Bachelor Feb 28 – Lions and Tigers and Boars (or Bores), Oh My!

Hello again, Bachelor fans, and welcome to South Africa, the venue for this season’s fantasy dates. I’ve been having a case of busy life this week, so this recap is going to be short and sweet, unlike this episode which was long and semi-sweet at best. Let’s just say that it’s sad when the highlight of a two hour show is the cast announcement for a different show.

As we start off the episode, Brad is sitting in a hotel in New York City, staring at himself in the mirror, having a Stuart Smalley moment. The therapy bachelor hasn’t seen his counselor Jamie is several episodes and needs to repeat to himself “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough [for this show anyway], and gosh darn it, people like me.”

Brad packs his collection of plaid shirts and boards a plane to South Africa, where he has plenty of time to think about each one of his final three ladies, complete with video clips. Somehow when I reminisce, it doesn’t seem quite so produced.

Apparently the ladies also head to South Africa, but we don’t see any indication of them spending any time together. Instead they each show up riding on some cool vehicle that that looks half car and half boat, like the Duck Boats they use for tours at Wisconsin Dells. There are gorgeous animals all over the place, and unlike on Survivor, I don’t think they were symbolic of action of the show. At least there weren’t any snakes on the plane. That would be terrible.

Safari, So Good-y

Chantal shows up first, wearing a pair of Daisy Dukes. They cuddle for a minute and then hop back in the Duck Boat for a safari date. They drive past a family of monkeys towards a pride of lions. It is really quite beautiful. And honestly, the rest of the date seemed perfectly pleasant while at the same time painfully dull.

I don’t recall any discussion about whether or not they are going to opt for the fantasy suite in lieu of separate rooms. I could have happened while I was zoned out from boredom, but I’m not sure that they even had that as a logistical option, and they end up spending the night up in a very funky tree house which didn’t appear to have two separate rooms, as it didn’t actually seem to have even one room. It looked like fun for a couple of hours, but at some point, I’d be in favor of having a bathroom available. If their idea of a bathroom was a coffee can under that bed, then it would be a treehouse of horrors rather than a fantasy date.

Pachyderm Parade

Next up is Brad’s date with Emily, and she arrives wearing shorts and cowboy boots. Brad greets her by running away for what seems like an eternity. Here is a programming note to ABC, these episodes do not all really need to be two hours long. Seriously, you could cut them back, we won’t riot in the streets like all the hippies who have overrun the capitol in my home state of Wisconsin.

In what likely smells about as bad as the capitol building in Madison, Emily and Brad are about to embark on an elephant ride. They bounce around on the backs of the elephants, and I’m reminded of the episode of the Thailand season of Survivor when Brian and Clay rode an elephant as a reward. That season was great, and Brian has always been unfairly overlooked as a great player and master manipulator. Perhaps it is because Brian was really an adult film star and not just a car salesman like he told the producers, but come on, Richard Hatch was buck naked (and not a “good naked” as Seinfeld would say) for half of his first season and was still asked back for an All Stars season.

Brad and Emily have dinner and then get the card inviting them to forgo their separate sleeping accommodations if they want to share a fantasy suite. Emily agonizes over whether it is appropriate for her to take this invitation as she is cognizant of being a good role model for her young daughter, but eventually capitulates and joins Brad in an indoor suite for some time to talk and cuddle.

Unlike the treehouse, the only thing memorable about this fantasy suite is a plate of weird flan-like dessert sculpted into the shape of a heart. For some reason, I was fixated on that plate of flan and missed most of what Brad and Emily were saying. Until I picked up that Emily declared herself in love with Brad and then he reciprocated. What? Is he allowed to do that, just go and declare himself in love with one of the contestants when there are three left? Maybe he had gotten away with it because he had managed to lull the producers to sleep with his boring date and they didn’t catch it either.

Carnivals – no. Carnivores – yes.

Finally we have Ashley’s date. She leaps out of the Duck Boat and wraps her legs around Brad in her custom “slither hold” move that she is so fond of this season. They start off by wandering through the brush, and Ashley remarks that it reminds her of their first date where they walked through the woods to the private carnival. Brad doesn’t understand what she’s trying to say, and he is trying to let her down gently that there isn’t actually a Ferris wheel. Ashley is young and somewhat immature, but I don’t think she really thought they’d encounter a midway in middle of South Africa. She was trying to re-kindle the spark from their first date by reminding him of it, not actually re-create that date. This was just the first of many uncomfortable verbal exchanges they had for this date.

Rather than a carnival, Ashley and Brad finally reach their destination, which is a helicopter. Ashley has an annoying nervous freak-out about flying in the chopper. Brad reminds her that he’s had at least half a dozen dates involving helicopters in his two seasons as The Bachelor and they are old hat to him. She’s bummed to be brought back to reality that she and Brad are not alone in the world, and that he is in fact a ride that many have taken. This doesn’t sit well with Ashley.

While in the chopper we get more footage of cool animals, and they fly over something called the eye of the world. As if to stick a large thumb in the eye of the world, Ashley and Brad cannot seem to stop their uncomfortable conversations centered around whether or not Ashley can even seen herself in his life. There are more discussions of Ashley’s future plans, but Brad notes that they don’t seem to discuss a future together. There are endlessly circular and frustrating discussions about whether they could have a future.

I’m frustrated that my favorite Shawntel was sent packing, as she would have at least tried to have fun on the date. Brad is frustrated with himself that he can’t communicate to Ashley, and this is not a fun date. She’s completely turned away from him (and towards camera number 3 – how uncomfortable that must be to have cameramen swirling around into position while having this fight about their “relationship” in front of a camera).

This date has gone horribly. So should we opt for the fantasy suite? Oh why not prolong the uncomfortableness. At the end of the date, Brad says he’s afraid that he’s screwed things up with Ashley. I’d argue that Ashley screwed things up with Brad and Ashley, but I’m willing to give Brad credit for an assist with that one. Stick a fork in this one – they can’t even agree to disagree.

Rose Ceremony Refugees

At the end of the episode, Brad chats with Chris Harrison on a porch with pictures of the three ladies. Brad tosses out something “amazing” about Chantal, and then claims that he feels like he’s known Emily for a decade. Then he admits, “My date with Ashley was rough.” He tells Chris that this decision seems cut and dried. Isn’t that what you do with bait before you go fishing? I’m just saying, it’s time for Ashley to update her Facebook status.

They start the rose ceremony, and for the second time in this episode, Brad wanders off the set. Brad wants to talk to Ashley for a minute in private (except for the camera crew that follow them). Brad wonders how their relationship took such a nasty turn and why they have such lousy communication. Here’s a snippet:

I don’t know if I fit into your life.
I still have questions even after hashing it out for hours.
I’m entirely incapable of reading the writing on the wall.
I’m apparently waiting for God himself to send a burning bush to tell me that this relationship is dunzo.

Perhaps there was divine intervention at some point, because they end up with Brad telling her “I need to tell you goodbye.” He spares her the agony of going through the rose ceremony only make her watch two other ladies get roses. The communication problems continue, and he can’t even let Ashley slip away into the Range Rover / limo without more awkwardness and telling her “what’s wrong with you?” to which she replies “I’m just a little bit hurt right now” because you just dumped me, you oblivious jerk. Maybe she didn’t say that last part, but I definitely heard it.

Unlike Michelle, Ashley seems to talk all the way out of the jungle in the back of the limo. The mascara is running, and Chantal and Emily are standing around all dressed up, wondering what the heck happened. Brad says that he always thought that Ashley was one of his final two. Did he think that when he gave the other Ashley the first impression rose? When he told Emily that he loved her? When he invited Chantal up to his treehouse for a night in his bed? Let’s hope they have psychologist Jaime on speed-dial for his final episode.

He finally returns to Chantal and Emily, tells them that he sent Ashley packing, and that he cares too much for her to make her go through a rose ceremony and not get a rose. So, does that mean he doesn’t care for any of the other 22 women who left earlier? This guy just can’t seem to quit sticking his foot in his mouth this week, yet sadly, none of his comments are funny.

Brad gives his self-deprecating talk about only wanting Emily and Chantal to stick around if they want him too. Chantal accepts his rose, as does Emily. Hippos hanging out in the water snort some water in approval. Next week, they are heading to Cape Town where Emily and Chantal will meet Brad’s family. Or is it the cast reunion where the women tell nothing first? I think it will be the later, and Ariel will cover the action (or sad lack thereof). Until then, enjoy your treehouses.

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