Everyone seems to have an issue with someone or something this week, even if most of the beefs seem wildly overblown, melodramatic, hypocritical, or just completely in line with this study about women hating other women who look sexy. (We have not come a long way, baby.) And then there’s Ben — who seems oblivious to 90 percent of what’s actually being said and done around him. Apparently it’s not his business how his potential future wives act when he’s not looking!
This week the winemaker takes his bachelorettes to his hometown of Sonoma, CA for the first individual and group dates of the season. Last season, Brad Womack and Ashley Hebert enjoyed their own private carnival as a first date. Ashley and William Holman went to Vegas for the first date of The Bachelorette Season 7. This season, the first date is majorly scaled back to hanging out in Ben’s comfort zone — pet dog and all.
It may be less glamorous and dramatic than other first dates, but it’s a great idea. If you want this “journey” to end with a real relationship — and we really, really do, delusional or not — you have to throw the occasional bone to realism. This is the bone. Besides, our favorite date from Ashley’s season was when she just bummed around in her PJs with JP Rosenbaum — and you see how they’ve turned out!
Date card: Kacie B. (Ben told Entertainment Weekly that he chooses who goes on the dates, not the producers.)
Courtney tells the camera she would like to see Kacie go home. “She’s kind of annoying.” We have to assume that quote was intended for Kacie and not just spliced together that way. It’s easy to believe, since everyone hates everyone this season.
Ben and Kacie have a very low-key date. He walks her around Sonoma and teaches her some piano tunes. Ben’s take on Southern women in general is that they are family-oriented. Kacie declares that Ben brings out feelings in her that she hasn’t felt in a long time. In a candy shop, Kacie somehow finds a baton and tells Ben that she was a baton twirler when she was younger. She teaches him some moves. Ben is really excited about it, more than he is about most things. They march down the street. It’s not exactly a gangbuster date, but at least it’s realistic.
They have dinner downtown and you can see someone taking a photo of them across the street. At dinner, Ben talks about his late father. He has fond memories of Sonoma, from when his dad wasn’t sick. They talk about Ben’s parents’ relationship. They were very much in love. Kacie says her conversation with Ben was really easy and natural, but it sounds like they spent most of the time talking about Ben. Other than Ben saying he needs to see “The real South.”
Ben gives Kacie a rose. He says meeting Kacie has reaffirmed that doing The Bachelor was a good decision for him. He can see her in Sonoma. It’s a nice date, but definitely not that memorable from here. They kiss.
Next they go into a downtown theater and Ben surprises Kacie with a private screening of their home movies. Because it’s never too early to embarrass yourself with awkward personal stories! Baby Ben bares his butt, which is a nice foreshadowing of later in the season. We see Ben’s dad, which was probably the point of showing this. It offers the softer side of Ben. Ben tears up. Kacie tears up. Ben says it’s been five years since he’s heard his father’s voice. It was a very personal and intimate thing to share with someone so early on, Ben said. True. Bonding moment. They kiss again in the theater.
Kacie: “I think that I have found what could be a lifetime of love with Ben.” That was fast, girl. Slow it down a bit.
Ben tells the ladies he’s hired the best playwrights in all the land and they are going to be doing a play. The writers are little kids. Ben loves kids. His community is built on family. It’s very sweet. But this is The Bachelor, which is built on cattiness. The ladies love that Ben is good with kids — just like Ashley Hebert loved when Ben played soccer with the kids on The Bachelorette.
The kids audition the ladies. They make Jennifer act like a weasel. Shawn has to be a pig. Samantha does a dragon. Jaclyn and Nicki do princesses. Brittney doesn’t know how to act like a hippie. Blakeley is falling out of her outfit but they ask her to jog in slow motion. It’s not like she knew they would be acting for kids! But maybe someone should tell her Ben is a butt guy, not a boob guy. The ladies have to wear goofy costumes, including a gingerbread man for Blakeley. Samantha gives that this horrible/awesome line: “What do you get when you cross a gingerbread man and a hooker? Blakeley!” This from the beauty queen.
During the production, Ben actually shows some personality as the prince. He transforms into a sheep, which may be too on the nose. Monica was the dragon, who got to blow Ben’s clothes off. He showed a not-too-shabby bod under there. Nice one, man. (But... in front of the kids? Really?!) Both Nicki and Blakeley sound like they are planning lives with Ben already. They both also look vaguely similar, although Nicki gives off more of a bright-eyed DeAnna Pappas vibe.
After the show, everyone sits around drinking, staring at the group date rose. They all want it.
Blakeley plays a confident game, joking that she’s not going to take the rose in front of the other ladies. It’s just a classic trash-talk game, but they take it so seriously. Samantha and Nicki say Blakeley comes off as bold and full of “sh-t.” But what’s wrong with being aggressive and wanting a rose? What show do these girls think they’re on? Everyone calls Blakeley nasty names. Samantha says “I feel really sad for people like Blakeley. She's such like a cougar. She's so, so desperate.”
For some reason Samantha sobs in the bathroom, supposedly about Blakeley being fake and sexual. Really? Hard to buy. She says the nastiest things about Blakeley. Is she drunk or just mean-spirited in general?
Later on the date, redhead Jennifer steals Ben away for one-on-one time in the pool. Their conversation is kind of awkward but they kiss and Jennifer said their smooch was “dreamy” and “perfect.” She says she could easily be on her way to falling in love with Ben. Not feeling this either. Come on, now. It’s time for a real connection to form.
Blakeley — a super-passionate Scorpio with confident kissing skills — has some private time with Ben in the pool. He says she came out of her shell that day. For some reason the other ladies watch as if she’s doing something remarkable. Jennifer just kissed him so what’s the big deal?
Ben gives his rose to someone who really owned the day … Blakeley. The 34-year-old VIP cocktail waitress the other girls looooove to hate on. Suck it, ladies!
Courtney is already trash-talking Lindzi Cox. “Ben gave the first impression rose to the one person that I had the worst first impression of,” Courtney told the cameras, adding that the horse really got the first impression rose, not Lindzi — which is TRUE. “I’m not going to beat a dead horse,” she says.
Erika Uhlig says there’s something off about Courtney, but really she just seems to be the next Michelle Money. If it works, it works.
Date card: “Courtney, Let’s spin the bottle … Ben”
Kacie reads the date card to the group. Courtney responds to Kacie with, “How’d that taste comin’ out of your mouth.”
Kacie seems to take offense to that. Or just offense to Courtney in general. Were these ladies born without senses of humor? Is there a telethon we can support for them? Erika, another pageant girl, decides Courtney is not a real person because Courtney is going out of her way to get under the other girls’ skin. Welcome to The Bachelor.
The actual date is really nice. Ben calls Courtney one of the most beautiful women he’s ever seen, but he wants to know if the connection is more than skin deep. Considering his “connection” with Blakeley, skin deep works just fine.
Kacie tells the camera no one is impressed with Courtney, which sounds like jealousy since no one is impressed with anyone who gets Ben’s attention for more than five minutes. But to jump into “you are not a good person” — as Kacie says of Courtney — seems a bit harsh. You’ve known her how long? Love and hate and such judgment all seem a bit too much at this point.
Ben, Courtney and Ben’s adorable dog Scotch go for a walk in the woods. This is a very pleasant, natural date. They look good together, which seems to be the most important thing at this point. They also howl together in the woods. This is the best date so far.
Courtney says it’s been a while since she’s been on a date because she’s been “doing me” for a while. She says she hasn’t been asked on a date either. So was Ryan Seacrest’s source just plain wrong when they said she dumped a long-term boyfriend to go on The Bachelor?
Scotch has taught Ben that he does want children. Not *quite* the same thing, but... Both Ben and Courtney believe they are in the same place in their lives: Good work situations, just need someone to fill their lives. Ben says Courtney is the full package. She’s smart, witty, drop-dead gorgeous. “It’s almost too good to be true.” Dun-dun-DUN! Scotch whines at them, as if in warning.
That night at dinner, Ben says Courtney has exceeded his expectations. He’s worried, again, that she’s too good to be true. Ben talks about himself — partying and living it up was his escape until he went on The Bachelorette and basically grew up a bit. Even his friends back home noticed his change. Ben wants to know why Courtney is still available. She says she meets guys in L.A., but she’s just not interested in them. Sorry, Jesse Metcalfe! She has trust issues, which may be tied to her finding underwear in the bed.
They have an “aha moment.” Ben gives her a rose. She makes him think “big picture.” He’s into her. Hard. Infatuation alert!
Before the rose ceremony, Ben sits down with Lindzi and they reaffirm their first impression rose relationship. They do seem to have an easy conversation. Ben likes that Lindzi can dress down and be a little country. Dirt is her makeup?
Ben pulls Samantha aside. Samantha says she hates drama, which is a sure sign of someone who loves drama. While she’s gone, Blakeley talks to Erika about getting the group date rose. The other girls get upset about it again, as if Blakeley should be ashamed of getting the rose. Put on your burka and be silent, Blakeley!
Blakeley steals Ben away from Samantha, even though she already has a rose. Right on cue, the other ladies bash the heck out of her. The other ladies do the classic argument of it being wrong that she steals Ben away but the whole point of being there isn’t to get a rose, it’s to see if you have a real connection with Ben. The ladies seem to be questioning Blakeley’s morals, even calling her a “bitch” and a “Stage 5 Clinger.” But based on what? It’s confusing. Why not just get up and go after him yourself instead of sitting on your butts?
Ben sits down to talk with Jenna, who is already panicking about Blakeley for some reason. Why is she an issue for her? Jenna tells Ben she’s a guy in how she acts, so being around girls can be tough for her. Once again, she has trouble articulating her point. “I’m not like a girl,” she says. Jaclyn steals Ben away but does anyone jump down her throat about it? No. That’s reserved for Blakeley.
Now The Jenna Meltdown has begun. We see her crying. About what? Blakeley? Really? They are going to blame her for that? Jaclyn calls Blakeley a bitch and Kacie calls her toxic, but it’d be nice to see what they are basing that on. Her big boobs? It just seems like classic mean girl mob mentality.
We see Blakeley hiding in the corner, apparently upset by all the cruelty. Jamie has a moment where she tells Ben she feels awkward and she doesn’t feel comfortable pulling him away.
Ben finally notices there is tension and emotion in the house. He understands why the girls don’t get along with Blakeley. He thinks she may not be the best at communicating with the girls. Why isn’t her old friend Monica Spannbauer defending her? Blake goes and hunches in Blakeley’s corner in the luggage room to try and make her feel better. Is she drunk as well as bullied? Or just unhappy because of the other girls?
Ha! Right after having to visit the luggage corner, Ben has to drag Jenna out of bed to stop her from crying too. No more booze!
Ben says he feels reassured that there is someone there for him. (Scotch!) Kacie, Courtney and Blakeley already have roses.
Chris: “Ladies, Ben, this is the final rose tonight. When you’re ready.”
Who goes home? Jenna and sweet single mom Shawn are eliminated. (So the spoilers are right so far.) We didn’t hear anything from Shawn all night. Bad Ben! She seemed like one of the only nice ones.
Jenna is in shock. She hugs herself and has the tearful meltdown the show has been teasing for weeks. “I’m mortified,” she says. It doesn’t go on too long, so maybe they scaled it back to save her a teeny bit of embarrassment?