Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor: Episode 7, PLUS New Video!

Sharleen Joynt—FLARE columnist and former Bachelor contestant—shares her take on last night’s episode of The Bachelor

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I have a tendency to notice and zero-in on inconsequential things about this show, and after last week’s head-scratcher of an episode with some of the women suddenly revealing a potential dislike for Danielle L, I found myself (possibly overly) focused on the house dynamics last night. In a very interesting twist, Corinne appears to have become relatively well-liked. There is a childlike charm to her when she feels and shows vulnerability (and I give props where props are due that she can show that vulnerability). Vanessa was conspicuously absent after her 1-on-1 (she was nowhere to be found when other women were saying goodbye, nor during any Girl Chats, even full group ones) leading me to wonder if there’s a social reason for that or if she was merely licking her wounds after pouring her heart out on her date and not getting the validation she sought. Danielle M was evidently very popular, yet while it was clear that she and Vanessa were very close, we were robbed of their goodbye. Kristina (who I’d really been coming to adore) had all the women (again, minus Vanessa) in a tearful group hug at the end. Also, when Nick walked in to speak with her, Rachel was at the foot of the other bed in the room, leading me to think these two were roommates and thus very close (from the moment travel begins, the women choose who they room with).

Does any of this even matter? Probably not. But tensions felt SO high last night, so I tend to look for what’s not being shown as explanation. I remember very clearly what was and wasn’t shown of the house drama from my own season, especially in Episode 7 (the week I left) and in some respects (and selfishly), I wish everything had been shown, if only to justify the group’s tense state.

That said, while last night felt super dramatic, I didn’t find myself rolling my eyes at any of it or feeling as though it was blown out of proportion. I liked that Nick sent people home and did so in untraditional ways (not making the women wait until the the Rose Ceremony), and though that in and of itself was “dramatic,” it also felt kind and respectful. I also really do buy that the remaining six were very into Nick, to the point where there tears upon leaving weren’t about wounded egos and saying farewell to their girlfriends, as can so often be the case.

Now onto the big news: RACHEL! First, I love her and think she’s a perfect choice. She’s completely stunning and self-assured, yet quietly confident (if you read my blog last week, I called her a “full bottle”), and I love how mature she is. As she said on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, she’s 31 and ready for this, and while a lot of leads say this, I wholeheartedly believe her. I personally have always found seasons of this show where the lead and contestants are a hair older to be far more convincing and investable as a viewer. Rachel has her shit together, including a badass career which doesn’t involve striving for or benefiting from fame (a popular ulterior motive here which, let’s be frank, automatically dilutes how seriously you can take a person), and is genuinely ready for a real relationship. Lastly, I love what Rachel being Bachelorette represents for society at a time when I personally have felt afraid for the future of open-mindedness and nondiscrimination in the United States.  I love how casually and straightforwardly she addressed the fact that she’d never brought home a white guy, and that kind of frankness bodes very well for a season sure to be filled with firsts.

Related: Meet Newly-Minted Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay

Oh-kay, so the timing of this big reveal was maybe a bit strange. It reminded me of Nick’s premature Bachelor announcement, but in that case we were only a week from the Paradise finale. There should still be four episodes left to this season, and seeing as how Vanessa is so clearly the big frontrunner and Rachel was the only one to give her a run for her money, I’m left wondering, “What now?” Somehow I doubt the Powers That Be won’t be able to find a way to throw me off the scent in the coming weeks.

My frontrunners with the very few options left are…

1. Vanessa, 29: I’m having a hard time picturing any ending to this season that doesn’t involve Vanessa “winning.” The way these two are together is so comfortable, like they’ve not only just known each other for awhile, but are already an established couple. Plus, there’s something about the way Nick looks at her that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen from him. Nick can have a tendency of being a bit removed, but with Vanessa he is 100 percent engaged, seemingly 100 percent of the time. It’s as though if he checks out, even for a second, he’ll miss something precious. There’s a magic here and I for one can’t get enough of these two together.

2. Raven, 25: Raven is definitely this season’s dark horse even though I’m not sure I can call a woman who got an Episode 4 1-on-1 date in the lead’s hometown a dark horse. I suppose it’s because, while I did always feel that Nick was into Raven and that they have a very easy, effortless banter, there’s still a electric je-ne-sais-quoi thing I’m lacking here. Like, I’ve felt more chemistry jump out of the screen between Nick and at least four other women (Vanessa, Rachel, Corinne, and Kristina) than I’ve felt between him and Raven. And the thing is, I really, really dig Raven! I love how observant she is, her dry commentary and witty quips, and there’s a peacefulness to her that I admire; she really does seem to rise above house conflict and truly seems like her own person. Chemistry is still TBD, but for now Raven isn’t going anywhere.

3. Corinne, 24: Corinne continues to be entertaining as ever and I do believe her feelings for Nick are authentic, but it’s hard to imagine that Corinne making Final 4 isn’t a producer-driven thing. Nick deftly sidestepped Corinne’s (INCREDIBLY VALID) frustrations over not getting a 1-on-1, but realistically, if you’re in his shoes and are legitimately considering a life with a person, could you really get this far and not give her a 1-on-1? Like, at the very least she should be given one for show. THREE women got SECOND 1-on-1s over her getting her FIRST. Based on that alone, Corinne shouldn’t want to stay.

For more from Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor, visit her blog, alltheprettypandas.com. Then come back to FLARE.com/themorningafter every Tuesday for a fresh recap!

Tune into The Bachelor Mondays on Omni at 8:00 EST/PST—and catch up on past episodes at www.omnitv.ca/the-bachelor.

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