Is Peter Making A Very Luke P. Mistake On The Bachelor?

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
The Bachelor star Peter Weber is haunted by his Bachelorette ghosts more than previous leads of the franchise. There are the obvious markers, like Peter's weepy three-episode walk down memory lane with his ex, 2019 Bachelorette Hannah Brown. Then there are the smaller fingerprints of last year’s rocky Bachelorette run that continue to show up all over the 2020 Bachelor's psyche. That leg of the reality TV juggernaut was defined by drama created by two men Peter clearly resents: Jed Wyatt and Luke Parker
It is obvious Peter wants to avoid the missteps Hannah made with those suitors. However, as Peter tries to dodge the possibility of ending up with a Jed — “My biggest fear in all this is falling for someone and then getting to the end and realizing they’re not really who they were showing me” — he allows some very Luke P.-esque drama to take hold of his Bachelor season. No episode has made this threat quite so clear as Monday night’s “Week 4,” which is built around Peter’s messy confusion over pageant queen Alayah Benavidez.
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It is necessary here to say that Alayah and Luke P. as people are quite dissimilar. Over Luke's run on The Bachelorette, he revealed himself to be a misogynist manipulator prone to deli-meat-based aggression. Alayah, on the other hand, is a former Miss Texas with a “big personality” who may or may not be “turning it on” for the cameras. Alayah is, at most, a harmless soap opera villain; Luke P. is an actual, real-life villain. 
However, the tension around both Bachelor(ette) characters is almost identical. 
The core problem with Luke for most of season 15 of The Bachelorette — before he attempted to wrest control of Hannah Brown’s sexual expression — was that Hannah allowed drama around him to swallow her season whole. Dates stopped being about finding love and instead became open, cast-wide debates on the intentions, failings, and public opinions of Luke Parker. This issue became exponentially worse as Hannah refused to let Luke go, despite a multitude of discussions on the topic.
Following an already Alayah-heavy “Week 3,” Monday’s “Week 4” is sunk by nearly identical issues — which are made even worse by the fact Peter already eliminated Alayah the week prior over concerns of her “realness.” At the midpoint of “Week 4,” Alayah materializes in the middle of the episode’s Cleveland-set group date. It is never explained how Alayah found the group or why she was allowed back on the show after getting kicked off days earlier. All Alayah says as a form of clarification to Peter is, “There’s just a few things I wanted to talk to you about before I was okay being home.”
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The entire scene smacks of privilege that is immediately insulting to many of the contestants on the group date. 
If Peter simply listened to Alayah’s “things” and then respected his remaining contestants enough to send her home, a true crisis would be averted. The women would likely be irritated that Peter took valuable time from his 13-person cocktail party to speak to someone no longer on the show, but everyone could have worked through it. That is not what happens.
Instead, Peter turns the cocktail party into another symposium on Alayah. Victoria Paul is brought in to speak on the matter. It appears no one else gets any time with Peter, and he ends the party by asking Alayah to rejoin the competition. Peter even gives Alayah the date rose — for a date she was not a part of. To add insult to injury, the date was the football outing, so the women had just played a long tough game of contact sports for Peter’s heart… only to see him hand the rose over to someone who put in no such effort. 
At this point, all of Peter’s cocktail party conversations have been about Alayah, as have the remaining group date members' common room chats. Soon, all of the discussions between the women in the hotel suite are about Alayah, with Victoria Fuller eventually confronting the pageant contestant for spreading rumors. The first thing Peter says on his one-on-one date with Kelsey Weir the next day pertains to the return of Alayah. 
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The suffocation of the Alayah obsession finally bubbles over at the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party. Deandra Kanu, Natasha Parker, and Victoria P. all criticize Peter to his face over his decision to prioritize “pot-stirrer” Alayah over the feelings of the other contestants. Sydney Hightower, whose questions about Alayah’s motivations started this rollercoaster, perfectly explains the problem, telling Peter she hasn’t gotten to tell him a single thing about herself because “we’re dealing with Alayah 24/7.” 
Still, rather than pay attention to the other women, Peter sits down for another conversation with Alayah about the negativity around her. It is impossible not to be reminded of Hannah Brown’s never-ending attempt to understand Luke during their cursed one-on-one date in Scotland. However, Peter's behavior seems even more egregious since Alayah was already eliminated and this examination is taking place in a group setting. Alayah herself isn’t the problem here, Peter’s incompetent mismanagement is. 
All of this chaos comes down to anxieties Peter revealed during “Week 3” after suspicions were first raised about Alayah. “That’s such a fear of mine that I could fall for someone and they’re, you know, fake. I saw it with Hannah last season,” he said, obviously referencing the Jed Wyatt fiasco (finasco?). “Seeing her fall for someone that wasn’t there for the right reasons. I just do not want fake.”  
In Peter’s quest to ferret out fakeness, he has instead unleashed a different form of mayhem into his season. The women may want to blame Alayah for that problem — but this is all on Peter.
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