January 23, 2012
Having fully exhausted the patience of the good people of San Francisco by scaling their bridges during rush hour and naked skiing, Ben the Wine Dude kicks off the helicopter portion of the series by bringing the ladies to Park City, Utah. As Ben the Wine Dude swoops around the lovely mountains of Utah, he marvels at the colors of the fall foliage, and the fact that he has so many “relationships” so soon after being dumped by ol’ Dr. Tube Socks.
The ladies, however, are forced to fly commercial. There is, for no particular reason, a lot of “WOOOOOO!!!!”ing.
Ben the Wine Dude, freed from the helicopter, then awkwardly rides around on a horse, explaining that he wants to experience the outdoors with The Ladies because the producers got a great deal from a Park City, UT resort in exchange for endless product promotion he has good memories of going camping with his father and grandfather. What going camping with one’s father and grandfather have to do with dating is probably best left psychologically unexamined.
After bringing the ladies to the fancypants resort that is in the middle of the fall down-season, Chris Harrison announces what we already know: 2 one-on-one dates, 1 group date. Chris Harrison makes a bunch of ominous noises about the ladies needing to have their suitcases packed when they go on the one-on-one dates because THEY COULD BE SENT HOME. Foreshadowing! But not really.
First one-on-one date: Rachel, who is encouraged by the date card to,”Let nature run its course.” Uh, gross? That sounds a little gross.
Meanwhile, Sparkle Pony is sad, very sad that she wasn’t chosen. Having been on a single one-on-one date and having skiied in a bikini with Ben the Wine Dude, she’s pretty sure she’s ready to get married, please. Just how serious is Sparkle Pony about Ben the Wine Dude? She’s grocery shopping serious. She wants Ben the Wine Dude to go to the grocery store with her and buy Cheezits and oranges and Head and Shoulders. That’s how serious she is. WHY WON’T HE GO TO THE GROCERY STORE WITH HER ALREADY? There is crying. There are sparkly little Sparkle Pony tears because he’s going on a date with someone else. Because who wouldn’t cry over this?
Sparkle Pony is able to manage to not hurl herself at Ben the Wine Dude and Rachel’s helicopter as it takes off for their date, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t think about it. Oh, she thought about it.
Ben the Wine Dude and Rachel fly far, far away from the nest of jealous hussies, in their Helicopter of Love, for what Ben describes as a “down to earth date.” Because helicopters = down-to-earth. And while we’re on the topic, what’s the deal with helicopters and The Bachelor? What on earth must their helicopter budget be? Because, here’s the thing: I know a bunch of aviation lawyers? LAWYERS WHO SPEND ALL OVER THEIR TIME DEALING WITH AIRCRAFT CRASHES? And they say there are two types of helicopters: those that have crashed and those that will. AND MY POINT IS, NO THANK YOU TO THE HELICOPTER RIDE. One of these years we will have a The Bachelor helicopter tragedy, mark my words.
However, the benefit of helicopters? NO TALKING. You strap on those headsets, and you are freed from having to make painful small talk with the person next to you. And so Ben the Wine Dude and Rachel have a few blissful moments where they just have to grin over-exaggeratedly at one another, and excitedly point at things until they reach their destination: a canoe. They paddle around aimlessly through clouds and clouds of bugs for a while, and Rachel burbles about how this is the first time she’s felt this way in a long time. Felt like what, exactly? Super-awkward? Bored? Unable to come up with something, anything to say to the person you’re with? Because when they get out of the bug canoe, and sit on the river bank with some champagne, it is nothing but awkward silences, Ben the Wine Dude squinting into the sun and then later talking to the camera about how he’s not feeling much chemistry with her. “Oh look,” Ben the Wine Dude says at one point, “a beaver dam.” SYMBOLISM.
Over dinner, Rachel and Ben the Wine Dude stare blankly at one another — or, more accurately, Rachel and Ben the Wine Dude are edited to look like they’re staring blankly at one another so that the producers can make this date into something vaguely interesting, a WILL RACHEL BE SENT HOME TONIGHT??!??!! drama. And major props, editors, for including that bit with Chris Harrison admonishing the ladies to bring their fully-packed suitcases on their dates, and for slipping in that scene of Monica and Sparkle Pony talking about how Rachel doesn’t have any chemistry with Ben the Wine Dude. Because for one brief moment there I really thought there was a chance Rachel might be sent packing! But then Rachel begins yammering about her past relationships, and how she struggles with communicating with people (o rly?), and Ben the Wine Dude gives her the rose, because, duh.
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, the group date card arrives: Someone Named Jamie, Casey S., Juggs, Lindzi the Horse Girl, Texas Nicki, Sparkle Pony, and Courtney the Villainess, “Let’s see if you’re a good catch.” The ladies are thrilled that Courtney the Villainess is going on a group date, naively believing that once Ben the Wine Dude sees her interacting with the other women, he’ll see her for the backbiting she-wolf that she is. Good luck with that, everyone!
The ladies are herded out into a field somewhere, to wait for Ben the Wine Dude’s big arrival on a horse. Everyone is forced to say how handsome he looked on horseback as Ben the Wine Dude reveals that they’ll be riding horses to the next part of the date. Lindzi the Horse Girl is obviously thrilled. And someone, I’m not sure who, and really, does it matter all that much? One of the women says something about how Ben the Wine Dude looks like “a prince with his hair blowing in the breeze,” and that there are, “no words.” Oh, honey. There are words. Three, to be exact: GET. A. HAIRCUT.
They arrive at their destination: a river where they will be fly-fishing. And to make up for last week’s pantless debacle, this week, everyone will be wearing — GASP — waders! WE DID IT! A TWO PAIR OF PANTS DATE! THIS IS A BACHELOR FIRST, Y’ALL! HIGH-FIVES! This calls for a celebration, someone fetch me some champagne.
While everyone flings their flys in and out of the river, Courtney villains about how this isn’t about catching a trout, this is about catching a Rafa Nadal look-a-like man. And if none of the other girls are gonna make a move, she will. She politely waits while Sparkle Pony sparkles at Ben the Wine Dude for a while, and then she slides in next to him for the kill. A little coy look here, a little banter about mustard (?) there and before you know it, she has him hook, line and fake fly bait. Lindzi the Horse Girl, who reminds us again that she’s super-outdoorsy, attempts to wade out nearby and get Ben the Wine Dude’s attention. This is greeted with a dismissive sneer from Courtney the Villainess as she pulls in the only fish caught during the date.
During the jacuzzi portion of the evening, Ben the Wine Dude takes Casey S. aside to grill her about her romantic history. This is exactly as boring as it sounds.
Meanwhile, in the other room some of the ladies make a toast to a night without interruptions. Except Texas Nicki who is all, frak that noise, before heading into the middle of Ben the Wine Dude and Casey’s conversation. Once alone with Ben the Wine Dude, Texas Nicki handles the situation perfectly: she notes that while many girls might complain about going on group dates, she is genuinely thankful for the time she gets to spend with him. And once she has stroked his easily manipulated little ego, she drops the emotional bomb in his lap: a week before she arrived for The Bachelor, her 49-year-old boss died unexpectedly. You have to take advantage of every moment, you know? WELL PLAYED, TEXAS NICKI.
In contrast, may I present to you, Samanatha, Miss Pacific Palisades 2011? Samantha interrupts Ben the Wine Dude and Texas Nicki and proceeds to whinge at him about how she’s been on THREE GROUP DATES NOW, and she’s SICK OF IT. WHEN IS SHE GOING TO GET A ONE-ON-ONE DATE? DOESN’T SHE DESERVE THAT? DOES HE EVEN KNOW WHAT HE’S GOT HERE? SHE IS MISS MOTHERFLIPPING PACIFIC PALISADES OF 2011! SHE IS GOING TO (OR ALREADY HAS — I’M NOT REALLY SURE AND I AM TOO LAZY TO LOOK IT UP) COMPETE IN THE MISS CALIFORNIA PAGEANT! MISS CALIFORNIA. SHE HAS EARNED HER ONE-ON-ONE DATE, BEN THE WINE DUDE. EARNED IT.
“Get out,” says Ben the Wine Dude. And with that, Samantha and her stupid sash are sent packing.
“ANYONE ELSE WANT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT NOT GETTING A ONE-ON-ONE DATE?” Ben the Wine Dude yells at the ladies. “I DIDN’T THINK SO.”
(Note: That did not actually happen. Unfortunately.)
The other girls GASP! at this shocking development, all except for Courtney the Villainess who smirks and hisses, and Ben the Wine Dude attempts to explain that he is taking this whole process very “serious.” UGH. AND NOW ALL THAT GOOD WILL I HAD TOWARDS YOU HAS VANISHED, BECAUSE ADVERBS AND ADJECTIVES ARE DIFFERENT THINGS, BEN THE WINE DUDE.
Fresh from his kill, Ben the Wine Dude leads Sparkle Pony into a hotel room so they won’t be interrupted, and lets her complain at him about how hard it is to watch him with other women. Instead of ordering to pack her bags on account of whining, Ben reassures her that he has feelings for her. They then kiss and kiss and boring and kiss and Ben the Wine Dude grins at the cameras goofily while he explains that he’s falling for Sparkle Pony.
Obviously, Courtney the Villainess will not let this stand. And suddenly everyone is in their bikinis? When did that happen? ANYWAY, a be-bikinied Courtney leads Ben the Wine Dude to another room where she announces that she is having a really hard time with this, and that watching him with the other ladies is really bringing her down. She pouts and sniffs and sighs that she’s losing sight of what they had together, and instead of ordering her to pack her bags on account of being OBVIOUS and TERRIBLE, Ben the Wine Dude furrows his brow in worry and concern before marching out to the other room and grabbing the date rose to present to her.
As the other women stare gape-mouthed, Courtney explains to the cameras that she doesn’t care what they think: she deserves this. She is “WINNING.” And you know what, Courtney the Villainess? Go on with your bad self. I’d make fun of you for using a long-expired Charlie Sheen reference, but you’re the only thing that is making this season of The Bachelor interesting, so I’ll give you a pass. Keep on being terrible, you!
Meanwhile, at the hotel, Jennifer the Accountant receives the one-on-one date card: “Let’s pick our love song … Ben the Wine Dude.”
Ben the Wine Dude and Jennifer the Accountant hike around Utah for a while before coming to a fence with a giant “NO TRESPASSING” sign on it. Oh, let’s be dangerous and trespass, says Ben the Wine Dude. Are you sure? worries Jennifer the Accountant. Because this was clearly a spontaneous decision Ben the Wine Dude made, to illegally trespass onto someone’s property with an entire production crew in tow. Once on the property, they head over to a deep crater and Ben the Wine Dude announces to Accountant Jennifer that they are going to jump down it, because of course they are. Ben the Wine Dude yammers some more about relationships and trust and how if someone is serious about being in a relationship with someone else, they have to be willing to put on a bathing suit and hurl themselves into a 300 foot deep hole in the ground with that person. Otherwise, it doesn’t count. Accountant Jennifer has a mild panic attack, and frets that she can’t do this, before strapping into a harness with Ben the Wine Dude and lowering herself down into “the unknown.” They splash down into the water and there’s more babbling about “taking the plunge” and “conquering this thing together” and the strummy guitar congratulates the two of them as they kiss and swim around marveling at how serene it all is, and how they are perfectly alone. Except for the camera and safety crews, of course.
After some crew guy yoinks them out of the hole in the ground, they climb into a ski lift, and head up the mountain towards dinner. The dinner is moved inside, however, as a thunderstorm suddenly moves in, which Ben the Wine Dude announces is romantic. Over dinner, Ben the Wine Dude wonders if Accountant Jennifer would be able to handle his unpredictable, filled-with-wine-emergencies lifestyle, and Accountant Jennifer is all, SHRUG. I GUESS? And so, Ben the Wine Dude runs back out into the rain, and grabs the date rose which he cleverly left behind, and offers it to her. She obviously accepts it. The two of them then head to a private (with 200 other people) Clay Walker concert where they dance awkwardly both on a weird platform and down in the front row.
Put on a trampy dress and sharpen your nails, ladies, it’s cocktail party time!
MC Infectious has had ENOUGH of Courtney the Villainess, and spends the first part of the evening trying to rally the other women in an effort to EXPOSE THE TRUTH about Courtney’s awfulness to Ben the Wine Dude. Everyone makes tight smiles and agrees with her, but they aren’t completely stupid. They’ve seen The Bachelor before. They know that the woman that complains about the villainess is inevitably viewed by the bachelor as the crazy, jealous one — never the villainess — and all they ever earn themelves is a one-way ride in the Spinster Limo. Thanks, but no thanks, MC Infectious. That’s a hard little pill you’re going to have to administer on your own, Doctor.
And so she does. MC Infectious takes Ben the Wine Dude asides and carefully explains that there is one woman in the house who behaves differently around him than she does with everyone else. Ben the Wine Dude responds that he watches the women on group dates, so MC Infectious doesn’t need to worry, he’s handling it. And she’s like, YEAH. EXACTLY. THAT’S MY POINT. Somehow “this woman” received the date rose, even though she’s a nightmare. Ben the Wine Dude assures MC Infectious that she’s going to drive herself crazy if she does this. If MC Infectious allows “this person” worry her, and not focus on the two of them, it will destroy her chances here. MC Infectious sighs heavily and walks away, certain that she’s just written her own ticket to Lonelytown.
Inside, MC Infectious tells Someone Named Jamie (At least, I think that’s Jamie. Since she hasn’t been seen on camera once since the first night, I have no idea what she actually looks like.) and Casey S. about her conversation with Ben the Wine Dude, and Casey S. is all, AWW NO YOU DI’INT. Because Courtney is Casey’s friend? Courtney has a friend in the house? This is news. Courtney’s Friend promptly stomps off and finds Courtney and tells her everything. And Courtney, she handles it about as well as is expected. This involves Courtney calling MC Infectious stupid; stomping around muttering “Good, nice move, MC Infectious, nice;” proclaiming, “I’m a really nice person, don’t (flunk) with me;” announcing she is DONE being nice to MC Infectious; threatening that she doesn’t start fights, she finishes them; and growling that 1. she wants to rip MC Infectious’ head off and then 2. Verbally assault her. So, you know, Courtney is being perfectly calm and reasonable about the whole thing.
Meanwhile, Texas Nicki and Ben the Wine Dude stand outside and get snow in their eyeballs.
Inside, Sparkle Pony asks the group how many of them have learned more about themselves in the past two weeks than they have in the past two years, and pretty much everyone raises their hands but for Courtney who is all, OH PLEASE. I know myself, you stupid children. She then begins laughing in MC Infectious’ face and announcing that she knows what MC Infectious said to Ben the Wine Dude. MC Infectious finds the whole situation ridiculous and compares it to being in 5th grade. Someone, trying to diffuse the situation calls out, “Roses are being given out tonight, how do we feel about that?” setting Courtney the Villainess to hiss that she feels great about it, seeing as she already has one.
Courtney then leaves the room, calling out “WINNING” once more, and assuring MC Infectious that what she did was “not a good look,” over and over again. MC Infectious cries at Monica, who protectively declares herself a “momma bear,” which — she said it and I did not.
Ben the Wine Dude gathers the lady for the rose ceremony and announces that his feelings are developing quickly and that the stakes have been raised. As Ben the Wine Dude is led away to the Glamour Shots Alcove of Contemplation, MC Infectious cries that she’s sure she’s being sent home tonight for being honest.
Rose #1: Lindzi the Horse Girl
Rose #2: Someone Named Jamie
Rose #3: Texan Nicki
Rose #4: Sparkle Pony
Rose #5: Elyse the Terrifying Trainer
Rose #6: Juggs McJuggsy
Rose #7: Casey S
Rose #8: MC Infectious
Which means Momma Bear is going home, to everyone’s shock and surprise. Courtney the Villainess’s shock and surprise most of all.
Momma Bear sobs in the Limo back to Old Maidsville about how being eliminated on a reality dating series is the “most painful thing in the world,” which is news to actual painful things like root canals and childbirth and starvation and water boarding. Momma Bear just wants marriage and kids and now, thanks to being eliminated on a reality dating series, she’s skeptical that these things exist. Nevermind the fact that she spent the entire first evening trying to get into Juggs’ pants and announced to Blogessa that she had no real interest in Ben the Wine Dude — ALL OF THAT CHANGED OVER THE COURSE OF A COUPLE GROUP DATES AND NOW SHE’LL NEVER HAVE LOVE. RWORR.
Inside, Ben the Wine Dude announces that they are going to Vieques, Puerto Rico! WOOOOO!!!!! says everyone but for Courtney the Villainess, who flatly announces, “I was just there two months ago.” Oh, Courtney the Villainess, I love you. Please don’t ever leave.
The Bachelor airs on ABC Mondays at 7 p.m.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.