Meeting the parents and major pampering: These sound like late stage dates, right? Wrong! Not for Arie Luyendyk, Jr, the Different Bachelor who is here to save the franchise from itself! Arie likes to take women he barely knows on very intimate dates, it turns out. He also likes to lavish gifts on women, which isn't something I'm going to complain about. (Arie, take me on a date! I want a jewel!) Arie is working very hard here to be the "down-to-earth" Bachelor — he's generous, he's attentive, and he's very open about his Pizza Hut past.
Week two begins with what might be The Bachelor's weirdest one-on-one date ever. Well, sorry, it actually begins with Arie standing on a cliff overlooking Los Angeles. He has a lot to think about, this Arie. Stuff like, how am I going to handle it when one of my prospective fiancées calls me "baby"? Or when I must reveal that I had a blonde bowl cut when I was a child? After gazing out into the California landscape, Arie rides off on his motorcycle, which is supposed to make us swoon, I think. (I refuse to admit that motorcycles are the least bit attractive, okay?! Talk to me after class.)
His first date card goes to Becca, the publicist who made him get on one knee last week. Becca's almost as chill as Arie, if you'll recall. She's also sort of selling herself as Average Minnesota Woman. And, given that we haven't seen her on The Bachelor before, her tale is believable.
Their date is a Rachel Zoe-sponsored shopping fest that is both 100% my dream date and 100% my nightmare situation. Poor Becca is forced to try on at least five dresses, all of which are covered in sparkles. She oohs and ahs over every one, because what else is she supposed to do in that situation? Say the dresses are too glittery? The date is overall very glittery. There are four slinky metallic dresses. (Ooh!) There are spiky silver Jimmy Choos. (Ah!) There are Neil Lane diamonds! (Zowie!) Oh, and there are, somewhat inexplicably, lobster tails and a chocolate fountain. I think the theme of this date is supposed to be luxury, but it ends up looking like Arie is showing off unnecessarily. The big reveal of the date is that she gets to keep the dresses, which seems unfair. The rest of the women didn't get a slosh of free dresses!
Nevertheless, all this fiduciary preening works on Becca, who keeps insisting she's "just a girl from Minnesota." I don't mean to sound snarky — Becca does indeed seem like a more grounded girl. She doesn't scream when the goodies are offered; instead, she gasps, and seems genuinely flabbergasted that this is all happening to her. (Were I in her shoes, I would reject the date rose and walk my new Jimmy Choos all the way home. Sorry, Arie.)
She likes him, though. During their date, they have the traditional Bachelor exchange: The contestant reveals something heartbreaking, and the lead nods awkwardly along, looking for something to do with their hands. Becca reveals that her father died when she was young. Her last real love was the guy who helped her through that period. Their relationship lasted seven years, which is a lot to comprehend for Arie, who hasn't been in a real relationship since Emily Maynard's season of The Bachelorette.
Becca gets a rose, of course, which seems rather flimsy next to all that gear she took home earlier. She also gets a kiss. Upon kissing Arie, Becca makes the first mention of something I'd really like to forget: pillow lips. Arie apparently has pillow lips. I'd really like to stop talking about pillow lips.
"Your eyes, like, suck people in, I think," she tells Arie.
The show wastes no time moving into date number 2, which — if you can believe it — is even weirder. If date one was all about luxury for no reason, date two is all about intimacy for no reason. Arie takes Krystal, the fitness instructor from San Diego, California, to his home in Scottsville, Arizona. Krystal gets to know Arie's home life. Turns out, he lives in Scottsville in a plain-looking home and a plain-looking room. (One of my colleagues noted disdainfully that Arie had no posters in his room. I mean, come on! He could at least put up a Dashboard Confessional album cover or something.)
More interesting is Arie's home videos, which all go to support the thesis that Arie is a Down Home Guy. He had a cute bowl cut! He loved his siblings! This guy is normal! Again, this works on Krystal, who seems to have no problem getting very cozy with a man she barely knows. She does, however, seem a little worried when she has to meet Arie's parents.
"I don't have flowers or anything!" she says nervously. The meeting is low-key, though, and it seems like Arie's family is resigned to their new job of Reality TV Parents.
Arie's date with Krystal really feels like a fifth week date when Connor Duermit shows up. Do I know who Connor Duermit is? No. Did I ache at the sound of his sweet crooning? Yes. Did I think it was a little sad that Arie and Krystal had to dance at the front of an empty auditorium? Absolutely. But it's a right of passage, and Krystal is lucky to count herself among the awkward Bachelor concert-goers. (She also gets pillow lip-action, as Bekah says later. I refuse to discuss the possibility that any lips could in any way resemble pillows. I have to sleep on my pillows later, okay?)
Weird one-on-ones aside, week two gave us one of the more fun group dates I've seen in a while. Fifteen of the girls participate in a demolition derby, which is really just an exercise in destruction. It's a racing date. (Arie's in the driver's seat, remember?) Group dates tend to descend into an exercise in reality TV editing pretty quickly, and this one devolves into the Annaliese show almost immediately. Annaliese, we discover, is scared of cars because of a bumper car trauma. I don't like to discount trauma, but The Bachelor sure does. As Annaliese recalls the time she was trapped in a bumper car accident, tape of children playing bumper cars rolls across the screen, like a true crime reenactment. For what it's worth, the tears seem real, and anxiety can come from the strangest of places. Solidarity with you, Annaliese.
The rest of the girls aren't as generous. This is meant to be fun, and Annaliese is killing the vibe. She's also stealing Arie, a theme that becomes increasingly prevalent throughout the night. Arie's time is in peak demand right now. He has 21 women vying for his heart. On the demolition derby date, there are 15 women. This does not bode well for the less-aggressive women in the house, like Bibiana, who gets more and more upset as she struggles to get time with Arie.
During all this, though, a new frontrunner emergers. Sienne, a real estate agent, wins the demolition derby and the group date rose. Arie is very impressed that she went to Yale.
"I barely graduated high school and I worked at Pizza Hut!" he says. It's actually one of his most charming moments so far.
A side note: Demolition derby is definitely dangerous, and this show just swooped on over the fact that Brittany J. got injured during the date. What happened to Brittany J.? Justice for Brittany J.!
The final cocktail party contains the usual big snafu. Krystal steals time from Bibiana, who blows a semi-rational gasket. Krystal's taken to calling Arie "baby," and she has a habit of stealing time from other women. This looks especially bad because Krystal already has a rose. Plus, Krystal is growing more smug and self-satisfied. It's reasonable that these girls are annoyed. You're pushing it, Krystal, and Bibiana isn't going to stand by while this happens. After a long anti-Krystal rant, Bibiana declares her own mic drop, and walks away, shooing the camera away from her as she does so. I think Bibiana just figured out how to succeed at The Bachelor. (Notice she didn't run to Arie to complain. Rookie mistake.)
The rose ceremony leaves three women on the cutting room floor. Jenny, the graphic designer, is shattered at the decision, and she doesn't hug Arie on the way out. Honestly, good for her. Arie runs after her like a good boy, and she says, "I'm sad about leaving friends." Double good for her. (She later amends this statement, claiming she could have married Arie, but we'll stick with her earlier argument.)
Isn't that why we all hate to see The Bachelor go? We're not watching girls leave; we're saying goodbye to friends.
The Dearly Departed: Jenny, Valerie, Lauren G.
Lauren Count: Down to two and counting.
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