'The Bachelor' season premiere recap: Arie begins his race to the altar

Editor-in-Chief, Yahoo Entertainment
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Arie Luyendyk Jr. is racin’ to find a wife. (Photo: ABC)
Arie Luyendyk Jr. is racin’ to find a wife. (Photo: ABC)

Warning: This recap of the season premiere of The Bachelor contains spoilers.

Do older reality stars deserve love, too? It’s a question that I fear will never be answered to our true satisfaction, rose lovers, but darn it if this season of The Bachelor isn’t going to try. Having resurrected former The Bachelorette runner up Arie Luyendyk Jr. from his death of real estate and mid-level racing obscurity, producers hope to break new ground with the first grey-haired bachelor … just not the one you were expecting.

Now that he’s had five years to heal his wounded heart, Arie is ready for “the most important race of his life”: finding a wife in nine short, heavily produced weeks.

Man, is this previously on recap still going on?

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

We get it, guys — Emily crushed Arie’s heart. But we’ve got 29 new “ladies” who want to get in his drivers’ seat, so how about we get this show on the road?

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

Sigh. Fine, let Sean and Catherine Lowe, the first couple of Bachelor Nation, impart some “wisdom” to their single friend — and give their little boy, Samuel, something to talk about when he meets up with friends Ty (Season 13), Ricki (Bachelorette, Season 8), and Camila (Season 18) in their weekly Bachelor Spawn-Anon meetings.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

Hang in there, little buddy.

With the buildup over, Chris Harrison greets us at Casa Bachelor to introduce “some truly extraordinary women” who are ready to get wifed up. Robot roll call:

Chelsea, 29: Props to this single mom from Maine for not trotting out her little one, Sammy, for her intro package. The “real estate exec assistant” also finds it “comforting” that her Bachelor is Arie, because he proved during Emily’s season that he’s not afraid to fake settle down with a woman and her child.

Caroline, 26: Another real estate professional! Though she’s “really good” at her job, Caroline says being a wife and mother is “at the top” of her priority list. Well, as that Rasta dude says at the end of Pretty Woman, “Some dreams come true, some don’t — but keep on dreamin’.”

Maquel, 23: This professional photographer from Utah is admittedly “jealous” of the happy couples she photographs … but not in a scary, Lifetime Movie way, okay?

Nysha, 30: “The more blood, the better for me!” No, that’s not Nysha’s plan for eliminating her competition in the house — she’s a nurse, silly! She’s one who likes patching up seriously injured patients — and who already took a Bachelor-approved Leap Of Faith™ by skydiving for her 30th birthday.

Tia, 26: Living in the tiny town of Weiner, Ark., means Tia and her friends have to make their ”own fun” — like exercising their Second Amendment rights.

Tia’s got her gun.
Tia’s got her gun.

Oh, look who it is!

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

If you thought Tia seemed a little familiar,  with her long, layered dark locks and Southern twang, that might be because she’s modeled after — and a “good friend” — of Bachelor Nation favorite (and fellow small-town Arkansas girl) Raven Gates. (And if you’re playing Bachelor bingo, be sure to stamp “Bachelor in Paradise shoo-in” on your scorecard.)

Kendall, 26: What does weird look like on The Bachelor? It’s a tall, blonde, blue-eyed person surrounded by stuffed animals.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

Yep, Kendall collects animals that have been stuffed, and her longest relationships tend to be with preserved animal carcasses, not human beings. Team Bachelor pushed things a little too far with the ukulele bit, though — now Kendall’s not only quirky; she’s annoying.

Bekah M.:  Much has been made of Bekah, both for her short haircut — how did she even get in the door??? — and for the fact that she’s so young. Though producers are being coy about her age, you don’t need to see a birth certificate to know that this girl is just that — a girl. Honestly, she looks like she could be a stand-in for one of the kids on Stranger Things.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

Marikh, 27: This stunningly beautiful woman co-owns an Indian restaurant with her mother and, even more impressively, she did not punch the producer who asked her to say this on camera:

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

Krystal, 29: Oh man, why do bad shows happen to good people? Krystal is a fitness coach who volunteers to distribute food to the homeless men and women of San Diego, because her younger brother is living on the streets. “I try to treat people how I would want someone to treat him,” she says through tears.

Enough humanity! Send in the chattel — bathed, perfumed, and bronzed for Arie’s enjoyment!

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

And the first “lady” out is … Caroline the realtor! She makes a cutesy joke about taking Arie “off the market,” and then beats a hasty retreat inside. Up next is Chelsea the single mom, followed by Kendall the token weirdo. Our first new face is Seinne, who works in real estate (Arie clearly has a type) and who’s also the first woman to bring him a gift: Elephant cufflinks. “An elephant never forgets, so don’t forget to find me inside,” Seinne says with a smile. Survey says: just the right amount of cute.

Tia (who shall henceforth be known as Raven 2) hands Arie a small plastic hot dog. “Please tell me you don’t already have a little wiener,” she drawls, as all the seventh-grade boys who apparently produce this show crack up in the control room. Poor Arie, though, doesn’t quite seem to get the joke. “I do not have this,” he replies, holding up the trinket. “You did good.”

Next up is Bibiana, a fertility-minded executive assistant from Florida (“Oh my God, our babies would have blue eyes!”), followed by Bri, a sports reporter who greets Arie by tossing him an actual softball. Jenny, the 25-year-old blonde, gets the intro brush-off in favor of Brittane J., who decides to mark her territory by slapping a bumper sticker on Arie’s behind.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

Jacqueline, the research coordinator, assures Arie all he has to do is “stand there and look pretty,” but Krystal disagrees: She commands Arie to close his eyes, take some deep breaths, and “reflect on feeling so grateful for everything leading to this moment.” (I suspect that somewhere, Peter Kraus is taking some much-needed deep breaths too.)

Nysha bucks convention by opting for a cocktail-length dress rather than a gown, while Valerie, the brunette waitress, opts for a canary yellow number that contrasts sharply with the purple undertones of her hair. Team Bachelor cuts all the less showy arrivals with shots of the “ladies” in the house shifting nervously in their seats every time a new woman enters the mansion — except for Chelsea, that is. “I’m not worried,” she sniffs. “There’s [sic] no threats.”

Bekah makes the first thematically mandated auto entrance of the evening, driving up in a cherry-red Mustang convertible. “I may be young,” she tells Arie, “but I can still appreciate something classic.” Translation:

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

And he loves it. “She is so beautiful,” he whispers as Bekah bounces inside.

Jenna, the 28-year-old social media manager, can’t stop waving her arms around during her introduction to Arie; Jessica, the TV host, emerges from the limo clutching something called a “gratitude rock” — which sounds like a hotel gift shop trinket, but points for effort, I guess?  Marikh, the restaurant owner, goes back to the spice well, joking about Arie’s “salt and pepper” hair, and then we get a brief glimpse of Olivia, a 23-year-old marketing associate from Chicago.

Becca K. (not to be confused with Bekah with a “k”) instructs Arie to get down on one knee and ask her if she’s “ready to do the damn thing.”

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

Is it me, or does long-suffering Arie seem a little annoyed? “That was a first for me,” he mutters drily to the camera, fishing Becca’s ring from his coat pocket like he can’t get it away from him fast enough. And still the limos keep coming.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

A second social media manager? Perhaps that’s the new “VIP cocktail waitress.” Next up is Lauren J. from Louisiana, who one-ups Raven 2 and her plastic wiener by giving Arie some giant balls (in the form of Mardi Gras beads). But the Laurens aren’t done with us yet, folks.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

And remarkably, they’re not all blonde.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

The “Lauren Limo” tops out at four, and so it’s on to Ashley and her checkered flag; Brittany T., who attempts to say, “You’re handsome” in Dutch (a language Arie speaks fluently); and Amber, who makes a memorable first impression by telling the Bachelor about one drawback of owning a spray-tan company:

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

But honestly, rose lovers, Amber’s ice-breaker is Emily Post-style compared what Ali, the personal stylist, dreams up:

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

It’s a “pit stop”! Get it? Because he’s a racecar driver. Yeah, let’s just move on.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

Okay, Annaliese, your joke about Arie’s “kissing bandit” nickname is cute, but talk to me when you’ve kept that mask on for days, like Jeff from Ashley’s season of The Bachelorette.

The deafening roar of an engine precedes our next arrival. “No she didn’t!” gasps one of the women watching from inside the mansion as Maquel climbs out of an IndyCar. Honestly — did they really think Bekah was going to be the only contestant who showed up on wheels?  The other bachelorettes are so annoyed by Maquel’s flashy entrance that they park themselves right in the shot as she introduces herself to Arie.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

Simmer down, ladies — your probably-not-future-husband is making his way inside right this very minute. Chelsea tries to offer him a drink, but Arie’s too focused on making his welcome speech sound as earnest as possible.

Awkward.
Awkward.

An off-camera producer mouths something like, “Take the damn drink, you moron,” at Arie, and he pauses to accept the glass from Chelsea. “See, I’m already messing up!” moans our Bachelor with a chuckle.

Seeing that Chelsea already had the pimp spot, is it any wonder that she’s the first one to “steal” Arie for a chat? “I’m not a rude person,” she says. “But I want to get to know him quickly so I can proceed with the rest of my life, possibly with him.” As we saw from her introduction, Chelsea’s whole shtick is being “mysterious” — which mainly means talking about herself in the past perfect tense, like “there have been some sacrifices that were made.” And he loves it. “Chelsea’s very good at leaving me wanting a little bit more,” he says. “It’s working.”

Unfortunately for Chelsea, she barely has time to drape Arie in her shimmering veil of mystery before Maquel shows up and politely asks to cut in. Though Maquel could not have been nicer about it, Chelsea immediately begins swanning around the house complaining about “the girl that makes all the noise,” who interrupted her time with Arie. This, coupled with all the other snotty things we’ve seen Chelsea say so far tonight, makes it pretty clear that she’s getting the villain edit. And by villain dit, I mean that cameras have captured Chelsea being bitchy several times, and producers have opted to use that footage.

Perhaps producers were focusing so much on Chelsea’s rude behavior because so many of the other women are actually being … nice to each other? Here they are sharing their feelings about interracial relationships:

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

And here they are bonding over the fact that, OMG, they’re on the freakin’ Bachelor!

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

Meanwhile, the get-to-know-you chats are proceeding apace. Brittany T. challenges Arie to a battery-operated car race …

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

… and even though her victory is totally fraudulent, she still claims her prize: the night’s first kiss. Cue the “nervous ladies start steppin’ up their game” montage! Kendall serenades Arie with an original ukulele composition about roses and fish; Caroline brings Arie some pizza (which looks like it was sitting out on the craft services table for a while, but again, points for effort); and Lauren G. shoves some fruit in Arie’s mouth and informs him that “pineapple” is her safe word.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

Jenna, the social media manager, gives Arie a socks-off foot massage while blathering on about her “super-in-tune” senses and all the free food and “spa stuff” she gets on a regular basis. For some reason, Arie finds this whole flibbertigibbet act “intriguing” — it might have something to do with Jenna being a tall skinny blonde, but that’s just a guess.

Oh snap, look who’s here.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

The first impression rose means that the clock (biological and otherwise) is ticking. Form an orderly line, ladies — and then watch as Chelsea cuts to the front. “I understand that I’m in a sea of beautiful women and they could possibly get mad at me,” she explains, “but I don’t care.” Arie doesn’t seem to mind, either.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

“You snuck up on me there, but I liked it,” he murmurs after their face-mash time. Will Chelsea’s surprise smooch top Jenny’s graphite portrait of Arie in a sports car? Or Jessica’s reveal that her late father met Arie and rooted for him on the racetrack? Or Bekah’s flirtatious, short-haired joie de vivre?

Yes. Yes, it will.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

Clink clink clink! Here comes Chris Harrison and his butter knife of bad news. Ladies, please proceed to the rose ceremony … as soon as you’re done with your coffee.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

Indeed, the sun is beginning its arc across the sky over Casa Bachelor when Arie finally begins handing out roses. Becca K., Marikh, Kendall, Lauren G., Krystal, Bekah M., Lauren S., Seinne, Caroline, Brittany T., Bibiana, Annaliese, Jenna, Valerie, Jacqueline, Jenny, Lauren B., Ashley, Tia, Maquel, and Chelsea are still in the running to become America’s Next Top Fiancée. Which means this is goodbye for Ali, Amber, Bri, Brittnae J., Jessica, Lauren J., Nysha, and Olivia.

Emotionally drained and exhausted from the all-nighter, poor Jessica takes the rejection the hardest — but her tears are more for her father than for the Bachelor. “Now my dad will never meet my husband,” she says sadly. (Remember kids: It’s never a bad time to call your parents to say, “I love you.”) Amber, the spray-tan proprietor, is pretty crushed, too. “I’m so disappointed in myself,” she says in a wobbly voice. “I had, like, my family rooting so hard for me. I feel like they’re going to be disappointed, you know?” Focus on the positive, honey: They didn’t disown you for going on The Bachelor, so they’ll probably forgive you — someday — for getting kicked off.

Wow, have we made it to the “this season on The Bachelor” preview already? Man, those two hours just flew by. As usual, the super-tease has a stellar crying montage.

This is suitable for framing. (Photos: ABC)
This is suitable for framing. (Photos: ABC)

Oh, and how about that disembodied voice barking, “I don’t want to be on the show! I want my girl!” at a producer toward the end of the preview? Any guesses on which lady that riled-up beau belongs to? (I’m going with Raven 2 or Krystal.)

Congrats on getting through Week 1, rose lovers! Now tell me: Did Arie meet your (lowered) expectations? Post your thoughts now! And be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s behind-the-scenes blog here.

The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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