Bachelor Season 20 Episode 2: Every rose has its slightly intoxicated, dryly cutting thorns
The second episode of Bachelor picks up right where it left off, with Lace powering through what for ordinary women must be a earth-shattering red wine hangover to declare that her desire to win another rose has not waned, but if anything her resolve has stiffened like Chris Harrison’s perfectly-quaffed hair.
The house’s first date brings half of the remaining women to “Bachelor High,” a high school in Southern California that for one day has been turned into a playground for the contestants to relive the everlasting glory of an American secondary education.
Despite building hopes up that the dates would play out just like high school dates, with Bachelor Ben and his chosen partner feverishly groping each other in his stepmother’s basement while pretending to watch a DVD of Lost season 2, the day actually turns out to a relatively tame and decently cool set of challenges. The women pair off into teams of two, with the last woman standing crowned Bachelor High’s homecoming queen, which actually turns out to be maybe the most affirming way to choose a homecoming queen out of a group of catty, self-absorbed group short of breaking up your homecoming tiara and tossing it into the crowd during your acceptance speech.
Ben makes some light sexual innuendo and jokes about statutory rape while comparing the attractiveness of the contestants to his teachers, as the teams try to make volcano explosions, bob for apples, and guess the geographic location of Indiana on a blank map of the U.S. In the end, the last two contestants must run a hurdle race to determine the homecoming win, and Mandi absolutely dominates Amber in a stunning display of her Amazonian strength. Her off-kilter personality and physical prowess would do well on another show like The Challenge, but even Mandi seems to know her screen time is limited.
At the group’s after prom at an undisclosed L.A. hotel rooftop bar, Becca The Virgin (hereafter referred to as ‘BTV’) flirts with Ben at the bar’s basketball court,1 thrusting basketballs towards the hoop that magically go in as the camera cuts away to see the producers bank three shots in a row in.
After BTV gets out her virginal Kobe on the court of love, Ben invests his tongue with Jennifer the small business owner, which brings Lace to DEFCON levels to ensure she gets the rose. You have to credit Lace, she’s nothing if not determined and at least a little bit tipsy yet again. Lace tries to reverse the perception Ben might have gotten from her earlier as crazy by butting in on his conversation with Mandi, reminding Ben that she’s not crazy, cutting Ben off every time he tries to speak, and doing her best to non-consensually eye-fuck the daylights out of him.
After Lace has had her moment, Jubilee enjoys what passes as an emotional connection with Ben, talking with him about how she was an adopted kid, a tender and human moment that Lace does not take kindly to, walking in on Jubilee to finally convince Ben that she’s not crazy by telling him repeatedly that she is not crazy.
After Ben is mercifully extracted from the scene, he takes JoJo up to the building’s helipad, which I’m 99% sure is the roof of the Nakatomi Plaza from Die Hard, making Ben, what, the Hans Gruber of The Bachelor? The Holly McClane? This guy?
Yeah let’s go with that.
JoJo and Ben kiss on the helipad, which let’s be real, looks pretty effing sweet. Way to go Bachelor producers, you’ve saved love for another day, or at least another goddamn hour of network television.
The next morning is reserved for a very special surprise one-on-one date with Ben and Caila and a not-at-all-forced-Ride-Along-2-tie-in Ice Cub and Kevin Hart. All in all there are only 5 shoe-horned references to Ride Along 2,2 which is better than we can expect from the demonic overlord of corporatized joy Chris Harrison. Side bonuses to their appearance include Ben clearly being more familiar with Ice Cube’s filmography than his music career, and the fact that their appearance on the show increases the diversity of The Bachelor by like 300%.
During Ben and Caila’s chaperoned “cheap date” masterminded by noted romantics Cube and Hart, Ben haggles for flowers with a roadside seller, buys condoms and Hennessy at Ice Cube’s behest from a liquor store, and Hart exposes himself (or at least has a giant black censor box placed from his rib cage to his knee caps) in a hot tub store to Ben and Caila.
Afterwards, Caila and Ben go to a barren restaurant where they sit with untouched food in front of them as Ben tries to act vulnerable without seemingly actually knowing what that means. He’s really doubling down on the “I feel like I can’t be loved” bit from season 11 of The Bachelorette. Caila shares a surprisingly mature story of an adult relationship that didn’t pan out despite its storybook start, which should probably serve as a pretty auspicious warning flag about the success rate of a reality tv dating show.
The date is capped off with a private performance of Amos Lee, which really makes me worry that The Bachelor blew its load on incredible date ideas in the first go-around, because it’s actually pretty great. Amos Lee, ever the consummate pro, doesn’t seem terribly fazed that he’s performing “Sweet Pea” and “Learned A Lot” in front of two strangers awkwardly side-hugging one another in an otherwise empty theater, and Caila (obviously) goes home with a well deserved rose.
The next day, the second half of the group enters the ominously-named “Love Lab Technologies,” which looks kind of like a Bed Bath & Beyond photo shoot exploded inside the medical facility in Zoolander. Inside, a plastic-faced “Dr. Love” escorts the women through a series of inane pseudo-scientific studies to determine their love compatibility with Ben, including him describing the sweat of the women and getting thermally imaged while he touches their breasts, all of which amounts to the scientific equivalent of a Buzzfeed quiz administered by extras wearing lab coats in a 15-story building in Beverley Hills as images of DNA flit through the lab’s TV screens.
In the end, what’s more surprising than Olivia being dubbed the best match was that Dr. Love could emote anything besides aghast shock through his plastic surgery. After the date, Olivia and Ben make out, after which Olivia reports feeling butterflies and heat in her stomach, which if that shit lasts for more than four hours you should definitely consult Dr. Love.
Back at the house, Amanda tells Ben she has two kids at home, and Ben to his credit doesn’t run and never look back until Pasadena, but instead desperately tries to play it cool even if Dr. Love’s thermotherapeutical sensors could probably sense his discomfort back at good old Love Lab Technologies.
Although Olivia gets dat group date rose, she seems to press her advantage a little hard at the cocktail party, butting in on Ben and setting herself on a crash course towards Lace’s almighty fury. Lace answers the call with great resolve and aplomb, storming in on Ben and reminding him that, although she knows she’s coming off as crazy, she actually is not, in fact, crazy. Thankfully she’s interrupted by Leah while Lace is starting to dig deep to try and pull out an endearing childhood story, giving us a few more montages of Ben making sex eyes at women trying to connect with him and make barrettes for Amanda’s children, an idea by the producers that absolutely blows Amanda’s mind away.
And at the end of it all, the rose ceremony, because time is nothing but an endless cycle and we are all slaves to Chris Harrison’s impeccable sense of dramatic rising tension. Here’s who gets a rose:
- Lauren B.
- Lauren H.
- Caila (already received a rose)
- JoJo (already received a rose)
- Olivia (already received a rose)
And who leaves:
- LB (who chooses to leave after getting offered a rose, BECAUSE THE BACHELOR STAKES ARE TOO HIGH FOR SOME WEAK-WILLED PEOPLE TO TAKE)
Tune in next week for more fun and veiled misogyny, and be sure and follow along with our weekly coverage here.