Finally, Kirpa gets her moment. Rejoice.
After weeks of virtually no screen time, the 26-year-old dental hygienist from Whittier, Calif., gets a one-on-one with Colton in Vietnam. They hunt for urchins and then sample fresh uni on the boat. Kirpa spears that urchin with the precision of someone who’s been patiently waiting for this for weeks. Because she has.
Not one time did she stoop to begging for a one-on-one, as often happens when someone feels they deserve more time. Begging gets you kicked off; it doesn’t get you that precious time.
Kirpa has been this season’s sleeper fan favorite. Last week, for example, the Internet really wanted to know what had happened to her chin. (She appeared with a mysterious bandage but no footage of how she was injured. The day after the episode aired, ABC followed up by releasing a deleted scene that explained she slipped on a rock while taking a selfie.)
On this one-on-one, we learn that Kirpa can rock a jumpsuit and that she was engaged as part of an eight-year-long relationship. She divulges that her fiance had something in common with Colton: He was also a virgin. Eight years! So she understands why Colton wants to wait, and she’s been that one patiently waiting.
Although Kirpa and Colton don’t seem to have much chemistry, it was heartening to see her finally get some time. She gets her rose and will move on.
The rest of the episode was remarkable for how many contestants departed. Let’s break down each one.
Every season of “The Bachelor” reaches a point where the hometown dates begin to approach, and the field of contestants needs to be narrowed. A point where the Bachelor and his ladies realize: If we haven’t had a one-on-one date, it doesn’t make sense to get parents involved.
This season, this was the episode.
We open in Thailand, where Colton is forlornly pacing the beach in dress shoes and a dark blue suit, mulling the remnants of last week’s drama — Onyeka telling Colton that Nicole was only on the show because she needed to leave Miami, and Nicole firing back that Onyeka was bullying her. Neither accusation seems to have much weight behind it and so, unsurprisingly, Colton resolves the conflict by sending both women home. What follows is a rose ceremony that reinforced a “Bachelor” truism: Telling the lead that someone is on the show for the “wrong reasons” usually backfires on the messenger and her target.
Finally, some of the remaining contestants start to realize that not only are they attempting to find love amid dozens of other women — they are doing so on reality television. They are also realizing they might have already reached influencer status and can start making some Instagram money rather than remain on this show. Elyse left of her own volition last week, and this episode, it was Sydney, a 27-year-old NBA dancer from New York.
Watching Sydney awaken to this newfound awareness is reminiscent of another woman waking up in a game and attempting to plot her eventual escape. If “The Bachelor” were to cosplay “Westworld,” Sydney would be Dolores. “Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? Did you ever stop to wonder about your actions? The price you’d have to pay if there was a reckoning? That reckoning is here.” That quote is from Season 2, episode 1 of “Westworld,” but might as well serve as a stand-in for the speech Sydney gives Colton before escaping the maze that is this season of “The Bachelor.”
If Sydney is Dolores, that would mean that Chris Harrison is Ford, the designer and controller of the game. If he doesn’t act fast, he’s going to have a much bigger problem on his hands than one wayward contestant. Just before her departure, Sydney informs Colton that — gasp! — some of the women left might not be ready for marriage but are ready to up their Instagram followers. In the same way that Dolores convinces Teddy to join her cause, Sydney tries to get Colton on her side, even as she’s leaving. “There are some really wonderful people in that group,” she tells him. “Find out who they are. Don’t get distracted by shiny things.”
It looks like Colton actually understands what she is saying and takes it to heart. Unlike previous seasons, where the women turn on each other in an effort to make the Bachelor understand that their competitors aren’t there for the right reasons, this bunch may have just cracked the code by not naming names and leaving Colton to find out the truth for himself.
It was tough to watch Sydney walk away from Colton, if only because we had just started to root for her. The only solace in her departure is that she will join the strong and mighty ranks of previous “Bachelor” contestants who have decided to take their fate out of the producers’ hands and write the end of the story themselves.
Demi is a “Bachelor” supervillain, combining elements of many of that role’s previous titleholders: She has the helpless sexy baby shtick of Corinne Olympios, the feigned sweetness of Krystal Nielson, the take-no-prisoners assertiveness of Courtney Robertson. Demi knows how to play the game in a way that should guarantee herself a ticket to “Paradise”: We stan a not-here-to-make-friends queen.
So, after weeks of picking random petty fights; being the first to koala-jump Colton on group dates (you know — the move all the women do when they run up to him and wrap their legs around his waist like a koala on a tree); blithely ignoring last week’s foraging challenge to go get a hamburger; and calling women over the age of 27 “old”; we knew that Demi’s failure to get a one-on-one date would send her mischief-making into overdrive.
But Demi’s motto is: Be the one-on-one date you wish to see in the world. If she wasn’t going to be handed a chance for some solo time with Colton, she would create it herself. Her first play was a brilliant one: On a group date, she told Mr. Open-and-Honest that she wanted to call her mom with him, now that her mom was finally out of prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Even though she was bewilderingly allowed to break a cardinal “Bachelor” rule of no contact with your family until hometowns, it was really sweet, and it showed the audience a new side of her. “I’m happy you’re working on yourself,” she told her mother on the brief call. Colton told Demi’s mom that she had raised a wonderful daughter, and he seemed warm throughout the conversation.
But then, after Kirpa came home with a rose, we saw Demi putting on her special Machiavellian lip gloss and we knew: Girl was about to start some trouble. She marched over to Colton’s room with the stated intention of taking his virginity. When she got there, she told him she was falling in love with him.
Readers, we must apologize for underestimating Colton. Our sweet football goon, it turns out, saw through Demi’s nonsense all along. He sent her home! He knew she was not There for the Right Reasons. Her departure was swift and actually kind of shocking. We will miss you, our pigtailed jorts villainess.
Katie who? She didn’t get any screen time until this episode. A member of our recap team inexplicably thought her name was Laura until now. Some did not actually realize she was a cast member on this television show until this very week.
Katie lurked in the background — which, in the context of this show, probably means she is a generally sane and nice and well-meaning person and exactly the kind of Marriage Material our dear Colton is looking for. But that doesn’t get you screen time, nor a ticket to “Bachelor in Paradise,” nor a hair gummies #sponcon contract, so Katie found herself desperately trying to grab Colton’s attention for a rose in Vietnam. And she did, briefly, during the group date, when she pummeled Demi in the face at the boxing match. It was awesome and also kind of depressing.
The problem is that she wasn’t able to open up as much as Colton liked. She admitted it was hard for her. Being “open and honest” is Colton’s mantra, and if the women can’t give him
the producer-engineered emotionally manipulative backstory openness and honesty, they’re not what he’s looking for, and off they go. But as the third and final person to warn Colton this week about the other women’s intentions, she may have been the most influential departure.