Welcome back to The Bachelor, where everything is made up and the points don’t matter. A quick refresher: instead of closing with the typical rose ceremony, Episode 2 cut off just after Nick had sent home Liz for running her mouth about their one-night stand months earlier. Voiceover of his concerns about the women abandoning him plays over footage of Nick wrinkling his brow.
Episode 3 opens at the pre-elimination cocktail party, where Nick drops the “bombshell” about Liz’s departure. He expresses his concerns, but while we hear disembodied voices saying that “the girls are going crazy” and “it makes you question what Nick’s intentions are,” we don’t actually see anyone looking too bothered. Multiple women assure Nick that they don’t care, and one woman (who almost certainly has a name; I just don’t know it) even asked why what Liz did was any different from the maneuver Nick pulled when he rolled up to Kaitlyn Bristowe’s season. On the whole, it kind of seemed like it didn’t matter. So, in that case, what is the value-add of delaying the rose ceremony other than annoying the crap out of me?
Unsurprisingly, the only person who actually responded is Corinne, who managed to take offense that Liz had sex with Nick before Corinne got to. Corinne decided she was “ready for that sexual, mysterious connection” in the middle of the cocktail party so she took off all her clothes, put on an ill-fitting trench coat, and went to win Nick over with a can of Reddi-Wip (you will probably not be surprised to learn that Reddi-Wip is a sponsor of The Bachelor and has featured past contestants in their commercials. Nothing improves seduction like some good cross-marketing!).
I don’t know how to describe Nick’s reaction without sounding judgmental. That said, it made me deeply uneasy to watch a 36-year-old man with a reputation as a lecher ogle a word-slurringly hammered 24-year-old woman who is attempting to literally win his “love” by offering him Reddi-Wip off her décolletage.
“You are a treat,” Nick growls, and Corinne sexy-pouts for him and the camera while spraying whipped cream on her chest. In the least effective dirty talk of all time, Corinne implores him to “take it off my boob!” Which he does.
He’s saved from temptation by Jasmine, who is passing by (or was sent there by a producer to break them up). After Nick leaves with Jasmine, Corinne starts sobbing. She says she feels degraded and wants to go home, then passes out in bed. The whole fiasco shores up the theory that Corinne is more unpleasant and difficult than intentionally villainous; she’s a deeply insecure person who has no idea how deep her spiral goes. Notably, she does not rejoin the group for the rest of the evening.
Thankfully, a rose ceremony does finally happen. I didn’t recognize the majority of the women in the room; how am I supposed to get invested in my fantasy team if I don’t know who any of them are? The best moment was when Alexis, the dolphin-shark, was awarded a rose and had to elbow her way down from the top row. “Move, b****es!” she said, as the women in front of her struggled to contain their laughter (a reminder that some of the women are, in fact, quite good at making friends). After unnecessarily tense music and the exit of some crying randos, we’re left with eighteen women (…only five of whom are within ten years of Nick’s age. But that’s neither here nor there).
The first group date of the week is shockingly legit: the Backstreet Boys stroll into the mansion to greet the seven women who will serve as their backup dancers at a concert. At this point, my friends and I straight-up screamed. Usually musical guests on The Bachelor are “up and coming” “singer-songwriters” who give private concerts during one-on-one dates while the couple on the date sway-dances awkwardly and everyone at home cringes. But this is the Backstreet Boys; I wasn’t even a fan and I still know most of the words to their songs (and would totally freak out about getting to go on this group date. Which I think is the first time I’ve said this about any group date in the history of the show).
The focus of the date (other than to let the contestants live out their adolescent fantasies) is showcasing Corinne out of her element: turns out Corn’s not so good at, as she calls it, “planned dancing.” Corinne actually doesn’t look that terrible, but she keeps getting more and more upset until she finally leaves the rehearsal space to go cry in the bathroom. This conveniently gives the rest of the ladies time to shit-talk her for having an attitude problem. The performance basically looks like a Backstreet Boys Zumba class (actually, if that class existed I would totally go to it at Hemenway) and the girls look like they’re having fun (But the chokers! If someone has a hot take on why with the chokers, please let me know. I lived through it in the 90s and I’m not really ready for it to happen again). Danielle L. and Nick make out onstage, and Corinne describes it as “the worst day in [her] life.” So now I’m not sure whether to pity or envy her, because if the worst thing that’s ever happened to her is watching a guy she’s known for a week make out with someone else, kiddo is doing just fine.
There are a few other noteworthy moments. First: Corinne is so pleased with a semi-successful conversation explaining her rose ceremony absence to Nick that she smugly declares to the camera that “It made Corinne great again!” It was the closest I came to throwing up in my mouth throughout the episode (and this is an episode that features actual throwing up, so that’s saying something).
Second: Corinne tells the other ladies about her nanny and they are shocked and appalled. I am, too. What is wrong with you, Corinne? Call her your personal assistant like a normal rich person! Then, Corinne passes out drunk on a bench. The producers need to stop feeding her alcohol, because this is reaching Meat Chad levels of concerning.
Third: Nick and Danielle L. get very cozy while having the most meaningless conversation possible and eventually making out. Nick slides a hand between her legs before realizing he can’t actually get to third base with a camera directly on them (this isn’t Bachelor in Paradise, after all). Danielle unsurprisingly gets the group date rose, and the date is finally over.
Back at the mansion, Vanessa (the trilingual special education teacher from Montreal) receives a one-on-one date card. I didn’t hear what it said because I was too busy discussing with my friends whether I could use the word “fingerbang” in this recap. But they end up having a dope date: riding on a zero-gravity plane! It’s cute and it looks like they’re having fun until Vanessa starts booting it into a barf bag. Nick is surprisingly sweet and sticks around to take care of her. The most interesting thing about this segment, to me, is that you can see that a producer is there with them the entire time. Watching this show, it’s easy to forget that every interaction happens in the presence of a multitude of other people. It weirded me out to see Nick and Vanessa acting like they were on their own while a producer sat directly beside them, but that’s what they’re used to. Every moment of their relationship is shared with other people.
Their night concludes with dinner on top of a tall building, and yet again some Personal Details are shared (the contents are beside the point, no one really cares about backstory here), but it doesn’t feel forced, and I saw more chemistry on this date than on Danielle M.’s last week. It seems genuine in a way that we rarely see (and that I never expect) from this show. Obviously, she gets a rose.
The final group date card says “I’m done playing the field,” which doesn’t actually make sense because all they do on the date is play on a field in that they go through a series of absurd track and field games. Far more importantly, three legitimate superstars lead them through these exercises: Carl Lewis, Allyson Felix, and Michelle Carter. We’re talking sixteen gold medals between the three of them. I sincerely hope they were paid well for this nonsense.
The only other moment of interest during this date: Nick and Rachel (the 31-year-old lawyer) seem to be having a lovely and personal conversation and he tells her she seems very “mature.” (She doesn’t take offense at this, but I kind of do. “Mature” is how you describe teenagers who manage to converse politely with relatives at the holidays.) Rachel gets the group date rose, which suggests Nick is at least willing to consider the women who have actual real things to offer. I think we can all agree that these are the women he least deserves.
Finally, we reach the day of the rose ceremony, but instead of a cocktail party, they have a pool party. Everyone is immediately hammered and it kind of seems the same as a cocktail party but with an increased risk of drowning. And, naturally, Corinne has inflated a bouncy house in which to grind up on Nick’s business. The other ladies, looking over the walls of the inflatable castle, are Not Pleased with this turn of events, and one by one they all lay into him for not taking this process seriously. Vanessa (who is quickly becoming my favorite) puts it well: “I’m not judging Corinne; I’m judging your actions. It was enough for me to question if you’re looking for a wife or if you’re looking for someone to [bleep] around with. Because at that point I’d just rather you not give me a rose.”
DAMN. And with that, we got another irritating To Be Continued. Guess we’ll have to wait until next week to see which interchangeable unnamed women no longer have to bear witness to Hurricane Corn. If only the viewers at home could be so lucky.
 Editor’s note: more like shortstop.