This post contains spoilers for Monday’s episode of The Bachelor.
Poor Victoria F. never stood a chance. Neither did Victoria P. And come to think of it, neither did the Bachelor himself, Peter Weber. On Monday night, The Bachelor exploded into a dramatic mushroom cloud of rose petals, as producers dredged up a not-so-old flame from one Victoria’s past and forced the other to face an old pageant-world friend she betrayed while on the show. But what really set things off was one decision Peter made—one simple rose that set the whole show ablaze, with nothing but a “To be continued...” on the horizon. It’s not often that The Bachelor actually earns its two-hour runtime—but this week, it definitely did.
The first half of the episode showcased some typical, if expertly deployed, trolling by the producers: Victoria F. and Peter went on a one-on-one date to an amusement park, where they later caught a private concert—performed by Victoria’s ex-boyfriend, country singer and onetime Survivor contestant Chase Rice. As ABC reality Boss Robert Mills tweeted just as the moment happened on-screen, “Years of random concerts about to pay off in 3....2......”
Victoria and Chase dated before she came on the show—and as Victoria later revealed to a producer, he had previously told her he didn’t want her to come on The Bachelor. As Chase performed one of his songs, Victoria and Peter began to dance—and perhaps the best moment from this deliberate cringe-fest came when Victoria, mouthing along with the lyrics, proved she was the only one in the crowd who seemed to know any of this guy’s music. When Victoria and Chase eventually talked, they confirmed that neither of them had known what they were walking into—at which point one imagines a couple of the show’s producers might have high-fived. The two discussed how awkward the entire situation was before parting ways on the note that Victoria should definitely tell Peter what was going on.
Cut to: A dinner date, with Peter staring into a petrified Victoria’s eyes. Soon enough, the medical sales rep spilled her beans: “Tonight, for me everything was so amazing,” she said. “But the end part was a little weird for me because... Chase and I used to date.” Peter took a few beats to get over the weirdness of it all, but in the end the two made up and went back to mumbling about how their relationship is “progressing” or whatever.
But then came another twist: During an absurdly large group date (total women: 13), eliminated contestant and pageant star Alayah came back to share some dirt with Peter. Crashing a conversation between Peter and an already-stressed Shiann, Alayah revealed this important gossip to her man: Actually, she and Victoria P. are friends from their pageant days, and it’s shocking that Victoria P. said otherwise last week, getting Alayah sent home! They even planned a trip to Las Vegas, together, Alayah insisted.
It was at this point that the champagne bottle really popped—for both the date and the episode as a whole. Peter talked to Victoria P., and Alayah, and Victoria P. and Alayah, about their disputed relationship. In the end he seemed more suspicious of Victoria P., but confident enough in Alayah to welcome her back to the season.
Then came, perhaps, the most pivotal moment of the episode: In a wonderful display of tactlessness, Peter gave Alayah the group date rose—for a grueling outing that, we must reiterate, Alayah had not even originally been on. To make matters worse, the football challenge that preceded this group date had left Peter’s contestants bruised and annoyed.
After all, as Peter was figuring his life out with Victoria P. and Alayah, the rest of the women had taken some time to discuss how furious they were with him. If our Bachelor would like to have any women to get down on one knee for at the end of this season, he’ll need to step up the diplomacy game, because these ladies are pissed. What’s more, they’re right to feel that way; Peter’s time management sucks.
And in one final twist of the knife, Alayah decided that rather than lay low, she should burn some more bridges. She spread the news about Victoria’s old flame showing up during her one-on-one date before Victoria F. had told anyone. In fact, Victoria revealed, she had planned not to—but Alayah took the choice out of her hands. It was at this point that Victoria dropped the last remnant of the fragile facade with which she entered this show. “You’re manipulative,” she told Alayah during a heated confrontation. “You are not gonna come in here after being sent the fuck home for good reason.... I have some very choice words to say to Peter, and he’s gonna know who you are as a person.”
All of that would have been enough for Peter to deal with—but that roomful of angry contestants got to him first. “I’ve never felt so under-recognized by somebody,” Deandra said. “Literally, my ankle is still sore [from the group date],” added Natasha. “My knee is still sore, and for you to give [the group date rose to Alayah] of all people, it really, really hurt.” Victoria P. had also grown frustrated with Peter’s lack of trust in her. “If you don’t trust me,” she asked, “then why did you ask me my opinion [about Alayah]?” She also called Peter out for having framed the ordeal to her fellow competitors as though she had influenced him to eliminate Alayah the week before. “I’ve been nothing but honest with you, so I’m confused about why I’m in this position right now,” she said.
By the end, Peter looked absolutely bereft. “They’re not holding back,” he said. “And obviously, they’re upset at me—they’re pissed.... I just feel like I’m doing all of this all wrong, and I’m messing up.” Well, Peter—those are your words. But we will say, this was a mess of your own making.