OK The Bachelor and his ladies have been to Mexico and the Bahamas, next stop has to be someplace even better right? Spain? Morocco? Australia?
Nope - try Warsaw, Indiana – hometown of Ben Higgins and current residence of the Higgins parents. I guess this is the new thing when the Bachelor comes from the heart of Americana. We need to see how these girls will react to this wholesome environment.
There are six girls left: Becca, Amanda, JoJo, Lauren, Emily and Caila. They get dropped off in downtown Warsaw and get to wander about pontificating how great it would be to raise a family there. That’s all well and good but Ben lives in Denver ladies. Get your facts straight.
Ben arrives at a diner and greets his adorable parents. They are all so cute and perfect it’s just disgusting. They sit around and dissect the pros and cons of each girl. I find his description of Becca unfair (that she was “standoffish” on the group date, which I find odd because all the girls – minus Lauren B – were standoffish on that horrid date) and feel like this is foreshadowing of her fate. But we’ll get to that later.
The girls meet Ben on a dock as he pulls up in his pontoon boat. The ever-so-burly Caila tries to corral the boat as it nears the dock which I find endearing. The other girls just stand there and brush their long blonde hair. Just kidding, but for real they didn’t help.
Ben takes the girls to their home away from home: a beautiful lakeside house just a few clicks down from his parents. He actually warns the girls not to peep in his parent’s windows because they are “still very much in love.” Ew.
Ben comes in and sits with the girls and right off the bat says he will be taking Lauren on a 1-on-1 date. The girls react to how much more intimate it feels to have Ben do the asking himself instead of with a date card. This is the first of many times tonight where shit gets real.
1-on-1 date: Lauren
Ben takes Lauren – in a vintage Ford pick-up truck that in no way is something that anyone in that town really drives - to a children’s afterschool program that he worked at for 4 years. They play with the kids in the gym and rub elbows with some of the Indiana Pacers as well. Ben legitimately looks like he is not only great with but enjoys working with kids. This seals the deal for Lauren and her uterus. And for clarity it's not Ben the Bachelor she's falling for; it's Ben the pure at heart guy from Warsaw, Indiana who lights her fire. I guess that means it's the real deal.
They hit up a dive bar after that to slug down some booze and kibitz with the locals then stumble into a carnival and get intro'd by the mayor. Or was it vice versa? Does anyone care? I take issue with the implication that Ben knows all these people, but it is a town of just over 13,000 – maybe it’s possible.
Nothing spectacular is happening so far, am I right? Ben and Lauren are as smitten with each other as before.
The date card arrives at the house and it’s…..for JoJo. She praises Allah she’s so relieved. I’m glad it’s for JoJo; I want to see more of their interaction since the pig date. I suspect that he’s got some special connection with her that puts her in the lead but more data is needed.
1-on-1 date: JoJo
Ben takes JoJo to Chicago to the one and only Wrigley Field. Super cool date. They get on the field and hit some balls and run some bases. Unfortunately though, there is a jersey there that says “Mrs. Higgins” on the back. #1: there are still six girls left; this is a pretty big tease; and #2: “Mrs. Higgins?” Is this the 1950s? I don’t even find it sweet in a cutesy way – I just want to punch Ben in the face for allowing this.
The conversation of the day is JoJo’s inability to fully open up and share herself with Ben. Because even though Ben has been on this show before and knows how it feels to be vulnerable in such a weird environment, he’s making it a requirement of all the girls to present their hearts on a silver platter for him to prove they deserve to move forward. I am feeling that urge to punch him in the face again.
JoJo very nicely explains where she is at and how hard it is to go all in but that she cares about him and is trying. She explains why she’s scared and how she’s been hurt before – which, by the way, Ben can completely relate to because he said the same stuff to Kaitlyn last season. I’m starting to suspect Ben is reading cue cards or was given a script ahead of time because he is saying all the Bachelor things that you know ABC wants him to say to push these girls over the edge.
They have dinner right there on the field and she eventually gives him the reassurance he’s asking for. You can't win if you don't play the game I suppose.
The biggest takeaway from this date: he says that he’s closer to her than any other woman in his life. Interesting, right?
Another date card arrives for the girls and it’s a group date for Becca, Amanda and Caila. That means the last 1-on-1 goes to Emily, who immediately starts bawling with surprise and happiness. Caila interviews that Emily is like a cute puppy (I think she said puppy. Maybe a seal? I don't have the energy to go back and check) and not mature enough to be with Ben. Even though methinks Caila is just one year older than Emily. But anyway, the three girls head out on their group date and find a couple of rowboats waiting for them. The logistics of this seem a bit strange for a group date as Ben gets to go on a boat with one girl while the others fend for themselves in another. Hmm…
Fast forward to the sit down time where Ben tells them that there is a rose on the date. The recipient of this rose not only gets automatic entry to the next round (hometown dates), but also gets to spend the rest of the day with Ben as a 1-on-1 date.
First up for time is Amanda. Then Becca. Then Caila. There’s a barn and tractors and hay and -- hey folks remember!? We are in Indiana and it’s wholesome and farm-y!
Each girl gets some 1-on-1 time:
- Amanda tells Ben how excited she would be to introduce him to her daughters.
- Becca tells him he hasn’t given her any reassurance lately and is wondering what’s going on. She also pleads with Ben not to blindside her. More foreshadowing.
- Caila said she is worried she doesn’t have roots. At least I think that’s what she said. That girl talks in a lot of metaphors and was talking moss and trees and following a man and my eyes crossed again.
They get back to the barn and Ben gets right to the point: Amanda gets the rose. He doesn’t waste any time dropping “It’s time for Amanda and I to continue our date” on the other two which comes out very harsh. And off they go.
The other two are of course devastated and go back to the house to cry it out, especially Becca who takes it the hardest and questions why she’s even there. I gotta say: there has to be a little bit of masochism involved in putting yourself through this situation twice. Even though Becca was Chris’ fave in Season 19, she still had to play all these silly waiting games. She knew what she was getting herself into, no?
Anyway back to the date. This is where things went to another level...of awful. Ben brings Amanda to a place that he would go if he was hanging out in Warsaw on a regular day. That place is - wait for it - McDonald's.
Interesting. Seems I saw Ben in a commercial for McDonald's a couple weeks back ordering an Egg McMuffin. Funny - that's what he and Amanda ordered! Coincidence? No? Is this the worst product placement bullshit we've ever seen from this show, like ever? I mean, it's one thing to use Jacuzzi tubs and promote music acts or hotel chains, but to send them on a date to McDonald's? ABC - you are on notice. Not cool.
Let’s move on to Emily.
1-on-1 date: Emily
This one was cold. So, so cold.
- He picks Emily as the one girl to meet his parents, even though we all know that out of the six remaining girls she is the most likely to go home next.
- He subjects Emily to 1-on-1 time with each of his parents. And of course, she’s young so she blabs on about herself and her dislike of veggies.
- He essentially makes Emily feel special for getting to meet the parents, then immediately dumps her.
So not only is Emily disappointed she won’t get to move forward with Ben, she has to be slightly humiliated that the parents obviously didn’t like her. What an awful set up. Is this the lengths ABC is willing to go to stage drama where it doesn’t exist? Obviously the answer is yes, especially when you consider that now that Olivia and Leah are gone the remaining girls all like and respect each other and are support systems for one another. No drama there.
But good for Emily for the maturity she displayed in the limo ride to the airport. She even commented on how lucky the girl who gets to be with Ben will be. #classact
They didn’t waste any time getting right to the point here: roses go to Lauren, JoJo and Caila (and Amanda). That leaves Becca in the dust, who is visibly pissed off. She asked him not to blindside her. He did it anyway, claiming he didn’t know if he was keeping her or Caila. For some reason I find it worse that he would admit to that. That his decision was that frivolous.
This whole episode felt oogie.
Frontrunners – obvious to everyone – are Lauren and JoJo. My heart wants JoJo but my head says it will be Lauren. But either way based on the previews it looks like he makes his decision then immediately questions it so there IS some legit drama to come!
Until next week!
Note: I realized reading this back that Amanda went to the carnival, not Lauren. Lauren just did shots in the dive bar. Oops! They all look the same - you can understand my confusion.