Things begin ominously this week on The Bachelor. Brad takes the eight remaining women — D-Cup, Tragic Mom, Crazy Town, Embalmer, Shopgirl, Teeth, Other Blonde, and Whatshername — to scenic Costa Rica, then points to an active volcano in the distance. Suddenly, I can’t shake a mental fast-forward to Chris Harrison making an announcement at the most dramatic rose ceremony ever: “Ladies, there is only one rose left. Whichever one of you does not receive a rose will be driven to the mouth of the volcano and hurled into its fiery depths, a sacrifice to ensure our continued Monday night ratings and the survival of our most popular franchise marriage between Trista and Ryan.” And of course, the unlucky reject would gladly submit: As the old saying goes, ’tis better to have loved and lost in front of a network television audience than to contemplate a life of spinsterhood at the tender age of 24.
The first one-on-one date goes to Chantal O, which naturally has Michelle hoping her rival will be attacked by “monkeys or apes.” (It’s a shame The Bachelor isn’t three hours long so that the ABC editors wouldn’t have had to edit down Michelle’s entire list of potential predators: “Jungle cats, fire ants, wild boars, vipers, poisonous toads, piranha, deer ticks, Yeti…”)
Brad, literal as ever, flies Chantal via helicopter to the world’s longest zip line in an effort to “take the relationship to new heights,” and not even a torrential downpour can stop their symbolic tandem “journey” through the treetops. Later, at an outdoor picnic, the skies open up again. “Every time we’re together, it rains,” says Chantal, not recognizing that God has taken to weeping every time Brad says he’s “excited,” waxes unpoetic about his emotional growth, or talks about the “qualities” he wants in a woman. But all’s well that ends with Chantal removing her wet clothes, changing into one of Brad’s white dress shirts (and no pants), and going in for the kiss.
The group date, says Brad, is “all about adventure and facing fear.” (Maybe the next time Brad calls in to his therapist, they can discuss his compulsion to force his dates to confront their phobias instead of, say, taking them to dinner and a movie.) This week’s challenge: Rappelling (or as Brad pronounces it, ree-pelling) down a waterfall. This leads to Michelle repeatedly striking Brad and hissing about the pact they’d made to be RBFLs (Rappel Buddies For Life). She briefly considers pushing him to his death, but then remembers she usually likes to mate with her prey before killing it. Instead, they make the journey down the cliff side-by-side.
Because the real point of a group date is being able to compare the women’s bikini bodies, Brad takes his harem to a hot spring. “Seeing Brad take his shirt off makes you want to like go home and [bleep bleep],” says Michelle, which should make for a fun game down in the comments section where we can all fill in the blanks. (Personally, I like to imagine Michelle saying “boil a bunny.”)
Jackie gets called aside first, and things seem to be going well for her until she and Brad discuss the rappelling adventure and she makes a fatal error. “It would’ve been awesome if we went down together,” she tells Brad, not realizing that it’s her job to make The Bachelor feel comfortable and relaxed, not to express her own hopes, dreams, and anxieties. Later, Michelle corners Brad in the hottub and does her usual “I don’t want to talk about the other women, except for how you need to send them all home” routine. Suddenly, they hear a woman’s blood-curdling screams in the distance. Brad and Michelle take this as a signal to make out. No roses are given out on the date, though, because Brad says it’s not about rewarding “a woman who jumped first or overcame fear.” Wait, it’s not? My entire idea of what Brad has stood for all season long is suddenly thrown into question.
Alli’s one-on-one date is announced with a card that says “meet me at the altar.” The message gets her thinking about a wedding chapel, and my twisted mind imagining a ritual sacrifice. “Will she end up as Mrs. Brad Womack or slaughtered like a goat? Find out after the break!“
Brad and Alli head to the altar via horseback — OMG, their steeds’ adorable foals trail right behind them! — and as they come to the mouth of a cave, Brad says what every woman longs to hear on a first date, preferably before heading into a dark, remote location where a body could easily be hidden. “I thought you’d be really scared.” But our trusty “apparel merchant” (that means she works at Old Navy, right?) soldiers onward. “Going through the cave with Brad does represent my journey here,” she says, in an impressive display of utter nonsense.
The duo ends the evening having dinner on a giant lilypad contraption. Brad says he has so much to learn about Alli (“What does her mouth taste like?”), while Alli is bewildered by a plate of chicken. “What is this?” she asks, wondering why the mystery meat isn’t deep-fried, in nugget form, and accompanied by a plastic container of honey-mustard sauce. Then it’s Brad’s turn to play the dolt. When Alli asks why he’s never been to Europe or Africa, he decides not to go with “couldn’t afford it” or “no intellectual curiosity,” and instead says, “I’m getting up there. I’m an older guy. I’ve matured a little bit. I just don’t want to be away from home.” Alli then explains she once broke up with a dude because she imagined her wedding and could not see his face. “I know exactly what you mean,” says Brad meaningfully. Surprise! Within minutes, Alli is in the back of a limo, crying her eyes out.
Brad heads home, emotionally exhausted and in need of some alone time. Michelle wants some alone time too, but not by herself, she wants it with Brad, silly! There’s a knock at Brad’s door. He opens it to find Crazy Town standing in the shadows. “Hola,” she says in the same exact voice Michelle Pfeiffer uses when she’s possessed by the mistress ghost in What Lies Beneath. Michelle then takes a (not bad) guess at the order in which Brad will eliminate the women, going with Britt and Jackie first (makes sense), followed by Shawntel, and leaving a final four of Emily, Chantal, Ashley, and herself. “I want you to figure it out on your own,” she says. Brad actually makes a pretty astute response: “But you don’t.” Michelle spills crazy the way the women are probably spilling tequila shots back in their room. Later, at the cocktail party, Brad tells Michelle she is scaring him badly.
“I feel like I’m being pulled in literally a million different directions, and Michelle is the largest contributor to that,” Brad huffs, noting he’s in “a very difficult place right now.” Only in the world of reality television can a woman come off like a she-beast by telling a dude that she wants him to ditch the other seven chicks he’s been making out with and be with her exclusively. Of course, Michelle’s cartoon villain eyebrows and the hunting knife that’s probably strapped to her calf also contribute to her rep as this season’s object of derision.
Chantal O, meanwhile, uses the cocktail party to reveal she’s fallen in love. We know she’s being forthright because she already has a rose and isn’t looking for anything from Brad. I mean, it’s not like she’s going to be looking for another red flower in just a few days or anything, right? Also, word of advice to Chantal O: If a man is still using your last initial to distinguish you from other women with similar sounding names, it’s probably not time to say ‘I love you.’ Oh well. Too late.
At the elimination ceremony, Chris Harrison does his usual bit where he comes out and tells the women when Brad is down to his final rose of the night, presumably because at least one of the remaining bachelorettes has never learned to count. Jackie ends up getting cut — the first woman of the season to be the sole evictee at a rose ceremony — and leaves in tears. Is it possible Brad is the most interesting guy these women have ever met? Or were Jackie and Alli just bummed to miss a free trip to Anguilla? Sound off on these questions, and on your feelings about the entire episode, below. And for all my reality TV coverage, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.