It’s been a tame season of The Bachelor, but Monday night’s episode had a season’s worth of surprises—and not for the reason you’d expect.
Arie and his three remaining women went to Peru for the episode, the second-to-last of the season. “There’s more to Peru than Machu Picchu,” Arie told the camera, a statement that totally wasn’t fed to him by the government tourism board that is literally trying to cut down on visitors to Machu Picchu so that the historic site doesn’t disintegrate. Arie also told two of the remaining women, Lauren B. and Becca, that he is in love with them, which is problematic because soon he’ll have to break up with one of them. After that, Becca’s ex-boyfriend, a man whose job is literally being strong, showed up in Peru to try to win her back. And to close the episode, Arie eliminated Kendall, the contestant whom he actually seemed to enjoy spending time with.
These are all things we’ve seen before. Rogue exes and poor decisions are nothing new. One thing I’ve never seen on The Bachelor is a “fantasy suites” episode that features zero discussion of sex.
It has become a commonly understood rule of the game that the Bachelor or Bachelorette is supposed to have sex with all three remaining contestants in the fantasy-suites episode; each season, we’re good for at least one shot of somebody closing a bedroom door followed by a cutaway to fireworks. (You see, during sex, the man shoots pyrotechnics out of his penis.) Everybody understands this—even the older ladies who confronted Arie at the bowling alley during the Fort Lauderdale episode this season, who eventually told him that the fantasy suites were “a good thing.” When a contestant has sex before the fantasy-suites episode, it is considered scandalous—as happened when Kaitlyn slept with Nick on her season; when everybody has sex in the fantasy-suites episode, it is considered fine. Season-long plotlines are built around the impending fantasy-suite sex—like on Chris’s season, when Becca was unsure whether she was willing to lose her virginity in the fantasy suite. Or, last season, when after a year of repeatedly letting America know that her ex-boyfriend had never given her an orgasm (presumably ruining any chances of her ex-boyfriend ever dating anybody else for the rest of his life), Raven and Nick spent the night together and ABC cut together a post-orgasm montage for her.
Monday night, though? Not a mention of sex. Arie woke up with Kendall and remarked that they had discussed her egg preferences the night before and promptly began cooking her eggs sunny-side up. We left Lauren and Arie as they kissed in a room with floor-to-ceiling windows, preventing Arie from shutting the door on any camera people. With Becca, Arie mentioned that he relished the opportunity to “learn more about” her and “soak up every moment,” and when they woke up together in their fantasy suite—er, fantasy tent—she mentioned that he had repeatedly kissed her teeth because she was smiling so much. Ultimately, that’s about as close as anybody got to mentioning sex. This episode was as chaste as an episode about a guy hooking up with three women can possibly be.
It’s possible Arie is a nevernude, or that Arie, who has been called “a playboy” and “the kissing bandit,” doesn’t believe in sex before marriage. Or maybe the show is just trying to discourage contestants from feeling driven into sex after a drunken hookup on Bachelor in Paradise nearly crossed the line into sexual assault.
It’s great for a show to be open about the healthy sexual relationships between its contestants, but The Bachelor’s set of rules about when and how contestants were supposed to have sex in the fantasy suite always made it feel more like an obligation than a normal progression in a relationship. I enjoyed the humor of the dimmed lights and cutaways to explosions, but maybe weakening the implications in the annual Sex Episode makes the show better.
Worst Calculation: Ross, Becca’s Ex
Only The Bachelor can market a plot twist as a SURPRISE! after teasing it a half-dozen times in earlier previews. As we’ve known for some time now, a jealous ex shows up on The Bachelor; as we found out Monday night, that man is Becca’s ex-boyfriend Ross Jirgl, who she dated for seven years.
As Ross explained, he found out that Becca was on the show a week before, looked online and “called some people,” found out that she was in Peru, got on an overnight flight to Peru, and drove five hours from where his plane landed to Becca’s hotel. (We’re supposed to believe he did all of this on his own—he tells the camera “I don’t want to be on this show!”—when, obviously, he could not have found Becca without ample help from The Bachelor’s producers.) He claimed that he “walked through the desert” to get to Becca and told Arie he “would have swam here” if he needed to.
Ross met Becca when he played football at her alma mater, Minnesota State—here is an excellent picture of the two of them—and he now works as a strength and conditioning coach at Stanford. Two things I can tell you from my other job as a college football writer: The first is that college football coaches move around a lot. Ross, for example, has worked at Indiana State, Wisconsin-Green Bay, South Alabama, and now Stanford since graduating college in 2013. That explains why Becca hinted at their relationship being a long-distance deal for several years. The second is that strength and conditioning coaches are the most maniacal people in the maniacal world of college football. Their job is to turn high schoolers into grown men as quickly as possible, filling a role that’s half physiology expert and half PROFESSIONAL SCREAMER. Here, just watch this video to better understand. They break flaming slats of wood on each other’s backs, bang their heads into doors—any grand gesture that might convince a teenager into working a little bit harder to get a little stronger and a little faster.
Anyway, these are exactly the type of dudes who would show up on another continent to tell a woman “I WOULD SWIM ACROSS THE OCEAN FOR YOU” just days before another man potentially proposes to her.
Ross first talked to Arie, who was stunningly chill about the situation. “Hey, what’s going on?” he said when he opened the door of his hotel, as if Ross was an old friend and not a man who just traveled across the globe with the express purpose of breaking up a relationship. Most Bachelors would order Ross away, but Arie listened to Ross say “that proposal is mine to give” and merely asked Ross to “respect our relationship” if Becca declined his pitch. I bet this unnerved Ross: Strength coaches aren’t looking for rational solutions.
The whole grand gesture did not work out for Ross. He quickly realized that Becca is no longer interested in him. Within a few minutes of saying hi to the woman he dated for seven years, he said, “coming here was a mistake” and left.
Arie, meanwhile, also didn’t handle this well: The whole situation caused him to question that Becca might still be in love with Ross, even though Becca made Ross leave with more force than Arie did. However, he did do one thing that was right, or at least hilarious: As Ross left his room, he muttered to himself, “fucking nerd.”
Biggest Flex: Mike Fleiss
You might have noticed an unusual musical selection in Monday night’s episode of The Bachelor: As Arie and Lauren revealed their mutual love to each other, a cover version of “How Do I Live,” the absolute banger simultaneously released in 1997 by LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood. Considering Lauren is the apparent front-runner here, this moment could be one of the most important of the season, and I was curious about the song choice. It’s definitely a Bachelor-ized version of the song, better suited to play in the background of two inoffensive people lightly kissing than the booming vocals on Rimes’s version. It’s sung by somebody who pronounces “live” like “live,” while Rimes notably pronounces it “leeeeeeeave” every time she sings it. Who was this singer? I took the liberty of holding my phone up to my screen and Shazaming it:
Laura Fleiss, as you might be able to put together, is the wife of Mike Fleiss, the creator and executive producer of The Bachelor and all its spinoff shows. Mike was a judge at the 2012 Miss America pageant—cohosted, of course, by Chris Harrison—and Laura was the winner of the 2012 Miss America pageant. (Fleiss filed for divorce from his high school sweetheart in late 2011; the Miss America pageant was held January 14, 2012. Great timing.)
Laura’s Miss America talent was singing, so understandably she’s trying to make it as a singer. The Bachelor-featured cover of “How Do I Live” is the only song on her Spotify page and was apparently released last week.
What a series of moves by Mike Fleiss: wrangling a spot as a judge in the Miss America pageant, actually marrying Miss America, and then putting his wife’s music in the pivotal moment of a season of his television show.
Worst Look: Arie
Arie lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Somehow his desert attire features calf-high socks.
Worst Play: Arie
Arie made the bold move of telling both Becca and Lauren that he is in love with them. This is great because it lets both women know that he’s serious about their relationship, putting them at ease and convincing them to move forward with their relationship. This is not so great, however, because the laws of most nations will prevent Arie from marrying both women. Furthermore, I highly doubt either woman would be on board with such an arrangement. In fact, both return his “I love you” under the apparent belief that he is not saying such a thing to anybody else.
While declaring his love to both women is a great short-term move that probably made for lovely fantasy-suite overnights, Arie is going to have to break one person’s heart and explain to the other that they’ve been in a double-love situation.
He wanted to avoid disappointing people—remember, he reorganized a date so that the losers of a bowling game could hang out with him because he didn’t want people to miss out on quality time with him because they lost a game—and he wanted to avoid confrontation—remember, he just let a guy he’d never met before try to hijack his relationship with a woman he supposedly loves—but he’s going to end up doing both things. As always, he is a race car driver who became a race car driver because his dad was a race car driver: Even his boldest moves aren’t that bold. Telling somebody you love them is a life-defining moment; telling two people you love both of them is just being indecisive.