Ben's down to just 18 women, which is a lot more ladies to juggle than he'd likely scoop up on match.com or at a church social, so our determined bachelor has his work cut out for him. To test these women, he's dragging them to Sonoma to see if they like his old hometown. I suspect they'd say they liked inner city Detroit or Skid Row if they had to, but best of luck with that litmus test, Ben.
Initially, all is well in Sonoma. The girls giddily check out their fabulous group home, while Ben is reminded of how lucky he is to be in this position. So many wonderful, sweet-natured women! Oh, Ben, you clearly haven't been paying attention.
It doesn't take long for tensions to rise, as Ben has his first date card to deliver. He chooses administrative assistant Kacie B. for the very first date. Good choice -- she seems sincerely nice, interested in him (and not, say, shagging the other girls in the house, like *cough, cough* Monica). She chirps that she's the luckiest girl alive right now! Meanwhile, Courtney hopes Kacie B. doesn't come home. Which is a possibility, as she has to get a rose at the end of the date or hit the road, but still, Courtney is pretty damn evil.
Not that a sourpuss like Courtney could bring Kacie B. down. This could be her first date with the man she hopes to marry! He feels so comfortable talking to her. They walk past city hall, then go to the piano at the hotel and work on some duets. They get candy. She gets a baton. She tells him she used to twirl a baton when she was little. She teaches him how to twirl. They're having their own parade! They're like the only two people in the world! It's all very sweet and a little (okay, a lot) cliched, but they make one hell of a cute couple. Kudos to Ben for choosing well (spoiler alert: this is one of the few times in this episode during which Ben shows any kind of insight or judgment of character.
Ben makes it clear he intends to stay in Sonoma and raise a family there, to which Kacie B. eagerly responds that she's a hopeless romantic. She'd follow him ANYWHERE. That's what Southern women do. Okay, she's not the most progressive of women, but she's definitely not commitment phobic.
Back at the house, twelve of the girls learn they'll be lumped together for a group date. Most of the girls seem happy to get this crumb, but Blakeley is not amused. BEN IS HERS. Mwahahahahaha!
At the end of their date, Ben gives Kacie B. the first rose. He feels that she reaffirmed the fact that doing "The Bachelor" was a good decision for him. They kiss. But he has one more surprise for her! They go to the Sebastiani Theater, which they have all to themselves -- and they watch video footage of Kacie's baby years. She had REALLY curly hair, and she wasn't kidding about twirling a baton. Then, we move on to Ben's Beginnings. We see naked baby Ben. And Ben's dad. Suddenly, this isn't so cute and lighthearted but is instead kind of heart wrenching. He cries, Kacie B. cries. It's sort of a sad ending to the evening, but it does bond Kacie B. and Ben together more than, say, sharing a tiramisu would have.
Kacie B. feels his reaction to the movie confirmed that he's real, genuine and won't hold anything back. They kiss on the sidewalk. Kacie B. thinks she may have found a lifetime of love with Ben. I would like it if we ended the episode here, as at this moment I have some hope that Ben isn't a dumbass typical guy who just stupidly lets his unit lead him to make terrible decisions about women, but alas, we continue on.
Time for the group date. The twelve women will be putting on a play written by Sonoma's most talented playwrights. Who all happen to be in, oh, elementary school or junior high. This doesn't say much for Sonoma's creative community, but it's a cute idea plus they wrote lots of woodland creatures and storybook charcters into their cracktastic play, so who cares. But note to Sonoma schools -- make sure the kids aren't hitting the wine, because this play makes a whole hella lot of no sense at all.
Blogger Jenna has to prove herself in this play, which will be hampered by the fact that she'll be dressed as a wizard. The ever loathsome Blakeley is a slutty gingerbread man. The girls are all a little surprised to be putting on a show at a real theater, but it's less a real theater than a large room that looks like something from the set of "Northern Exposure," so they shouldn't get too worked up about it.
After the play, they move the evening to the Fairmont Hotel pool. This means the women will be shedding the gingerbread/weasel/hippie/whatever the hell costumes for bikinis, which is just fine with Ben. On more than a few occasions he seems to get that Warner Bros. cartoon ooga-ooga, bug-eyed, tongue lolling facial expression which should convince everyone he's a total dork, but no one seems to notice.
Blakeley, who seems to think she's on "Flavor of Love," continues to piss off the girls with her unstoppable determination to toss Ben onto the ground and pee on him to make him hers. She wants that ROSE! Nicki thinks Ben will see through her. Samantha thinks she's a desperate cougar. Yes, Blakeley is only slightly more popular than creamed leeks with her housemates, not that she cares.
But Ben reveals that he felt everyone liked Blakely. Huh? Even the KIDS thought she was a fake bitch. Pay attention, Ben! Not that any of this phases Blakeley, as she doesn't feel there's competition with anyone else. Unfortunately, the other girls aren't as capable of keeping their eyes on the prize. Samantha hides in the bathroom, because she hates Blakeley. That's not how you deal with Blakeley, Samantha! Go out there and spend time with Ben!
Back at the house, another date card is delivered. And it's a one-on-one for... Courtney. Courtney then proceeds to make the other girls feel like crap and makes sure to insult Kacie B., who's too nice to see it coming or respond appropriately (appropriate reaction: claw Courtney's eyes out). Why the hell does Ben want to spend time with this vacuous, mean-spirited monster? Oh, right, she's a model.
At the hotel, all of the girls get into the pool to fulfill Ben's Hugh Hefner fantasy. Blakeley is like a damn wolverine with a chunk of raw squirrel whenever Ben is around. She WANTS THAT ROSE! Fortunately, Jennifer the accountant /weasel steals Ben for one-on-one time. Jennifer seems sweet enough, and she looks like Mandy Moore, so Ben makes out with her.
But then, Blakeley makes her move. And Ben sees nothing but sweetness and light in this man-eating viper. Ben thinks Blakeley came out of her shell during the play. She was in a shell? Seriously? Jennifer is crushed to see him make-out with Blakeley. Jaclyn points out that Blakeley is super fake-ly, but Ben is truly and completely unaware of this fact. Oh, Ben!
Time for the group date rose! And it goes to… Blakeley. NO! Argh! Jennifer cries a little, as she thought their time together meant something. Oh, honey, it probably did -- until he was blinded by Blakeley's suspiciously large boobs. Blakeley clutches the rose in her claws like an alien who needs earth flowers to breathe. He chose ME, she cackles! Mwahahahaha! But Blakeley hates it when people are jealous of other people. You know, not that she was jealous of every single woman other than herself who had time with Ben.
Next, we see Courtney and Ben's date. He's so excited, because she's a model. Ugh. He drives Courtney and his dog Scotch out into the woods, which would usually be the mark of a serial killer on a real first date, but with a camera crew following along, she has nothing to worry about.
Ben can't believe a catch like Courtney is available! Oh, wait, Scotch is cold, so Ben throws a towel or a blanket or something on him. Having a dog has taught him that he wants to be a father someday. Considering that Scotch should probably have a little doggie coat (they sell those, Ben), I suspect Ben will be the kind of father who lets his kids run around in mismatched clothes with snot running down their faces, but Courtney is charmed. She wants children someday, too! Ben thinks Courtney's the full package. Smart, witty, evil -- yes, a full package! The dog is constantly whining. Ben thinks it's because he's still cold, but I think it's because he HATES COURTNEY. Pay attention, Ben!
Courtney declares it the best date she's ever been on. They walk through a vineyard and have a glass of wine. He needs to find out if she's too good to be true. Short answer: YES.
Ben wants to know why she's still available. She's picky. She's been cheated on. She's hateful, superficial and mean. Oh, wait, she didn't say that even though we were all thinking it. I keep thinking Ben will realize he has better options, but no. She's a MODEL! GIrl pretty, ugg, ugg. He gushes over her. He wants her to trust him. Courtney makes him think big picture. And voila, he gives her a rose. Courtney thinks the other girls should watch out. Sadly, she's probably right.
It's time for the final cocktail party, which has some of the girls spinning into panic mode. Yes, some girls are going home tonight, and none of them are the truly hateful women in the group. Ben tells Lindzi he didn't give her a date because she made such a good first impression. She's a tractor girl and he's tractor guy, so they're perfect for one another! She likes to play in the dirt. Ben likes that she has a little country in her. I don't think Ben is quite as down and dirty (so to speak) as he claims to be, but if that's what he wants to pretend, so be it.
Samantha needs to get across to Ben that she's not crazy. So, what does she do? She acts crazy and starts launching into a rant about the drama in the house. Blakeley interrupts, which makes Samantha furious but really, she should be grateful. Complaining to the bachelor is never a good idea, as it's usually the messenger who gets shot. Still, no one is pleased to see Blakeley stealing more time from Ben when she already has a rose -- it's just greedy. Smart and conniving, yes, but greedy.
Jenna finally gets some time with Ben, and with each week she looks more and more like a depressed, neurotic rat in a children's book. She says she feels like a guy, so it's hard to be around girls. And it's hard waiting around for him. Because she's not your typical girl. Oh, right! She's insane! Thus, atypical! After seeing Ben, she finds a bed to cry in. Jenna is NOT cut out for reality TV. I'm not even sure Jenna is cut out for life outside of an insane asylum, really.
Kacie B. thinks anyone who spends time around Blakeley, cries. But wait! Blakeley is starting to dislike the fact that everyone hates her! Monica comforts Blakeley, as she's hoping to get Blakeley drunk enough to have some hot lesbian sex. But no, Blakeley decides to hide in a corner and sniffle for a while. Hey, everyone else is doing it!
Nicki is the next one to let her crazy out with Ben. She won't steal him away like some girls! It seems like everyone has been trying very, very hard to let Ben know that Blakeley is an evil person, but guess what? Ben just thinks Blakeley is not the best at communicating with the girls, so he needs to talk to her. Not the other girls, mind you, but BLAKELEY. He finds her crumpled in a ball, fake-crying. You know how we know it's fake crying? Her eyes aren't red, her make-up isn't smeared and her voice isn't thick with tears. But seeing widdle sad Blakeley all huddled up makes Ben melt like a stick of congealed beef fat. After he consoles Blakeley, he stumbles across Jenna and basically steers her out of the bedroom so she won't get the sheets sticky.
Time for Ben to vote! Ben hopes he's not making mistakes. Um, you already have, Ben.
Chris Harrison hopes the ladies have appreciated their week in Sonoma. He points that there are three roses down (Blakeley, Courtney and Kacie B.), thirteen to go.
Ben tells the women the feelings of love are there for him. But some girls are going home. Unfortunately, those feeling of love seem to be directed, at least in part, to women who would gladly eat him alive and take half his money given the opportunity. Wake up, Ben! Pay attention!
The first rose goes to... Jennifer. That weasel gig paid off!
The second rose goes to... Emily.
The third rose goes to... Elise.
The fourth rose goes to... Jaclyn.
The fifth rose goes to... Erika.
The sixth rose goes to... Rachel.
The seventh rose goes to... Lindzi.
The eighth rose goes to... Nicki.
The ninth rose goes to... Kacie S.
The tenth rose goes to... Samantha. Huh. I thought the Blakeley-hating would backfire, but go figure.
The eleventh rose goes to... Monica. Really? She's only there to bang Blakeley.
The twelfth rose goes to... Jamie.
The thirteenth and final rose goes to... Brittney.
Not surprised he gave crazy blogger Jenna the boot, but Jenna is in shock. Wow, really? She feels sick. These girls distracted him! She can't believe it's happening! She's mortified! Oh, come ON. I'm surprised she made it this far. She deserves love! Jenna, you are less likely to get it when you act like a raging, neurotic nutbag. The only reason Woody Allen ever got any was because he was funny and, later, because he had money. And some women are nearsighted, I guess.
The remaining girls are off to San Francisco. Whoot! Expect fireworks. Literally. And some big upset we can't quite figure out from the promo. Lots of tears, of course. And it seems someone invites a guy to visit, and paramedics are called. Well, that certainly seems like fun. Or if not fun, at least dramatic.
Do you think Blakeley and Courtney are right for Ben? Were you surprised Jenna got the boot? And do you think Ben will finally find true love this time?