If you happened to watch Monday night’s installment of Bachelor Pad, you may have come away from the episode asking, “Am I any better than people who watch two roosters or two pit bulls getting thrown into pit to tear each other limb from limb?”
Fret not, reality TV junkies, the answer to that question is a resounding “Probably!” Because unlike innocent animals forced to fight for the enjoyment of hell-bound sadists, the residents of Bachelor Pad descend into the morass of their own free will. In fact, any guilt you feel about tuning in to the whole ugly spectacle can be pretty much absolved with Chris Harrison’s response to Vienna’s hysterical complaint that the rose-ceremony rule change wasn’t “appropriate”. (Side note: Shortly after this episode finished taping, the word “appropriate” was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles with vomiting, seizures, and possible alcohol poisoning.)
Anyway, back to The Indignant Mr. Harrison. “Right now, who’s forcing you to be here?” our snide master of ceremonies asked Vienna. “If you’re not happy, I’ll call a cab for you!” (Spoiler Alert: She Who Will Not Be Shamed declined.)
Yep, that about sums it up. Let’s move along and recap an episode with super-deep (not really) references to The Godfather, Romeo and Juliet, and The Wizard of Oz. Nope, none of ’em can trump last week’s discussion of the Trojan Elephant, but there’s still more than enough soul-destroying ridiculata to go around.
Things kick off with Jake trying to convince us he’s not the jerk everyone thinks he is, and yet by virtue of his appearance on Bachelor Pad, he invalidates his entire argument.
Hey there! It’s Chris Harrison, fresh from dropping off his soul at Satan’s Pawn Shop, introducing us to the week’s exercise in contestant humiliation: “Target on Your Back” begins with the men blindfolded and stripped down to their bathing suits, and the women pelting them with “paint eggs” to indicate answers to questions like “who do you want to go home?” and “who are you least attracted to?”
Vienna excitedly explains she’ll have a leg up on the competition because she used to play “softball.” (So that’s what they’re calling it these days?) Kasey is shocked to get a hit with an egg for “least attractive,” not realizing that many women would find it repulsive if a tangerine-colored man with no lips tattooed himself in their honor after two dates. The fact that he’s got Vienna cooties and a voice like an animated gnat probably doesn’t help his case, either.
Jake, meanwhile, feigns chivalry for six seconds when asked to bomb the woman most likely to cheat in a relationship. “I don’t wanna answer that,” he lies, before taking aim at Vienna and telling the camera he thinks she strayed with at least three guys while they were together. But remember: He’s not the jerk everyone thinks he is.
Melissa’s probable background of stalking her exes and pelting them with water balloons, anvils, and dung bombs proves valuable, and she “wins” in a tiebreaker over Jackie.
Naturally, “Target on Your Back” proves worse for the women — or specifically Erica, who winds up splattered like a month-old drop cloth after the guys are asked “who do you want to go home” and “who are you least attracted to.” To make matters worse, Michael whips his last ink bomb at Erica as if he’s trying to strike out Derek Jeter, and when Jake misses with his final throw, Chris Harrison pitches one more stinger directly in Erica’s face: “Intended for No. 8: Erica!”
Gia uses all eight ounces of her remaining gray matter to sum up the worst thing that could possibly happen to an unmarried woman over the age of 30: “Knowing that people are not attracted to you, it’s like, so hurtful!”
The ladies give Erica a group hug, telling her she’s beautiful while secretly celebrating that they’re at least more attractive than the chick who staggers around the mansion dressed like Baby Jane Hudson and sounding like she’s on a 24-hour quaalude trip. For about 15 seconds, I feel sorry for Erica, but then she goes on the offense, declaring herself hotter than many of her surgically enhanced rivals, and noting it’s offensive to be declared the least desirable — “especially when there’s someone like Ella, who is definitely way bigger than I am and I don’t think she’s that pretty.” Why do the other girls get to feel more conceited than she does, Erica asks, making me wonder if she knows what the word “conceited” means, and if so, if she considers it a positive.
The next day, Michael chooses four ladies — his ex-fiancee Holly, the producers’ favorite sound bite provider Michelle, “consolation prize” winner Erica, and a giant bottle of Southern Comfort — for a group date at a “haunted” mental hospital. “It’s like The Wizard of Oz, but we’re going to Hell instead of the Emerald City,” Michael says as he links arms with his ladies and enters the dimly lit set. (All in favor of making the abandoned Linda Vista Hospital the setting for the next season of The Bachelor, raise your hand!)
The whole interminable affair turns out to be an excuse for Michael to give Holly a “safety rose,” and for the couple to show off their “acting skills.” (Let’s hope no one quit their day-shift job at Rite-Aid!)
“This is going to be very vulnerable,” Michael slurs, his eyes welling up with tears. “I really want you to be happy, and I’m so thankful.” (Thankful for the cocktail shaker that rests comfortably on a table on the roof of the hospital?) “The timing was off,” cries Holly. (Yes, there were no TV cameras around to capture footage of their engagement.) The conversation eats up almost an entire segment, and I use the time to retrieve my diminishing bottle of Sauv Blanc from the refrigerator.
It’s morning again! Kirk is calling Ames and Jackie the “Romeo and Juliet” of Bachelor Pad, and I’m pretty sure he’s totally unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s source material. Blake is wearing a backwards, black, nylon-mesh cap so ugly it should be taken into the street and burned at once. And Melissa chooses her “victims”: Kirk! Blake! Kasey?
Yes, Mr. Guard and Protect has had his backside marked with a “Property of Vienna” branding iron, but Melissa tells him she chose him so she could hand him a “safety rose” at the end of the date. “I’m like The Godfather,” Kasey grins, as every copy of the 1973 Oscar winner for Best Picture spontaneously turns to dust.
Melissa clambers onto a boat with the dudes and encourages them to strip to their swimsuits and jump into the water. “This is what it feels like to be The Bachelorette and I love it!” she shrieks, and I’m suddenly struck with a brilliant idea: ABC should enlist Melissa for The Bachelorette: Economic Downturn Edition, set in icy cold St. Paul, MN in early February. Instead of a limo ride, Melissa and her beaus could be forced to excavate a 1978 Dodge Pinto from a snowbank. Instead of swanky meals, they could hit the late-afternoon “all you can eat” special at a seedy Chinese restaurant. For their “exotic overnight fantasy dates,” Melissa could take the final three to the “C’mon Inn” in Thief River Falls, MN!
Blake reminds us 100 times that he’s just not that into Melissa, but winds up with his tongue in her mouth and the rose that was intended for Kasey. (As far as I’m concerned, the latter dude forfeited his immunity the minute he declared the date “a yacht of fun.”) In a moment of startling self-awareness, Blake declares himself “akin to a prostitute. I hate it, but I kind of have to whore myself out to keep [Melissa] happy.” The Godfather, however, says he’s “hurt” and that “Melissa’s not a good person.”
Meanwhile, back at the mansion, Vienna is squawking about how Jake treated her like a possession and how he didn’t even eat that one meal she cooked him that one time. Naturally, this is a cue for Jake to practice his “silent serial killer” approach and slip into the room unnoticed. “Hey, V, can I just, uh, talk to you outside for two seconds?” he asks, but Vienna is not having it. “I’m not comfortable speaking to you without Casey with me,” she says, clearly praying that at least two men will resort to physical violence in her name before the season is over. “I’m gonna be a gentleman,” says Jake, whose sole purpose of asking Vienna to save him seems to be to expose her as a self-absorbed nincompoop.
Then a whole bunch of stuff that we don’t care about happens. Gia upends any conspiracy theories of having only a kinniegarten education by writing out a chart for Graham showing him why he needs to destroy power couple Kasey and Vienna. Melissa begins her daily descent into madness when she spies Blake and Holly chillaxin in bed (not a euphemism). This prompts my favorite exchange of the evening:
Blake: Don’t get emotional.
Melissa: I’m not getting emotional: I’m getting annoyed.
Blake: That’s an emotion.
Melissa squawks that she spent months after her Bachelor run trying to convince the world that she was a “fun, nice person” and that she’s done defending herself. Blake confessionalizes that Melissa’s possessiveness and rage are not attractive qualities in a 32-year-old woman. “It’s not hard to see why she’s single,” he says, confirming that he, too, follows the Bachelor/Bachelorette philosophy that Melissa has only three years to get married or be taken to the veterinarian and euthanized.
Jake decides it’s time to “give Vienna the opportunity to do something kind. We’ll see if she takes it,” but she and Kasey are disgusted by his “hat in hand” attempt to win their protection from elimination. “Do you think you deserve to be here?” Kasey huffs (as if any of these people truly deserves 25 cents, let alone $250,000). “I don’t think that I’ve caused any problems with your relationship intentionally,” Jake responds, displaying either narcissistic personality disorder or a surprisingly nifty attempt at stealth sabotage of the Kasey-Vienna bond. Even I laugh, though, when Jake says he intends to donate every penny of his Bachelor Pad winnings to charity. Vienna and Kasey then say things to Jake that should be said to any person who has ever set foot in the Bachelor Pad mansion ever.
Vienna: “This isn’t natural and shouldn’t be happening.”
Kasey: “People just don’t like you. You’re a bad person.”
Kirk is alarmed to see Vienna and Kasey start making out after humiliating Jake. Doesn’t he know where he is and with whom he has aligned? Kasey does this disgusting thing where he makes the heart tattoo on his wrist pulsate and then looks meaningfully into the camera. I wonder if it’s ethical to put a person on reality TV who has the emotional and intellectual capacity of a celery stick.
Before voting begins, Chris Harrison enters and asks why Vienna won’t bury the hatchet with Jake, but what he’s really asking is “Will you keep your ex-fiance in the competition for another week for ratings’ sake?”
Vienna gets all huffy and says ABC already “forced” her into the Jake-Vienna Breakup Special, and that she doesn’t think it was “appropriate” for the network to put her under the same roof as Jake again. I MEAN, SHE DIDN’T SHOW UP TO THE BACHELOR PAD MANSION THINKING JAKE WOULD BE THERE.
(Side question: Had Vienna been hooked to a polygraph machine as she made these remarks, do you think God would’ve sent all the electricity in all of Los Angeles into a single socket and Vienna would’ve gone “poof!” and turned to dust?)
Chris then activates the Nuclear Option: No men (aka Jake) will be voted off this week, and two women will instead be sacrificed on the altar of ratings. Vienna advocates mutiny at this twist in the rules, and Chris calls Vienna’s bluff. “Right now, who’s forcing you to be here? If you’re not happy, I’ll call a cab for you.” Kasey tells Vienna he’s ready to pack their things and go, but Vienna gathers all her wits and comes up with a ludicrous reason for staying put with the TV cameras: “I’m not letting [Jake] win anymore.”
Jake counters with a chilling confessional: “I’ll go until I die. I’m as strong as an ox.”
Suddenly I get a flash-forward to December 2014: Picture a dilapidated Bachelor Pad house, littered with human skeletons, tumbleweeds, blood, and empty liquor bottles — with Jake and Vienna dressed in rags, covered in filth, huddled up in opposite corners of the house, refusing to vacate the premises until one of them declares “victory.”
Michelle, who I have to admit I have loved ever since the “Women Tell All” portion of her Brad Redux season, strolls over to Jake and notes, “The situation you’re in is not working for you.” She wonders why he’s staying since there’s no way he’ll ever win the $250K.
Then we get a whole seven hours of Gia melting down and crying because Graham told Kasey about her plan to have him eliminated, and it’s like “high school all over again.” Kasey is all “she signed her own death warrant” and Gia is all “I got betrayed by a man AGAIN” and Graham is all “Who? Me?” So Gia decides to flee the scene rather than give Kasey the satisfaction of voting her out. The good news for Gia is she’s a marginally better actress than Holly or Vienna.
After that it’s a scramble to avoid the week’s final ouster between two people you don’t care about — Ella and Jackie — but it turns out Michael-Kirk hold more sway with the Vienna-Kasey power duo than Ames-Blake, and so Ella stays and Jackie goes. In the midst of all the scrambling, Melissa says the saddest thing I’ve ever heard on reality television: “When will it be my turn to have a Vienna and Kasey, or a Jackie and Ames?”
After Jackie is eliminated, Ames and his pink pants decide to quit this foolery, too, because after all, he’s from a wealthy family and there have to be better ways to make a quarter of a million dollars. Oh, and also, HE LOVES HER. “Oh my God, they are gonna make babies and I’m gonna love it!” Ella coos as Ames chases down Jackie’s limo, hops in, and speeds away.
“By the bye,” I tell my mother-in-law, who’s sitting on the couch next to me and completely dumbfounded by what she’s seeing, “Ames is a graduate of Yale.”
“That doesn’t say much for Yale,” she sighs, then gets up and heads to bed.
Next week: Crying Melissa, crying Vienna, and Jake tending to the paintaball wounds on Erica’s body with his healing kisses. (Gulp!) See you there! Now hit the comments with your own thoughts on this week’s horror show!
Slezak on Twitter: @MichaelSlezakTV