Monday night saw the first women eliminated in this third season of The Bachelor NZ.
Monique, 25, a sales manager based in Auckland, Charlotte, 24, an account manager also from Auckland and Elaina, 26, an early childhood teacher from Wellington were the first women to flee the Bachelor mansion and its haunted wind chimes.
On Sunday, we met Zac Franich, the toothy, softly spoken surf lifesaving coach whose blinding white smile suggests he has been chosen not so much for his personality, but for how his gleaming chompers align with sponsor Colgate Optic White.
Guiding him on this journey is the man trying to rack up the record for hosting every show on New Zealand television, Dominic Bowden.
The lonely ghost of Mike Puru has been exorcised from the mansion and will no longer silently glide out from behind the curtains to gently rattle the bachelor’s chains.
In the first episode, we met the 19 women competing for the Bachelor’s bouquet of roses and one white bloom, reserved especially for the woman who made the best first impression.
But how would he choose? There were so many women who swept Zac off his feet. Molly was especially impressed that Zac had chosen to clad those feet. “You’ve got your shoes on!” she enthusiastically noted.
Jess appealed to Zac’s mild sense of humour with a ‘noveltea’ cup of tea and Elaina gifted him a terrible Fresh Prince of Bel-Air based rap.
Taylar was so mesmerised by Zac that she completely missed the entrance to the mansion, even though it was lit up with candles like an airport flight path.
Charlotte made three first impressions because she didn’t like the first two and asked for a retake. Lily impressed the nation with her talent for drinking two beers with two straws, but Bel sent viewers into a tailspin when we saw her use margarine in her baking.
Hannah was so giddy at meeting Zac that she seemed like an escapee from Gloriavale who had never seen a real human man wearing store bought pants before.
But it was Viarni, the first woman Zac met who made the best impression. She earned the white rose, which we later learned gives her the power to poach the single date of her choice from another girl.
“All I could think was, that rose is mine,” said Taylar. She trotted off to try and tackle Viarni for the rose but was too late. Instead, she had to try and seduce Zac by confessing her fears of being locked in a room with bees.
The stampede was on and girls were clamouring for a moment with the bachelor.
“I feel like there’s a pack of lions trying to hunt, like, a gazelle,” he said, as he frantically tried to think of something to say to this tousle-maned pride other than, “you look stunning.”
Monique felt she should go and apologise to Zac after inadvertently insulting his mother; she had asked for an impressive fact about him but was left unimpressed at the revelation he is half Aussie on his maternal side.
After her apology, Zac told her that he’d moved back to New Zealand from Australia because he’d had “enough of the Gold Coast".
Monique then sneered, “Fair enough, Australians,” once again putting down the people of his mother’s homeland and insulting him all over again.
Meanwhile, host Dominic Bowden gathered the women around the campfire like a grandpa regaling them with war stories. He warned them they needed to be bold and seize their time with Zac.
“You gotta be rude,” he said.
Taking this pep talk to heart, Rosie went to find Zac who was still busy being insulted by Monique. Monique was unwilling to relinquish her spot on the sofa and Rosie was not happy about being stuck in the middle.
Rosie later told the other women that the situation had been awkward and Monique seemed to take offense.
“She was having a bit of a sulk,” said Rosie.
The two gently bickered back and forth about how high the exchange ranked on the awkwardness scale before Monique walked away in a mild huff.
“Don’t try and act tough, don’t try and pick a fight with me,” grumbled Rosie to Taylar. “She picked the wrong one.”
Our skateboarding, beer-sipping heroine Lily was so bored at the party that she looked ready for a nap.
“It was all right, it wasn’t the best party I’ve ever been to,” she said. But she perked up when she heard Mariana was in the navy.
“I want to steal her away, I want to know about her life, she sounds interesting,” said Lily, after Zac whisked Mariana away for a chat.
As Zac talked to Claudia, we learned that he’s really, really into broken bones.
“I like the fact that you’ve broken a lot of bones, I think that’s awesome,” he said. “I think that means that you kind of throw caution to the wind.”
If he was disappointed that she broke a “decent amount” of those bones in a car accident, he didn’t let it show.
Much to Lily’s relief, the cocktail party was finally over and it was time for the rose ceremony.
Claudia and her broken bones received the first rose while Taylar got the lucky last bloom.
For Elaina, Monique and Charlotte, their all-too brief time in the mansion was over and for resident ‘Snow White’, Rosie, the first of her rivals was dispatched.
The Bachelor airs Sundays at 7pm and Mondays at 7.30pm on Three