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The Bachelor Recap: A Man, a Plan, a Bunch of Women, Panama!

THE BACEHLOR - "Episode 1606" - Six lucky women "get lost" with Ben in the middle of the Panamanian jungle at the bank of the Chagres River. The Bachelor scoops up the ladies in a motorboat and the group zip through the jungle waters before coming upon the Emberas in their small village. The people warmly welcome Ben and the women, but one bachelorette decides to take local customs a bit too far and dons some native garb that leaves little to the imagination. That evening at the after-party at the Trump Ocean Club, Courtney continues her strategy to win Ben's heart with her brash, aggressive behavior. But will this off-putting demeanor score her another rose? - on "The Bachelor," MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/FRANCISCO ROMAN)
BEN FLAJNIK, COURTNEY, LINDZI (OBSCURED)

We're more than halfway through The Bachelor, a.k.a. The Courtney Robertson Show Starring Courtney Robertson's Naked Body, and this week the women head to Panama City (the one in Panama. They've probably already spent plenty of time in the one in Florida), where they bother some native people; Blakeley makes a classic, yet always hilarious Bachelor mistake; and the producers look deep into Casey B.'s soul and discover within it love for a man who is not Ben. And someone actually tries to teach Ben how to kiss!

Ben welcomes his nine girls to Panama City and urges them to notice how "metropolitan" it is. Kacie gets the one-on-one date and is whisked off in a helicopter to a "private" island, where she and Ben are seen attempting to get coconuts from a tree, attempting to catch edible fish with a net, and then eating a gourmet (totally different!) fish dinner over a fire with plenty of wine. Survivalism! After some small talk (Kacie: "I like to be doing things all the time. I like to go to the grocery store, and cook, and work out"), Kacie declares that she hates small talk and opens up to Ben and America about her teenage eating disorder. Ben, now legally required to give her the rose, does so.

Next up: the group date. Ben shows up on a riverbank in a long, hard boat. "Hey, girls, like my boat?" he says, grinning. The girl we've never seen before, Jamie, declares it to be a "long freakin' boat." In a voice-over, Courtney reminds us about last week's skinny-dipping, as if we could forget, and on-camera, in the boat, yells "I am SO WET!"

The boat arrives at its destination, and oh, look, how adorable: the Bachelor production is going to annoy a tribe of native Panamanian people who wear loincloths! This stunt would be annoying and dumb if Courtney didn't decide to forgo her bathing suit top, so that she just wore a beaded thing that apparently left nothing to the imagination, so for the entire segment there was a either a big black box or pixelation over her boobs. The other girls hated it, of course, but I actually thought it was hilarious.

In fact, can we talk about Courtney and the liking of Courtney that is happening in the heart of this snarky viewer? Let's do a quick thought experiment: Can you imagine this season without her? I mean, of course they just would have edited someone else in as the villain, but if you put Courtney up against past Bachelor bad girls, she even beats Michelle Money for pure entertainment value. And she's already lasted longer on the show. And she gets almost as much screen time as Ben! It's like she's hijacked the narrative away from Ben. It might be kind of feminist or something?

Anyway, everyone dances with the natives, Courtney half-naked, of course, and quotes from the Julia Roberts film My Best Friend's Wedding when she says to the camera, "I've got moves you've never seen." On this show, you gotta take your pop-culture references where you can get 'em.

The group, now educated in the plight of vanishing indigenous cultures and the contours of Courtney's areolae, heads back to the hotel to drink, where Courtney tells Ben that she's "losing sight" of what they had. "I don't know how you can lose sight of something like [the skinny-dipping we did in Puerto Rico just a few days ago where we may or may not have had sexual intercourse]," Ben says, but "losing sight" has always been Courtney's gambit and it's still working. "Room 1611," Courtney purrs, inviting Ben to her room for some illegal one-on-one time later. Ben tries to handle the invitation jokily by saying, "Sixteen, carry the two?"

Jamie, a.k.a. "the one we have literally never seen," tries to get some alone time with Ben because she's the only one who hasn't kissed him yet, but Courtney appears in the background pool area in a white bikini, preening and prancing and rubbing her hands all over herself while pretending not to know she's on-camera. It completely distracts Ben from whatever boring speech Jamie is giving him. How can you not love this girl?

Lindsey, who is just two quick-but-urgent tweaks away from being a pretty woman (the removal of hair and skin dye), gets the rose for being "laid back," and then we are shown Courtney, later that night, in room 1611, putting on makeup as she awaits Ben's arrival. Courtney tells us that she has been "consistently disappointed by men," who "are nice in the beginning and then take her for granted." Courtney waits, but Ben never shows. Maybe he forgot to "carry the two"?

Ben's next date is the always awkward two-on-one, where he gets salsa dancing lessons with Blakeley and Rachel, who have been outfitted in horrifying dresses. Blakeley, the "VIP cocktail waitress" is all "I got this" about the dancing, and Rachel is left to watch a few feet away as Blakeley writhes up and down Ben's body exactly the way a, well, you know, stripper might. Rachel is disgusted and shocked by Blakelely's "Sexual dancing," and is pretty sure she's out. But she didn't count on one thing: Blakeley being nuts!

"I want to show you something more," Blakeley tells Ben later that night, and sits him down, where he tries to mask his horror as she shows him the special scrapbook she's been making for him since the show started. It's a bunch of pictures and words cut out of magazines, you know, like 12-year-olds put on the walls of their bedrooms? Blakeley, 34, explains that the inspiration for the book is her "seeing herself living with [Ben] in San Francisco."

Even though there's a long and venerable tradition of Bachelor contestants making special cheesy little-girl crafts and poems and presenting them like macaroni necklaces to their adult male crushes, it's always an "Oh. My. God. She. Did. Not." moment when it happens again. And they almost always get immediately dispatched, which Blakeley did last night. For some reason, this was illustrated by a feral Panama City street cat, darting between cars with a single, plaintive "Meow," and for some reason it really worked.

The next day, some of the girls are kicking back in the lobby, chatting about how much they want the rose, when Chris Harrison shows up wanting to talk to Casey B. The other girls, being Bachelor viewers themselves, know that this is "really serious."

Chris and Casey go off to chat, where Chris tells Casey, "It was brought to my attention by three people back in the United States that you're in love with someone else and not in love with Ben." Casey breaks down fairly quickly: There is a dude named Michael who doesn't love Casey enough to marry her, so she thought she'd go on TV as a bluff or something? Honestly, the way she talks about Michael, he sounds like he might be a real dick. I mean for real: fuck Michael, but Casey, too, though you really have to admire her extremely ambitious Hail Mary ultimatum. ("Oh yeah? I'm going on national network prime-time TV!") In a principal's-office-like confrontation, Casey tells Ben, and he's like "Get out" or whatever, and Casey cries in a way where she sounds like a donkey for a really long time, and you can totally tell she's crying about this Michael dude and not Ben.

The night of the final cocktail party arrives, and Jamie is going to try once again to kiss Ben. She gets him alone and tries to straddle him, while saying in voice-over "I am prude," instead of "I am a prude" or "I am prudish." I don't know, it annoyed me. After the straddle-fail, Jamie tries to kiss Ben, who, as it's been mentioned here before, is one of those kissers who just leans in with his tongue out, so that kissing him is less like "kissing" and more like "tongue acceptance." "When my mouth is open, your mouth is closed," Jamie instructs, which, predictably, enrages Ben. "You're not the first woman I've kissed!" he says, saying he doesn't need an "instruction guide." But he does! He so, so does. He actually needs a kissing intervention.

The rose ceremony happens, and Jamie, who will forever remain "the mysterious woman who seemingly showed up out of nowhere in episode six to try to make Ben a good kisser," gets kicked off. Oh, and this was a nice touch: The limo driver who escorts her away from Panama City is shown prominently, and he's wearing a Panama hat!

Next week: Only six women remain, where, in Belize, they will vie for the four hometown date spots. This is the episode where everyone tells Ben they're falling in love with him, and there will be some kind of Courtney = Bad intervention, but I predict total failure. The legacy of that epic skinny-dip, if it's ever over, will not be forgotten until two other girls get the chance to show it up in their fantasy suites, probably!

Photo: Francisco Roman/ABC