I learned from watching the excellent Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit, that chess has an opening, a middlegame and an endgame. While these stages may blend into each other, each has its own key concepts and principles. The Bachelor franchise can similarly be seen through the lens of having an opening, a middlegame and an endgame. It’s clear to me that we’re in the middlegame of this season.
One sign of middlegame is when a bestie (the oh-so-hot Jojo) arrives to talk to the lead (the oh-so-stunning Tayshia) about feelings. A second sign is the guys’ obvious disappointment of having to go on group dates. In the opening stage, any time with Tayshia was good. In the middlegame, only 1-on-1 time is acceptable.
A third sign of middlegame is foreshadowing. Like a good chess move, foreshadowing is often subtle. In this case it was Tayshia saying to Jojo – with Jojo’s complete understanding – how she doesn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. Which means that she’s gonna hurt somebody’s feelings during the episode.
Poor Eazy. He got hit like a couple of Journey songs. There he is at dinner going in with the L word [cue Lovin’ You is Easy]. The look on Tayshia’s face suggested – with all apologies to Linda Ronstadt – that for her it’s not so easy to fall in love. And there was Eazy in the dreaded limo feeling another Journey song – When You’re Alone (It Ain’t Easy). As I predicted, there will be more of these because Tayshia’s manner of relating makes it so, uh, easy, for every guy to think he’s THE guy when she just really thinks, “You’re a nice guy.”
First bad middlegame break-up aside, this episode was clearly all about the coming Wall $treet Dude (W$D) vs. The Villanously Manipulative Noah confrontation. They spent two hours sniping and snarking at each other. But before I go there, we need to talk about the oh-so-hot Jojo. With Chris taking time off to move his son to college, she’s a natural choice for co-hostess coming of her CNBC Cash Pad gig. And it was quite clear that the guys approved. It was both funny and sad to me that a group of men devoting themselves to the pursuit of Tayshia’s hand in marriage were all like DAY-UM every time Jojo showed up. [cue Dua Lipa Boys Will Be Boys]
I also need to briefly mention Tayshia and Zac’s make-believe wedding photoshoot date 1-on-1, if only because it ended on a Ferris wheel which allows me to make a reference to Blood, Sweat and Tears Spinning Wheel. The date went well as expected because she’s into him. The drama over her make-believing in a wedding dress was minor.
But the fun really began with the let’s make art and talk about our feelings group date. Speaking personally, I just would have walked myself to the dreaded limo and gone home. But the guys came up with some clever ways of expressing themselves to Tayshia. Well, there was Ben stunning everybody by going full nakes as a metaphor for dropping all barriers and being totally open. Not sure how clever that was but it was certainly an attention getter for which he was rewarded with the Group Date Rose.
But I digress. This whole date was about The Villanously Manipulative Noah and The Suddenly Villanously Manipulative W$D although I’m sure I wasn’t the only one appalled when W$D proudly displayed his clay model to Tayshia (and all the guys) with this explanation:
“Here’s our New York home; our Hampton, Long Island home; our California home. I didn’t get to the mountain retreat or the chateau in Paris but I thought three houses was a good start.”
Wow. Real words of true love there.
Did he think he was on The Millionaire Matchmaker?
Anyway, another sign we are in middlegame is the inevitable confrontation between The Villain and the Villainized, except in this case, Noah and W$D seem to be playing both roles. It’s as if they’re simultaneously playing white and black at the same time. W$D has become so petty that he makes you want to root for Noah! Him talking about emotional intelligence is laughable. [cue Alanis Morrissette Ironic].
The producers are squeezing this for every last drop of drama by making the resolution of it the cliffhanger. It’s a rather pointless one I think because both are probably going to be gone soon, i.e. neither is getting to the endgame. I wouldn’t be surprised if she sends them home at the same time. Oh, and shout-out to loyal Musings reader T.F. who pointed out to me how many cocktail parties have been canceled this season over meaningless drama. This confrontation provoked another one.
As we continue to work through the middlegame. I see nothing that has changed my Top Four of Ivan, Ben, Brendon and Zac.
And I see more badly broken hearts coming. [cue The Allman Brothers You Don’t Love Me]
P.S. This episode’s viewing wine: Mascota Vineyards Cabernet Franc.
P.P.S. Hysterical moment: Noah running to a mirror when Jojo arrived. She asked, “You checking yourself? How’s your hair look?” His response (with a big grin): “How does it look?”
 My Daughter Diandra agrees with this assessment as well her social media circles who also assess such things.
 What’s with all the nakedness this season?