Vision Of Division

As I watched this week’s episode I kept thinking to myself: “I don’t know how he does it?” It’s hard for me to stomach the thought of Ben having to give twenty-four “it’s not you, it’s me” talks in less than two months. Being the Grim Reaper of Romance is bad enough without the added pressure of being under America’s microscope as you help each heartbroken woman into her taxi back to reality only to have to run right back upstairs and appear ecstatic in front of the remaining women. There was a time when I actually thought it would be easy for Ben to navigate these treacherous waters and that “time” probably ended about ten minutes into the first episode when the crying and clawing commenced.

This week we find our Bachelor and his three finalists traveling to “exotic” Switzerland and I think the description is more aptly named for the fantasy suite portion of the show rather than the actual destination. Although I wouldn’t describe Switzerland as “exotic” it is however, absolutely breathtaking. I’ve never really thought of traveling there but after seeing Ben and Nicki’s date, it is now a must on my bucket list…Switzerland not Nicki.

It is clear that Nicki’s time apart from Ben only strengthened her loving feelings that she first expressed to Ben in Texas during their hometown date. She truly seems happy and secure in her feelings for Ben and it seems like she has finally regained her personal confidence, which will help her entire life regardless of the show’s final outcome.

It should come as no surprise to any faithful viewer that the next part of the date involves a helicopter, a picnic and a conversational recap of the successful hometown visit. The problem with the date was that the scenery almost diverted our complete attention from an otherwise “cookie cutter” conversation that lacked depth or real feeling. Later in the evening, the depth I was seeking earlier (not exactly) is present when the two potential lovebirds discuss what life together outside of The Bachelor bubble would be like. Nicki has apparently been reading The Secret, based on the plethora of positive thoughts emanating from her regarding her future life with Ben. The hard part about a show like this is that all standard dating norms will invariably be thrown aside during the process with an example of this being Ben and Nicki’s family planning conversations during dinner. In real life, most of us would probably be alarmed if we were dating a new person who openly discussed the number of children that they wanted after a short time of knowing them but with the fantasy suite looming I guess it’s FULL SPEED AHEAD on the slightly premature, slightly scary talk! If you listen closely, you can actually hear Nicki’s Pelvis shriek in pain after Ben tells her that he wants four kids. Easy Casanova! It’s not a clown car!

Nicki then tells us that she is willing to chance heartache in order to find love with Ben because the reward for actually “feeling” again far outweighs the risk. Her descriptions of Ben are very emotional and without any doubt. Ben, even though he mentions the word “love” seems much more business-like in his approach. It is almost like he knows that a girl like Nicki would be very good for him but he seems to be struggling to convince himself that he should feel more for her than he actually does. They definitely get along, but Nicki spoke to Ben the entire evening like she was interviewing for a job. Ben took in all of her attempts to sell herself as the perfect companion but he failed to validate any of her bullet points or reassure her in her feelings. The roots of a long term, stable relationship are present but I just don’t feel the two are on the same levels in terms of their feelings for one another. Nicki ignores Ben’s subtle and almost silent stop signs and accepts his invitation to “forgo her individual room” and spend the evening with the man she has fallen in love with at the risk of her own heart. 

Is Michael Bay Planning These Dates?

In stark contrast to Ben’s first date with Nicki in Switzerland, Lindzi is treated to what Ben calls “a little adrenaline date.” Lindzi, who hails from the Sunshine State, obviously missed the memo: “bring a jacket as you will be rappelling in Switzerland.” The date/stunt would’ve been the perfect trust building exercise in week two but this far in the process it just seems a bit out of place. Regardless, the couple ignores their fear (and date Déjà vu) and attempt to draw parallels between dangling from a thin piece of cord 300 feet above jagged rocks and their future, potential relationship. Obviously, Ben really took Courtney’s father’s words of wisdom to heart: “marriage is life’s greatest gamble,” by doing so many dangerous things that getting married to a woman you barely know would almost seem tame in comparison. Our two Sexy Swiss Swashbucklers (say that five times fast) escape the Alps untarnished and for the better as we next find them teleported into a tiny hot tub. I personally would like a tad bit more foreplay before getting all hot and bothered and to think how many readers rip me apart for not using enough transitional sentences!

After the steamy, hot, sweat session in the Hot Tub Time Machine the adventurous couple sit down for dinner….IN A HELICOPTER! Nope, just a standard dinner with plates and forks at a table.  It was hard for me to focus on the typically very guarded Lindzi as she fully opened up to Ben because of his choice of neckwear. A BIG BOW TIE! I didn’t know if Ben had secretly joined the Nation of Islam or if he was merely in the process of solving a very intense math equation but their conversation was everything that Ben and Nicki’s was not. Ben is extremely grateful that Lindzi has finally exposed the complete “her” in an effort to find love again and he is very forthcoming about his feelings for Lindzi and throws the word “love” around with ease, which was not the case on his date with Nicki.

Lindzi turns to Ben, only the second man that she has ever brought home and proclaims: “I’m falling in love with you. I like where this is going and I would want to see this end with a proposal.” This direct wish clearly leaves Ben in flux to which he replies in his best Bill and Ted: “wow!” Ben regains his composure and ends the evening stating that he could definitely see himself with Lindzi long-term and I believe him. I am unsure if Lindzi can overtake Courtney but she has definitely taken a firm hold on the number two position. Ben proceeds to invite Lindzi to spend the rest of the evening together away from the cameras and they head off to the private suite where I can only guess that actions spoke much louder than words. 

Tennis Anyone?

Last week, Courtney left me wondering if she had taken a final turn for the positive in her relationship with Ben. I was anxious to see if she would be able to continue on her path of forthright behavior and leave the dark side behind her. It is clear that Ben has not ignored all of the attempts at Hindsight that the other girls have given him in describing the way that she acted when he was not present. Trying to sort fact from fiction can be an arduous task in any situation, much less one where so much is on the line including the emotional well-being of three women seeking requited love from the same man.

Courtney and Ben meet and immediately pick up where we had last left them (in Arizona, at a fake alter, at a fake wedding with HBO lawyers waiting intently with “Cease and Desist Letters” as a result of Courtney’s copyright infringed vows). After a mental mind game warm-up, the controversial couple sits down to a picnic (no way!) and immediately tackle the elephant in the room or in their specific case, the cow. Ben is determined to clear his mind of the residual doubt he is feeling about Courtney and serves first by stating that she should have made “it” easier on him during the process. Courtney returns the serve with a weak volley and Ben returns the volley with and explosive forehand: “It was one of my concerns for a while. I watched you and I noticed at certain times how you would twist the knife. I wished in those moments you would have made it easier on me.” Ben attacks the net to finish off the match but the conversation is halted as the couple decides to salvage what little of the lunch they can and continue the match another time but not before Courtney is able to get in one nice “Backhand.”

By my count, Ben was up 30-15 at the stoppage of play but unfortunately this small teaser showing Ben’s competitive fire and the fact that he hasn’t completely turned a blind eye to Courtney’s behavior probably will not be enough to satisfy the millions “witch” hunters out there still demanding a certain head on a platter.

Ben and Courtney’s evening date has them situated in a private wine cellar for dinner, drinks and a continuation of the earlier match. Courtney serves first and without waiting for the initial wine pour begins her last ditch effort seeking complete absolution for her sins of Bachelor Episodes past much like an Atheist on their death bed. Courtney admits to falling for Ben early on and waking up every day in the uncomfortable surroundings of a very competitive Sorority House brought out the very worst in her. Courtney goes on to explain that a lot of her behavior stemmed from the lack of trust she feels for all people borne out of a continuous series of bad relationships. It is apparent that the fear of losing Ben first motivated Courtney to plant a flag on her “property” many weeks earlier alienating the other girls and now, many weeks later she is back to admit to her wrongdoings that resulted from her botched strategy which could still cause her to lose Ben.

I guess the “note to self” here would be: be yourself the entire time and you would still be in first place with the only BIG difference being that your behind wouldn’t be on fire right now.

Many will see this “come to Jesus” moment simply as Courtney continuing her “game” whereas I see someone who might have not previously believed that she would find someone of substance and value on a reality show and thus was blindsided by Ben. Yes, her actions at times were mean spirited and disrespectful to herself and to others but with a sincere apology given I do believe all should be forgiven. The dinner and the match end with Courtney accepting an invitation to her second fantasy date of the season. Ben and Courtney appeared to have taken a huge step forward in their relationship by working through a tough time together. Sadly for them their troubles don’t seem to stay buried very long as our favorite Tennessean volunteers herself for hazardous duty.

A Wrench in the Machine

Having gone on three successful fantasy dates Ben appears to have a clear mind going into the rose ceremony until the self-described cloud of “hot mess” materializes at Ben’s door in search of the answers as to why she was let go. I applaud Ben for verbally treading lightly about Kacie’s family and their super traditional ways, which were a deal killer for both parties. As I said last week, there is nothing wrong with either style of life but some “Tribes” do not and will not ever mesh. Kacie’s feelings for Ben show how the “recipe” for love has to be just right or the whole dish comes out wrong. Nicki and Ben were super compatible but there was no “spark” on Ben’s side. Kacie and Ben are all sparks and would no doubt enjoy a whirlwind love affair but the lack of a true long term compatibility (friends, family, wants, needs) would see the relationship flameout in due time. Kacie is a smart girl and if she learns from this added dose of reality she will be that much better for it as she gets a little older and earns some additional life experience.

Kacie is going to leave Switzerland without her man but her flight home will be filled with a healthy dose of confidence and closure knowing that she did everything she could do and very simply she wasn’t a good fit for Ben and apparently neither is Courtney? What? Ouch! Bad news never has good timing and good news always waits till noon. You really have to empathize with Ben here as he just conquered his doubts about Courtney only to have them resurrected by Kacie’s warning of severe mental and emotional torment if he went ahead and made her his choice. Kacie’s sincerity about her dealings and experience with Courtney seemed to give Ben pause and it is obvious that he respects Kacie’s opinion as he is left stunned as she makes her final exit from his life.

Ben freshly blindsided by a Mack truck from Clarksville is forced yet again to decide between his instincts or the generous amount of warnings given to him by other women that he previously cared about as he enters the rose ceremony. It was no surprise that Lindzi received the first rose maybe as a ploy to add general tension to the ceremony or perhaps it was a way for Ben to teach a small lesson to Courtney as to who was really in charge of this process. Finally after what seemed an eternity + life x infinity, Ben goes with his gut and presents Courtney with the last rose. In an awkward embrace that leaves Courtney on the sidelines, Lindzi and Nicki say their goodbyes then Nicki makes her last exit. I give credit to Nicki who departed with grace and her head held high knowing that she risked everything all for a chance at love. She has nothing to be ashamed of and this experience was a victory for her life.

I am truly looking forward to next week’s episode as all of the girls have had ample time to decompress, sort out their feelings, organize their opinions and sharpen their Talons.