There's a lot riding on The Bachelor this week, because we get our final four (you guys were pretty close!), which means hometown dates, which means meeting family, which means things are getting really really real. As a result, there was a seriousness this week that other weeks have lacked. Nick Viall cares about all the remaining women, and we the viewers do too. Even Corinne, who was at her most vulnerable this week. It was sad to say goodbye to Danielle M. and Kristina, but it had to happen.
The episode picked up the morning after last week's bloodbath. Nick emerged from his dark night of the soul with a renewed sense of purpose, since all the women left were women he really cared about. This was a date-heavy episode -- Vanessa, Danielle and Rachel got one-on-ones and Raven, Corinne and Kristina got a group date, and everyone's minds were ahead a week thinking about the group dates. It was relatively short on drama and long on character building. It seems like the remaining women were all friends. Even Corinne seems to at least be able to coexist peacefully now that Taylor's gone and she's not as drunk as she has been.
It wasn't a super awkward or funny episode. It was still pretty good, though. Here are the moments that managed to push the awkward button.
6. Danielle gets stuffed by a kid
In Bimini (which they never mentioned is part of the Bahamas, for some reason), Nick and Danielle stopped to play basketball with some local kids. The hoop was about five feet high, and the kids were about 12. Danielle is 5'10", and had several inches on all the kids. And yet one of the kids jumped up and blocked her shot like he was Dikembe Mutombo. I'm surprised he didn't do a finger wag. It was embarrassing.
5. Nick and Rachel talk race
Honestly, not as awkward as it could have been, thanks to Rachel, who is so cool. Nick danced around the race question on their one-on-one, asking "Will I be similar to guys you've dated before? Will I be different?" Rachel took it head-on and said "I've dated white guys, but I've never brought home a white guy." Nick wondered if her family would bring it up. Rachel assured him that it wouldn't be a big deal, because her family contains people of different races already. I was worried that Nick would be kind of clueless about how to handle this conversation, but it wasn't so bad. He and Rachel have great chemistry. Too bad we know it's not going to work out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Nick explaining to the bartender about how he and Rachel met was actually a little more awkward. How do you explain The Bachelor to a stranger? It's a weird problem not a lot of people have.
4. Nick wakes Kristina up to eliminate her
Poor Kristina. She was taking a nap when Nick showed up at the girls' house with a frantic energy to send her home. Terrible way to wake up. She thought she was safe, too, after the group date went so well for her (even though Raven got the rose).
Nick didn't handle this one super smoothly. "I have such a love for you, but right now I don't feel like there's the in love," he told her, which is a confusing thing for an infatuated person to hear. She told him she doesn't think it's fair that he'd send her home when there are still deep feelings there, but he said, "You deserve someone who doesn't sit in front of you and say, 'there are stronger relationships,'" which is very true and another problem so specific to The Bachelor. It was a painful goodbye. It was only last week we really got to know Kristina, and we liked what we saw. Hopefully she makes it to Paradise.
3. Corinne fails at seduction
Corinne felt her chances of getting a rose were declining since she hadn't gotten a one-on-one and didn't feel as confident in her relationship with Nick as Vanessa and Rachel did (plus Raven already had a rose), so she resorted to drastic measures to stay alive. In a move straight out of the Nick Viall playbook, she got all sexy and went to his suite to surprise him, as teased all season ("My vagine is platinum"). They made out a little, then she took him to the bedroom and shut the door.
The mics were still on, so we heard her putting his hands on her body, and then we heard him say "I don't think this is a good idea." Unlike Nick with Kaitlyn Bristowe, she was unable to seal the deal, since Nick exercised some restraint for the first time in his life.
After all the promo for this moment this season, it was a little anticlimactic (heyo). Corinne's reaction was uncharacteristically within reason -- she was a little embarrassed and worried she was going to be sent home, but she didn't have a meltdown. She had a bigger reaction after the whipped cream incident in Episode 2. Not coincidentally, she seemed considerably less drunk this week. And her worries were not even founded, since she's going to hometowns. We're going to met Raquel the nanny after all.
2. Corinne refers to herself in third person
She talked about herself like she was talking about somebody else on three separate occasions this week. Some ego on that one.
1. Vanessa fails to understand that the inside of her head is not reality, and Nick makes it worse
One of the biggest psychological pitfalls of being on The Bachelor seems to be getting so far inside of one's own head that one can no longer differentiate between what's real and what's projection. It's understandable, since 95% of the contestants' time is spent obsessing over their relationship with the lead, but it's still fascinating to watch the dramatic irony play out. This week it happened to Vanessa.
Vanessa told Nick she's in love with him on her one-on-one date, and fully expected him to respond in kind. This is not what happened. Nick is not Ben Higgins, and he's not about to go telling one woman he loves her when there are five (at this point in the episode) other women back at the house.
She said those three little words (in as many words), and they kissed. Her hair was blowing in the wind like a sea goddess. She looked gorgeous. And then Nick finally spoke, and it was an excruciatingly graceless response.
"I have been in love before. I have fallen in love in this environment before. I have said 'I love you' in this environment before. I'm not ashamed of it. I don't take it back. But I'm looking for the type of love I've never had before," he said.
BRO. BROOOOOO. Why would you respond to a woman telling you she loves you by bringing up all the other times you've been in love? Way to make her feel unspecial.
Then he made it worse! "I really really like you a lot," he said. Not the same as "I love you," dawg! He eventually said he wants to say "I love you" like it's the first time and really, truly mean it, which is passable, but by then Vanessa was already disappointed.
Nick handled the situation poorly, but Vanessa did get herself in this position. She expected something she should have known Nick was not able to give. Unless she's only watched Ben's season, in which case maybe she thinks the Bachelor tells women he loves them all the time. She was annoyed with his non-response, which is the wrong reaction. Other women have been sent home after expressing their feelings this season.
"I'm just afraid to end up like Nick did," she said. "Heartbroken at the end of this." Way harsh, bro.
Next week is hometowns, which we will watch through the filter of knowing Rachel is the next Bachelorette. Exciting!
The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.