[Check out Finesse's report of his experience watching the Bachelor with actual Ladies here]
The journey to find love is sometimes perilous, can involve discussion over a candlelight dinner of posthumous leakage from bodily orifices, and, on ABC's "The Bachelor," never involves anything less than the maximum in utterly shameless emotional manipulation and cruelty. But that's what makes the Journey so worth it. This week's episode brought Emily to the NASCAR track where her now deceased fiancee's race car crashed at some undetermined time before his terminal plane crash, and it brought her there for a group date. If you thought that was distasteful, consider how our hero Brad felt during a one-on-one date with Shawntel, during which the comely embalmer spoke of the "vein drains" and open caskets she oversees when she isn't living out "every woman's fantasy."
But Episode 5 wasn't only about shock and awe, it was about the Ladies feigning shock and awe over developments that were not even remotely shocking. We began at the mansion, where the aspiring princesses reacted to the announcement of the dreaded 2-on-1 date with moans of agony, projectile vomiting, and the pulling out of hair. This response seemed reasonable, because one person on the 2-on-1 date must inevitably be sent home. A few of the Ladies are going to be sent home every week anyway, but never mind that. If you don't understand how traumatic a 2-on-1 date can be, I don't know what to say to you. The Roller Coaster of Emotion ascended to another peak almost immediately, however, as host Chris Harrison announced that the Journey would continue outside of L.A. The Ladies reacted to this news by screaming in ecstasy and hurling themselves repeatedly against the Mansion walls. So caught up were the Ladies in their figurative journey toward love, they apparently never saw a literal journey coming. Amazing. Suddenly, they were off to Las Vegas, the first place people go when deciding who they want to be monogamous with.
Then, as the Ladies huddled together in a "Hangover"-like hotel suite overlooking the Vegas strip, the first date card hit the table. And as some woman who we all knew was about to be sent home named Marissa explained, "The second this card hits the table, it's very real." So true, Marissa.
Brad takes his emotional cues from a teleprompter and we all remember Ricky Bobby, after the jump...
Shawntel, who Mrs. Artistry reports was cast because producers thought she would be compatible with Chris Lambert (the guy they originally wanted to be the Bachelor), scored the one-on-one date, the first part of which consisted exclusively of Shawntel buying a boatload of clothes at a mall. This was clearly necessary, because Shawntel wasn't wearing any pants. Brad, undaunted by his status as, at best, the back-up choice as the the Bachelor, organized the bags of clothes and made Shawntel carry all of them. Later, back at the hotel suite, Brad demonstrated his keen powers of observation by noting "tension among these women" as Shawntel passed around the $5,000 worth of merchandise she will take home regardless of whether she scores the Final Rose. The tension only increased when Shawntel donned a flattering black dress for her and Brad's intimate rooftop dinner, complete with fireworks and talk of replacing human blood with chemicals, via drain tube. To his credit, Brad realized that the takeaway here was not that Shawntel regularly handles corpses and loves talking about it, but that her Walls were down. That's why she got a rose. That and the fact that she wasn't wearing any pants before.
Brad would need to summon all of his powers of perception on the subsequent group date at the NASCAR track, so he could pay proper attention when multiple producers grabbed his arm, pointed out that Emily's "face had changed," directed him to act as if he noticed this on his own, and told him to go talk to her. There was not a dry eye in TV Land as the brave little Lady recounted how Ricky had raced this track, crashed on this track, and now is rolling over in his grave as she does a reality TV dating show on this track. Damned if Emily didn't climb behind the wheel and do the first few laps for Ricky, and the last lap for herself. This was a new low for the Bachelor, and it would be wholly inappropriate now for us to make a Ricky Bobby reference.
Sorry. But you know who wasn't sorry? Alli, who, upset by all of the special attention Brad was giving Emily, lamented, "We all have problems. Just because someone comes in with the worst story they get the most attention?" Yes, Alli. That is precisely how this works. Instead of whining about it, why don't you just "accidentally" tell Brad you love him. That's what Chantal decided to do, and it guarantees she'll be around for at least another two weeks.
The final date of the episode was the Double Ashley, and the Ladies got everyone's hopes up by pointing out that Ashley S. and Ashley H. could actually both be sent home. It's happened before. The date involved the contestants dangling high in the air as they took part in a theatrical performance, and you know what, that's also happened before. As Brad hung suspended above the stage of an Elvis musical, his milky white legs glowing in the darkness, Ashley S. realized that this was less a battle with Ashley H. than it was a competition with herself and her demons. Pretty insightful. Brad noted that the finality of sending one of the Ashleys home was "overwhelming." That's not so insightful. I'm fairly certain they'll all see other in a few weeks on "After the Final Rose," at which point Brad could change his mind and get another chance at love with either one of them. That's happened before too, you know. Anyway, he sent Ashley S. home.
And so it was time again for Brad to consult Jamie, his celebrity therapist, who reminded our hero that his loyalty is "not to the girls but to the mission." To accomplish the mission, Dr. Jamie counseled, Brad must allow his strength and vulnerability to coexist. This blew Brad's mind. Spurred on by Dr. Jamie's profound advice, he spent some more alone time with Emily, told Chantal to cut the drama, and allowed himself to be thoroughly dominated by the Black Swan, who slapped him around a bit and then stuck her tongue in his mouth. Meanwhile, Marissa emerged to announce, "The process is teaching me that I may have had some walls up, but I want to find love. I now feel as vulnerable as I've ever felt on this journey." Perfect timing. Au revoir, Marissa.
Brad intoned, "We're at a crossroads here." There was Chris Harrison, fighting a cold. "Ladies. Brad. It's the final rose tonight. When you're ready." Goose bumps. Then, moments later, "Marissa, Lisa, you've gotten virtually no camera time. Take a moment. Say your goodbyes." Another strong finish by Harrison. I have to say GTOG Nation, this one was going in the wrong direction until he showed up. Whatever they're paying him, it isn't enough.
If you think we're done with today's Bachelor coverage, think again. Finesse will file a report later on his experience watching the show with some Ladies he knows, Ladies who at first were skeptical about the romantic impact of Shawntel's little shopping spree, having realized that Brad wasn't paying, but ended up letting down their Walls and admiring his potent elixir of strength and vulnerability. Make sure to check back for that.