Love’s a game and this year we’re playing. For the full rules and intellectual justification of The Verge Bachelor Fantasy League please see this explanatory post. For a little background on why this is poised to be the best-ever season of The Bachelor, see this essay by culture editor Chris Plante:
Lizzie: Break out your protective padding, cause it’s Fantasy Suite season on the Bachelor. In this universe, “fantasy suite” is code for what is scientifically known as “banging.” Normally, this is all very hush-hush, a behind-closed-doors kind of thing. But because Nick is the first Bachelor who has already had sex in the Fantasy Suite multiple times and talked about it on national TV almost constantly for three years, a lot of that pretend modesty is gone this time around.
Last night’s episode started off with ex-Bachelorette Andi Dorfman “unexpectedly” visiting Nick in his hotel room under the guise of a friendly check-in with an old flame who’s now dating three women, but it was really just a way to remind us all that Nick once said “If you weren't in love with me, I'm just not sure why you made love with me,” to Andi on national television. Andi destroys the mirage of the fantasy suite as a place for cuddling and long talks about your childhood dog by explicitly asking Nick if he plans to have sex with any of the women. Nick shrugs and smirks, musing that maybe he’ll be able to make better decisions if his head isn’t clouded with sex-fog.
Where in past seasons, any fantasy suite talk was met with closed eyes and loud humming, a much less subtle tone has already been set for Nick’s next three dates: will they or won’t they?
Kaitlyn: I know who definitely won’t, and that’s Corrine (-10), who was sent packing at a rose ceremony held outside a slate-gray condominium complex in our very own Brooklyn, New York.
OH MY GOD! My apartment just got very loud!! #TheBachelor— Natalie Schmidt (@schmidtnat) February 28, 2017
I don’t remember Nick asking permission to hang out in our borough Lizzie, but I’m taking comfort in the fact that NYC basically blew its nose on him the whole time he was here. The weather was blustery and damp, which made everyone look very embarrassing — mostly Vanessa, who was wearing a horrible Thunderbirds-era leather jacket over a Wet Seal “Grecian” prom dress (+3).
As my last remaining Bachelor Fantasy League contestant and the only person who has provided regular spurts of entertainment on this TV show, Corrine was hard to say goodbye to. And her goodbye was pretty hard to watch: it’s always been a little weird that Nick is 36 years old and Corrine is 24, but it’s never been more disconcerting and vaguely tragic than when he was kissing her on the forehead, calling her “kiddo,” and assuring her that she didn’t do anything wrong. Is there anything more humiliating in this life than a condescending, paternalistic dumping?
Corrine, our girl, got over it in about five minutes. After a quick ugly-cry session (+7) in the limo she announced that she was “done” trying to impress men and that she would like a nap. It was the most mature break-up response ABC’s reality TV roster has ever seen. Looking back on the nine weeks Corrine and I spent together, I’m glad they happened, I appreciate all the Fantasy League points she netted me, and I can’t wait to spend six more with her in “Paradise,” the convincing, naturally occurring island where ABC puts everyone who fails at love the first time, second time, or third time. I love summer.
Now that that’s out of the way it’s time to talk about my favorite episode of The Bachelor in years. Why was this episode so good? First of all, it was one hour long instead of two. Second, Raven simply could not stop saying the word “orgasm” on primetime television (not totally her fault as they played every clip approximately 47 times), and I’m giddy over those inevitable FCC complaints. Third, Nick’s sweater and the tweets about Nick’s sweater.
Lizzie: As you note, Kaitlyn, last night’s episode was only an hour long, presumably to continue this season’s theme of “why is every episode structured so weirdly?” Not only was the rose ceremony again held at the beginning of the hour, but time constraints meant we only got to see the first half of a single date last night.
Because the producers have decided that it’s finally okay for this to be the sex episode, Raven’s sexual history was unleashed, in Finland of all places, and she could not stop talking about it. First she tells Nick that she’s only had sex with one man, which is fewer people than Nick has had sex with on the Bachelor franchise. Then, at every new location on their date, which included a snow drift and a pub, Raven makes a point of telling Nick that her ex-boyfriend never gave her an orgasm. Hard to say if Raven meant this as a preemptive apology, warning, or instruction, but Nick looked so uncomfortable his head seemed to slide even deeper into his giant cable-knit turtleneck with each reminder. Nick tells Raven he doesn’t have any “expectations” for the evening, while his eyes scream, “What is an orgasm?”
Raven: "I've never had an orgasm"— Mitchell (@mitchoski) February 28, 2017
Nick: "I think I know what you need"
*keeps turtleneck on during sex*#TheBachelor
When they’re not explicitly talking about sex, Nick and Raven play darts (+5), which, if you’re not aware, is a game in which you try to aim a long pointy thing at a tiny circular red target. Raven is not good at this game, but Nick picks her up and carries her body right to the bull’s eye. Do… you... get… the… metaphor?
Later, the only way Raven can get Nick’s head back out of his turtleneck, which has by now slithered over the entirety of his face, is to tell him she loves him (+10). She announces this by way of very long monologue about his family and her family, which feels scripted but is cute enough. Raven has also never said “I love you” to a boy before, so this could be a big night of firsts for her. The episode ends as Raven and Nick head to their Finnish boning cabin, leaving us to wonder if Raven is going to update us on her orgasm status once the date is over.
Kaitlyn: Raven has not been awarded any sex night points yet, and won’t be until she dishes the dirt. Gal pal, we want to hear some of the details but not all of them. For example, we don’t need to know if Nick is good at sex because he already told us the answer to that on Bachelor in Paradise and the answer was no.
As Corrine was the only remaining member of my team, this week was my last as a participant in the Bachelor Fantasy League. The same goes for our news editor Jake Kastrenakes, who finished in sixth place (out of six). I don’t know about Jake but I’m really going to miss the special Tuesday morning ritual of coming into work and saying “good morning Jake,” and then Jake says “how did I do?” and then I say “Jake why didn’t you watch the show” and then Jake says “it’s pointless for me to watch because you just cheat and make up the scores anyway” and then we don’t talk to each other for five hours.
after months of @jake_k viciously accusing me of cheating, we were eliminated from bachelor fantasy league at the exact same time. beautiful— Kaitlyn Tiffany (@kait_tiffany) February 28, 2017
It’s often a challenge to acknowledge that something nice has ended, and some people are not up for that challenge. For example: Nick Viall. It was recently announced that, following whatever kind of love fate Nick achieves on The Bachelor, he will be appearing on the next season of Dancing with the Stars on ABC. Several other former Bachelors have made that jump, but the most memorable example is Sean Lowe — a terrible tweeter / my nemesis who also appeared on Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars yet somehow has tons of opinions on the deficiencies of others. The only moments in which I have ever felt like I am “Team Nick” have been when he’s sparring with Sean on Twitter in defense of Corrine’s right to be interested in sex or his own right to ignore condescending advice from a lame misogynist. I really don’t want to see Nick branching out and turning into Sean, the only former Bachelor who is worse than Nick. I’m also curious why The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss allegedly thinks it’s inappropriate for women alums of his series to chase fame on DWTS but doesn’t feel the same about male alums who are far more obnoxious.
We’ll see. Maybe love will save Nick, as it may one day save us all.
Tune in next week when we find out if ABC was serious about being sexually frank this season or if Nick plans to pull some last-minute swerve (as he hinted this week by saying “maybe I should just keep my mind clear”) and play it PG. I’m rooting for the former, as I love it when Sean Lowe is too uncomfortable to live-tweet.
Loren Grush: Raven (+31)
League total: 306
Kara Verlaney: Raven (+31)
League total: 275
Chris Plante: Vanessa (+18)
League total: 273
Kaitlyn Tiffany: Corrine (-3)
League total: 267
Lizzie Plaugic: Vanessa (+18)
League total: 245
Jake Kastrenakes: Corrine (-3)
League total: 198
Note: Jake and Kaitlyn are done for, please clap.