It seems about right that Italy, the home of opera, would be the setting for a very emotional night on "The Bachelor." Somehow, we've already gotten to the final lap of the season (because he likes cars!) with hometown visits coming next week, so tensions were high in Tuscany while the number of contestants was about to get low – from seven to four. As Becca K. noted, "It's always on, but this week ... it's on." Wow, I forget that sometimes Arie isn't the only poet on this show.
Things were indeed on for Becca K., though, as she got the first of the night's dates (with no rose ceremony), heading "under the Tuscan sun" for a date night themed around the 2003 Diane Lane romance film. Oh, no, sorry, it actually was just a nice day lounging, loitering around rustic streets and buying some fresh bread from a very confused baker on the side of the street.
The two have a lovely time – as Becca K. notes, Arie's really good at going on vacation; hey, I'd be good at it too if ABC was paying! – but Arie is concerned they're stuck in neutral (BECAUSE CARS!) ever since their date all those episodes ago. This smells to me like a Vanessa situation from Nick Viall's season, having one contestant come out of the blocks hard before dropping her off the face of the Earth for a month or two so she's not too obvious of a winner. And as predicted, after the two make out against some scenic, sun-baked Tuscan buildings, he decides they've progressed far enough to give her a rose and head to hometowns. My Vanessa Theorem is onto something.
The real drama, however, happens back at the ladies' lodge, where poor Jacqueline is having "swirling doubts" about Arie and her. Is she actually falling in love with Arie? Or is she just falling in love with falling in love? Is it love? Or is it love love? Poor woman is having a mental breakdown ... and, even more unfortunate, it's really annoying. There's been 22 seasons of this freaking show by this point; everybody knows the game, and now Jacqueline's all overthinking things and concerned that she's not ready to get married by the end of it or if she even loves Arie despite repeatedly saying she finds him lovable. But then she doesn't. And then she says she definitely does. I cannot keep up with this crisis of confidence.
Kendall says that she should talk to Arie about her feelings – quietly the sneakiest move of the season considering Jacqueline does exactly that, explaining her wildly confused emotions to Arie before managing to eliminate herself from the show. She leaves his room – and then the entire show – and you can tell as soon as Arie shut the door, he turned to the camera and said, "The hell was that?"
One would think maybe with a person kicking herself off the show, improving everyone's odds of a rose, Lauren B. would be a little more relaxed on her latest date with Arie. BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG! The two go biking, with Arie busting out his best stunt moves on his bike like he's 12 years old.
But once again Lauren B. has nothing to say. At all. I get that she's shy and protecting herself, but this woman's response to the lived-in beauty of a small Tuscan village? "It's very Italian." Dammit, stop making Arie look comparatively eloquent! But after the two have a stiff lunch and interrupt a kids' game of soccer (the ball accidentally bouncing past you WAS NOT AN INVITATION, GUYS!), Lauren B. opens up by telling Arie that, yes, she thinks she's falling in love with him.
And after a woman finally opens up her heart to him, risking her raw emotions to a man she's barely knows, Arie ... walks away from the table. He just bails. I take back everything; this season is great. Thank the heavens, Arie does eventually come back to the now watery-eyed Lauren B. and gives her a rose. He probably explained the cartoon cloud of dust he left behind as he sped away from the table there, but I missed it due to reasons of cackling too hard.
As for sadly non-laughing matters, however, Sienne gets the boot after her one-on-one date – but at least she got one awesome date before getting dumped. The two head off into the Tuscan woods to go truffle hunting with Julio and his two fungus-smelling puppers (cuter than it sounds), and while normally these kind of dates with a rando hanging on are awkward, Julio the Truffle Hunter is a delight. Maybe it's the dogs. Or maybe it's what happened afterward: The guy brings these two Americans back home for an authentic Italian home-cooked meal with his family. Yeah, it's definitely that part. True, the family is a little nosy, but they're also insanely inviting, and the food looks ridiculously delicious. If you're going to have a final date on this humiliating show, you couldn't wish for a better exit.
Alas, it still was Sienne's final date, with Arie choosing to withhold the rose while a bell ominously tolls over their conversation. But really, between that final date and how lame Arie is, Sienne, you dodged a bullet. You are too good for this dude. Case in point: He was amazed to discover pasta is just eggs and flour. YOU ARE 36 YEARS OLD. Even I know what pasta is made of, and I made myself a Hot Pocket sandwich yesterday. (That's a Hot Pocket wedged in between two additional Hot Pockets, for those wondering.)
Speaking of ages, that brings us to our final, and most emotional, date of the evening: the group date between Kendall, Tia and Bekah M., who has not made any friends thanks to her youthful 22 years of age – and did not make any more of them after her relieved reaction that Sienne was gone, improving her odds of wrangling a rose.
Tia especially takes it into her own hands to end this adventure in babysitting, telling Arie that she's not ready for the step he wants. Or, translated into "Bachelor"-ese: She doesn't believe Bekah M.'s here for the right reasons. I know I said "The Bachelor" needed more characters on the show now that Krystal has finally left us and that somebody would certainly have to step into some kind of role, but it really disappoints me that Tia – once one of my favorites on the show – ended up playing snitch and making the often fatal mistake of taking about others more than herself during Arie private time. I like Tia more when she's silly and snappy at people taking this way too seriously rather than actually taking this seriously.
Plus, while I think we all agree the almost 15-year age difference is, uh, startling, if Bekah M. feels she's ready to settle down for the right person, then that's her rightful decision – not Tia's to say she's wrong. (Even if, yeah, she's probably wrong.)
In fairness to Tia, at least she tells Bekah M. that she ratted her out to Arie, causing the 22-year-old to unveil the world's biggest sad eyes and booboo lips in recorded history. I didn't measure, but I'm pretty sure I'm right. She looked like a real-life model for a Margaret Keane painting. She goes to wipe her eyes and chat with Arie, and they talk things out, with her trying to convince Arie that her hometown date would go great because her parents will like him – and her parents' opinion matters a lot to her. Sounds believable from somebody whose mom thought she was a missing person as of a few weeks ago.
Anyways, in between all of that, Kendall casually gets the first of two roses on the date. Kendall is secretly very good at "The Bachelor."
As for the final rose, Bekah M. and Tia – who is the only person on the planet surprised the final rose is coming down to her and Bekah M. – meet for a gorgeously shot dinner, where Arie makes his decision. And obviously it goes to Tia. As much of a dummy Arie can seem (I refer back to his pasta discovery this episode), even he probably knows that leaving the show with a 22-year-old fiancee is a, um, peculiar look. Bekah M. is sent home (or, more accurately, to "Bachelor in Paradise") while the rest of the show heads off to hometowns.
Overall, an enjoyably emotional and melodramatic episode, though having to push relationships toward the finale did bring one of the show's oddest frustrations to the fore: watching people try to rationalize, explain and bring a logic to an irrational, unexplainable and wholly illogical emotion like love. Everyone talks about falling in love on "The Bachelor" like it's some science, that you need to be feeling this exact way or saying this exact line at the right time, when the reality is much more spontaneous and otherworldly.
Yes, TV demands structure and narratives, not the complicated, confusing and nonsensical, borderline idiotic whims of the heart. But the more "The Bachelor" talks about finding love, the more obvious it is it knows nothing about it. Love is dumb – trying to force it into a checklist is even dumber.
Anyways, Happy Valentine's Day by the way.
Bekah M., Jacqueline and Sienne *taps mic* our next "Bachelorette" contestant please, ABC?
1. Becca K.
The only red flag with Becca K. is that she's shown no red flags so far. I put my money here.
Unless that mystery boyfriend from the previews is hers (I would've sworn he had a Southern accent), I think Tia makes it to the finale. And fittingly for Raven 2.0, I predict she also comes up short.
1. Lauren B.
Much like Lauren B., I have nothing to say – though it would make sense for an empty void of a personality like Arie to fall for an equally vacuous significant other. What happens if two black holes collide in space? Is this how the world ends?
Even if she falls short, Kendall's run on this season of "The Bachelor" is an incredible victory for quirky contestants everywhere. A part of me hopes that she loses but then gets named the next "Bachelorette" so 30 dudes have to pretend to be super-into taxidermy and dead animals. After this plywood lead, this show needs its first semi-weirdo in the spotlight.
Line of the night
DID I MENTION ARIE DIDN'T KNOW PASTA WAS EGG AND FLOUR!? This man's lack of depth has such magnificent depth.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.