I typically don’t spend any time wondering how a Bachelor will be perceived once his season is over, but it’s hard to avoid the speculation concerning Ben Flajnik, who seems to be making a worse impression with every passing week of The Bachelor. The exit interviews from the various women cut have seemed unusually bitter this time around, as they have gotten to watch the show and notice the difference between how seriously they’re taking Ben, and how much he’s staring at Courtney while pretending to listen to their stories about their childhood puppies.
Granted, if you go on the show and get surprised at learning that your intended has divided attention, that’s your problem. But it’s the sheer extent of Ben’s liplocking with women he’s clearly not invested in that startles. This is one of the least complicated Bachelors we’ve ever seen (which is saying a lot) – he seems to be relating to the women almost totally on a physical level. As unlikable as she is, Courtney is at least giving him plenty of what he wants: single-minded attention. And boobs.
The final nine ventured to Panama City, which is nicer than I guessed it would be, not that I had given it a moment’s thought prior to Monday. Kacie, who the show can now stop finally calling “Kacie B” (more on that below), became the first woman of the season to land a second solo date. She was asked to bring three items with her, and ended up taking some candy, a corkscrew, and a monkey doll: perfect if you’re treating a Muppet to dinner on Valentine’s Day. The pair flew to a deserted island, where the mission was to see if they could work together without someone getting a corkscrew jammed into his skull. An unlucky fish was caught (or placed) in the net Ben tossed into the waters, and the pair chowed down over a makeshift fire. Good times.
Later on at dinner, Kacie sensed that she might not be keeping pace in the all-important Storyline Sweepstakes, so she blurted out that she suffered from an eating disorder for a year as a teenager. She got help (thank goodness – we wouldn’t want anyone here throwing up except the viewers) and realized that she didn’t have to be perfect after all. Kacie also made sure to flatter Ben by saying that he made it easy to open up, and naturally she received a rose. I think Kacie would be in the lead if Ben was sincere about getting married, but I doubt he is, so I doubt she is.
Next up, the group date. No more baseball, sadly. Six of the women join Ben for a leisurely boat trip down the Chagres River, into the heart of the rain forest. They land at a native village (the show chose not to tell us anything about these folks), where the women are taken aside and outfitted according to local custom. The tops they are given are made of these fringe-y beads, so most of the women choose to leave their bikini tops on underneath, because they’re Americans and this is a television show. Courtney, naturally, chose to go the topless route, and thus was covered by a black box during the rest of the segment while the others grumbled at her lack of couth.
Later, during a segment where everyone applies tribal paint to everyone, there is more seething because Courtney drew C + B on Ben’s back. At this point, you have to start to wonder why it hasn’t occurred to anyone else that they’re allowed to try the same tactics Courtney is using. Their problem might be that they idealize this show and the “process” too much. They actually believe it’s about making the proverbial connection, when all Ben wants to do is see what’s hiding under the black box.
At dinner, we finally hear again from Jamie, who hasn’t done anything the first five weeks other than read date cards. She seemed to realize that her number was just about up, and wondered if kissing Ben might be a good idea (take a wild guess). But as she headed over to Ben’s side, Courtney showed up in her bikini and started swimming. Ben barely tried to act like he wasn’t distracted, and Jamie made excuses for him rather than doing the obvious, heading for the airport. In the end, she chickened out of her planned seduction.
Emily attempted to show Ben she was over her Courtney obsession by joking that she had fallen for the native chief, and later apologized to Courtney for misjudging her. This probably wasn’t sincere, more just an attempt to brush things under the rug for Ben’s sake; and Courtney, as could be predicted, didn’t take the high road, telling Emily “I don’t friggin’ forget.” The night would not end in triumph for Courtney, just this once: Lindzi got the group date rose, and Ben blew off Courtney’s request that he drop by her hotel room for some private time.
Rachel and Blakeley were left for this season’s one and only two-on-one date. While Blakeley wasn’t getting the one-on-one she had longed for, she was more than bubbly about having this opportunity, while Rachel openly fretted about the prospect of being dumped on the date. The trio went out salsa dancing, and while Blakeley wrapped her leg around the Bachelor, Rachel grumbled about not being able to match the raw sexuality of the boobtastic VIP cocktail waitress.
At dinner, Rachel got her private time first, and spent most of that time reiterating how much she wanted to be there in between kisses. Blakeley, surprisingly, took the more thoughtful (if endearingly pathetic) approach, presenting Ben with a scrapbook detailing the first few weeks of their love. Remember Puerto Rico? Last week? Shockingly, Ben did not respond to this attempt to remind him of sixth grade, and Rachel got the rose. Blakeley became the first rejected “runner” of the season, trying to get away before Ben could apologize for ending her final chance at love ever. Rachel, the little sneak, eavesdropped on the whole thing. The cameraman chose to focus on a scrawny cat as Blakeley climbed into the SUV of Rejection.
And now, time for the cocktail party … wait. It’s still daytime. And Chris Harrison has wandered over to the women’s suite, asking to speak to Casey alone! Well, this is never good. As the women observe through the window, Harrison breaks the news to Casey: the show has heard through multiple sources that she has a boyfriend back home. The producers spoke to this fellow, Michael, and he basically confirmed it. Superficially, this is a bit like what happened during Ali’s Bachelorette season with Justin the wrestler, but he made it easy for them by contacting his girlfriend while actually filming the show. This was a case of third parties somehow informing The Bachelor that Casey was in love with someone else.
Harrison asked for the truth about Casey’s feelings, and she went from saying that Michael was an ex, to admitting that they had broken up and gotten back together, to her saying that she didn't want to love the guy because he won’t marry her, but yeah, maybe she still had feelings for him. Bottom line – and this was hard to follow given that Casey’s isn’t the world’s most articulate person even when she’s not bawling – it sounded like she went on The Bachelor in order to meet someone who wanted to get married, even though she preferred that someone be Michael. All of this is a clear violation of Bachelor code, of course, and after Harrison and Casey dropped this news on Ben, and he guilt-tripped her about nice girls having been sent home while she still had her mind on someone else, she was shown the door.
So now we had seven women left: three who already had roses, Courtney who isn’t going anywhere, and Nicki and Emily who had survived one-on-one dates in the past. Jamie was in trouble and she knew it. Her problem, as she saw it, was that she was being too much of a “prude,” and needed to prove to Ben that she actually isn’t … even though she is. She told him that she thinks about him while in bed (hello!) and that she had something really hot in store for them. Jamie then tried to straddle his lap, although the dress she was wearing made that a mite difficult. If your attempt to bring Sexytime to the cocktail party looks more like you’re using a bidet, things aren’t going well.
Jamie was finally able to muster up the courage to kiss Ben, but the rest of her strategy consisted of explaining how French kissing works, something the Bachelor seems to have figured out on his own. Eventually he was too giggly to continue. Jamie might have crossed the lip barrier, but even she knew it was over, and Ben made it a formality when he gave Emily the final rose (the third straight week that has happened, which I assume is a record) even though she rapped again this week. Jamie is extremely cute, has a solid job, is a responsible person, and might even very well not be prude except by the standards of this franchise, so I assume she will get over this in a hurry if she hasn’t already.
Next week: Belize, where Ben finally has some doubts about Courtney! I wonder if this means some medical tests came back.