Episode 1

 

Welcome back, dear Pretty Panda readers!

As you can see, I've revamped the site with the help of lovely Angela from Gurl Gone Social. We hope you find the new layout more organized and engaging. You know by now that I love feedback, so do not be afraid to comment below if you think something's amiss!

Second, in addition to my regular Flare Magazine recaps, I'll be doing Facebook Live videos with Flare in a series we're calling "The Morning After". They'll be me rambling about my quick takeaways with the latest episode before I delve in with the written word. You can watch them both on the Flare Facebook page and above each Flare recap! (ICYMI, this week's is here.)

Third, those of you who've been coming here for awhile know I sometimes struggle to get through a season doing these recaps (they can be soul-sucking at times). BUT, Nick being a dear friend, a longtime reader, and the contestant who helped shape the tone and direction of these recaps (the first season I ever recapped was Andi's where I had strongly favorable opinions on him despite him being that season's villain), I couldn't resist following along on his "journey" here and am pumped you're following along with me. Also, for what it's worth, Nick has given me his express permission to be as honest and unbiased as I damn well please. :)

Lastly, two things of note: 1) Terms marked with an asterisk [*] are defined in the Glossary, and 2) Despite my well-documented appreciation for Reality Steve, this remains a spoiler-free zone. (And yes, I really don't know them; Nick was frustratingly tight-lipped!)

 

 

COUNTDOWN

We kick off with a "countdown" outlining the ins and outs of Nick's history with the Bachelor franchise, because God knows those tuning in don't know who he is and needed a refresher. Thankfully, right off the bat he shows that while he continues to subject himself to this unique form of torture, he's still as ultra-realistic as ever...

One interesting thing I will say about Nick is, despite the fact that he is really pragmatic about these things, he's very much a believer at the same time. Like, not only does he believe in love, but he really believes THIS can work to find it. (He's felt this way for as long as I can remember.) Thus, I feel like someone who's had the, ahem, "experience", he has has a better shot than anyone at wielding his powers as lead and legitimately finding what he's looking for.

We're subject to some Hometown Packages* which include B-rolls* aplenty of pretend hair flips...

... a town which, despite my never having heard of it before, has quickly become my worst nightmare...

 Color me terrified.

Color me terrified.

... and recycled footage from Jade and Tanner's wedding which brings back unfortunate memories of being approached from behind at high school dances...

 Ah, the chemistry we all dream of.

Ah, the chemistry we all dream of.

I was legitimately touched by Nick's chat with his youngest sister, Bella (who, holy cow, has grown up so much since Andi's season) and who, as Nick put it, really is wise beyond her years...

YES. There is a difference between letting out your thoughts and being open. I do think Nick excels at the former but not the latter, making Bella's observation ever so astute.

Perhaps my favorite scene, though, was Nick's reunion with Bachelors of seasons past. While Nick held court and broke the world record for longest run-on sentence, the guys' faces while they obediently took it in were GOLD... 

3rd place goes to Ben for his careful poker face. 2nd place goes to Sean for his amusing restlessness. 1st place OBVIOUSLY goes to Chris, because Chris Soules.

 

NIGHT ONE

The main event finally arrives and the ladies exit their limos one by one. Some stood out to me... 

Danielle L: First out of the limos! (If you've been reading these for awhile you know I put stock in things like this.) Very pretty. I can almost forgive the pretend hair flips.

Rachel: Beautiful, smart, just overall very together. 

Taylor: I enjoyed the dichotomy of how sweet she comes off and what a potty mouth she has. Love her. Hope she stays awhile.

Angela: SO beautiful. Wow.

Lauren: I found the "disgusting slut" joke pretty funny. Ballsy!

Ida Marie: I liked her. She looks like a mix between Izzy Goodkind and Kendall Jenner. I thought her dress was refreshingly different and she was in the running for the Best Dressed section but I couldn't get over the length issue...

 :(

:(

Sarah: LOVED her. Cute entrance, and she cares about the right things...

Hailey: Despite the "no panties" joke, I found her pretty entertaining. She had a similar comedienne vibe as fellow Vancouverite Kaitlyn Bristowe to me, but a little more off-color in her commentary. I feel like she could either be really popular or really despised depending on how carefully she watches what she says.

Liz: Oh, Liz. I'm torn between wanting to criticize her and defending her, so I'll do both. I mean, she had to know much of this episode (and, judging by the previews, at least one more episode to come) would revolve around her "history" with Nick, and she seemed to play the role willingly. But I would rather, if indeed she had feelings for him and had wanted to see where it could go, just OWNED that and not pretended she "liked" that he didn't remember her (which, for the record, I think he did). Like, I just don't buy this... 

If she really didn't care, she wouldn't care enough to be there (assuming she's there for the "Right Reasons"). If she did care, she would have to be at least a bit wounded that he didn't remember her. So either way it's disingenuous. That's my criticism of Liz. My defense comes later.

And on the topic of whether or not Nick remembered her, to me it's clear he did. He gave her every bit of recognition that SHE GAVE HIM. He never said, "good to meet you" or anything that would give away not knowing her. Think about how many people you see out and about in your daily lives that you think you might know, but where so much of how you behave depends on how they behave towards you. (I can really attest to this; it happens to me all the time. Also, let me just say, when you go on national television and both complete strangers and distant acquaintances approach and speak to you with disproportionate familiarity, it really can mess with you.) In that sense, I found Nick's measured reaction to her to be very realistic. And let's be honest here; Liz was (whether producer-encouraged or not) obviously testing Nick. She didn't deserve a warm, familiar response.

You guys knew I'd have to make a .GIF of Nick's epic wheels-turning moment that followed. (And though the skeptic in me wondered if this clip was taken from a different moment, I have confirmation that it was indeed then.) What I love about this is you can see his mind working AND he gives three (three!) Direct-Looks-Into-Camera in one go! 

 The Sesame Street of Direct-Looks-Into-Camera

The Sesame Street of Direct-Looks-Into-Camera

Corinne: Beautiful girl, got full limo exit with the cymbals-heavy music and everything. Despite (or because of?) previews showing she might be something of a villain this season, she must stay for awhile.

Vanessa: Her full limo exit was also shown. Really elegant. Anyone else think looks like Emmy Rossum?

Danielle M: Classy and chill. Loved her dress.

Alexis: She is just delightful. Perhaps my favorite thing about her entrance was Rachel and Jasmine B's reactions to first seeing her costume...

I went into more detail in my The Morning After video, but something about Alexis' costume and its response, to me represented this show coming a long way. I think this has 60% to do with how SHE handled herself—she was fully in on that joke...

... and was really popular among the other ladies. I credit 20% to how Nick embraced it (he referenced it making him really happy numerous times, and even refused to let her take it off), effectively making it kosher for the other girls to (fair or not, you know by now the lead sets the tone of what's acceptable and what isn't). Another 20% goes to people just watching this show differently. There was once a time when limo exit gimmicks were something we mocked, like these women were desperate, attention-seeking idiots, but now it's almost par for the course to the point where a premiere void of gimmicks would be disappointing. Alexis entertained us, we recognized that, and we appreciated it.

During Jasmine G's meltdown, there's a montage which pretty much sums up the entire Bachelor experience for contestants...

During his 1-on-1 time with Sarah, much like his toast to all the ladies (which was all about being "as normal as possible in a very abnormal world"), he again broke that 4th wall...

This might seem unremarkable but it really has never been done before. Never has a lead referenced their environment, especially as early as Night One, as "abnormal" or a place where you can't be yourself. This is really consistent with the Nick we met on Andi's season (where on his first date he said, "Any practical person would be skeptical about this") and, in my humble opinion, sets the tone for a different sort of season.

I noticed a Pick-up* with Whitney where she had on a different dress (also notice the hair change), so I speculate she did the Pick-up after traveling began and she'd sent her Night One dress home. This makes me think Whitney sticks around at least for a little while (at least into the first leg of travel).

 

LIZ-GATE

I purposely didn't get into the nitty gritty of Liz in my other recaps because I felt it would be best analyzed here. This will also double as an Introduction to Frankenbiting*. First, as I said in my video, I think this was blown WAY out of proportion. Yes, I'm a very liberal-minded Canadian-turned-New Yorker, but I just don't think a one night stand where they didn't even keep in touch is that big a deal, and I didn't feel their "history" warranted the substantial real estate it ate up in this episode. But that aside, after criticizing Liz (above), I will now come to her defense. In her Hometown package, she never once actually said they had sex, but instead said coyly, "I plead the fifth." She conspicuously avoided using the words "we had sex" or even anything to that effect. Then suddenly...

... and...

... and...

... and in the season preview... 

Notice how we never actually see the words "we had sex" come out of her mouth. It's always cleverly frankenbitten in. Also, listen to the cadence of "we had sex" taken from each clip, one after another...

They're clearly the exact same clip cut and pasted into different sentences and scenarios. This is pretty simple, but it speaks volumes as to how it can affect your perception of a contestant. Remember, in her Hometown package Liz carefully wouldn't even say something like "he spent the night", and suddenly she's blurting out "we had sex" left, right, and center? It doesn't add up. Again, this is unrelated to my issues with Liz's appearance on the show—I do have my doubts about her intentions (her best friend had his phone number during those 9 months leading up to this, after all)—but I don't think she's been advertising their "history" quite as casually as she's portrayed to have been doing. 

 

As always, my picks for Top 4 based on this episode can be found on my Flare recap, over here!

 

BEST DRESSED

Second runner-up for Best Dressed was Hailey with her simple but oh-so-elegant gown...

As we know, there were a ton of red dresses, but I truly feel a color this bright should have a simple cut. Hailey's is timeless while having interest in the form of that neat pleated high neckline, and then sexy with an open back and slit. The combo is tasteful va-va-voom. Hailey's dress is by Terani and sells for $249 HERE, but there's a fantastic look-for-less option selling (for only $63!) HERE.

First runner-up is Lauren in her champagne sequined number...

Lauren brought the glam while keeping it tasteful. You know by now that when I like a sequined piece, it has got to be otherwise understated. No cut outs or other embellishments allowed! She looked very red carpet to me and I loved it. Lauren's dress is by Badgley Mischka and sells HERE (it's also available in copper at half price HERE), however there's a super similar option (which also comes in navy) for only $78 selling HERE!

Winner of Best Dressed was none other than Danielle M in her burgundy dress...

I love the cap sleeves and the color, and the cut out is sexy but in good taste. Her entire look is the perfect marriage of modern and sophisticated. Great news: Danielle's dress is not only still available (and only $74), it comes in THREE colors. It's from Lulu's and you can check it out HERE

 

WORST DRESSED

While it seems like Elizabeth is a total sweetheart, I'm afraid her dress did not do it for me...

You know what I'm going to say about this... It is WAY too bridal. Add a veil and she'd be altar-ready. As you've heard me say before, if you're going to do white or ivory, it should be super chic and simple to offset the connotations of a white or ivory floor length gown. Instead, this feels busy (embroidery, nude mesh, trumpet silhouette, tulle) and pageant-y. Sorry, Elizabeth! :(

 

What did you think of this premiere? Let me know in the comments below! 

Until next week, fellow pandas,