I’m not quite sure how you spell “Rawwrrrr” (the sound a cat makes when you accidentally step on it), but it’s apparently never too early for the claws to come out on The Bachelor. Last week, Sean narrowed down his search for love from 26 catty, conniving women to 19 dignified, well-intentioned keepers. Ha! Yeah, right, like all the crazy left with the Fifty Shades of Grey chick.

Deleted Scene: Lauren and Catherine are Hungry for Sean >>>

We’re still just getting to know who these lucky ladies are, and 19 is a lot of different personalities to keep straight. So for the time being, we’ll try and incorporate some descriptions to help you remember which gal is which.

Since the epic roses-distributed-at-will cocktail party, the remaining suitors have officially moved into the mansion to dig their talons into — err, compete — for Sean’s affection. And he keeps three of the four black women! Take that, discrimination lawsuit! It’s time for season 17’s first solo dates, first make-out session, first group date, first helicopter ride, 437th shirtless Sean scene and, according to one contestant, a “tornado of negativity.” Let’s get started!

The Beginnings of a Storybook Romance

That’s what the promo leading into the show called it. If this is going to replace the likes of Cinderella and Snow White as the storybook romance of the future, our children are all in trouble. At least my imaginary ones are. That’s what I was thinking about until the recap of last week ends and we get to see Sean both working out and showering. Sleeping Beauty just had a wet dream.

Chris drops off the first date card, reiterating that Sean is the most sincere Bachelor we’ve ever had, and it goes to Sarah. Sean wants to know if she’s ready to fall in love today, which is a dumb question because all 19 of them fell in love when they got out of the limo (some before that — I’m looking at you, Tierra). None of the girls are ballsy enough to say it, but they all think Sarah only got the date because she has one arm.

Sean picks her up in a helicopter, because it is the Bachelor’s preferred mode of transportation, and naturally the girls are all jealous. Even Kacie B. is impressed, and she’s done all this before. Like a dozen times.

Sarah talks about her disability on camera for a few minutes, then talks to Sean about it for a few minutes, and it’s like, we get it, you have one arm. Just be hot and awesome and no one will care.

The helicopter lands on top of a building, and the couple has a 300-foot freefall to the bottom, where a champagne toast awaits. I thought it was probably going to be more of a slow, controlled descent, but I was wrong. Her terrified screams mingle with his woo-hoos as they plunge down the side, and after he gave her the confidence to go through with the jump, she is indeed falling in love. The first date connection is always so dangerous, because inevitably she won’t get another one-on-one for like a month, which will destroy her confidence.

They meet for some wine, and Sarah tells Sean about how she once tried to zipline in Las Vegas, but got turned away because apparently Nevada state law prohibits people with disabilities from ziplining. She was mortified, and her dad told her she needed to find a man who could be strong with her and for her. That makes the building plunge all that more meaningful, because in 30 beautiful seconds, Sean proves he can be that man. She is amazed that he doesn’t treat her differently because of her arm, and I’m amazed a girl like Sarah had such a hard time not feeling accepted. I guess a lot of people suck.

She’s only had one serious relationship that lasted three years, but he wasn’t spontaneous enough for her. I hope she got the newsflash that life on The Bachelor is not conducive to post-show spontaneity. Sean gives her a rose, and she feels “completely enveloped” by him. Hopefully, she won’t be crushed by the first-date curse.

Group Dates are for Losers

The group date card arrives, and the losers trying to “capture the romance” are: Ford model Kristy, Fit model Amanda (try and keep them straight), community organizer Brooke, political consultant Lesley M., weird handshake girl Daniella, graphic designer Catherine, backflipping Robyn, yoga instructor Katie, cleavage-hanky Selma, single mom Dianna, horrifically insecure Taryn, returning contestant Kacie B. and earliest-rose-ever Tierra. Whew.

The girls arrive at a castle, where Selma wins the award for the first misuse of the word “literally.” The limo pulls up and “Literally, Prince Charming is standing right there, waiting to save me.”

The ladies will be posing with Sean as cover models for Harlequin novels, the most trusted name in romance. It’s really a shame that Fifty Shades of Crazy couldn’t be around for this. She and her cat must be pissed.

The winner will appear on three actual book covers, and some of the girls are more excited than others. None of them seems to have a problem with the photo shoot, but some are annoyed they’re competing with professional models. Robyn wins her own early award for being the first to get distracted by another contestant, going on and on about how she can’t stand Tierra. Eyes on the prize, Robyn!

This should really be called 13 photo shoots of shirtless Sean, and Lesley M. riles up the competition when she gets a little kiss. Robyn has fangs, literally, as she is apparently playing a vampire for her shoot. Just looks really funny to hear a woman complain about another woman while actually baring fangs.

Tierra is determined in her quest for the rose, but it looks like her main competition is Kristy, who, as a model, clearly has an unfair advantage (her words). She is a bit too excited afterwards, but at least four of the women talk about how hot their shoot was. Kristy wins, and she keeps doing this wide-faced laugh/scream of happiness. If it continues throughout the season, this might become a problem.

Pool Parties are for Winners

This is normally true, but on The Bachelor, it means 13 hot women flaunting their goods in bikinis. It’s why The Bachelor is better than The Bachelorette, at least for me. (Women love it all). Except they’re all just talking, and Lesley M. says, “It’s chilly,” which means pool parties are actually for losers (me).

Lesley pulls Sean aside for some alone time in the hopes that the previous peck will lead to more. But it doesn’t, because they linger in that pre-kiss moment of awkwardness a bit too long. Okay, way too long. Long enough for ABC to play cutesy music as they talk about the house and how cool each other is. But neither of them steps up, even though they’re both on the same page. Who knows, though, sometimes you have to let the anticipation grow.

Never mind. Lesley grabs Sean after he chats with Kristy and kisses him. Gotta put it all on the table when there’s 12 other women who would probably give it up way faster. Mystery is for real-life dating. And suckers.

Sean and Kacie (I’m dropping the B., because it’s a carryover from last season and there’s only one Kacie on this show) gab about how she really liked him after they did some events together and how they need to get to know each other better, and she tells the camera that a rose would mean “thank you for coming.” She adds that it’s nice to move from the friend zone to the girlfriend zone, and I think the collar on Sean’s shirt just got a little tighter.

After an unnecessarily dirty joke from Catherine (“I’m vegan, but I love the beef”), a “Really?” moment where Selma tells Sean to keep saying the word “wife” and complaints from Daniella about mopey Tierra and awkward Katie, Sean pulls Tierra aside and tells her to trust him that she is sticking around. No rose, though.

Meanwhile, yoga instructor Katie feels “excessively uncomfortable” being surrounded by so many over-the-top personalities that overshadow her. Which is strange, because her hair is so big — it looks like she got electrocuted — that I can’t imagine anyone not noticing her. Sean gives away his jacket for the third time this season and tries to calm her nerves, but she bails and eliminates herself. Sometimes, you just don’t feel it. Competing with 25 other women for one guy on national television isn’t for everyone. Kacie laughs maniacally, but still ends up with the rose.

Between watching Lesley and Sean make out, not getting a rose and the awkwardness with Katie and Tierra, Daniella is not feeling great about the night. If only there were a no-handshake handshake that could make it all better…

The Last Date is the Deepest

The final date card goes to bridal stylist Desiree, meaning pastor-adopted AshLee, lipstick-kiss Jackie (on her birthday!), poker dealer Leslie and wedding dress Lindsay are left out in the cold this week.

“Love is Priceless” is the theme for the date, and Desiree is a real wildcard in this competition. She has sketches of herself and Prince Charming on an alter, but she also has this sweet girl-next-door quality. She’s either going to be one of the crazy ones or she’s going to win it all. There’s no in between. I’m banking on crazy for now, but I hope I’m wrong.

The date is actually an elaborate prank to make Desiree think she broke a $1.5 million piece of art, because Sean likes a girl with a sense of humor. He likens it to when he made Emily think he lived with his parents, only that time the audience was duped, too (sort of). I think her reaction will definitely offer some insight into her personality, though her first words about the date aren’t very encouraging.

“I know that these dates are pretty extravagant,” she says. “Sarah went down the side of a building. So I could be in a jet, I could be in a helicopter again. Whatever it is, I’m just happy to be spending time with Sean.”

That’s a bit of a red flag for me. I know everyone wants the fancy Hollywood date, but if it’s really just about being with Sean, don’t include jet and helicopter like they are mundane options. I’m still not giving up on you, Desiree!

Anyway, Chris Harrison and Sean watch like giddy kids on Christmas morning (while talking about how horrible they are) as the art piece falls off the shelf and smashes into a million pieces. They could have dragged the prank out a little longer for all the work that went into it, but Desiree is a great sport and remains shrouded in mystery.

They retire to Sean’s place and make dinner before talking about their similar families and backgrounds. One thing is for sure, Sean is not good at making moves and closing the deal. The obvious “kiss me” moment goes on for waaaay too long again, with chit-chat about nothing and both of them just waiting for someone — anyone — to lean in. C’mon, man, I know you’re old-fashioned, but step up already! Or maybe, just maybe, it’s actually really, really nice not to rush things, especially with this show’s history.

Oh well, at least we get some bikini action on an apparently warmer night. Sean says that Desiree is the first one to make him feel completely comfortable, enough to see all the sides of him, and he rewards her with a rose. She tries to prank him back by play-rejecting it, but then she accepts and the make-out finally happens. And he’s calling her “Des” already.

Saucer of Milk, Table Two

Enough with the dates, it’s time for some real drama. Back at the house, Sean says he thinks he already knows which two women he doesn’t see a long-term relationship with and will send home. But then he has some one-on-one time with the four girls who didn’t get dates, and it throws his decisions into disarray.

Meanwhile, Amanda is bothering everyone by sitting in a catatonic state and not talking to anyone, even when she is directly spoken to. Then Daniella drops the line, “I feel like tonight is literally a tornado of negativity waiting to happen.” I’m torn between screaming for everyone to run for cover and wondering what kind of damage a tornado of negativity could actually do. Is it like a regular tornado? Or is it a cyclone simply made of negative energy? Do they have tornadoes in California?

The race issue finally comes up, because Robyn questions the role it will play in Sean’s decisions. She flat-out asks the blond-haired, blue-eyed beau what he thinks of black women, and he gets really excited about the question and says that he’s dated everyone from black women to Persian women to Hispanic women. Not only is he open-minded, he also gets around.

Selma teaches Sean how to say “You are very beautiful” in Arabic, and he tells her he is fluent in Farsi. That is, until she starts speaking Farsi and he admits it was a joke.

Poker dealer Leslie H. drops the first “not here for the right reasons” of the season to describe Amanda, who we see drinking from an enormous coffee mug with what appears to be Christmas holly on it. I don’t know what the point of showing it is, other than it makes her look strange. Not necessarily “wrong reasons” strange, but certainly odd.

Sean walks into the room and Amanda surges to life, much to the chagrin of everyone else. Lesley M. pulls the “different person with him than with us” card from her pocket, and Bachelor cliches are dropping left and right at crunch time. Desiree starts crying, because she wants “true colors” to be shown. On to the roses!

Really? There’s Still 16 of Them?

Kacie, Desiree and Sarah are all safe, but at least two others will be joining Katie in Dumpsville (even though she is a resident by choice). The roses go to: pastor-adopted AshLee, wedding dress Lindsay, racial-profiling while backflipping Robyn, lipstick Jackie, slow-kissing Lesley M., multi-lingual Selma, graphic designer Catherine, model Kristy, Amanda-hating Lesley H. (though that doesn’t really narrow it down), Tierra, self-conscious Taryn, handshake-happy Daniella and (obviously a) model Amanda.

That means it’s the end of the line for community organizer Brooke and single mom Diana. There was never much of a connection between Sean and Brooke, but the last community organizer in the spotlight did pretty well for himself.

Sean tells Diana he didn’t feel right keeping her away from her girls if he just wasn’t feeling it, which she appreciates but is still pretty torn up about it. She wished she got more time, but feels like she just wasn’t enough for him. I liked her, though.

While Sean is keeping around the girls that everyone else hates (which I’m sure he will learn in time), I’m seeing some positive signs that he might be really trying to find the girl who is best for him and not necessarily the one who competes the hardest to win him. What do you think? Do you think his personality makes him a better candidate to find love on the show? Or is it just true that all women are crazy, particularly in this environment?

Compete in Fantasy TV: Make your picks on who you think will be going home. Hurry, you have until January 21 at 12pm PST to cast your vote!

Coming up next week, Lesley and Sean get hot and heavy, everyone hates Tierra and Amanda and Desiree walks the tight-rope between awesome and crazy. Oh, and Tierra goes to the hospital and apparently thinks the women are going to put a hit out on her. Join us next week when we do it all again!

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(Image courtesy of ABC)

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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