Every second day I count my blessings that I am married and don’t have to contend with all the trauma that is the dating scene. In my day it was pretty simple: as part of your employment conditions, be thrust into a remote location with a whole lot of others who have similarly been thrust, a few social drinks and a couple of staff parties later and voila…happily ever after. None of this swipe right, e-Harmony, RSVP, Match.com nonsense. And then, when these things don’t work, poor old Gen Y-ers find themselves on a national television program crawling through mud, literally not metaphorically. Absolutely rock bottom. Yay for the good old days. But more about the mud raking later.
The episode begins with the girls musing about Steph’s intruder status and how long she should still be called an intruder. Given that she has now been there longer than Vintaea, Mia, Gwen Stefani, Janey, Marja…and other intruders Khali and Sarah, enough is probably enough. But before we can find out what Queen Alex thinks is the definitive answer, Osher arrives. He has important news because his blue envelope includes a single date for someone.
Nikki. Surprise, surprise. Channel 10 has only been promoting that all week.
For this date, Richie has gone for a rural rustic feel. This means that he has procured a vintage ute and is wearing a cap. Nothing speaks Australian farmer like a baseball cap. RM Williams must be turning in his grave.
Richie takes Nikki for a drive in the country, inexplicably blowing his horn every few minutes, and the car is making some noises as well. They arrive at a pub built by convicts, which is admittedly pretty Australian, but not as Australian as one with women’s undies hanging from the ceiling. Maybe that is peculiar to any pub on the OTHER SIDE of the Great Dividing Range. Ladies’ smalls aside, this pub has everything, except a bar tender. No worries; drinks mysteriously appear and Nikki can throw inhibitions to the win and tell Richie how she feels…
Back at the house, Alex has the group date card.
“Let love take its course,” she reads.
No-one wants to offer their first thoughts, based on previous humiliations: playing golf dressed as testicles.
“I hope we don’t have to eat anything,” says Rachel, forgetting that having eaten the haggis last week, they’re back on their strict champagne diet. But she doesn’t have time to waste. Her biological clock is T.I.C.K.I.N.G. And worse, it’s been so long since she’s seen a salon chair, her blonde is growing out.
But of course, all of them are on the group date. There’s so few left that if anyone wasn’t chosen, they wouldn’t have a quorum.
Back on the single date, Richie risks the refundable deposit on his old ute by allowing chooks to roost on the driver’s seat, before rolling out the obligatory country band and forcing the awkward boot scooting (with Nikki, not the chooks).
One thing is for sure, Nikki loves Richie. I know this because she puts up with sitting on a hay bale. Hay bales are good as fodder for cattle or for those living “off the grid” to build gluten free houses, but as a place to plonk one’s posterior? They are pathetic: prickly, itchy and absolutely not conducive to romance. Rustic charm? No thanks.
But Nikki is oblivious to all that. Primed with rockabilly, red wine and chooks, she offers all of herself to Richie. Richie, for his part, says he wants a woman who is in this 100%. Just like Nikki…or Alex…or Faith…and although technically she’s only 85%, Olena. Close enough.
Rose. Pash. Irritating hay bale rash. Single date done and dusted.
Group date time and it turns out that this is a cross-promotional opportunity for Tough Mudder. Having been through ten humiliating dates before this one, you would think that the girls would have learned to have dressed appropriately, but no:
Olena observes that they are in the country. She likes the country, but not things that the country offers, like ice baths and rope climbs. It reminds her too much of her childhood in the Ukraine.
As usual, Alex is super excited. Too excited. Like nauseating-to-watch excited.
Rachel is thinking strategically. She changes into shorts instead of leggings, meaning Richie can cop an eye-full pushing her over the wall.
Next obstacle, mud pit.
Probably because I am not male, I don’t get this fascination about girls and mud. I can only be thankful that the producers of the British dating program Love Island created a world-wide jelly shortage (which reminds me – I table that program, Geordie Shore and Snog, Marry, Avoid as three reasons why Australia should become a republic) lest Richie would have the girls crawling through that.
Olena, worried about leeches on the mud run, finds her inner dirty girl and challenges Richie to a second go.
“She went through that like a lizard across the Gibson desert,” offers Richie. (Geographical note to overseas readers: The Gibson desert is a curiosity to Australia, the only mud desert in the world, inhabited only by lizards)
The last and most difficult obstacle is the Pyramid Scheme (Well ain’t that the truth. Anyone ever been to an Amway presentation?) where the effort to use tiny little Steph to pull Richie over the wall is a dismal failure.
Rachel smugly thinks that her plan would have been better.
“I’m the only brunette left, you know,” she proclaims, laughing maniacally. But the sad truth is that after eleven episodes of regrowth there are at least six non-blondes, and the jury is still out on Steph.
Needless to say she manages to sink her claws in and get him over the obstacle. Then Richie produces the world’s longest garden hose to instigate the world’s most private wet t-shirt competition.
Oh boy. This thing just gets more misogynist by the minute.
Despite Rachel’s best efforts, Olena is named MVP and gets to go on a date with Richie. Somehow he has managed to slip away while the girls were sucking on some ciders and build a primeval hut out of twigs.
And on the outdoor lounge, Richie produces a rose and she accepts, and they have a pash. Not an indifferent Ukrainian one either, but a Year 12 post-grad party one (ie. someone videoing, half a million people watching, only without the Watermelon Vodka Cruisers).
Back to the mansion and it’s cocktail party time. Nikki has found another hideous cocktail frock, with mesh and motifs likes she’s trying to conceal a third nipple on her shoulder. Alex is dressed like she’s from some sort of arm worshipping pagan cult.
Steph is worried. She feels like she’s only just found her feet (I reckon Kiki feels the same. She can’t have seen hers in ages), but in her quest to find her feet, she completely lost her sleeve:
So many of the girls are on edge. Kiki, Faith, Rachel. Faith, second guessing her Ezibuy floral number has found the biggest mother of a wine glass in the house and filled it with Malibu to calm her nerves.
Rose ceremony. My husband decides to join me as the camera hones in on five anxious faces.
“What’s his name? The one on the left?”
I am confused because Alex is in the middle.
“You mean the bloke in the white ceremonial pant-suit?” I clarify.
“No, the one in gold.”
Sorry, Kiki. But I don’t think you will be the one.
Anyway, back to the roses:
Steph. Death stare.
Oh dear. Kiki has gone. At least this disproves two of my conspiratorial theories this week. I thought it would come down to Rachel (on the basis of most one-on-one to camera), or Faith (based on the attention paid to her by the Courier Mail this week)
But Kiki is gone, and intruder Steph is still there. I don’t get it, but I hope Richie does.
I’d hate for him to be left with mud on his face.