that I don’t need you,” she tells Arie, explaining to him how his past relationships were with women who needed him more than he needed them, and that she wouldn’t be the same way.

Arie is not a particularly complex dude. You know what uncomplex dudes like? Being told how complex they are. Bekah accomplished this while simultaneously establishing that she “doesn’t need” Arie, making her somewhat hard to get on a show where she’s competing for a dude’s interest. Phenomenally played.

Worst Strategy: Bibiana

I am upset with Arie for eliminating Bibiana, the loudest and most prominent voice in the castwide battle against Krystal. (And it is good to have a voice that is not Krystal’s. I try not to judge people for things they can’t control, but I don’t think I can make it through an entire season of Krystal’s voice.) Has nobody told Arie that he’s supposed to keep around the contestants who have beefed?

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Anyway, poor Bibiana. She spent the first two episodes trying as hard as she could to get alone time with Arie. In Monday night’s episode, she appeared to have found a fix: arranging a private little area, complete with a daybed and telescope, where she and Arie could spend some alone time. But unfortunately, her fellow contestants found this adorable setup, and one by one arrived to lie with Arie and stare at whatever stars you can see through a telescope on a brightly lit set located just outside of America’s second-largest city. Bibiana never got to hang out with Arie.

I don’t know whether this was Bibiana’s mistake — it seems presumptuous to assume that you could set up something like that without anybody stumbling across it — or a setup by the producers, who tend to find ways for cast members to set up gimmicks for private use, like mini-racetracks or bouncy castles. Either way, poor Bibiana.

Biggest Choke Job: Lauren S.

Lauren hadn’t really made much of an impression in the first two episodes, but was somehow selected for a one-on-one date by Arie. “You had me at Merlot!” the date card said, a stunning rebuke of the show’s semi-official stance that rosé is the only wine acceptable for consumption. “I think it has to do with wine!” Lauren smartly intuited.

When FiveThirtyEight’s Ella Koeze and Walt Hickey ran Bachelor stats, they found that getting selected for a one-on-one date in the first few weeks of the show is one of the strongest predictors of success. Contestants selected early stay on for long times, and often win. But Lauren will not win. Her self-diagnosis that she’s rambling a bit on the date — just talking and talking without saying much — is exactly right. At one point, Arie was shown eating his food, which never happens on The Bachelor. The implication was that if a person actually eats the food in front of him or her while with someone else, the conversation they’re having is the worst conversation in world history. Sure enough, at the end of the date Arie eliminated Lauren.

So far as I can tell, this is the earliest a contestant has been eliminated on a one-on-one date since Season 13. And even that’s not really a fair comparison, since The Bachelor had only eight episodes per season back then and now it has 10. Lauren’s appearance on a one-on-one date should have made her a true contender to win. Instead, her tragic display has her headed home. Who knows how many Instagram followers she could have gained if not for this one poor outing?