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‘The Bachelor’ Recap: Tammy Is Already Playing for ‘Paradise’

The show gains (and loses) a new wild card, Kelley pulls the telenovela short straw, and tears are caused by … vegetarianism?

ABC/Ringer illustration

Not everybody can win The Bachelor. Not that you’d want to—actually winning The Bachelor means having to decide whether you want to be married to the guy you met on reality TV or whether you want to be forgotten. After all, you can’t get onto any Bachelor-affiliated programs if you’re the person who called off your engagement with a former Bachelor. If you win, your relevance is tied to that relationship.

And not everybody can become the next Bachelorette. That’s obviously the top prize affiliated with appearing on the show, but it only goes to the most charismatic and beautiful woman that the Bachelor was stupid enough to dump. (It helps if that dumping is extra stupid—the more America thinks you got the raw end of the deal, the more they’re on your side.)

So I get the sense that somewhere along the line, Tammy realized she would have to achieve success in other ways. For the first half of this season, Tammy was a funny but forgettable tertiary character. She never went on any one-on-one dates and was rarely mentioned in contestant drama. And yet she kept popping up in these recaps because she was funny and interesting. In the season’s first episode, she was the only contestant willing to note how messed up it was that Peter was making his future wife vomit by spinning contestants in a gyroscope. In the second episode, she used her high school wrestling background to dominate a pillow-fighting competition—although the show’s producers apparently didn’t think her dominance was worth alone time with Peter. In the third episode, she was the star of one of my favorite Bachelor moments of all time: the Cleveland no-sell.

Then, in Monday night’s episode, she turned. All of a sudden, Tammy began inserting herself into situations where she didn’t belong. She took it upon herself to tell Peter (and the rest of the women) about Kelsey, the “professional clothier” who went from Miss Iowa to Miss Cryiowa when somebody drank her special champagne. Tammy clearly had logic on her side—she won the argument by saying, “You cried about a bottle of champagne for four days”—but she escalated things by accusing Kelsey of suffering a mental breakdown, “drinking her life away,” and popping pills. When confronted by Kelsey about her behavior, Tammy began lashing out at other cast members. First there was a yelling spat with Sydney, and then in Wednesday night’s episode, Tammy set her sights on Mykenna, the 22-year-old fashion blogger. Tammy accuses Mykenna of being too immature for marriage, and she tells Peter that Mykenna wants to leave the show and is only on The Bachelor “to create hashtags for her brand.”

In the beginning, Tammy was smart, funny, and likable. But by Wednesday night’s episode, she felt like a monster. Her accusations somehow made Kelsey look like the sympathetic victim, and her out-of-nowhere decision to pick on Mykenna—the youngest contestant, and one Peter had barely noticed—seemed undeserved and unnecessary. Mykenna gives a speech about how Tammy’s bullying has inspired her to “live her truth.” Peter realizes he must eliminate one of them, and decides he can’t trust Tammy. To hammer home how pointless Tammy’s vendetta against Mykenna—Vyndetta? Nope, sorry, I tried though—was, Peter eliminates Mykenna at the end of the episode, just because he wasn’t vibing with her.

So why did Tammy transform from enjoyable background character to supervillain? I suspect she intentionally and perfectly executed the Paradise Push. There is no strict formula that determines who gets to go on Bachelor in Paradise, the spinoff show that gives Bachelor and Bachelorette castoffs a second chance to find love (and Instagram followers) by spending a summer on television. You could finish in the top five, but if you’re a dud, you might get passed over. You could get eliminated Week 2 and, if you were memorable, you might get the call. It’s all about whether the audience cares about that person, and whether that person is interesting enough to make Paradise interesting.

As Tammy got deeper and deeper into the season without establishing a strong connection with Peter, she had to make her move. She had to prove that she was a candidate who would make BIP spicier, and personally, I think it worked. If I’m putting together a Paradise cast list right now, and I have to pick between Tammy, Mykenna, Victoria P., or Sydney—the three other women who were eliminated Wednesday night—it’s Tammy, no question. (Not to say those other women wouldn’t or shouldn’t get invited, but Tammy’s my first pick.) Wednesday night, Tammy truly earned her tequila wings.

Did You Know Peter Is a Pilot? Moment of the Week: A Stray for a Long-Eliminated Contestant

The first date of the episode is a one-on-one with Hannah Ann, who somehow didn’t have a one-on-one date in any of the first six episodes even though she’s obviously going to win. (I don’t read spoilers, but I’m also not stupid. Come on.) The two take a funicular up the foothills of the Andes, prompting Hannah to ask Peter whether he’s afraid of heights. Of course I’m not afraid of heights, he says—I’m a pilot.

I doubt most people noticed it, but this was a vicious burn directed at Jade, a contestant who was eliminated on the first night of the season. Since she was on the show for so little time, all we really know about her comes from her ABC bio—which explains that she is studying for her pilot’s license even though she has a lifelong fear of heights. Previously, I had no idea why this woman was eliminated, but now I get it. Peter met her, she said the “I’m afraid of heights even though I’m a pilot” thing, and game over. Peter cannot imagine anything dumber than a heights-fearing pilot. There were other mentions of Peter’s day job this week—notably, he dressed up as a pilot on the telenovela date—but I enjoyed this random obliteration of a contestant who was eliminated over a month ago.

Worst Luck: Kelley

The second date of the week features the women filming a fake telenovela with Peter in a Chilean film studio. As Peter explains, he grew up watching telenovelas with his abuela, and that’s how he learned Spanish. (I’m skeptical of this because last week Peter said “el amor de nosotros” instead of “nuestro amor,” which is like saying “the love of us” instead of “our love.” But what do I know? I’m just a half-Cuban guy who often feels insecure about my inability to fluently speak the language of my dad’s family.)

The date was legitimately hilarious. The women were tasked with playing different telenovela tropes—Mykenna is a sexy maid, Sydney is a sexy nurse, etc. Tammy gets the role of “out-of-her-mind knife-wielding next-door neighbor,” which honestly gives me the impression that she’s already got Paradise locked up. The best gag was Victoria P. getting the role of “woman who broke her neck in a stationary golf cart accident”—incredible burn. Chris Harrison surprises everybody at the end by revealing that Mykenna is Peter’s aunt, and he really nails his role. (I’m impressed they got him to work on his off day!)

However, I feel for Kelley, who got the short straw and was assigned the role of Peter’s grandmother. Notably, she’s not a sexy grandmother—just a straight-up grandmother in a patterned bathrobe, grey wig, and massive glasses. She makes the most of her gig—she goes off script to seduce Peter, pretending to “break her hip” so Peter would have to pick her up, at which point she sneaks in a kiss. (Honestly, incredible improvisation.) Peter seems to enjoy Kelley’s role reversal, but I don’t know, it feels like there’s really no way to spin “jokes about having sex with your grandma” positively.

Kelley seems great, and watching her scheme her way into Peter’s arms was pretty impressive. Couldn’t they have thrown her a bone here? Didn’t they need a sexy police officer or a sexy ex-wife or a sexy evil twin? Why did she have to be a grandma?

Best Branding Strategy: Mykenna

We never get any real answer as to whether Tammy’s accusations that Mykenna is on the show to brand herself are accurate. We don’t see her “create any hashtags,” and, well, Mykenna is supposedly a “fashion blogger” whose fashion blog is under construction. If she was on the show for the sake of her brand, she didn’t do a great job of selling it.

She did, however, accidentally create a different brand. Throughout the season, Mykenna became known as The Girl Who Did Weird Things With Her Tongue.

Move over Shakira and Glen “Big Baby” Davis! We’ve got a new entry in the Most Alarming Tongue Motions Hall of Fame!

When the time came for Mykenna to go, she hit the world with perhaps the hardest frown I’ve ever seen.

All screenshots via ABC

Have you ever seen someone frown this hard? Throughout my life, I’ve heard that it takes more facial muscles to frown than to smile, and now I believe it. The actual frowning emoji is like a 6 on the scale of 1 to this.

Mykenna is setting herself up for all sorts of post-show branding opportunities. Lipstick that doesn’t come off no matter how hard you attack your own lips with your overactive tongue! Weights specifically designed to work out your frowning muscles! It’s all on the table.

Worst Breakup: Peter to Victoria P.

Victoria P. got one of the first one-on-one dates of the season after Peter decided she was “nurturing” because she’s a nurse in her everyday life. However, he hasn’t seemed as nurtured by her ever since she decided to take on Alayah in the preeminent she-said/she-said of the season. We still don’t really know how friendly Alayah and Victoria were during their time as pageant queens of adjacent states, but after Victoria seemed to cover up their friendship before the show, Peter never regained his trust in her.

On Wednesday night’s episode, Victoria asks Peter how he’s feeling. They’re not in a rose ceremony or a pre-rose-ceremony cocktail party, just on a regular date. He takes this opportunity to talk earnestly about their relationship—and to end it. He says, “I think my biggest concern and fear right now with you is that maybe you are more secure and confident in us than I am.” This is completely inscrutable hogwash. There’s an “I think” and a “maybe” in there. You’re less “secure and confident” than her, but how “secure and confident” is that?

Victoria immediately flags this incomprehensible sentence. “I’m scared—what are you trying to say? Peter, I don’t know what that just meant!” Peter clarifies. “I don’t know if I see you as my wife.” Clearly blindsided, Victoria sputters, then hollers, “Can I get a cab?” to an offscreen producer. She asks Peter not to walk her out; because Peter is a clueless dude on The Bachelor, he doesn’t listen and walks her out anyway.

There’s no good way to break up with someone. Luckily, the show has built in an easy, formulaic way to break up with people. You go to the rose ceremony, you don’t give them a rose, Chris Harrison walks in and tells the dumpee to say her goodbyes, everybody hugs, and the show’s newest former contestant gets to cry to a producer. It feels particularly cruel when a Bachelor chooses to break that trend, especially in this case. Peter’s breakup speech was basically “it seems like you love me more than I will ever love you,” a sentiment that must hurt to hear.

I’ve ragged on Peter for being indecisive in past episodes, but this week, he actually made strong choices. He lopped the show’s cast from 10 to six, and though his surprise breakup with Victoria wasn’t ideal, in the past, Peter would have taken weeks to make that same decision. I was also surprised to see him get rid of Sydney—just one episode ago they had a good one-on-one and he called her “the best kisser”—but he’s making hard choices now.

Still, Peter is probably better off waiting for the rose ceremonies from now on. They’re easier. Maybe I give Peter too much of a hard time for his Spanish struggles—he’s not exactly great at composing sentences in English either.

Biggest Twist: Vegetarianism

For the second time in three weeks, Peter gives a one-on-one date to Victoria F. (She’s now the lone Victoria, although she will likely retain the “F.” as long as she is associated with the franchise. If you don’t believe me, ask Ashley I.) Everything seems to be going well—they ride Chilean horses and dance with Chilean horses and make out in the midst of Chilean horses—but at lunch, things take a turn. Out of nowhere Victoria begins crying, and every conversation they have for the rest of the episode—in the dinner portion of their date, and at the cocktail party before the rose ceremony—is fraught. What happened? Did she used to date one of the Chilean horse masters and want to tell Peter about it? Did she get a premonition that when this episode aired five months in the future people would start calling her out for her White Lives Matter photoshoot?

I think we may learn what actually happened in the show’s post-credits scene. In between their fun time and the moment Victoria starts crying, Peter and Victoria navigate a Chilean buffet. Peter becomes enthralled by a man cooking massive portions of pig over a spit, and begins stuffing hog down his gullet as quickly as possible. He snags handful after handful fresh off the fire, his eyes wide with carnivorous lust. At one point, the grill master hands Peter what appears to be an entire pig’s leg; Peter gleefully snags it with both hands and dives in. (Peter definitely passes the Cuban Test this episode.)

Victoria, notably, isn’t stuffing her face. She laughs it off. “I was so happy for him,” she tells a producer. “He really loves meat.” However, toward the end of the interview, she reveals why she wasn’t eating: She’s a vegetarian. “I guess I would eat meat once for Peter,” she says, as if she’s talking about a particularly unenjoyable sexual position.

Now we know why suddenly, post-lunch, Victoria gets weepy. Obviously there are many happy vegetarian/omnivore couples out there—you’re allowed to order different food at restaurants!—but Peter seemed not to know or care that Victoria was vegetarian. We never see him ask her about why she’s not eating the meat, and he doesn’t seem to think twice about gorging himself in front of her. It’s OK if one partner eats meat and the other doesn’t, but it feels like a bad sign if one partner doesn’t eat meat and the other glows with orgasmic joy while going HAM on some pork.