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‘The Bachelor’ Recap: Paging Dr. Demi

In four episodes, one contestant has emerged as a villain who is on par with greats like Thanos and the Joker

ABC

Bachelor villains can get old fast. Not literally—although considering that the show treats 27-year-olds like geriatrics, that too, I guess—but in the sense that their acts become grating. It’s possible that once upon a time, there were contestants whose passion for love twisted them into spiteful demons on television, but these days most Bachelor villainy has devolved into performative trolling for a few episodes for the sake of post-show Instagram fame. Their fights feel forced; the catchphrases more so.

But this season’s villain, Demi—a 23-year-old Texan interior designer who is equal parts ruthless and conceited—is different. Like a great comic book villain, her plans are obviously sick and twisted, but when she speaks, you start thinking that she has a point, and evil parts of you that you didn’t know you had perk up and begin to listen. She represents a better class of Bachelor villain, and while her plan is to burn everything she touches to the ground, I find myself rooting for her to succeed.

Monday night’s episode centers on Demi’s biggest feud of the season thus far. On a 13-person group date, Courtney sits and despairs. She hasn’t gotten any time with Colton and isn’t sure what to do about it. Demi tells her what to do: Go talk to Colton. Courtney opts not to, explaining that she’d rather “be patient” … on a show that expects people to get engaged after only knowing each other for a few weeks. Perhaps sensing that Colton has some extra free time, Demi sneaks away and goes to talk to him herself for a second time. Courtney finds this infuriating: Why did Demi act like her friend before doing something that hurt her chances? Instead of, I don’t know, talking to Colton, Courtney then chooses to pull Demi aside for a one-on-one conversation, in which she says Demi is immature, classless, and disrespectful.

After this, Demi declares all-out war. Despite already having a rose for the week—as it turns out, talking to Colton twice was a good idea—she decides it is time to get Courtney off the show. She pulls Colton aside to warn him that Courtney is “the cancer of the house.” Courtney fires back, telling Colton that Demi is not here for “the right reasons”—our first right reasons drop of the season! Drink!—but it’s far too late for her to make that play. By this point, Courtney hadn’t spoken to Colton in literal weeks, which means her first conversation with him ended up being entirely about Demi instead of about their potential relationship. Colton trusts Demi, and thusly eliminates Courtney. Demi kisses an actual rose multiple times and then looks into a camera and says, “Ding-dong, the bitch is dead.”

Demi’s methods were a tad extreme. Already with safe passage to next week, she didn’t need to devote her resources to crushing a contestant who obviously had no shot with Colton even further into oblivion. And maybe it was a bit extreme to call Courtney a cancer—Courtney’s biggest fault was that she liked complaining more than taking action, so yes, it seems a bit of a stretch to compare her to an insidious disease that kills millions of people every year.

But Demi did not seek out this fight. In fact, she started out giving Courtney good advice. She tried to show Courtney the way. The battle only began when Courtney decided to fight Demi instead of listen to her. And as Demi explained it, she wasn’t trying to be mean to Courtney—she was just warning Colton that “there’s a girl here who sucks.” When she said this, I nodded. Courtney did suck, and Demi did help Colton realize that. (Also eliminated Monday night: Tracy, who flew into an age-based rage two episodes ago when Demi had the temerity to touch a rose she wasn’t supposed to touch. Everything’s coming up Demi.)

I also should point out that Demi is a freakin’ maniac. Last week, she threw a turkey leg:

She also used the distended hand of a mannequin to feel Colton up.

This week, the women visited a leech therapist. While Courtney complained—“Are these FDA approved?”—Demi eagerly strapped a leech to her body and hollered, “I have the sweetest blood ever!”

Imagine how confident you have to be to view a literal bloodsucking parasite trying to suck your blood as an affirmation of how amazing you are. Demi, they’ll suck pretty much anybody’s blood. I cannot stress this enough—they are literally bloodsucking parasites.

But her confidence allows her to do pretty much anything with Colton and spin it off as spontaneous and fun. On the 13-person group date, she repeatedly took Colton aside for personal affection and demanded that he give her a piggyback ride. Colton is not nearly adventurous enough to date a woman willing to hurl an animal’s limb at one of her enemies or gleefully boast about a parasitic animal attached to her body;

And yet for someone who seems entirely unhinged, Demi has crafted schemes to eliminate her least favorite people as masterful as any in the show’s history. She has yet to pick a fight. She waits for her opponents to take extremely dumb stances and then gleefully hammers away at their psyches until they are eliminated. She’ll probably take things a bit too far—villains always do, especially villains who yell things like “I HAVE THE SWEETEST BLOOD.” But The Bachelor deserves a better class of criminal, and Demi is answering the call.

Worst Traveler: Colton

This was the week in which Colton and his women left Los Angeles to explore the world, and they went almost halfway across the dang thing, all the way to Singapore. (Shout out Crazy Rich Asians, which no doubt played a part in this.) This city choice is quite the departure from the usual Bachelor itinerary. Look at the spots The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have gone for the first week of travel:

  • Chris’s season: Santa Fe
  • Kaitlyn’s season: New York
  • Ben’s season: Las Vegas
  • JoJo’s season: The woods outside of Pittsburgh (seriously, they were just in the woods)
  • Nick’s season: Milwaukee (to be fair, they had bigger plans canceled by weather)
  • Rachel’s season: Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
  • Arie’s season: Lake Tahoe, Nevada
  • Becca’s season: Park City, Utah (A winter wonderland! Except it wasn’t filmed in the winter.)
  • Colton’s season: Freakin’ SINGAPORE

Most of the time, the first trip is to a resort-ish place in America, or maybe a major American city. I’m sure the main reason for this was logistical—why shuttle 15 women across the globe when you could wait a couple weeks and only need five plane tickets? But the destinations also add to the intensity of the show. The petty squabbles of the early weeks are fine for random domestic resorts, but as the relationships get more intense, so too does the travel.

The show’s unusual international flavor is lost on Colton, who seriously would have been fine if they’d just gone to Epcot. Here is his verbatim reaction to being dropped into a futuristic technocratic city-state 10,000 miles from home: “It’s got the lights, the buildings … it’s definitely a cool place.” Put that on a damn billboard.

Colton takes his women on a tour of a local market. Think about how many things there are in a Singaporean market that you’ve never seen before! So many opportunities for unique experiences!

Colton gets a fedora.

I can’t summarize Colton any better than he did himself here. He traveled halfway across the globe to purchase a clothing item readily available to dorks who wanna look like dorks on all seven continents.

Worst Development: The Buried Hatchet

Last week we delved into the beef between Hannah B. and Caelynn and discovered … well, pretty much nothing. Hannah and Caelynn had some unspecified falling out at some unspecified point in the past and now don’t like each other. On Monday night’s episode, their mysterious feud came to an apparent conclusion. The two had their first legitimate conversation of the season, and agreed that even if they can’t be best friends going forward, they should at least stop squabbling and get out of each other’s way as they pursue love with Colton. Colton, meanwhile, told Hannah that he was “OK with you two not seeing eye to eye,” a message that will definitely smooth everything over rather than make both women dig in deeper with their versions of events and continue to see each other as rivals as they vie for the affection of the same man.

If this is the end though, man, what a disappointment. I’d be mad about the end of this, except I never actually figured out why these people were mad at each other in the first place.

Virginity Watch: Hannah G’s In-Bed Make-out Sesh

The word “virgin” is said fewer times on this episode than any episode of The Bachelor thus far. Which is strange, since Colton comes closer than ever to losing his virginity. He invites Hannah G. up to his room, where he tells her that he’s “a little OCD” before climbing into his bed with all of his clothes and shoes on. Then the two vigorously make out:

I’m pretty confident this is the first dry-humping captured on camera on The Bachelor. Normally, Bachelor make-out sessions are at least PG rated; this is the type of making out horny 15-year-olds do at school dances when they’re not fully aware there are types of sex besides overzealous make-out sessions. Everybody looks on horrified. You want to tell these horny 15-year-olds to stop making out, but you know that neither gods nor men will interfere with their hormone-fueled flopping and flailing. And what is Colton besides an extremely ripped, horny 15-year-old? Didn’t we just cover the fact that he flew across the world to purchase a damn fedora? Have you ever heard a more 15-year-old-guy move in your entire life?

This is the closest Colton has come to sex on The Bachelor. It is also, not coincidentally, the first time I’ve considered Colton having sex to be an actual possibility. I’m not happy about it.

An Actually Noteworthy Moment: Caelynn and Colton’s Chat About Sexual Violence

I’m not used to genuine conversations on The Bachelor. When Caelynn’s serious face came on during her one-on-one date, I expected either a run-of-the-mill story (other Serious Face Moments on Monday’s episode: Tayshia discussing her divorce, Demi discussing her mom’s prison sentence) or a vapid reply. As I wrote last week, The Bachelor has patented the hideous segue from stories of personal tragedy to empty romantic statements.

Instead, we got something very different: Caelynn explained that in college she was drugged and raped by members of a fraternity, who also took and disseminated pictures of her naked body. She relayed how her statements regarding the assault weren’t taken seriously by the police or her university and how she was turned away by a hospital. She talked about how overcoming the guilt and shame she initially felt after being sexually assaulted made her a stronger person, and how the experience left her startled by otherwise harmless acts of physical intimacy. Stunningly, Colton’s reply was thoughtful and insightful. He explained that his ex-girlfriend also was a survivor of sexual assault. (At first, I was legitimately furious at Colton for casually revealing that about his ex—until I remembered that the ex in question is a legitimate hero and one of America’s most prominent voices for survivor advocacy.) He knows the pain sexual assault causes its victims and made it clear that he welcomed Caelynn’s story, applauded her choice to speak about it, and was willing to listen and understand.

For all the dumbness of The Bachelor, this moment provided a stark contrast. The show gave us an honest conversation between a confident beauty queen and a macho football player about the scars of sexual violence. On the surface, Caelynn and Colton may seem like the last people who would be scarred by this type of thing, but they were earnest and vulnerable about it on national television. Hopefully that tells somebody out there that whatever they may be going through, they aren’t alone.