SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the third episode of Season 24 of “The Bachelor.”
Less than one minute into the newest episode of “The Bachelor,” and there were already tears. Picking up where last week left off, viewers reunited with a crying Hannah Ann Sluss and a defensive Kelsey Weier — both still upset about last week’s champagne-gate bullying allegations.
Peter Weber found his temporary escape from the drama with the week’s first one-on-one date. He was joined by Victoria Paul, the 27-year-old who currently holds the title for Miss Louisiana USA.
The two started by shopping for cowboy boots and line dancing in the middle of the store before they showed off their moves down the street at the Canyon. “I could’ve just found my dancing partner for life,” he said, after less than a week of knowing her.
Weber and Paul’s date continued in an airline hanger. There, Paul revealed that she’s always been a “caretaker,” in part, because of her father’s death at a young age and her mother’s struggles with addiction. She and her sister grew up in poverty, often short of food and in and out of shelters. “I dreamed a lot of dreams, and one of my dreams was just to get out of that place and to have a healthy and happy life,” she said. Weber consoled her and offered her the rose before the end of the night.
Back at the house, a date card arrived for the remaining contestants. Tammy Ly, Alayah Benavidez, Sarah Coffin, Kelley Flanagan, Sydney Hightower, Shiann Lewis, Kiarra Norman and Savannah Mullins were all invited to the first group date of the week. “I love surprises — I hope you do too,” the invitation said.
And surprise! The first episode without Hannah Brown wasn’t absent of her presence — as her best friend and former Bachelor contestant (who was also the focus of the first same-sex relationship during last season’s “Bachelor in Paradise”) Demi Burnett stepped in to host the week’s group date. She arrived at the mansion at dawn (“I’m back, bitches!”) and sent two women to pillow smack the contestants to wake them up.
They eventually reveal “Demi’s Extreme Pillow Fight Club,” where the women were pit against one to “fight for Peter’s heart.” Fred Willard joined Chris Harrison as the judges for the contest.
Ly shared she was on the varsity wrestling team in high school but, ironically, was the first one disqualified. Hightower questions Benavidez’s commitment out of fear that “she might mess her hair up,” and Flanagan laughed at the idea of her legal clients seeing her having a pillow fight on national television in lingerie. Benavidez and Hightower faced each other again in the finals; Benavidez ultimately took home the crown and the prize kiss from Weber.
That evening, Weber shared his excitement about Benavidez, but was quickly derailed when Hightower shared concerns about her behavior. She accused her of being “fake” and “manipulative,” which Weber confronted head-on in the group setting. “I just ask: be real, be raw, be yourself. I am giving this my everything and I’m please asking you: if you’re not feeling it, if you’re just doing it for the cameras, if you’re doing this for any other reason than to see if it can work with me, I do not have time for that,” he said. Weber rewarded Hightower with the group date rose.
The next day, Harrison came to the mansion to announce that Weber would be joining the women for a pool party in lieu of that evening’s cocktail party. It quickly turned into an extension of the previous night, with a roundabout of women giving their personal options on Benavidez (which were overwhelmingly negative).
The rose ceremony went on as scheduled until the last two roses remained. Weber abruptly left the room and went to confide in Harrison about his conflicts. The two returned to remove a rose, ultimately sending Benavidez, Jasmine Nguyen, Coffin and Alexa Caves home.
Despite the seemingly decisive end, Weber was clearly conflicted after the rose ceremony. A producer approached and questioned his decision.
“I think I just gave in to listening to everyone else, to be honest. I feel like I’m going to regret this like crazy and not going to get past this for a while. I thought that was the right thing to do. I just hope I made the right decision,” he said.
“The Bachelor” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.