Sharleen Joynt on Episode 5 of The Bachelorette

The former Bach contestant, podcast host and FLARE columnist shares her insider's POV on the fifth episode of what is now Tayshia's season

Presented by SkipTheDishes

Here’s something I haven’t been able to say for awhile: I enjoyed last night’s episode! It felt like a familiar whiff of the show we know and love. The men seem enthralled with Tayshia as their new lead and that renewed energy brings a sense of possibility. With a Bachelorette who gives each contestant her full, undivided attention (and, as far as we can tell, her full consideration), there’s the sense that every conversation and every interaction actually counts.

For Tayshia’s part, this role seems to fit her as perfectly as her Night One gown. She’s high energy and warm, yes, but she’s also considerate and engaged. Her easy banter with every man reflects not only intelligence, but a degree of intently listening to what they tell her—she’s not just hearing it. I’ve always found Tayshia polished and smart, and so far as our new Bachelorette, she’s living up to some mighty high expectations.

Unfortunately, old habits die hard. Even with an episode loaded with fresh material (and people!), The Powers That Be insisted on adding insult to the injury that has been a very trying season so far. I know production has had to roll with the punches but the pacing last night felt akin to riding a lurching rollercoaster…

Acceleration: Tayshia’s energy and enthusiasm are infectious! The guys are finally getting real 1-on-1 time! We’re back on track!

Brakes: A limo of guys we don’t know (and frankly don’t care about) arrives. I’m not disputing the logic or tradition of giving Tayshia a greater selection—she still only had about two thirds of the candidates your usual Bachelorette gets—but this was an unwelcome wrench and obvious drama-stoker I didn’t care for.

Acceleration: Tayshia’s Night One progresses with real conversations! We finally learn about these men! Kenny books bands at a venue, Riley is a medical malpractice defence attorney! The guys seem really into her! The Rose Ceremony is cancelled! Yay!

Brakes: A momentum-obliterating interview with Clare and Dale. Talk about a miscalculation on production’s part. With media outlet exclusives, podcast appearances and social media, the need for this sort of “update” is rapidly becoming obsolete. We learned absolutely nothing new. And no disrespect to Clare and Dale, but I think we all needed at least a week before wondering what ended up happening with them. Absence really can make the heart grow fonder.

Clare’s run as Bachelorette was a bit of a lesson learned for me: I would have thought I’d be one to enjoy watching a lead zero in on one contestant and ultimately call the whole thing off. I hate feeling patronized, like my intelligence is being insulted—we all know by now the lead has their favourites, so it stands to reason a lead who doesn’t fake it should appeal. However, execution still matters. If we’re talking a love story purportedly powerful enough to result in an engagement after one date, we need to hear more than one party’s side of the story. Clare and Dale’s romance was aired in such a one-sided way—meaning, we never really got to know Dale, and hell, it still doesn’t feel like we know him—there’s only so much we can be moved by. I said last week that Clare and Dale paid a hefty price to abort the season, and that price wasn’t only their neatly-wrapped proposal—it was also their half-baked edit. Production has done this couple, and Clare especially, zero favours.

What struck me most watching last night’s episode was who I found myself rooting for. Unlike seasons past, our constant isn’t the lead, but rather the 16 men we’ve gotten to know over the past several weeks. I even found myself irrationally annoyed at the four new men—SpencerMontelPeter and Noah—on our original guys’ behalf, concerned that they might be robbed of time and attention they have so patiently waited for. My investment in our Original 16 almost feels like the result of watching two reality shows blended together: one with a Real World-esque vibe, where we simply get to know the men as they coexist together, while with Tayshia’s arrival, the dating element has only just been incorporated. As such, I found myself keenly observing which men particularly took to Tayshia, and caring less how much she seemed to take to them. I practically cheered when I saw the likes of men formerly in the background—IvanZac C and Brendan—get quality 1-on-1 airtime. I’m rooting for these guys like I know them, which makes for a very unique viewing experience this early on. After all, in the Bachelor world, it’s rare to know the name of every guy at a “first” Rose Ceremony, and that will most definitely be the case come Episode 6. I will be sad to see any of them go. Clare may have found her fairytale, and Tayshia may be our shiny new lead, but those 16 men are our protagonists.

My frontrunner round-up is back!

My Episode 5 frontrunners are…

Brendan, 30

Brendan’s 1-on-1 date with Tayshia felt like a deep sigh of relief after weeks of pent up anxiety. There were no misunderstandings, no forced activities, and there was no discomfort. It felt easy, which is something we’ve been lacking for awhile now. But that wasn’t at the expense of substance; Brendan and Tayshia’s candid conversation about divorce, and how they bonded over something they didn’t know they had in common, was both refreshing and moving. I’m all for this pairing!

Zac C, 36

The more I see of Zac C, the more I like. It’s amazing how powerful an extra six or seven years can be; as Tayshia put it, Zac C really does feel like a man (versus a boy in a man’s body). Zac C seems grounded, confident yet modest, and like he’d know how to be a good partner—it doesn’t feel as though he’d need to be “taught,” to use Tayshia’s words. He might not be the flashiest candidate, but Zac C seems like quality husband material.

Spencer, 30

It pains me to put Spencer on this list because I don’t actually see much other than physical attraction between him and Tayshia, but a First Impression Rose cannot go ignored. Spencer is certainly wasting no time ruffling feathers, which has me doubting his longterm staying power. (At this rate and knowing this show, he risks trading in his own date for a 2-on-1.) Based on limited moments we’ve seen, Spencer seems yet to have found the delicate balance between snarky humour and arrogance. However, Tayshia did say he was “hot, hot, hot” and deemed him her favourite man out of 20. Further research needs to be done on this newcomer.

Ivan, 28

It’s Ivan’s airtime that really has me holding out for a magical moment down the road. While he hasn’t gotten much obvious, front-of-the-pack airtime, his reactions and expressions are omnipresent. He looks like a kid on Christmas morning when he looks at Tayshia, and I’m interested to see how his behaviour changes if and when he (finally!) becomes emotionally invested. As for Tayshia, I can picture her being drawn to his gentle, calming, quietly confident demeanour.