Well, ladies, it’s time to put away the 50 Shades trilogy away and pause the movie trailer, and it’s so close to Valentine’s Day too (cue creepy Beyonce “Crazy in Love” remix), because things are looking pretty hot and steamy on The Bachelor. After the fourth episode was all about the Ashleys’ varying degrees of crazy/virgin-ness, two new girls are about to take center stage.

It appears that cruise crooner Carly and original widow Kelsey are about to make some moves, whether devious or graphically sexual in nature. But before we get into the antics of Prince Boring and his merry band of baggage-carrying maidens, let’s break down the remaining ladies to illustrate why this season, while highly entertaining, doesn’t quite seem to raise the romance bar as high as it has been in the past. And by the time I’m done, we might even be able to jump right to the final four.

Eleven women remain in the competition for the heart of Soules, and while he’s a very nice guy with good intentions, he struggles when it comes to being a leading man. He stumbles over his words in stressful situations, he’s overly appreciative when someone drops a bombshell on him or acts like a complete lunatic, he kisses everyone in front of everyone else, and he never says anything mean about a living soul.

While some are admirable traits, they also left producers with a hole regarding how to keep things interesting. And to fill it, we’ve got the hottest yet least-ready-for-love group in the show’s history. And I can group these leftovers into three categories: normal contenders, the unknowns and the luggage luggers.

The Bachelor Recap: Fairytale Dates and a Wedding Dress Mud Run >>>

Normal Contenders

These women are basically ready for love and, thus far, have no glaring deficiencies that might point to an exit sooner rather than later. They are:

Canadian comedienne Kaitlyn — She’s not my favorite, but she has great chemistry with Chris and seems like she legitimately likes him and not the competition.

Sexless hugger Britt — Also a normal-seeming frontrunner (except for the odd fixation on hugs early on), despite a bit of a stumble when jealousy prompted her to confront Chris about him liking other women.

Playmate-turned-adorable Jade — I liked her from the moment she got out of the limo, and after her fairytale date, she’s moving up to the front of the pack.

Baby-making and wedding-crashing Whitney — She seems normal and sweet, but I just don’t see the connection blossoming yet.

The Unknowns

First-out-of-the-second-group-of-limos Samantha — That is literally the only thing we know about her.

Cruise crooner Carly — We know she has a bad history with guys and also a competitive side that came out during the mud run, but her efforts didn’t even lead to a date rose. She’s got a quick wit, too, but nothing has come of it. Though that appears about ready to change.

The Luggage Luggers

For good or bad, these girls just have that one “it” thing that weighs them down and will prevent them from playing any real factor outside of the entertainment they bring to the table.

Blondie Megan — Her dad passed away just before the show started. Plus, she’s really, really blonde. 

Kale- and alien-lover Mackenzie — Single mom. Kid named Kale but never heard of alfalfa. 21. Aliens.

Original widow Kelsey — Husband died about 18 months ago.

Original virgin Ashley I. — Obsessed with the fact that she’s a virgin. Acts like she’s 16. Obsessed with Disney princesses because she thinks she is one. Super hot, though.

Virgin #2 Becca — We could put her in the unknown category, but I think the virginity speaks for itself. This is The Bachelor, for crying out loud. It’s not Leave It to Beaver. Yep, see what I did there? 

Do you agree? Disagree? Will any from the last group make the top four? Is one from the first group guaranteed to win? Anyway, on to the drama, steamy dates, cunning cornering and medical emergencies!

The Search for Walter White

We’re taking our first field trip of the season, all the way down to good old New Mexico. And while Chris tours the sites of Santa Fe, which consists of desert mountains, a rail yard and hot air balloons — it’s the perfect place to fall in love — the girls learn that there will be a solitary group date with two solo numbers. 

Chris Harrison breaks the travel news, and blondie Megan is excited for a trip to a beach resort but wonders if everyone will be wearing sombreros. It’s also a big deal for her because she’s never been out of the country before. On a side note, I really hope she sticks around long enough for us to go home with her.

They’re all staying at the Buffalo Thunder Casino, and Ashley I. is hoping she’ll be able to go one-on-one with Chris to help him get over the overwhelming shock that she’s a slutty virgin. The date card arrives — Let’s come together — and cruise crooner Carly is the lucky recipient, much to Ashley I. and Kelsey’s collective dismay.

The Dirtiest Date Card Ever

Carly jumps into Chris’ waiting arms and plants a wet one on his mouth to kick things off. He’s feeling a friendship vibe thus far, and he’s hoping Carly’s first date will give him some insight into where it’s all going. 

They enter the Hacienda del Cerezo, where they find a woman meditating by the pool out back. Her name is Tziporah Kingsbury, and she’s a love and intimacy mentor who will inject juiciness into their budding relationship. It’s a questionable word choice at best, but at least she didn’t say “moist.”

The love guru burns some sage, and breathing and moaning exercises follow. Carly then blindfolds Chris before using her breath, touch and random foods to explore his body. She’s not good at physical intimacy, which probably isn’t important in a marriage.

Tziporah then instructs Chris to “come around the hips and go into [Carly’s] thighs.” Turns out the love guru is more of a sex guru, and it’s time for the “derobing ceremony.” But Carly doesn’t take her clothes off for men very often, especially on a first date, so they draw the line at the waist and stay fully panted. They talk shirtless, and she worries she isn’t worthy, and he assures her she is.

The final step is lap sitting with nose-to-nose breathing and hand-body exploration, followed by an intense make-out sesh once Tziporah gives the go-ahead and ends the kissing ban. Chris is ready to kick things up a notch, though he likely remains blissfully unaware of the dirty, dirty meaning of the date card.

Kesley’s Story and a Group Date

Back at the hotel, Kelsey is wowing the girls with tales of her loving husband Sanderson, who supported her in everything while they gave each other all that is humanly possible in this life. Ashley finds it odd that Kelsey has waited five-plus weeks to tell Chris her sob story, because why wouldn’t you go out of your way to freak him out with your virginness widowness as soon as possible? She’s also put-off by how nonchalantly Kelsey describes how he died, even initially forgetting the cause. Raise one eyebrow now.

Kelsey is waiting for a one-on-one date card to open up, which is probably best, whether a year and a half is enough time to get over a dead spouse and get engaged again or not. The group date card arrives — I’m Rapidly Falling in Love — and it’s Jade, Megan, Kaitlyn, Whitney, Mackenzie, Becca, Samantha, Ashley and Kelsey, leaving an excited Britt for the final date.

This does not make Kelsey feel good, and she deems the situation unacceptable.

Retiring to the Lodge

Chris and Carly’s date continues with drinks by a roaring fireplace, and they muse how uncomfortable they both were with the guru. It’s important for Chris to be with someone who expresses her feelings, so she opens up about her 18-month lack-of-booty cold streak because her last boyfriend, who she dated for a couple years, did not desire her sexually. 

That made her question her looks and womanly feelings, and also led to her developing an insecurity complex that can only be overcome by a man who treats her like the most beautiful girl in the world. His insecurities lie in his simple farming lifestyle, and he worries whether that will be enough for his future bride. They reassure each other in soothing tones, and baggage and red flags be damned, these two are taking things to the next level.

Carly gets a rose, and kissing ensues. Chris says he’d be a lucky man to be able to spend the rest of his life with Carly, and she would be the best wife you could ever ask for. Or at least the next Bachelorette.

The Bachelor Family Blogs: A Tale of Two Ashleys >>>

Riding the River Wild

The group date is white water rafting on the Rio Grande, which Megan repeatedly pronounces like Ariana Grande’s last name (Gron-day). The Rio Gron-Day, which she believes is probably full of alligators and dead bodies. I love her so much. 

While the girls get a safety lesson prior to boarding, Kelsey is busy scheming how to turn the group date into a solo one. They hit the rapids, and Jade falls overboard, earning herself a black box bikini bottom that I thought was retired with Jillian. 

The tour guide rescues her and the group heads to dry land, where Jade milks her early-onset hypothermia disorder to get a circulation-inducing foot rub. Mackenzie jokes that she is losing feeling in her butt. 

The Return of Drunk Jordan

The women, and Whitney in particular, are really hoping for some alone time in the night portion of the group date, but that’s all shot to hell when formerly-drunk Jordan greets Chris in the lobby. She drove from Colorado because she regrets how she (drunkenly) spent her time in the mansion, and she wants a second chance for them to get to know each other that doesn’t involve handstand twerking. 

He’s curious, as he sent her home because she didn’t seem to be taking things as seriously as the rest of the gang, and maybe she’s thought things through and changed. They talk about their experiences with the bottle, which of course has gotten the best of both of them (and most of us) at times, and he decides to give her another shot, at least for the evening. 

As expected, the news of her addition does not go over well, and the women let both Chris and Jordan know it throughout the course of the evening. It prevents Chris from being able to advance any of his relationships, and it also sparks infighting, with Ashley and Whitney arguing over whether they should be mean (Ashley) or welcoming (Whitney).

Chris eventually eases the tension some by dismissing Jordan, which he should have done from the beginning, and this is exactly the kind of crap I’m talking about that must be injected to keep things interesting. And keep in mind, this is the second time this season that a rejected girl has come back. Has that ever happened once before (with Jason Mesnick being the obvious exclusion)?

Still, the group date is ruined, so Chris gives the rose to Whitney and they call it a night, with Ashley shockingly in tears.

Britt the Tree Hugger

While Britt and Carly wait for the date card to arrive, they discuss personal cleanliness and the fact that Britt has apparently not bathed in weeks. She decides she should probably wash her hair, and Carly straight-up tells her, “Yeah, you need to shower,” before wondering if Chris has ever pondered whether or not any of his potential wives shower on a regular basis. Britt agrees to finally shave her legs as well. 

The card finally arrives — Sky’s the Limit — and Britt immediately bursts into tears. You see, she’s terrified of heights. Not just a fear, but a body-seizing phobia. I’m not one to judge, but she is quickly working her way down from the normal category to the baggage section.

Unfortunately, her grand hygiene plans are ruined by the fact that Chris starts their date off with a still-dark-outside 4:30am surprise. He’s amazed that she wakes up looking as gorgeous as she does when she’s all dolled-up, but that’s because she clearly sleeps with makeup on (presumably because it’s caked on from a lack of face washing). 

She has five minutes to get dressed, complete with disgustingly dirty socks, and Carly is pissed because she is awoken from her slumber to kissing sounds before dawn. 

She’s Full of Hot Air

Britt pushes aside her debilitating fear of heights with the help of a hand squeeze, and they excitedly ascend to the heavens in a hot air balloon, clinging to each other all the while. It’s the perfect day with the perfect person, and they’re officially falling in love, with no help whatsoever from the glorious sunrise.

While the other women mock Britt’s equally terrifying soap phobia, she’s off getting a private tour of Chris’ living quarters. And while Ashley drops the bombshell that Britt was gushing about how she loves being single and doesn’t understand the “All I want to do is get married” mantra (the wrong-reasons alarm is blaring right now, and someone will be dumb enough to spill the beans to Chris), Britt is peppering her man with questions about how many kids he wants. They both want “as many as they can have.” WTF? 

Finally, while the women rage about how manipulative Britt is, she’s getting a rose and smooches. The date started in bed and it ends in bed, with a snuggle nap. It’s classic editing at its best.

Kelsey Tackles the Threat Head-On

Kelsey feels especially vulnerable to Britt and Chris’ physical relationship, which she feels demeans hers, so she chooses the pre-cocktail party hours to sneak-attack Chris in his room with her tragic backstory of woe. She’s going the Ashley/Juelia Pearl Harbor route, and the story leads to a hug that in turn leads to a first kiss. 

“Isn’t my story amazing?” Kelsey boasts in the audience face-scrunching moment of the night. “It’s tragic. But it’s amazing. I love my story.” It’s also the weirdest thing to say after opening up about your dead husband. And who the hell hears a widow story and thinks, hmm, let’s make out?

She is consumed with her own redemption love story, and she’s overwhelmed that she gets to pick up the pieces in front of an audience and write her Hollywood romance for the history books every Monday at 8pm on ABC. Sh*t just got crazy. 

The Great Sad Story-Off

The cocktail party begins with tension you could cut with Britt’s leg hair, and all the women are questioning their connection with Chris. He comes out with a speech about what an emotional week it’s been, and after telling everyone that his talk with Kelsey really hit home, he chokes up, excuses himself and walks out. 

The life-changing decisions he has to make are weighing on him, but only Kelsey understands. She tearfully explains to the other women that every day is a gift and that time is precious and must not be taken for granted. It means Chris respects them all so much that he won’t waste their time, and she either thinks she’s going home or that he’s just going to declare her the winner. 

Apparently, Ashley S. passed along the crazy, and it feels like we’re watching that Denzel Washington movie Fallen where the evil spirit jumps from person to person.

Chris Harrison announces that the cocktail party will be canceled, as Chris already knows what he wants to do. Ashley is upset she didn’t get any alone time. She’s worried for her own safety and pissed that Kelsey “has a story that is so much more traumatizing than me … My story is obviously nothing compared to hers, and now it’s just a big comparison game of sad stories.” Mackenzie also realizes she’s “not the only person who’s been through things.”

Kelsey, fearful that she misread the situation and might be eliminated, collapses in a heap on the floor in a fit of tears and wails. 

To Be Continued…

And that’s it. No rose ceremony, no eliminations. Just one girl having a panic attack in an attempt to wrangle any bit of control from the situation. At least it ends on a happy note, with Megan sporting a sombrero while doing the Macarena and wondering whether Old Mexico, New Mexico or just plain Mexico came first. I will be sad when she goes home.

What do you make of the events that transpired? And did you anticipate Kelsey falling off her rocker? Would you be able to date someone who didn’t shower? Is having your spouse die more traumatic than being a virgin? And who the heck is this Samantha character? 

The sh*tstorm that is season 19 continues, with Chris set to betray Ashley’s confidence, alienate all the other girls (does Mackenzie like to be ‘alien’-ated?) and run off with Britt. This is much less of a journey to find love and much more of one that ends up on a daytime talk show. It’s a pretty terrible season, but you can’t deny that it’s deliciously entertaining.

Catch The Bachelor (starring Chris and Kelsey’s eternal love story) every Monday night 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