The indelible image from last episode is that of poor Olivia, frozen solid and staring out to sea waiting for Ben to realise the heinous mistake he made in choosing Emily before returning to collect driftwood, light a fire, give her a woolly jumper and propose.
That didn’t happen.
Instead Ben has relocated what remains of his bevvy to a place where everyone is wearing a woolly jumper – his home town; Warsaw, Indiana.
It’s where Ben did a bit of a Benjamin Button with his education: “This is where I went to high school, elementary school, middle school.”
What I’ve learned about Warsaw, Indiana is that its rental car service is crap. Poor Ben couldn’t even hire a convertible, so if he wants his girls to have the wind through their hair, they will have to sit in the tray of his red pick-up truck, like some sort of… (let me get my American right)…contractor’s hound dog. (Aussie translation: like a brickie’s blue heeler on the back of a ute)
Even though Ben is in his home town, he meets his parents in a crowded diner (not a pink uniform and white apron in sight) to tell them all about his sexy half-dozen. Mum raises an eyebrow when he mentions Amanda’s (cue sinister organ music)…CHILDREN, but there is no time to dwell on that because Ben has to pick up the women in his motorised waterbed.
Having spent two seconds in Warsaw, Indiana before Ben came to collect them, most of which the girls spent throwing Autumn leaves all over each other in a frolic in the park, they have decided that this place is really family orientated – except for that great big unfenced drowning hazard right in the middle of it. It sets Emily off into some sort of fresh-air induced euphoria where she starts speaking of spitting out babies with gay abandon because this place is just so darned ‘cute’.
Ben drops them off at a house which is apparently within viewing distance of his parent’s house. He warns them about looking through his parents’ windows because they are still apparently very ‘family orientated’ (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Say no more!) as Ben slams his fist into his hand. Well good on you, Mr and Mrs Higgins! We get it. Either one of them could be the first Bachelor/ette: Seniors, if not for the fact that they were married.
Anyway, then Ben asks Lauren B for a date (in person, like in the olden days before Bachelor hosts delivering envelopes were invented), giving her thirty minutes to get ready and the rest of them half an hour to go all sour-puss-why-not-me.
Ben begins his date by taking Lauren B on a romantic tour of all of his old schools and his church (Lauren: “My Ben, what a big church you have!”) and rabbiting on about his football career….
….and the place that once was the place where he had his first kiss. There is a lot of driving.
Then Ben takes Lauren (I’m dropping the B because she’s the only one left) to the youth community centre where he used to work and Lauren gets to skip rope and do cartwheels, because, you know, she’s a girl.
Ben gets to challenge the “Warsaw Half-court King” (aka token child on a spectrum with an amazing talent) to a shoot-out duel. Ben thinks it’s a win-win for him. If the kid wins, Ben has to kiss Lauren, and if the kid loses, then Ben has taught a learning impaired kid to stop having false dreams like ever playing real sport like Ben did or ever being a contestant on The Bachelor.
All good, because surprise, surprise, Ronnie really is Warsaw’s half-court King.
Ben produces a couple of Indiana basketball players and their non-playing mascot, and Lauren says that she grew up playing basketball and then the camera focuses on her and she looks like she’s never seen a basketball in her life. That’s OK, Lauren. Ben said he had his “own private island” last time, and you ended up paddling around in pig excretion.
Back in the house, JoJo finds out that she will be getting the next one-on-one date.
Ben, meanwhile takes Lauren off to a cosy room somewhere and addresses the claims that Leah reckoned Lauren wasn’t being real with him. She denies it of course, and I believe her. Last time Lauren was on a date with Ben, I remember being bored to the point of tears with tales of her father’s lawn mowing skills. Yawning now….
Surely if you were going to be false, you could come up with more than that at the outset?
Anyway, then Ben takes Lauren off to some bar where they spend so much time that when they leave, Ben has grown a moustache and goatee..
Next one-on-one is JoJo, and Ben decides he wants to make her feel special. So rather than going on a date in Warsaw where there is a distinct possibility that he might run into someone he knows, he sends her about three hours north to Chicago, where he has organised a date at the historic Wrigley Field. It’s so famous even we Aussies have heard of it.
Ben and JoJo don Mr and Mrs Higgins jerseys. Very nice and cutesy, Ben, but a novelty sports jersey isn’t exactly a diamond ring. Heck, there’s not even a rose on offer. They toss a few balls around and Ben is impressed with the speed with which JoJo moves from first base to home base, but by the time they lie down on the grass, there’s not much wriggling in the field happening. It’s all a bit static really. And I get it. There’s no Ray Liotta walking out of a cornfield.
JoJo of course loves him but is afraid to show her true feelings, so they make a smoochy message out of the scoreboard letters and have a pash as thunder sounds in the background.
Back at the house, Emily gets the next one-on-one date. Hmmmm. But before that, Becca, Amanda and Caila get to go on a three-on-one with Ben.
The group date is on a farm. The girls know this because of the sign at the front gate. None of them look particularly impressed. Maybe that’s because pigs live on farms and the girls are still traumatised after the attack of the brine swine in the Bahamas.
Caila says that she is over group dates, and I think Ben must be too, because he is clearly running out of cool ideas, and Warsaw, Indiana is too cold for the girls to be running around in bikinis (very considerate, Ben). This time, Ben thinks it would be a real hoot to go rowing on a lake; he and Caila in one boat and Becca and Amanda in another. Becca is not impressed, so much so that she doesn’t even participate in the spontaneous kite flying that forms phase two. Even Amanda, in her ridiculously impractical footwear, gives it a go, but Becca just mopes around like a little thunder cloud is dumping its load on her shoulders, while Caila is all rainbows and sunshine.
I feel for you Becca, I really do. I never got to see you booted off the last season, so all I know is all I know. There’s not a lot of point in sulking about. I’m sure that whole virginity thing is starting to weigh heavy after watching two men dating forty-odd other women. I admire your moral code and protecting your virginity and all that. But here’s the thing. Surely you have to realise by now that the whole purity thing flies against the grain of a premise that sees your potential husband thrust his tongue down the throats of twenty-four rivals. And with the proliferation of reality shows in the US, surely there must be one called Celebrity Bachelor/ette Virgins Rehab which might be a better fit? The only other choice, Becca, is to invest in a crazy cat lady starter kit.
But, having learnt NOTHING from the fate of the other “shes who whinge and bitch too much”, Becca goes for the “poor pitiful me” strategy. She begs Ben not to blindside her and it’s even SUBTITLED. Hmmm…is that a death knell, I hear?
Ben and Caila then sit down and have a chat about putting down roots.
Amanda gets the group date rose, doing nothing to lift Becca’s spirits. Maybe a big feed of junk food would lift her spirits? Too bad she didn’t get the rose then, because Ben takes Amanda to Macca’s, where Amanda orders something in her little sing-song voice and gets presented with a Happy Meal. Ben makes Amanda help him to fulfill his life-long ambition to work at the drive-thru window of a fast food restaurant and afterwards Amanda eats a bite of a McMuffin and a third of a fry (which Ben has to force-feed her by mouth) and then she is full.
But the fun doesn’t end there. Next thing you know Ben and Amanda are off to the carnival where none less than the Mayor of Warsaw, Indiana himself makes a speech. Then Ben and Amanda enjoy all the attractions of the side-show, taking care to avoid any wild rides until Amanda has a chance to digest her French Fry. To kill time Ben throws darts at some balloons and Amanda giggles with delight as he wins her a prize:
It’s all great fun until Ben is assaulted by a group of carny kids who beat him with inflatable mallets until he hands over his wallet.
Next morning, it’s time for Ben’s date with Emily and he takes her to…. meet the parents! Wow! This is big!
Unfortunately for Emily, her jaw does not stop yabbering for the entire encounter and the drivel that spews out of her mouth is cringe-worthy.
There are times in life when “above average” is a perfectly acceptable response…
“How did you go on that Maths test, Kath?”
“Wow! That’s great! You’re usually shit at Maths!”
…and there are times when it is not. Like when Gordon Ramsay asks you what you thought of his cooking. Or when someone is describing the chances of Donald Trump becoming the next President of the USA. Or when your potential mother-in-law asks you what sort of job you would do raising the progeny of the royal family of Warsaw, Indiana.
Oblivious, she also tells Ben’s folks that she aspires to be a cheerleader, loves nothing more than sitting around on the couch all day watching movies and that she doesn’t like vegetables. I’m surprised some giant hook didn’t enter from stage left and drag her out of the picture right there and then, but then we would have missed the heartfelt debrief Ben had with his Mum afterwards, which can be paraphrased thus:
“Ben. If you bring that girl home you will be struck out of the will.”
So before you can say “Go Broncos!” Emily is sent packing.
Or not packing, because Emily’s heading out to the car clad in jeans, jacket and scarf. Not a bag in sight.
No cocktails for the remaining girls at the rose ceremony tonight, if you can call something a ceremony when it involves standing out in leaf litter in the dark and the freezing cold. Caila notices there is no glass in her hand:
“Something feels wrong,” she says. It can’t be her legs. They look frozen solid and probably have no feeling left.
Becca has plenty of feeling left, and the thing she is feeling most is BLIND-SIDED, as Ben gives the three remaining roses to JoJo, Lauren and Caila.
It’s a bit of a frosty departure from Becca who gives Ben a token hug before hopping into the limo. She has just one last opportunity to wipe tears from her eyes, which she has done so much this episode I am expecting a voice over.
So Becca’s gone…again.
Now we are getting to the pointy end, and next week we’re off to visit the families of the four girls left: Amanda the mother, Lauren the flight attendant, JoJo the bartender, and Caila who’s longing for roots.
I know which one an Aussie boy would pick.