It's off to San Francisco for the final 16 girls, which is sure to end in either a nervous breakdown in the City by the Bay or, possibly, someone jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Given how cray-cray this season has been thus far, I just can't rule it out.
The jealousy erupts as soon as the bags are unpacked and a date card is delivered to the girls' hotel room. Emily gets the coveted one-on-one. Because Emily has a deathly fear of heights, Ben wants to climb to the top of the Bay Bridge with her. Great idea, Ben! Maybe he can find out if any of the girls are afraid of spiders so he can lock one of them in a glass case filled with tarantulas, "Fear Factor" style. Ben may not want to listen to the suggestions of the producers too closely, because if you're looking for love it's awfully hard to find that, even with the right person, if you've caused them to wet their pants on national television.
At first, Emily thinks it's fun to climb the bridge. It's perfectly safe, after all. There are two metal clamps and a harness protecting her from becoming road pizza. Then, they start going up an incline. Naturally, Emily has a panic attack. This is, for some reason, a surprise to Ben.
Back in the hotel room, Jennifer just happens to be looking through a telescope that a show intern has probably just happened to aim right at the bridge, and she sees Ben and Emily climbing. Everyone is just thrilled that Ben's taken Emily for a trek up a bridge, as they all know she's afraid of heights. Maybe she'll cry! Or vomit! And Ben will get so tired of her he'll give her a push into traffic below! Fingers crossed!
But Ben has a cure for Emily's panic attack. He kisses her. I would think that maybe this isn't the time or place, but Emily, inspired, trots right up the incline as if it's no big thing. She felt butterflies, but they were GOOD butterflies! Ben and Emily make out at the top of the bridge. I was hoping she might smack him first, but no such luck.
On the ground, they continue their date. Emily tells Ben that she tried online dating, but was matched up with her older brother. Ben does not run screaming from the restaurant, so he must really like this girl.
She's most afraid of rejection. And heights. One of them will not kill you, Emily.
Another date card arrives at the hotel room, and 11 girls will be going on the group date. Blakeley, Jaclyn, Kacie B., Erika, Samantha, Monica, Rachel, Nicki, Kacie S. and two other people whose names are rattled off too quickly for me to catch will be lumped together on some fun activity.
Back in Romanceville, Ben gives Emily the rose. He likes that she's quick and witty and loves that she climbed the bridge without puking on him. He also tells her that his father loved his mother because he thought she was smarter than he was, and Ben thinks Emily is smarter than he is. Kudos to Ben for having the humility to actually look for that in a woman. That being said, I think Emily's smarter than he is, too.
They drink champagne and watch fireworks go off over their heads. The girls in the hotel room are sad -- that MUST mean that bitch Emily got a rose!
Time for the group date. They're going skiing. In bikinis! On the streets of San Francisco! It's been on Ben's leap list for a long time. Did everyone else know about leap lists but me? They're like bucket lists, but they're the things you want to do before you make a big commitment to, say, marriage or child rearing. Yes, less grim than a bucket list, but it does kind of make marriage seem comparable to death. Just a thought.
A street is closed down, covered in snow and tons of people come out to see the nearly naked idiots skiing downhill, most of them badly. This is like a beer commercial run amok.
But because it's a group date, it's also a chance for Ben to judge his harem. He likes the fact that Kasie B. ate snow but had a great time. So, she's klutzy and doesn't have any aptitude for one of his favorite hobbies, but as long as she's happy!
At the hotel room, Lindzi is hoping for a solo date. But no, it's time for Brittney to get her chance at love one-on-one. Lindzi is sad. Courtney gives Brittney the glare of death. But Brittney is worried she won't have a good time. You can almost hear the record scratch. What? Jennifer thinks Brittney should shut the hell up, because all the other girls would pry out their silver fillings for what she's gotten. Plus, Brittney has received a very ugly necklace shaped like a key with the initials S.F. in the center, and God knows they all want that, too. I think these women would also accept a vial of Ben's spit in a glass container or a wad of his chewed bubble gum.
Brittney knows she should be thrilled, but she feels torn and confused. Because a date is life or death! Or something! Basically, I have no idea what this girl's problem is. Just go on the damn date, Brittney.
Back to the group date. The girls are fully dressed and drinking, so drama should ensue any moment. ButBen thinks there won't be any drama during the evening, because he's a delusional optimist who hasn't been paying attention. He takes Rachel for some alone time. She thinks he's so cool and chill! Ben thinks she's laid back, too. It's important for him. They kiss. A lot. The other girls watch this and hate it. Damn Rachel and her laid back chillness!
Kacie B. is having a hard time, so she drags Ben out onto the sidewalk. It's so hard for her, competing with other women! Ben tells her to focus on their great date. He can't console her with words, and he seems a little frustrated that she wants him to, so she kisses him. Ben thinks she sparkles. He likes her. They kiss some more. I'm glad Kacie realized Ben wasn't her therapist or her BFF and stopped whining pretty quickly.
But speaking of whining, Brittney talks to Emily about her feelings of confusion about Ben. Maybe this isn't right! Maybe she shouldn't be in a house with all these girls! She's going to go home. It's the hardest decision of her life. What? Okay, then stay, dummy. It's so hard for her to leave. She has to follow her heart, and her heart isn't in San Francisco, despite what Tony Bennett tells her. She packs her little rolling suitcase and tells the other girls good-bye. They pretend to be sad as they quickly push her toward the door.
On the group date, Blakeley tells Ben that the other girls hate her. Boo-hoo for Blakeley. Instead of seeing this for the red flag it is, Ben hopes that the show won't be too hard for Blakeley. He tells her to focus and try to make friends. Not possibly, Ben. Just then, Brittney shows up with her suitcase. She tells Ben she was so thrilled to get that one-on-one date -- but he shouldn't waste his date on her.
Ben thinks this sucks, and Brittney thinks she might regret this. Yes, she will! Why the hell not go on the damn date, see how you feel, get to know the guy and sort it out? If it's that she can't stand competition or thinks the other women are just crazy enough to try to slip ground glass into her mouthwash, fine, but she hasn't been able to articulate any real reasons for her exit.
Ben says that her departure represents the fact any of the women can leave whenever they want. Well, yeah, they're not under house arrest. But that should be an idea for next season!
Oh yeah, back to the date. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, Brittney. Ben gives the group date rose to… Rachel. She's thrilled. Kacie B. is quietly irritated. He's HER boyfriend! Hers! You girls go away! Nyah!
Ben reveals he was on the fence about Brittney anyway, so he's more than happy to give the one-on-one to his second choice... Lindzi. Courtney scowls and sucks on her overbite. She may be a model, but man, she has a face like the inside of a spoon.
Ben and Lindzi get on a trolley car. He wants to see if Lindzi can hang with San Francisco. Geez, t's not the outskirts of Mumbai, Ben, just relax. They go to Swensen's and get ice cream. They go to Chinatown. Lindzi is so excited! They go to San Francisco City Hall. No one is there, because it's closed -- but not to Ben! He unlocks the door and a band starts playing just for them. They dance, which means they sway back and forth in some sort of rhythm. Ben thinks Lindzi is sexy. They kiss. Lindzi doesn't normally kiss boys on the first date. Um, you'd better get over that on "The Bachelor." Ben thinks she has potential. They kiss some more. Lindzi is so excited!
They go to dinner, and Ben wants to know why she's still single. She was with a guy for a year and a half and he broke up with her via text message, that's why! Ben is appalled. But she's glad it happened, because she doesn't need someone to complete her. Still, she wants someone. Ben likes that she's independent and doesn't see her past hardships as anything more than speed bumps. He's utterly impressed with her. She gets the rose. Ben thinks Lindzi is the complete woman. Lindzi is so excited!
Ben and Lindzi play piano together, or more specifically, Ben plays piano and she thumps on some keys. He thinks she has something special. There is more dancing/swaying back and forth. I think Ben could greatly benefit from a season on "Dancing with the Stars."
Lindzi doesn't think anything could ruin her night! Yay! That means something WILL. As in, someone is joining the gang. But who?
Courtney has everyone toast to the idea of staying drama free. Yes, Courtney, because it's everyone ELSE who's the problem. Ben comes in and suggests a toast to San Francisco. He's so happy!
Jennifer tells Ben she really likes him. She thinks he's dreamy. He thinks she's the best kisser in the house. That's your cue, Jennifer! They kiss.
Now we move on to our mystery guest. She fell in love with Brad on "The Bachelor" a year ago, but he sent her home. This is her only chance with Ben! She's thinking this could be a total fairytale. It's… Shawntel, the funeral director. Chris Harrison greets her, then tells her to freshen up and get ready for action. She is going into battle, so she might as well look nice.
Courtney thinks the girls are naive and juvenile. She thinks Nicki is an idiot, which is not a juvenile thing to say AT ALL. She thinks Blakeley is the kind of girl your boyfriend cheats on you with. Courtney accuses Lindzi of being judgmental. Lindzi tries to respond to this like a sane person, which causes Courtney to leave the room. Too much drama! Emily thinks Courtney has a personality disorder and thinks she is bad for Ben.
But guess what? Courtney has found Ben, and he really wants to let her know he's been thinking about her. He missed her! She missed him! Ben can't believe he's feeling so strongly so quickly! Barf. She can handle the drama of the other girls. Because he's worth it. They kiss. I wish she'd stop sucking on her overbite. She thinks they'd make cute babies. She doesn't feel threatened by ANY of the girls. Even though she hates them, apparently for no reason.
Funeral director Shawntel is ready to go for her man. Courtney is the first to spot Shawntel as she sweeps through the room. Then, Ben sees her and says something that has to be bleeped.
Shawntel tells Ben why she's there, and Ben just seems... surprised. Flattered, but a little freaked out. I wouldn't say this is a love connection, honestly.
But that doesn't mean the other girls don't feel threatened. Monica, who is only on the show to bang Blakeley, thinks she's fake. Courtney is done. She's done! She's stomping out. It's unfair! She's worried! This isn't what she signed up for! She may not accept a rose! Rachel says Shawntel drinks blood. Eww. Jaclyn says she's Brad's dumpster trash. Emily, who still appears to be reasonably sane, thinks they have chemistry. Courtney says she'll leave if he gives Shawntel a rose. Nicki says Shawntel rode in on her high hearse, which is funny, but then she gets weepy. What makes her better than the other people who have gone home?
Time for the rose ceremony!
Ben is now totally confused. He can see himself with Shawntel. What if he makes the wrong decision? Sigh.
More whining. Courtney has her guard up. She has a hard time trusting men. She doesn't need to be here if it's going to be like this! Sigh. Lindzi, Rachel and Emily have their roses. There are 11 roses to hand out and two girls are going home.
Ben apologizes for leaving the cocktail party. So much to think about! But he's confident in what he has going. He knows love is possible for him. Yeah, yeah, just get to business, Ben.
Shawntel knows the girls hate her, but she doesn't care. She knows Ben digs her. Really? Okay. If you knew that, you may have wanted to tell him BEFORE he went on national television in search of love.
First rose goes to… Courtney. She tells Ben that tonight was a lot. It was not easy to see him talking to What'sherbutt. Classy, Courtney, very classy.
Second rose goes to…Kacie B. Kacie just takes her rose and smiles. Good thinking.
Third rose goes to… Elyse
Fourth rose goes to Jamie
The roses start coming fast and furious. The next roses go to... Jennifer
And the last rose goes to…
Wait! Ben has to talk. And Erika has to pass out. Courtney says it's all Shawntel's fault. Damn that funeral director and her magical powers!
Once order is restored and paramedics decide Erika isn't going to die, Ben steps up to address the troops. He says it's just tough. The decisions are getting really difficult. He tells Erika it's been a pleasure, thanks Jaclyn for opening up to him, and he's flattered that Shawntel has put it on the line for love. But he thinks he can't hand the final rose to anyone tonight. Hmm. Erika, Jaclyn and Shawntel must hit the road.
There's lots of crying, most of it from Jaclyn, but Shawntel seems okay. Courtney is thrilled she's going. Kacie B. is also glad Ben's sending Shawntel on her way. He's flattered by Shawntel's last ditch attempt, but he's sorry. Oh, wait. Shawntel cries a little, too. She's really confused. She was sure she'd get a rose! She thinks he wasn't man enough to accept their connection. Sure, that's it. I think Ben has simply found other girls he likes more than her. You snooze, you loose, Shawntel!
Next stop, Park City, Utah! Ben wants the girls to experience the outdoors. I think Ben believes he found a group of women culled from a mental institution or a high security prison. But personally, I'd got with the mental institution.
During the credits, we learn why Erika probably got sent home -- an inner lip tattoo. Ben pretends to be interested in this, but really, I think he's grossed out. It doesn't matter that it says "amore," either. Hard to believe the girl that passes out during the rose ceremony was able to sit still through a damn lip tattoo, though.
Do you think Ben was right to send Shawntel home? Were you surprised Brittney left? Who do you think will be the last woman standing?