While I was watching Ben work the McDonald’s drive thru last night, much of the world was watching Taylor Swift put Kanye West in his place, Kendrick Lamar bring back the strobe light, Adele sing her way through an unfortunate technical mishap, and the cast of Broadway’s Hamilton— including my childhood friend, Emmy Raver-Lampman!!– absolutely SLAY a group performance. Once you scroll down, you’ll find a picture of Emmy and me cruisin’ the streets of New York when we were wee babes. Now she’s in the cast of the most revered Broadway show since Book of Mormon, and performed at the Grammys at the same time I was taking in depth notes on The Bachelor. Honestly, neither of those activities are terrible careers, so I’ll happily take my short stick. But seriously– congrats on an epic performance last night, Emmy. You’re the coolest and deserve every bit of success!
I also kind of want to mention that last week, a high school friend of mine– and a fantastic human being overall– was one of Beyonce’s backup dancers at the Super Bowl. If I’m going to name-drop one friend, might as well name-drop two. Congrats, Deja!
Now that all of those exciting shout outs are out of the way, let’s turn our attention to equally good-looking, but wildly less talented people on T.V.: The cast of The Bachelor!
Ben opens the episode by showing us around Warsaw, Indiana, a town which is apparently going through an extreme identity crisis. First we saw a 1920s Model T driving down the street, then we saw Ben donning a 1950s black leather jacket. Next, Ben jumped in a pickup truck that looked like something one of the football players in Remember the Titans might drive, and then he showed us his mega church that was clearly built a year or two before the 2008 recession. I’m not sure what was happening, but it certainly made me want to visit this strange village in which Ben was raised. Especially if everyone who lives there is as nice and hot as Ben.
Ben looks dashing in a dark grey thermal shirt as he sits down to eat with his parents in a diner they’ve never been to until now. Clearly, the producers found the most “relatable” restaurant they could, since based off his family’s neighborhood, the Higgins family is not short on money. But it’s important to give Ben the “average guy” image, so let’s have you all eat at a diner, okay everyone?
The only notable thing about Ben’s conversation with his parents is the fact that he comes from two lines of really great hair.
In a nearby forest, the six remaining girls are having an autumn leaf-fight as they make their way to a lake where Ben will retrieve them on a casual pontoon. Every single girl has a flannel shirt tied around her waist, which still remains the most baffling fashion trend of our time. Why is it there if you’re not going to wear it?? WHY?
Ben nearly crashes the pontoon into the dock, but Caila uses her 100 pound frame to channel the hulk and single-handedly stop the boat with her brute strength. The other girls look on in awe and wonder. Ben didn’t even appreciate her efforts because she was too tiny for him to see over the side of the boat.
Ben takes the girls to their digs for the week– a house in his parents’ neighborhood which is currently vacant while the owners spend the winter in their other mansion in Florida. After they arrive and get situated on white furniture that would make me very nervous, Ben asks Lauren B if she’ll spend the rest of the day with him. She [obviously] says yes, and he gives her 30 minutes to get ready. As Lauren scurries away to start primping, the rest of the girls look crestfallen. Their minds bounce between wondering why Ben didn’t ask them on the date and wondering when the wine stash will be delivered. It’s medicinal at this point.
I’m not sure what Lauren did for those 30 minutes, because she looked the exact same by the time she met Ben for their date. Same outfit and everything. Ben drives her around town to show her all of the things he already showed the viewers during the first five minutes of the episode. She finds out he was the quarterback of his high school football team, which shouldn’t be a surprise because he’s perfect. He also tells her about his first kiss at the movie theatre, and they recreate it. Many times over.
Next, Ben and Lauren head to Baker’s Youth Club, the YMCA equivalent in a Stepford community. This portion of the date was actually really adorable. Ben explained that he used to work here, so playing with the kids feels totally natural to him. We can see that. At one point, Ben comforts a little boy who is crying in a corner, and I swoon the biggest swoon. My husband is lucky he is out to sea right now, or else I would’ve wanted to immediately make our own little crying nugget, just so I can see him be adorable around kids like Ben was. Basically, the ovaries of every woman in America started whimpering at that very moment, but none louder than Lauren B’s.
Lauren tells the camera that Ben is going to be a great dad (duh), and she shows him her motherly skills by doing cartwheels with the little girls and jumping rope like a boss. I would imagine laundry day in the Higgins’ household would be confusing if he married Lauren B, because she wears the same size pants as children, but Amanda figures it out, so I guess it’s doable. Or maybe Amanda and her 2-year-old daughter just share pants? Who’s to say.
Ben surprises Lauren and the kids with some professional basketball players from the Indiana Pacers. Their names really confused me because one was Paul George, and the other was George Hill. I just called them both George. They ran drills with the kids, which was wholesome and nice to watch.
Back at Ben’s neighbor’s house, the girls wear oversized sweaters and all sadly cuddle together under plaid blankets to await the second date card.
“JoJo, Let’s find love in The Windy City. — Ben”
No one is happy except JoJo, but even she is still pretty somber. Have they all given up because Lauren B is a ray of sunshine that Ben is already in love with? That obvious, eh?
Speaking of Lauren B, she and Ben dress like twins for the night portion of their date. Both in dark wash jeans, black boots, and black leather jackets that I can’t decide if I love or hate, they sit down in a random room somewhere in Warsaw to discuss the whole Leah-sabotage thing that happened last week. In case you forgot, Leah (?) tried telling Ben that Lauren B was a “different person” around Ben than she was with the girls. It was a dumb and desperate lie, and luckily Ben knows that. They move past it pretty quickly because their chemistry is palpable, plus Ben is eager to get to the dive bar where all of his friends are waiting to greet them.
He and Lauren have the first real “normal” time together at the bar with his friends, as much as Ben tried to convince us that flying around in helicopters was “normal” on the other dates. I noticed that Ben kept a secure arm around Lauren the entire time they were chatting with people, which is a super gentlemanly way to make a girl feel comfortable and included. God you’re good, Ben.
Lauren B tells the camera that she’s not in love with Ben the Bachelor, she’s in love with Ben from Warsaw, Indiana. She tears up as she says it, and so do I.
The next morning, all of the girls sit on the front steps of their temporary home to try to break down JoJo’s “windy city” date card. Someone– probably Emily the Twinless Twin– says, “I don’t know…I mean, it’s pretty windy here.” Someone else– probably Caila– kindly points out that The Windy City is another name for Chicago. You learn something new every day, ladies!
JoJo gets in a scary-looking black van for the 2 hour 12 minute drive from Warsaw to Chicago. (I MapQuested it.) Ben probably took the helicopter.
Upon arrival, JoJo greets Ben with a straddle jump hug. I am fixated on her jeans. They somehow don’t budge when she completes her mount, which is hard for me to understand. No sign of a butt crack. No sign of strain at the seams. I want to shop wherever she shops.
The straddle jump hug sets the precedent for how JoJo and Ben travel together– namely, he always carries her. They walk into Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs, and Ben gives her a piggy back ride all the way over to the dug out, where they change into jerseys that say Mr. & Mrs. Higgins. Producers have zero shame in planting all sorts of ideas in these girls’ heads.
The date consists of practicing their pitching and batting with each other, as well as laying down Twilight-style in the center of the field for a midday snuggle. It begins to thunderstorm, but that doesn’t stop Ben and JoJo from climbing to the top of the scoreboard– where they’re most likely to be struck by lightning– to write their names with the giant letters.
Ben tells the camera that he is extremely attracted to JoJo, and more himself with her than with any of the other girls. Watching her climb all the steps to the top of the scoreboard probably didn’t hurt his attraction level.
Apparently Chicago is not Bachelor-friendly, because no restaurants wanted to sponsor the night portion of their date. They head back to Wrigley Field to have dinner at the tiniest round table you’ve ever seen. It’s made even tinier by the fact that it’s set directly in the center of the outfield. The entire time, I’m worried that their wine glasses will blow over. Come to think of it, their table did blow over on their last date, so they’re well prepared for such a catastrophe. No need to fret.
Ben’s brown corduroy jacket makes it hard for me to listen to what they’re saying, but basically JoJo is scared of getting hurt, and Ben tells her she better quit the wining because it’s turning him off. She complies, and they have a nice rest of the evening. They wrap up the night by making out on home plate. A producer even drew a heart in the sand, which was a sweet touch.
The group date card goes to:
Amanda the Mom
No idea what the date card said. Pretty sure it wasn’t even mentioned.
Emily the Twinless Twin automatically gets the third one-on-one date. No one’s really that worried about Emily’s relationship with Ben, but that doesn’t mean they’re not peeved that they have to go on another group date.
Becca, Caila, and Amanda sit in awkward silence the entire limo drive to their group date location. They’re forced to squish together in the back seat, which only makes the dynamic even more uncomfortable. Upon arrival, they realize that they’re at a farm, and Becca gets very confused about which season of The Bachelor she’s currently filming.
Ben walks them into the same barn where Farmer Chris [begrudgingly] dumped Becca last season, just with far fewer twinkle lights and stained glass fixtures propped against the hay stacks. Becca looks like she wants to run.
Ben tells the girls that the day portion of this date would be short, because he will choose only one of them to join him on the night portion. Everybody is ready to be sick due to nerves, especially Ben. None of the one-on-one time with Amanda, Caila, and Becca is very interesting. They each sit with Ben on assorted benches and hay bales to talk about how they think their relationships are progressing. Becca starts losing her cool and tells Ben that she doesn’t feel validated by him, and that she deserves a man who makes her feel wanted. He promises not to blindside her with a breakup. (Spoiler alert: He was lying.)
The group date rose goes to Amanda the Mom, which means she gets to spend the rest of the day with Ben. It also means that she’s automatically through to next week, and will be introducing Ben to her family on a hometown date. She has kids, so this is a huge deal. Ben does a really bad job helping Becca and Caila not feel as terrible when he matter-of-factly says “Okay, well, Amanda and I have a date to get to,” takes Amanda’s hand, and leaves them in the barn. Ouch.
Ben has a magical date set up for Amanda. First stop: McDonald’s.
Producers are starting to blur the lines between “average Joe” and “white trash.” Reel it in, guys. Amanda is the classiest, prettiest woman to ever enter a McDonald’s establishment, and Trisha the Cashier feels a little threatened by her presence. Nonetheless, Trisha lets Ben and Amanda come behind the counter to serve customers in the drive thru window, which Ben says has always been a dream of his. Same.
After recreating an episode of The Simple Life with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie (someone please tell me you know what I’m talking about), Ben and Amanda scarf down their Egg McMuffins. McDonald’s is serving breakfast at dinnertime now, have you heard??
They share a french fry Lady and the Tramp style before heading to a carnival where hundreds of Bachelor fans take pictures of their every move. You know, “normal life.” The date ends with Ben and Amanda making out on the Ferris wheel, because of course.
The next day, Ben takes Emily the Twinless Twin to the house he grew up in, which was a really cruel prank for him to play on his parents. They probably thought Emily was Ben’s front-runner since he brought her home, and that scared the bejeezus out of them. Especially when Emily told his mother that her dream is to be an NFL cheerleader, and confessed to his dad that she doesn’t like vegetables BECAUSE SHE’S A FETUS.
Ben’s poor mother starts crying when she asks Ben if he really thinks Emily is wife material. I sure hope Ben was able to pull his mom aside off camera to assure her that right down the street, there are 5 other really sane and somewhat mature girls for him to choose from!
Ben and Emily hop on the pontoon, which is the easiest form of neighborhood travel, so Ben can take her back to the house where the girls are staying. He dumps her on the dock in the backyard, both literally and figuratively. The other girls get to watch the whole scene unfold through the window, and wrap their arms around Emily as she comes inside to tell them what happened. When Emily starts crying, they all start crying. The emotional wear and tear has become too much, plus their cycles have likely synced by this point.
So long, Twinless Twin.
At the rose ceremony, Ben has some bro time with Chris Harrison to figure out which girl to send home. He goes back and forth about a decision, but needs to hurry it up because it’s clearly freezing outside where the girls are waiting for the verdict.
Amanda the Mom already has a rose. The rest go to:
Viewer favorite– and Farmer Chris’ favorite– Becca gets the boot. Ben tries to grab her hand as he walks her out, but she’s not having it. She tells Ben he shouldn’t have blindsided her right after she told him not to blindside her. He said he was pretty sure this was less of a blow than dumping her after he met her family. All good points.
Becca gets in the limo and starts crying, which makes me think for the first time that she may have the emotional capacity to be the next Bachelorette. But my money is still on JoJo.
Next week is hometowns! We get a few sneak peeks, and it looks like Amanda’s daughters really put Ben to the test. Is he truly ready to be an “instant dad”? (Words of Amanda’s mother.) Ruh Roh. And JoJo’s brother apparently causes some drama similar to that of Desiree’s brother on Sean’s season. Desiree became the next Bachelorette, so maybe this is a sign?
We’re in the home stretch! I refuse to read spoilers, but this is my final guess:
Winner: Lauren B
1st Runner Up: JoJo
2nd Runner Up: Amanda
3rd Runner Up: Caila
I don’t know how to describe placements other than pageant-style. I’m a product of my environment, sorry guys.