Hello readers, and welcome to Episode Two of the Season of Clare Crawley.
Our local heartthrob, Jason, is still in the running, and this episode opens with Clare petting her Golden Retriever and sipping a green juice.
The first group date has arrived, and while Jason’s name is not on the card for the date, it turns out to be for the best: The men are shepherded into a hotel conference room, which the producers have clearly tried to disguise by covering it in astroturf and faux stone. The result, sadly, is more middle school drama show than disguise. The men are challenged to display their love languages to Clare, who lords over them from a Juliet-like balcony.
Jason clearly won in this scenario: While the other dudes are stuck in this community theater production, Jason is hanging at the hotel, doing belly flops in the pool. Our hero!
It seems the flops pay off, however, because when the card for the first one-on-one date arrives, the name we’ve all been waiting for is gracing its cover. That’s right—Jason.
“My heart’s f—ing beating out of its chest right now,” Jason says to the camera as he looks at the date card. He’s so goofy and excited, his humongous teeth lighting up the screen.
That is, until he reads the date card. “Love will set us free,” the card reads, alongside Clare’s message asking Jason to bring a letter written to his younger self.
“F—,” says Jason, looking dazed, as if he just got a telegraph in the war. “We’re going to talk about our emotions and feelings.”
F—, indeed, my man. The camera then cuts to a montage of Jason staring stone-faced out at the desert, so that we know at home this is A Very Serious Moment. Will Jason be able to open up and show his vulnerable side to Clare?
Well, at the very least, Jason is comfortable showing off his ankles, as he shows up to the date wearing a pair of joggers that border on man-capris. The duo sits on a pair of cushions casually scattered by a bonfire in the desert, making conversation for roughly a millisecond before Clare goes full-on psychotherapist. She asks Jason if he uses his goofiness and humor as a shield before inviting him to scream into the night with her. And so they scream, their uvulas rattling into the darkness with the force of all emotions they’ve ever repressed.
Then they write phrases they’ve been told about themselves on clay tablets (“hard to love,” “selfish”), read them aloud together, and smash them on the rocks symbolically before sharing the letters they wrote to their past selves.
Clare must have just finished reading a Brené Brown book or something, because I haven’t seen this level of forced emotional show-and-tell since “bonding night” at my all-girls sleepaway camp. But, to her credit, this is a major power move, one that I wish I could have employed during the era I seemed to date every emotionally unavailable straight man within the Western Hemisphere (hi, guys!). Jason, to his credit, plays along and opens up. This is possibly because he wants to, but also possibly because he’s on national television and is afraid Chris Harrison will pop out from a cactus and tackle him if he tried to run.
In either case, it works: Jason seems to cry a bit, he gets the rose, they smooch, and in a move beloved by 13-year-old girls everywhere, the duo ceremoniously burns the dress Clare wore when dumped by Juan Pablo. (Yes, I also did this when I was 13—I had just broken up with the captain of the middle school soccer team and was struggling, okay?)
The rest of the night proceeds as one would imagine: There’s another group date, and on this one the men are asked to play strip dodgeball. It ends with the losing team wearing what I can only describe as man thongs before some of them completely disrobe. As the winning team heads off to a group cocktail hour with Clare, the losers head back to the hotel rooms completely naked, before sitting next to the other men who stayed home. “Well, that’s the most action I’ve seen in a while,” Jason says as one guy sits down next to him. I sincerely hope they disinfect the couch.
We end the night at another rose ceremony, where Clare makes out with her seemingly favorite guy, Dale, and Jason’s ankles are yet again stealing the show. The episode cuts off before the actual ceremony, though, but not without sprinkling some spoilers from next week: Most notably, Jason flipping off the camera while talking about Dale.
Does anyone else smell that? It seems…there is some man drama on the menu.