Ben’s been going through the motions all season, and this week, someone finally calls him on it, kinda. Thank goodness for protective parents. Too bad Kacie’s dad couldn’t convince his daughter not to participate in this lady-auction in the first place.
Of course, the ultimate irony (wait, is that the right word? or is the right word “stupidity”?) of this week is that this is when things are supposed to get SERIOUS and every single conversation turns to MARRIAGE, and yet Ben has clearly never been seriously interested in marrying anyone here, except maybe for Courtney — the only contestant deluded or insane or manipulative enough to stage a fake wedding as part of her hometown date, thereby further bastardizing, mocking and diluting the already bastardized, diluted mockery of marriage that IS The Bachelor. And, in a weird twist, she comes off as more likable for it?
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s make like Ben and breeze through these dates, using our hair curtains and cynicism as shields against the elements:
Date #1: Carriage Racing with Lindzi in Florida
Lindzi is excited to bring her co-op boyfriend to meet her parents, and greets Ben the same way she greeted him that first night so many long weeks ago: ON A HORSE! Did you forget that Lindzi is obsessed with horses? I hope not because that’s what her entire personality has been built upon, even before she HAD a personality: “Horses have been my life since before I was born,” she says. Was she conceived on a horse?
Lindzi introduces Ben to her ex-boyfriend. No, it’s not awkward. They’re still friends.
After a quick carriage ride around the track (typical date for her), Lindzi and Ben sit down for a picnic and she opens up about her only serious relationship in the past. They dated two years, her family “wasn’t a fan” of him, and looking back she sees some “red flags” that should have told her that he wasn’t marriage material. Were the red flags that he was dating three other women, including an obnoxious model, at the same time and that he had Swamp Thing hair and that he brought a camera crew to her parents’ house? BECAUSE THOSE ARE SOME PRETTY BIG RED FLAGS, LINDZZZZZIIIIIII!
So Ben and Lindzi literally drive her carriage down a wooded lane to meet her parents, who introduce their DOGS as Lindzi’s “siblings.” Everyone sits down on cushy wicker furniture in a field at sunset while the horse grazes in the background. This is how I imagine Mitt Romney holds his campaign staff meetings. Just when we think this could not possibly get more bourgeois, Lindzi’s dad Harry — HARRY COX — invites Ben to partake in a family tradition: Carriage races!!!!
Ready, set … GLOOOOOOAT!
Ben and Lindzi lose the race, because Ben loses at everything he tries, if you think about it. Their punishment is that they have to eat yesterday’s caviar and go to bed without the butler turning down the sheets. Like common street folk! Oh, the indignity.
Then it’s time for the neverending night of “intentions” conversations. Ben takes turns talking to Lindzi’s mom and her dad, and they seem like normal grounded people, despite living inside a Thomas Kinkade painting. The parents propose a toast and say they’d be “honored” to have Ben as their son-in-law. Well, that was easy. Lindzi kisses Ben goodbye, and she’s calling him “baby” and being all cutesy. It must suck to have the first hometown date — what if he forgets all about her by the end of the week?
“I think that I might be falling in love with Lindzi,” Ben says. How romantic! Only those three vague qualifiers (and Courtney) stand between Lindzi and finally attaining Ben’s love. Ben leaves, and Lindzi goes back to the stable and spoons her horse, comforted by how its coarse, mud-clotted mane reminds her of Ben’s.
Date #2: Twirling with Kacie in Tennessee
Ben shows up at a local football field, and sees a marching band performing just for him. (Yeah, because he needs more positive reinforcement just for showing up.) And therrrre’s Kacie, twirling her baton and smiling like an adorable, naive little baby. Remember that episode of Friends when Rachel put on her old cheerleading outfit to try to impress that guy? It’s too bad Kacie doesn’t have any friends here to remind her of that episode, and how disastrous and embarrassing that was. (Yeah, she still got the guy, but it’s Jennifer Aniston. C’mon.)
Welcome to my normal everyday life, boyfriend!!!!!!!
Kacie reveals that the football field was named after her grandfather, which is totally LEGIT. They sit down so she can take about her grandparents. He was a triple-A baseball player and a local business owner who was very involved in the community, so they named the field after him, and when he passed away, her grandmother said, “I won’t make it ’til Christmas,” and she didn’t. “She died of a broken heart,” Kacie says.
Basically, her grandparents lived The Notebook, and now she’s trying to model her own love story after theirs. Unfortunately, The Bachelor is to The Notebook what Twilight is to, say, Pride and Prejudice. It may technically be a love story, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good one.
Kacie reveals that her dad is a federal probation officer (haaaa!) and he doesn’t drink. HAAAAA! Ben the weakling winemaker cannot hide the terror in his eyes. So they go to her parents’ house, and right off the bat, Kacie’s dad starts talking about how he wants to protect his daughter from everything. (“Especially alcohol-soaked San Francisco sissies.”) Kacie sits down with her sister and declares” that’s my future husband,” which shows how completely clouded by infatuation she really is. Kacie asks her sister to help bring her parents around, because she loves Ben and wants them to trust her judgment. I adore you, little Kacie, but I’m on your parents’ side. You sound brainwashed.
In their private talk, Ben does not impress Kacie’s dad. First he says that he “likes” Kacey a lot, and that they have a “great relationship.” No specifics about why he might want to marry the man’s daughter, or indications that he even knows her last name, which is always very comforting. Dad says, “If Kacie is not the one, I would hope that that would be communicated to her very soon to maybe keep her from getting hurt more.” Translation: She’s too good for you, but she doesn’t know it, so dump her NOW. I get the sense that Ben’s unkempt hair reminds Kacie’s dad of many of the ex-cons he’s met over the years.
Kacie’s mom tells Ben that she’s “watched the show a lot” (Hiiii, Kacie’s mom! Love your glasses!) and she knows how it works, but she is against moving in together before marriage. Ben stutters as he says that he has “traditional values” (that’s why he went skinny dipping with a model while dating nine other women — NEVER FORGET) and the sanctity of marriage is important to him as well. That’s why he’s trying to find a wife by hot-tub-jumping on television.
Kacie tells her dad that if Ben asked her to marry him today, she’d say yes, but he advises her to take her time and not rush her emotions. This frustrates Kacie. She doesn’t understand why her parents would question her judgment when she wants to marry a guy after seven weeks, seven of which she has never known him off-camera or when he wasn’t dating other people or when he wasn’t a completely withholding jag. WHAT IS IT THEY’RE NOT GETTING ABOUT BEN?!
Ben departs in his SUV, and Kacie goes back to watching all the Say Yes to the Dress episodes that she missed when she was away.
Date #: Going Cowboy with Nicki in Texas
“The last time I brought a man home under these circumstances, I married him,” says Nicki. Wait — under these circumstances? I think I’d remember her if she met her ex-husband on a reality dating show. So maybe that means she brought the guy home after seven weeks and was like, “WE’RE GETTING MARRIED, unless he decides to marry someone else instead.” And now here she is again, jumping in far too quickly with the wrong guy and just wishing for the best. Isn’t it romantic?
Maybe a little western wear shopping will convince me of Ben and Nicki’s timeless connection. Oh, no it won’t. It’s silly, and Ben looks dumb in a cowboy hat. Before meeting her parents, Nicki reminds Ben of how she got married and divorced very young, which clearly taught her a lot about realistic expectations and how to find lasting love.
Drinking until this all feels normal.
Like Kacie’s (but slightly less aggressively), Nicki’s parents are protective, because they’ve seen her get hurt before. Still, Nicki’s mom says that she likes Ben from the get-go, because Nicki seems happier than she’s seen her in a long time. Mom and daughter sit down together, and Nicki GUSHES about all of Ben’s great qualities — even if she’s subconsciously embellishing, I think she might be the only person who’s actually cited specific reasons for liking Ben, which I respect.
Nicki’s dad is more wary, partly because he feels responsible for Nicki’s divorce — he feels like he “let her down” by not asking her ex-husband the right questions before they got married, and he doesn’t want to make the same mistake again. That’s so sweet! It’s totally not his fault, but he’s clearly a great, giving dad. But then all of a sudden the family is at dinner, and her dad is proposing a toast and giving his blessing, and we didn’t get to see him ask Ben ANY of his anti-divorce questions. That’s some BS! I hope he made Ben sweat for that blessing at least a little.
Nicki pulls Ben aside and tells him that she’s definitely in love with him and wants to start a life with him in San Francisco. Ben is like “thanks” and they kiss. He says he might be in love with Nicki. But he’s got an appointment to marry a model tomorrow, so Ben leaves, and Nicki goes back inside to, oh I don’t know, whiten her teeth some more. She’s so nice and her teeth are so pretty. I hope she doesn’t end up ruining both on Bachelor Pad 3.
Date #4: Getting Fake-Married to Courtney in Arizona
Whoa. Whooooa. To kick off Courtney’s date, she admits that she feels bad about some of the things she’s said and done to the other girls, but Ben is “worth fighting for.” Does that mean I need to start liking her now?
Ben brings flowers to Courtney’s mom, which again shows that she’s his favorite. The family sits down for an outdoor dinner, and her father and sister at least seem welcoming and normal. Even COURTNEY seems welcoming and normal.
“I like him/love him,” Courtney says, on-the-fence-slash included, in front of Ben and her family. But her mom isn’t “sold” on the like/love just yet, and reminds Courtney of their sacred vow: Ever since Courtney once chose/married/ate the wrong guy, she promised that she would never date a guy without her mother’s approval. Well, since her mom already told Life & Style that Ben “isn’t hot enough,” does that mean it’s already over for these two? Thanks a lot, RIDICULOUS VOW!
Remember that I’m your loving mother when I tell you: Dump that lump.
While Ben sits downs to talk marriage with Courtney’s dad, Courtney sits down with her sister to giggle about the cute boy at the house. Her sister seems down to earth, and her dad is sweet and jovial. Even her mom, whom I thought would put up a fight after mentioning their “promise” and her skepticism, immediately backs down and is like, “You seem happy! I guess that I like him a lot!”
It’s jarring, and more than a bit sad, to realize what these nice people must have been going through these past several weeks — having to watch their daughter misbehave so viciously on TV, knowing or believing that ABC completely fabricated some or most of what’s made her seem so monstrous. Admittedly, at least in these recaps, I’ve bought into the character they crafted — but that’s my job. I I still think Courtney made some very bad choices (of actions and of words), and I’m not convinced that any amount of “editing” could have made her come off so thoroughly insensitive, callous and manipulative. But maybe she’s a lot more human than ABC has let us see — until now. We’re definitely seeing her softer side today.
Of course, all this comes before the big anticipated event of the evening — Courtney’s “wedding,” which is difficult/impossible to take seriously, given how she’s acted like this is all a game this whole season. She takes Ben for a picnic in a park where she “did one of her first photo shoots,” and where she’s always wanted to get married. So she nonchalantly mentions, “Oh, look! They’re setting up a wedding right now, let’s take a look.” That’s when she pulls out her bag of tricks: Some paper for vow-writing, some rings and a bow-tie, which she crookedly attaches to Ben, completing his unintentional Revenge of the Nerds costume. Then it’s time to get FAKE HITCHED! Before they get FAKE ENGAGED, even! Everything about this date is backwards.
For the record, I still think this faux-wedding is a creepy, ridiculous idea. It wouldn’t be natural in real life, and it’s especially not natural on The Bachelor, which is essentially a long-form faux-wedding as it is. You need a ceremony to decide if you could see yourself as his wife? Your whole RELATIONSHIP up until this point has been ceremony!
BUT: Courtney’s not being creepy or ridiculous about the faux-wedding, which is both encouraging and completely disorienting. Her vows are quite sweet and heartfelt, even though she rhymes in them and sways back and forth awkwardly the whole time. And hey, at least she kept her top on. “I want you to know that I’m in love with you,” she tells Ben at the end of her vows, which was the whole point of this display. She even looks like she might cry, which before this day I did not think was biologically possible.
Ben says that this feels “natural” and he likes seeing a more vulnerable side of Courtney. “We are not Mr. and Mrs. Flajnik yet, but it feels pretty good to try it on for size,” she says. As I allow myself the sliver of hope that Ben and Courtney might actually get married for real, my mind swells with possibilities. Won’t it be fun when Courtney wants to get pregnant, so she steals a baby and surprises Ben with it?
They ride off in an SUV emblazoned with “Almost Married.” Thank goodness this season is “Almost Over.”
After a little deliberation between Ben and Chris Harrison, which is just a boring excuse for Chris to get some screentime and the show to recap what we literally just saw, it’s time for the rose ceremony. Chris reminds the girls that the last time they were all together in Los Angeles, it was Night One and none of them really gave a crap about this thing yet. Now, everything’s changed, and someone here is about to cry genuine tears of heartbreak, not those Night One tears of drunkenness and shame.
Ben has three roses, and he gives them to …
Wow. Well, I can believe that Kacie’s dad and her twirling didn’t exactly scream “marriage material” to Ben. But I can’t believe they let him give Courtney the first rose! The redemption edit seems a little too late, and way too sudden.
Ben walks Kacie out. She tries to fight back the tears, and he just kind of looks at her dumbly and says, “I’m so sorry.” In the rejection limo, Kacie says that she thought she knew what Ben was looking for, but she was wrong, and she had no idea this was coming. And that’s when she goes on a spectacular…ly depressing rant:
“WHAT DOES HE WANT? It’s not me. I thought it was me. I’m so stupid. Why am I not good enough? Like, I don’t get it. This is why I don’t love. THIS IS WHY! I loved him, and I don’t know what to do now. How did this happen? WHAT THE F*** HAPPENED?” Oh, boy.
To answer your questions, dear Kacie: A) a model, B) you’re not a model, C) you didn’t get a rose, D) you didn’t F*CKING GET A ROSE!
Ben, after shedding not a tear nor a frown, rejoins the other women and tells them that they’re headed for an alpine adventure in … Switzerland!
Next Week: Courtney worries that Ben will think that she’s “being fake,” and that she’ll lose him just because she tried to systematically emotionally destroy the other women. Then, SOMEBODY MYSTERIOUS shows up (oh, it’s definitely Kacie) to ask Ben for another chance or warn him about Courtney some more or mercy-kill all of his bowties or whatever the hell.
And as a special note, for those who actually made it this far into the recap (YOU’RE MY FAVORITES!) I won’t be here to recap The Bachelor next week, as I’ll be in Belize (for real) watching some dear friends get married. What are the odds, right? For the record, they planned this long before they knew The Bachelor went there. But anyway, Carla Patton will be here next week to share her hilarious insights and disturbing obsession with Chris Harrison, and you’ll love every word of it. OK, bye!
(Image courtesy of ABC)