Monday, January 18, 2016

"Toasted", The Bachelor S20 E2 Recap

 Week 2 of The Bachelor begins with the ladies making a toast. "Cheers to Ben and the adventure of a lifetime," Leah, the football snapping event planner, declares with her mimosa in hand. Making a toast is something that this particular group of women have no problem with. They salute to seemingly everything. Take a drink for every toast that happens in this episode. You won't remain sober for long.

 Olivia, still basking in the glow of the first impression rose, wastes no time in expressing her premature adoration for the bachelor. "I want Ben Higgins to be my husband." In remarkably sane contrast, another contestant, JoJo, is feeling far more levelheaded about her one-day relationship, "I'm excited to get to know him better." 

 Over at The Four Seasons Hotel (no separate house for our bachelor in the budget this year?), Ben is in his underwear. As the camera crew gratuitously captures him putting on his jeans for the day, Ben shares that he's not nervous but actually eager to get started with everything. "I'm so excited!" It's an all too familiar phrase and a word that Ben loves to use.

 At the mansion, the very first date card arrives. Lace admits that she had too much to drink the previous night and is hopeful to get it together this time around. The names of the women who will be going on the first group outing: Jackie, LB, Lauren H., Becca, Amber, Mandi, JoJo, Jubilee, Jennifer and Lace. 

 The ladies have a toast inside the limo (take a drink!) as they make their way to the first date location. At this point, I decide I need to play along with this week's drinking game. For once, I'm not in the mood for wine and settle on a beer. Nothing says a wintery January night in Pittsburgh like a Corona. As the 6" of snow lay outside my window, I am finding my beach. By the way, why can't Sharon Van Etten release the full length version of "Ray of Light"? Nothing drives me crazier than a made-for-TV commercial song that is too good to only be thirty seconds long.

 The limo arrives at "Bachelor High." Ben is now 2/2 with bringing high school into each episode of the show. I'm all for taking a stroll down memory lane but either Ben peaked in his teen years or he has some sort of jail bait thing going on in his psyche.

 JoJo says that she's "never been this turned on at a high school before." I feel sorry for her. She clearly didn't attend my Catholic high school. And that's all I'm going to say about that. 

 Ben says that some of his fondest memories are from his high school glory days including his first kiss. Late bloomer, huh? I recall my first kiss was in pre-school but that didn't get me very far as I'm closing in on 30 and still as single as one woman can possibly be. 

 Chris Harrison is doing his best Richard Belding over the school PA system. He announces that Bachelor High will be hosting a series of contests. The winner will be crowned Ben's hoe homecumming homecoming queen. When you think about this entire date, cutesy as it may be, it's really weird. But then again, most Bachelor group dates are strange. I take a sip of my Corona and try not to gag.

 Part one of the homecoming contest is a science fair experiment. Professor Harrison tells the ladies that they are challenged with the task of "making Ben's volcano explode." Take a drink! Lace and Jubilee are struggling with reading the scientific directions- measuring and pouring is hard work for these two. They are the first pair of women to be eliminated.

 The second portion of the homecoming queen contest takes place during "lunch class." Their words. Not mine. The women must bob for apples. "You can't use your teeth hands," warns Professor Harrison. Ben is taking mental notes on which ladies are good with their mouths. Call me a cynic but shouldn't this sort of action have come before the volcano ejaculation eruption? One of the producers dropped the ball on this one. LB's facial expression tells the tale for the rest of us watching at home. This entire date scenario is ridiculous.

 The third part of the contest takes place in geography class. The women are asked to locate Ben's home state of Indiana on an unmarked United States map. One of the Laurens says that her kindergartners are smarter than Becca and JoJo. She's right. Becca and JoJo turned the shape of Indiana on its side and placed it where I'm writing this recap, Pennsylvania. 

 The last leg of the homecoming queen race is happening in the gymnasium. The women must shoot free throws to prove they can be Indiana Hoosiers. Amber and her partner Mandi win on the basketball court but are told they must race each other on the track field to determine who the Bachelor High homecoming queen will be. In an unexpected turn of events, Mandi, the wacky dentist, is a hurdling champ. Mandi proves that white women can jump as she decidedly beats Amber. Mandi continues her streak of rocking headgear as last night's massive rose is replaced by a crown from Claire's Accessories. Ben, noticeably disinterested, regrettably lets Mandi wear his actual high school letterman jacket. The two take a victory lap around the track in none other than a classic muscle car. I guess the black Mustang was a one-day rental because this set of wheels is red.

 Evening falls on the first group date and the ladies have reemerged in cocktail attire. There has to be a wardrobe stylist on set. I didn't see anyone with an overnight bag. There's no way these women can pack enough formal wear for a possible season long run on the show. It gives me anxiety thinking about how much money it would cost to dress yourself for every scene on The Bachelor

 During a private conversation, Becca is seen shooting hoops with Ben. Clearly, her lack of geography skills matter little to our bachelor as he seems to be enjoying her company. Becca, not the brains of the group, shares her feelings. "I'm really excited. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't excited to be here."  I feel like I'm watching a couple of naive teenagers who sneaked out of their parents' house after midnight. 

 Ben and Jennifer seem to have good sexual chemistry as they share a kiss during their alone time. This news surprises Lace as being the only girl to have kissed Ben so far was her calling card. 

 Elsewhere at the mansion, the other ladies await the arrival of the first solo date card. Olivia's mouth is hanging wide open. She would have done an outstanding job during the apple bobbing portion of the homecoming queen contest had she been along for the ride. This is a terrible look for Olivia but she's too confident that her name will be on the card to care.

  Olivia is severely disappointed to find out that Caila, the peppy Boston girl, is the recipient of the first one-on-one date. Caila is bubblier than ever as she giggles and snaps at the news. It's an alarming amount of cheer and I remember a time in my life when I was this obnoxiously happy. 

 Back on the group date, Lace interrupts the homecoming queen, Mandi, as she chats with Ben. Lace wants to take this time to apologize for last night's antics. Ben is appreciative of her words and expresses how beautiful he finds her. Ben reiterates that he wants to get to know Lace better. I don't recall Ben saying anything like this to the other ladies. This is code for "I want to find out if your hot-crazy scale is measuring appropriately..."

 Lace is transfixed by her conversation with Ben. She feels empowered by Ben's words of encouragement. "We're just almost eye fucking."

 Jubilee steals Ben away from Lace. Jubilee and Ben have a deep conversation about Jubilee's rocky childhood. Ben says that he wants to explore things with the war veteran.

 The ladies are bickering over who has spent the most amount of time with the bachelor. Lace, ever one to keep things elegant says, "Fuck these bitches!" Lace heads to break up Ben's conversation with one of the Laurens. The bachelor isn't as amused this time but keeps things polite as the two discuss their real lives back in Denver.

 As the women continue whining about their lack of time with the bachelor, Ben takes JoJo to a secret spot. The two wind up on top of an LA skyscraper. They aren't repelling as they fall in love but JoJo still manages to fill the pun quota, "I've never been this high in my entire life!" A first date on the edge of a 1,000 foot structure. It's the sort of romantic scenario that is only probable on The Bachelor. In the real world, if a guy surprised you on your first date with a walk up a narrow flight of stairs onto a rooftop, you might fear that he was going to push you off the edge.

 The following day, Ben shows up to the mansion to pick Caila up for their date. Chris Harrison reveals that Ice Cube and Kevin Hart will be coming along due to contractual obligations to provide more diversity within The Bachelor without having to cast a minority as the star of the show. I severely doubt that most of the ladies know who either of these men are but the producers would never admit this to the audience. The producers are asking Ice Cube and Kevin Hart what is the most romantic thing they've ever done for a woman. Ice Cube's answer? "Um, I married one." When you really think about it, he's right. Not much else is more romantic.

 One of the twins is poolside at the mansion and discussing how "extravagant" Caila's date is going to be. Cut to a liquor store on the wrong side of LA. Ice Cube is telling the bachelor to buy condoms and Hennessy. Ben laughs nervously, "I think Ice Cube and I might have different styles when it comes to a first date." I'm pretty sure the entire Bachelor franchise has a different style. Why try to push the envelope? Amy Schumer with Kaitlyn Bristowe- yes. Kevin Hart with Ben Higgins- not so much. How much did that movie Kevin and Cube are starring in pay you to advertise to the wrong demographic?

 As the ride along continues in yet another classic convertible, Ben and Caila's discussion gets deep. We learn that Ben's favorite color is blue and Caila's is yellow. The unlikely group wind up at a hot tub store because The Bachelor not only has to fill a pun quota but a hot tub scene quota as well. 

 As Kevin Hart and Ice Cube depart from the date, Ben and Caila share a private dinner. Caila comes across as more than just a giddy girl with a pretty face. Her hair is also flawless. She's naturally beautiful and well-spoken. The two seem to really enjoy each other's company. As dinner concludes, Ben has one more surprise for Caila, condoms and Hennessy back at The Four Seasons. The producers have arranged for one of Ben's favorite musical artists, Amos Lee, to provide a private concert for the pair. I listened to a lot of Amos Lee back at the turn of the century so this is the sort of romantic thing that I actually enjoy from The Bachelor. Swoon!

 A new day has dawned and the second set of women are headed out in the limo for a group date. A toast happens. "To being Ben's perfect match!" (Drink!) Olivia's mouth is still hanging open. 

 The women arrive at "Love Lab Technologies" and are greeted by a robotic "doctor." I wonder if Doctor Love moonlights as Pat Sajack's understudy. This is LA after all and everyone has dreams of super stardom. I also wonder whether Love Lab Technologies has a single Yelp review. The Love Lab Technologies banner was definitely printed by a production assistant no less than an hour before the ladies' arrival. 

 Doctor Love informs the women that they will be going through a series of tests with Bachelor Ben to determine how strong their chemistry really is. The twins admit that they aren't very scientific to the surprise and awe of no one. 

 The first series of tests are of a visual nature and are meant to determine what the eye fixates on. Ben vs. Sean Lowe is one photo slide that is shown. No contest. Sean was never my type. I'm definitely more of a Ben girl, myself. 

 The second portion of the Love Lab is a smell test. At this point, Shushanna, our international woman of mystery, proves that she actually does speak a bit of English. Ben is blindfolded as he goes from woman to woman, smelling her nether regions. I feel sorry for anyone whose monthly visitor is in town- not sure if the pheromones would help or hinder in this situation but the outfit the girls are required to wear is skintight and white. Ben describes Sam as having a "sour" scent.

 The third part of the Love Lab involves a thermal imaging scan. During Olivia's time with Ben, she practically begs him to kiss her. Ben says no but only because people are watching (people meaning Doctor Love and the other women). He must have already forgotten about the reality show filming his every move. People are always watching, Ben. 

 Doctor Love has the results of the Love Lab tests. Sour Sam comes in last place. Olivia wins with "spectacular" results. Arrogant to the core, O-Face as I now like to call her, is full of life. "Winning!" she boasts. I wonder if Olivia was sequestered during filming The Bachelor when Charlie Sheen made his big HIV positive reveal. 

 As night falls, the group heads back to The Four Seasons Hotel. Ben is seen in my favorite male outfit of all time- a hoody under a fitted blazer. The stylist is definitely on set. Ben asks Olivia for alone time first because he likes her the most of her stellar Love Lab scores. The women are not pleased. "It feels like the Ben and Olivia show." 

 Ben takes Olivia back to his hotel room. There must not be temperature control in the rooms at the fancy Four Seasons because Ben feels the need to drape Olivia with his blazer. And just as quickly as the adorable outfit look came in, it's gone. 

 As the two flirt and share their first kiss with each other, Ben asks Olivia how it feels to be in the 75th percentile for couples' attraction. 75% is straddling the C/D grade line in my book but these two seem impressed with their mediocrity. I'm usually in the 75th percentile on the QuizUp app but no one is here to brag. As O-Face comes down from her climax, Ben joins the other women. One of the twins makes a bold move and asks for alone time. 

 O-Face asks the others with a mouth full of food where they plan to take Ben during their alone time. Amanda politely answers Olivia's question with a question and asks where they went. Olivia rudely says she doesn't want to talk about it. If you don't want to answer your own question then don't ask someone else. 

 Ben later chats with Shushanna. We learn that she came to the United States with $400 in her pocket, 1 pair of jeans, 2 pairs of shoes and most importantly, 2 bottles of vodka. Is Shushanna even a legal citizen?  

 As the date rose sits on the table, Sour Sam says that if the rose goes to her then science doesn't mean too much. O-Face quickly chimes in, "If Ben is a big believer in science, then I'd be a little concerned." 

 Amanda, the squeaky-voiced single Mom from the O.C., is negatively affected by Olivia's aggressiveness. She decides that she needs to tell Ben about her two little girls. Ben asks if she has any pictures which she admits that she doesn't but the other girls have pictures of their dogs. I'd have a majorly difficult time leaving my shih-tzu, Ireland, for that length of time. I don't see how a Mom could walk away from her very young kids for this sort of "opportunity" but I'm not one to judge (yes I am). Much to Amanda's relief, Ben goes out of his way to assure America Amanda that he isn't prejudice against children from a previous relationship.

 Despite Amanda's best efforts, Ben awards the date rose to Olivia. This achievement marks the second rose ceremony in a row in which O-Face will go in without any need to worry. "I don't know what rose ceremonies are, really. Olivia Higgins. It's mine. C'mon. Let's just end the show now." 

 Amanda is in tears and struggling to find her words. "Like, I don't like know if like it's like even worth it for me to be here." 

 When the rose ceremony begins, an anonymous bachelorette voices herself. "You look nice!"  Every season of the show has a contestant who fades into the background and never manages to score any memorable screen time. Rachel is this season's mirage. Ben responds with the most accurate quote of the season thus far, "It's good to see some of you I haven't seen before in awhile." 

 Ben begins his night with Leah and pulls his go-to chivalrous move of draping his lady with his sport jacket. As the two discuss typical things, Olivia decides that now is not the time to rest on her laurels. Despite already having a rose, she takes Ben away for some more alone time. Leah reports back to the other women that O-Face is continuing to do the devil's work.

 Olivia is giving me fatal attraction vibes as she departs from her time with Ben and heads back to the other ladies. "Now that I'm done, everyone else can have at it." Amber is not pleased with Olivia's sense of entitlement. I don't fault O-Face for taking the extra time with Ben. If you have a connection with someone, by all means, spend as much time together as possible. But Olivia's faults lay in her delivery. Lace is not pleased with the stirring of the pot. That's her responsibility on the show and she won't stand for anyone else taking her job away.

 Lace asks for some alone time with Olivia. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, perhaps? If you can't beat them, join them? Both Lace and Olivia are their own particular brand of crazy and their conversation is bizarre. Lace calls O-Face out for stirring the drama but departs their powwow as she creates a scene for herself.

 Lace drunkenly pours her deepest secrets out to Ben. There is an acknowledgment of her current state of neurosis and tales of awkward childhood years. Ben is losing more and more interest in Lace as every detail emerges. Lace reveals that her Dad calls her Roseanne. Is this her real name?! Please, let Roseanne be Lace's legal name!

  Flight attendant Lauren interrupts Lace's heart-to-heart with Ben. Lauren was not one of the women who was included in any of the previous dates- the hoe queen race, chem lab experiment or the one-on-one ride along with the black guys. This should reveal to the audience that Ben has strong feelings for this particular Lauren. During their chat, he presents Lauren with a photograph that one of the producers captured from their first meeting. It's a particularly nostalgic feeling to look back on your relationship after two days of being together. 

 A bit later, another Lauren, also a blond dressed in a tight yellow cocktail dress, has some alone time with the bachelor. This is Midwestern Lauren, the Kindergarten teacher. Ben doesn't have a photograph to make this Lauren feel special but he did bring her a blue ribbon for achieving the largest volcano eruption during the science fair. Leave it to the school teacher to follow the directions better than the girls who are unemployed.

 Ben shares how positive he's feeling about this group of women. At this point, he's more concerned with who he is going to try and get famous with make things work with rather than if there is a woman in the bunch who he might be compatible with. I find it remarkable that Ben can find love with multiple women out of a group of 28 but I can't seem to find any strong contenders out of a field of about 2,800 on Tinder.

 Ben has another chance to chat with Momma Amanda. He takes this opportunity to make hair barrettes for her little girls. He's really making a valiant effort to prove how comfortable he is with the idea of being a Step-Dad. It's always been my opinion that the more you try to prove yourself as okay with a hot button issue, the more likely you are to be uneasy about it. Less is more, Ben. But Amanda is moved to tears of joy.

 Chris Harrison breaks up the cocktail party and informs Ben that it's time to deliberate which ladies will be staying on for week 3. Lace is a nervous wreck because her true character was revealed the person she didn't want to be came out. 

 The following ladies receive a rose: Amanda (the Mom), Jubilee (the war veteran), Lauren B. (the flight attendant), Leah (the football snapper), Becca (the virgin from farmer Chris's season), Rachel (the one that doesn't get any screen time), Lace (there are no words necessary), Jennifer (the Florida business owner that Ben kissed), Emily (one of the twins), Jami (another girl who doesn't get much screen time), Lauren H. (the Midwestern Kindergarten teacher), Shushanna (the alleged border bouncer), Haley (the other twin) and Amber (the other girl from farmer Chris's season who lost the hurdling contest). 

 In an unforeseen plot twist, it should be noted that one of the Laurens, "LB", declined Ben's rose. I'm not sure if it was the pressure of competing with other women that shook the Oklahoma native or if it was the wave of a check from a producer (gotta create some drama when there really isn't any). I am going to have faith in LB and guess that she just didn't want to be there any more. The Bachelor High homecoming queen race would be enough to send many a sane woman packing her bags. 

 The rejects: A girl whose name and background I can't recall (UPDATE: I think it was Jackie, possibly pictured above, bobbing for apples), Sour Sam (the newly minted attorney), and the wacky dentist, Mandi (THE BACHELOR HOMECOMING QUEEN- oh, the humanity!). 

 Next week's episode appears to actually contain some extravagant dates! Stay tuned for private plane rides, more hot tubs and maybe a few private parts! 

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I'm living life in beautiful Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I hold a journalism degree from West Virginia University. I have worked in television news, fashion marketing, PR, and cosmetic sales. My love for writing and sharing with the world my various passions is strong. One of my many ambitions is to be published and continue creating in the fields of digital and print media, literature and film. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, going to concerts, reading, following Pittsburgh sports and traveling as often as possible. Some of my favorite things include beauty, style, architecture, books, tarot and astrology, thrifting and my shih-tzu, Ireland. I’m engaged to the love of my lifetimes and we look forward to starting our next chapter together. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you!