It’s been a topsy-turvy week for Bachelor Nation, with the high of kicking off a new season ripe with drunks and crazies tempered by the low of the news that it’s Splitsville for Andi and Josh after just five months of being engaged to aspirations of fame.

But after Dancing with the Stars and The View fell through and Super Bowl dreams turned into schlepping around the country to watch a guy with a headset hold a clipboard, the celebrity prospects passion just dried up, I guess.

I mean, c’mon, their job titles for the majority of 2014 were “former baseball player” and “former assistant district attorney.” We know Josh flamed out in the minors, went back to college and played football with his brother, and then joined the Aaron Murray cheerleading squad. But did he ever get a job? And how has Andi been making money since she stopped putting criminals behind bars every nine minutes?

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Quit Living in the Past

Enough with flinging around I-told-you-so’s that rhyme with “eye malways ted hay fler a schmerrible flupple.” Let’s not focus on the end of fairy tale love based on terrible decisions because we’ve got a new main man who is too darn sweet to be here for the wrong reasons, but are his ladies?

I’m still not sure how I feel about Farmer Chris as the center of attention, but judging from the promos, I’m legitimately excited to see where these Bachelor tracks lead, even if it’s to a fiery train wreck.

Last week, he favorited sexless hugger Britt before sending home eight women, including the travesty departures of pig-nosed Nicole (doesn’t he know today is International Kiss a Ginger Day? What a waste!) and yoga instructor Kimberly, in favor of drunk sport fishing enthusiast Tara and bug-eyed pomegranate-peeler Ashley S. I still cringe at the horror. But while the former went tearfully-yet-gracefully, Kimberly had no intention of going so quietly. And that’s where we pick things up.

The Jagged Thorn of the Rose

The women who got roses are all celebrating their victories, reveling in the horrible Lord of the Flies-type behavior that was born when the women were separated into two groups. But Kimberly doesn’t think she got a valid shot because she felt like she was meant to be here and supposed to meet Chris. So she can’t, or won’t, leave, and they talk in the morning sun after a never-ending first night.

Kaitlyn and Jillian argue over the conch as they express their outrage that someone would try such a bold move (because The Bachelor always adheres to such a strict code of conduct), but Chris Harrison reminds Chris Soules that there are no rules when it comes to his heart, so if he wants Kimberly to stick around, she sticks around. He worries about what kind of message that would send, but since he didn’t get to talk to her, he’s decided to give Kimberly another chance.

The women slow-clap her re-arrival while simultaneously shooting ice daggers at now-saved Kimberly’s racing heart, and buff news producer Jillian’s comments remind us that she is quickly emerging as the bitch of the group. Every season needs one. 

The First Date Card Arrives

Chris Harrison welcomes the women to their new digs by asking them if they even remember the previous night and then pointing out that Chris Soules is staying just a stone’s throw away, almost entirely confined to his outdoor shower. Also, the dates are starting straightaway.

The first date card — “Show me your/you’re country” — goes to Playmate-turned-adorable karaoke duet Jade, motorcycle-riding Tandra, superhot brunette and potential virgin/bad kisser Ashley I., single mom and kale-loving Mackenzie, now-saved Kimberly and drunk Tara.

The dateless girls vent over Kimberly’s inclusion while Chris struggles to determine exactly how much chest is appropriate to show under a half-zipped hoodie with no T-shirt underneath (see above photo and draw your own conclusions). 

Dates Keep You Regular

The date kicks off with a pool party at the TenTen Wilshire, with Tara and Mackenzie proving they’re indeed country by rocking the cowboy boots. The clothes come off and the claws come out for a spirited in-pool chicken fight, and Kimberly scores the first alone time. She wants to start fresh, so he walks from around the corner to re-greet his new friend for the first time for real for fake. 

Then it’s time for a bikini-clad tractor race, and someone better breathalize Tara before letting her get behind the wheel of anything. She claims to be in her element, but this is hardly fishing enthusiasm, which is a career you just can’t assign a value to. Literally. 

Jade thinks it’s crazy but awesome, and I think somebody is about to get seriously injured. Chris screws up the “Who has two thumbs … this guy!” shtick by declaring himself “the luckiest dude with two thumbs.” 

The tractors are super slow, though, prompting Chris to compare them to old people going down the street with walkers. Safety first. But at the end of the course, it’s Ashley I. who comes out on top.

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A Rose By Any Other Name

Race winner Ashley I. enjoys some QT with CS before they return to the recurring bales-of-hay backdrop. Kale-lover Mackenzie is feeling insecure and wants Chris to herself, and she’s relieved when he asks her to be his solo date for the rest of the night. 

The other girls are hurt, but they again unconvincingly pretend to be happy. Then Tara pities herself and heads back to the house in search of her three best friends, while Mackenzie and Chris head to a bar for a so-called “normal” date. 

Because she is “super observant,” she asks if he once had his ear pierced (because of the lingering hole) and tells him she loves his giant schnozz. She also wants to know if he believes in aliens.

She’s nervous to tell him that she’s a mom because she’s worried he’ll think she’s a psychopath (see aliens question above). She finally comes clean, and he decides he admires her and can see her strength. He gives her the rose to reiterate that red flags mean nothing to him, and they dance and smooch.

Back at the House

Buff news producer Jillian (who needs a black box over her bikini bottom) and blondie Megan sneak into Chris’ house and sample the cuisine and snoop. Megan puts on his motorcycle helmet and starts ramming her head into walls and doors, which, like I said, is best described as safety conscious. And Megan’s nickname is once again proving quite fitting.

Oddly-spelled esthetician Juelia opens up to the girls about her daughter Ireland (better name for a girl than Wales, I guess) and her husband’s suicide shortly after the birth. It’s a very tragic story, and now we also have to contend with not getting our widows confused (widow Kelsey, who is keeping her own tale of woe to herself thus far, might need a new nickname).

The women share tears and hugs, and the next date card arrives. Blondie Megan gets the “Love is a natural wonder” one-on-one, but she thinks it’s just a love note. The other women explain, and she’s so excited she wishes everyone could feel her insides. Yep, sometimes I don’t even have to make jokes. 

Blondie and Dagwood

After Mackenzie freaks everyone out with her Tale of Two Kisses, Chris arrives to pick up Blondie Megan and whisk her off on a surprise date. They hold hands in the back of a limo, with Chris ready to maximize every second of the day. Megan gets giddy after reading a sign (that says “airport”), and she confides in Chris that she sometimes forgets to breathe. 

They hop in a helicopter and fly over the Hoover Dam, and she asks if it really is the world’s largest vacuum. (Okay, now I’m making them up.) They touch down at the Grand Canyon and sip champagne by the Colorado River as she explains that this was all so last-minute because her father passed away shortly before it was time to report to LA for the show. 

Again, it’s sad and devastating, for sure, but these sob stories are tricking Chris. He calls it “a perfect day with the perfect person,” but history shows that tragedy/baggage and falling in televised love generally do not mix. Still, he has another surprise, and it’s a rose. She falls head over heels for Chris, and this is the happiest and deepest she’s ever felt in her whole life. Hiking and kissing follow.

A Life-Saving Date Card

Another date card arrives back at the house, and not a moment too soon for teddy bear bartender Amber. You see, her “heart literally pumps every time [she] sees one of those white envelopes.” So disaster averted. 

Going on the “Til death do us part” date are: original widow Kelsey, special ed Trina, pun-loving flight attendant Alissa, fourth-grade teacher Tracy, buff news producer Jillian, bootie-heel Becca, teddy bear bartender Amber, bug-eyed pomegranate peeler Ashley S., widow number two esthetician Juelia, Canadian comedienne Kaitlyn and sexless hugger/frontrunner Britt.

And that means first-of-the-normal-newbies Samantha, ex-cheerleader and Peruvian traveler Nikki, baby-making Whitney and cruise-singing Carly are dateless this week.

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Darkness in the Dead of Night … in the Dark

Two limos carry the women into a pitch-black field in the middle of nowhere, and they freak out like they’re the worst hayriders in history before they realize it’s just Chris and his masked friends tapping on their car windows. Like the date was going to end in half the potential wives being offed. Amber calms her nerves with a swig of Fireball.

The date goes from mediocre to awesome as Chris divides the girls into three groups of Zombie-slaying paintball hotties, arming them to the teeth and giving them instructions to enter the burned-out Thunderdome lair and shoot the creatures in the head. Britt claims to be amazing at paintball, and bug-eyed Ashley S. doesn’t get that they’re supposed to shoot zombies and not each other.

The girls do a ton of screaming, some bad guys get shot and Ashley S. walks through a line of zombies while talking trash and shooting already-twice-dead undead. I’m legitimately starting to think she might not have been drunk last week. They find the beacon signifying the end of the game and pop champagne in celebration.

Jordan Gets Drunk

While the girls back at the mansion apply beauty masks, whiskey-drinking student Jordan (not to be confused with whiskey-drinking Tara, as Jordan is the girl who brought little whiskey bottles out of the limo to share with Chris) is hitting the bottle. Hard. Mackenzie says the girl has been drunk every day, and if these are the results and Chris isn’t around, go get it, girl.

The highlights include handstand twerking and a terribly mean impersonation of buff news producer Jillian that includes pointing out that her rock-hard ass is very hairy and requires a weed whacker.

Cray Cray in the Middle of Nowhere

Ashley S. is apparently back in Ashleyland, with her bug eyes darting around and meandering babble about angels. Canadian comedienne Kaitlyn gets some alone time with Chris, during which she dubs herself the entertainment in the house and announces she just wants to make him laugh and vice versa. He’s sold on her, wondering what she’s doing there for him, and he works in some kisses.

“That’s how I feel; it’s like boom, like the truth,” Ashley S. tells the group, as they pepper her with questions like you’d ask David After Dentist. And I’m not quite sure if this is real life. 

Ashley pulls Chris away and demands they play Hide and Seek. When he asks who should hide, she stares at him in silence before asking if he’s ever been here before. He probably shouldn’t be walking alone with her in the dark, and if he keeps her, it’s purely for entertainment value. But he’s still not taking red flags seriously enough.

Then it starts to shift from crazy to clinical, where you are genuinely concerned for her well-being. Chris sends her to bed for the night so he can figure out his next move, and she lays down on the ground to greet some kitties. In her defense, I’d probably do that too. 

First Impression Full Circle

With things settled down at Ashley’s departure, Chris pulls Britt aside and gives her a note that says “Free kiss from Chris,” and that’s better than any free hug. Man, this guy loves kindergarten romance.

He follows his gut and gives Kaitlyn the rose, which validates her feelings. But then she hits Britt where it hurts, saying, “That was such a good hug!” after her embrace with Chris. Britt has the mixed emotions that every first-impression rose recipient has during week two, and she feels vulnerable without the safety net. 

But, yeah, there’s no chance she’s going home.

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Desperation and Cocktails

The second cocktail party gets underway with 19 women completely unsure of where they stand, and they won’t have much of a chance to make an impression. Those who didn’t get a date get the first time, starting with baby-making Whitney, who set up a mini-picnic by the fireplace. Yes, the one by which he shared the season’s first makeout with Britt just a few short days ago. They share her hometown whiskey and toast to getting to know each other better. 

In addition to brunette hottie freelance journalist Ashley I. being a virgin, she’s also never had a boyfriend. She’s concerned whether Chris will like that about her, but Mackenzie tells her not to worry. Because she knows guys. 

“He will like it,” she says. “Every guy likes it. Because guys like taking your virginity. And Chris is going to be the kind.”

Mackenzie is even jealous that she can’t use that line because she has a kid. I dunno if she knows us dudes as well as she thinks she does.

But that’s not going to stop Ashley I., who is wearing the red version of the Aladdin-inspired bare-midriff dress that the crazy ballet instructor was sporting last week. And cue the awkward because she’s a genie in a bottle, complete with a Princess Jasmine magic lamp belly button ring that grants Chris three wishes. His first is to kiss her, and something that could loosely pass as such commences. 

My first thought while watching is to wonder why she appears to be physically sucking so much. And that, Mackenzie, is why you are mind-boggled at the sight (and wrong about “all men”). 

A jealous Britt cries to flight attendant Alissa, while Amber confesses that she also wants to “kiss [Chris] so hard” before another makeout session. Again-loaded Jordan attempts to sneak up on Chris to steal a kiss for herself, but she instead stomps, screams and mumbles through her speech. And thus, she has violated the first rule of Awesome 101. She let him see her like this. And we are all embarrassed for her. 

Let’s Hand Out Some Roses

Clarity be damned, it’s time to trim the herd. And when the lion catches the slowest gazelle, the whole group moves faster and more efficiently. But that’s not how bad good television works. 

Chris says he’s never seen such a great group of girls, but let’s be honest, they’re 50-50 at best. Canadian comedienne Kaitlyn, kale-loving Mackenzie and blondie Megan are safe, and the remaining roses go to:

Sexless hugger Britt

Sucking face virgin Ashley I. (I am saddened by the terribly downgraded nickname)

Special ed Trina (needs new nickname)

Original widow Kelsey

First of the normal newbies Samantha (needs new nickname)

Widow number two esthetician Juelia (though buff and apparently hairy-bottomed news producer Jillian misheard Chris before tripping on the rug and prompting my fiance to utter “I am horrified” for at least the 12th time this episode)

Teddy bear bartender Amber

Fourth-grade teacher Tracy

Buff and apparently hairy-bottomed news producer Jillian (he probably should’ve changed up the order to put her after Juelia)

Playmate-turned-adorable karaoke duet Jade 

Ex-cheerleader and Peruvian traveler Nikki 

Bootie-heeled Becca (needs new nickname)

Cruise-singer Carly

Baby-making Whitney

And the final rose goes to…

Batsh*t crazy Ashley S. 

This marks the second straight week she received the last flower and the second straight week I let out an “AGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH” legitimately loud enough for my neighbors to hear. Wow. Just … wow.

Going home are:

Drunk Jordan (who apparently remained passed out through the delivery of a date card)

Drunk Tara

Flight attendant Alissa

Now twice-rejected Kimberly

It is brutal for Kimberly that a second chance wasn’t enough to vindicate her, but she still believes love is possible. 

A surprisingly sober-ish Tara doesn’t understand why it didn’t work, as she saw Chris as her number one. But she never seems to be anyone else’s number one, and one day, she hopes to get used to rejection. It might help to have a better job description than “sport fishing enthusiast.” Just saying. Though I reckon some fun lush of a man will eventually make all her dreams come true. 

A Guest Hostess with the Mostest

The first round of dates are in the books, and Ashley S. has managed to stick around for another week, hopefully to offer insight into whether she is Pinky or The Brain. There’s some real gems in this bunch, and probably a keeper or two as well, if we’re lucky. 

Of the girls we know about, Kaitlyn and Britt have to be the early favorites, as they are the only ones who haven’t yet dropped a bombshell on Chris. The rest are mostly still mysteries or throwaways, though one could emerge late as Catherine did during Sean’s season. But for now, it’s a two-woman race. 

It’s hard to fault Chris for his choices this week, though keeping Ashley over unknown Alissa has to be a producer’s call. At least they let him get rid of the drunkies this time around, but I’m going to miss Jordan’s hilarity. I wish she’d kept it to herself/the house. 

Who are your favorites and who do you want to see more of? Are you as concerned for Ashley S.’s well-being as I am? And what do you think of brunette bombshell Ashley I.’s inexperience? I’m all about training, but the future husband isn’t necessarily the best practice partner. 

Tune in next week, when Jimmy Kimmel borrows the reins as a special one-week guest host, perhaps as an audition for when Chris Harrison becomes the next Bachelor? We can dream, can’t we?

You can watch The Bachelor every Monday at 8pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order