The new Bachelor almost stalls out at the starting line, getting rejected twice before he even gets a chance to dump anyone.
Clayton Echard was a controversial choice to star as the next Bachelor, and even he knew it, joking that he had "eight minutes" of time on Michelle Young's season.
He then said that he thinks he was selected because he believes in this process, which is about as terrible a scripted line as the producers have ever given someone. Yeah, they really polled all the recent guys, knowing fan favorites from Katie's season already, and went with him because he believes. This isn't Peter Pan!
Well, in a way it might be, because Clayton definitely put the emphasis on "fun," reiterating it in groups and one-on-one that this is what he most wants to have this season. Sure, it's supposed to end with him on one knee in front of his future wife, but let's have fun along the way.
Clayton certainly put his money where his mouth is -- or his mouth where is money-- Look, dude started macking on all these women from the jump, and things just escalated from there when he kissed one and the others saw it going down.
He's certainly not the first Bachelor to kiss on Night One, but he is the first Bachelor to have two women out the door before the first Rose Ceremony of the season. He also may be the first to have a woman tell others that she flat-out hates him.
It was a weird start to his journey, and one that could have easily taken him out of the spirit of "fun" he was looking for. But one look at all those beautiful ladies -- and then several more looks down and up and all around -- and he was back in the game!
This season also marks the debut of former Bachelor Jesse Palmer, who introduces himself as the new host of the series. Will he also be taking over Bachelorette duties from Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe?
He's certainly got the charisma and charm down, really stepping into the role flawlessly (and much smoother than the ladies). At the same time, we've enjoyed their "girlfriends" approach, which seems to be helpful with the Bachelorette leads. We'd be for all three staying on -- but alas, if a choice had to be made, Jesse seems made for this.
"The first rose that I have given out as the Bachelor was rejected."
The "most dramatic" start to a season was (for once) not an exaggeration, as the hits started coming for Clayton even before the first limo had arrived. With him having no idea who was on his season and what was coming, one of his suitors showed up at his door.
We learned that Salley was struggling because this was supposed to be her wedding weekend. She thought this could serve as the first chapter of her next book, but instead she wasn't emotionally done writing the last one.
Clayton, who had yet to see any of the other women, seemed to want to emphasize to her that she's really hot and he's really into that so shouldn't she stay? He even went out on a limb and offered her a rose.
We're not going to say he was insensitive to her emotional struggles, because he really seemed like he was compassionate in that moment. But he was also trying to emphasize to her that she was there and he'd really like it if he'd take this journey with him.
So the moment was both sweet and a little cringey. It also left Salley a little perplexed, as she'd gone in to say goodbye ... to this man she'd never met who didn't know she was there. Was she trying to be talked out of it, or did the producers just see a great chance for "drama"?
Either way, Salley called her mom, thought long and hard about it and ultimately left Clayton holding the rose alone in his room. Were this a cartoon it would have wilted and the petals would have started falling off.
We did, though, appreciate Clayton taking this to acknowledge that he was going to have to work for these women and couldn't just expect them to be into him. It kind of sounds like missing the whole story Salley had just told him, but it's a good sentiment.
"He’s 100 percent too nice for me."
Once he'd gotten the chance to meet all of the ladies who made it to the limo phase of the competition, things again took a sour turn. This time, though, we're not sure exactly what was going on. Either this woman was really not into him, or she felt rejected and had to deflect to protect her pride.
Claire was in-your-face bold when she got her one-on-one time with Clayton, dumping on his favorite football team (with hers Washington and him declaring his the Oakland Raiders -- which means he either isn't following all that close or is in denial about their move to Las Vegas), the fact he prefers drums over flats in wings and that she beat him in cornhole (it looked close).
But what really got into her craw was when Mara came to "steal" Clayton away. Now, this is a time-honored tradition on "The Bachelor," and Claire's seemed to be eating up a lot of time, but her attitude soured completely after Clayton appeared uncertain what to do.
"Go," she told him, and that was probably the last nice thing she said about or to him. As the night progressed, Claire proceeded to dump on him, saying she'd eat him alive, he's "100 percent too nice" for him and she has no interest in dating "America's Sweetheart."
She even went so far as to tell a lot of the other women that she hates him, which is pretty harsh for a guy she'd just met and only shared one half of a moment with. This is where we wonder if her pride wasn't wounded a bit at feeling rejected because Clayton wasn't fully committed to staying with her.
Had she not gone in quite so hard, she might have had a chance at being the early season "villain," but the "hate" word quickly got back to Clayton, thanks to Serene, who then confronted her. Of course, Claire backed down and said she didn't hate anyone, but the next thing we know she was telling him she would "love nothing more" than to be walked out.
We didn't see what was said up to that point, but the other women thought she was crying, which again has us wondering if this wasn't wounded pride causing her to be prickly to protect her soft gushy insides from feelings.
Did we mention we hadn't even made it to the Rose Ceremony. To Clayton's credit, he was able to shake this off and move on. We have a feeling this was filmed before the online backlash reached a fever pitch, with Bachelor Nation dumping on him as hard, if not harder, than Claire.
"Where's the imagination at?"
As always, any BN season premiere is at least half about the ridiculous and over-the-top entrances. And with a triumphant return to the Bachelor mansion after four cycles away, we were hoping for obnoxious to the nth degree -- boy did these women ... not deliver.
It was a pretty subdued performance, overall, though we still got some memorable entrances, for better or worse.
Sierra definitely had the best line, cracking us up with her declaration that she was back from the future and was already his wife, "so you wanna just get out of here?"
We're not sure who's idea it was for Jane to come in and tell Clayton that she was a cougar at 33 years old! First of all, no, that's not how that works. Second of all, it left him confused about how old she was, and what her whole deal was. Did no one learn from the "Cougar Town" debacle?
Jill scared us by walking up with an urn and telling him it was the ashes of her ex-boyfriends, with a clearly implied threat if he were to not pick her. Is threatening the Bachelor on the first night the best first impression?
Ivana made a bold choice with her entrance, as it was a silent one. She refused to say a word to Clayton and didn't even hug him. Instead, she shushed him, blew him a kiss and sashayed mysteriously into the house. The risk, though, is not everyone always gets time during these nights -- so if she doesn't get time, what does have have to go on?
This is actually a tough one. We'll give Dr. Kira a pass, because her lingerie was cute and not too risquéunder that physician's coat. Rianna's joke about riding a cowgirl was definitely pushing the boundaries, but the worst has to be Gabby with Clayton's face on a pillow because she wants to sit on a face.
Honorable mention goes to Samantha, who was apparently in such a salacious pair of bikini bottoms that she got the big black bar of censorship over them. Maybe they were bunched awkwardly?
Considering the clip teasing the upcoming season showed terrible Photoshop work on one red bikini-clad bottom and we've seen similar bad editing on guys in speedos or undies on this show to sanitize the *ahem* bulge, we've no idea what it takes to warrant a massive black bar!
Last Impression No Rose
Aside from Salley and Claire, seven other women did not pick up roses on the first night, including our "Riskiest" first impression, Ivana. Apparently, not talking to the Bachelor does not make a great first impression, leaving the "bar mitzvah dancer" heading home.
Jane's "cougar" talk apparently left Clayton perplexed enough that he didn't want to dig any deeper to find out exactly what that meant. Considering he's 28 years old, her 33 years are basically nothing, so we're still not sure why she made it into a thing at all.
She was joined by Daria Rose, who played off her name in her first meeting with Clayton in hopes of scoring a rose (she'll have to settle for the one on her necklace). Hailey tried to impress him with a pickle jar, which was a cute trick, but not cute enough.
Clayton's Midwest roots might have had something to do with him cutting both Samantha and her big black block of censorship (apparently, arriving in a bubble bath isn't the answer), and Rianna and her cowgirl riding joke.
Probably not, though, because Gabby and her pillow are still in the house. At this point, it might just come down to who got time and who made some sort of connection. The other one out was Lindsay, who got almost zero screen time, so we don't even have a connection with her.
First Kiss of Many
Things are already moving hot and heavy this season, as Clayton broke Teddi's vow that she would not be kissing him tonight by kissing her instead. And, on top of that, he did it in sight of the other women, who immediately started feeling the pressure.
Suddenly, a night of conversations became a night of ways to try and get the Bachelor to kiss them, including having him ask in German and just going for it. Clayton was definitely having a good time, and making some real connections outside of the makeout sessions.
Teddi had Clayton feeling some kind of way from the moment he saw her. She was the first person he kissed this season and so it's no real surprise she got the First Impression Rose. There's a lot of season left to go, but that's a strong start, to be sure.
Others that stood out for us include Rachel, who Clayton said stopped him in his tracks, and Susie, who shared a sweet exchange with him where he said she might have to help him out of his comfort zone, since she thrives outside of hers.
First Impression Chatter
“Oh man, first girl out and she is beautiful. Okay.” --Clayton (totally watching Sarah walk away)
“I’m from the South, but you’re so tall you’ve got me looking all north. Was that a good one? I know it’s a cheesy joke.” --Lyndsey
“I’m not normally a hugger, but i do believe in a firm handshake. Did you feel the electricity between us?” --Susie (shaking his hand with a hand buzzer)
“[I’m] a little nervous, I’m not gonna lie. But looking at you, I’m feeling a lot better.” --Serene
“I heard that you are a big teddy bear, that’s what everyone keeps saying … So you’re the big teddy bear, hopefully soon, I’ll be your Teddi bear.” --Teddi
“I may not have words for her. Teddi, you make me feel some kind of way. Man, I’m gonna be way in over my head on this journey.” --Clayton
“My name is Tessa. It’s asset backwards. Now that we’ve established that I’m an asset, I think you know what you need to do in there. --Tessa
“I’m wearing a rose necklace because my last name is Rose and I’m hoping that tonight ends with a rose.” --Daria
“Listen, I am breaking code here, but I just wanna come in-- Like, I can’t wipe the smile off my face right now. I’m so excited already, and I am so thankful you guys are here.” --Clayton (halfway through entrances to the women)
“I have an idea that will make us both feel better, and that is if we each hold one of my nips … these nips.” --Kate (pulling out two tiny bottles of booze to calm the nerves)
“Don’t freak out, but I’m your wife. And I just got back from the future. You end up choosing me anyway, so you wanna just get out of here?” --Sierra
“Okay, I’m jumping in three, two--” --Melina (jumping into his arms in moon shoes)
“I’m very self sufficient, but there’s something that I do need help with from time to time, so can you open this?” --Hailey (handing Clayton a pickle jar)
“These are the ashes of my ex-boyfriends. And I brought them here just in case you make the same mistake.” --Jill (holding an urn)
“Penalty on you. 15 yards for being so fine.” --Marlena (after throwing a flag from the limo)
“I’ve been called a cougar once or twice, but I like to consider myself vintage, like a classic car. And I’m hoping you’re a man that can appreciate the classics.” --Jane
“Wow, she’s beautiful. I mean, she’s a cougar?” --Clatyon (doubtful)
“I want to introduce you to the wonderful Rachel.” --Holly, 63
“I’m Rachel and I’m actually a pilot, so Holly was my wing woman to get me in here.” --Rachel
[blew him a kiss, no hug, no talking] --Ivana
“That’s it? No hug? Nothing? Talk to you inside? Okay.” --Clayton
“So, I’m a doctor and I’m here to give you your full-body physical just to make sure you’re fit and ready for what’s to come.” --Kira (in lingerie beneath a physician’s jacket)
“This is what doctors wear nowadays?” --Clayton
“Where’s the imagination at? Now he knows what he’s gonna get. Why buy the cow if you’re already getting the milk?” --Sierra
“My name is Mara like marinara, because I’m a little spicy and I’m a little saucy.” --Mara
“Originally I was gonna ride a horse up here, but then I was like, why don’t we save a horse and then you can ride a cowgirl.” --Rianna
“So I brought the pillow for a place to sit later to take a break, but really I just want to sit on your face.” --Gabby (with a pillow with Clayton’s face on it)
“I just wanted you to know that I do believe in love at first hiss.” --Hunter (with a snake)
“Do you want some of this bubbly personality, and champagne?” --Samantha (in tiny bikini bottoms)
“Holy commitment.” --Clayton
“I thought about riding in the limo, but he’s a pretty big guy so I thought I should make a big entrance.” --Cassidy (arriving in a Power Wheels truck)
“I’m from a small town, so obviously I had to go big.” --Shanae (smashing the Power Wheels truck in her real truck)
“I’ve also spent many hours practicing saying things like ‘amazing’ or ‘incredible.’ Also, ‘dramatic.’ So maybe, just maybe, I might be able to pull this off.” --Jesse
“I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m ‘The Bachelor’ based off of only getting eight minutes of screen time on ‘The Bachelorette.’” --Clayton
“I know you played football in college. I’m just assuming you played tight end because you do have a tight end.” --Gabby
“I don’t know that much about Clayton, but he has really nice teeth. I don’t know if that’s, like, weird to notice.” --Rachel
“It’s supposed to be my wedding day. I didn’t know it was going to be hard to be here today. I just want to be with my family.” --Salley
“Salley, will you accept this rose and stay?” --Clayton (before limos)
“That was tough. The first rose that I have given out as the Bachelor was rejected.” --Clayton
“I’m the out of the comfort zone kind of girl, one hundred percent. Like, I live my life there. Like, I need to be reeled in sometimes.” --Susie
“You might need to pull me a little ways then.” --Clayton
“You do have a heart, but let’s see if we can make it beat a little bit faster.” --Kira (after listening with a stethoscope)
“I’m not gonna kiss him tonight.” --Teddi (well, technically, he kissed her)
“Not the vibe. No. I have a very, like, specific palate. He’s 100 percent too nice for me. It was a catastrophe. I beat his ass in cornhole. And then, the girl came up and was like hey, can I steal you. And I was like, go. He sucks.” --Claire (about her time with Clayton)
“I would eat him and spit him out … I can’t be with, like, f------ America’s sweetheart.” --Claire (about Clayton)
“I would love nothing more.” --Claire (before Clayton walks her out)