The Bachelorette Season 16 Premiere Recap: We’re Back, Baby!

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Welcome back, Bachelor Nation. It’s finally time for Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette. But, since it’s happening seven months after The Bachelor instead of the usual two, we need to refresh our minds. We need to get the Bachelor part of our brains working again. So, here’s a list of things to trick our psyches and take us back to March 2020. Ready? 
Peter Weber being a pot stirrer. Barb sobbing “bring her home.” Hearing the name “Hannah Ann” one thousand times. Clare talking to raccoons on Bachelor in Paradise. Clare putting Juan Pablo Galavis in his place. The fact that Listen to Your Heart happened this year and wasn’t a collective fever dream.
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Ah, yes! I feel alive! The Bachelor blood is flowing! We’re finally back! In the words of Bachelorette foremother JoJo Fletcher, “Bring on the men!”
Bring them on to the La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs, California and leave them there for several weeks without any escape to the outside world. Hey, we might have The Bachelorette back, but this season is looking different thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, there’s the very open rumor about Clare leaving the show early on. A preview for the season shown at the beginning of the premiere doesn’t shy away from this, and it’s a great move. The show knows that we know things, so they’re teasing what we don’t know: how the contestants react and how the show dealt with it all. (Still no mention of Tayshia Adams yet.)
Then, we launch into the actual start to the episode, which is a chance to relive the early days of the pandemic. Great. That is not stressful at all. Chris Harrison explains that “it took a lot of work, a lot of patience, and a whole lot of testing” to get the show going, and we get some video footage of Clare and the contestants quarantining and getting their COVID tests. Yeah, the swab is uncomfortable. We don’t need a reminder. We also get a reminder that people can safely walk around in a COVID-free environment thanks to masks, social distancing, and repeat testing. If only there was a way to apply this logic to the real world...  
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But we’re not in the real world right now, we’re in Bachelorette land and it’s time for limo arrivals. It seems even more silly than ever that the men are arriving in limos, because they totally could’ve just walked over from their hotel rooms. Some notable arrivals include: Jason, who recreated Clare’s pregnancy prank from her own limo arrival on Juan Pablo’s season; Eazy, who popped through a giant “your future husband” sign; and Bennett, a “wealth management consultant” who looks like that phrase personified and who arrived in a white Rolls-Royce wearing a tux. 
But the most notable arrival is Dale. (You may have heard of Dale, depending on how many rumors you’ve read about the season.) Dale doesn’t do anything in particular. He has no gimmicks. He just says something pretty general about being happy to meet Clare. But, after he walks away, Clare looks directly into the camera and says, “I knew it. I definitely feel like I just met my husband.” Chris walks up and is like, um, what did you just say? Clare tells him, “Every other guy I felt confident with. But with Dale, everything else just went dark around me.”
Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Chris says that in all his years of hosting the show, he’s never had a contestant say she met her husband during limo arrivals. And while that is definitely significant — and knowing Clare’s flair for the dramatic, I’m not at all surprised she was the one to make this Bachelor history — also keep in mind that many past contestants probably have spoken directly to the camera for whatever reason or had a strong reaction to a contestant, but we just haven’t seen it. Usually, the show wants to keep anything that could possibly give away the ending under wraps. That's not exactly the case in this unconventional season.
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Soon, all the contestants are there and Clare is ready to go talk to the guys inside, especially Dale. Their conversation is interesting to watch, because Clare has already decided that they will spend the rest of their lives together, but he doesn’t know that. So, when he says something as mundane as “I always say I’m an empath," she exclaims, “Me too!” as if that’s just the sign she needed to know that they’re meant to be. 
But while Clare is chatting up the men one-on-one, some drama starts to go down within the group. Tyler C (not that Tyler C) confronts Yosef about “being reckless on Instagram and flirting with girls where I’m from.” Yosef denies it, and immediately goes to talk to Clare himself to get ahead of the gossip. Clare, in turn, goes to get Tyler C, so they call all talk together. Clare doesn’t take any crap — She’s the opposite of her predecessor Peter in that way. He seemed to actively enjoy taking crap — and I hope she stays on the show long enough to sort out at least a couple more confrontations. 
Clare hears both sides: Tyler C heard what Yosef did from a friend who he supposedly DM’d. Yosef denies it and says, “The main thing is, do I have a girlfriend? No.” That's a red flag, if you ask me. That’s not even what he’s being accused of. Clare ditches the convo, is like “Do what you gotta do,” and goes to finish talking to her other suitors.
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One of these suitors is Blake Moynes. (We have two Blakes, both with last names that start with M). Clare explains that he broke the rules of the show by reaching out to her in the time before the show started filming. But, she says, his rule breaking meant everything to her, and they share the first kiss of the season.
I like Blake Moynes, and he would be a great candidate for the first impression rose, but, of course, it goes to Dale, who Clare kisses as soon as she pins it on his lapel. I love so much that Clare is obsessed with Dale, but that Dale thinks he is just a normal contestant.
At the rose ceremony, Clare does not send herself home and “blow up The Bachelorette — it’s not happening this week, people — but she does send home Tyler C. Yosef gets to stay. Well, at least she separated them. Page, Chris, and Mike also head home, but it’s cool. We don’t even know them. Unfortunately, they have to leave a COVID-free resort, so that really makes things more of a bummer. For all of us.
The preview at the end of the episode shows us a lot of Clare kissing guys, a lot of her with Dale, contestants claiming Dale is a bad guy, Clare “not apologizing for love. Ever.” And then, finally, a tease of... Tayshia Adams? A limo arrives, the door opens, and they don’t even show us a leg stepping out. No, no, that would be too obvious. But I think it’s Tayshia. It has to be, right? We will find out next week? The week after? Who knows! 
Winners of the episode: All the contestants because they were allowed to gather safely in a large group and hug and handshake and talk without masks. But mostly Dale. 

Losers of the episode: All of us viewers who had to relive the beginning of the pandemic and hear descriptions of the COVID swab test. Also, all of the contestants who aren’t Dale.

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