At long last, Clare Crawley finally began her Bachelorette 2020 journey on Tuesday evening. However, if anyone really won premiere night, it was Dale Moss, her most dreamy suitor. It was Dale who Clare dubbed “her husband” seconds after meeting him. It’s Dale who immediately found thousands on fervent fans on Twitter (myself included). It’s Dale who got the first impression rose, confirming his status as a The Bachelorette season 16’s most likely winner, considering precedent.
But there’s a catch: The Bachelorette hasn’t actually told us anything about Dale. Instead, “Week 1” chooses to subtly lean on Dale’s natural good looks and explosive chemistry with Clare, rather than his own words. This unexpected — and easy to miss — decision suggests two very differently editing paths are ahead for Clare’s most eligible man through season 16. Only one of them is flattering.
Going into the Bachelor premiere, fans were most excited to meet Dale, who is the subject of some very well-known Bachelor Nation rumors. Yet, “Week 1” uses him sparingly during the lead up to the limo arrivals. In the opening section, where we see Clare’s contestants pack up their lives and head to Palm Springs, Dale received just a few seconds of screen time. Other men get far more memorable snippets, like Blake Moynes and his howling dog. It’s Garin Flowers who explains the stress of heading to film in Palm Springs after months of quarantine and COVID-19 tests. Once it’s time for another round of on-set testing, Uzoma “Eazy” Nwachukwu becomes the de facto narrator of the process’ discomfort; Eazy holds on to those narrator responsibilities for the remainder of the episode.
On the other hand, we don’t even get a glimpse of how Dale passed his days in isolation before filming began. At least Ivan Hall showed us his chess skills.
“Week 1” then uses Dale’s limo position against establishing him as a character. Because Dale is one of the last arrivals we see — on Tuesday’s Bachelor Party podcast episode, former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay said he was the final entrance during production — the ex-football player is left out of the character-building confessionals and conversations that take place during the cocktail party. While Clare gives two separate and prolonged explanations about her instant connection with Dale directly after their introduction — one goes to host Chris Harrison and the other is a confessional — Dale himself never talks to the camera about the interaction from his perspective.
We don’t see Dale in a confessional, which is the key avenue towards getting to know contestants at this packed stage of the competition, until he already has his first impression rose. Dale mostly shares a few expected thoughts, saying it’s “huge” to get the first impression rose and that he has connected on “so many levels” with the Bachelorette. The closest Dale gets to showing his personality is saying that in a perfect world he would like to talk to Clare for “a couple more hours.” He cuts himself off before admitting he would “fall asleep” with Clare in this fantasy scenario.
That’s why we have to focus on the content of Clare and Dale’s conversations, which, again, were fairly thin, considering the buildup around their relationship. Dale and Clare interact three times over “Week 1.” Although the physicality of their introduction is maybe a series-best — the way Dale picks her up! — Clare learns nothing about Dale other than the fact that he is a “hugger.” Clare and Dale’s first conversation focuses on the her path to the Bachelorette and personal difficulties during the beginning of the pandemic. In response, Dale reveals he had trouble seeing his own immunocompromised sister during the shelter-at-home period, which is important — but more about Dale’s family than Dale. Personality-wise he reveals he is “an empath” and has been “shut down” to relationships for a while, which feels like standard first-date Bachelor Nation chatter. When Clare gives Dale the first impression rose, the conversion is solely about their mutual attraction.
In contrast, on Clare’s original season of The Bachelor, Juan Pablo Galavis’ first impression rose winner Sharleen Joynt had already dazzled the Bachelor with extremely funny tales of her life as an opera singer in Germany. Dale — on camera at least — hasn’t told us anything about his job, where he lives, or how he generally spends his time. This feels especially egregious since he previously led a fascinating-for-TV life as an athlete who left pro-football to live in New York City and serve as an ambassador for the Special Olympics.
It is possible The Bachelor is keeping Dale’s interior world a mystery to set up a plotline initiated in the post-episode season 16 trailer. During the sneak peek, we see Ed Waisbrot accuse Dale of being “phony,” “fraudulent,” and “everything fake” for the sake of the camera. This suggests that Dale will be under suspicion for joining The Bachelorette “For the Wrong Reasons” due to his obvious front-runner status. If The Bachelorette doen’t give Dale a chance to explain his feelings and history, it’s easier to believe he could be a liar.
But there is also an optimistic possibility here: The Bachelorette may just know it doesn’t have to work very hard to cement a character who won’t have to stick around for very long, if that Clare-leaves-The-Bachelorette-early gossip is to be believed (and the trailer wants you to believe it). Why spend all your time getting to know Dale when it’s the other men who are days away from being thrown into unprecedented Bachelor Nation chaos?