It’s no secret that Clayton Echard hasn’t received the friendliest welcome from Bachelor Nation so far. From his cliche Bachelor build to the negative feedback posted left and right on Twitter, it’s clear that Echard wasn’t the first choice for many. His personality can be very vanilla, we get it. But, hear me out: He’s exactly what the franchise needed.
The Bachelor has been deep in the trenches for the past few seasons with a proven track line of lackluster leads, quick break ups and overly produced drama, and the franchise is trying to break the pattern with new ways that have consistently fallen short.
Season 26 feels like we’re finally back to the series’ roots; it’s giving us The Bachelor circa 2015 led by Chris Soules all over again. We have the muscle-y, good looking lead who is just as naive as all the contestants — resulting in perfect potential for the messy season that we’ve been long overdue for.
After two years without the show filming at the infamous Bachelor Mansion, episode two picks back up at the 10-acre property where we get well acquainted with the women who made it past the first Rose Ceremony of the season. This week, we have helicopters landing on yachts, dry humping by the pool and a birthday party with Hillary Duff. Whew! Let’s recap:
Villain No. 1: Shanae
Straight out of the limo, it’s easy to pinpoint which contestant will make it their mission to make everyone’s life a living hell. Surprisingly, we have two people solidifying their villain roles for season 26.
Shanae’s entrance was hard to miss when she pulled up to the mansion in a monster truck and simultaneously ruined another person’s entrance prop. This week, she’s seen discounting another contestant’s mental health disorder. Truly, that’s all the intel we need to slate her as a villain.
During the second group date activity of playing “Never Have I Ever,” she revealed that she felt judged by the other women in the house. Somehow, someway, this leads to her showcasing her “true personality” by demonstrating her Nae Nae dance technique. We all had to look away.
“I want him to see me in my element,” she says.
To make matters worse, her insecurities get all the more ugly when Elizabeth pulls Clayton first during the group date cocktail party. “Elizabeth is fake and two-faced,” she pouts.
Miss ShaNae-Nae takes all her frustration to Clayton and tells him that Elizabeth is the ultimate red flag because she feels ignored by her. Honestly, it made no sense. After Clayton speaks with both of them about the matter, the two ladies have their own conversation. Shanae admits that she felt ignored by Elizabeth when she tried to join a conversation with her and Ency.
Elizabeth affirms that it wasn’t intentional and that her ADHD gives her a hard time “processing multiple auditory outputs.” Inappropriately, Shanae laughed at her mental health disorder and continued to mock her for it.
Villain No. 2: Cassidy
To add to the villain pool, Cassidy began to show her mean streak during the first group date this week. When the girls were invited to attend a children's birthday party in Beverly Hills with guest star Hillary Duff, they all were jumping with joy to show off their motherly potential to Clayton. That is, all but Cassidy.
Instead of participating in the group date activity of building playhouses and making cakes, Cassidy took it upon herself to pull Clayton aside to a nearby pool where she royally embarrassed herself with a very uncomfortable make out session with The Bachelor. By monopolating all the time during the date, she quickly closed all opportunities for friendship with the other girls.
“At this point, there’s no way I won’t get a rose,” she confidently says right before a naive Clayton hands the group date rose to her.
Cassidy not only cements herself as this season’s “I’m not here to make friends” girl, but she was also allegedly FaceTiming another guy from home while quarantining for filming. Just before the end of the episode, Sierra serves up some well-deserved karma by revealing a private conversation (that was layered with video proof) between her and Cassidy. “Clayton needs to know who she really is,” she says. YES, do tell, Sierra!
Rightfully so, she grabs The Bachelor to tell him all about Cassidy’s “friend with benefits” situation she has back home who is waiting for her to get done with filming. “Obviously, she's not here for you and to have love with you,” she warns him.
The episode ends with Clayton finally coming to his senses and considering taking back Cassidy’s rose for the week (a first in history).
Week 2 MVP: Susie
On a lighter note, episode two featured the best first one-on-one dates that we’ve seen in years. Susie receives the group date card reading “let’s take our love to new heights.” In Bachelor world, this usually means skydiving or bungee jumping — all things everyone loves to do on a first date. But no, we got a helicopter.
Of course, the pilot flies right over the Bachelor Mansion so the rest of the women stuck at home can feel even more jealous than they already are. The duo shared lots of laughs and chats before the helicopter landed on a 50-foot yacht in the middle of the ocean.
“I love the confidence I'm seeing. I am seeing who you are, and I really do like what I'm seeing,” Clayton so eloquently tells her. Is it just me or does he talk to all the girls like he’s a football coach during scouting season? After sharing many glasses of champagne, the two reconvene for the dinner portion date where they, of course, whisper sweet nothings to each other while dancing to live music.
“I couldn't have asked for this date to go better," he says before giving Susie the group date rose.