Our episode begins with Ben sitting on some rocks wistfully looking out to sea reflecting on all the exotic locales he has taken the girls over the past weeks -Las Vegas, Mexico City, the Bahamas, Warsaw (Indiana) – when all of a sudden a creature covered in seaweed and barnacles emerges from the brine:
“Ben. I forgive you! Ben, you’re mine! Ben, I love you! Let’s ski dance, let’s ski dance!”
Olivia has made it all the way from the Bahamas, manoeuvring through the ships in the Panama Canal to reach the west coast and is dragging herself across the sand to Ben’s feet. She reaches out her water wrinkled hand to latch on to Ben’s exposed ankle just as….
…he awakes from his micro nap and remembers he has somewhere to be – playing happy families with Amanda. It’s the home visit episode and Ben is commencing his cross-country week in California.
Amanda meets Ben down at the beach. The poor girl has had some sort of horrendous mishap en-route and the shoulders of her top have been ripped clean away! Not expecting such a thing, she hasn’t packed any Hollywood tape, so our wisp of a woman-child is distracted by constantly having to pull her top up over her itty bitty boobies.
It’s not long before Amanda’s mini mes arrive. She runs to embrace them while Ben stands back with an expression on his face that looks like he’s attempting to urinate on the beach without anyone noticing. It could also be the expression one gets when the penny drops.
For Amanda’s part, Ben ticks all the boxes to be a great dad to her kids:
- Can work an octopus-shaped sand mould
- Chases seagulls
Soon the whole instant family is off to meet the rest of Amanda’s family. They meet Ben for an instant before he’s off to help Amanda put one of the kids down, and they make an instant assessment that Ben is not ready for an instant family. They may be right, but they’re also a bit ironic.
Later, both Mum and Dad get to remind Ben that kids are a big RESPONSIBILITY, but this doesn’t put him off from reading the first page of a contrived bed time story to the two girls.
Hang on, Ben. Haven’t you put one of those to bed already? Welcome to parenthood.
The next day, Ben is off to visit Lauren in Portland, Oregon.
Lauren is very excited to see Ben. She’s in love with him, but she’s going to keep quiet on that score until she has her parent’s validation. Instead she takes him to see some of the sights and get some food “maybe”. I get it. Having eaten NOTHING for the last seven weeks or so, Lauren’s stomach is now reduced to the size of a pea. But I bet she could go a drink!
They stroll past sculptures of north-west standards like bronze otters and bears performing fellatio.
And then she shows Ben a very familiar sign. “Keep Portland Weird”. I feel as though I have seen this before. I scroll back through my blogs, and there it is…in episode one…with Mandi the crazy dentist standing in front of it, accompanied by a flame-throwing, bag-piping, kilt-wearing unicyclist. Well – if there was ever a reason NOT to have connections to a city…
Anyway, Lauren takes Ben to Portland’s food trucks where she threatens to have some of everything. She sniffs a couple of bits of bread, then ravenous, bites the tip off Ben’s…cheese bread? Not sure what it was in the end, but it was all carbohydrate, and one mouthful was all she could muster.
Lauren then takes Ben on the ultimate man-date – to the Portland Whiskey Library. Who would ever have imagined that such places existed? Ben is like a kid in a candy shop and this is the perfect place to gird his loins before meeting the family.
If flowers are anything to go by, Ben must be more eager to impress this family than the last. He has brought a bigger bunch of flowers, and alcohol.
There is a beautiful home-cooked meal on the table. Ben is positively salivating and cutlery in hand he is ready to pounce, when Molly, Lauren’s sister, asks if she can have a moment. It’s like a scene from The Roadrunner where poor old Wile E Coyote is about to chomp in when, “Beep, Beep!” The bird spins its legs and disappears in a puff of smoke.
Poor hungry Ben. I reckon he’d say anything if it meant he could get back to have a feed. He’s even prepared to shed a tear or two. And he does seem to have all the right answers. Gee, if it was day time and Lauren’s Dad had a tandem ride-on mower, I reckon the deal would be sealed by now.
But there are two more home towns to visit.
And next it’s Caila in Hudson, Ohio. Caila was very concerned about this visit because she had never stayed anywhere long enough to put down roots. I thought this may have meant that she was an army brat, but it turns out her dad is the CEO of a toy factory. So maybe there is something sinister about toy makers. All’s well and good, and then they start making “special toys” for the lonely ladies and they get run out of town.
Caila doesn’t reveal this straight away, though. First it’s the usual:
“Here’s my school. Here’s the park next to my school. Here’s the swinging seat in the park next to my school.” Kiss, kiss. Snog, snog.
It’s only then that Caila takes Ben off to the toy factory where they sit down and colour in houses together. Just when Ben thinks he should give Caila a Jubilee-like shove out the door, Caila announces that they are going to produce the house they just “designed”. Next minute, they’re on the factory floor pouring little coloured balls into moulds that will create the pieces of the house. What an awesome original date Caila came up with, Ben! Better than that rowing and kite flying crap that you came up with last time?
House built, Caila is apparently overwhelmed by the fumes of molten plastic, and in a moment where Peter Brady morphs into Richard Gere, Caila is swept off her feet, and to an almost-but-not-quite, Joe Cocker melody, Ben carts her off to dinner at her home.
There’s something a bit odd about Caila’s dad. It’s hard to put my finger on, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with his orange pants, and that he looks a bit like Ken Doll’s country bumpkin cousin who was released from the mould a bit before all the plastic had set.
And yet, Caila’s hair has never been more perfect, no parents have been more welcoming, especially her gorgeous, retainer wearing mum.
Like everything Caila, there’s nothing much to criticise here except her “niceness”. Ben escapes unscathed, but hell that’s boring, so bring on the train wreck that is FAMILY JOJO.
Ben doesn’t meet JoJo in a random scenic locale like all the others. Rather inconveniently he rocks up to JoJo’s apartment where she has just taken receipt of a huge bunch of flowers and a letter not from Ben but from…DA…DA..DA!…her ex, Chad, proclaiming his love for her. JoJo just has to ring Chad, so when Ben arrives, she is all flustered, yet tells Ben the while story. Ben undertstandably, hears alarm bells.
“I hear alarm bells,” he tells the camera.
But only slightly deterred, he heads off to dinner at JoJo’s place. Didn’t see a whole lot of Texas. At her house he is greeted by Jojo’s half-liquid mother, her father who looks like how Doctor Phil would be drawn on South Park, a sister who I don’t think we see again after the front door, and the new villains of the piece: a couple of older brothers named Matt, and decidedly inconveniently, Ben.
So let’s address that other Ben in the room. If he doesn’t use this as an audition tape for the next Bachelor, then there’s something wrong. That dimple in his right cheek. That perfect hair and skin. Those arms, oh my god, those arms. He’d be almost perfect if not for that godawful cardigan. But hang on. Who am I writing about again?
Oh yes, that other Ben, the one who looks like Peter Brady. The one that comes under ruthless attack by the brotherhood. Tense. Tense. Tense.
Indeed, the pressure applied by JoJo’s brothers gets pretty intense for all those crammed around the island bench in the kitchen. None is more stressed than JoJo’s mum, who grabs a champagne bottle and has a great big chug before having her wrist slapped by the hubby.
It was settled for me. Ben must pick JoJo. They must get married, and their wedding reception MUST be televised.
There’s Mum, a magnum of Moet in each hand, swigging from each, alternately. She’s staggering around in impossible high heels which get caught in a stray piece of tulle chair bow, propelling her face first into the third layer of a seven tiered wedding cake, compromising the entire structure, each layer of which represents a week of Ben and JoJo’s love. Back at the head table, Bro Ben faces off with Hubby Ben and just as Bro Ben starts to drive his fist (attached to one of those magnificent arms) into Hubby Ben’s face, Chad, the ex, rides in on a white unicorn, scoops up JoJo and gallops off to the horizon.
Yep. I would watch that.
But first things first. We’re back at The Bachelor mansion in LA. It’s been so long since we’ve been here and sadly someone missed the memo about taking the dust sheets off the furniture and stocking up the bar. The girls are all delivered back there in individual limos. I guess the chardonnay budget was blown right there.
JoJo emerges first, in a close fitting red dress…and wait…I am having some sort of flashback, but I am too young to be part of the LSD generation. Could it be that it was JoJo who emerged from a similar vehicle only two (TV time) months ago wearing a horse head?! (Now as an English teacher, I know that the combination of punctuation marks I just used is an abomination, but what was a girl to do?)
I am forced to re-read my old posts to get to the truth of the matter, and it’s like that last episode of every one of the 623 seasons of Survivor where the final two take a walk and collect the shrunken heads of all the eliminated contestants.
“Here’s Becca. She has no eyes left coz she was blindsided.
Here’s Emily. Her skull is small because her brain only ever aspired to be above average.
Here’s Olivia. Oh hang on. There’s only a space where Olivia should be. Oh yes… the island in the Bahamas….”
And so it goes.
Anyway, I finally get back to episode one, and there she is. JoJo, resplendent in a unicorn’s mask. And yet the crazy chook lady didn’t make it past week one. The Bachelor universe works in mysterious ways.
So before too long the four of them are standing in some sort of outer-inner courtyard. Lauren gets a rose (surrrrrrrprrrrisssee), then Caila (Yay! I love her if for no other reason than her wondrous head of hair), leaving JoJo and Amanda to fight it out. Chris appears again, proving that as long as you can count to one you are employable as a reality TV host, and the tension is palpable.
And in something of a shock, Ben sends Amanda home. I for one wasn’t surprised. There are TWO BIG REASONS why Amanda was sent home…:
Before she finally departs, Amanda gets to sit down and have her final goodbyes with Ben. Something strange happens here. Momentarily, for a couple of sentences, Amanda’s voice deepens to the point where she almost sounds like an adult woman. It’s like that moment in The Exorcist, where Carrie Fisher’s face turns green, her head spins 360 degrees, she shouts obscenities at the priest and then vomits a stream of bile.
“Why the f*ck didn’t you tell me this in the f*cking home visit, you f*cking piece of sh*t!” deeply intones Amandemon.
Then she vomits the contents of her stomach all over Ben – one bite of a McMuffin, a French fry and 97 gallons of champagne; the sum total of everything she has consumed in her entire time on The Bachelor diet.
Ben escorts her to the limo, then retreats to a corner to cry, behind a fountain, to – you know – like emphasise how sad he is. Little wonder. It’s been a rough couple of days.
Now I don’t normally pay too much attention to the humorous little out-takes they play as the credits roll (except for that time Courtney on The Bachelor: Canada got assaulted by the water fowl. Hilarious!), but I caught this one.
I didn’t really notice them during the home visits, but there is something a little bit creepy about Lauren’s little brothers. Honestly, the pair of them are sitting on the edge of the lounge like a couple of pervy little virgins seeking tips from the bad-ass frat boy.
“What’s going to happen in the (snigger, snigger) “fantasy” (snigger, snigger) suite, Ben (snort, snort)?”
Ben is lost for words. Well, not really. He has the words, it’s just that they are: “For f*ck’s sake! You are talking about your sister, you perverted little f*cks!”
But Ben is a gentleman.
If you want that sort of language, tune in to the Real Housewives of Melbourne.
But that’s another story.