This week's episode of The Bachelor was short on individual awkward moments and long on sustained brutally uncomfortable situations. From the drama with Leah, to the disastrous group date, to Olivia's stunning (for her) elimination, this episode was less like a romantic comedy and more like a psychodrama. Like there was a knife in the water. People's heads got messed with this week. As Becca astutely noted, the stormy weather in the Bahamas mirrored the emotional tumult of the Bachelor and his girlfriends.
Before we get to the awkward moments, we must say goodbye to Olivia, the beautiful news anchor we all love to hate. I, for one, will miss Olivia's disregard for social tact and her tenuous grip on reality. Recently I tried to emulate Olivia and do some reporting, so I contacted WCYB, the Fox affiliate in Bristol, Va. where she worked before she was cast on The Bachelor, to try and find out what she's like in real life. Is she competent? Overly ambitious? Nice? Most importantly, does she have bad breath? Alas, my inquiries were deflected higher and higher up the chain until I didn't hear back from the station manager. So WCYB declined to comment on the issue of Olivia's dragon breath. I feel I have failed you, dear reader, and I offer you Olivia's news reel by way of apology. This may be the only time you ever see her be a news anchor, because news anchors have to seem trustworthy.
Now that Olivia's gone, all the remaining contestants are mostly solid, likable people who have good chemistry with Ben (except boring Becca and Emily, who we'll get to later). This show is about to get sadder and less bitchy. Unless this means friends will start turning on each other, and things go Game of Thrones on us. (Amanda would be Cersei Lannister, because of the hair.)
Awkward moments ahoy!
7. "Two women, one rose. One stays, one goes."
Chris Harrison's rhyme setting up the 2-on-1 was overkill. Yeah, they know, it's all they're thinking about, they don't need you to remind them in such melodramatic fashion! "That's so morbid," says Olivia. It just felt like the production was rubbing it in, trying to wring extra drama from an already tense situation.
6. Ben forcing Caila to get vulnerable
Ben takes Caila deep-sea fishing on their 1-on-1 (I bet Ben's one of those guys who puts a photo of himself holding a fish on his Tinder profile) and then during dinner he clumsily tries to get her to open up to him. Instead of allowing the conversation to get to a point where she reveals more about herself, he says, basically, "stop smiling and tell me something real about yourself." To be fair to Ben, he wasn't quite as blunt as her reaction made him out to be, but he definitely puts her on the spot. Caila's an actor, but not the kind who cries on command. She gets out of it by telling him she loves him and worries she's going to break his heart. Smooth move. Dropping the L-bomb to get out of baring the soul we're still not certain she has.
5. Emily won't kiss Ben
I don't know if you noticed this, because the editing didn't make a big deal out of it, but Emily and Ben don't kiss when he gives her the rose. It may be because she wasn't going to kiss someone who just kissed her nemesis Olivia and she's resentful even in victory, but I think it's a very telling moment. No one doesn't kiss Ben when they get a date rose. Emily and Ben just aren't that into each other. I think he only kept her because he had to get rid of Olivia. I predict she's gone next week. Emily needs a foil, and without Haley or Olivia to play off she'll dissolve into a powder and swirl off in the wind.
4. Olivia returning to the cocktail party after getting a talking-to by Ben
This episode is basically one long awkward Olivia moment, but this one stands out for how pure and relatable it is. Resolving the cliffhanger from last week, Ben doesn't take Olivia's rose away, just asks her what was going on, and she gives her usual spiel about being intimidating. "I like reading books in my room, and thinking. And that's what I do. I wanna talk smart things," she says, in the second-best line of the night. Then he sends her back to the other girls to await the rose ceremony. The other girls want to know so bad what just transpired, but Olivia doesn't want to talk about it. It's the classic scenario of one person who can tell you something so juicy being unwilling to give you the sweet satisfaction of knowing. We've all been there. I did not envy Olivia in this moment. It was like she died and her ghost walked back into the room.
3. The grueling group date
What was supposed to be a nice time swimming with some big, aggressive pigs turned into a sulkfest where everyone was jealous and cranky and Ben was baffled. No one wants to be there. It's terrible. Lauren H. is sad because Lauren B. is hotter. Leah finally gets up the nerve to go talk to Ben, and she's just whiny and needy. Ben even swears when he's talking to Jojo, so you know he's upset. He usually keeps it clean. Then the cocktail party is basically one long "we need to talk," where Ben has to have a "what's wrong?" conversation with everybody. One of these conversations is bad enough, but having six of them back to back? It's draining to watch, let alone experience. It was during this part of the group date when Leah first floated her toxic ideas about Lauren B., but we'll get to that in a little bit.
2. Olivia on the beach, defeated and alone
Putting Olivia and Emily together for the 2-on-1 was a brilliant move by the producers. It's the showdown we've been waiting for. Emily is like "I hate Olivia because she's disrespectful," and Olivia is like "I do not respect Emily." She does not regard Emily as serious competition, because she's "young," even though they're the same age. I get where Olivia is coming from, but it's a poor choice of words. Olivia says she's going to be babysitting Emily on the date, and in the best line of the night, says "She's like a bird. Like I don't even give a shit." Olivia's language skills are seriously declining in this episode. When they're in the car on the way to the date, Olivia's entire body is turned to face away from Emily. You couldn't be more obviously avoiding someone. This date is apparently just sitting on the beach in a windstorm, and then Ben takes Olivia aside. She tells him she loves him, and he says "I don't think I can reciprocate those feelings." Harsh. The camera is trained on her face as her heart breaks. Then she has to watch as Ben and Emily happily zoom away on a speedboat as she stands alone, crying, in the middle of a hurricane.
1. Leah's epic miscalculation
Okay, the Leah situation gets so complicated so quickly that I'm not really going to recap it, but in a nutshell, she knows her days are numbered when she isn't picked for an intimate date with Ben. So instead of stepping her game up, she gets sulky. She calls Ben an idiot during a conversation with Lauren H. Then, during the cocktail party part of the group date, she starts making vague accusations about Lauren B. being fake. Since Leah can't win on her own merits, she has to resort to sabotaging the frontrunner. Really spiteful, underminey stuff. Then, after Ben calls in Lauren B. to talk about the unaddressable charges against her, Lauren B. deduces it's Leah, and Leah lies about it, saying she would never do something so nasty. "I feel like I would never use my time with Ben to talk about anyone else," Lauren B. says, because that both doesn't seem to be her character and also she doesn't need to. Then, Leah doubles down and goes to see Ben in his (really nice) house and continues to talk trash about Lauren B. It completely backfires, and Ben sends her packing. "I regret how I handled the process," she says. UH NO DOY, LEAH. Ben loves Lauren B., and I don't buy his uncertainty about Lauren B. for a second. Remember when Lauren B. was teaching Emily how to do tequila shots? Lauren B.'s nice. Leah is not nice, and that's why she got eliminated.
There was carnage this episode. Four women got eliminated! We forgot all about Jen, who got cut during the rose ceremony at the beginning of the episode. We never even learned what small business she owns. Then Leah played her way right out of the game. Then Olivia was abandoned on a Bahaman beach. Then Ben walked Lauren H. to the car, which was a nice moment. He doesn't do that for everyone.
Man, this was brutal. Let's take the next week to recover.