The entire phenomenon of The Bachelor will baffle future generations. It will be a mere footnote in our history. Unless, of course, Chris Harrison makes a seamless transition into politics and chooses Ashley I. as his running mate. Future generations won’t know what to make of the fact that we spent hours — hours — of our lives watching plain blonde women try to make a failed race-car driver fall in love with them. I imagine my granddaughter will ask me what I did with my life. I’ll lift up my old grizzled head and tell her, “I would watch a real-estate agent fall in love on television and write about it. One time, he got up from the table and walked away.”
And then she’ll ask me, “Grand-mama, did it matter? Did it mean anything?” and I’ll shake my old, dumb head and say, “No, nothing mattered then.” And we’ll slip our bonnets back on and sing the Hymn of Omarosa as we eat our government-mandated taco bowls.
It really feels that way, doesn’t it? That everything happening during this part of the season is completely predictable and we’re just marching toward the inevitable final two of Lauren B. and Becca K., right? Kendall and Tia aren’t long for this world. But before we can get to speculating wildly about who’s going to make it to the final rose ceremony, we’ve got to start with the six ladies and Tuscany.
Aaaah, Tuscany! Tia had to look up where Tuscany was on a map before the trip. The ladytestants stand in the shadow of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere. This week is a biggie: Three one-on-one dates and a three-on-one date.
Jacqueline reveals what’s been making her hair so giant, and nothing lifts from the roots like anxiety. She can feel herself falling in love, but can’t tell if she’s falling in love with being in love. Maybe it’s because the man you’re interested in called your academic career “an obstacle.” I bet you that’s what’s keeping you from falling.
The first one-on-one date card arrives and it’s for Becca K. They’ve really stopped trying when it comes to the date-card puns. “Let’s fall in love under the Tuscan sun.” They’ve also stopped trying when it comes to the dates: This week, Arie and his date walk through a city, eat dinner with an Italian family, and sit in a garden.
Arie has some complex worked up about Becca K. that they had great chemistry at first but their relationship has stalled, and now he doesn’t feel the passion anymore. This is all a ploy for Arie to demand the ladytestants declare their intentions to move to Scottsdale. It’s either that or the fact that he’s only memorized a few relationship words, so he labels every emotion or thought he has as a “lack of passion.” It’s hard to believe that there’s a lack of passion, considering that Becca K. and Arie make out on every flat surface in Tuscany. They even do that thing where one person is behind the other and their bodies are both facing the same way, but somehow, they’re making out. Becca K. gets a rose. She’s heading to hometowns! We’re going to meet Uncle Gary!
The next date card to arrive is for Lauren B. and she just had a one-on-one. In the Bachelor universe, it’s the most unfair thing anyone can think of. When Becca K. comes back from her date brandishing a rose, Jacqueline’s hair and anxiety have grown three sizes. She doesn’t know what her family would talk to Arie about. Every bit of her anxiety and confusion about her final moments on the show come off like expert-level shade about Arie’s intelligence. So she decides to go to Arie’s hotel room to deal with the issue head-on.
The second Arie invites her in, Jacqueline starts chugging Arie’s wine. This is where Jacqueline won me over, and I realized that the only person with any real integrity and personality was about to leave the show. Jacqueline says her biggest fear is to wind up married to Arie in Scottsdale. Yeah, yeah, she adds in something about not having a strong foundation for their relationship, but the horror is the whole living in Scottsdale thing. Jacqueline climbs into Arie’s shirt pocket and tells him that she has to leave. She can’t tell the difference between being interested and being ready.
Arie tells her that if she regrets it, she can come back to him. He also says that she’s “unsettled” in her life. She’s not unsettled. She just doesn’t want to settle for you.
It’s time for Arie’s date with Lauren B. and what does he see in her? I mean, REALLY?! Because we are getting NOTHING from her. He claims he doesn’t have chemistry with Becca K., but he just walks in silence with Lauren B. through the streets of Italy and claims that she’s this amazing, perfect woman. He keeps saying that she’s hard to read, but maybe she’s just boring. On the dinner portion of the date, she flatly tells Arie that she’s scared of getting hurt again and she has trouble connecting her emotions to her words. It’s called LOVE LANGUAGES, Lauren B. GET WITH IT. You can show your affection and appreciation for someone with more than just dead-eyed glances over gelato. When she finally tells Arie she’s falling in love with him, he starts breathing heavily and has to get up and walk away.
WHERE DID HE GO? Has anyone ever told their boyfriend that they were falling in love with them and their boyfriend had to get up and take a lap? Men, have you ever been told, “I’m falling in love with you,” and needed to walk 30 yards into some cypress trees? Lauren B. immediately feels like something is wrong and when he comes back, she asks him, “What on Earth was that?” and he just says he needed a minute to collect himself and tells her he’s falling deeply for her too. She gets the rose.
Up next is Sienne. Poor Sienne. After these two human Charlotte Russe mannequins wowed Arie with their attractive nothingness, I knew Sienne actually having something going for her would be a problem. Let’s be real: Sienne is too good for Arie and he’s fundamentally a coward. Any woman that has something going on for herself and is accomplished is terrifying to him. Any woman that could challenge him or would be challenging for him to accept or doesn’t fit into his “type” is either eliminated or goes home this week.
Sienne is up-front about her inability to express her emotions clearly. For Lauren to say something like that, she’s applauded for “opening up,” but on Sienne, it’s a sign that they’re not far enough in their relationship. Sienne goes home.
It’s time for the three-on-one date, and because Jacqueline eliminated herself, there are now two roses on this date. Bekah M. has been constantly monitoring her odds like it’s bitcoin. She’s feeling good going into this three-on-one date, but we all know what happened to bitcoin.
The thing about this three-on-one date is it REALLY highlights just how incapable Arie is at dealing with anyone else’s emotions. Kendall is off doing her Kendall thing, but Tia is actively scheming to throw some doubt into Arie’s mind about Bekah. Bekah spends every moment on the date that she’s not around Arie wanting to go home and visit with her family. You could easily read her reaction that she’s just exhausted and in a foreign country and 22 years old and mixing up her anxiety about the situation with her eagerness to stay in the competition and just talking. She’s just talking, but Tia uses it all as evidence that Bekah isn’t serious or ready to get married. She then tells Bekah it was her duty to protect Arie and she didn’t mean anything by it. Bekah, of course, freaks out and starts complaining about being misunderstood and not being seen for who she is, which is some 22-year-old shit.
But the key — THE KEY — to all of this is Arie’s reaction. Bekah walks up to him after talking to Tia in tears. She’s bawling. You couldn’t look at her and think that anything was going her way. What’s Arie’s reaction? He giggles and says, “Hey, what’s wrong?” like he’s talking to a toddler with a broken toy. His reaction completely dismisses how upset Bekah is. He keeps giggling and trying to kiss her while she’s crying on his chest. He switches the topic to the hometown date before acknowledging her feelings to attempt to make her feel better.
He acts like one of those people who believes that exercise alone can cure depression. All of this just cements my mental image of Arie as someone who has never really gone through any hardship or sadness. He doesn’t possess any complexity or emotional depth. He tells the story of his car getting wrecked with the same passion and intensity as the story of his ex-girlfriend leaving him in the middle of the night. There’s a Snickers bar where his heart should be. He just seems to decide on a whim when he’s tired of sadness and ready to joke around again. It’s not just with Bekah. Tia tells him with emotion in her voice that being compared to someone else is a real bitch and Arie just shrugs and says, “You stress too much.” As bad as Oatmeal was, you could tell the pressure of being the Bachelor wore on him and he wanted to do the right thing.
That’s how bad this season is. I just complimented Oatmeal as a compelling lead.
Kendall gets the first group date rose; Bekah and Tia go on to the evening portion of the three-on-one date. Tia gets the second group-date rose. Tia is full-on cackling in her in-the-moment interview as Bekah M. gets put into an SUV by Arie. Bekah breaks down crying and says she can’t believe that her journey is over. Arie says he’s been talking himself out of being with Bekah because it would be too hard and she was really fun. That’s all you could say about her? That she made your experience fun?
Maybe he doesn’t have a Snickers bar as a heart. Maybe it’s a Necco wafer.