“Peter’s gonna meet you . . . in Cleveland, Ohio!” he says gleefully.
For reality-TV contestants primed to be overexcited about everything, their reaction is shocked silence, followed by a cautious “Woo . . . hoo?” While very rude to Cleveland natives, the show tried to make up for such a tepid reaction by gushing so much about Cleveland that it became embarrassing.
“Cleveland has definitely impressed me. It’s a beautiful city, great sports town, people are super nice here,” Peter raved. (Great sports town? He must not follow the Browns.) Other choice quotes from the episode: “I was not expecting Cleveland to be this nice.” “There’s nothing like Midwestern people. They have the biggest hearts.” “I’m really excited to be in Cleveland and just feel the warmth of the city.” Wow, thanks guys! We almost believe you. But for a true tribute to the glorious Cleve, you should watch this “30 Rock” episode.
“This is where Superman is from,” Peter says of beautiful Cleveland, which, sure, may have been where Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster met — and began to conceive — the Man of Steel. “This is where Clark Kent was born.” First of all, Pilot Pete, call him by his name: Kal-El. He was born on the doomed planet of Krypton. “Clark Kent,” to use his Earth name, was “born” on the fields of Kansas. And when he made his way to the city, it was called Metropolis. But we digress.
Apparently Cleveland is the center for ~drama~ because when Peter chooses Victoria F. for their one-on-one date at Cedar Point amusement park, it turns out that those wily producers arranged it so they were walking straight into a private concert starring country singer Chase Rice — whom Victoria used to date. Victoria internally melts down while Peter remains happily ignorant (even suggesting that Rice might play at their eventual wedding) and has an awkward interaction with her ex, who encourages her to be honest.
So Victoria musters up the courage to confess to Peter that she and Rice have a history. At first, Peter is shocked (SHOCKED!) but eventually rewards Victoria with a rose for her honesty. There are no real winners here, unless you count Rice, who just got more publicity than he could ever dream of.
Almost a perfect man
If we know one thing about Peter, it’s that he is easily manipulated — so easily, in fact, that it is sometimes difficult to discern who is manipulating him and to what end. Think back to Hannah’s visit a few episodes ago, so clearly designed to shatter him, and remember the elegant way he broke. Or consider his boyish joy during the Chase Rice section of his date with Victoria F., and the way his smile collapsed like a rotting country bridge when he learned that he’d been played.
Then Alayah — exiled at the conclusion of the last episode’s rose ceremony — enters Windows on the River, an event space where one of our recappers attended her high school prom in 2004. When she arrives, it is hard to discern who, exactly, is manipulating him, and to what end. Surely this is the producers’ doing (how else could this banished contestant have returned from the Phantom Zone?), but her erstwhile friend Victoria P. insists that Alayah is the real snake. (Peter, remember, is afraid of snakes.) Alayah, meanwhile, assures him that it is, in fact, Victoria P. who is deceiving him.
“All I tried to do was be a better friend to her,” she says of Victoria P., “and it just bit me in the —” Here she names a part of her body that likely interests Peter.
Somehow, Alayah comes away from this exchange with a rose. And somehow that brings her back into the fold of Peter’s possible brides. Somehow, someone has convinced Peter that this is going to go well for him.
Reader, it does not.
When Peter arrives at this week’s rose ceremony, a group of women come at him like angry geese, creatures of pure and befuddled rage. They survived that game of weirdly intense tackle football, acquiring bruises and bad memories, for what? they ask him. For the return of this woman who should have been gone?
Peter, apologetic, is flustered. “I am so not perfect. I am not even close,” he tells them. While this is, as Alayah might put it, “freaking honest,” it also seems like a striking admission from a fellow whose starring role on this show is presumably contingent on the premise that he is the “perfect man.”
“I’m worried that all of these girls are just going to walk out,” says Peter as the episode comes to an untimely, but entirely welcome, close. Alayah’s fate is still uncertain, as are those of the many women angry at her, their destinies held in abeyance by an elliptical “To be continued.” If they have any sense, they should go, though. Maybe we should, too.
On ‘The Bachelor,’ everyone has dated everyone
Later, in Peter’s suite, we imagine he fell into a deep and uneasy slumber, dreaming of what other secrets could’ve come out that night …
Peter embraced Victoria F., touching her cheek reassuringly. Chase Rice would never sing at his wedding, but that was okay. He had Victoria F. Victoria F had a rose. All was well.
They walked back into the candlelit dinner in the Cleveland City Hall, and she heard the faint strains of a cello playing. Oh no. Not the cello. Victoria F. looked behind her, holding her breath.
“What?” Peter asked.
“Chase Rice wasn’t the only one,” said Victoria F.
“What do you mean?” asked Peter.
She gestured toward the cellist. “I dated him, too.”
Peter thought the next day would be better. He was taking the women to the stadium to play football. Just tossing around the ol’ pigskin. No problems here. The women descended the stairs of FirstEnergy Stadium to the field, where former Cleveland Browns players Josh Cribbs and Hanford Dixon were waiting. From the back, you could hear a tiny gasp from Hannah Ann. She made furtive eye contact with Cribbs. The breakup was only a few months ago. His heart had barely mended.
Meanwhile, Kiarra’s palms were starting to sweat. She did not want to play football. Playing football would mean that Dixon would notice her, and that would not be good. She didn’t want him to think about that night last summer, the one that began with her buying him a drink and ended with her tangled up in his sheets. But it would all come out eventually. Peter had to know.
Kiarra walked up to him right as Hannah Ann did. “I have something to tell you,” they both began.
It kept getting worse.
Sportscaster Jon Doss showed up to provide color commentary for the Bachelor Bowl, but he and Tammy spent the whole time pretending that wild weekend in New Orleans didn’t happen. Chris Harrison felt his heart race at the sight of the referee, with whom he’d had a brief fling way back in college. The elderly accordion player in downtown Cleveland divorced Kelsey four years ago. (“The spark just wasn’t there anymore,” he told the cameras, with a sigh.) One shark in the enormous aquarium at Windows on the River, the site of a group date, nearly broke down at the sight of Lexi, whom he had dated for six brief but intense weeks in 2018, a relationship that fell apart when it became clear that he had stronger feelings for her than she did for him.
Everyone had dated everyone. The secrets were rising to the surface. Then another former lover walked through the door.
“I have something to tell you, ladies,” Peter said gravely. “I used to date Alayah.”
Victoria P.’s face turned ashen. “So did I.”
Peter woke up in a cold sweat.