In the world of reality television, Survivor is known as the show where contestants go to “outwit, outlast, and outplay.” But that wouldn’t seem like such a bad motto for the current season of The Bachelor. On Monday night’s installment, set in scenic Park City, Utah, Ben’s tongue made alliances with five other women’s tongues (Rachel, Kacie B, Courntey, Nicki, and Jennifer); a group date found an octet of bachelorettes fly-fishing for their survival; and two future spinsters had their love-torches brutally snuffed. Let’s recap the action:
Ben’s first one-on-one date in Park City — which involves a helicopter ride to a mountainside pond, a picnic lunch, and a candlelight dinner — goes to Rachel, and his admission that their repartee is “kind of lacking” turns out to be as much of an understatement as saying the Bachelor Pad hottub is a little bit germ-infested, or that Jake Pavelka is a tiny bit creepy. As Ben and Rachel begin to make out in a canoe, you can see tiny flies surround the fetid corpse of their conversation. Over the course of the date, Rachel keeps reconfiguring the 11 words in her vocabulary in the hopes that she’ll say something meaningful, and finally she gives a long-winded, borderline-unintelligible assessment of her biggest problem in relationships, which subsequently yields a hilarious response from Ben:
Rachel: I do want to let you know that for me, in past relationships, it’s something that really, I’m not good at. You know, like, it is something that I struggled with in my past relatonships, and especially my most recent one.
Ben: What is?
Ben admits in the confessional that he likes kissing Rachel, but he can’t tell her that’s the only reason he’s not stuffing her into a clear plastic bag and dragging her out to the curb, so he takes the totally vague route: “It’s nice to know you are here, and you wanna be here, and I want you here.” That could totally be a lyric to a long-lost Joni Mitchell song, no?
Next up is a group date: Ben rides in rather unsteadily on horseback, leads his herd of eight fillies (and their mounts) to water, and tells them they’re going fly-fishing. Ben uses the old “here, let me show you how it’s done” trick to hold Kacie B’s hand for a minute, and she gobbles up the bait. (“He makes me feel like me, and that’s something I haven’t felt in a long time,” she says, betraying a terrifying lack of self-actualization.) To everyone’s surprise — especially outdoors-y Lindzi — it’s single white model Courtney who catches the first fish. “Her head almost popped off and spun around,” Courtney says of Lindzi’s reaction. “She was so jealous, she probably would’ve caught that fish with her bare teeth if she could’ve.” (Courtney may be a total ogre on the inside, but you have to admit she gives good sound bite.)
I’m not sure what happens to the fish — Courtney probably brings it back to the house and stuffs it into the lining of Emily’s suitcase — but soon the ladies are rocking evening wear (bikinis covered by minidresses) and getting their draaaank on.
Nicki and Ben mourn the recent loss of loved ones, which naturally gets them in the mood to kiss. Samantha staggers over to them, interrupts the action, and slurs something about her irritation with being relegated to group dates for three weeks running. Ben finds some fleeting clarity and levels with the chick who once locked herself in a bathroom and cried about his connection with a VIP cocktail waitress: “I’m thinking we should probably end this right now.” Bam! An unmarked van screeches up to the curb, a team of ABC producers throws a hood over Samantha’s head, and whisks her off to a nunnery. OK, it’s a limo, not a van, and Samantha manages to clamber in on her own volition, but it’s clear that after her 11 minutes of deep conversation with Ben over the last three weeks, she will never love again.
With Drunky McBitter out of the picture, Ben takes Kacie B up to his room to make out. Courtney, probably smelling Kacie’s mango lip balm on Ben’s mouth, decides she must vanquish her rival, and uses an impressive combination of baby voice, passive-aggression, and batted eyelashes to make Ben worry that his lack of devotion is causing her interest to wane. As a result, he gives her the rose. “Winning,” squeals Courtney, who lusts for Ben like a middle-aged homemaker lusts for a Showcase Showdown on The Price Is Right.
We briefly interrupt the action for a bathroom interlude at the bachelorette mansion, where a disembodied hand feeds Emily some liquid (scotch?) as she gets a hair-color treatment. Now that’s winning.
Ben’s final one-on-one for the week pairs him up with Jennifer. He takes her to a creepy, abandoned field with a “no trespassing” sign, asks her to strip to her bikini, and then lowers her down into a pit that she describes as “a rusty cage over a hole.” Having fun yet? Jennifer is “borderline petrified,” says Ben, which seems like as good a reason as any for a makeout session. “Relationships are all about trust, and diving into the unknown,” our protagonist reasons. Later, Ben takes Jennifer out to dinner, gives her a rose when she confirms that she is independent and yet will conform her life to his impossible schedule, and treats her to a Clay Walker concert where they play tonisl hockey under the exceedingly watchful eye of a couple of female concertgoers. “Best night of my life,” says Jennifer, and I wonder if she’s spent the last 25 years in lockdown at a women’s prison.
And finally, it’s time for the cocktail party. Ben arrives in a hideous, thin, chainmail tie. Jennifer arrives in a Navajo-print dress made from the blanket of Ben’s horse. Emily and Courtney arrive ready to duel to the death.
Emily strikes first by telling Ben one of the women in the house isn’t being authentic when she’s around him. “I don’t expect you to throw anyone under the bus,” says Ben, but Emily ignores his subtle plea to keep it to herself and reveals that Courtney is the source of her consternation. Ben responds by warning Emily that if she doesn’t keep her focus on her relationship with him, it “will end up in your own demise.” Naturally, Emily responds to the caveat by stirring up more drama, rehashing her conversation with Ben for the benefit of Courtney’s BFF Casey S. When Courtney hears Emily trashed her to Ben, she goes all Beyoncé in Obsessed — “I’ll show you crazy!” — and begins fantasizing a strategy for revenge (pronounced “reee-vaahhhhnn-juh“): “I almost want to rip her head off and verbally assualt her. Or shave her eyebrow off in the middle of the night.”
When Courntey confronts Emily point-blank about her conversation with Ben and tells her she “s*** in her own hat” (whaaaat?), Emily feigns ignorance, then plays the victim card. “I’m not used to people being rude to me or being aggressive to me,” she cries. No, she’s much more comfortable with trashing people behind their backs. Lucky for her, she’ll have another opportunity next week: While Ben chooses her last at the rose ceremony — as obvious punishment for questioning his “good” judgment — it’s Monica who takes the limo ride of shame and reveals her skepticism about the existence of true love. Hey, she’ll always have that “experience” with Blakely from the Week 1 cocktail party.
Next stop: Vieques! Oh, Courtney was “just there two months ago.” (Of course she was.)
What did you think of this week’s Bachelor? Did Ben make the right choices with his roses? Were you shocked he kept Rachel? Was Emily right to reveal Courtney’s split personality? And do you feel you’ve learned more about yourself in the past two weeks of Bachelor watching than you have in the past two years? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.