Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the Northern Territory. But it’s just not Fiji, and you can get there by Jetstar.
We need to start a campaign now for Gender Equality in Proposal Locations. Nick Cummins got to go to Fiji, and he didn’t even pick anybody, but Ali didn’t even have to apply for a passport. Enough is enough.
And not only that – the Northern Territory is scary. At the start of the episode, Ali is standing in the beach staring out to sea, but it’s less like she’s contemplating her love for Todd and Taite, and more like she’d afraid to turn her back lest a crocodile comes ashore and eats her for breakfast.
Her family are safely ensconced in a Darwin resort. At least I think it’s Darwin. I’m just confused because on the table in front of them is an array of tropical fruits and NOT a chicken schnitzel. Real Territorians LOVE their schnitzels. There’s even a place at the Pier that specialises in schnitzels: chicken, veal, camel…
But anyway, I digress. Ali has brought her mum, and her cousin Bridget, but the star of this show is her dad, Hartmut. If these boys are going to win Ali’s heart, it’s clear they must win him over.
Taite is first to face the inquisition.
“Have you expressed your feelings to Alison?” asks Hartmut, and Taite looks confused, like he’s walked into the wrong set.
“Um…um… there’s body language…and stuff,” stammers Taite. Who the hell is Alison?
Hartmut sees that Taite is being guarded.
“Taite. If you are going to get my blessing, you need to tell me how you feel.”
“I think you’re very handsome.”
“I think you’re very handsome…Sir.”
There is a brief post-mortem where the family express their concern about Taite’s guardedness and Ali admits she has stuff to think about, but before that she has to introduce them to Todd.
Todd says that Hartmut has a “stern” handshake. This is because Todd is only twenty-six years old and he hasn’t reached his full vocabulary development yet.
He and Hartmut chat about Todd’s dream job – the police force.
“Yes. But what’s your back-up plan?” asks Hartmut.
I can pretty much guarantee that Todd has never been asked that before in his life. That’s the sort of question that guidance officers ask every member of Year 12 Drama classes when they all say they are going to be actors, when we know that every acting job in Australia is already taken by Lisa McCune, Asher Keddie, Lachie Hume and some sort of La Paglia.
I can only imagine how this would have gone down if by some abomination of Bachelorette norms, Ivan had made it to the finals:
Hartmut: What are your plans for the future?
Ivan: To travel to the states and be on Step Up 3.
Hartmut: And what’s your back-up plan?
Ivan: Step Up 4. Any of the Step Up franchise really.
Ultimately, it’s not Todd’s lack of back-up plan that worries Hartmut. In fact, Todd appears to have made quite the impression. It’s the timeline thing. Of course, that has been a problem all along.
Ali has some thinking to do, and there is just one more date with each of the fellas to help her make up her mind.
First up is Todd. He is waiting for her in some bushland, but ever prepared, he has been studying up his copy of Lonely Planet Northern Territory: How to Stretch the Bachelorette Budget with Foreword by Osher Ginsberg.
“Welcome to Charles Darwin National Park!” exclaims Todd, almost as if he had planned this date himself.
What is even more exciting is that Ali is taking him on a helicopter ride, just as I was lamenting the lack of air-borne dates this season.
They head off to Berry Springs – a beautiful waterhole just south of the city, where they are treated to a display of indigenous cooking.
The recipe is pretty simple: drop half a dozen green ants in a bottle of gin. I love the fusion of cuisines: traditional indigenous bush tucker meets upper class British alcoholism.
Then, even though combining swimming and drinking is dangerous, they are off for a dip in the Springs before being parachuted into a mango plantation.
Todd is overwhelmed by the romance of it all, and even more likely by Ali’s outfit. He has forgotten all about his timelines, and the police force. I doubt at this point that he could tell you his own name.
“I see you being the mother of my children. I would do anything to make that happen,” gushes Todd.
Ali’s bosom is heaving so heavily that at any minute I expect it to burst free from its skimpy bodice prison and slap Todd across the face.
“I love you, Ali.”
They kiss. They shed a tear. But there’s still a date to go.
The next day Ali is meeting Taite at Wildman’s Wilderness Lodge, which I think is where you go when you don’t have enough petrol money to get all the way to Kakadu.
Taite is feeling uncomfortable, and it’s not just because of the corrugations in the dirt road en-route.
He has some stuff to tell Ali. Some heavy stuff.
But he’s not about to tell her that before he gets to go on the date: a flight over the beautiful NT terrain, and an airboat ride in the wetlands.
He’s smart enough to know that you don’t break a girl’s heart when you are on a stationary airboat in the middle of a Northern Territory wetland. One push and you’re crocodile fodder.
Back at the safety of the lodge pool, Taite plucks up his courage.
“I came here to fall in love. But your timeline is all about marriage and kids,” confesses Taite.
He wants that, but he never thought for a minute it would be thrust upon him so soon.
“It’s not that I don’t want those things. I do, but not so fast.”
“But do you love me?” implores Ali.
“I’m heading that way, but I’m scared.”
Taite is devastated. Ali is devastated. She has a big decision to make.
A new day dawns, and finally Osher has made an appearance. I have to admit, he has been busy – fashioning a rustic arbour and walkway out of swamp wood.
“How are you feeling, Ali?” he asks.
“I’m in love. I’m totally in love!” Ali gushes, and this makes Osher happy, because if there had been another Nick Cummins fiasco, he would have found himself down at Centrelink applying for the dole to tide him over until he gets a gig on the reboot of Dancing with the Stars hosted by Grant Denyer and Amanda Kelleher (coming to 10 in 2019).
Osher dashes off to meet the first car, leaving Ali to hyperventilate at the side of the swamp.
The first car contains Todd. The funereal music starts to play, and all of a sudden I am seeing a younger, better-looking version of Jarod. His heart is about to be broken, and I almost can’t bear to watch.
Ali holds his hands:
“You have been my knight in shining armour…I’ve learnt from my mistakes…we would have a perfect life together…”
“There’s something missing for me. My heart is leading me to someone else.”
“It’s OK. You’ve found yourself a great guy,” Todd responds, with the chivalry of an actual knight.
“If you ever need me, I’m here…”
And as Todd walks away into the bush to dab away his tears, I find myself sobbing. Again. Over a show I try to tell myself I am not invested in.
Meanwhile, Ali is doubled over, dry-retching. In the Northern Territory year-round humidity, I can only imagine this is a make-up department’s worst nightmare.
So Osher kills time by standing motionless for fifteen minutes, smiling like a loon.
Taite is soon standing before Ali, and like a true gentleman, fails to notice that her frock is stained with tears and mascara and vomit.
“I’ve learnt so much about myself. I’ve learnt so much about love. It’s not all about timelines. It’s about risk. And I’m willing to risk it all…for you.”
In other words, Ali has learnt nothing.
“I came into this looking for love,” said Taite. “I can honestly say I’ve found it with you. Here’s a commitment ring. I love you, Ali.”
And they kiss, and it’s great, and all that’s left is for us to see which of the seventeen men Ali rejected end up on Bachelor in Paradise.
And then I remember that Todd is still out there, somewhere in the outback. But he’ll be OK.
He doesn’t have Ali, but he has a copy of Lonely Planet.