|Caila, JoJo, Lauren|
- Caila: One of the most beautiful women he's been around with a smile that lights up a room.
- Lauren: Seeing her for the first time was the closest thing he's ever experienced to love at first sight. Could it be too good to be true?
- JoJo: Outgoing, fun and brings out a new side to him to that's more confident and playful.
The first date is with Caila. The couple is happy to see each other. They spend a leisurely afternoon floating along the Martha Brae River. Conversation is lacking. Awkward silences. Caila is anxious just thinking about the other two women who will also have fantasy dates with her boyfriend this week. Ben can sense the tension and asks what's wrong. "Melancholy" is the seventh grade vocabulary term he feeds to a producer type when describing Caila's mood. The day hasn't been what Ben had expected.
The couple retreat to an island bar where a few coconut drinks provide enough liquid courage and dopamine for Caila to swing to the happy side of her personality. By the time that dinner rolls around, she's once again in
a manic state good spirits. She doesn't want to have any regrets. She attributes her depressive episode from earlier to being nervous to tell Ben that she loves him. Riiiight. Caila attempts to spin and manipulate the truth by telling Ben that she "appreciates" him for noticing that she was "off." Who thanks someone for noticing they're in a bad mood? She finally tells Ben she loves him to make up for her lack of charisma from earlier and he buys it hook, line, and sinker.
The first FANTASY SUITE card arrives.
"Should you choose to forgo your individual rooms, please use this key to stay as a couple in the fantasy suite. Love, Chris Harrison"20 Seasons, 15 years and that damn card always reads exactly the same (as it should to keep with tradition!)... but the handwriting is always different. Chris Harrison has so many different styles of cursive that he would perplex even the savviest of handwriting analysts. Either that or a lowly production assistant is given the grand honor of writing out the fantasy suite cards each year. I appreciate a classic, handwritten note. I like that there isn't a printed card accompanied with sexual innuendo emojis attached.
Ben and Caila have a late night swim in the ocean as they watch fireworks. Caila says that she could "live in this moment forever."
"I could wake up in the morning and know for certain that Caila is the woman for me." It's good to know what Ben is basing his decision on.
The next morning, Caila is optimistic. "I can see myself waking up next to him for the rest of my life. We woke up as a couple. He didn't have to say he loved me back. I felt it."
After Ben leaves Caila, he meets up with his other girlfriend, Lauren (hopefully after a very long shower). Lauren is her usual bubbly self. "There's something about the water and sunshine." Spoken like a girl who grew up in the Portland but moved to California for brighter days.
Ben and Lauren will be spending their day releasing baby turtles into the wild. "We're helping turtles SURVIVE!" exclaims our bachelor. As I watch the couple bathe the adorable little turtles, I wonder if it would be possible to take one home as a pet. Calm down, PETA! This would be the ultimate souvenir. Would the turtle require a makeshift pool for its habitat- how large? Would it be suitable for city dwelling? If the turtle outlives both Ben and Lauren, will they bequeath the amphibian to the local zoo?
Ben and Lauren both say that they've missed each other. Ben tells Lauren how much he loved her perfect family. "You're too good for me," Ben says. Lauren feels the same way. She wants to tell Ben that she loves him but the other relationships are still on her mind.
Ben and Lauren wind up at a local beach bar with a fantastic Jamaican band playing a song with the lyrics, "so in love with you." The synchronicity is not lost on Lauren as she smirks toward the camera. Ben is having "an incredibly fun day with Lauren. She's so good to be around."
During dinner, Lauren opens up more to Ben. She tells him that she's invested and feels good about what they have but doesn't know where he stands with the other women. Lauren says that all of this is very real for her and tells Ben, "You're the man of my dreams."
Cue the second fantasy suite card. Lauren says that she needs time alone with Ben away from
the camera crew distractions. Ben tells a producer that he's "head over heels" for Lauren.
Lauren has her own chat with a producer type. "This is the night to do us." "Put it all out there." "Let all the walls down." "Open up." "All or nothing." Maybe there was an emoji memo attached to that fantasy suite card, after all. ;)
Lauren tells Ben that she's "completely in love" with him but these aren't new feelings. Ben breaks The Bachelor code of conduct and admits "I've known I'm in love with you for awhile as well."
You'd think that if the bachelor told you he loved you on a show where he's not supposed to admit his feelings that you would be the guaranteed choice but don't count your roses before they bloom.
Lauren says that waking up next to Ben is "a dream" and something that she wants to do for the rest of her life. Ben reaffirms his love for my pick from night one as he departs for a date with his final contender.
Another day, another woman. JoJo will be joining Ben for a tropical adventure. Ben admits that his heart is with Lauren but he has to
sleep with JoJo "explore things" with JoJo to know for sure.
JoJo is ecstatic to be spending the day with her boyfriend in a serenely remote locale. After the helicopter drops them off in their own private oasis, Ben leads her to the beautiful YS Falls. I love the name because it reminds me of one of my favorite designers. As JoJo and Ben leap from a cliff (with JoJo looking smoking hot in an adorable bikini, might I add), she says it was "an incredible moment" and that she "feels safe with Ben."
|Is that a bottle of Red Stripe in your swim trunks or are you just happy to see me?|
As the couple spend time on a rock overlooking the Jamaican waterfalls, Ben probes JoJo for further insight into their relationship. "There's not a doubt in my mind that I want to spend my future with you," she says. "I do love you." Ben shocks JoJo when he shares that he loves her as well. "What?! Are you allowed to say that?" Nope. He's technically not supposed to say anything. After 15 years, the producers have finally figured out that this is sort of a critical thing to hear in order to accept someone's proposal. Through the magic of editing, it's completely okay for the bachelor to say back those three magic words. Duh!
Ben doesn't know what to do. He's in love with both JoJo and Lauren but neither woman is none the wiser. I wonder why none of the finalists on the show have ever spied on the other fantasy dates. The producers stupidly seclude each of the women. That's where they're making a mistake. Think of all the drama that could ensue with a pair of binoculars and a sonic sleuth listening device.
When dinner rolls around, Ben admits that in the back of his mind, he's having flashbacks to
sleeping with two other women the previous nights before the other things he did this week.
JoJo is feeling confident and safe with Ben. "It was the best day of my life!" It really is tragic when you think about the fact that for part of that day, Ben was "with" someone else.
Ben is feeling hesitant about JoJo's brothers who weren't exactly welcoming. "If they don't support our relationship then that's a concern." JoJo says that her brothers were just being protective and that the entire situation was surreal. She thanks Ben for not running away.
When the third and final fantasy suite card arrives, JoJo tells Ben she would love nothing more than to spend the night with him. The couple enjoy champagne in their private hot tub before exchanging "I love yous" in the bedroom.
The next morning, kisses and snuggles are exchanged. Ben tells JoJo how cute she is and that they're "on the same page." JoJo is a user of the term of endearment "baaaabe."
Ben seems to have really enjoyed himself with the exuberant brunette. "Last night with JoJo was one of the best nights of my life." And this, ladies and gentleman, is why the fantasy suites are crucial. You gotta test drive each model before you decide which is the best fit.
Despite Ben's perfect date with JoJo, he's still reflecting on the other women. When Lauren is brought up, he has this to say. "I've been enthralled by her since the moment I met her."
As for Caila? "For some reason, I can't get there with Caila." Hmmm. Very interesting choice of words post-fantasy suite, Ben. Caila, on the other hand, has no clue of the reality of the situation. Someone must have slipped her some uppers because she heads to surprise Ben. As she scours the hotel suite with her hands giddily over her mouth in steeple position, I can't help but remember Rebecca Sealfon, the 1997 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion (bitch stole my title).
I can't handle the forced perkiness. I read Caila like a book. She's not the burst of sunshine she wants you to think she is. As she surprises Ben, he's taken aback. He tells Caila that he's glad she came over. She immediately senses the discourse is not headed in the right direction.
Ben tells Caila that he's in love with two women but she's not either of them. Ouch. He attempts to sugarcoat. "I just couldn't say it (I love you) back to you and I don't know why." He goes on to basically tell Caila that she's his perfect wife on paper but it's not there for him. Caila's mood quickly swings and tells Ben it sounds like he's feeding her a line. That sounds familiar. Maybe she should date one of JoJo's brothers who shared the same exact sentiment. Ben tells Caila that he really will miss her... but not before she jumps out of her escorted vehicle to ask one final question.
"Did you know you were going to let me go before you slept with me?" "So, did you know this week?" Ben skates around the issue. I have a feeling Ben's not being able to get there might have had something to do with the break-up. But not really. He simply liked the other women more.
Caila realizes that slamming Ben will only make her look like a fool (and lessen her chances at being selected as the next bachelorette!). She has a manic mood swing and goes from tears to smiles and back to tears again. I just don't trust this girl. Ben is emotionally exhausted with her as well.
Caila shares with a producer how she's feeling. "I thought I'd be getting engaged in a week and a half. I was ready to be his wife." At 24-years-old, Caila doesn't know why she hasn't found love yet. Through tears (she's an adorable crier) she says, "I thought this was it! I didn't see this coming! I still love him!"
The unnecessary rose ceremony (two women, two roses) resembles a scene from Sister Wives. JoJo and Lauren seemed friendly enough throughout the season but their energy has shifted. They're now the only ones remaining, competing against each other, for the man they both love. JoJo is on a bit of a confidence trip, unbeknownst to her, Lauren is as well. Thinking that she's the only one who Ben told he loved, JoJo asks her competitor "Are you the most anxious you've ever been?" Lauren keeps a poker face and isn't really giving in to any of it. "Um, no. He told me he loved me, you hussy," Lauren thinks to herself.
Ben awards the first rose to JoJo and the last to Lauren. The order could be read from two different perspectives but I'll withhold judgment until after the final rose. Ben tells a producer "I could picture both being my wife." My money is still on my original pick, Lauren. We shall soon find out!