This week, we send our most dysfunctional polyamorous sample across the border to Mexico City. I’ll just be happy if we can get through this whole episode without a culturally insensitive slip of the tongue, but according to last week’s previews there is plenty else to look forward to. Let’s see if Chris Harrison can deliver on the promise of Drama.TM
Up Up Up
Even though Olivia’s “gut” tells her that the one-on-one date belongs in her cold little clammy hands, it is with Amanda that Ben would like to “put all his eggs in one basket,” as says the card. The shock this news brings to Olivia is a delight to every viewer on this scorched planet. In Olivia’s view, if Ben is the insurance company then Amanda’s adorable children are the pre-existing conditions: non-starters. And,unfortunately for everyone involved, this setback means Olivia will work harder to Git That Rose this week.
We soon learn one of Ben’s traits must be gullibility because someone has convinced him that it would be “fun” and “clever” to barge into the Ladies’ common suite at 4:30 in the AM, to see them in their most vulnerable splendor: sans weave, makeup free, con retainer. Or as some like to call it, Fucking Fifth Base DUDE. Thankfully, sunrise Amanda looks like a radiant baby angel as she rolls out of bed effortlessly, leaving some of the other Ladies awake for more hours to spend more hours than usual ruminating the odds that their friend will survive her date (with a rose, not literal death).
Ben and Amanda take a hot air balloon ride over Teotihuacan before being dropped into a romantic little meadow where all the birdies and colorful butterflies can surround Amanda like she’s always deserved. This is also her chance to tell Ben her back story, which here involves marrying a very selfish person who partied his way through their short marriage and cheated on her throughout, before she decided to leave with her two children. Amanda’s baggage is mostly the shame she feels re: divorcing, which is a pretty small baggage in the grand scheme of baggagey things. Ben can get behind that. Plus, it’s refreshing that Amanda has lived through hard times, heartbreak, and marriage: a combo that will do wonders for a person’s maturity and toughness. Okay he doesn’t say that exactly but, like, it’s in his eyes. If anything is clear, it is that Amanda could be a darn good fit for someone with a great sense of loyalty and some Savior Syndrome tendencies like, maybe, I dunno, definitely Ben. One rose for the Lady!
The Way to a Man’s Corazon
Our streak of luck continues as Olivia’s gut proves less accurate than an MSNBC straw poll. The next one-on-one is reserved for Lauren H. Until then, consolation group date! Ben invites Jojo, Jubilee, Leah, Jennifer, Lauren B., Emily, Caila, Becca, and (HAHA) Olivia, to come take an Español as a Second Language class. Jubilee struggles to get her jelly feel under control in the midst of nine other Ladies, while Olivia revels in the opportunities the group date presents to publicly perform Forced Emotional Intimacy at Ben in front of her competition.
Hypercool brother-sister-chef duo Nico and Lula (like, seriously, how are their names even cooler than everything?!) welcome the Ladies at a lively open air market. There, Nico and Lula explain that the Ladies will have to put their dual language skills into practice by shopping for several ingredients in Spanish in order to put together the delicious recipes the chefs will hand them.
But there’s a twist! They must work in pairs. As it becomes clear that Ben is walking either toward Lauren B. or Jubilee, Olivia brands him as her partner like he is cattle from her home state of Texas. Our conciliatory boyfriend and associate girlfriends reluctantly give in to avoid prolonging the ensuing awkwardness. Props to Olivia, it’s an incredibly shrewd way to turn this already fun activity into a mini one-on-one date, while fucking with the other Ladies’ heads. All it takes is for Olivia to feed Ben some crickets or to throw her head back in delighted laughter at the right moment, within sight of the other Ladies, for the damage to be done.
If the other ladies seem more adept than Jubilee at hiding just how shitty watching Olivia makes them feel (extra credit to Jojo), it’s because they are. As we long ago unilaterally decided, Jube is way too real for this shit reality. Unfortunately, her inability to summon smiles and giggles fast enough does not go unnoticed by Ben. But more on that later – dundundundun. At the lunch table, chefs Nico and Lula judge each team’s each dish. By then, everyone has loosened up and enjoys the present moment. Mindfulness:1 ; TheBachelor franchise: 0.
The bragging rights for best execution goes to Lauren B. and Jubilee, which cheers the latter right up! Good, we says to ourselves, just in time for the evening portion of the date. Not surprisingly though, it opens with Olivia doing That Thing she does where Ben has barely finished his welcoming speech before she drags him away for her hourly dose of validation.
Although ordinarily we doubt this would shake much in the dynamics of the evening, this was the night Jubilee intended to grab Ben first. After her missed opportunity, Jube’s mood faces a death spiral. Unaware Ben, meanwhile, comes and goes from the cocktail party, grabbing a different Lady from Jubilee several times over and not thinking much of it. He’s out with Lauren the longest, as he takes her into the street for a short romantic stroll where the two kiss passionately several times. By this time, Jube has gone from stewing and hurting to bad-decisions-Pissed-Off. When Ben comes to grab her from some alone time at last, Jubilee refuses to hold his hand, in front of the whole school of Ladies.
All … downhill … from here. Jubilee opens with her feels, which are insecure and dark tonight (like, maybe, other nights also). For normal human beings, it is okay to have many “off” nights with one’s boyfriend. In the Bachelor, we think that high count may be at two. Three if your name is Olivia. The questions Ben asks Jube at this point sound more like an exit interview prequel than Caring, but this detail sees to escape Jubilee as she continues to unload. When she asks him if he still sees a future for them, he says he’s just not that confident. Ben even looks a twee angry when he asks her how he’s supposed to feel when she refuses his hand in front of a group. Oh. Noowwww Jubilee realizes that she done effed it up. With the balance of power having this quickly shifted, Jubilee begs him to not give up on her, to give them another chance, to pretend she’s pulling back.
Jubilee tells him that she wants him to still see something in them to which our boyfriend answers: “As hard as it is … and as incredible as it’s been …” And just so, the writing’s on the wall. It’s goodbye to Jubilee, right here in the garden, on the goddamn group date. Like many before her, our last remaining melanin-blessed Lady must sail into the night, along with our dashed hopes of a Black Bachelorette next season. But not before leaving us with the most haunting words as she cries into her newly single hands, “I’m like the most unlovable person in the world right now.”
This is pretty sober and it sure feels like the episode should end right here, with us processing the fact that this cut-throat path to finding Love is just not right for the Laces and Jubilees of this world (you go take care of your souls, bee-bees! find yourselves some nice partners who can devote the many hours your needs and neuroses deserve).
But this is The Bachelor and the show must go on, starting with Jojo strangely congratulating (?) Ben for breaking up with people “so well.” This touches easily-touched Ben, who then gratefully grants her the last kiss of the group date. When Ben sits back down, it’s time for business. After scooping the group rose off the table, Ben tells us, “I’m going this rose to somebody that I reconnected with; somebody that, I think, had struggled for a while.”
Is it going to Emily whom he is separated from his twin, in front of their mom, the week before? Is it going to Lauren B., with whom he clearly felt a real sense a intimacy just an hour earlier? Is it Jojo, who just worked so hard there is still a trace of brown up her nose? NOPE. NOPENOPENOPE. It’s fucking Olivia, because guess what: there is no God, there is no justice, only “mission accomplished” banners waived by Texas’ worst. And so, the group date ends. Should have named this episode recap: The Blindside.
Lauren à La Mode
Lauren H. (that’s the goofy one) (also the one who thought Jubilee wouldn’t jive with the “soccer mom crowd”) is going on her first one-on-one date with Ben! After rehearsing for a few minutes surrounded by pro models, Ben and Lauren are put into make up, gorgeous clothes, and sent to stalk down the Mexico City fashion week runway with Very Serious faces and gorgeous Pineda Covelin clothes. Seriously, Lauren H.’s boring freakout is worth getting through just to get a peek of the stunning designs!
While Lauren’s friends back at the Mexico City Four Seasons seem skeptical that she’ll will be getting a rose, Lauren is holding it down at dinner and actually opening up. Ben was uncertain there was substance to her because girlfriend is so relentlessly happy and giddy. His perspective changes when she reveals that her boyfriend of four years dumped her out of the blue, after cheating on her with three different women including one of her friends. To the sound of piano piano, Lauren says that happiness was a choice for her, a way to do hold on to herself, blah blah blah. It’s actually really touching and a great advice for anyone who’s ever been destroyed by love. Makes total sense when Ben hands her that rose, inviting her to continue on his Epic Journey to Find Love.
For the first time in the history of this season, Ben is allowed to complete his welcome speech without the interruption of a Desperada trying to secure her place in Ben’s rose-studded heart. While Ben is talking to one Lady or another at this cocktail party, the camera rolls over to a conversation in which Amanda is discussing a weird dream she had that might have been engendered by some anxiety over her ex picking up her children from her mom’s this week. To which Olivia (for a split moment having forgotten said cameras were said rolling) responds with no light behind her eyes: “I feel like it’s an Episode of Teen Mom. Well you know that show … like—”
Not that Amanda should have to explain this to an adult woman, but it is an incredibly offensive thing to say. At once, Olivia remembers that her mic is hot, and that this episode will air. She apologizes, leans in and, through Highly-Suspicious tear microdroplets: “I want you guys to know, like, I’m gonna try harder from here on out.” I don’t speak much Spanish but it sounds a lot like Please Don’t Tell Ben What I Just Said.
This is Emily’s breaking point. Carrying her torch of Keeping It Real, Emily goes to find Ben. When it is time to stand in her truths, however, Emily becomes emotional and teary-eyed and annoying (to me). One wouldn’t think it was this hard to tell the man he has sacrificed enough of his group date roses to the Spawn of Satan once and for all. Yet here we are. In fact, Emily takes so damn long in getting the words out that it is impossible to tell just how much she gets out before Olivia strategically interjects with a fucking ring “gag gift.” Hmm. Savage. Also, we’re just mad we didn’t think of it first.
Ok. I’m gonna skip over the part where Emily calls her twin over the phone while UGLY-CRYING because: NO. Despite Olivia’s best efforts though, Ben’s curiosity is peaked and the man uses his one-on-one time with the other women to do a little due diligence. Soon, Chris Harrison comes back to call the cocktail night to a end. EXCEPT. Ben throws us in for a loop and asks to talk to Olivia alone before the rose ceremony commences, leaving us with all these questions and so little time to figure it out!
Does Ben’s gut function better than Olivia’s? Will a rose given on a group date be revoked before the rose ceremony? Specifically Olivia’s rose? Or will he give her One More Chance?
Whatever the answers, promise the collective Ladies’ tears, prepare to be disappointed to your ore.
And on that bright note, farewell til next week. Same time same place!