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A patch of green grass, rolling hills, soft music and Brad, with bare feet and a football, ruminating on his experience after the first night; hold onto this image as it is the last bit of serenity you will see in the second episode of Brad means it this time.

Chris Harrison uses his announcer voice: Ladies! Join me in the living room!

Thank goodness Chris remembers his lines for this opening salvo, though we could recite them as well. All the lovelies listen intently as he gives the ground rules for the season, then, as always he produces a white envelope, lays it on the table and tells them it is the first date card then makes a hasty exit. Chantal O. dives for the envelope, opens it and reads: Ashley H. – the road to love is a wild ride. Brad. Ashley H. is over the moon and so amazed that he chose her.

White Wine and Cotton Candy

Brad arrives at the mansion after dark wearing a suit. Ashley H. greets him wearing a cocktail dress all fluffy in the skirt. Once in the car they start driving and end up on a dirt road which freaks out Ashley H. In fact she states, “I’m freaking,” while Brad tries to calm her nerves. They get out of the car in the pitch black night and carry lanterns over rough terrain to a designated spot with an over-sized switch. When they pull it down, a zillion lights come on and a carnival with rides and games is revealed. They turn into a couple of teenagers going on the rides and acting all flirty and romantic. (Though with the creepiness factor, I want to scream, “Don’t get on the Carousel!”)

Mansion interruptus: A knock on the front door heralds the arrival of the second date card which is picked up by Melissa and read by Marissa. It is for the group date which includes: Sheltie, Chantal O., Madison, Melissa, Kimberly, Marissa, Raichel, Britt, Megan, Emily, Stacy, Alli, Shawntel N., Michelle and Lisa.

Returning to the carnival, we find that Ashley H. and Brad continue to have fun and laughs. Brad says that this girl is the entire package and that he really likes her. She goes in for a whopper type kiss. When they break apart, Ashley H. asks to do it again and they do. Truly, it was a great kiss, both times.

Brad: I love this date!

Things turn serious as they sit before the rose on a platter. Ashley tells him that because she had a bad father experience, she prepares herself for the worst. Brad can’t believe that their stories are so similar and opens up to tell her of his life with his dad. Ashley opens up with her fear that he is here to redeem himself; which Brad starts to answer with a request, “Ash, may I call you Ash?” He answers that he isn’t here for redemption, but to find love. Heavy talk leads to heavy rose offering. Accepted, of course, which leads them to jump onto the Ferris wheel and kiss once again.

Brad: Very first date and I feel like I’m on my way to find my wife.

This is the point in the episode where the sappiness ends and house fights begin.

Bring Out Your Fangs (or Whiny Women Who Don’t Play Nice)

For your scorecards, I will note that there are three main Drama Queens unveiled and unleashed. DQ1 is Michelle (“I am a woman.”) DQ2 is Melissa (“I’m not a psycho, you are.”) DQ3 is Raichel (the Manscaper who makes men scream.)

Michelle greets the day of the group date by announcing; “I’m 30 today – happy freakin’ birthday to me. I feel like I have more wrinkles today.”

Melissa tells us that she feels like this is a pivotal moment for her, that she came here for Brad and she’s going to bring it like always.

The 15 girls arrive at the date destination to find Brad standing among film crew and Becky from the American Red Cross. Once they have hit their marks in a semi circle, he tells them that they will be donating their time to the Red Cross by making PSAs for the January blood drive.

They troop off to wardrobe and makeup and take five minutes to memorize their scripts for different scenes which will be filmed. Lisa is envious that Madison gets to wear a cat woman outfit, and poor Keltie complains that playing a butch female bull rider with a neck brace doesn’t show her off at her best.

In the middle of one of her many whines about today being her birthday, Michelle declares that she thinks the claws are coming out, she can feel it.

Melissa informs us that she gave up a lot to be here. Duh.

Prior to filming, the girls jump up and down on a prop bed and manage to break it; Brad has hair applied to his chest by two makeup women. I wonder if he screamed when the women ripped it off of him after the scene was shot; a return to the manscaping horrors of last week? The reason for the chest hair is that, as Brad puts it, they are going over the top with a Spanish soap opera to prove that blood giving is NOT dramatic. (Hang onto Brad saying the phrase, not dramatic, it becomes his mantra from this time forward.) They do many takes with this scene where maid, Emily and wife, Stacy pull him back and forth with kisses. Brad rather enjoys the fact that many takes are needed…that is, until Melissa decides she has had enough, runs in and grabs Brad for a kiss of her own.

Raichel surmises that Brad is scared of Melissa..

Michelle leaves the set because she feels out of sorts and unappreciated. She is annoyed with the kissing and feels like a number. (Well, she is…DQ1) It is her birthday, you know. Brad chases after her and cajoles her back into good spirits. He promises her a fun evening party with no kissing.

With relief in sight, we peek in on the girls left at the mansion only to hear them talk about Michelle and her problems.

On the set featuring the now repaired bed, Britt is nervous about the make-out scene with Brad, claiming she is a bit of a prude. But, she goes through with it as a threesome with Chantal O. and Brad. It looks as though the prude didn’t show up…my goodness she gets into it and shocks the other girls.

Before the real commercial break, they give us the Blood Drive PSA titled, It Takes All Kinds, which features only those sitting at a cafe table with Brad, including sad Keltie in a neck brace, and none of the kissing scenes. Will the Red Cross actually request that this be run during shows other than The Bachelor? Rhetorical.

Another knock on the mansion’s front door prompts Ashley H. to bring in the third date card. “Jackie, let’s get our love on track. Brad.” (On track – the writers crack me up and you’ll discover their little joke when the date takes place.)

The after-party for the PSA date is held at the Roosevelt hotel’s rooftop deck.

Brad: Drama free, right? Let’s have fun!

He takes Melissa aside first and she feels giddy and nervous after their little talk.

Michelle goes second and tells him she wants to cut to the chase. She vamps him with, “You’ve got walls and I want to peeeeel off the layers.” Brad is taken aback because just the night before he let down his walls with Ashley H. and now someone thinks he still has them up.

While Brad is off taking time with each of the 15 girls, Melissa and Raichel get into a word slinging match. Chantal O. thinks that the two of them have forgotten why they are there and that they should just duke it out.

Quick scene change as Brad dives into a pool filled with bikini clad babes. Holding the date rose above the water he wades across the pool and gives it to Michelle because she put herself out there and it’s her birthday. (Lame, Brad…you did it because it was her birthday and she played you.) Michelle flaunts the rose with a lazy, teasing wave to the other girls in the pool. Using her scary, I should be in a straight jacket vamp voice, she tells us she got what she wanted for her birthday, she got a rose.

Pretty Woman (aka The Cinderella Date)

Brad comes to the mansion to pick up Jackie in daylight. He teases her with an unknown destination, which turns out to be The Peninsula, a hotel in Beverly Hills where they are treated to a spa treatment for two. (I slap my knee with laughter when Brad and Jackie hold oily hands across the massage tables, both in a mud face mask.) After that lovely pampering, he tells her to close her eyes and leads her into a room filled with evening gowns and shoes, all her size. She can’t close her mouth for the wonderment of it all.

While Jackie chooses her outfit, we sneak into the backyard at the mansion and overhear Emily talking to her daughter on the phone. It is very sweet as she catches up on the news of the day, yet bittersweet for her as she hasn’t told Brad that she is a mom.

Jackie, now beautifully gowned, greets Brad, who looks spiffy in a tux. He does the “Pretty Woman” presentation of a case and proceeds to drape her in jewels. Brad thinks she is sophisticated, classy and elegant; the perfect one for this date. A chauffeured car takes them to the Hollywood Bowl where the entrance sign reads, For Jackie, Love Brad. Do I get an Ahhhh as Jackie is over the moon that her name is in lights?

They enter and proceed down the stairs to the requisite Bachelor raised platform where they sit at a table holding goodies, wine and a rose on a platter. The stage and back drop are lighted a deep blue and they get into their serious conversation. Jackie reveals her lack of relationship experience and Brad thinks she is in the same place he was three years ago, and that scares him. Yet, because he likes her smile and the way she opened up to him at the first night party, he offers her the rose. She accepts with a smile.

All of a sudden the stage lights go from dark blue to many different warm colors. The stage revolves from back to front and the band, Train, is revealed rocking an upbeat song to which Brad and Jackie attempt to dance. Once they move into a slow, romantic song, Brad holds onto Jackie and sways back and forth. He says, “All I cared about was holding her close to me.” He plants a long, slow kiss on her. Everyone sigh along with me. (awww.)

It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To

Brad feels comfortable, good and confident walking into the pre-Rose Ceremony party. “Let’s have fun!” (Good luck with that, Brad.)

Before the glasses are lowered from the welcome toast, Michelle grabs Brad and drags him away for a talk. The others wonder what is so important that, even though she has a rose, she must talk to him so urgently. If they could overhear, they would be grinding their teeth because she goes for early relationship trivia; in other words, she doesn’t want the others anywhere near him.

Emily, who is next to sit with Brad thinks Michelle is pretty much ridiculous. During her session she tells him that it will take time for her to open up and he replies that he is patient. (She does not mention that she is a mom with a daughter, so that anxiety will grow.)

Just when Brad thinks out loud that everyone seems happy, they cut to the Melissa/Raichel drama. They snipe rapid fire at each other during which Raichel says Melissa is like a toxic disease to her; but then she gives up on the direct confrontation and walks away as Melissa claims victory on the battlefield. Others chime in: Ashley S. tries to calm Melissa down while Marissa says that the competition is riling everyone up. Melissa, who never cries, cries to Madison. Chantal O. thinks the process not only brings out everyone’s true colors, but negativity.

Melissa is in full tear mode when it is her turn to sit with Brad. The others run outside to try to overhear, and comment that it looks like he wants to be saved from her. She rants about Raichel until she realizes she ate onions on four slices of pizza and must share that bit information before returning to her rant. Nice guy and (No Drama, please) Brad wants to get to the bottom of Melissa's victim-hood. So, of course, the next person in the hot seat is Raichel.

Raichel tells Brad that she is having a bit of technical difficulty with Melissa and cries on his shoulder.

He says the two of them confuse him.

In the living room where all have miraculously gathered, Chris clinks his glass and says it is time to find out who is here for the right reasons. Of course, confused Brad is unable to do this on his own, so they bring in the previous Bachelorette, Ali and her fiancé, Roberto to help him sift the wheat from the chaff. There will be a fourth rose presented prior to the Rose Ceremony and they will also act as advisors to Brad on who should receive it.

The two psychologists, I mean former travelers of this road, take seats by the fire and the first applicant vying for their approval makes her way over. We aren’t privy to more than one or two questions to three or four ladies, but somehow, in the end, they make their choice and wish Brad good luck. Oh, I almost forgot (now how could I) Melissa thinks that Ali is the only one there who could understand her persecution.

Once Ali and Roberto wave good-bye, Brad picks up the rose and asks Emily to join him. He bathes her in kind words, and she says it makes her feel special. After which Chris clinks his Rose Ceremony glass for real and the scene changes from sitting and sniping to standing and smiling.

Roses for All But Three

When Chris greets them he acknowledges that “things” have kicked up a notch in the house. Brad enters the room on a deep sigh and states, “It’s been a long night.”

Rose Order:

Ashley H. 1:1 Date Rose
Michelle Group Date Rose
Jackie 1:1 Date Rose
Emily Party Rose

1. Chantal O. (I’m not last this time.)
2. Sarah
3. Alli
4. Kimberly
5. Shawntel N.
6. Stacy
7. Ashley S.
8. Madison
9. Lisa
10. Marissa
11. Megan
12. Lindsay
13. Britt

Kicked to the curb are Melissa, who once again tells us how much she gave up to be here, and Raichel, who doesn’t feel she should be crying because that would mean Melissa won. It looks like Brad un-confused himself the simple and easy way. Poor Rockette Keltie, who didn’t look her best as a butch bull rider with a neck brace, now tells us that this was her LAST CHANCE! That she had tried every other kind of dating and it looks like she might as well forget finding a man and stick with kicking.

The Preview shows Brad and his group date being blown up. It also hints that one of the women walks out during the Rose Ceremony with Brad chasing after her. Check in with LG. next week to get the scoop.