If you — like Marie Kondo — love mess, then The Bachelor Season 27, Episode 9 is the stuff of reality TV dreams. But if you — like me — feel a deep sense of dread and secondhand embarrassment watching other people transform into human wrecking balls, Zach Shallcross’ Fantasy Suite Week is the stuff of nightmares.
In Week 9, Shallcross is fresh off of Hometown Dates and headed for Fantasy Suites with his three remaining women: Ariel Frenkel, Gabi Elnicki, and Kaity Biggar. But before embarking on his romantic rendezvous in Krabi, Thailand, he makes an unconventional announcement to host Jesse Palmer. “What’s most important to me, and to express to each and every one of the women, is no sex,” Shallcross explains. “No sex of any kind for Fantasy Suites.”
Now, before I tear this man apart, let me stress that waiting to have sex in a relationship is perfectly fine — especially when you’re dating three women at once and will ideally be engaged to one of them in a week. Shallcross choosing to keep it in his pants during “sex week” wasn’t the problem. What I took issue with was the mortifying, immature way he handled the week. If you watched the last season of The Bachelorette, you know this wasn’t Shallcross’ first Fantasy Suite rodeo. After making it past Hometown Week with Rachel Recchia, the two shared an overnight date so awkward it inspired Shallcross to self-eliminate the next day. If you assumed Shallcross’ second shot at Fantasy Suites couldn’t be any worse than his first, I’m here to report you were so so wrong.
After a sexy albeit sex-free overnight with Frenkel, Shallcross was on track to stick to his word. But everything fell apart after his overnight with Elnicki, when she told cameras they had “a good cuddle sesh” and he ran off to clear his conscience, confess their intimacy to Palmer, and share his guilt over letting down Biggar and Frenkel. On a quest for self-redemption, Shallcross returned to Elnicki and explained, “I wouldn’t be able to go about this week having secrets and telling someone one thing and doing another. I just want to be so transparent with everyone involved.” Elnicki felt blindsided, like her trust was broken, which was understandable considering Shallcross decided to air their private moments to the world. But he wasn’t thinking of her in that moment. He was only concerned with saving face in front of his other potential fiancés.
“I felt bad that I bombarded [Gabi], but I really feel like I got a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Shallcross selfishly said as he headed to his date with Biggar. That’s right. Biggar! Not Frenkel, his first date, who you think he’d want to set the record straight with before anyone. Whether Shallcross EVER confronted Frenkel during the week is unclear, but judging by comments in a rose ceremony voiceover, it sounds like he never checked in with her?! The nerve of this man.
After upsetting Elnicki, Shallcross dropped the bomb on Biggar without considering how it would impact her. “I get that you wanted to tell me and you’re saying that cause you respect me, but honestly, I could have went without hearing that,” Biggar said. “I will reiterate a million times over I understand what you were doing in trying to tell me. But I know the gist of this week. I know what this is…That’s your relationship with the other women. Keep it there…It kind of was like rubbing salt in the wound. There’s no easy way to hear that. Think about it from my point of view. Put yourself in my shoes.”
After crying to a producer and taking time to process, Biggar met Shallcross for dinner and said she wanted to try to move past the misstep. The two headed to the Fantasy Suite, but unlike Frenkel and Elnicki’s dates, we got no morning after update and were left to wonder whether or not the two were intimate. Meanwhile, Elnicki was left feeling “like I’m wearing a big A on my chest” after having her private moment aired to all of Bachelor Nation.
Aside from Shallcross treating Thailand like his own personal confessional, he operated Fantasy Suites as though he was alone on this journey. He’s not the only one with an engagement at the end of this show. What if these ladies wanted to be physically intimate with him before getting engaged? Shouldn’t that have at least been a discussion? It’s worth noting that sex is by no means required in Fantasy Suites, and unless explicitly shared with viewers, we have no clue what goes down in the privacy of those overnights. Shallcross could have easily chosen to abstain from sex without performatively telling the world, but since Zach The Snack had to run his trap, he wound up making a mess, breaking trust, and setting a terrible impression ahead of engagement week.
Everyone makes mistakes, but Shallcross could have carried out damage control much more tactfully by prioritizing these women’s feelings over his own. It’s clear he’ll still have hell to pay in the finale, and I, for one, have my fingers crossed that Frenkel — and in a dream world, her brother Bobby — will take the hot seat during “After The Final Rose” and weigh in on the chaos.
New episodes of The Bachelor air on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET. Episodes are available for next-day streaming on Hulu.
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