The fact that they are in Panama City makes me laugh. Living in Arkansas, the Gulf Coast is the nearest option for a beach vacation. And Panama City, Florida is THE place to go for Spring Break revelry. Or so I'm told. I've never actually been. But it's nearly impossible to encounter a person between 17 and 27 in this town who I have not heard shout "PANAMA!!!" at least once. Whenever I hear Panama or Panama City, I instantly picture stories told to me by some waitress at a local restaurant. So, I was hoping this episode of The Bachelor might enlighten me as to the finer points of the real Panama City. Instead, of course, it featured all the bikinis, alcohol, and shame I've already heard about. Yawn.
As we've already established, one must travel to exotic locales to find love. And that we can't travel anywhere without making cheesy FlipCam videos and ooohing and aaahing at whatever fancy hotel we get to take over. But this week, we get a special treat.
As the girls are in the lobby ooohing and aaahing, Ben arrives. In a giant Jeep. He parks the Jeep under the awning at the hotel. He grabs his suitcase and wheels it in. Now, while I didn't catch the exact name of the hotel, I did catch that it was a Trump property. Why Ben brings in his own luggage elludes me. Maybe The Donald has a standing policy that anyone with worse hair than his must carry in their own stuff.
Ben greets the women and makes small talk about Panama City. "Did you realize it was so metropolitan?" Um, no. Most of them are just now realizing it's not in Florida. Then he leaves the date card.
HOLD THE PHONE! Where is Chris Harrison?! HE leaves the date card. HE makes the speech about time and roses and spending time to get roses. HE explains how the dates work for the 900th time. This is an outrage! All I can figure is that since he had to show up three times last week, he had to sit this one out.
The first date card goes to KCB. She is, of course, super excited. The date card asks if their love will survive and instructs her to bring three items on the date.
She and Ben meet up and board a helicopter. They participate in some of the worst helmet talking in the show's history. Truly brutal. But, they also fly over the Panama Canal. That was kind of cool. The chopper lands on a deserted island, then flies off.
"We're getting stranded!", KCB exclaims.
Yep, just you, Ben, about 10 members of the crew... totally stranded.
Ben asks what items she brought along. She pulls out a stuffed monkey (I think that's what it was), a corkscrew that is also a knife, and a bag of candy. Aside from the candy, I see no value in any of those things. Me? I'd take a satellite phone, those tablets that make ocean water into fresh water, and Ozzy Lusth. Because he's my favorite Survivor ever. And I'd ask Ozzy to bring sunscreen, bug repellent, and - of course - candy.
Because he apparently thinks he is Ozzy, Ben brings the following things: fishing net, matches, and a machete. Which he pronounces "ma- CHET - ay". His fake Spanish accent gets worse every week.
Not Ozzy gets out the ma-CHET-ay and begins to hack at some coconuts.
KCB tells us that she's glad they are alone on this island because a lot of times couples don't survive when they are alone. Um, WHAT?! Do I even need to elaborate or can we all agree that this was one of the stupidest statements ever uttered on this show? Then next stupidest? "Watching Ben crack into coconuts is hot."
Yeah, because any time I've felt my romantic life was a bit lackluster, I could trace the problem back to lack of coconut cracking.
After successfully butchering a few coconuts, Ben declares that if he and KCB can accomplish this together, they can accomplish anything.
Then they toast each other with champagne glasses. Hmm, maybe her dumb corkscrew came in handy. After all, everyone stranded on desert islands comments on how good the champagne is. It, like coconuts, grows on trees, right? Or maybe the island was last inhabited by really fancy pirates.
Somehow, they are rescued from the island. I like to think they rode back to shore whilst holding the fin of a talking dolphin. But probably the helicopter just picked them up.
At dinner, they talk about how good they both look and how much KCB is looking forward to doing day-to-day things with someone. Ben asks about her normal activities. She says she likes to go to the grocery store and cook. Aaaaaannd... hilarious laughter when my friend Laura tweeted me "Does she not have a kitchen at her house?" (Side note: I love it when people tweet me during the show. I often can't respond right then but I read them all when the show is over and I laugh my fool head off. Please, feel free to join in the fun! @audcole)
Anyway, when KCB isn't getting removed from Whole Foods for attempting to prepare a meal over a hot plate in the bathroom, she also enjoys working out and spending time with her friends and family. Frankly, I zoned out. I was too distracted by Ben's giant watch. Seriously, I'm calling it Big Ben. He he he. I mean, who does Ben think he is?
Seriously, dude. If you're going to jack someone's watch, don't let it be Flavor Flav's. Have you not seen his criminal record? Attempted murder, yo!
Anyway, KCB. She goes on to tell Ben about an eating disorder she overcame and how it has helped her learn she doesn't have to be perfect. One thing I will never do is make light of eating disorders. Period. I will, however, say that if you come on a reality dating show, it's possible you might want to sit down with your therapist when you get back because I think you may have some unresolved self-esteem issues. Not to mention the whole new set of issues you'll acquire after going on a reality dating show.
Ben appreciates that she opened up and blah blah blah. He gives her a rose and they kiss.
KCB tells us that, on a scale of 1 to Wonderful... today was Fantastic. Now, I never can remember how this scale goes... is it 1, 2, 3, Unicorns, Glitter, Fantastic, Wonderful? Or did I transpose 2 and Glitter?
Next up, the group date. Once again, Courtney is included. So this should go well. Ben motors down a river in a ridiculously long boat. He parks (or whatever the boat term for parking is) along shore where the girls are waiting.
"Like my boat?"
Ugh. Ugh. A thousand times ugh. My husband and I have been together almost 10 years. During that time, at least once a week, he finds occasion to say "You don't need a nice boat if you've got a big deck." I think you can actually hear my eyes roll when he says it. So imagine how I felt when Ben said anything even remotely close?!
But Jamie? Jamie likes what she sees. She says "Ben is such a man's man. He drives this long boat right up to the shore. That's so hot!" Really? I guess maybe they are too close to the equator and the extra sun has gone to her head. Ben is not hot. Ben is not a man's man. Ben is, at best, a metrosexual Neanderthal. No offense to Neanderthals. Or metrosexuals. And also, not the kind of Neanderthal that goes out and slays a woolly mammoth. More like the kind who stays at the cave with the lady Neanderthals and prances around in the fur someone else brought back after killing a woolly mammoth. And says things like "Urgh. Fur is super shiny. Like fur. Urgh."
NeanderBen and the ladies get in the boat and head down the Chagres River. It begins to rain. Courtney uses the opportunity to say she's so wet. Again, ugh.
As luck would have it, some children are playing soccer along the shore. In some sort of loin cloth Speedos. They dock the boat. (DOCK! That's the boat word for "park"!) They follow the children into a village. Or, rather, they "stumble upon" a village. Because Panama is just full of villages were kids in Speedos recruit random passersby to come visit. And the rest of the villagers just happen to have extra clothing and body paint, should the random passersby wish to dress up and mock actual tribal customs. Which, as it turns out, is exactly what Ben and the women plan to do.
The tribeswomen dress the girls in beaded smock thingies. All the women elect to leave their bikini tops on... except... wait for it... Courtney! She says the other girls are such prudes. She begins shaking her beaded area. In front of the children.
The majority of the date is spent with Courtney's chest black-barred out. And, let's face it, it was a pretty generous black bar. A hyphen would have done the trick.
The women are, of course, appalled by this. And Ben, of course, loves it. He arrives in a loin cloth and surveys the women. He says he thought the women would be a lot more revealing but only Courtney was. And that he appreciated it in more than one way. Really? MORE than one way? Because I'm thinking he appreciated it in a very loin cloth-specific kind of way.
When the body paint comes out, Courtney paints "B + C = <3" on his shoulder. (An actual heart, but you get the idea.) She says she has to mark her territory. The two of them begin to bump and grind in front of the villagers. Courtney says "Why wouldn't I dance with the guy I'm interested in?"
I like that she always says "interested". For someone who clearly has the majority of Ben's attention, she doesn't seem nearly as into him. The reason for this is, of course, that she isn't. This is just a game to her. And, as she'll tell you over and over, she's "WINNING!"
Finally, before we leave the village, I thought you might like to see how Ben looked...
Um, what is the deal? Again, I normally don't make fun of weight and body issues because I've got a whole slew of my own... but I think if you're going to stand in front of a camera in a loin cloth, you waive the right to not be made fun of. So, by normal standards, Ben has an average body. But by Bachelor standards, he's incredibly lumpy! Honestly, I think he may be the worst Bachelor ever. He has terrible hair, he's boring, his face is weird, he's boring... and he doesn't even have a six-pack. A six-pack isn't something I normally care much about... but if you've got NOTHING else going for you, you better get to crunching!
Anywhoo, the date ends and everyone puts their clothes back on. Of course, they go to an after-party. Ben tells the ladies that he is so glad they were there today. With the rain and everything, he probably would have just gone back and tried it a different day. Yeah, Ben. You were already in Panama, already planning a trip down the Chagres, and these girls just happened to be there. Otherwise you'd have had to go back to your hut and wait until tomorrow to navigate the river? SHUT UP!
Ben takes Lindzi aside. They talk about how fighting is bad for relationships but crying is okay. He makes some jokes about Dumpsville. Benzi make out.
Courtney lures him away and says she just really wants to feel special and keep the spark alive and tries to convince him to come up to her room later.
Jamie speaks what are possibly her first words on camera... and speaks, and speaks, and speaks... telling Ben she knows she hasn't really shown him she likes him, but she does. And she wants to show him. All the while, Courtney has stripped down into a bikini and is lurking around the pool behind them. I mean, thank goodness they were by the pool or this whole bit wouldn't have worked, right?! Jamie talks more about what she "would love to do" to Ben. Ben tells us he can't focus because Courtney is flitting around behind him.
Next up, Emily and Ben talk. She says she needs to tell him something. There's another man in her life. It's recent, but she can't deny it. Ben looks a little concerned. Then she says "It's the chief!" Okay, I admit, I actually laughed. Mostly because, as you can see in the picture above, the chief is probably a step up from Ben. They also laugh and he says he's glad she'd done being in other people's business. And, because Ben Gambino can't go a week without making a threat, he says "There's no sense in making enemies."
Emily takes Ben's words to heart and decides to apologize to Courtney. Because normally that sort of thing goes well. The kind of nice girl apologizes to the bat crap crazy girl and the bat crap crazy girl is like "You're right. I am bat crap crazy. Sorry about that. Let's hug and sing Kumbaya." However, in this case, the bat crap crazy girl gives a speech about how she appreciates Emily acknowledging the problem but it's too little, too late. Because NO ONE puts Baby in the corner. I mean, NO ONE talks to Courtney that way. Period. Yeah, that's what she said "No one talks to me like that. Period." Well, actually, they do. What you mean to say is that you don't like it when people talk like that and you hold a grudge and are petty and generally evil.
Ben interrupts before Courtney can gouge out Em's eyes. He gives the group date rose to Lindzi. In the middle of his speech, Courtney sighs.
Later, we see her back at her hotel room "fixing up" because she's sure Ben will stop by. Of course, Ben doesn't stop by. Maybe because she's probably in the suite with the other women. Or maybe because someone said "You know what would be great? If you could act like Ben stands you up. Maybe say how you have a pattern of dating men who appreciate you in the beginning and then take you for granted. Add in that you are consistently disappointed by men. Then cry. Because, you're so awful he's probably going to pick you... and we need at least a little footage of you appearing to have normal human emotions for when we try -and fail - to piece together a believable love story to air during the reunion show."
For the last date of the week, it's a two on one. The date card arrived stating something about saving the last dance. Then the
The two girls going on the date are Rachel and Blakeley. Both look like Hooters girls but only one actually is. Blakeley spends her time telling everyone she's confident she'll get the rose. Rachel plays the role of "Ohmygoodness this is going to be so awkward!" Well, what she actually said can be expressed by the acronym "FML", but that's not very nice.
For their date, Ben greets the girls while wearing a tablecloth. Seriously, blue and white gingham shirt. Not a good look for him. And it was all wavy and gave me a headache. So we can rent private helicopters and hire musicians for concerts, but we can't camera test a shirt? Score!
They arrive at a place... um, a theater or a dance studio or something. It looked like a miniature Dancing With The Stars set. Which is good, since they are going to be salsa dancing. In very broken English, the teacher tells them this will help see who have chemistry, good or bad. The teacher shows them some moves. Rachel dances first with Ben. In the end, she gives him a little peck and declares they definitely have "chemico". I'm still not sure if that's good or bad. Or even what that is. Because the Spanish word is "química", but that is definitely not what Rachel was declaring they have.
What Blakeley has, apparently, are moves like Jagger. Moooo-oooo-oooo-ooooves like Jagger. She salsas it up real nice with Ben, refuses to let Rachel cut in, then repeatedly wraps Ben up with her leg.
Ben declares that salsa is sweaty and sexual. Really? I mean, sometimes if the peppers are particularly hot, it makes me sweat a little, but sexy?
Rachel tries again to get Ben's attention with some awkward hip gyrating. It doesn't work. She then tells us she's not really sure why Blakeley is using so much of her sexuality around Ben. Okay, earlier when I said KCB had one of the stupidest lines ever, it's because I forgot about this one. Yeah, Rach, no clue why Blakeley flaunts her sexuality. Men hate that.
At dinner, Blakeley shows up wearing a men's dress shirt. Which I'm told men also hate. However, to make it a "dress", she clamps a large belt around her waist. They sit down to a meal but Ben starts pulling the girls aside first. I'm not sure why. Now the food will be cold. I hate cold food. I mean, I like ice cream... but hot food that gets lukewarm? No way. Also, I don't like cold cuts. Unless they are heated up.
Anyway, he and Rachel chat first. She gives a long speech about wanting to stay. They kiss. Or whatever you call it when you press your lips against someone's mile-wide overbite.
Next, Blakeley and Ben visit. She says she's nervous and wishes he would have taken her on the one-on-one instead. Then she shows him a scrapbook she made during their "journey". Yeah, okay. Because I'm sure the penthouse at the Trump hotel in Panama City is just overflowing with Creative Memories items. On the front of the book, Ben Flajnick is drawn in marker with hearts and stars. Inside, magazine clippings of words that remind her of the places they've been. I am so not making this up. No pictures of them or anything, just words cut out of magazines. Unibomber style. But Ben seems like someone who would find the Unibomber hot, so they kiss.
Back at dinner, where no eating went on that I say (probably because the food got cold), Ben picks up the rose. He makes a small speech and gives it to Rachel. Blakeley jumps up. Ben chases after her and is all "Let me explain!"
This from the guy who, when Ashley rejected his proposal, was all tough and "I don't need your explanation. Forget you!"
He tells her how much he appreciates her opening up to him and blah blah blah but their relationship just hasn't progressed like the others. (Read: Courtney showed me her cans. You, with your massive cans, haven't. Bye now.)
She cries. They hold hands and hug for a really long time before he puts her in the car. Again, SHUT UP! No way a girl like Blakeley with tattoos up her entire forearm is going to cry over Ben. Or let a guy who just dumped her hold her hand. Or make a scrapbook. Hogwash. Hogwash, I say!!
Back at the hotel, the guy who gets to travel the world on the company dime just in case he has to dramatically remove a suitcase from a room appears. And removes Blakeley's suitcase. The girls gasp.
The next day, Chris Harrison comes to the suite while the girls are just sitting around chatting. Nice he could get out of the hyperbaric chamber and join us in Panama, right? But, if he's here mid-day, there must be trouble afoot!
Chris pulls Casey S. aside. It's okay to admit if you didn't even know which one she was before this. Anyway, as it turns out, 3 people back in the States have contacted Chris about her. I love that these things always happen when they are out of the country and Chris feels the need to clarify that the information came from "back in the States".
Apparently Chris heard that Casey was still in love with someone called Michael. She says Michael is her ex-boyfriend, that's all. Chris then reveals that he's spoken with Michael. (It's okay if you want to make a hushed "ooooh" sound to really add to the contrived drama.) Michael said he and Casey were practically living together before she left. The waterworks start.
Casey laments that, as much as she loved Michael, he never wanted to get married, so she moved on. He pulls more details out of her. She admits that she still has hope Michael will change. She adds "Maybe I should be in therapy." And, well, the only part about that sentence I disagree with is the "maybe". However, by "therapy", I mean with a mental health professional. Not Chris Harrison. Granted, he got a lot of exposure to all things psychiatric during Brad's season, but still. Find a real therapist, sweetie.
Casey goes on to say she just wanted to move on... and maybe she could fall in love with Ben. Yeah, maybe. He's pretty lame and acts like a hormone-laden 14 year old most of the time, but he says he wants to get married, so that's something. Or, maybe Dr. Chris should just keep prodding until you finally admit you still love Michael.
Upon finally admitting she still loves this Michael person, Chris marches Casey up to Ben's room to tell him the news. He apologizes for dragging her all over the property without shoes on. Because sending a PA 20 feet inside the building to get some flip flops for her would have been silly. This is better.
They arrive at Ben's door. He acts completely shocked. After all, he and the camera guy were just hanging out, shooting the breeze. It's not like they were expecting this.
The conversation with Ben is pretty uneventful. She admits to still having feelings for another guy. Ben says "The heart wants what it wants" and says it's best if she go home. She and Chris leave. She begins crying and saying things to Chris at a supersonic pitch. He says he feels like she came here hoping things would change, not with the intention to deceive anyone. For my part, I have no real opinion on this. She was such a non-factor this season that whether she had a boyfriend the whole time or whether the "not over him" scenario is the whole truth, I don't really care. It doesn't seem like Ben does either. Though, for good measure, he does a Meznick on the balcony outside his hotel room. Well, a semi-Mesnick. Just the awkward balcony clinging... no tears.
Chris loads Casey into a van. I think she was still shoeless. She had no luggage. And, though we see scenes of the van racing down the highway, the scenes inside the van with Casey clearly show the van going about 2 mph and circling the same stretch of hotel. All that to say I think they probably let her get her shoes after she had sufficiently cried for the camera.
Chris returns to the suite, gives the girls a synopsis of the Casey ordeal, tells the girls Ben said once again to be open, then says this won't work for anyone who isn't open and they should just leave now. Newsflash: Unless you're open in the Courtney sense of the word, this isn't going to work for you. And even then, it will work in that you'll get engaged on TV and gain notoriety after a well-publicized break up...
When the Cocktail Party begins, everyone takes Chris' advice and decides to really open up.
First, Nicki talks about her feelings and they kiss.
Then Courtney tells the other girls she actually feels like she might be on the chopping block tonight. As they have perfected throughout this episode, the girls gasp. Courtney ends with "Just kidding!" You know, she's a terribly human being, but if she had went with "Psyche!" instead of "Just kidding", I would have actually given her a cool point.
Next up, Jamie. Oh, Jamie. Jamie, Jamie, Jamie.
Jamie tells us she needs to show him she's sexy and a women. That she can please a man. She wants to turn him on. She says "I'm a prude, but..." and then continues removing all dignity from herself.
To Ben, she says "I've been thinking about the things I'd like to do to you..."
At this point, my husband had returned to the living room and began shouting "SERIOUSLY?! THIS GUY?!?!"
I think all of America joined with him in saying "Amen!"
Jamie awkwardly straddles Ben. I mean, any time you straddle someone on TV, it's awkward. But when he has to help you adjust your dress, even worse. She kisses him and plays with his hair. She says she doesn't want to be fancy with anyone unless she really likes him. Ben says "This is fancy?" (Read: This is fancy? Courtney stripped down and let me violate her in the ocean. I'm going to need more than this.)
They try to kiss again. Ben says "If you're going to make out with me, you're going to have to stop laughing." She goes on to formulate a plan and tell him specifically how to kiss her. SPECIFICALLY! Like start with his mouth closed, then open, then do this, then do that. They kiss again, to no avail. And by kiss, I mean, well, I don't know what to call it. I didn't watch that special on TLC called Virgin Diaries about the couple who waited for their first kiss until their wedding day... and then she practically ate his face off... but it was a lot like what I saw in the previews for that show.
Finally, he says he just can't handle the instruction book and calls and end to the kissing.
Seriously, it's haunting me how bad it was. The only thing I can think to even compare it to is a scene from Friends, of course, where Monica strips for Chandler - only take away all the humor and up the awkwardness by a factor of a bajillion. (I'll add the video later. It's not letting me do it right now. I think even YouTube is embarrassed by how awful the Jamie and Ben thing was.)
Jamie walks away from the kissing adventure and says "I was trying to let him have me but I don't think he thought it was cute." Cute? Only if "cute" and "horrifying" mean the same thing. Also not cute? Desperation.
Ben can handle no more. He begins the Rose Ceremony. Even my psychic prowess is compromised after seeing the Jamie ordeal. Suffice it to say his roses were given out to everyone who didn't terrify him to his very core 2 minutes earlier.
Rachel... all already had them.
Emily... got the remaining roses.
With nothing more than a "Bye, Jamie" from Ben, she was sent home to face public ridicule and hopefully join the Witness Protection Program. I know she's not actually a witness, but I'm thinking they'll make an exception and help her start a new life under an alias. It's really her only hope.
Furthering my witness theory? The man who loads her up into the car for her drive of shame looks suspiciously like a famous police detective... (He also looks suspiciously like that wretched outfit Ben wore last week in Puerto Rico, but I'm trying to block that from my mind... so let's go with the police detective thing.)
My radio recap for this week is HERE. And yes, I still sound stuffy.
As for next week... Belize. And apparently more women confront Ben about Courtney. I'm sure that will go well. He never takes up for the naked model.