The Bachelor Episode 4 Recap: Marrying Absurd
On episode four of The Bachelor, we approach the Bachelor singularity during an incredible trip to Las Vegas. Welcome to our weekly recap of The Bachelor.
We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the show began to take hold. The trunk of the car looked like a mobile police narcotics lab. We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, 20 hairblowers, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, sequined dresses, laughers and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a surprising amount of swimsuits and workout clothes, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls. All this had been rounded up the night before, in a frenzy of highspeed driving all over Los Angeles County – from Topanga to Watts, we picked up everything Chris Harrison and the girls could get our hands on.
Episode four starts off with Chris Harrison announcing to a roomful of bored contestants that they’re going to Vegas, and doesn’t stop from there.
According to the ever-observant Ben, Vegas is the “kind of place where people do get married, a place where people do find love.” Which is true, especially if a cocktail waitress has ever smiled to you at 4 in the morning after you blew through 20 g’s at a Caesar’s blackjack table.
The contestants are placed in a suite at the Aria that looks suspiciously similar to the Hangover suite, right after feigning to swoon at Ben’s “Welcome to Vegas. Can’t Wait To See You Soon” message on a video billboard on the strip. According to JoJo it was “the most romantic message ever,” which is just the kind of lowered expectations that will get you far on this show.
JoJo receives a date card, and Olivia expresses her displeasure that Ben is experiencing relationships with other women, which might be a red flag for a contestant on a show that routinely features a man snogging in various hot tubs throughout southern California. Meanwhile, just in case you didn’t remember, the producers feature a not-at-all-staged shot of the twins exercising together on the same treadmill, you know, like twins do.
As Amanda, Jubilee, Caila, Amber, Lauren B., Haley, Emily, Leah, Lauren H., Jennifer, Rachel, and Olivia find out that they’re going on the group date, Ben and JoJo head off for their solo date. The two sip champagne on a helipad before being greeted by yet another goddamn helicopter, as if this season hasn’t already spent enough time hammering home our tenuous relationship with air superiority already.
After puttering over the strip and doing the standard attempting-to-make-out-while-wearing-a-headset (and somewhat more successfully than Ben and Lauren B., for the record), JoJo and Ben touch down at the MGM Grand for dinner. Like usual they don’t spend any time touching their food — which, actually, seems acceptable this time, because honestly have you tried eating a nice meal while seated on the couch? It requires a level of concentration that I certainly didn’t possess while flipping between The Bachelor, Spurs-Warriors, and Vanderpump Rules while eating on my own couch — and instead JoJo reveals that her last relationship ended because of trust issues and “another person involved in the relationship,” which of course is a vulnerability that makes her an excellent candidate for a show that celebrates wedlock by having a man trade saliva with 20 potential suitors before settling on a mate. After the date the two head up to the roof for a skyline view of the strip, fireworks, and, mercifully, a noted absence of private concerts or another helicopter.
We find out that the group date is going to be a talent show, aptly titled “Show Me What You Got,” thanks to an uncomfortably-forced tie-in with Terry Fator, a Vegas ventriloquist act that apparently exists and needs money and/or exposure very desperately. Lauren H. expresses her relief that the show won’t require any “nipple tassels,” making her officially the best kindergarten teacher ever. But there’s a twist — besides having to come up with a talent besides crying while wearing makeup or cutting down other women’s appearance on national tv, the contestants will have to perform their talent in front of an audience of 1,200 senior citizens and people who apparently couldn’t get Cirque du Soleil tickets in time.
All in all the talents are pretty harmless, with Jubilee playing cello ~like a boss~, Lauren H. reading a lame poem while dressed in a chicken suit, the twins doing a bitchin tap dance, etc. But Olivia pretty clearly feels uncomfortable by the whole thing, and reverts to a weird sort of semi strip tease before succumbing to what seems at least like a genuine panic attack afterwards, shouting how she doesn’t want to be on camera and how she couldn’t believe she just did that. It’s an honest reaction of embarrassment after something you weren’t comfortable with to begin with bombs, coupled with the knowledge that a group of hostile women are picking the performance apart in front of cameras. Good thing Olivia’s always got a side hustle in the burgeoning field of journalism if her wedding cake career doesn’t pan out.
During the after party, Ben describes Caila as a “tigress… she’s like a… sex panther,” which is amazing not only for the phrase but also to think that Ben Higgins is quite possibly somehow the most articulate Bachelor we’ve had in recent memory.
Ben and Lauren H. bond in a super sweet way over Ben’s ventriloquist act with “Little Ben,” Olivia tries explaining her emotions to Ben before getting cut off by a conniving twin, Lauren B comes off as a pretty nice person to be around even if she repeatedly told Ben that she missed him (the same man who was forcibly relocated to Las Vegas by a cadre of tv producers), Olivia re-interrupted Emily the twin to pull a Lace and apologize to Ben for her actions, and Lauren B. walked away with the group date rose. The “can I grab you for a second meme” is already getting pretty old, but it serves to move the plot of each episode forward while still giving the women a decent amount of equal screen time and some semblance of narrative.
But the most important part of the episode by far comes during Ben’s solo date with Becca The Virgin (“BTV”). The day starts off with BTV getting a wedding dress delivered, in virginal white of course because ABC is nothing if not subtle. To be fair, as Jubilee points out, “If she hasn’t lost it in 26 years, I doubt it’s going to happen in 6 hours.”
BTV is driven out to Vegas’ Little White Chapel, where a tuxedo’d Ben gets down on one knee and proposes… that they marry other people. And it is here, ladies and gentleman, that we approach the Bachelor singularity. The Bachelority. Holy shit, the Bachelor has become sentient and perfectly aware of its own position.
For the next 10 minutes, Ben and BTV — contestants on a show that blatantly spits in the face of the institution of marriage before pawning it off to the Unilever family of products — proceed to marry other couples who are similarly coming to Vegas participate in the hollowest imaginable exercise of matrimony.
There’s a saying that any thought you’ve ever had has already been written better by Joan Didion. So just stop reading this and read Didion’s “Marrying Absurd,” and then come back when you’re good and ready to come to terms that the world’s most inauthentic, absurd pastiche of the imagery of marriage actually came out and got Bachelor Ben ordained so that he could consecrate the elaborate ruse of the institution for a bridegroom wearing an honest-to-god tuxedo shirt. Can it even be called ironic that a show that monetized the institution into a form of instant gratification and sarcastic wink-winking is now marrying actual participants in the same exact kind of instant gratification, performed in a chapel cloaked in the images and devoid of the responsibilities of marriage? It’s goddamn perfect.
After that little exercise in sanctimonious matrimony, Ben and BTV have a heady conversation about virginity, belief, and commitment in a graveyard for old neon signs, which seems fitting. More importantly, the producers almost certainly overdub the word “sex” with a rushed “jumping their bones” from Ben. What a fucking show.
The next day, Ben visits Emily and Haley’s home, since he ~just happened to be in the hood~ and is apparently having difficulty dating twins. Which means, at long last, WE’VE GOT A TWIN OFF!!
Honestly, a loser-literally-stays-home battle royale among twins should have been far more entertaining, which goes to show how weak Haley and Emily both are when devoid of their shared “occupation” as twins. We find out that Haley’s room is filled with definitely-not-planted photos of her and her ex, while Emily goes for the throat and tells Ben that she’s more into him than Haley is. In the most uncomfortable scene, Ben talks with the twins’ mother, who sports hauntingly similar hair to her daughters and offers a frank assessment of her daughters’ personalities, because only a mother can accurately sum up how her daughters interact with reality tv boyfriends in one twenty-second soundbite.
Worse, Ben then has to choose between the twins in their own living room, with both of the dachshunds watching too. Ben breaks up with Haley, who now presumably needs to find a new temporary occupation that isn’t “twin,” and we’re treated to a shot of Ben and Emily riding away, Emily calculating her next cold-blooded move.
And because time is a flat circle and we can only stand so many scenes of Olivia apologizing to Ben for being forced to uncomfortably perform a talent in front of strangers, we’re on to the rose ceremony! The women receiving roses are:
- JoJo (date rose)
- Lauren B. (group date rose)
- BTV (date rose)
- Lauren H.
Which means that Amber and Rachel didn’t receive a rose, and now have to go back to their harsh lives as unloved and unwanted spinsters. Or worse, Little Rock, Arkansas.