'The Bachelor' recap: First dates, plus a shameless 'Ride Along' plug

For The Baltimore Sun
The Bachelor recap: Ben gets some first-date help from his friends Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.

Tonight begins with all of the women talking about how perfect Ben is after knowing him for about 12 hours, obviously.

The first shot of Ben is him putting his pants on in the bathroom, and he must have made a good friend in the cameraman because they really zoom in close to make Ben out to be the full package, if you know what I mean. I now understand what Kaitlyn meant when she said he kept her up all night in the fantasy suite.

FIRST DATE CARD

Before the first date card arrives, we learn Lace, this season's drunk, is remorseful about getting too drunk the first night, which means she is for sure this season's crazy contestant.

Amanda, the mom from Orange County, reads, “Jackie, LB, Lauren H., Becca, Amber, Mandi, JoJo, Jubilee, Jennifer and Lace — Let’s learn how to love, from Ben.”

Upon hearing that she is included in the first group date, Lace tells us, “I am not a crazy girl at all,” which is exactly what crazy girls say about themselves.

On the limo ride to the date, the women cheers one another with full glasses of Champagne, because who dates anymore without a nice morning buzz?

They arrive at “Bachelor High” high school, where JoJo, who stepped out of the limo on the first night in a unicorn mask says, “I’ve never been so turned on in a high school” and I feel badly that she suffered as a teenager.

We hear “Professor Chris Harrison” on the school loudspeaker before we see him dressed up like a “professor” in glasses and a sweater vest with his hair slicked back. At this moment I am certain I will never have any naughty professor fantasies because Chris Harrison has ruined that forever.

Chris lets the women know that they will be divided into teams of two to compete in four “classes.” After each “class” competition a team will be eliminated, and at the end of “school” a winner will be crowned Ben’s homecoming queen.

The first “class” is science, and Chris Harrison tells the women that “the team to make Ben’s volcano explode will be moving on.” I would normally hate that innuendo when it comes to "The Bachelor" men, but after the bathroom close-up it makes a lot of sense. 

Lace, this season's crazy contestant, tells the camera, “I hated school I was never really good at it at all,” which is probably why she turned to alcohol.

The second “class” is lunch, which is confusing because I was never graded for my work at lunch. That is disappointing because I really excel at eating. Essentially, the women are required to bob for a red apple and, once it’s in their mouth, they are to pass it along to their partner without using their hands. Usually you don’t get to mouth stuff until the third date, but this is "The Bachelor."

After lunch, we head to geography where the teams each have to place a sticker of  Indiana where it is located on a map of the United States. Becca, the virgin from Prince Farming’s season, and JoJo, the girl who stepped out of the limo on the first night in a unicorn mask, place Indiana where West Virginia is located, and sideways, which makes me think JoJo was lying about never being turned on in high school.  

The final “class” of the day is a gym class, where the women have to make a free throw to “pass.” You know, because Ben is from Indiana, where basketball is apparently important.

Mandi, the self-proclaimed weirdo and Amber, who is back on "The Bachelor" franchise for the third time, win the free-throw contest. Because there can only be one homecoming queen, they have to go against each other in a hurdle jumping race. In their crop tops, they take off running and the producers decide to show this in slow-mo so we’re basically watching the opening credits of "Baywatch."

Mandi wins and is crowned homecoming queen with a tiara, Ben’s actual letter jacket from high school and a sash before she and Ben take a ride on the back of a convertible around the field.

As they sit down for cocktails we are privy to Lace, this season's crazy contestant, self-deprecate as she worries that Ben thinks (knows) she is crazy. Becca, the virgin from Prince Farming’s season, asks Ben for some alone time, and they go to casually shoot hoops in their cocktail attire. They talk about her experience on Prince Farming’s season — I will never understand talking about past relationships on a first date. The last thing I want to know about is the girl you bumped uglies with a few months ago.

Ben and Jennifer, the “small-business owner” who likely sells custom statement jewelry on Etsy, are next to walk away from the group and she is the first woman he decides to kiss.

When she returns to the group, she tells them that they kissed, probably because it’s the most memorable thing she will do this season.

SECOND DATE CARD

When the doorbell rings, Amanda, the mom from Orange County, grabs the card again and reads, “Caila, join me for a day of surprises … Ben.”

Back at the group date, Lace, this season's crazy contestant, interrupts self-proclaimed weirdo Mandi’s time with Ben and immediately apologizes to him for coming off as negative the night before. While Lace talks to Ben she doesn’t look him in the eyes, which seems pretty hypocritical since that’s why she was upset with him eight hours ago.

While Lace stares intensely at Ben’s lips, pining for a kiss, Jubilee, the war veteran with a collarbone tattoo, saves Ben by interrupting their time together.

Jubilee tells Ben that she appreciates that he spends time in Haiti because she was adopted from Haiti and before that she was in a Haitian orphanage. Ben’s response is that he is impressed at her perseverance and I’m impressed at that response. They kiss in the way that says, “I don’t know what else to say so let’s just go for it.” Romance at its finest.

When she returns to the women, Lace chews Jubilee out for stealing Ben and then chugs her likely fifth glass of white wine.  

After another glass, Lace finds Ben to reiterate that she’s “not crazy” and she “just needs one more minute” with him — proving again that crazy girls are the only girls who say they’re not crazy.

They talk about Denver, which is as riveting as it sounds, and he still doesn’t kiss her.

Ben returns from crazy to the women and asks if JoJo, the girl who stepped out the limo on the first night in a unicorn mask, will join him. He takes her to the roof of the hotel, where he tells her that her “energy” made him more attracted to her. At this mention of “energy” it’s clear he’s been in Los Angeles too long. They make out.

After they’re done kissing, they return to the group, where Ben grabs the group date rose and offers it to JoJo, who accepts it.

ONE-ON-ONE DATE

Chris Harrison greets the group and lets them know that Ben chose Caila, whose name should just be spelled Kayla like a normal person, but left the actual date plans up to Chris Harrison. He tells us he called a “couple of friends,” and Ice Cube and Kevin Hart walk into the mansion for the “ultimate ride along” — so basically this date is called “promo for the new ‘Ride Along’ movie.”  

Kevin — who I feel like I can talk about on a first-name basis since we both go to L.A. Clippers games — and Ice Cube take Ben outside to tell him they think he should have an inexpensive date to see how Caila reacts to him being a cheapskate.

After they get in the car, with Kevin and Ice Cube in the back for a “ride along” — also known as the title of their movie — they make their first stop at the corner, where a street vendor is selling flowers. I’ve tweeted before that I actually would find this very attractive if a dude bought me flowers from a street vendor, so I approve. 

After the flowers are purchased, they stop at a liquor store and Ice Cube suggests Ben purchase Hennessy and condoms. Finally, a "Bachelor" date I can relate to.

When they leave the liquor store, I’m super confused because they are driving down the freeway at a normal speed sans traffic and that just doesn’t happen in L.A.  

Their last stop is at a store that sells hot tubs, because it’s rare you can make it through the second episode of "The Bachelor" without a few people in a hot tub. Ben and Caila, whose name should be spelled Kayla like a normal person, put on bathing suits and sit in a hot tub in the middle of a store. This reminds me of those people who lay on mattresses at a mattress store and I’m uncomfortable.

We see that Kevin is in the hot tub with them, naked, and I’m no longer uncomfortable, I’m now just jealous.

Back at the mansion, Amanda, the mom from Orange County, FaceTimes with her kids and I don’t understand when ABC let these people have cellphones.

SECOND GROUP DATE CARD

Jennifer, the “small-business owner” who likely sells custom statement jewelry on Etsy, reads “Emily, Shoshanna, Sam, Olivia, Haley and Amanda, are we a perfect match? Ben.”

At this point, we are privy for the first of many times to Olivia, the news reporter who left her job for Ben, opening her mouth so wide that my entire body could crawl inside.

Back at the one-on-one date, Ben and Caila, whose name should just be spelled Kayla like a normal person, sit down for dinner where he says, “Thanks for hanging out with me today.” And with that comment, I think I’m in love with Ben.

He asks her about her last boyfriend — if you remember, she was nearly engaged to until she saw Ben on TV because that’s how love works — and she reciprocates by asking him if he still felt "unlovable.” Great first date conversation.

After dinner they head to the Regent, which is where I had my first L.A kiss, thank you very, much, for a private Amos Lee concert. In true "Bachelor" form, they slow dance while Ben sings along with Amos Lee to Caila. I’m not even there and this is the best date I’ve ever been a part of.

SECOND GROUP DATE

The limo arrives at a “Love Lab” where we meet “Doctor Love” and his team who tell us that they are going to conduct a series of science experiments to determine who is most compatible with Ben. This is not what I would expect from a place called the “Love Lab” and a person named “Doctor Love” but what do I know?

The first experiment is a retinal exam, which requires each woman to look at photos while “Doctor Love” records their brain activity. Naturally these photos are of things like diamonds and babies because what else do women who compete for love on national television respond to?

The second experiment forces each woman to run on a treadmill so Ben can react to her smell. Under absolutely no circumstance would I let a man I want to marry smell me after I work out. This is gross. 

After they’ve run on said treadmill, Ben sniffs them all and tells everyone that they smell “fruity” or “sweet” or “beachy” until he gets to Sam, the attorney that learned she passed her bar exam on the way to the mansion. He says she smells “sour” — I’ve been called a lot of things, but if a man ever said I smelled sour I would punch him in the face.

The final test was a “heat test,” which required Ben to be half-naked with each woman on a bed, as the rest watched, while he was instructed by “Doctor Love” to touch them in different places as a heat barometer measured their reactions. This would be like turning on the TV to see your new boyfriend was in a soft porn. Uncomfortable.

After these three tests are measured, “Doctor Love” tells the women that the lowest score goes to Sam, the attorney who found out she passed her bar exam on the way to the mansion, who Ben said smelled sour. Rough day for Sam.

We then learn that Olivia, the news reporter who left her job for Ben, has the highest score and she reacts by opening her enormous mouth again.

Immediately after sitting down with the group for post-“Love Lab” cocktails, Ben asks Olivia to join him in his “bachelor pad” (hotel room), and she opens her wide mouth again before agreeing. They make out and that’s about it.  

Amanda, the mom from Orange County, decides to approach Ben, and when they sit down she tells him she has two daughters. He answers perfectly and I am certain he has a gay best friend who has trained him in how to treat women because straight dudes at 26 do not have this much couth.

Ben offers the group date rose to Olivia, the news reporter who left her job for Ben, which is a terrible idea for her huge mouth and matching ego. She tells the camera, “I don’t know what rose ceremonies are, even,” and I hate her.

Amanda, the single mom from Orange County, cries at this and we have our first contestant wondering if she made the wrong decision by agreeing to compete for love on national television.  

COCKTAIL PARTY

Right away, Ben takes Leah, the chick who hiked a football to him while wearing a dress, aside. But, obviously, Olivia, the news reporter who left her job for Ben, interrupts them and they make out while all of the other women talk about how terrible Olivia is.

When she returns from making out with Ben, Olivia tells the women, “Now I’m done. Everybody have it,” and she has officially secured the spot as this season's mean girl.  

For the third time, Lace, this season's crazy contestant, pulls Ben aside to tell him, “I know I’m coming off a little crazy to you” and, “I’m a lot to handle” before divulging that she grew up a “dorky kid” who got made fun of a lot. All of the other women can hear this and Lauren H., who I only remember as the fifteenth Lauren this season, interrupts. Lace should be happy about that because Lauren H. saved her from further embarrassment, but instead Lace runs to the bathroom to cry.

As Lace cries, Ben takes Lauren B., the flight attendant with the airline puns, aside and tells her that despite their lack of time together, he has been thinking about her and wants to give her something to prove that. He then hands her a photo of the two of them from the night before. Again, I am certain he has a gay best friend who has trained him in how to treat women because straight dudes at 26 do not have this much couth.

Next up for some alone time is Lauren H., who I only remember as the fifteenth Lauren this season. Ben gives her a first-place ribbon, telling her she’s earned it for  “largest explosion at the science fair.” I feel like that’s a ribbon I should have hanging on my refrigerator.  

After Lauren H., Ben sits down with Amanda, the mom from Orange County, and thanks her for sharing things about her daughter. He then presents to her barrettes and rose charms and asks her to make hair clips for her daughters with him. One more time — I am certain he has a gay best friend who has trained him in how to treat women because straight dudes at 26 do not have this much couth.

She cries, obviously, and I pour a glass of wine.

ROSE CEREMONY

LB, who has still done nothing memorable, is taped saying “comp-tem-plating” instead of “contemplating” before he calls her name for the rose. When she approaches him, she asks if they can talk before telling him she doesn’t want to be there anymore. This is the most memorable thing she has done this season. LB goes home.

ELIMINATED

Sam, the attorney who learned that she passed her bar exam on the way to the mansion who Ben described as smelling “sour.”

Jackie, who looks like the salsa dancing girl emoji.

Mandi, the self-proclaimed weirdo.

HOMETOWN DATE PREDICTIONS

Olivia, the news reporter who left her job to be with Ben, because she has him under her wide mouthed smile. 

Lauren B., because airport jokes.

Caila, who should spell her name Kayla like a normal person, because she feels like Ben’s type to me. Since I know him so well and all. 

Becca, the virgin from Chris Soules’ season, because they were cast essentially the same role on "The Bachelor" franchise and it just works.

LINE OF THE NIGHT 

When asked, “What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for a woman?” Ice Cube responds with, “I married one. That’s romantic.”

But because Ice Cube isn’t a show regular, I’ll also give it to Shushanna, who spoke to Ben in Russian on the first night, when she said, in broken English, “communication is key.” Because, you know, they can’t actually communicate.

As always, let me know what you think on Twitter @abbydraper. See you next week!

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