One of the greatest things about The Bachelor is that it’s perfectly acceptable for things to move along at the speed of light.
Known each other for 14 seconds? It’s probably love. Met one time? Let’s fuse our bodies together and jump out of a helicopter! Shared one date with Bachelor Nick Cummins? You own the guy.
This is the theme for Thursday night's episode of the show, the second in a new season which appears to be breaking records already.
We're only two episodes in and we've already got awkward kisses, regretful tears and endless variations of the phrase, "I don’t feel threatened". Things are coming along nicely, and it looks like Australia can't get enough of the Nick "Honey Badger" Cummins as the Bachelor.
After last night’s crash course on who’s who, three of the contestants have swiftly been identified by the rest of the women as the obligatory "mean girls" - the ones who’ll make the most noise and stir up the most drama. Romy, Cat and Alisha (who seems the tamest of the three thus far) have taken up a lot of airtime already, and it’s generally not for the nicest reasons.
When Shannon, 25, from Victoria, lands the first single date with Cummins, she's surprised - and so is Romy, who wastes no time in doing away with niceties. "He's too smart to pick someone who's not right for him," she says as Shannon leaves for her date. "I’m not worried. I just don’t see Shannon as a threat."
On a show like this, "I don’t feel threatened" is usually code for "I feel threatened."
Shannon’s date with Cummins is sweet, but it didn’t exactly set the world on fire. She seems like someone the nation could fall in love with - Nikki Gogan kindness with Sam Frost looks - and he definitely digs her positive energy.
Their date involves hitting the skies in a helicopter over Sydney’s Northern Beaches, and then being winched down to a romantic beach setting. It’s lovely in theory and absolutely entertaining in practice, as poor Shannon is terrified of heights and looks close to vomiting for much of the journey.
"Is it meant to be flickin’ around this easily?" she asks Cummins, with genuine fear in her eyes.
They make it down alive - she was "nervous as a bag of cats at a greyhound meet", is Cummins' assessment - and then it's time for a picnic on the beach. A few PG conversations later, he presents a rose, which she accepts. They’re all snuggled up and looking cute but right now the chemistry isn't exactly reaching out and slapping anyone across the face.
Shannon's rule of not kissing on the first date remains intact, though she starts to question her choice when someone else makes a move on Cummins later in the episode.
Next, it's the first group date of the season. It's the photoshoot date - where the women are split into groups, dressed up in characters and sent off to pose in a series of excruciating set-ups.
There are three things to take from this date:
One, Brooke knocked Bachie’s socks off again, sharing an intense few minutes with him in their firefighter-saving-a-damsel scene. She’s still the frontrunner.
Two, Romy didn’t enjoy being in the background of her photoshoot and quickly placed herself front and centre. "I nailed it," she said once they’d wrapped the shoot. "I just don't think I had anything to worry about in that group."
Three, Sophie, who Cummins liked a lot on night one, seemed to shy away from connecting with him in their one-on-one shoot, and it left him feeling a little flat.
"Sophie looked like she'd been put in a cage, released down to the bottom of the ocean with sharks and then the cage being opened," said Cat, who was watching on. "She looked very uncomfortable." To be honest with you, that's an incredibly accurate description.
The biggest surprise of the episode came when Cummins rocked up at the Bachelor mansion "unannounced" (this is a TV show) and told the ladies he was whisking someone who’d impressed him on the shoot away for a date.
Of course, it turns out to be Romy. It wouldn’t be The Bachelor if there wasn’t an upset!
The couple head off to Cummins’ hometown of Manly, where they take over his uncle Mick’s restaurant to make some pizzas. It's playful, it's flirty - but Romy isn't taking any chances here. When Cummins gives her a rose, she goes in for the kill.
"Romy came in for a kiss -with pace," says the Honey Badger. "She came in hot. Real hot." And he's not joking: Romy is laying kisses on his neck, his cheeks, his… chin? At one point, she catches his lips and it's a done deal - in her eyes, they've kissed.
When she gets back to the cocktail party at the mansion she tells everyone all about the kiss and how romantic it was (was it?).
Before we know it, Shannon is crying in the bathroom. She tells the producers, in very UnReal-like scenes, that it's been a long time since she's connected with someone like she has with Cummins - she's all in now, and the gravity of the situation has just hit her. See, things move real fast in the Bachelor universe.
At the rose ceremony, contestants Juliana and Renee are left without roses - and we're left with the promise of what's sure to be an epic showdown between Romy and whoever tries to stand in her way.
Genevieve Rota is the PM Digital Editor for Entertainment at Fairfax Media.