Ever since Peter suffered what was called a “serious facial injury” during filming in October, we’ve been waiting patiently for more concrete details. Monday night’s episode provided just that; as it turns out, what happened was a modestly embarrassing freak injury. While checking into his hotel in Costa Rica, Peter attempts to board a golf cart and hits his head on the roof of it. Somehow, the glass Peter is holding then shatters and slices his forehead. The show airs some grainy surveillance footage of the injury, but I can’t fully determine how the glass breaks. It kind of looks like Peter bumped his head and tried to grab it in pain but, forgetting that he had a glass in his hand, accidentally smashed the glass on his own forehead. The injury could have been really bad! Peter sliced up his forehead just a few inches from his eye. He could’ve been blinded! It turns out to be fine—Peter simply has to spend the rest of the episode (maybe the rest of the season?) with a large bandage on his forehead.
Normally, The Bachelor will do one of two things when someone gets hurt in any way. The first is to use footage of the supposed emergency in promos all season long to create the impression that something dramatic happened. A shot of an ambulance pulling out of the Bachelor mansion is continuously used in promos to imply that a contestant beat someone up, when in truth, it’s often something minor or inadvertent—never forget the time a guy fell out of his bunk bed and the show tried to make it look like he got punched in the face by an out-of-control enemy. (When you think about it, it is kind of messed up that the show routinely attempts to trick us into believing contestants have suffered grievous injuries.)
The second thing the show does is treat injury like a major plot point. Speeches will be given about how the injured person is so brave for going forward with the show after the injury—and how that dedication shows how much the process means to them. It doesn’t even matter whether the injured person is an important contestant—if they have to go to the hospital, they’re gonna get extra time with the lead. Other contestants will say the brush with danger reminded them to take the show more seriously and how lucky they are to be there.
But neither happened on Monday night. There was no depiction of how Peter’s injury was dealt with, which honestly seems like a legitimately noteworthy ordeal. The show was filmed off the beaten track at a resort near Arenal volcano, and Peter needed to be driven two hours to the capital of Costa Rica to find a surgeon who could fix his face. That sounds like it was really strange and difficult to deal with! But there were no shots of ambulances, no images of a concerned Chris Harrison taking a phone call outside of an emergency room loading bay, no shots of Peter in his hospital bed.
And there is relatively little discussion of the injury. Peter briefly jokes to the contestants about how he got the injury killing a puma with his bare hands. This story about murdering a majestic jungle beast seems to upset them more than it impresses them. Before long, he comes clean and sheepishly explains that the injury was not suffered in a cool way. There is a jokingly dramatized re-enactment of the injury—that I think Peter participated in making?—and at the end of the episode, Chris Harrison pokes fun at the incident, accusing Peter of being “the clumsiest Bachelor we’ve ever had.” (Jesse Palmer had more career interceptions than touchdowns in the NFL, so that’s really saying a lot.) But there is no emotional speech about how he wasn’t sure he would be able to continue as The Bachelor when he heard about all the stitches and how he’s so blessed for the opportunity and he’s going to make the most of any moment. Just the jokes.
It feels like if the producers could have simply gone forward without mentioning the injury, they would have, but Peter’s very visible bandage forced them to acknowledge it. On the one hand, I’m glad the show didn’t exploit Peter’s injury or turn it into something it wasn’t for dramatic effect. On the other … maybe some coverage of the freak facial accident would have been better than the extra hour of Tammy vs. Kelsey that we got.
Biggest Liar: The Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan
This week’s group date is an enlightening, thoughtful, and nonexploitative display of Costa Rican cultur—hahahaha, JK, some people from Cosmopolitan flew down to the jungle to make the women put on skimpy bathing suits and pose for sexy pictures. You know Cosmopolitan—it’s the magazine responsible for convincing thousands of young women that men like it when you bite their scrotum. (I wrote this sentence as an over-the-top example of a comically wrong thing Cosmo might say, but when I Googled to find a compilation of bad Cosmo sex tips, I learned that Cosmo did, in fact, advise women to bite on mens’ scrotums in an article entitled “67 New Blow-His-Mind Moves.”) The date is totally different from the one in which these same women put on various clothes to promote Revolve—that was a runway show advertising a website; this is a photo shoot advertising a magazine.
One of those people is Cosmo’s actual editor in chief, Jessica Pels, who tells the women that the “winner” of the event will get to appear on the March cover of Cosmo alongside Peter. You might wonder how one “wins” an event with no objective scoring system. The answer, of course, is to be the person whose selection would cause the most drama in the group. Pels picks Victoria F., who earlier kissed Peter in front of all the women, and she and Peter take off even more clothes and take some pictures in front of a waterfall.
The episode aired on February 3—convenient, because Cosmo released its March cover on January 30. One problem—Peter and Victoria are not on there:
Our March cover @lucyhale is quite literally 30, flirty, & thriving: “It feels nice to just not give a f*ck about certain things.” Here, Lucy opens up about quitting a celeb dating app, why she’s having 6 tats removed, & her next big career move https://t.co/01cjo6gpDZ pic.twitter.com/4nyldRhiei— Cosmopolitan (@Cosmopolitan) January 30, 2020
There is, to be fair, a promise of “Shirtless! Pilot Pete! Photos! Inside!” but that’s down at the bottom, lower than an article promising to tell us which astrological sign is the best at sex. (Presumably whatever sign DOESN’T BITE SCROTUMS.)
As it turns out, there’s an explanation for Pels’s dishonesty. As Monday night’s episode aired, Cosmo published a piece titled “Why We’re Not Publishing the Cosmo Bachelor Cover.” In it, Pels explains, “It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I found out that the woman I’d chosen had, in her past, modeled in an ad campaign wearing White Lives Matter attire.” While acknowledging that Victoria’s ad campaign was, in fact, for an organization focused on preventing the overfishing of blue and white marlins, Pels added that “the nature of the organization is neither here nor there—both phrases and the belief systems they represent are rooted in racism and therefore problematic. … Unequivocally, the White Lives Matter movement does not reflect the values of the Cosmo brand.”
So to recap: Jessica Pels actually isn’t a liar, and Victoria F. needs to make better choices.
LVPs: Kelsey and Tammy
This week’s drama begins during the first date of the episode, which is a one-on-one between Sydney and Peter. Of course, the drama happens not during the date, but back at the hotel, where Kelsey simply cannot handle the fact that another woman is on a date with her man, because apparently Kelsey is unfamiliar with the premise of The Bachelor. Kelsey—who you may remember was described in the last episode as “a no-drama person” by Peter—drinks a lot and takes her anger out on Sydney. “I like Sydney—she’s cool! But she’s a dramatic fucking bitch,” says Kelsey. (Truly a full day’s workout for the word “but.”) Kelsey then goes on to offer a rather inaccurate impersonation of Sydney (“She’s always like ‘BLAH BLAH BLAH,’” Kelsey says, using a high-pitched voice that does not resemble Sydney’s in any way.)
Tammy attempts to console her, but leaves the conversation rightfully convinced that Kelsey is out of control. As Tammy accurately notes, our introduction to Kelsey was the time she became inconsolable over the fact that her unattended bottle of champagne was consumed by another contestant, weeping and calling the person who drank the champagne “a fake bitch.”
Tammy makes it her mission to inform Peter and her fellow contestants about how out-of-control Kelsey is. She tells Peter that Kelsey had a “mental breakdown” and insinuates that she has a drinking problem. This leads Peter—a man with a natural ability to cause drama to escalate—to immediately confront Kelsey about these accusations, and just like that, we’re off on yet another protracted dramatic arc. Things get even uglier from there, as a discussion about Kelsey’s emotional stability somehow morphs into a discussion about what medications Kelsey is taking. The conflict then becomes about rooting out who started “the pill-popping rumor.” Tammy claims she never said anything about pills, at which point other women confirm that she did, causing Tammy to adjust her claim and clarify that while she may have said something, the information didn’t originate with her. (It started with Victoria P., apparently, a claim that goes surprisingly unexplored considering most of the last episode was about her propensity for lying.) By the end of the episode, Kelsey is actually the one in better standing—she got ahead of the drama by making a pre-cocktail-party pop-in—while Tammy is trying to recover from being tagged as “the one who’s calling another woman a pill-popper.”
Tammy completely mishandled this entire situation. She could’ve simply sat back and let Kelsey take herself down—or at the very most been like, “Hey, this woman keeps breaking down in tears and calling everybody a bitch for no particular reason.” What she should have done is kept her distance. That’s what you do when someone throws a grenade. Instead, Tammy ran over, picked up the grenade, and brought it over to the rest of the group to warn them about it.
Peter’s Worst Decision of the Week (PWDOTW): The Alayah Wish-Wash
Over the past few weeks, we have detailed how awful Peter is at the job of being the Bachelor. He’s painfully indecisive, has little conviction in his decisions, and seems like a poor judge of character. So let’s start running down his worst decision each week—I suspect we’ll get to use this feature in pretty much every recap. (In a stunning twist, we have to take a temporary break from writing about the best mention of Peter’s job as a pilot—on Monday, the show somehow avoided Peter’s day job for an entire episode. I guess the show wanted to preserve America’s faith in commercial pilots by not reminding people that GolfCart McSmashFace is behind the dash of a 747 during the week.)
This week, Peter’s worst decision was to once again kick Alayah off the show, just a couple of days after allowing her back on. Peter dumped Alayah after she was accused of being dishonest, but let her back on after she successfully convinced him that maybe Victoria P. was the dishonest one. This decision—as well as Peter’s choice to spend much of the episode deliberating on the choice with an impromptu trial and then giving Alayah a group-date rose for a date she didn’t even attend—was wildly unpopular, sparking the ire of Victoria P. and basically all the other women. So after realizing how mad everybody was, Peter decided Alayah was too much trouble.
Peter’s sit-down with Alayah is a masterpiece of flip-flopping. He explains to Alayah that he feels they have a strong connection, that he thinks she’s a good person, and that he doesn’t care what anyone says. Then he tells Alayah the drama surrounding her is too much trouble. To recap: He doesn’t care what anyone says—he’s just kicking this woman whom he apparently likes a lot off the show because of what everyone says about her.
Of course, Peter was dumb to bring Alayah back in the first place, but he could’ve told the women on the show that he legitimately felt a strong connection with her, or that he appreciated their concern but would like to figure things out for himself, or that they should stop giving Alayah crap. Maybe if Peter had stood up for Alayah (and himself), the women might have listened. (If not, it would’ve been fun to watch.) Instead, Peter wilts—sending a woman home primarily because 12 other women do not like her.
This show is ultimately supposed to be about one man’s choices, but time and time again, people have easily convinced Peter to walk his back.
Is there any decision Peter couldn’t be talked out of? Could you talk him out of his preferred order at a restaurant? If his co-pilot tells him “We should fly this plane to Miami” when their destination is L.A., would he do it? Could someone convince him to stop being the Bachelor? It might be for the best.