A group date centered around couples therapy sessions turns into an unexpected eye-opener for Clayton as he tries to figure out who to take to Hometown Visits next week.
It turned into a veritable bloodbath on "The Bachelor" this week as Clayton Echard had to figure out which women he was ready to meet their families. By the end of the night, he'd eliminated more than half the remaining contestants.
Things started off with Mara again confronting Sarah in her extremely aggressive, no-nonsense, blunt way. But something was starting to change with the other women in the House, or at least our edit of this confrontation.
It went down during the Cocktail Party ahead of the first of two Rose Ceremonies on the night. Sarah already had a rose from her second one-on-one, but this was Mara's point of contention. What was painted as sour grapes on her part last week was this week presented as possible truth bombs.
Was there more to Sarah's behavior in the House, or the other women's reactions to her, than we were seeing? Based on some information that came out later in the evening, that certainly seems possible. But again, everything is someone else's story, which can leave you unsure of what to believe.
And in the end, it only matters what Clayton believes. Last week, he believed Sarah after Mara told him she believed Sarah wasn't ready for marriage and wasn't there for the right reasons. As a result, we can assume, Mara was one of the two women eliminated that night, along with the very sweet, but quiet, Eliza.
At the same time, their elimination marked the last of the ladies who'd only had group dates so far on this journey. Genevieve hadn't had a one-on-one date yet, but she did get to enjoy that two-on-one date that saw the elimination of "villain" Shanae.
It always feels like a front-runner move when one of the women -- and only one -- gets a custom shopping spree during the course of the season. Susie picked up her second one-on-one -- poor Genevieve still waiting -- and it was a day to make her feel like a princess.
Not only did she get a shopping spree in Vienna, but she got to wear some designer gowns set to make her feel like a princess. She even had a stunning red gown, which is Clayton's favorite color, delivered before the evening portion of their date.
And while we usually get up-and-coming artists with lesser known tracks, Susie scored one of the biggest songs of all time with Chris de Burgh showing up to serenade her and Clayton with his appropriately titled "The Lady in Red."
Theirs was a magical date, with Clayton saying all of the right things to telegraph that Susie is definitely in the lead right now, if not already a lock to win the whole thing and he's just going through the motions (shhh, don't tell Sarah). Their bond felt real and was very sweet, which is why she got the rose.
What started off as a great week in Vienna for Clayton and the seven remaining women quickly fell apart completely when the Group Date brought the rest of the ladies, save Serene, to a psychoanalyst, Dr. Katherine Rippensburg, for some couples therapy sessions.
Most of the girls were nervous about opening up with a therapist, but none more so than Genevieve, who basically admitted she was terrified. She said she's not comfortable opening up about her emotions, and especially not comfortable with crying in front of people.
That's not a great thing on a show like this, or the type of journey that contestants need to go on to find genuine love. How can you find genuine love if you're afraid to be genuine? She never really gets into why she feels this way, but it immediately becomes an issue when she and Clayton are with the doctor.
You can see the battle on her face as she admits to the doctor she doesn't like being emotion in front of people. But when pressed to even talk about it, and when asked by the doctor how they can have a committed relationship if she can't open up and show Clayton who she really is, it seemed she just threw in the towel.
Facing your inner demons can be hard, and opening up can be hard, and Genevieve just came to the conclusion that she wasn't ready or able to face that challenge head-on. Instead, she just quietly told Clayton that he has strong connections with the other women in the house and seemed ready to self-eliminate.
It was actually remarkable that her defensive walls are so powerful she couldn't even really try to open up a little in that moment. Clayton even pulled her outside to talk, but she was still basically choosing her walls over a chance in the competition, leaving him no choice but to let her go.
It's not fair to say this was her choice, but it was the result. In the limo, she said that it's basically instinctive that they stay up, and she knows she needs to put some work in on herself to be ready for a relationship because how can it work if she keeps herself closed off even from her partner?
This was a clarion call to the other ladies that Clayton is really taking this seriously, making them all the more nervous. Gabby opened up about how she feels emotions deeply, but also struggles because her mother made her feel that love could be snatched away at any time.
Rachel revealed a lack of confidence in herself that had been growing since the season started, while Teddi was in a more positive place in their relationship. Sarah, meanwhile, said that she loves therapy because she loves talking about her problems with other people, and she opened up to the doctor about the challenges in the House since her second one-on-one.
But at the end, Dr. Rippensburg dropped a bit of a bombshell on Clayton, telling him that some of the emotions revealed today were genuine but others were "performative." Perhaps because it's a game, she declined to say who was being "performative," but it seemed a cruel twist, considering this is Clayton's real life.
She left it to him to try and suss that out during the evening portion of the date. What happened was that he got very similar stories from roommates Rachel and Teddi about Sarah sharing intimate details all the way back to her one-on-one that had them wondering if it wasn't already a done deal between her and Clayton.
Rachel further shared that Sarah had said they both cried on that first one-on-one, which Clayton said is a completely fabrication. Since those happened in Rachel and Teddi's room, Gabby couldn't confirm them, but she did say that stuff Sarah had said also had her feeling very insecure about her place in the House and with Clayton.
By the time Clayton pulled Sarah aside to talk to him, it seemed that his demeanor toward her changed entirely. When she started crying again, talking about how they all started attacking her after her second one-on-one, he told her bluntly it looked like she was fake crying and trying to force tears.
She then said she had no more tears after such a tough week. The problem was, with trust broken, he just wasn't buying any of it, and so "front-runner" Sarah was shown the front door, too. With Hometowns next week, the Bachelor isn't playing around. He was so rattled by the day he couldn't even hand out a rose. Two eliminations was enough for one day, apparently.
Was Sarah playing a game? Was it "performative"? Honestly, we may never know for sure. It's possible she was just confident and a little too cocky and talked too much about it, making the other women uncertain.
But it's also possible she wasn't totally genuine in her feelings, or at least how she presented them. Perhaps the tears and crying was "performative," but something she's found affective in eliciting sympathy and getting things to go her way. She wouldn't be the first.
One thing we do know, though, is that this season is creating a lot of interesting stories that we're going to really want closure on during the "Women Tell All" special, but also feel like we're totally not going to get.
Susie was the first to tell Clayton that she's falling in love with him, but she's not the only one to have said it anymore. And based on teasers coming up, we know Clayton winds up declaring it to three of them -- or at least feeling it for three of them.
He hasn't said it yet, and he didn't say it to Serene, either, but she did reveal to him that she's falling in love with him. And like his date with Susie, we could see that natural chemistry between them ... especially when they were dancing with an older couple on the street.
It was so cute watching the other couple trying to help them keep time, and then even switching partners with them to teach them what they were doing. It all felt so natural and genuine, it's easy to see why Serene would feel that comfortable, and understand why she scored a rose.
That left three women and two positions remaining for Hometowns. Just from the edits we've seen and the conversations that have been happening with the other four women, it felt almost obvious who would go home. Poor Teddi came up short just shy of Clayton meeting her family, leaving a Final 4 of Gabby, Rachel, Serene and Susie.
“There are three women in this house that haven’t gotten a full one-on-one, and that’s not fair that that’s the case. And for one woman to get two one-on-ones, it sucks a little bit.” --Mara
“Karma is a bitch. Someone thought this would take me down .. but it’s probably gonna take them down. Congratulations, that’s what you get for being a liar … It was a bitch-ass move, but it was weak. Like, seriously, at least try harder. At least make it more specific so it sounds believable.” --Sarah
“I’m gonna go find a vase for my rose and you can go book your ticket home.” --Sarah
“It’s no one’s place to tell Clayton what they think I’m ready for and I hope that you can tell me who brought this to him.” --Sarah (to women)
“Clayton identified this as a last-ditch effort by someone who feels like they’re going home. So whatever is being brought to him is not being received the way that you’re hoping it to.” --Sarah
“It’s necessary for me to address the comment last night, the “last ditch’ comment. It was insensitive, and a little ignorant, and that’s kind of how you’ve been doing things around here, honestly.” --Mara (to Sarah at Cocktail Party)
“You made it a point to say that, you want him to explore every relationship in-between. In-between” --Mara
“That’s correct-- no, not in-between. Every relationship, period.” --Sarah
“I’m not not done. It was something about us being the in-between, from your first one-on-one until you end up with him, we are all the in-between. I’ve heard it. They’ve heard it.” --Mara
“I’ve never said that, Mara. I can tell you that.” --Sarah
“I felt like Mara was just being honest … It did kind of seem like it was her and Clayton against the House.” --Rachel
“It would be wonderful and very fair to the other women if you could step back from that manipulation and those overconfident cocky words.” --Marah (to Sarah)
“She’s walking around like she’s already got it in the bag. But I think it will come back to bite her in the ass. It’ll all come out in the end.” --Mara (about Sarah after her elimination)
I can’t believe this is reality, and that’s the way I feel when I’m with Susie as well.” --Clayton (about one-on-one with Susie)
“I know you saw a lot of feelings. Some of them were honest. Thank you for that. Some of them weren’t honest. And, um, they were… let’s call it performative.” --Dr. Katherine Rippensburg (after therapy sessions on group date)
“We keep hearing all this stuff that she’s saying to us we’re, like, not asking for and it seems at this point like she was manipulating us to get us to pull away. … It’s scary to think I could have truly gave up on this process.” --Rachel (about Sarah)
Yeah, it has been hard. And I have considered leaving. But none of it ever really had to do with you.” --Teddi (about Sarah)
“I’ve been hearing that women in the house have felt uncomfortable and have wanted to leave because they felt like, based off of what they were hearing, they felt that there was no chance. Like everything was over before it started. Like you and I had this extremely strong connection where, like, I had already made my decision.” --Clayton (to Sarah)
“Everything I say or do is wrong and it’s only happened in the last week.” --Sarah (saying women ganged up on her after second one-on-one)
“I’’m just gonna be real, I really felt like you were trying to fake cry to me. It didn’t feel genuine at all.” --Clayton
“I honestly have, like, no tears left because this has been a really, really tough week.” --Sarah
“Sarah, at this point, I don’t believe you.” --Clayton (walking her out)
“We’re going through a tunnel.” --Serene (in horse-drawn carriage on one-on-one)