While the sound of rutting echoes over a remote camp site during a secret overnight romp on The Bachelor, the confronting act doesn't reach the depths of humiliation one girl faces after making a mortifying decision.
There's nothing quite as beautiful as anonymity. But its preciousness isn't cherished until it's lost. No longer anonymous, you can never go back. You become known. But for good or bad? It comes down to choices.
Rhiannon makes a choice on tonight's episode. "Who?" we ask in the opening scenes when it's announced she will attend a single date. But by the end, we know her. We definitely know her.
At first the date sucks. Nick's not into it and we write it off. But when he tries to wrap it up with a friendly hug, Rhiannon decides to say something that will alter her entire course on this series.
"I'd love to give you a little kiss but I don't know if it's like … awkward or not … Is it awkward? Do you want a kiss? Do you? Want to do it? Do you want a kiss? I just wanna ask because …" she stutters as the pair remain in a loose embrace.
She doesn't know what to make of Nick's silence: "What … you don't want to?"
"It's a tough one,' is all he can manage.
Still, she persists.
"Do you want a kiss?" she asks. "Yes?"
It has only been three weeks, but we've learnt the hard way, several times, that Nick does not like to kiss random girls. He rejected Romy. He rejected Cat. And now, he rejects Rhiannon.
He doesn't care how humiliated you will feel. It's not his issue. He's not going to budge and give you a sympathy kiss just because you misread the situation.
As some kind of weird consolation, he offers to hold Rhiannon.
She starts to hyperventilate and needs to escape. She knows she can't run away from the humiliation, but she can't remain here wading in it any longer.
She looks to producers.
"Thanks … done?" She asks, hoping to be excused from the mess she created. Nick offers her a rose to ease the pain.
"Hopefully this proves that it went well," she tries to convince us.
Humiliation tends to come in waves. There's the initial impact. And then there's the lifetime that follows.
As Rhiannon wanders through the carpark, she begins to experience a PTSD episode from the event. She frantically finds a producer to explain what happened. A cameraman hides behind a Corolla and captures the unravelling.
"In my normal life, I wouldn't have an issue being, like, forward, if that makes sense," she blurts out. Her heart beats faster and she starts crying uncontrollably.
"I'm saying that, it's not great," she sobs. "I'm not crying because … I'm just saying it's not great to be in a situation where this will be the first time we do kiss … if there's any more times … so how do you instigate it? It's awkward … And I don't know if he wants to … that's why I'd rather ask because I'd rather not be here if he doesn't feel anything …"
Nothing Rhiannon says makes sense anymore. She lays down in the back of a production van and dreams of the simple, easy days. The days she didn't approach boys and make formal requests to kiss them. The days we had no idea who she was. The days when she was anonymous.
En route to the overnight group date that's happening off-campus in the middle of the woods, we learn something small but crucial about Cass.
"There's horses!" she exclaims. It all makes sense. Cass is that girl in primary school who was obsessed with ponies. The one at my school used to neigh and whip her hair around. These girls are usually also really into Taylor Swift's earlier albums about princesses and fairytale love.
We all pull up at a remote campsite in the middle of nowhere and Romy offers up some TMI. "I froth camping," she confesses.
Osher scurries out of a native plant and announces a twist — one girl won't return from the camping trip. How exciting.
Now, he didn't say someone would get Wolf Creek-ed but he also didn't not say it. Maybe, upon elimination, all the remaining girls will simply just run to the sponsorship Hyundai and lock the doors and leave the axed girl stranded in the desert. Both outcomes would be thrilling.
Either way, Romy's hoping that stranded girl will be Vanessa Sunshine.
She's irritated and wants her out of here.
"I feel a responsibility to tell him the truth about Vanessa Sunshine," she says dutifully.
Like her plans to white-ant Cass on Wednesday, she plans on executing a similar mission. She bails Nick up in a bush clearing and tells him Vanessa doesn't think he's attractive.
"I hate the whole, 'throwing someone under the bus' thing," she begins. This is a lie. She loves throwing people under buses so much she has considered just getting a bus licence to make the process more efficient.
Anyway, she tells Nick that Vanessa Sunshine thinks he's meh.
Now curious, Nick takes Vanessa Sunshine away for a chat on top of this really big rock. The reason? If she calls him ugly, he can push her off.
Vanessa Sunshine is a classy lady and is completely embarrassed when Nick mentions the rumours. It's all a hilarious mix-up, she says. She insists it's all just a big misunderstanding and she can explain it all.
"What I said was, you have a blond curly mullet with this curling moustache and you should have a complete makeover," she clarifies.
Despite Vanessa Sunshine's offer to whirl him around a David Jones and completely transform him, Nick doesn't accept. Instead, they return to the campfire, where Cass experiments with an off-the-shoulder puffer jacket.
The fire crackles. Nick and the girls sit in silence and listen to the distant howls of wild coyotes and Osher.
Staring into the flames, Romy's mind whirls. She's already taken Vanessa Sunshine down. Now's the time to make a move on Nick. Well, another move. It has been exactly two weeks since he rejected her mid-kiss but, like a wound, her confidence has healed and it's tougher than before.
She hatches a plan. Scoping out the campsite, Romy decides she'll break into Nick's swag in the dark of night while he's asleep.
"How do you think the rest of the night's gonna play out," Alisha asks her.
We have our own predictions.
Filled with adrenaline, Romy will wait until Nick has to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night. When he leaves his tent, she'll creep inside and slide into his sleeping bag, waiting patiently until he returns. But things don't go to plan.
When Romy shuffles into the sleeping bag, she will get a shock. She'll feel a heat radiating inside. Suddenly, a torch will click on. She will look over her shoulder and see Cass, big-spooning her from behind. A bright yellow torch will shine up from underneath her chin like in scary movies. They will both scream and Nick will come leaping back in.
This is not the kind of situation Romy was hoping to froth on.
Unfortunately, this version of events isn't shown and we see a very different narrative play out. I blame editing.
Everyone retires to their swags and the campfire fizzles out. Hours pass. It's pitch black and frost begins to settle on the tarp cocoons.
A comical zipper sound rips through the silence and Romy's face pops up. She scurries through the dirt like a feral cat before pouncing through the canvas flaps of Nick's swag.
"What's going on?" Nick croaks, waking out of his slumber.
Romy plays dumb.
"Ooh … hello," she says surprised, as if Nick's the one who has broken into her tent.
What happens inside the swag on this cold, dark night is unclear. Producers really should have installed some kind of small camera inside the tents. This is exactly what GoPros were made for — straight boy surfing trips and bizarre midnight tent romps on The Bachelor.
Borrowing elements from our original predictions, it seems Nick and Romy aren't alone. Cass is there. She's always there.
"I managed to get an hour's sleep and then I heard a noise outside. I could tell someone was going into someone else's swag. I look over at Romy's swag, and I see she's actually gone into Nick's swag," she recounts in a very serious piece-to-camera like this is a 60 Minutes investigation.
"The swags are pretty small so you'd have to be pretty close to be in the swag."
Keen observation, Cassandra. We hear laughing, giggling. And then, rutting. Almost hoglike.
The experience leaves Cass scarred. In the morning, she details the extent of the trauma.
"I feel extremely uncomfortable about the whole situation," she says, wide-eyed and frizzy-haired. "I'm pretty devastated by what's happened."
As she sits on the ground and washes the dirty plates after breakfast, Nick approaches her. She looks up into his eyes. The unmistakeable feeling of disappointment and betrayal clouds her heart. Still, is it enough to erase the months-long love affair she has constructed in her head? With love comes jealousy. And it's a cruel dame that only makes you care more.
The man she loves isn't perfect, Cass begins to realise. And he has the ability to really hurt her. It leaves her petrified. This isn't the kind of romance Taylor Swift sings about on those early albums. But, like Taylor, Cass will soon lose her innocence, cut her hair real short, and channel her resentment into a thinly veiled breakup anthem.
Cass decides she needs to address this head-on. But before she can approach Nick, he surprises her with a date.
As he pushes her on a childlike swing that's tied to a tree branch, she lays it all on the table. She knows everything, she says. She knows Romy broke into his tent. She knows he didn't kick her out immediately. And she heard it — the rutting. Oh god, the rutting.
"I feel like there's no real need for an explanation because there wasn't actually anything to explain," Nick tells her. Nothing happened, he insists. About 10 minutes of cuddling.
Cass is willing to accept anything Nick gives her. Any scrap of attention is cherished.
"Remember when we hugged at that cocktail party and we just … hugged? For a while. That was a good moment," she whispers to Nick.
He doesn't know what to say. Mainly because he can't remember it. The swing keeps soaring and creaks from the taut rope tugging at the tree branch fill the silence.
"Yeaaaaah. Yeah," he manages.
It seems like Cass is rejected and left heartbroken in every episode. And it happens again.
"I feel … With you, Cass … Sometimes, that's just more than enough," he tells her, taking his time to choose the right words. "I can sit next to ya … And we can just … be quiet."
They don't kiss. And Cass doesn't get a rose.
She stares ahead, grips the ropes and surrenders her body to the motions of the moving swing as life, love and fantasy blend together.
"I had the best date of my life," she whispers.
If Nick's not going to choose Cass at the end of this competition, it needs to end now. There's never going to be a right time. She will always be heartbroken, he will always feel like the bad guy. Keeping her in this competition will only hurt her more. But she remains.
In the on-location rose ceremony, it comes down to arch rivals Romy and Vanessa Sunshine. Nick's not into Romy and is actually becoming scared of her forceful ways. But Vanessa Sunshine said he needs to be given a complete makeover like Laney in She's All That.
How offensive. Nick isn't some weird art student who needs to straighten his hair and put on a better outfit while Sixpence Non The Richer plays in the background.
He tells her to scram and then they all run to the sponsorship Hyundai and lock the doors.
But Vanessa doesn't run after them. Sci-fi music begins to play and she stares blankly ahead. As the full moon beams down, her translucent skin radiates.
The Hyundai speeds away with the screaming girls inside and Vanessa Sunshine walks calmly into the woods. She nestles into the hollow opening of a thick mossy tree trunk and closes her eyes. It's where she will remain for 1000 years — away from people, away from poor outfit choices.
This is what she came for and she found it. Everyone has a choice.