The new season of ABC’s “The Bachelor” has landed, with Delta pilot Peter Weber leading the franchise into its 24th season. While some women fighting for his heart have already found ways to stand out, it’s Hannah Brown’s surprise return that promises to really shake things up this season.
During the three-hour premiere, ABC reintroduced Peter Weber, who originated as a contestant on Brown’s Season 15 of “The Bachelorette.” While a number of other participants in the performance (including Mike Johnson, who would have been the first black Bachelor in the history of the show), Weber eventually won the title after Brown admitted that they had sex four times in a windmill during their end date in Greece on “The Bachelorette”.At the beginning of his season, 28-year-old Peter Weber welcomed 30 women who died for his heart, including five Texans, three stewardesses, two Victorias and only one woman over 30.
The premiere kicked off as each does, with contestants arriving by limo outside the Bachelor mansion. In a loop of awkward hugs and rushed introductions, several women used their time to make pilot puns and attempt memorable entrances: Madison Prewett began with an oversized paper airplane and a plan to “land [Weber’s] heart”; Kiarra Norman twisted into a suitcase and was delivered by a bellman and a cart (“That’s what David Copperfield s-,” chimed host Chris Harrison); Tammy Ly used a TSA metal detector to inspect Peter Weber; and Courtney Perry stepped out on a mechanical bicycle plane. There were also several introductions with a nod to the past, including when Deandra Kanu showed up with windmill wings (“Are you ready for round five?”), and there was even an emotional support cow named Ashley P. who escorted Jenna Serrano to the mansion.
Rounding out the arrivals was a surprise appearance by Brown, who came to return Weber’s pilot wings that he gifted her during her season. “When I stood where you stood, you wanted to find your co-pilot,” Brown said. “I want you to find that person, so I brought them back to you.”
Inside the mansion, Peter Weber had a chance to converse with the women who are fighting for his attention. One highlight included Kelley Flanagan, who Weber had met pre-filming when they ran into each other in a hotel lobby — She left an event and he left his high school reunion. She had already been cast in the show, and was filming second guessing for the “weird act of fate”. In the end, however, he rewarded Hannah Ann Sluss, who made enemies early on for her repeated interruptions and for securing the first consensual kis, the first impression rose. “I think there’s room for two Hannahs in my life,” Weber told her.
After a long night of mingling, it was clearly broad daylight when they began the first rose ceremony. Peter Weber sent eight women home: Maurissa Gunn, Avonlea Elkins, Jade Gilliland, Kylie Ramos, Megan Hops, Katrina Badowski, Eunice Cho and Serrano. While the premiere usually ends there, this episode broke the standard formula and continued until the first full week of the dates.
First, there was a flight school group date featuring two special guests — Katie Cook (the first female Blue Angels pilot) and Alicia Johnson (C-130 pilot for the Marines). They were accompanied by nine of the women: Shiann Lewis, Victoria Paul, Jasmine Nguyen, Victoria Fuller, Flanagan, Sluss, Kanu, Perry and Ly. The women completed pilot-related trivia (only one of them knew how many feet in a mile) and definitions for aviation (all sexually sounding in nature). They concluded the date with a tribute to “Top Gun” and an excessively competitive obstacle course. Flanagan won, despite cheating, and Peter Weber rewarded her with the group date alley.The first one-on-one date followed, with Prewett attending the renewal of Weber’s parents’ vow. She also got a rose.
The apex of the episode came during the final group date of the premiere. Weber took nine more women on a date: Kelsey Weiner, Payton Moran Sydney Hightower, Alexa Caves, Savannah Mullins, Alayah Benavidez, Natasha Parker, Mykenna Dorn and Lauren Jones. Former bachelor Brown surprised the contestants again with her arrival – this time as host for the date. “Peter put me in charge, that was a terrible idea on his part,” she said.
It may have also been a terrible idea due to Brown’s own feelings. Visibly upset about seeing Peter Weber with new women, she reclused into a backstage area, where a producer finally approached her, and she confided in him during a rare moment behind the scenes. Brown and Weber also got to speak frankly, in one of the more authentic conversations of the show in recent memory. The two discussed their past, which contained a lot of tear-lubricated mascara.
“I don’t want to be someone’s third option,” Weber said to her. “I thought I wasn’t confused, but now I don’t know.”
The episode ended by hitting audiences with a quintessential “To Be Continued…” after Brown admitted that she sent Weber home in the first place and Peter Weber invited her to take part in the contest. After all that heartbreak – won’t they reunite? In the words of Chris Harrison, it could be the most dramatic season so far.