Even by Bachelor standards, this season’s premiere was wild — and that’s saying something.
As devoted fans of the franchise well know, the bachelor in the hot seat this season is Peter Weber, a pilot for Delta Airlines, whose occupation has already spurred countless air travel puns. (“[I’m here for the] flight reasons” chief among them.) Weber was one of the contestants dumped by Alabama interior designer Hannah Brown on The Bachelorette last season, and now he’s returned for The Bachelor’s (count ’em) 24th go-round to see if he’ll fare any better.
But there’s a twist — maybe Hannah is back too?!
Brown, who’s single, made franchise history during her Bachelorette season when she pointedly broke up with would-be fiancé Jed Wyatt for lying about a former girlfriend. It remains to be seen exactly what will happen between her and Peter now that she’s reappeared to host a group date in the premiere — only to maybe, kind-of sort-of discover she might still have feelings for him. As the cliffhanger of the episode suggests, it’s possible she’ll even stay on to be a contestant yet again.
The Hannah Brown drama aside, Weber is on track for a redemption arc this season: Though many viewers were charmed by his seemingly happy-go-lucky nature and notorious windmill hookup last year, he was also called out for breaking up with a former girlfriend in an apparent bid to get famous on TV. Thus far, he’s proven to be an amenable leading man, but the jury’s still out.
After the premiere alone, there are a couple of obvious winners (see Brown’s triumphant — and suddenly shocking — return), and losers (including, well, the unlucky contestants who got sent home the first night).
1) Winner: Windmills
Though Peter certainly appears to have a tortured relationship with his ongoing association with windmills, there’s no doubt his previous hookup with Hannah has seriously raised the profile of these stoic yet majestic architectural landmarks.
During the premiere, Peter could barely walk into a room on the Bachelor set without literally hitting a windmill — put there to remind viewers of his previous dalliance with Hannah. There was a windmill in the driveway and on the second group date, plus seemingly constant windmill shoutouts. And that’s not all: One of the contestants this year was so taken by the reference, she dressed up as a windmill for her introduction (windmill, but make it fashion).
The iconic Bachelorette moment has since spurred mentions of windmill cookies on social media, sales of windmill merch, and reservations to visit the infamous Greek windmill that started it all.
Although Peter and some of the contestants this cycle may be keen to move on from his past relationship, thanks to ABC, the symbol of it is now ubiquitous.
2) Winner: Hannah Brown
Let’s run down the last year in Hannah’s Bachelor/Bachelorette résumé:
- Got dumped by Colton Underwood on The Bachelor, but not before resurrecting her screen persona enough after a pretty disastrous start to snag the role of the next bachelorette over her nemesis, Caelynn Miller-Keyes.
- Offered a charming central presence on her Bachelorette season among a particularly toxic band of contestants, ultimately jettisoning archvillain Luke Parker and her short-lived fiancé Jed in memorable (though perhaps belated) fashion.
- Made her debut as a seasoned Bachelor veteran on Bachelor in Paradise, cementing herself (we hope) as the go-to lifer if the show needs another quick injection of nostalgia.
- Oh yeah, and she won Dancing With the Stars.
Hannah kicked off this year with some particularly heightened drama, showing up in the first hour of the season premiere to leave all of the for-now nobodies chasing a ring from the guy she dumped on their toes. And they certainly should be, as we learn in the episode’s final moments.
As soon as Hannah steps out of the limo, the women in the Bachelor mansion panic. Mykenna Dorn (the 22-year-old Canadian fashion blogger) seems to actually believe Peter might end the show right there and ride off with his lost love. And Mykenna ends up being more right than she could have known.
First, we’re treated to a brief yet lovely moment in which Hannah hands Peter the wings he had given her in the first episode of her Bachelorette season and wishes him luck in his own search for love.
It seemed like that would be pretty much the end of it. But then, two hours later, who do we see but Hannah again, standing in front of a windmill to introduce the second group date. At first, this all seems perfectly innocuous: She regales the new contestants with her and Peter’s story and then asks the women, for this date’s gimmick, to share a story about sex. They set off to fulfill their task.
It quickly becomes clear something is not quite right. It turns out Hannah’s backstage, seemingly on the verge of tears. Peter goes back to see her in a dramatically lit room, where some sweet banter quickly evolves into soul-baring. Peter asks Hannah if she ever regretted sending him home, to which she says she regretted so much. Peter then asks her if she will stay and be a contestant on his season.
AND HANNAH SAYS “MAYBE?!?!” We’re left in suspense. Will Hannah stay? Wait, were Hannah and Peter making out? What is going on?!?! I love it. All hail, the once and future Hannah B.
3) Loser: Diversity
We’re now in season 24 of The Bachelor, and the black Bachelor count remains at zero. And now with Peter, it’s going to stay that way until at least 2021.
For a while last year, it seemed like there really was an opportunity to have a dose of diversity for this latest round of The Bachelor. Mike Johnson, from Hannah’s season, was in contention for the spot, and they brought him onto Bachelor in Paradise, where previous bachelors (Nick Viall and Colton Underwood, for starters) have made appearances before being cast for the lead role.
Of course, we wound up with Peter, who seems fine — but let’s be honest, he’s pretty indiscernible from his many predecessors. And the pool of women isn’t notably demographically different from seasons past, either.
Johnson has been pretty vocal about this, as has Rachel Lindsay, the only black Bachelorette in the show’s history. Last year, Johnson told Entertainment Tonight that while Peter’s mother is Cuban, he presents as white, and beyond casting a black Bachelor, the show should also feature leads of other races and ethnicities. To the show’s credit, Peter was shown speaking a few lines of Spanish with his mom and making some references to his Cuban roots during Monday’s premiere. And the opening of the episode did feature more women of color than in years past.
But it appears ABC is sticking to the formula, because season 24 of The Bachelor looks pretty similar to season 14 — as in very, very white.
4) Winner: Hannah Ann Sluss
The Bachelor may not be as predictable as The Bachelorette when it comes to the likelihood of the first-impression rose going to the eventual winner of the season, but receiving the rose is obviously not a bad thing. So an obvious winner from night one is Hannah Ann Sluss, to whom Peter handed out his debut rose.
The 23-year-old model from Knoxville, Tennessee, was a little aggressive in terms of getting time with Peter on the first night — she stole him away from other women three times. That approach doesn’t always bode well for the Bachelor-stealer, but in Hannah Ann’s case, it worked. She got the rose and was invited on the first group date. The way many of the other tearful women fretted about a lack of time with and attention from Peter throughout the episode should indicate that Hannah Ann is a Very Big Deal.
Does she give off some Luke P. vibes? (You may recall that Luke P. was the overzealous villain from the last season of The Bachelorette who wound up slut-shaming Hannah B.) Sure. But maybe she’ll surprise us.
5) Winner: Kelley Flanagan
Before she stepped out on the limo, Kelley Flanagan (a 27-year-old Chicago attorney) held an advantage over every other contestant: We learned in the opening scenes that she and Peter had run into each other randomly in a hotel lobby before filming started. As Peter put it later in the episode, some sparks flew when they first met.
“I haven’t stopped thinking about you,” he told Kelley when she shows up to the mansion.
Kelley exploited her edge to the fullest to win the first group date, which ended with her racing to the finish line of an obstacle course riding on a tricycle. Apparently oblivious to the charted course, she beelined straight to Peter and literally flew off into the sunset.
The other contestants were annoyed and confronted her about it when Kelley made it back to the house. In a cool response befitting her job as an attorney, she was completely unfazed. “I don’t know what else to say.”
And finally, to cap off Kelley’s perfect first episode, the group date concluded at the very hotel where she and Peter first met. He pulled her aside and told her he knew she probably had a target on her back but not to let that affect her. Then he gave her the group date rose.
If you were still looking for your early frontrunner, stop. We’ve found her.
6) Loser: The people eliminated on the first night
Yes, perhaps this is a low blow, given that this unlucky bunch of people are actually losers on the show.
Though getting rejected never feels great, the women who are eliminated on the first night of The Bachelor have a particularly rough go of it, since they’ve likely invested a ton of money, not to mention emotional anticipation, to get ready for their television debuts.
Unceremoniously, Peter — like the many Bachelor alumni before him — has had to ruthlessly cull the pool of contestants after a basic first impression, leaving a string of individuals crestfallen.
The real downside of being cut early is that contestants not only miss their opportunity to romance Peter, but they also miss out on valuable screentime that could help them launch their inevitable Hollywood or influencer career.
Of course, there’s always Paradise.
7) Winner: Peter
As a longtime Peter skeptic, I was pleasantly surprised by the premiere, when he — despite being corny as hell — managed to be a relatively palatable bachelor. (I’m still processing both the alleged baggage from his ex-girlfriend and the will-they-won’t-they Hannah developments, however.)
It’s true Peter may be using the same line about finding his “co-pilot” that he first employed last season, but there were some surprising moments of genuine emotion that made for good TV. His bonkers conversations with Hannah when she came back (twice) felt as real as things could possibly feel on an overly produced reality television show. And his connection with several of the contestants — including Kelley, the attorney he happened to run into that one time — seems like it could have serious potential.
Peter gets dinged for springing his parents’ vow renewal on 23-year-old foster-parent recruiter Madison Prewett during their first date (?!) — literally, who does that? — though she seemed to enjoy the festivities. Thus far, I’m tentatively open to Peter’s starring role, but there’s still plenty more of this season to go.
8) Winner: Jumpsuits
9) Loser: Spoiler-lovers
Confession: Every season of The Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise, I say I’m not going to look at spoilers. And every season, I fail at this commitment. But it looks like I’m not going to have that opportunity this year.
Reality Steve, the blogger who has been spoiling The Bachelor for years, didn’t find out the winner before this season’s premiere as he usually does, and by the looks of things, he’s not going to — nor is anyone else. The show has been pretty vocal that this time around, there are no spoilers (at least not any exposing the winner). What we don’t know is why.
Peter said in an interview before the season started that there’s “a reason that no one’s going to find out the ending.” Chris Harrison told Good Morning America the same thing: “You truly aren’t gonna know how it’s going to end until the very end.”
There’s something different going on this season. That was made clear early on in the premiere, when the episode cut to clips from the final rose ceremony almost immediately. It’s not clear what is different, but it seems like for the first time in a long time, everybody is going to have to wait for the final episode to find out what happens. Maybe he ends up with Hannah B.? The possibilities are delightfully endless.