A couple of things: When did The Bachelor become the gloomiest show on television? And also, when did the Bachelor himself become the type of man I would actually want to date? Ahem! Arie Luyendyk, Jr. is boring. He likes to wake up with the sun. He doesn't like going out. And, he actually eats on all the group dates, which says something about him. (It says that, despite the producers' instructions, he's still going to eat. those. snacks. What can I say? I admire a snacking man.)
Disaster strikes with episode four because of a few things. First, Chris Harrison, Bachelor prophet and possessor of impressive sangfroid, tells the girls that it "won't get any better." (I'm not sure he got that slogan right.) His point is that the competition is down to 15 women. The competition will only get more aggressive, which means there will be more tears, more pursing of lips, and more vicious impressions of other girls in the ITMs. ("ITM" = when contestants talk to the camera. It stands for "in the moment.") The second thing that happens is the simmering Krystal drama erupts into full-blown arguments. Hence all the impressions. Just about every girl on the show has, at this point, performed an impression of Krystal's airy Marilyn Monroe voice. All of the impressions aren't exactly kind. Then, the shit hits the fan — or I suppose I should say the urine hits the fan, given the context — when Bekah M. reveals her age. We knew she was 22. Arie didn't, or was willfully ignoring the truth. Oh, and we discover the term "glam-shaming," courtesy of Marikh.
Believe it or not, this actually makes for a compelling episode of The Bachelor! This season is a weird one, given Arie's anti-Bachelor position, but thus far, it's been successful. Part of that success is Arie. Arie, as I said last week, is actually self-aware. He knows what he wants. He's clear about what he wants. According to his conversation with Bekah, he wants a wife. And not even a short-term fiancée, like most of the Bachelors. Because he's so honest, though, the whole show feels a little more, er, dark.
For instance, this Krystal drama doesn't have the same jollity of the villains of the past. Not that villains can be "jolly," but when you're a blonde Miami-ite on The Bachelor spilling secrets about your platinum vagina, things can feel a little daffy. Krystal, I hate to say, seems genuine. She's here because she fell into the same trap as the rest of us: She believes this stuff. She just doesn't gel with the rest of the house, which seems natural. Put fifteen people in a room and I defy you not to find one outsider. Things first get strange on the group date with Arie when, during hot tub time, Tia and Caroline make fun of how Arie is sitting with Krystal. The teasing seems innocent enough. Clearly, though, there's some insecurity there on Krystal's part. She takes offense at their teasing, and starts spouting about the "immaturity" of the other girls in the house. (She feels like a camp counselor at summer camp. Which, honestly, is probably how Arie feels with all these 25-year-olds running around.)
Their drama erupts in a predictable way: Tia and Caroline get bolder and bolder with their teasing. ("Get your lips off his ass," Caroline moans when she sees Krystal.) Then, Tia steals Arie from Krystal just as she's describing what's happening. What's happening is a little bit of bullying. Which is normally semi-okay! This is The Bachelor. But something about this season lends some earnestness to the proceedings and it gets sad very quickly. Tia and Caroline ultimately face-off with Krystal during the cocktail party, and they make virtually no headway. Afterwards, Tia runs to Arie and starts to cry, admitting that she feels awkward about all the drama. She would rather be talking about Arie, you see, not about Krystal. I get the sense Tia's tears were more about guilt than anything else. She (rightfully) doesn't want to be the girl known for talking about other girls on the show. Her tears devolve into love talk with Arie that — again — actually seems genuine? Is Tia actually just jealous of Krystal? Is that's what's happening? (Honestly, with the drama on this show, it can be hard to figure out who's crying for what reason. See: The infamous volleyball episode from Nick's season.)
Tia gets the rose for being vulnerable, and Krystal simmers. This will erupt again! And it won't be pretty.
Before all of that, though, Arie goes on a semi-notable one-on-one with Sienne. Arie likes Sienne in theory, I think, but their chemistry is about as crackling as a damp swimsuit. Sienne deserves someone a little less boring than Arie Luyendyk, Jr. The most interesting part of their date occurs when Sienne admits that love stories were never her thing. She never saw love stories for people who "looked like her," she says, offering up another off-tone nugget of earnestsness. Sienne is one of three (two after this episode) women of color left on the season. Fairy tales, especially in America, typically don't feature women of color. She and Arie have a dry, dry, relationship, but it's still sweet when Arie hands her the rose and offers her the promise of a love story, all her own.
"This could be our love story," he tells her. Arie, you're good.
The group date, before it descends into drama, is one of the first where Arie looks truly comfortable. Remember last week, when he had to wrestle? Oof. This is a survival date in Lake Tahoe — I know there's a lot of talk about the silliness of these "destinations," but Tahoe seems cool, okay! Survival there means, apparently, drinking your own urine. (For the record, the Army Field Manual does not advise drinking your own urine for survival.) The contestants also eat worms. I feel like there are other survival techniques they could have learned. Not to brag but I made a splint with pizza boxes in college, so. On this date, Kendall takes the lead, as the other women shy away from the gross stuff. I like Kendall. I bet Kendall could make a splint from pizza boxes. Kendall deserved the group date rose. (It went to Tia.)
And then, there's the age bomb. It was bound to happen eventually, and it's actually exciting to watch. Turns out, Arie's not that okay with Bekah being 22. Not because she's too young to have seen Forrest Gump in theaters, but because he thinks she's not ready for marriage. He brings up the boring factor. Is Bekah ready to be boring? Is she ready to be a full-on sleepy, non-go-y-out-y adult? She insists that she could be that person for Arie, but she won't know until she knows. More power to her, Bekah M. didn't really lie during that conversation. She was frustratingly evasive, but she stayed true to Bekah. When Arie pointed out that he could propose to her and she could say yes, then reject him months later, she replied, "If that happened, would it really be that bad?"
(She has a point. Nick Viall did that and he appears to be just fine.)
But Arie needs a wife, Bekah! He tells her so, and after a long, painful conversation — that involves some risky hoop action — he gives her the rose. He will protect his heart from now on, he says. And Bekah has some serious thinking to do.
The episode ends with a stern rose ceremony, no cocktail party. I must say, I am pleased with the rose ceremonies this season. They are right on schedule! Krystal pulls Arie aside in the middle of the ceremony just to voice some insecurities. It's a producer-fed move that makes Tia and Caroline upset, but ultimately, Krystal wins. Nevertheless, Krystal persisted. And Caroline, she of the "lips on his ass" quote, takes her leave, along with Brittany T.
Brittany T. has made an impression on me this season, and her exit was no different. She cried, but seemingly not for Arie. She just wanted to find the one, she explained. I found myself thinking of the moment in The Big Sick when Khadija (Vella Lovell) says, "Do you ever wish you could find the one just so you can relax?" Brittany T. just seems exhausted. Us, too, Brittany.
The Dearly Departed: Caroline, Brittany T.
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