Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bachelor Ben: What the #%*@ happened?!

Well, well, well... What do we make of that? The black widow continues to mesmerize Ben, but were you lured into her web with her new and improved image? I certainly wasn't. She has so perfected the art of snark that any attempts at sincerity seem like nothing more than a last-ditch effort at damage control from her publicity team. Or was I just sucked into the season-long "bad edit" she received from the editors? My spidey senses tell me I'm right. Like a true spider, she gives me the creeps.

But first things first. We'll get to her in due time. The first hometown date went to hippophile Lindzi, who visited her similarly horse-loving parents in Florida. Lindzi's folks, according to her mom, kept their only child away from boys growing up so she hasn't had a lot of experience dating. The one guy she brought home to meet the parents dumped her. It was an "end-of-world heartbreak" for the naif. But this time... oh, this time, is different. She hopes Ben is the last guy she brings home because, obviously, she's never seen the show before or read anything about it. She really must have been sheltered, not only from dating but from anything dating-related. How would she not know that this series ain't exactly got a good track record, marriage-wise? Even if she gets the final rose, I'll go out on a limb and predict the concept of forever will remain just that: a concept.

Lindzi greets Ben on a horse. Ben acts like this is a first. He sounds surprised when he says, "You look good on this thing." Uh, Ben, I know it was probably three weeks ago now, but remember that first night when you met the women? Think back. One of them entered on horseback. That was Lindzi. Okay, granted it was another horse. I'll give you that. Maybe that's what you meant.

Another clue Lindzi has never seen the show before is the way she over-pronounces "important". She's the first contestant in the history of the franchise to acknowledge in any way the presence of the first 't'.

Lindzi introduces Ben to her folks as "my boyfriend" and Ben immediately checks out. Until he quickly falls for her dad. I think Ben may be more interested in a new father figure than he is in a wife. When Lindzi tells her parents Ben is from Sonoma, pop creepily says, "I knew that" and Ben is smitten. When the parents mention they were married at San Francisco City Hall, where Ben and Lindzi had their first date, it sends shivers up Ben's spine. When daddy proposes a carriage race, Ben graciously lets them win and pulls their carriage back to the house like an indentured servant.

I got a bit of chill when I thought Lindzi's dad said, "You're a nice young man and you're a good race, too," but thank heaven for PVRs, which allowed me to rewind and hear he said "racer".

I lost count of the number of times Lindzi used the word 'future' in connection with Ben. Suffice it say, this might be a recipe for another end-of-world heartbreak. But really, isn't that what this show is all about? We get one giddily happy winner and probably 15 inconsolable losers every season. Do we watch for the true and lasting love that never materializes or the emotional trauma inherent in the show's very format? I think we think we watch for the former but deep down we know it's the latter. It's tragicomedy at its finest.

Next up was a visit to Tennessee to visit Kacie's family in the Bible Belt. Ben was met at a football field with a full-on marching band. Bringing up the rear was Kacie proudly showing off her baton-twirling mad skillz. Somewhat sadly I didn't detect any sense of irony, camp or embarrassment from her. My fondness for the Kute one refuses to allow me to fully believe this was her idea. I'm certain the evil producers came up with it to sabotage her chances. But c'mon, Ben, you gotta at least admit it's kinda weird. And you like weird chicks.

After her performance, she explains to Ben the significance of the field, named for her grandfather, a beloved figure in the community. In fact, when he died, his grandmother said she wouldn't last until the end of the year. And she turned out to have been prophetic. Crazily, Kacie said this is what she wants, too. I mean, it sounds romantic in theory, but its practical application is fraught with ghoulish possibilities.

So those two red flags were going against her when Ben went to meet her tea-totalling father, the federal probation officer. Ben was so spooked, being a vintner, that he presented the parents with only one bottle of wine when he arrived. But he's no cad – he and Kacie drank it themselves, not forcing it on anyone else.

Maybe I'm an old codger, but I thought Kacie's dad was right on target. Seemed like a decent and reasonable chap. You could see the teenaged girl in the 24-year-old as she fought back at really nothing. Her father was just saying not to rush into anything. Okay, yes, both her mom (who looked 30 years younger than her husband) and her dad said they didn't want Kacie living with Ben before marriage, which shows a bit of inflexibility, but they didn't seem like iron-fisted jerks about it. Kacie felt like they were questioning her judgment. The nerve!

You could tell Kacie's sister was still under their spell. She hadn't yet tasted freedom so when Kacie told her, "That's my future husband. Dead serious," her sister sat there gobsmacked ready to whisk Kacie away to a deprogramming centre.

What might very well have done young Kacie in was when her father told Ben that if Kacie wasn't the one, he hoped Ben would communicate that to her soon rather than stringing her along. Again, a reasonable request. So maybe Ben did the right thing in letting her go this week. Doubtful (if only because he kept Courtney) but maybe.

Ben then travelled to Texas for a visit with the divorced parents of the divorced Nicki, who, away from the wardrobe department in Hollywood, met Ben wearing a most outrageous pumps-and-hip-hugger combo. But maybe that's how they roll in the Lone Star State.

Nicki talked about her failed marriage. She rejected the notion she gave up on her blessed union, saying she "gave her all for a solid two years." I think we all agree that's way more than acceptable, especially given her folks have been divorced for almost Nicki's entire life. But they seemed to get along, which was nice to see, and Nicki at least pretended their advice was sound and based on solid principles.

Her mom was like a really supportive best girlfriend as they sat on a bed and talked about the burgeoning relationship. The dad was more realistic as he braced his daughter for her 25% odds in this game of love. Maybe he watched the dailies of the night before because he made sure to add that he has complete faith in her judgment so the only tears shed would be tears of joy and mutual respect.

Daddy-o toasts Ben and gives him an out, saying he hopes to see him again but that if he and Nicki don't end up together, he won't be mad, just disappointed. So we know who's getting dumped next week. After the meal – a meal, by the way, which Ben hardly touched while everyone else cleaned off their plate – Nicki took Ben to what I assume was her mom's bedroom and they proceeded to make out. She says, "After today, I'm in love with you." Ben says he has a "great gut feeling about Nicki." Presumably he wasn't talking about the hip-huggers.

Finally we get to see what spawned Cuckoo Courtney as we headed to Scottsdale, Arizona, to meet her parents and sister. But first we see a contrite Lady C telling us she's disappointed in herself for treating the other girls the way she did. I felt like I feel when a professional athlete has to issue an apology for some horrendous act he perpetrated and you know he had no hand whatsoever in writing it.

Oh, call me cynical but she still seems slightly (or greatly) off-kilter. She's saying all the right things and delivering the lines in a somewhat convincing manner if we were watching her for the first time, but we know too much now. If only Ben knew. I guess he does by now since the taping is long completed, but we won't hear his thoughts on the matter for a few weeks yet, if at all.

Courtney was all over the map, flip-flopping like a land-locked fish caught by John Kerry in simple beach footwear. She couldn't get her message straight. One moment she's telling her family, in front of Ben, she like/loves him. The next she's saying she's scared to tell him how she feels. Then when she does get up the fake-nerve, she tells him she's "falling for" him. Then at a fake-wedding ceremony (you heard me!) she says, "I want you to know I'm in love with you." Of course, she said this while reading her fake-vows while rocking semi-autistically back and forth. They then drive off in a white SUV decorated with "Almost Married" on the back.

This, along with the famous skinny-dipping escapade, was another one of those give-away moments that his final pick was the model with less than model behaviour. Try imagining it any other way: He picks Lindzi and he weathers the storm of watching the season unfold with her and explaining the naked oceanic embrace. Now comes a fake wedding ceremony where he and Courtney exchange fake rings and fake vows in front of a real Justice of the Peace and seal it with a real kiss. How does this go over? I mean it's possible this imaginary ending's winner would forgive and forget, but it's pretty doubtful. Oh, but who are we kidding. It's not like it would last with whoever he picked no matter what happened.

Speaking of skinny-dipping, did you stick around for the always-hilarious (read: seldom even remotely funny) blooper reel at the end? C's sis toasted the couple and mentioned the nude romp. B & C were mortified, embarrassed and defensive. Ben wondered what his mom would think. Did they not realize they were being televised that night? That it could be just let it be their little secret? I really want him to choose either Lindzi or Nicki just so we can hear him talk his way out of the awkwardness. I mean, I want either of them for other reasons, too, but that's a big one. Although I suppose it's a win-win because I'm pretty sure the B-C coupling will be very public and potentially very explosive.

Going into the rose ceremony, I wasn't sure who he'd send home. My logical guess was Kacie but it was based solely on external factors. But when he sat down with Chris Harrison to rehash the dates, that's when I was convinced it would be her. In Scottsdale he told Mr. Courtney's Father that he was looking for a strong and independent woman. Now he was describing Kacie as "one of the most kind and gentle women" he's met.

And sure enough, he hands the roses out in order to Courtney, Lindzi and Nicki. Lindzi and Nicki hug poor Kacie while Courtney takes notes on the sidelines on how to fake empathy for next week when she'll be standing beside the loser.

Kacie, to her credit, handled it well. She smiled. Yes, it was a smile of shock, but it was graceful and mature. Even when she talked to Ben she was sensible: "I know there was a chance I could be broken-hearted," she bravely offered.

But then came the limo. The dreaded limo. I'm beginning to wonder if they have a plate of chopped onions in the glove compartment, or maybe wash the interior with pepper spray before the rejects enter. Because the waterworks are inevitable, no matter how stoic they are before getting in the vehicle. Kacie was no exception, wailing, "Why does it have to hurt so bad?... I had no idea this was coming... What does he want? It's not me. I thought it was me. I was so stupid... I loved him and I don't know what to do now... What the fuck happened?! What the fuck happened?!" (It's not outside the realm of possiblity, by the way, our favourite twirler said, "What the hell happened?!" and the producer made some unnecessary censorship to make her look more outraged, but we'll go with the expletive they intended us to believe because it's more fun to imagine innocence lost.)

I think Miss Kacie might get a good talking-to when she gets home. Maybe even be grounded.

Next week they're off to sunny Switzerland, one of my favourite countries. Can't wait. We were teased that someone makes a return visit. Who could it be that just happened to be in Switzerland? She walked like the Undertaker. I'd love for it to be her again. Also, how many seasons in a row has it been where someone returns on the last vacation destination? It never turns out. Just once I'd like to see him ditch everyone for the returnee.


Karen said...

There were enough terrible edits in that episode to end any hopes of the show winning an Emmy. I noticed Courtney wearing a brown thing on her ring finger during dinner with her parents, but the fake wedding was "after" the dinner. I resent that they made a special point of showing her family's dinner first when the others' were shown after the dates.

But, really, at this point there's no one I would rather Ben wind up with. I read an exit interview with Emily and she said the same, that the other women were too good for Ben, especially seeing what happened this season.

I can't wait for this season to be over so I can read the inevitable tabloids about how Ben and Courtney broke up.

Anonymous said...

Sorry people, I'm for Courtney now.
- probably looks pretty when she cries
- skinny enough now she won't be too heavy when she's older
- nice dad, who's been to a rodeo according to Courtney
- wants to make her man happy day AND night
- ex's who treated her badly enough that just regular treatment will make her feel special
- family knows what a decent wine glass should look like
- a little high maintenance but aren't most girls

Anonymous said...

Just a note, FYI. They drive the girls around in that limo (after they are eliminated) sometimes up to 6 hours egging them on emotionally trying to get them as worked up as possible to get that footage we see at the end. The producers do not stop badgering them, bringing up their past failed relationships, dead pets, whatever it takes, to get them to cry and become hysterical. Thought you'd want to know.