After an exhilarating first night, Ben and the Ladies are excited to get to know one another and, more importantly, to upgrade this rejection scheme from formulaic to personal. Hold on to your clip-on hair extensions, bee-bees, because shit is about to get real-ish.
We open our day in the Bachelor Mansion where our Ladies of leisure patiently await the arrival of the first date card. Our Bachelor Ben Higgins, who #wokeuplikethis, slips some jeans over those briefs and contemplates his day by the window.
Lace is praying hard for her name is on that date card. If anyone deserves a chance to redeem themselves from
having revealed their true selves wayyyy too early a somewhat aggressive and slurry first impression, it is Lace. As Jewel’s look-alike, Lauren B, reads the names on the date card, it appears that in a brief truce, Fate is on board with Lace’s plans. In this order, the cards summons Jackie, LB, Lauren H, Becca, Amber, Mandi, JoJo, Jubilee, Jennifer, and Lace. If this is testing Lace’s ability to successfully gloss over the fact that her name is called last, our Lady passes with flying colors. So impressed are we with Lace that we drop all grievances with that denim vest she insists on owning/wearing.
With a few champagne flutes downed in the limo — the only way to get through a 10:1 “date” — the Ladies pull up to a high school that Chris Harrison had creatively rechristened “Bachelor H.S.” Ben welcomes them with a bright smile because, predictably, he is one of Those People. You know, the kind who actually enjoyed this tortuous four-year phase — in no small part, we figure, as a result of being a jock whose awkward phase didn’t stretch into college. Like some people. Who are definitely not us.
Chris Harrison, our naughty principal for the day, announces that the Ladies will compete to become Ben’s Homecoming Kweens in pairs. With their partners, the Ladies will have to pass four “classes.” We start with Science. The Ladies must follow what we can only assume to be a hyper simplified set of instructions that requires them to combine the contents of a number of flasks labeled love, trust, appreciation, communication, sodium dioxide, etc. Ultimate goal: make Ben’s “volcano explode,” in an exceptionally subtle visual. Right off the bat Team Lace-Jubilee gets the axe, having failed to acquire and apply the above ingredients to their own relationship. Ah, sweet irony.
For Class Two, the Ladies must extricate a red apple out of a fish tank with none other than their mouths. This is the part where I would have most definitely walked off the show, with my dignity and, more importantly, me edges, intact. With formidable disregard for their foundation creams, the remaining Ladies dive in. Not fast enough for the Jackie-Lauren Team, though, whose ultimate downfall is Jackie’s lack of depth in the mouth area.
Class Three is geography, where the girls must place an Indiana cut-out as close as they can closest to its actual location on a blank U.S. map. Team Becca-Jojo gets an E for effort after a nice attempt at fitting Indiana horizontally into Massachusetts, and a second Efor Ejected-from-this-competition.
With only one more team to beat, Team DentistMandi-Amber rises to the challenge and scores their free throws the fastest. But because there can only be one Date Kween, Mandi and Amber face in a hurdle 100 meter sprint. Mandi elegantly blows Amber out of the asphalt. For being the weird Portland girl, Mandi seems genuinely stoked about taking a victory lap in a convertible, with Ben’s letterman jacket on her shoulders, Ben at her side, and a goddamb tiara on her head. Shhh. We won’t tell Spike you sold out if you don’t.
In the evening, the girls change into shorter batches of shimmery fabric because this is the sexy part of the date and a rose is at stake, and casual girls who don’t wear make-up don’t get roses, and girls who don’t get roses DON’T GET RINGS. Breathing, breathing, okay. We’re back.
Becca steals Ben first and, while nailing a series of free throws with impressive ease. She tells him she’s really excited to be here and makes an obligatory her spiel about not being afraid to get hurt anymore, as though that was the reason she left season-18-Chris rather than just not being that into him. But, Ben gobbles it right up and is like ditto on wanting to hang out. Shrug!
There are other Ladies thatBen must dutifully entertain. At one point, Ben kisses Jennifer, the discovery of which sends Lace into a slow-spinning spiral. Is Ben even noticing her ? Does he not know she’s here? Hello?
Not-willing-to-take-it-no’-mo’, Lace rises to her feet with the determination to help Ben immediately realize how much of a catch she is. Are you worried, bee-bees? Me too. Sooooo worried.
A Brief Repose
Meanwhile the one-on-one date card has arrived at the house. Olivia, radiating with confidence, reminds us that she is the front runner because of her first impression rose. Olivia looks unhinged — we do not use that word lightly, LOOK AT HER JAW — as she does her best impression of someone who thinks there is less than a 100% chance they will get the card. “If someone else’s name was on the card today, I would be shocked, honestly,” Olivia says, seconds before the name called out is … Caila the Sunshine.
Olivia quietly recess into the background where she proceeds to chew on her crow pie, while the cryptic card beckons Caila to join Ben for “a day of surprises dot dot dot.”
Back to School
Meanwhile, back on the group date, Lace apologizes profusely for “whatever” she “came off as.” Ben gracefully accepts the mea culpa but where Lace should stop talking, she continues.”Crazy, right?” she asks him, of herself. Undeterred by her commitment to making us all uncomfortable, Ben assures her that he didn’t mean to avoid eye contact at the first ceremony and that he appreciates the apology and her as a person. Having learned his lesson from Lace’s first freak-out, Ben delivers this information with sustained eye-contact. We learn, in a side interview tuned to coocoo music, that Lace reads this moment as them “basically eye-fucking” and being close to kissing when … Jubilee asks to steal Ben a minute. Hope Ben came prepared for Class Five: Drama. (LOL, thanks, readers.)
Jubilee and Ben talk about some of the relief work that Ben does in Central America and Jubilee explains that she was in an orphanage in Haiti until age six, before getting adopted. Ben tells her he thinks she’s amazing and that he wants to get to know her, starting with her tongue into which he promptly gets. Contrary to my description, it’s actually the sweet kind of tongue-locking. Jubilee is kind enough to not brag about the kiss with the Ladies when she gets back to the sofa.
Feeling especially betrayed by her former class partner, Lace fumes that she simply has not had any time of Ben. Amber chimes in to remind us that she is alive, and here, and that she is an actual person who actually has not had any actual time with Ben. In an effort to further prove she is nothing like the person she was the previous night, Lace storms off to interrupt whatever conversation Ben is having right this second. “I promise I’m not crazy,” Lace says, “I just wanna finish our conversation.” Ben humors her a few minutes and then Lace leaves. Even without a kiss, our Lady seems pretty sure she’s getting the rose. This moment says a lot abut Ben, who we think should perhaps consider a career in the hostage-negotiation field. Forget the Homecoming King; Ben deserves a sash fit for the King of De-Escalation he is.
Ben returns to the group to grab Jojo and take her to his “special location”aka the roof. Passionate kisses happen on roofs so this must mean Jojo really is on Ben’s radar. “Oh my god I am so happy right now,”she moans as he sensually rubs her shoulders up and down, and devours her visually. The two of them make out under the stars for a while after which Jojo announces into the camera that she has “100% developed feelings for Ben.” Ah, to be in our dreamy early twenties again …
The rules are the rules and tonight, the rose can only be bestowed to one J-named girl. When Jojo gets it, Jubilee must deal with the lousy feeling of having shared something deeply personal and seeing another girl get the prize for best date on group date.
Ben comes for Caila the next day. In a rare moment of Bachelor-producing honesty, Chris Harrison admits that Ben did nothing to plan the date except pick Caila. Legends Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, who just so happen to have a movie I won’t even link here because it looks so bad, walk in to help Ben nail this date. Unsuspiciously cut camera one to Jubilee for an opinion on Ice Cube and Kevin Hart’s hipness, and follow Ben, Caila, and the Boys to their carriage: of course, a convertible low rider.
This is going to be a cheap date, Kevin Hart announces, and he is not kidding. While they’re cruising around L.A., Ben buys Caila yellow roses off the street, stops at a liquor store, and wraps up the first part of the date in a hot tub … store. The whole exercise is a little gimmicky and forced — with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube having less chemistry than Lace and anyone — but at least, Kevin Hart is enjoying his side hustle for the day.
how i felt watching that date tho #GetMeOut #Yawn
“You made it relaxing. You made it fun for me,” Ben tells Caila over dinner, as he reflects over their day date. His voice is strong and flat and stern, like when my dentist tells me he can tell I’m not flossing everyday. But maybe some women find that attractive. After he hands her the rose, Ben and Caila head to the Regent where a bespectacled man is singing some kind of “Sweet Pea” themed song on stage. Ben is beaming, and Carla is beaming, so I guess everyone knew this was Amos Lee but me. Ben’s favorite song comes on and for the next four minutes, our Bachelor struggles to stop his gaze from darting back to Amos while slow dancing with Caila. The night ends with some passionate making out on the dance floor.
Ladies Packing Heat
Back home, the women have spent all day waiting for a sign from their mail/male idol. The group card that arrives at the house invites EmilyHaley (seriously, I will consider them the same person until they make an effort to distinguish themselves from one another), Shoshanna, Sam, Olivia, and Amanda, to find out if they “are a perfect match.”
The Ladies arrive at a facility where a robot guides them to a sterile-looking room. There, Ben greets them in a white coat and dorky headgear. Dr. Love and his team are here to test the Ladies and see if science can help Ben find his most compatible mate. The tests become gradually more intimate. With the retina test, the girls are tested for what attracts their pupils’ attention. Diamonds or children? Another Bachelor or Ben? Cool, cool, cool. Then comes experiment #2: the smell test. For this one, the girls run on a treadmill and then stand around while a blindfolded Ben smells the glands by their waist, to see if he likey.
olivia aka evil face o
Shoshanna, who I think eats a lot of borscht, seems legit worried that she will smell like cabbage even though she has not eaten it in like two weeks. Not to worry, the verdict Ben reaches on her odor is “very flowery.” EmilyHaley too is “very flowery” while other EmilyHaley has a fruit aroma. Amanda is “almost beachy.” Olivia is very sweet. And last one: Sam.
“A little more sour,” Ben says with his nose rubbing against her waist. In front of everyone.
“Sweet and sour?” asks Dr. Love.” That’s really great in Chinese food!” In front of everyone.
Poor Sam snorts in a display of mortification and we feel so bad, we send her our best thoughts and prayers as this embarrassing episode airs before millions of judgy watchers.
sour smelling sam (middle)
Finally, the last exam involves a thermal measurer. Clad in an all-white tank and booty-short combination that I am not convinced is required by Science, each Lady sits on a bed with Ben in a closed-off room … while the other girls watch the thermal silhouettes of their Ben and frenemies heat up on the screen. There is some uncomfortable gasping at the touching of chests and hands and arms. Seizing on her high from getting the first impression rose, Olivia tries to convince Ben to kiss her when it’s her turn. But, being the gentleman he is, Ben gently denies her because “people are watching.” The sting of almost-rejection evaporates as soon as the results come in though. Evil O Face aka Olivia — as it is now safe to call her — has annihilated the Ladies with her 7+ score out of 10. Meanwhile, Sour Smell Sam must make peace with having earned the lowest compatibility score of the day: a paltry 2.42 out of 10. Guess the LSAT can’t prepare us for everything, or … anything really.
The evening portion of the festivities is held in some kind of house,which may be the quarters where Ben is staying. Ben arrives in an a sweatshirt-sport jacket pairing that could still give Gaps’s failed Normcore collection a run for its money like it gave us all an urge to run with our money. Ben steals Olivia away first, which does wonders for her already healthy self-esteem. They talk on the couch a while but soon enough, it’s all in the hands of Smooth-Jazz Ben — our Bachelor’s suave alter ego, we have decided — whose fine-tuned timing lands him a passionate kiss that leaves Olivia reeling. When Olivia returns to the Ladies from her magical encounter with Ben, she asks them where in the building each will take him. One Lady asks if they kissed and Olivia retorts, “Oh I don’t want to talk about it.” Then, she abruptly storms away from the group. It’s a little nonsensical and red-flaggy, and likely just our first taste of Evil O Face.
After EmilyHaley, Shoshanna, and Sam get alone time, Amanda seizes her chance to tell Ben about her daughters Kinsley and Charlie. “Kids don’t scare me,” Ben says. This is, of course, music to a single-mom and mom-aspiring Ladies of all stripes. He seems genuine about it too, which is really sweet and refreshing because for reals, trying to date as a single mom must be hella hard.
After thanking Amanda for sharing more about her family though, Ben gives Olivia the rose, which is devastating to anyone with two eyeballs and a hunch that Olivia may not be a very nice Lady.
It’s ceremony time and Ben is serving us a three piece suit that does him more justice than the former ensemble. He is out there, in the beautiful Bachelor Mansion courtyard talking to Leah (who does not yet have a rose) when Olivia (who, recall, has a rose) takes precious time away from other Ladies in more precarious positions to monopolize Ben for a few more minutes. Ben welcomes the interruption though and kisses Olivia, which makes everyone feel very upset, very quickly. “What a selfish bitch,”mumbles one mic’d Lady, possibly while stabbing a paper doll made in Olivia’s likeness.
In case we had any doubt about the vicious side she will almost certainly succeed in concealing from Ben through the season, Olivia returns to the Ladies and firmly declares: “So now I’m done. Now everybody have at it and I hope that you can respect that.”
What does that even mean? Unclear. Beautiful Ladies have the luxury of not having to make sense sometimes.
“Well thank you,” responds one icy Lady.
All this sexual tension between Ben and other Ladies is making Lace feel a bit jittery, which is a good sign to stay away from Ben for a few minutes. You know, as opposed to what Lace actually does next. “I know I’m coming off a little crazy to you, right?” she says immediately upon having located Ben.
ARGH, screams our feminist insides. Don’t we just want to grab Lace by the shoulders in a gentle, non-threatening, way and tell her that she needs to stop describing normal — okay, mildly heightened — emotions as “crazy” because her insecurities are quite valid in this situation, considering the amount of Ladies she must compete with for one man’s attentions?? Yes, we do.
Smooth-Jazz Ben, it turns out, doesn’t quite know how to deal with Ladies like Lace but does his best to reassure her that he thought her apology at the group date was their clean slate. “I’m a lot to handle,” Lace continues. To explain why she is the way she is, girlfriend melts into a long story about how she was an ugly duckling growing up and begin describes a photograph, in too great detail, of just how bad she looked. By this point, our faces are frozen in a cringe that only worsens when a Lady interrupts the conversation before Lace fish back this tangent from the pools of hell. We pour ourselves a drop more of wine as Lace goes to cry in the bathroom and also into the camera, where she bemoans the failure of Operation “Hide Insecure Lace,” in so many words.
Back where the action is, Smooth-Jazz Ben sweeps
Jewel Lauren B off her feet with a printed photo of the two of them talking on the first night. Ben tells her that he’s been thinking about her a lot, which is great, because we super need someone who can go toe to toe with Evil O Face. Smooth-Jazz Ben then gives Lauren H a first place ribbon for the largest explosion at the science fair. And, for the coup de grace, Amanda comes over to a side room where Smooth-Jazz Ben has laid out some wee plastic roses. Why, you ask? Oh, just to glue them on some fucking hair barrettes for her baby daughters. Excuse us while we mop the small puddle beneath our bar stool right now?
Then it’s time for Business. Chris Harrison beckons Ben to the roses. Amber is losing her shit because Ben has made zero efforts to talk to her and her hair highlights, that I wish I had more time to discuss. The Ladies line up and await their fates as Ben slowly calls out their names. Amanda first, Jubilee second, Lauren B third. Hope you’re watching real close, Evil O Face. Becca gets a rose but in the middle of the pack, which right where she belongs. When Lace gets a rose, we check our wallet to make sure the Powerball ticket we just bought is still nestled in there because apparently it is a week for Miracles.
When Ben calls LB’s name, she asks to speak to him in private. Ultimately, this “journey” is not for her, which leaves a spot for someone whom every other Lady will presume to be an underbitch (as in, female underdog, obvi). A though position to be in. Scheduled programming resumes and Lauren H gets a rose, Shoshanna gets a rose, EmilyHaley get a rose, and other Ladies too, until only the Pity Rose is left.
Amber is crying because she never had a chance. Sour Smeling Sam is sweating up a storm of sadness. Mandi the dentist is hoping for her name to be called, but her luck has run out. Thanks to LB, the Pity Rose goes to Amber-with-whom-he-has-not-spoken-at-all. And just like that our ceremony ends with Sour Smelling Sam, the poor thing, feeling quite crushed. Upside, the number of billable hours she’ll have to bill to make up for the two days she missed while on the Bachelor will probably keep her busy enough to forget about Ben soon.
This concludes our second episode of season 20. Cue the previews, which promise plenty of crying and Evil O Face driving everyone to tears. Also, there’s going to be a single engine yellow plane! ‘Til next week, feast on Smooth-Jazz Ben! Woo!