Instead, they left it up to those leads, so it was Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia flying by the seats of their cocktail dresses as they kicked off the season with a record 32 suitors. Will there be jealousy? How will they decide who to boot? How will dates work?
We have no idea, and returning host Jesse Palmer was quick to tell us that he had no idea, either. When Gabby and Rachel asked him how it would work, he basically punted it over to them to figure out. Honestly, it would have been nice for production to at least have some structure for the ladies, or some guidance.
Already, by the end of this first night, the women basically had to throw out the rulebook about how each season of "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" starts. With two of them and 32 men, there was no way they were going to get to talk to all of the guys. So what do you do with a Rose Ceremony looming?
The solution for the ladies was a little unorthodox, but only kicks the can down the street a bit. Instead of having a pile of roses and figuring out who's going to hand them out and how that's going to work, they effectively canceled the Rose Ceremony entirely. But that's not to say no one went home.
Instead, they treated it like later in the season, pulling out three guys that they did both get a chance to meet and who were basically duds.
Actually, we didn't think magician Roby was all that problematic, but twins Joey and Justin talking to the women was like watching two layers of paint dry at the same time. They have no personalities at all!
But that was it. Three guys went home, leaving 29 still in the running (which is still more than most seasons start with). Things are going to get complicated in a hurry, as proven by several season-long teasers we saw throughout the night.
It looks like Gabby and Rachel will be trying different things as the season goes along. We saw solo dates, we saw double dates and, of course, there will be group dates. Will they both be on all of them? Who knows.
The biggest thing was already a factor in tonight's episode. How do the guys navigate two leads. Do they pursue both at the same time? At some point, they'll have to choose one over the other, which could cause problems if there's chemistry on both sides.
That meant we saw men rejecting Rachel's offer of a rose because they'd decided they were here for Gabby. Suddenly, the men have some control and power over how this plays out, as well. That's never been seen before and changes the whole dynamic.
What happens when only one of the women wants to continue dating a guy. He's there, but just for her? Will they start separating the guys into two groups? And how will they feel about guys who are still interested in dating them both? How long will that be acceptable?
This started out messy and it looks like it's only going to get messier from here. It's a grand experiment and without any structure, it looks like it's slowly failing forward. We may get through this season, but there is a lot of cringe to come.
It's more than just a rose -- though these were the only two given out this week at all. Yes, they each got a First Impression Rose to hand out, and thankfully they aren't looking at the same guys yet. But it was a night of first impressions, both out of limos and at the party. So who stood out?
Tino had Rachel's attention from the jump, pulling up in a forklift and cracking a lame joke. He then brings her to the stairs to try and help her create better memories to the stairs than the ones she had when she cried during Clayton Echard's season, culminating in a very polite ask if he can kiss her.
Tino was a gentleman and very charming. She was into him from the moment she saw him, and that carried all the way through the night with her quickly deciding he would get her First Impression Rose. So he's one to watch on her side, as he seems into her as well.
Ryan seemed to have a great rapport with Gabby, who was constantly cracking jokes during Clayton's season. He shushed her and went toe to toe with her on the jokes and burns. Gabby also clicked with Mario on a more genuine level, and again with the jokes with Erich.
Erich, though, also made a strong effort to connect with Rachel. This is fine as that's what they're expected to do, but it was the fact he said he was "pissed" when he didn't get either First Impression Rose, like he felt he deserved it. That's one to watch for worrisome reasons if he's feeling entitled and now snubbed.
Gabby held out longer, but ultimately she didn't go with the guy who made her laugh. Instead, she went for the deeper connection she and Mario shared in their time together.
It's also worth noting that while the guys were worried about kissing both girls and what signal that would send, the ladies were frustrated that so many of the guys weren't kissing them. And both of the First Impression guys -- they went for it!
We're not sure if we've ever seen a season premiere that spent so much time bashing a prior lead. Gabby and Rachel got their jabs in, and they perhaps earned that right with what Clayton put them through, but it wasn't just them.
Trashing Clayton was a recurring theme throughout the introductions from the guys right out of the limo. Even the women were kind of getting sick of his name coming up over and over again. This is a new journey and a new chapter.
Clayton was a terrible Bachelor and his season was messy in all the worst possible ways. We're expecting messy here, but we think we have better leads so at least it will be genuine, honest and not nearly as horny -- Clayton was definitely letting his lust dictate things at times.
What we're hoping is that this will be a one-time bashing session, because he doesn't seem like a terrible human being and this had to be a very hard premiere for him to watch (if he did) and it will be hard when he inevitably hears about it.
That said, we have to agree with Gabby and Rachael that the quartet singing an original sing ("Clayton Sucks") was actually quite charming. But from there, it's time to shift focus to the women. You can talk about how they were challenged (like Rachel crying on the stairs) in his season, but it's not necessary to just lob personal insults at him all season long.
There's going to be plenty of drama without all of that, based on those promos. Plenty of tears and heartache and what look like some genuinely hard moments for both leads as they struggle with issues of worthiness and self-esteem. But it's also sweet to see that they remain steadfast in their support for one another -- a key component in them surviving their rough season of "The Bachelor."