After a dramatic week in the Bahamas (RIP O Face), ABC ran out of money and decided to send the remaining six ladies to the cheapest destination they could find: Ben’s hometown of Warsaw, Indiana.
As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in Indiana, so I feel no remorse in saying it’s a shitty place. The signs in Warsaw say that it’s the orthopedic capital of the world – is that because they have the highest rate of joint replacements per capita? Is that even something to brag about? While Ben meets his parents to chat at a local diner, the girls wander around Warsaw. They look at the courthouse and frolic in some leaves. Bitches love leaves. Former Twin Emily immediately falls in love with the quaint, Americana feel of the town and tells the camera “This place is so cute! If I came to Indiana, I’d just start making babies.” She hits the nail right on the head; when most people come to Indiana, they immediately start making babies. Or meth. Usually both.
This week brings us three one-on-one dates and a three-on-one date. Let’s break it down:
One-on-One Date with Lauren B.
As the ladies stroll to the end of a dock, Ben pulls up to meet them in a pontoon boat. They can barely contain their excitement; I’m shocked the next shot wasn’t of panties flying toward Ben. Just kidding – the only thing more frigid than the water in this Midwestern lake is how the women feel about being in the Hoosier state instead of somewhere tropical and/or European. Things cool down even more once they arrive at their house for the week and Ben asks Lauren B. on a one-on-one date. This is the first time he’s asked a contestant on a date in person instead of via date card, and his rejection burns the other five women like a UTI.
Ben tells the remaining Lauren that she has 30 minutes to get ready for their date, so she scurries off to put make up on top of her make up. Now that O Face’s Grand Canyon of an oral cavity isn’t distracting me, I realize what a tiny mouth Lauren B. has – it’s like she’s the yin to Big O’s yang. The Fantasy Suite should be interesting for her.
Ben drives Lauren B. around Warsaw in an old red pickup truck, which takes approximately six minutes. He shows her the movie theater where he got his first
hand job kiss, his church, and finally to the youth club where he worked for four years. Lauren B. looks apprehensive; she tells the camera “Kids and poor people are not my jam.” That’s not exactly what she said, but you could see it in her eyes.
Once inside, they play some basketball with the kids, many of whom remember Ben. He is clearly the shining star of this town. Paul George and George Hill from the Indiana Pacers are surprise guests for this date, showing just how dire the financial situation must be this season. Ben loses a half court shot contest to a kid named Ronnie, who is lights out from center court. He’s the real MVP of this shitty date.
The camera pans to a little guy crying on the sidelines, and Ben goes to console him. My guess is one of the producers got bored and told him Santa wasn’t real, kicked him in the nuts, or said his parents didn’t even love him because they were bored and needed some waterworks. Lauren B. notices Ben’s paternal instincts and licks her tiny lips as she realizes she wants to have his babies inside her, like yesterday. As she gives Ben a kiss, we see the producers slip a $20 to the crier as he scurries off screen.
Ben takes Lauren B. to the priciest AirBNB in Warsaw, where they sit on a couch and talk about feelings. Lauren B. reveals she’s been anxious since their conversation in the Bahamas and assures Ben that she isn’t a mean girl. Ben tells her that he trusts her and they make out. Ben is so into Lauren B. – she could probably murder a puppy in front of him and it still wouldn’t be a deal breaker.
Before the end of their date, Ben takes her to the bar in Warsaw where he runs into everyone he knows from high school when he’s in town for the holidays. Lauren B. is excited that he’s sharing this part of his life with her; Ben is thrilled everyone who never left Warsaw gets to see him with this dime on his arm. Lauren B. tells the camera that tonight she realized she’s not in love with Ben the Bachelor, but Ben from Warsaw. Even though there are no roses on the one-on-one dates this week, I have a feeling Lauren B. will be sticking around a while longer.
One-on-One Date with Jojo
The next date card reads, “Let’s find love in the Windy City” and is addressed to Brojo. Ben has mentioned multiple times he feels at ease around her and is more himself towards her than the other women. While this comes off as a compliment, I think what he really means is that if they were dating in the real world, he’d already be pissing with the door open at her apartment.
Since Brojo has never been to Chicago before, Ben decides to show her the sights – the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, the Bean, the Chicago River, and Willis Tower, all before eating deep dish pizza. Oh wait – they skip all that and head straight for Wrigley Field. Ben is apparently a huge Cubs fan, so he wanted to make sure that Brojo could handle disappointment well before taking their relationship to the next level.
After putting on matching Mr. and Mrs. Higgins jerseys (barf), they run the bases and do a little batting practice. Ben tosses a slow pitch to Brojo and she absolutely crushes the ball. Ben’s nuts retreat into his stomach at this display of her pure strength. Brojo throws a mean underhand to Ben and when he makes contact, I secretly hope he drills her in the face. This date needs more excitement and it’s been a few episodes since the paramedics have shown up. Alas, he misses her, but somewhere on a deserted, rocky island in the Caribbean, O Face inhales deeply, causing the ball to come sailing south. She catches it in her jaws like the spawn of a crocodile and a well-trained golden retriever before setting it in a place of honor in the hut she’s constructed of palm tree branches and broken dreams.
The evening portion of their date is also at Wrigley Field. It must be cheap as shit to book in the offseason. They eat dinner at center field, and by that I mean they talk about how Brojo is guarded while their food gets cold. She assures Ben that she’s trying to open up; he reveals that her distance makes him nervous about their relationship. Brojo tells him that she needs to feel safe to give herself completely to him, and I wonder if she’s talking about her heart or her vajayjay. Ben tells her that he feels “really good things” about their relationship, and the walls she’s built begin to break down like a trailer in a tornado. By the end of the date, she tells the cameras she’s no longer afraid and is falling in love with Ben.
Three-on-One Date with Amanda, Caila, and Becca
While Amanda, Caila, and Becca have been the quiet, sweet girls on the season thus far, their claws come out today. Becca tells the camera “I hope these other girls don’t ruin my date” and Caila echoes that sentiment and says, “I’m over group dates. I’m glad this will be my last one.” There is a rose at stake on this date, and not only is its recipient guaranteed a hometown date, they get more one-on-one time with Ben. The quartet spends some time paddling around a lake in rowboats and the camera captures a few of their half-hearted attempts to fly a kite before Ben realizes the ladies are not interested in summer camp activities when there is a husband on the line.
He leads them into a rustic barn, which is decorated with some furniture and straw bales. Becca’s like “Wow, this looks exactly like the barn my boyfriend dumped me in on national television last year – very romantic! I’m surprised I didn’t burn that fucker down when I torched my red velvet dress to celebrate not having to move to Iowa.” Amanda and Caila at least pretend to be impressed while slugging booze to numb the pain.
Ben steals Amanda away first. She tells him that she’s excited to see her kids but nervous as well – she’s never introduced them to anyone she’s dated. I’m not sure why she’s worried – I think her oldest is like 3 years old tops, no way he (she?) will remember Mommy getting dumped by the man on the TV. She also tells Ben she has literally no idea why he’s interested in her. Don’t worry Amanda, I ask myself the same question.
Ben talks to Becca next. We’ve seen brief snippets of her insecurities in previous episodes but today it’s out in full force; desperation is not a pretty color on her. She’s craving validation of any sort from Ben and tells him “I like you so much it freaks me out. It’s scary for you to not say the same thing back – I deserve to have someone that feels the same way.” We don’t get to hear Ben’s reply, but his body language does not bode well.
Caila gets the last conversation. She reiterates that it’s important for her to feel loved and supported before saying “I’ve been molded to be adaptable. I feel like I’m moss and I need to find the perfect tree to grow on.” I’m not sure if Caila realizes she’s on The Bachelor or thinks she’s on a vision quest; either way, homegirl needs to stop doing peyote with Grandmother Willow.
After spending time with all three of them, Ben gives the three-on-one date rose to Amanda, making this the second time Becca has been publicly rejected in a barn. Farms must be bad luck for her. Caila sobs and quietly pounds champagne on the limo ride back, babbling to the camera about needing community and roots and other shit I didn’t care about.
As a reward for her victory, Ben takes Amanda to the Warsaw McDonalds. They go behind the counter and hand out meals in the drive-thru. There isn’t a huge need for estheticians in this community, so he wanted to show her what her career prospects would be should he decide to move back home. After they’ve earned their keep and grabbed a few Happy Meal toys for Amanda’s kids on the sly, they order some food. I’m not going to lie – McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast has radically improved my life, so I respect the hell out of Ben for ordering an Egg McMuffin for dinner. I’m a breakfast burrito guy myself, and although Ben was a low maintenance customer and ordered fries after 10:30 a.m., I’m most definitely the asshole who is willing to pull forward and wait for his hash brown to be deep-fried to crispy perfection at all hours of the day. Now I really want McDonald’s. Fuck.
Their final destination is a carnival and it appears that the entire population of Warsaw showed up to cheer them on. Ben and Amanda make out while onlookers send Snapchats of this moment to everyone they know. Once they’ve satisfied the townspeople’s desire for gratuitous PDA, they hop on a few of the rides; Amanda seems to enjoy the thrill, Ben screams like a little bitch.
One-on-One Date with Emily
The final date card arrives for Former Twin Emily, and reads, “Home is where the heart is.” The other women shit their collective pants when they realize Emily is going to meet Ben’s parents. She is so happy to finally get a one-on-one date that she cries. It’s a touching moment and reminds me that deep down I still do have feelings.
Ben arrives in his pontoon boat to pick Emily up once again. Is this the normal mode of transportation in Warsaw? Is this town like a redneck knock-off of Venice? He ferries her to his parents’ house and since he got to see her childhood bedroom in Vegas, he returns the favor to her now. She giggles at his senior pictures until Ben surprises her with an introduction to his parents.
Both of them take some time and talk with Emily. She tells the camera that “Talking to people can be a hard thing for me” which turns out to be the understatement of her life. I think if Ben’s parents had walked in on them punching a one-way ticket to Pleasure Town on the Poundtown Express in his childhood bed it would have made a better first impression than Emily’s actual conversation. Word-vomiting as if she had some sort of incurable verbal influenza, the only remotely intelligible thoughts the Former Twin was able to express were as follows:
– She likes Indiana because she gets to see ducks, which she doesn’t get to see in Vegas.
– One of her life goals is to be an NFL cheerleader.
– She doesn’t like vegetables.
The prospect of Emily marrying her son brings Ben’s mom to tears. I cannot say that this is a good sign for the Former Twin. Ben’s mom can’t ground him anymore, but she tells him to get his ass back on that pontoon boat and think long and hard about the next contestant he brings home. Ben takes Emily back to the ladies’ house and she’s disappointed their date is ending so soon. Somehow, she’s under the impression that everything went really well. I cringe from the secondhand embarrassment and brace for the oncoming blindside.
As Ben and Emily sit on the dock, the rest of the girls peer out the window. Ben doesn’t pull any punches and tells Emily he just can’t see her being his wife. She’s understandably disappointed, saying she hoped that this date would be a turning point in their relationship, not the end of it. I honestly expected her to cry so much her face would melt off and her tears would cause the lake to reach flood stages, but she handled it extraordinarily well. The rest of the girls see what’s happening and rush out to comfort her as Ben slowly idles away from yet another scorned lover as fast as his pontoon boat will putter.
Instead of having a cocktail party, Ben sits on some steps making sad puppy eyes. He needs to rail a Xanax and chill the fuck out. Chris Harrison quickly grows tired of waiting and heads out to talk some sense into Ben, hoping his conversation will minimize the amount of time he has to spend in Warsaw. He asks Ben if each of the five remaining women have the potential to become his wife. Ben replies that there is one relationship that has fallen behind the rest, and with that heads to the Rose Ceremony.
Standing before the five remaining women, Ben is aware that these roses mean he will meet each of these women’s families in an awkward, forced, and televised encounter that is literally the makeup of most people’s nightmares. He says, “There’s so much weight involved in this decision, almost as much weight as y’all have packed on from the literal gallons of wine you’ve sucked down over the last seven weeks.” With that, the ceremony finally begins. Amanda already has a rose, so Ben is locked in to meeting her rugrats. The other 3 roses go to:
1. Lauren B. – Ben may have stopped using her last initial, but she’ll never be the only Lauren to me.
2. Jojo – Ben can’t send her home after he saw what she could do with a baseball bat.
3. Caila – Her quest to find feelings, find understanding, understand feelings, feel understanding, find love, and love finding mescaline continues.
This means that in addition to Former Twin Emily, we will also say goodbye to Becca (again). She may be leaving without her dignity, but at least she got to keep her virginity. I think it’s time for her to swallow her pride and sign up for Bachelor in Paradise. Or college.
Next week is Hometown Dates, and based on the previews it looks like we get to see a lot of screaming and crying from Amanda’s children and Jojo’s brothers. These dates usually guarantee relationship implosions, bangable moms, and dads pretending to be tough, even though they let their daughters date on reality television – what better way to take advantage of the impending shitshow than with a game of Hometown Date bingo? Stay tuned for more details, otherwise we’ll see you then..
Image via John Naffziger