Episode 1

Welcome back, dear readers! As always, I'll post bits of news up here first before getting to the recap...

First, as always, I'm continuing writing recaps for Flare, and as with last season, doing "The Morning After" Facebook Live videos for them. This season the videos will consist of a little Q&A after my quick takeaways on the episode. So, if you have a question you'd like answered, no matter how random, feel free to either post it in the comments below the video or tweet it at me!

Second, as you may have heard, I will be doing a monthly relationship podcast with Reality Steve (only head there if you're unafraid of spoilers!) starting next month. This is an exciting endeavor as you know by now I love analyzing and discussing relationships, and I try my darnedest to remain both objective and honest. Reality Steve and I have both been at our individual relationship columns for awhile (he has "Dr. Reality Steve" and I've done "#AskSharleen" over at Flare) so we thought it'd be fun to come together with both a male + female perspective. Questions can be either written or you can call in so we can chat with you on the podcast. So, if you or someone you know has a relationship qualm, feel free to send it over.

Third, despite the above partnership, I am miraculously still unspoiled this season! (The podcast will not be about The Bachelor/ette—unless there's some big news that feels relevant—or about any spoilers or dirt.) I ask that you respect that this blog is, has been, and likely always will be a spoiler-free zone. There are plenty of places to discuss spoilers, but the comment section here isn't one of them. Everyone's always really good about this, so thank you!

Many thanks for following along this season with me, and as always, I look forward to your comments!

  

 

"I understand that people have their different reasons to why they come on this show. But my thing is, are you open to what can happen?" —Realistic, Reasonable, Relatable Rachel

 


No season can kick off without an obligatory speech by Chris Harrison (with a casual mention of how "broken-hearted" Rachel was last season, in there for good measure). Chris Harrison has always been hand-centric when he speaks but it's starting to get out of control...

Seriously, next week, watch him with the sound muted. It's crazy.

We're re-introduced to our leading lady, Rachel, whose comment as she drives around LA is so something I would notice and say, it just makes me love her all the more...

 This reminds me of her " Narnia " comment in Finland last season.

This reminds me of her "Narnia" comment in Finland last season.

 

INTRO VIDEOS

The men's intro videos are pretty par for the course, except that there seem to be a few more lawyers than usual. The funniest moment for me was Blake E's mid-personal training session motivational speech. Something about the body language here kills me...

 So motivating.

So motivating.

 

GIRL CHAT

The Girl Chat was a nice idea versus the more traditional advice session with former Bachelorettes. Whether or not they're in a position to be imparting advice I don't know, but these are her friends and they know her. I particularly liked when Astrid pointed out that Rachel likes to be in control. Like, that's not something a former Bachelorette would necessarily know. Overall, this was a cute excuse for all the girls to be flown out, and it felt like a reasonably authentic, chatty girl sesh and in my opinion was a nice addition...

 

LIMO EXITS

I thought it might be fun to do something new and to copy and paste my actual notes from this season's limo exits. (Tell me if this is boring and I won't do it again.) Notice how the montages affect how much of one's limo exit might be shown...

  • Peter - good looking - I love his little gap in his teeth. Seems nice and normal. **1ST LIMO EXIT**
  • Josiah - full exit - likely going far based on intro video and backstory
  • Bryan - full exit - she loves the Spanish
  • Kenny - full exit - cleans up nice!

— montage of guys talking about how great Rachel is — 

  • Rob - full exit not shown
  • Iggy - full exit not shown
  • Bryce - full exit not shown
  • Will - full exit not shown - cute exit though
  • Diggy - full exit not shown
  • Kyle - full exit not shown
  • Blake K - full exit not shown - I think he's cute.
  • Brady - sexy voice. Full exit I think? I laughed. Charming in its humor and brevity: 

— montage of the guys who’ve met her already and the other guys’ annoyance at that (ugh, this feels forced) —

  • Dean - near-full exit - his sheepishness made me wonder if he got backlash for his "I'm going black/never going back" line. Rachel’s response to him showed her grace and class. He seems sweet.
  • Eric - near-full exit - “Everything’s greater later” - don't see a ton of substance between these two
  • DeMario - full exit - good looking, oozes confidence. Definite frontrunner among these returning guys but then inside his confidence bleeds into arrogance (too much for my liking): “I'mma win!”
  • Blake E - full exit - CUTE entrance. I loved it. Hard to believe that’s the guy whose entire intro video was about his "PhD" in sex.

— commercial break; chat with Chris Harrison: "BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE" —

  • Fred - full exit - not enough humor for me given yearbook thing. I find him a bit too intense. 
  • Jonathan - full exit - ugh, the tickling. No. NO:

Not nearly enough sparkle in his eyes to get away with that, and there's a big difference between laughing genuinely and laughing uncomfortably. Plus his bio answers bug me because he doesn’t answer the “and why” part in questions. 

  • Lee - full exit - I’m never huge into singer-songwriters' music exits but he's otherwise likable enough. 

— montage of gimmick and prop limo exits as gimmicks and props are discussed —

  • Alex - full exit - Aladdin-hot - but... the vacuum? I liked him based on his intro vid but the meaningless gimmick was a disappointment. Plus I then read his bio and was horrified by his 3 worst SELF-DESCRIBED attributes. Like, if you know you're selfish and unemotional, at the very least be apologetic about it!

*** UPDATE 05.26.17 *** Tina pointed out in the comments that Alex's vacuum dance was a throwback to Rachel's vacuum dance in her intro video. A fairly obscure but very decent reference. I totally missed that. My bad!

  • Milton - full exit not shown - polaroid camera
  • Adam - full exit - Adam Jr is creepy as hell, and the producers' fun with him is very Paradise-esque to me (not in a bad way)
  • Matt - full exit - penguin was a nice touch especially with Alexis talking about costumes earlier. He pulls this off which isn't easy.

— montage while Rachel discusses the guys pulling out all the stops —

  • Grant - full exit not shown - memorable exit (ambulance) but it was especially cute how she played along
  • Anthony - full exit not shown - good bio answers though (thanks for the tip, Vivian!)
  • Jamey - full exit not shown - reminds me a bit of Robby looks-wise
  • Jack Stone - full exit not shown
  • Mohit - full exit not shown - I liked his line (upper hand)
  • Jedidiah - full exit not shown
  • Michael - full exit not shown (we didn’t even get to see her eat the brownie!!)

— montage comes to end for Lucas' grand entrance —

  • Lucas - full exit - I confess I'm entertained. The testicle thing made me laugh. I LOVED her response to "Whaboom": “That’s just a glimpse?” **LAST LIMO EXIT**, but I have a hard time believing it means anything for Lucas' longevity, other than the red carpet being rolled out for the night's big performer. Maybe he'll surprise us all.

 

NIGHT ONE

Rachel gives a fantastic speech to the guys about #NOREGRETS - if you know me, you know regret is my phobia in life (I think I've mentioned before that that fear is one of the reasons I did the show), so I obviously loved this theme.

An early favorite of mine is easily Kenny, whose dry commentary throughout Night One had me in stitches...

Those of you who are my longtime readers surely notice this stuff on your own by now, but for the new readers around here, note Rachel's Pick-ups. The first ITM is from Night One. Note Rachel's hair, makeup, and jewelry...

Now note the following hair, makeup, and odd background (I'm pretty positive this room is not in the mansion... I'm guessing it's either at her place in LA or at a future location during travel)...

... and later, again, note the hair and earrings...

There was even another example but because I wasn't 100% sure about it (only 95% sure) I decided not to include it. :)

Back to Night One, I can't imagine a more intimate or romantic way to get to know someone than having at least a half dozen other suitors milling about within earshot...

I can't be sure why exactly the fact that Lucas's #WhaBoom shirt was sleeveless was so funny, but it was...

Finally, in a world where so many leads say with blind confidence that their future husband or wife is in that room, Rachel once again shows what a reasonable, critical thinking, yet cautiously optimistic person she is with...

 FINALLY. 🙌🏼

FINALLY. 🙌🏼

 

ROSE CEREMONY

One last observation about Night One: I swear the Powers That Be used to pretend it was still evening when Rose Ceremony rolled around. (Am I wrong about this?) At any rate, no longer. They're showcasing that morning light now...

Oh, and to anyone surprised Lucas got the final rose: Have you never seen this show before??

 

As always, my Top 4 predictions are over at Flare!

 

BEST DRESSED

There were quite a few well put-together men! I have two runners-up, including Diggy... 

This should come as no surprise as Diggy, based on his intro video, is a Fashionisto who owns 555 pairs of sneakers (!!!!!!!!)...

... which, regardless of the nonchalance with which he revealed this fact, is either untrue or a legit problem. Diggy's Carrie Bradshaw-shaming shoe addiction aside, you know by now I recognize and respect ballsy pattern-mixing, so Diggy gets a nod of approval for this successful Night One ensemble.

My other runner-up is dapper Dean...

I love it when a man can pull off florals and Dean does so with ease. The fit of that suit, the leather belt, the watch... it's all clean but simple, and then POW, the floral tie. Everything together is somehow both the right amount of effortful and totally effortless, and I love it.

Best Dressed is Peter with his slick suit...

I love risks, and this is a collection of them. That jacket could look costume-y but doesn't. He's wearing a VELVET BOWTIE. And don't think I missed those polka dot socks. Everything comes together in a stylish marriage that is very James Bond, and I for one am swooning. Risk = Reward of Best Dressed!  👏🏻

 

WORST DRESSED

I always feel a bit bad singling out someone for being badly dressed, particularly when they ended up going home Night One and especially when you otherwise really like the guy (I actually thought Rob was one of the more reasonable guys of the bunch). However, Rob's look was not good...

Unfortunately, the foremost adjective to come to mind is "rumpled". His suit, his hair, his tie... especially the tie. It just screams "I don't care so I didn't try", and such a statement can't go unpunished here at All The Pretty Pandas. Sorry, Rob. :(
 

 

RACHEL'S LOOKS

Rachel is already bringing it in the style department. I dug her unique bomber jacket during her LA move-in...

I love the mix of hyper-feminine floral lace with the tomboyishness of that silhouette. Rachel's "Grace" bomber is by Lucy Paris but is sadly sold out everywhere. It's still available in denim blue HERE, and some decent alternatives I've found are HERE, HERE, and HERE.

For her chat with the ladies from last season, she wore a floral mini dress...

This look reminds me of something the stylish (and routinely Best Dressed winning) Lauren B might've worn on Ben's season. The dress itself isn't reinventing any wheels but it's timelessly cute and easy and is wonderfully not fad-y. Rachel's "Grover" floral dress is by Joie and is not only still available, but also half price (yay!) HERE. There's also a look for less by the same designer HERE. Her Kendra Scott "Naomi" double finger druzy ring sells HERE.

Finally, the crown jewel of the premiere episode, Rachel's gorgeous, hand-embellished Swarovski crystal gown, which reportedly weighs a whopping 30 lbs...

This dress is such a showstopper. I sometimes yawn at bedazzled Night One dresses because I feel they can all look the same, but this is somehow both bedazzled and subdued, and the result is a true work of art. Best of all, despite the intricacy, it's clear Rachel is wearing the dress and the dress isn't wearing her. Her jewelry, too, is beautiful (that ring is damn cool), but in my eyes the accessories serve as garnish for this amazing dress.

Rachel's jewelry is by the same fine jewelry designer behind every Bachelorette's Night One jewelry: Cezua. Unfortunately their stuff is both real ($$$$) and unique; I wasn't able to fine any alternatives. :( The dress is a custom Randi Rahm and not available for sale. And seeing as how Raven's Randi Rahm gown from last season isn't even custom and sells for a whopping $6800, something tells me that if this piece were available it'd be prohibitively expensive. This is (understandably) a difficult piece to find an alternative for, but I found two very decent looks-for-less HERE and HERE

 

Until next week, fellow pandas!