Once again, fresh off an American girls’ gathering to watch this show on delay in the UK, I am left feeling like the party is more fun than the episode. There is something very boring about this season, but I can’t put my finger on it. I know Brad is an ab-tastic robot, but it’s something more that is gnawing at me… maybe the feeling that it will all go horribly awry.
But not yet! The episode opens with Brad packing his suitcase in a New York hotel room. Of course, mere seconds in and I am already intensely annoyed at the staged shot. Brad has his suitcase atop the bed which is made with the decorative throw evenly cascading over the bed. Which means (a) Brad didn’t really sleep in this particular bed last night and if he did, he is OCD and made it again, purple throw and all, before packing, and (b) He might get bed bugs. It’s true. Never put your suitcase on a hotel bed.
Then cut to a shot of Brad getting settled in to a Business Class seat on South Africa airline. Is that a real airline? He changes seats at some point, or he has a layover. Either way, I am getting more hung up on ABC’s sloppy editing than the emotional visual montage Brad is supposedly ruminating on. First there is the Chantal montage: the time she wore his dress shirt and then lots of crying shots. Second is the Ashley recap: she is “an accomplished and professional woman” and they have “speed bumps” (I didn’t know it at the time but, FORESHADOWING ALERT, EVERYONE). Finally, there is Emily. Who makes Brad his “better self”. Seems like we have a winner.
All the while Brad takes a walk down memory lane, we are treated to interspersed shots of a cartoon plane graphic flying over a cartoon old-timey treasure map of the Atlantic Ocean and environs. As a fellow watcher proclaimed, “it’s a little Indiana Jones”. Indeed.
And in keeping with the Indiana Jones-theme, Brad dons a safari hat better worn by Harrison Ford several decades before he looked haggard, grumpy, sporting a bizarre earring in one ear and holding Calista Flockhart’s purse all the time. But before Brad’s appearance, there is a montage of wild animal shots and I am proclaiming “Look, a cute baby monkey!” “Wow, giraffes are so cool looking!” “I feel like any second King Mufasa is going to raise Baby Simba high in the air!”.
Also donning a cute safari outfit, the two set out for a jeep-ride of love to ogle the animals. I think Chantal looks cute and super happy to be on this date. I feel bad for the sleepy lions but whatever. Chantal is wearing what I would consider to be an excessive amount of make-up for safari. And at this point, one of the girls I was with insists that Brad keeps purposely elbow-grazing one of Chantal’s humongous melon boobs. I can’t say it’s a false accusation. I imagine all these people are major horndogs when they finally get to reunite. And now I can’t concentrate and I am convinced that these two are up to no good in the back of the Jeep when the cameras are off. Is it wrong to get road head on safari?
There’s some guy with a shotgun and then a date with a picnic basket alongside a watering hole. I think for hippos. I can’t concentrate because Brad makes some analogy between the danger of the wild animals and the danger of taking a chance on a relationship. I think a new game should be making a relationship analogy from a random, miscellaneous situation. Let’s try:
Getting squeezed onto a subway train during morning rush hour is like being in a relationship. There is a little pain but in the end, close physical intimacy and shared human experience.
Chantal says at one point, when discussing their hometown date, “I always said if you met my family, you would really understand who I am.” Which means Chantal is a high-ceilinged McMansion with a terrible facelift and aging former professional athlete. But this girl is In. Love. And they discuss eloping right that second. I do like Chantal’s directness and confidence. She does seem very genuine. I hope she has dated since her ex though. Or else she is just the marrying kind.
Fantasy suite date card from “Chris Harrison” comes with an old-fashioned key attached. And the word “forego”. Chantal and her big boobs are majorly in love and she draws a heart in the hair with her hands to prove it. And Brad gives one of his first legitimate smiles of the season. This guy does frown a lot, no?
They go to a treehouse. And I am just worried about the mosquitoes. These dates look like my living nightmare. I would be doused in 100% DEET and wearing long layers and head netting like a beekeeper.
This girl shows up in THE cutest jungle outfit ever, even if she is wearing about 12 times too much blush. Brad rides over on an elephant and Emily says this is her dream. (Really?) They stop somewhere for a picnic and talk about Little Ricki and eventually kiss passionately with hands on the face and standing up. That’s what always gets me about these two. They kiss so passionately, it’s always standing up. And I was trying to remember the last time I made out with my husband standing up. You know, like couples on the banks of the Seine in Paris. And then I realized the answer is Never. Because why mess with that shite when you can kiss and grope in a reclined position as an incentive for someone to let you watch just one more DVRed episode of 30 Rock before bed?
Brad gets too nervous around Emily, methinks. And their conversations never really seem to flow. At dinner Emily gives some speech, I think maybe about how strongly she feels about him and being there for him, but Brad looks really distracted. Which is making me distracted. Because I know exactly what he is thinking. He is thinking that the fantasy suite date card is going to come any minute and his manhood is already at full mast in anticipation. He smiles huge and Emily explains they can spend the night together if they just “talk”. Good save, Southern Girl.
In the suite with Em in crazy high heels, she says something about not opening up as much out of “self-defense”. I know what she means is “self-protection” but I can’t help but love the image of Emily warding off an attacker. She finally says she’s falling in love and, stunner
Brad breaks the rules, AGAIN, and tells Emily he is falling in love with her. I will always love The Robot for that: he will not be a total ABC pawn. He also says he is the happiest guy in the world. Done and dusted.
I am reminded that Ash is cute and little. She screams over the presence of a helicopter, her “biggest fear”, and then succumbs anyway to a ride to “God’s Window”. I will admit how sick the landscape is. Do you think people now go on the show alone just for the dope travel?
Things are already looking ominous when Brad makes a toast to Ashley’s family. Exactly. He likes the idea of her family almost more than the idea of being with her. Brad asks her where she wants to live and her answer is characteristic of the next 20 painful minutes of the show: she doesn’t really answer, she just gets sidetracked by being asked any questions in the first place, which she conflates with doubts on Brad’s part. It is such a series of bad communication and misunderstandings, that I feel I am watching either The Break-Up or Blue Valentine.
This is the order of Ashley’s inexplicably self-destructive behavior:
- Refuses to say she would live in Austin
- Gets mad that it seems Brad “just wants a wife” and “a perfect match” which, if you think about it, really does make him a selfish a-hole. How dare someone look for a companion on a companion-seeking show
- Talks about dessert instead of anything important
- Refuses to make eye contact
- Acts cold
- Wears an expression of sucking a lemon
- Refuses to relent or hand over one shred of tenderness no matter how many times Brad tries to break the ice or start over
I am legitimately surprised Brad even gave her the Fantasy Suite date card. And the whole thing was uncomfortable to watch. But more importantly, every time Ashley is on screen, I can’t get that Steve Martin Little Shop of Horrors song out of my head: “You’ll be a deeeeeeeentist…”
Sit down with Chris Harrison
I cannot believe there are still framed photos of the girls in the background. And what happened to the videotape messages? Remember those? I miss those.
From the get-go, Ashley refuses to break the icy-mean counterproductive snarl off her face. I get the game, girl, I do. You want the guy to prove he loves you so much, he sees through your facade of self-preservation. BUT this show requires vulnerability to some degree- especially at the end. And I have no patience for you.
Brad, however, has more patience than me. He gives Ashley a chance on a bench high above to plead her case. I am convinced throughout this train wreck of a conversation that Brad is actually trying to give her another chance, that he just wants a reason to keep her. I think he wants to keep her. Otherwise, he would have just sent her home without the painfully repetitive attempts to extract some kind of emotion and outpouring from her. But Ashley’s pride gets in the way and she does herself no favors. She deserved the boot.
Back with the blush ladies, Brad offers a rose to Chantal, clad in a classy non-revealing dress, and calls her “baby”. He then offers one to Emily. And then he wants hugs from both of them.
Next week is GTA and I realize how much I miss Michelle. Then the season finale involves Cape Town and some sobbing meltdown by Brad in Emily’s arms. I fear she pulls a Frank.
Where will it all go? How will it all end? That’s a rhetorical question, spoilers.