In the year 2040, there will be an etiquette guide that gives the following advice:
"Never tell the Bachelor something about another girl in the house. It will be difficult for the Bachelor to understand the layers of treason that occurred, and, most often, he will question your motive."
Am I picturing a future in which everyone is forced to mate in a Bachelor-style living situation? Yes. Do I think that could plausibly happen? Absolutely. But that's irrelevant.
The person at fault this time around is Onyeka, who's been at the center of these scuffles before. In the season premiere, she pulled Catherine the DJ aside to address Catherine's conduct. Here, Onyeka instead goes straight to the source: She tells Colton something she heard about Nicole from Elyse. Still following? The chain of command here is confusing, even to the women involved. Elyse, who takes a graceful, swanlike exit this episode, told Onyeka before she left that Nicole told her that she saw the show as an opportunity to get out of Miami. (You know, The Bachelor isn't a terrible excuse to leave your hometown.) Onyeka delivers this news to Colton, who then takes it straight back to Nicole. But then Tayshia intervenes, telling Onyeka firmly that she was present for that conversation, and Nicole never said anything of the sort. This is the least fun game of telephone.
None of this goes well for anyone involved — actually, the only people to have a grand time in Thailand are Heather and Cassie, who get the two most anticipated dates of the season so far. Heather's date is anticipated because, well, she's never been kissed, and Cassie's is anticipated because Colton really likes Cassie. While the rest of the women are having existential crises about the purpose of the show — a good use of time, really — Heather and Cassie are gliding through, enjoying the magic carpet ride of it all.
All the while, the Bachelor's sound editors had a blast. There's marimba for Colton's date with Cassie and dead, atmospheric silence for Heather's pre-kiss parts of her date. No one, I say, no one has as much fun as the editors on reality television. Need proof? Look to all the needless close-ups of Colton's mouth — Colton's mouth talking, Colton's mouth eating shrimp. An editor's paradise, this show.
Heather has been an especially interesting character this season. A champion of the rest of the women and a relatively fun commentator, she's always been around. She's so present and cheerful that you might have forgotten she's never been kissed. The technicality here is also fuzzy. Has she never been kissed? Or has she never kissed anyone? How nitty-gritty are we getting?
She gets into her dating history with Colton, telling him that she dated on and off through high school and college, but never ended up kissing anyone. (Colton, meanwhile, talks about the rocks and the water and the atmosphere. At one point, he asks, "Do you blow kisses?") Most impressively, she dated a guy for eight months whom she did not kiss. "Relationship" is a generous term for this. Regardless, Heather gets her first kiss on camera, on The Bachelor, in front of a host of fireworks. Heather won the season, no matter what happens next.
What happens next, at least in terms of the show, is beginning to become obvious, too. Cassie, like many contestants before her, is painfully, obviously successful. Colton really likes Cassie. Colton is bashful around Cassie. Cassie is bashful around Colton. In an earlier episode, he told her she was "quirky." This episode, they are dropped at a remote island that is, essentially, a big pile of sand. They resist the urge to reenact the title of a popular tiki drink and instead reenact a sweet rom-com, smooching a ton in the water with legs akimbo. Colton and Cassie really like each other. This is apparent in the way they snuggle; this is apparent in the way they cozy up to one another in Colton's hotel bed. This is apparent in the way Cassie talks to Colton.
She's one of the few contestants not to recount anything dramatic or tragic on the dinner portion of the date date. Well, I spoke too soon: She relays to him that she's not a virgin. She, like Hannah B., seems to feel guilty because of it. "How do you do it?" she asks Colton, seemingly asking how he got away with being a virgin. (She might also have been asking about how he deals with shame.) He's comfortable with who he is, he replies, and she should do the same. The conclusion: The two kids are crazy about one another. This might have been the first time he's ever been truly comfortable on camera, too. Cassie is Colton's safe zone.
"“You’re special," he tells her.
“You’re special," she replies.
The Bachelor is mostly a show not about love, so when it does get truly goopy, it's gross.
Maybe because Cassie is passing this test with flying colors, the rest of the drama starts to feel stale. Why pay attention to the squabbles when there is real, live, love happening in front of our eyes? Beyond Cassie, Elyse's exit is also fairly poignant. Like Peter Kraus before her, Elyse cannot fathom loving Colton after four weeks of dating him sporadically. And she does like him! She's concerned that she'll break her heart if she stays. She likes him enough that not falling in love with him will hurt her more than if she fell in love with him in the real world. She's not wrong; falling in love off-camera's not fun, but at least there's no sharing happening.
Elyse is one of the lucky ones, escaping just before things get dire. By "dire," I mean: Onyeka and Nicole having one of the show's more senseless fights in its history. Nicole, frustrated that Onyeka told Colton that she was an opportunist, tells Colton that Onyeka is a "bully." This leads to Onyeka speaking with Nicole about what is likely a lie. In a world where 25 women live together in a house all trying to date the same guy, what is bullying? The situation itself is one big bully, so it's hard for Nicole to use that word clearly. (It's also, like the popular buzzword "hater," more often used to dismiss criticism.) Their conversation mounts to such a high that Colton has to intervene. He can't get a word in edgewise, though, which feels symbolic. Colton, this fight isn't about you, nor does it really matter in your journey. This fight matters more to Nicole's and Onyeka's collective journeys, should they enter the hallowed halls of Bachelor in Paradise.
The episode ends when Colton runs away from the cocktail party, effectively changing the direction of the conversation. All of a sudden, the girls wonder: Wait, while we were arguing, was Colton falling apart? It's like the fifth Harry Potter book, when Harry starts to fall apart! Where do we go when our protagonist decides to stop steering the ship?
Leonardo DiCaprio's The Departed: No one. The episode ends on a cliffhanger.