Last week on The Bachelor, the drama was all about Jubilee; this week, she was basically nowhere to be found, as Olivia, “The Twins” and oh yeah, Becca (whose virginity, such a plot point during her last go-round, has barely been mentioned this season), took up all the space in the room. This set-up made one thing very clear: once you know a bit about how this show works, it’s hard to watch it without trying to see where the strings are being pulled.

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That’s not to suggest I’d want to watch without noticing; as I’ve said before, the joy in my Bachelor-viewing experience comes from trying to figure out what’s natural and what’s not. So let’s do that.

Olivia

Take a look at what Olivia was wearing during her ITMs (“in-the-moment” interviews) that aired within a short span of one another at the beginning of the episode.

Here she is talking about how hard it is to watch Ben with Jojo, as footage of him going on a one-on-one date with Jojo aired.

Here’s what she wore shortly after, as she said, “I want the one-on-one date. I love this man. I’m here for Ben. I want Ben to be my husband.”

And here’s what she was wearing after she didn’t get a one-on-one, as she said, “I just really wanted the one-on-one, to keep my head up.”

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Why does this matter? Because who knows when they all were filmed: all of these differently outfitted interviews were aired within the first ten minutes of the episode, and all were set up to look like they were responses to stuff that happened that day.

That’s basically a lead up to the real drama of the episode, which was Olivia’s freak-out after she decided to wear a showgirl costume to perform in front of Ben and 12,000 randos people in Las Vegas. Of course, the question is: did she decide, or was Olivia—like all the women with their “talents”—encouraged to embarrass herself in this particular way, down to the readily available showgirl outfit and cake she popped out of?

“I don’t want to be on camera,” she cried shortly afterwards while she was having a self-described panic attack. “Why can’t I just have a moment?”

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“I don’t have talents, so I tried to do something way outside my comfort zone that didn’t go that well,” she said. “I went into it feeling good like, yeah, woo hoo! And I thought he was mortified.”

Lastly: “I’m here to be marriage material and I don’t think I screamed marriage material.”

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Does this sound like someone who, of their own accord, had a random idea, went into it feeling great, and executed it themselves? Anyway, Olivia’s insecurities (which we saw were played up last week as well) made her highly stressed out the whole episode, almost resulting in her going home.

The Twins

Another episode highlight was how the twins Emily and Hayley were finally dealt with. Smart minds speculated Ben would be forced to take them on a two-on-one, after which he would have to eliminate one of them, but, forced with the prospect of picking between two sisters, would send them both home. In a twist, Ben actually made the tough pick; after a bizarrely uncomfortable visit to their childhood home in Las Vegas to meet their mother, he kept Emily (the more confident twin, we learned) and left Hayley to cry with her mom and very fat dachshund.

Did it really feel like Ben had gotten to know Emily well enough to pick her over Hayley? “He’s going to figure out tonight who he likes a little better,” one of them wisely predicted before they left for their date—the key words there being “a little.”

Becca and Amber

Becca and Amber I will lump together, much to their probable chagrin. Though Amber was sent home last night, both are running on the fumes of being former Bachelor contestants, as Becca was in the final two of Chris Soules’ season, and as Amber was on both Chris’s season and a contestant on Bachelor in Paradise. It is through their plot lines that you can see who is being used for what; though Becca’s status as a virgin was a huge deal last season, in last night’s episode, she and Ben had a pretty basic conversation about it, one brief joke was made about it by another girl, and that was that. It’s not worth it to the producers to dredge up her virginity as a plot line this time around (been there, done that) and so they’ve moved on, making it look like every one else in her orbit has too.

Amber, on the other hand, went home in a ball of tears because she was yet again un-noticeable and only used to stir up drama—as was the case during last week’s episode, during which she was likely sicced on Jubilee by the producers. One would think that, given that she’s been through this rigamarole a few times, Amber would have be better equipped to handle it. Her tears at the end of the Rose Ceremony, however, indicated otherwise.

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Reality TV is not for the faint of heart.


Contact the author at dries@jezebel.com.

Image via ABC.