(Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Bachelor Season 28, Episode 4.)
The internet may have decided that all men spend their time thinking about the Roman Empire, but Joey Graziadei apparently isn’t one of them. At least, he wasn’t until this season The Bachelor flew him to Malta and dressed him in a brown skirt and chain mail for a romantic gladiatorial match.
…And somehow that wasn’t even the most poignant conflict this week. As expected, the long-simmering feud of Canadian executive assistant Maria Georgas and Rhode Island vintage shop owner Sydney Gordon ended in a terribly awkward two-on-one date. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to quell the terrible atmosphere in the house. Instead, for no real reason, one of Sydney’s friends decided to pick up her banner and let the bad energy flow. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what the second half of ABC’s dramatic two-dayer is like Bachelor education extravaganza brings, but Monday’s episode already brought enough chaos for an entire month.
Credit where it’s due: this one Bachelor education The editors are really at their best this season. The premiere taunted us with a flash-forward to Joey crying on the beach over his proposal, presumably rejected, and this week we got a humorous tease of the inevitable two-on-one. As we saw, Maria and Sydney sat silently on a boat with sinister music playing in the background, both looking suitably miserable. (For the record, I am not falling for that premiere deception though; I still fully believe Joey will find love.)
For those who need a refresher on where the empty rivalry between Maria and Sydney began, it’s actually quite simple. It all started when 31-year-old Madina Alam complained that her age was getting in the way of her connection with our 28-year-old bachelor. Maria, in turn, had the audacity to suggest that 31 isn’t that old, adding that at 29, she is. Also older than Joey. Then Sydney decided it was her duty to tell Medina that Mary had dismissed her concerns – which prompted this Medina narrate Joey That she felt she was being bullied. (However, the record notes that Madina has since said she regrets that choice of words.) When Joey confronted the women with this accusation, all hell broke loose, and as last week’s austere pool party proved, things haven’t changed since. improved.
You could tell by the tired looks on everyone’s faces this week that they wanted Maria and Sydney to just drop it, but unfortunately Bachelor Mansion wasn’t built on that kind of live and let live energy. As excited as all the women were to fly to Malta, you could still sense the fear in the air when they had to sit together as a group.
Joey, meanwhile, has continued to do an impressive job of making all this look easy. His self-mockery during his travels this week was both impressive and sometimes delightfully corny. An example of this is when he walked up to the camera and said, “By the end of this I hope to take someone to the alta – but before I do that, I have to hang out in Malta!”
Lexi won the one-on-one this week, which included a nice walk, a delicious-looking pastry and a round of pétanque. The two also visited a beautiful cathedral, where Lexi reflected on her close bond with her grandfather. She later told Joey about the diagnosis of stage 5 endometriosis and explained the reproductive complications that came with it. Joey was as understanding as ever, and of course Lexi received the rose. She seems like a shoo-in at least as far as her hometown, but Joey also seems to maintain strong ties to some of these women, so her position is far from secure.
While Joey tasted smoked ham and danced in the street with Lexi, the atmosphere in the hotel was much less festive. Sydney insisted that the conflict was affecting her “health” – that is, her stomach was in knots and she was exploding – while Maria mostly just looked exhausted. When all the women except those two and Lexi received an invitation to a group date, their fate was sealed: a two-on-one date was just around the corner.
However, it turns out that it was the group date at Fort Manoel (and not the upcoming gladiator fight) that inspired Joey’s strange appearance in the Roman Empire. First the women put on knight’s costumes and learned sword fighting for his love. Then they had to bear their knightly soul by gazing into his eyes – a task that was sometimes reinforced with a kiss. Joey, ever the honorable bachelor, even volunteered to join the women for the final, most embarrassing challenge, which required them all to stand around a wheel and catch flying sausages with their mouths. “I couldn’t make the women do something I wouldn’t do myself,” Joey said, cementing his status as the game’s true bachelor.
In another twist of fate, Autumn Waggoner, a 26-year-old account executive from Missouri, won the group date because she was one of the few people who didn’t cheat at the sausage game. In the end, however, it was actress, real estate agent and clothing store owner Kelsey Toussant who ended up taking the group date.
Back at the hotel, Sydney and Maria were about as awkward as you’d expect. Sydney complained that she was being “tortured,” and later, as they boarded the boat for their two-on-one date to the Blue Grotto, she equated the day to “spending all day with the devil.” Maria, meanwhile, called Sydney a “vampire” for draining her energy.
After a very unpleasant boat ride, the three stopped at a dock where, sure enough, there was only one rose sitting on a table. Sydney seemed to make up a story about Maria telling her friend, Lea Cayanan, to “shut up,” and Maria denied it. Joey knew this date wouldn’t help him get any closer to the truth (which makes me think he only agreed to this to please the producers) and ultimately he went with his gut and chose Maria. Her reward for persevering? A live performance of the song ‘Ave Maria’, because subtlety is overrated.
Most of us probably breathed a sigh of relief when Sydney went home — she was much less enthusiastic than Maria to just stop talking about Age-gate — but her friend Lea wasn’t so happy. In a truly bizarre move, she pulled Madina aside to chastise her for calling herself Sydney’s friend while also being nice to Maria. (Apparently being someone’s friend also means treating their petty rivalry as gospel?) Madina treated this nonsense with exactly as much respect as it deserved and walked away.
The whole conflict has clearly weighed on Mary, and the conflict between Madina and Leah has opened the floodgates. Lea grinned as Maria stood outside crying and told the producers she wanted to go home. As far as she’s concerned, Maria is just a “drama queen crybaby.” This is a particularly disappointing twist, considering it was Lea who burned the “steal a one-on-one date” card on Night One, signifying her solidarity with her fellow cast members. Just when it looked like the drama was going away, we might have already gotten a new villain. And then, Leah?