Depression Mansion is starting to smell a bit sour in week four, so it’s quite a relief when Chris Harrison announces that Bachelor Ben has moved on. No, not to a reality less manipulated than this one. The brave knight in wine-ing armor requests that the ladies join him in the marriage capital of the world. Whoa, THEIR IMAGINATIONS? Ha, they wish. It’s Las Vegas — according to Ben, “a place where people DO find love.” His ability to emphasize the most random words in a sentence ARE giving me the tremors. But that IS something I can handle for two hours A week. I just need SOME rosé. First up: JoJo and Ben float up and away on an intimate helicopter date. Those can get stale, so this time the helicopter lands so close to them on the parking lot/helipad that they must use their flimsy champagne table as a shield against the ferocious manufactured wind. Meanwhile, high above the action in the Suite of Sadness, the rest of the ladies must watch Jojo kiss Olivia’s husband as her shirt threatens to fly off. The group dissolves, leaving our favorite aggressive yet vulnerable news anchor Olivia to freak out, alone, in front of a camera. Don’t worry. It’s her safe space. She’s fine. Back to Jojo: No real red flags with this one; she ended her last relationship due to trust issues. “I’m sorry that had to be a part of your past,” Ben says, making no mention of the present tense in which he is dating many other women besides Jojo. Eh, she’s fine with it — fully loaded with feelings and willing to open up to the Bachelor like a fresh can of Hunt’s Manwich. (The promotional tie-in for this sloppy joe sauce, which features appropriated footage of Bachelor contestants pouring their hearts out, is as deliciously messy as the show itself. “I DO see my wife in this can,” Ben should say in the next one.)
The next day’s group date leads the remaining ladies — minus Becca the Extra Virgin, who’s lying in wait for the other one-on-one — to a true festival of horrors: the rest of Las Vegas. More specifically: the stage of Terry Fator, ventriloquist extraordinaire and the season 2 winner of America’s Got Talent. Today’s quest: Stage a talent show that’ll serve as Terry’s opening act. There’s just one problem: none of Ben’s dates have any talent. The horror! But most of them make do. The twins do some Irish dancing in the costumes their mom drives over. Jubilee can really wail on the cello. Jennifer creates her own adventure with a tennis racket, Lauren H. conducts a theoretical kindergarten class in a chicken suit, and Lauren B. juggles three balls to prove she’s here for the right reasons and then some. Everyone seems content to do the bare minimum and get the hell off the stage. Only Olivia the Great won’t let on about her secret talent. She stretches her long limbs and fat toes while sprawled out in a nasty carpeted aisle, building the mystery of her own doomed performance. Surely she knows this whole pre-panic mode display is tedious, but the news-wielding warrior must suffer through it anyway. A mini-meltdown is one of the few surefire ways to achieve Time With Ben. Against all odds, though, the quip queen’s skittishness turns out to have been authentic: During the talent show’s grand finale, Olivia fully transitions into what she surely never thought she’d become: a low-kicking, over-sequined showgirl who somehow develops a raging case of self-awareness in the middle of a cake pop.
Striptease fail! Hey, we’ve all been there — just not as tragically and out in the open. I cannot fathom why Olivia couldn’t have let herself fade to the back just this once. This has to be the most basic course material taught in Attention Whore Caveats 101: When performing in a talent show for sober people in Las Vegas, one’s biggest priority should be avoiding the spotlight. Also, it’s not like this blonde bomb has no talent. Olivia could have delivered a zany news update, like a State of My Dating Life type of thing, or led some sort of manic meditation session called Zen With Ben (her words). Either of those would’ve run a minute, tops. There are no happy endings in Vegas. Totally mortified, Olivia panics:
Ben does not materialize, so that meltdown is another bust. Later, at the cocktail party, Olivia’s new phantom disease is hives. Hives! Where? Show us! “I definitely think she’s full of shit,” announces Emily, finally distinguishing herself as more than just a twin two full days before Ben will officially do so himself. Cheers to her. Ben toasts his conquests and makes the rounds, smooching everyone in sight except Rachel. (I had no idea there was a Rachel.) Ben is on fire, referring to Caila as a “tigress” and a “sex panther” despite her initial shyness. This IS someone he could fuck in the jungle, no questions asked. Most of the ladies must settle for quick gropes by the pool, but chicken-suited talent show winner Lauren H. (it’s probably more accurate to call her “not the biggest loser”) gets a well-lit chunk of Time With Ben in the empty theater. Terry Fator’s puppet is there, ugh, but Lauren H. eagerly plays along, calling “Little Ben” bigger than she expected and letting the puppet help caress Ben’s forearm as she scratches his face with her fowl talons. The multi-layered display of string-pulling here — production on Ben, Ben on the puppet, Lauren H. deftly adjusting her standards about her own destiny — is just staggering. Only in Vegas! The next morning, room service delivers a wedding dress for Becca the Extra Virgin, which makes total sense. If Ben marries her on their first date, then she’ll have to sleep with him. But instead of sealing the deal, Ben and Becca must (pause for sad trombone) bear witness to other people’s weddings. Yep, the Bachelor has been ordained by the state of Neverevereverland, so it’s gonna be a long afternoon of standing around and listening to him on a monotoned power trip. Good God this date is boring. Next up: a boring glass of wine and Ben grilling Becca on whether his status as a sex-haver will hurt their relationship. Nope! She’s just a virgin; she’s not insane. Becca has her priorities straight and is here in this museum of neon signs to win. Ben makes sure to compliment her morals, values, faith, commitment, and any other glittering generality that might possibly apply to both Becca and Viewers Like Her. Then they transform into identical butterflies and disappear. “I could see myself as the future Mrs. Ben Higgins,” Becca’s voiceover confirms from far, far away. Surprise twist: Vegas happens to be the twins’ hometown, making this leg of our Bachelor journey a wonderful opportunity to dump one of ‘em right here and now in the comfort of her own home. “It’s hard to comprehend how I could continue with two sisters,” Ben says, having barely spoken of Emily or Haley — let alone the concept of them as a unit — to date. Why are they even here? They live together, share the same car, have the same job. They even use the same treadmill when there are obviously others available! It sounds like they have everything they need for a long-lasting relationship and aren’t here for Ben. Wrong! Emily, “the dominant twin” according to their mom, pulls Ben onto her childhood bed and assures him she HAS a stronger connection with him, at least based on what her sister’s been telling her. Ouch. Thoroughly convinced or simply desperate to escape this creepy situation, Ben leaves Haley at home to fester in her tragic recessive traits. He and Emily immediately start making out upon their exit, because what else is there to do in a limo while a twin sheds what might be crocodile tears for the loss of her meeker half? Way to take control on this unique “date,” Ben! Now pull her hair and call her an only child. Before the Rose Ceremony, Ben somehow quells the fears of each woman he encounters, including a cake-mongering Olivia (her true talent is eating it, dontcha know) and Jubilee, who just feels like a complicated person. Still. Forever. “I’m intrigued by you. Like, you have qualities,” he assures the war veteran. Whew! That was easy. Now Ben needs “some time to think through what IS next.” All eyes are on Olivia, the unrivaled star of her self-contained drama, as Ben waits until the final rose to call her name. So the absurd anchorwoman will stay to soak up camera rays another week, while Rachel the unemployed and Amber the bartender must exit the premises immediately. “I DO have to say goodbye, because I DO believe my wife’s standing here,” bots Ben. I think that means he’s sorry? Rachel wanders offscreen without too much drama (or maybe the crew didn’t recognize her either), while Amber the Bachelor try-hard stomps away in tears before ditching her high heels at the edge of the pool. She hopes she’s making a sweeping statement here, and indeed she is. Never go on a reality show. Got it. See you next week for jealousy issues from Jubes and Olivia single-mom-shaming Ashley!