The Bachelor Season 20, Episode 5 Recap: Red-Flagged

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Welcome to Mexico City, where the laughs follow Olivia around like crickets and dating 11 women at once is the ultimate Fashion Week statement. Bachelor Ben Higgins is so excited to kick off this leg of his “journey” that he decides to creep around the designated Suite of Sadness at 4:20 a.m. looking to spark up a J with some of his special lady friends. He attacks them with a flashlight to see who looks the grossest without makeup, then takes some names, shakes some weaves, and bounces. Now that they’re wide awake, their long day of nothing will seem even emptier. THANKS, SWEETIE.

Somehow the girl who looks the best in bed has today’s one-on-one date, go figure. A few hours of sleepy murmuring later, Ben and Amanda are high in the sky, trapped in the hot air balloon that is both their transportation and conversation. She keeps saying “amazing;” Ben wants to see what life is REALLY like around her. It’s hard to keep up with their chemistry here. But “as great as it feels to be having these feelings,” single mom Amanda remains scared. The collapse of her marriage to a loser makes her feel like a failure, not to mention she’s on The Bachelor. Any way you slice it, Amanda’s life is rough. She gets a rose, anyway, then tiptoes back into the empty picture frame she wandered out of. To this day, no one remembers a thing.

It’s Jubilee vs. the world on this week’s group date, as Ben leads nine ladies through a Spanish lesson and cheats on Jubes right in front of everyone while whispering sweet nothings in broken Spanish such as, “I’m falling in love with you” and, “I DO see us boning at the Four Seasons” indiscriminately. How dare Ben follow protocol and treat all the ladies like equal-opportunity playthings? “Group dates are not fun at this point, because…you have feelings,” Jubes confides to the camera, praying she’ll be the next Bachelorette so she never has to cede the spotlight again.
Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Olivia, however, has zero reputation to uphold and needs to win this thing right now, so she expertly claims Ben as her partner in the authentic Mexican cooking challenge. “The Spatchelor” and Olivia get so high on shots of mezcal and sprigs of fresh mint (the better to ward off her horrible breath, claims Emily the newly detached twin) that they end up serving what looks like dog food sprinkled with crickets to the group. The restaurant’s flabbergasted chefs much prefer Jubilee and Lauren B.’s sophisticated fish filets drenched in a rainbow salsa. Their prize? Nothing!

Later, at the group date cocktail party, Ben takes a little too much time making out on the streets with Lauren B., who can see “uhhhhhhlllllllllife” (translation: a life) with him. Like, a real life. Life-life. The whole shebang. She’s either drunk or serious, and Ben unconditionally loves it. He finally returns to escort Jubilee to the nearest pile of pillows for her Time With Ben, but it’s too little too late, and she refuses to be led anywhere by that wandering-eyed bastard. “So awkward,” muses Jojo, thrilled to be in on the action. “Did you hear what she said? Let’s not hold hands.
Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Jubes has done the complicated math a thousand different ways, but the simple fact is that the “intriguing” war vet continues to be outnumbered by carefree extroverts on a trashy reality show. “It’s been difficult for a while,” she tells Ben, holding it all back — the venom, the rage, the whitefish he didn’t even appreciate. After an excruciating 20 minutes of Ben questioning himself via the Socratic method, he decides he can’t keep up this ruse any longer considering there are 10 other women willing to play along!

And so Ben releases Jubilee — from the sordid construction she wants no part of — about 10 paces away from the hotel’s back entrance, as if to make a statement. (“This dark stairwell is someone I HAVE a connection with.”) “I’m, like, the most unlovable person in the world right now,” she moans into her own lap back in the production tent. Pfffft. That line is so this season, Jubes. Get your own.
Ben pretends to cry for a few minutes so he won’t tarnish his reputation as a living emoticon, then bravely rejoins the cocktail party, where Jojo rushes to compliment him on how gracefully he breaks up with others. Now, there’s a crafty dating technique I’ve never considered before. Clearly this is a woman who knows her taco tastes good (her words). Ben promises never to blindside the tiny brunette… and then gives the Group Date Rose to bitchy blonde Olivia instead. Liar!

Next up, Ben and Lauren H. manage to not totally embarrass themselves while vamping down the runway during Fashion Week Mexico. The casual flair with which Ben rocks a brightly colored poncho along with Lauren’s relentless enthusiasm keep the afternoon from falling too flat. It’s oddly reassuring to have someone narrate life right as it happens, but overall this one-on-one date feels like an extended kindergarten class. “There ARE other women I’m progressing with,” Ben alerts the schoolteacher, but “You DID make me smile; you DID make me laugh.” Lauren H. plays along with Ben’s disturbing speech pattern, or maybe it’s also her own? “It’s hard to know how much you DO kind of pick up on?” she trails off, perhaps leaving this quandary open-ended forever…
As the ladies prep for the rose ceremony, Amanda dares to talk about her children, prompting a royal fuckup from Olivia: “It’s like an episode of Teen Mom,” she mutters not once but twice, potentially digging her own rose-petaled grave. Obviously, Amanda takes this to heart: She does so have her shit together! She had her babies as an adult! But no one takes Olivia’s insult to Amanda more personally than Emily, who’s been a full-on emotional wreck this week without the soothing psychic connection of her twin to boost her along in this mixed-up world full of meanies. She pulls Ben aside to complain about Olivia, then phones Haley (cast off due to recessive qualities) to commiserate about how none of this is fair. The metamorphosis of Emily into a full-blown individual could be the sleeper saga of the season.

The episode leaves us hanging as Ben wonders whether there are “red flags” with Olivia. I doubt he’ll succumb so easily to someone else’s problems — girl-on-girl drama never seems to pan out well for the informant on The Bachelor, plus Ben could’ve been goaded into saying “red flags” by a producer who asked him what Olivia’s boobs in that dress reminded him of right at that second. The simplest explanation is usually correct.

So we wait, with cricket-bated dragon breath, for the final verdict on one of the greatest self-contained newscasters of our time. Will Olivia be de-rosed? Will Lauren B. propose? See you next week as the Marriage Olympics heat up!

More from TV