Ooh the preview makes the episode look so good!
The episode opens with horses neighing and then Emily’s McMansion comes into view. I don’t know if we’re made to think she lives smack in the middle of horse country or what. Emily’s mom (with SO much eye make-up) brings Em breakfast on a tray in her McMasterBedroom and Ricki the Daughter doesn’t want to come hang out. No one ever explains why she gets breakfast in bed and why she’s already dressed and made up. Emily and her mom then have a weird jovial-seeming convo where the disturbing subtext is that Emily is neglecting her child by being on a reality tv show. Also, I don’t mean to quibble (yes, yes I do) but Emily tries to make a joke that Ricki falls asleep each night splayed out in her bed and therefore she has no room to get in it when she gets home at night from her dates. Since Emily’s bed looks to be a canopied California King, I have no idea how this is possible. I could fit my entire family in that bed + our cantankerous elderly downstairs Welsh neighbors. Should they want to join, that is.
Chris Harrison gathers the men in the Chansion courtyard. The camera pans some of them and I am reminded the men did get much better looking after Week 1. I would do some of these men. And really, I should be the arbiter of who is doable. Why are the men wearing short sleeves and Chris Harrison is wearing a light jacket? We find out there will be two 1-on-1 dates and one group date. Mixing things up!! Not. Charlie, Sweet Brain-Damaged Charlie, reads the first date card, which goes to Chris. I do worry about the prospects of a 25-year old Corporate Sales Director from Chicago becoming an insta-stepdad.
Love is a Steady Climb date with Chris
I like Emily’s flowy tank top with motorcycle motif. Can we all just agree she looks so much better in civilian clothes than sparkly pageant gowns? This girl smokes us out in her everyday tees and shorts.
Usually we see the beginning of the date when the star picks up the intended. But for some reason this time we just see Emily and Chris already walking on their date. This deviation from formula really throws me. The couple stops at a building and rappelling ropes fall and Emily says “There ain’t no elevators, honey.” (The show needs some fresh script-writing.) It may be that I don’t really understand climbing, but there are no notches in the building for their feet so basically they are just being pulled up, right? Lame. A crowd has gathered below and the editing team is pumping in some thunder noises, pretending it’s from an oncoming storm. The couple gets to the top, the crowd cheers and I just feel relieved the fear-of-heights date is over for the season. Chris just keeps telling us he wants to kiss Emily. Possibly foreshadowing.
Emily’s hair blows around atop the building and tells Chris if she saw him at a bar she would be scared to approach him because he’s so cute. Again: we don’t believe you. Emily, caught off-guard, laughs and then seems so confused when Chris says he’s 25. She says it’s a ‘red flag’ which I am inclined to agree. But I want to congratulate this couple for once not making an earlier date activity consisting of a daring conquering of steep heights and danger the focal point of the rest of the evening’s conversation and fodder for multiple clichés.
Back at the ranch, Tony is on the phone with his son, Taylor, aggressively loving him.
Hey buddy how’s it going? Do you miss Daddy at all? I love you, Buddy.
Date card comes and Jef reads it and Charlie is showing off his mysterious arm tattoos. Tony tells us he feels confident he will get the rose on the group date. Which means he will not.
Back on the first date, Chris tries to reassure Emily about his age. “I am a man.” I have to laugh though when he says going off to school at 17 matured him. Um, I’m pretty sure everyone goes off to school around 17/18. Chris says he puts family first and he’s grown up and blah blah blah he seems genuine and Emily follows her heart and gives Chris a rose. Ooh, I like Chris right now. I need to go check my bracket.
And now on to the “impromptu” Luke Bryan country music concert on the street in downtown Charlotte. Chris is so cute and he asks permission to kiss Emily while dancing! I like that. And they kiss and the crowd goes wild and Chris tells us it was “the greatest moment I have ever experienced in my life.” I would be ecstatic but I know a date with Arie is coming up and that is some serious competition.
Wait, so now the crowd gets to dance too and some woman wants so badly to be on camera she is like mugging and making singy faces and I spit out my pretzel. Real humans are so weird!
Let’s Play group date with Emily
The men are: Charlie, Alejandro, Stevie, Ryan, Alessandro, Sean, John, Michael, Doug, Jef, Tony and Travis.
Emily is waiting for the boyz at the park holding the ol’ pigskin. Ryan makes a little joke about Emily blocking kisses, Sean discusses how he’s not an aggressive type and Emily, meanwhile, walks over to meet up with her besty girlfriend slummy mummies who come armed with coffees and a newspaper article of Emily’s last night rappelling date with Chris. Big news in crazy Charlotte.
Emily breaks it down to the ladeez that she “needs y’all to be detectives”, to meet and suss out the guys and see who is most fit to be a step-babydaddy. The friends get to grill the guys. Friend Ashley, drinking the Kool-Aid, says she wants to pick a man for Emily who is “here for the right reasons.”
Emily brings the men over to meet her best friends. (I still don’t believe they’re best friends.) Doug is inexplicably stressed out and calling this a train wreck. Alejandro calls today ‘high stakes.’ We get to see snippets of the women interviewing the men at picnic tables and the questions seem to be focused on whether each man is ready to be a dad. This is obviously the theme but it would be nice if people also wondered about the chemistry between the guy and Emily. Here are the highlights: Tony, surprisingly, over-emphasizes that he has a son; Jef is cute and asks if the women can see him with Emily; Ryan gets diagnosed as confident; Travis won’t part with his egg; John “Wolf” looks like he’s lying when he says he’s never cheated on a girl; The men dance and do push-ups (guess he does the push-up?); and Sean gets a lot of screen time. He is from a family “centered on faith” which is a sweet euphemism for being evangelical Christian. Friend Wendy says “Sean is a genetic gift to the world” and is majorly crushing on him! Ok, he is cute. FOR A BLOND.
And then a gaggle of kids come careeing out of a mini-van. YAY!!!!! It’s just a little bit creepy that strange men are man-handling these young’uns but it’s cute to see everyone at the playground sorta.
In addition to the dads, Jef and Sean get props from Emily’s observational eye. Ryan goes over to crash girl talk and tries to dig himself out of hole of saying he wouldn’t love Emily as much is she got fat once they were married. Well, I mean, Ryan is totally probably a douchebag in general but I mean no one should plan to get fat and gross after marriage. It’s BS claiming you wouldn’t care. People don’t marry for personality.
The “best friends” all liked Sean and Doug the most.
Emily is wearing a shimmery geometrical patterned mini-skirt. She starts one on one time with Sean and tells him he’s awesome. Sean’s got one hand on Emily’s leg and says he’s “selective” (Emily says “picky”) about women: he won’t settle for anything but the best and WANTS SOMEONE WHO WANTS HIM TO LEAD THEM. I am pretty sure he says that. He may be a disciple of the Southern Baptist Convention. But Emily seems to dig it. Sean’s parents still have a wonderful marriage and he’s taking notes.
At one on one time with Doug however, he is just clutching his watch and not touching Emily. Emily wants to know Doug beyond being a dad. Doug tells his 10-minute life story about his nice and sweet epileptic dad who had kids with a terrible lady, had him and his sister and then they ended up in foster homes. Emily refers to him as an awesome human being. Doug’s story is harrowing but his shirt is buttoned down so far that I keep worrying he’s a little bit in the closet.
Tony, meanwhile, is on a sofa melting down. The happiness at the playground earlier is making him doubt being away from his son. He then makes the very bad decision to start to lose his shit and tell Emily how terribly he is missing his son and suffering. It may be true, fine. But that’s not going to create any type of romance with Emily.
Later (while elsewhere cute Jef says he has a major crush on Emily) The Two Dads have a heart to heart in the alley. Doug is handling this and Tony is not. I also feel bad they’re the same exact height while Tony is two steps up on the stairwell. Doug explains that this temporary distance will not affect the kid: “He’s five, dude.” Quite right. But Tony still calls his son on his cell phone anyway and creeps him out with his aggressive need for affirmation. Ugh. And I could really do without the dramatic music. Emily has to go retrieve Tony from the alley. She does the right thing and sets him free, but in a subtle enough way that I actually think simple Tony doesn’t get that actually she is actually rejecting him.
Tony then enters a reject taxi and I begin to imagine his reunion with his son Taylor:
Son Taylor: Hi dad! You’re back! I’m Batman!
Tony: DID YOU MISS ME???????
Son: Um, yeah. I like macaroni and cheese and I saw Sam’s boogers today at the pool!
Tony: BUT HOW MUCH DID YOU MISS ME???????
Son: Dad, you’re scaring me. Grandma Jean let me have two SpongeBob band-aids!
Tony: BUT. DID. YOU. MISS. ME???????????????? DID YOU??????? TELL ME IF YOU MISSED ME!!!!!!!
Emily pulls out the group date rose and it goes to… Sean. Because he “backed up everything you’ve been saying since Day One.” I actually don’t know what that means. Travis gives a weird toast. Ryan tells us he is secure. We know, Ryan. We know.
Love is a Wild Ride date with Arie
Emily wearing some more stripes (her rack is so phenomenal. Sigh) comes to pick up Arie from the Chansion. Chris doubts that anyone can have the same connection he has with Emily, but what he doesn’t know is at the same time Emily is telling us how much she has built up Arie in her mind and how good looking he is. Yes, yes he is.
They fly on a little plane to Tennessee and the happy couple arrives at Dollywood – a big, Suuuuuthern amusement park. It’s closed down for them. It’s Emily’s “happiest place on Earth”. Which is weird because she says she doesn’t do roller coasters. So what does she like at Dollywood?
They go into a theater and have to write a love song. But Dolly Parton sneaks up behind them and Emily wants to die of happiness and surprise. She actually says like five times: I could die right now. Emily says this is the best moment in her life. (Poor Ricki.) This show finally got a good musical act so I’m not going to complain. Dolly invites Emily to have some girl talk. Emily describes what she is looking for and says, notably: I want to find someone I like as much as I love. Meanwhile as she and Arie dance again to Dolly Parton, it feels officially like Arie is The winner. There is no contest and the season could end now. When he kisses the top of her head, it’s like I don’t even have to waste my time reading Fifty Shades of Grey and I wanna just go hump my hubs.
Arie is explaining to Emily he once dated and fell in love and lived with a girl who had two kids, and when they broke up it was hard for him because he was so attached to the kids. That is kind of sad. Mostly for the kids.
Emily says: “I feel like I don’t have a lot of talents, but I feel like I’m a really good mom. Ricki’s my whole life.” I bet Gloria Steinem just clubbed a baby seal for that comment.
Then Emily picks up the rose and tries to trick Arie into thinking he’s not getting it. He was totally freaked out which is an extra good sign. Then they have what is one of the most passionate make-out seshes in the show’s history – on a carousel. This is the couple to the end and it’s going to be awkward watching the rest of the season with pretending Emily is in to anyone else.
Emily has what I assume (hahahaha, how wrong I am about to be) is the worst 1-on-1 ever, with Kalon . Kalon is trying to explain why it’s okay to give up his childhood journal dream of having his first child be biological(ly part robot and part cryogenic) when Emily decides to stand up for herself and interjects a different point of view of taking on a step-child. Kalon says “I love the sound of your voice but I just wish you would let me finish”, and I feel so profoundly awkward at this moment I hide behind my laptop. Emily’s not too cool with being chastised: “I like tall, skinny and funny but I don’t like tall, skinny and condescending.” So now we know her type.
It’s if Christopher Reeve in his Clark Kent days mated with Cillian Murphy:
Travis and his annoying Southern accent decide that he and Emily are going to set Shelly the Egg free. I am angry for every second of screen time wasted on the egg. And was it really necessary to smash the egg directly on the driveway and rub it in PETA’s face? Take that, innocent zygote.
Now Alessandro finally gets some screen time at some 1-on-1 time with Em. It is precisely this moment Jen and I make a profound discovery that Alessandro is the love child of:
Patrick Swayze in Point Break + Geico caveman = Alessandro.
Alessandro sees it as a compromise that he would take on someone else’s child, and in return the compromise owed to him would be that he would be the chief of the family. He and Emily agree it’s not a language barrier but really Alessandro is just an insane loose cannon having a case of diarrhea of the mouth.
Emily escorts Alessandro out of the house and he looks PISSED. After getting dumped, Alessandro declares he is just going to go back to “being a gypsy king and all the freedom” he’s used to in his la vida loca life up in crazy St Paul, Minnesota as a grain merchant.
In Emily’s moment of turmoil she gets comfort and lots of very intimate kisses and caresses from Arie. It is 100% like they are boyfriend and girlfriend. I am wondering if it makes sense to watch the rest of the season. It turns out the answer to that question is Yes, since Ryan is now so hellbent on competing with Arie.
Oh, and Sean says some right things about becoming a father to Ricki. But really, Arie’s got this one doweallagree?
Going into it Chris, Sean and Arie all have roses. Tony and Alessandro were sent home. So the rest go to:
Jef – yay! He’s cute and seems interesting
Sweet Lovable Head Injury Charlie
Doug the Dad (the one who can handle a temporary absence from his child)
Michael who has never once spoken (Jen might be right that he looks a little like Tom Brady)
Travis the lovable goofball
Alejandro with his dumb earrings
Ryan and his douchebag hair and personality
(Kyle, you’re right! Emily is using her mom voice!)
Kalon – seriously?
Nate who also never gets to talk
The big reject of the night is Stevie Party MC! Jen said it best: she’s so out of your league, dude.
There is some weird Chris v Doug beef (which I am honestly perplexed by as they both seem nice enough)
Ryan confronts Emily about Arie as he isn’t about to get beaten by some dainty race car driver. It’s such a dainty and delicate sport, really, if you think about it. So tame and safe compared to weight-lifting.
During the interview sessions of the guys led by Emily’s “best friends”, Alessandro breaks down more of his deep thoughts for the ladies:
- I dated my third cousin. And cheated on her.
- I am a gypsy.
- I can’t compromise.
- I can’t even own a pet.