Ben and the ladies are in Puerto Rico this week, and they all manage to get sunburnt in about two hours.  Chris Harrison, in a chill island t-shirt, explains the scenario of the week as if none of us has ever watched the show before, or as if the girls are slightly retarded.  I suppose both of these could be true.  All of the girls are to get a date this week—two one-on-ones, and all the rest on a group date.

Nicki gets the first date card, and to everybody’s surprise she is picked up by a helicopter! One day I’d really like the date to be picked up in a yellow taxi or perhaps a pull-cart. Our bachelor got a haircut, and it looks terrible.  Focus groups probably liked the droopy front locks, as those have been kept at full length, but the rest of the hair is cut a bit shorter, resulting in a strange back-to-front downwards slant, like a racy little girl cut.

The two get rained on really hard, which ruins their grand plan for the date.  Nicki doesn’t throw a hissy fit about getting wet, so Ben is absolutely blown away with how flexible and go-with-the-flow she is.  Nicki is so stoked on the date that she says she feels like “God is smiling down on us”.

Ben audibles into a little clothes shopping to get some dry threads.  They try for traditional puerto rican outfits.  Ben buys an all-white linen outfit and a white straw Panama hat.  Nicki thinks he looks “muy muy muy caliente”.  Which is a classic Americanism that doesn’t translate at all to Spanish.  Just saying.

Ben in Panama Hat - The Bachelor Season 16
Nicki is decked out in some sarong-type onesie.  They look fantastic (not), and stroll around town before sitting down outside a church to watch a wedding.  This brings up all sorts of interesting conversation about marriage ‘n stuff.  Nicki has been married before, and Ben has proposed before, and they both agree that next time they want it to be perfect.  Ben astutely points out that “Being married is totally different than being engaged”.

The ABC crew films the wedding from outside the church, and we get to watch as an old overweight woman manage the bride’s train.  She’s not very well cut out for this role, bending over uncomfortably and generally failing at her job.

Finally the two head for their romantic dinner in a large white cadbury egg.  Ben looks like a complete goober with his new haircut, which is looking rather frizzy and really bothersome.  They talk about marriage again and Nicki vaguely mentions something that she needs to tell Ben and how she hopes it won’t scare him off.  What exactly this is we aren’t sure, but with a little more marriage talk—and Nicki saying something about another fairy-tale—Ben is convinced that she has totally opened up to him, and gives her a rose.  “Opening up” is undoubtedly the most important quality in a woman, and Ben is hell-bent on finding the most open woman in the world, even if it means he has to open her up himself, darn it.

Back at the house we see how badly sunburnt all the girls have gotten on their first day, and they read off the group date card.  Blakely is crushed that she’s on it, meaning she won’t get the one-on-one.  That privilege falls to Elyse, who is super excited and convinced that all of the pieces of her life are finally coming together.

Perhaps the greatest group date in Bachelor history unfolds as the women are bused to a baseball diamond for an inter-bachelorette ballgame with Ben as pitcher.  The girls are split into two teams, with the winners getting a romantic beach night date with Ben and the losers getting sent home.  Before the game, the girls get some coaching from real live Puerto Rican baseball players.  Seeing the ladies doing wind sprints and taking batting practice is truly a sight to behold.

The game is heated, going extra innings and eliciting some serious hustle from the girls. Blakely is a beast in the field, looking like Torii Hunter running down balls and making some spectacular grabs.  Courtney is especially impressed: “Who knew strippers could play baseball?”

Casey S at Bat - The Bachelor Season 16

Casey S. at Bat

The girls all seem to make some pretty solid contact, and many runs are scored.  It all ends when Ben strikes out Jennifer, securing victory for the Red team (Courtney, Kasie B, Lindzi, Casey S, Jamie), and sending the Blue team into a tailspin of heartache and disappointment.  Ben doesn’t help much, celebrating on the field with a bottle of bubbly that he practically sprays in the face of team Blue, before running like a little girl with all the winning girls to greet the helicopter (no way!  a helicopter?!?!) that sweeps them away for their beach time.

The ride home is positively miserable for team Blue, with Blakely in particular looking like her soul has just been crushed in defeat.  It doesn’t help that the bus is dark and the ride bumpy.  The little vinyl bench seats remind me of trips home from soccer games in high school, and of the one time I had to pee in a water bottle because the driver wouldn’t stop.

The romantic beach night with Ben is pretty much what you would expect: candles, loose-fitting clothing, and plenty to drink.  All of the women get some one-on-one time, but it’s Kasie B who gets the rose.  She asks Ben about his relationship history and he tells her that all of the women he’s fallen for haven’t really loved him back.  His delivery seems to say “I’m really not looking for pity points or anything, I swear… but I know this is gaining me pity points and that’s really what I’m after so go ahead and feel sorry for me”.

After this soul-baring shpeel, Ben tells Kasie that what he likes about her is her “ability to get me to open up… like without even trying”.  Ben is apparently as dead-set on finding a woman to open him up as he is on finding a woman that will open up on her own.  Together they can get so open that they’re, like, never ever closed.

After giving Kasie the rose and enjoying a moment with the girl that’s CLEARLY the best match for him, he heads back to the fire and quickly runs off with Courtney, who tries to get him to go skinny dipping but settles for pressing herself against Ben for a while and making him look really, really uncomfortable.

Next up is Elyse’s one-on-one date.  She and Ben are picked up by a big yacht and cruise around the gorgeous Caribbean.  Elyse tells Ben that she has accomplished everything she wants to in life, that she has a great job, and that although she’s young (24), she’s ready to get married.  Despite her very Jersey-shore-like appearance, this girl seems very sincere and despite having spent zero time with our Bachelor, she seems very very interested in him.

They jump off of the side of the boat holding hands for a couple hours and then are next shown at the obligatory candlelit dinner on the beach.  Ben immediately starts grilling Elyse on the things she said earlier on the boat, like “what did you mean by ‘already having accomplished everything you want to’”, and “you’re ‘sick of being single’?  So do you really want something with me or are you just sick of being single?”.  He’s obviously searching for some excuse to send her home without a rose, instead of manning up and telling her that he’s just not feeling it.

Finally, once the poor girl has unnecessarily defended all that she said on the boat, Ben delivers the news that he’s not giving her the rose.  First he says that he was “looking for some things today that (he) just didn’t find”.  Then he digs deeper, saying “I have connections with the other women here that are just so far ahead of anything you and I could get to at this point”.  Which basically means: “listen, I haven’t taken you out until now, and now it’s too late, so why don’t you just go home now, k?”.  Elyse is truly crushed, and climbs weeping into a boat and sails away, saying she felt like he just didn’t give her a chance, which he didn’t.

Elyse - The Bachelor Season 16

Poor, poor, Elyse

Ben walks back along the beach and casts the rose into the surf.  You can almost hear the cameraman frantically splashing into the water to zoom in on the little rose. ABC always gets really excited when the Bachelor doesn’t hand out a rose (remember Jake burning the rose in Season 14?).   We go to commercial with a shot of the flower floating poignantly out to sea and David Grey’s “This Year’s Love” playing in the background.  Oh brother.

Back at the hotel, Ben is surprised by Courtney waiting outside his room in a bathrobe and toting a bottle of champagne.  Courntey says something about being “little Ms. Sunshine”, and how she’s easy on the eyes, and that “after a long day with Elyse, his eyes are probably pretty sore”.  They have a drink in Ben’s room and then head out to the beach to go skinny-dipping.  Ben knows that Courtney’s crossing a line here by finding him outside of a date, so to assuage his guilt he repeatedly says “this is unexpected”, and acts like a scared puppy being stolen.  I suppose he feels that if anybody finds out he can claim innocence and blame big mean Courtney for forcing him into it.  MAN UP BRO.  You want to go skinny dipping with the pretty girl in the bathrobe, so just do it and enjoy it and don’t act like a little child who’s just along for the ride.

They bravely strip down in front of the camera-man who is shining a big spotlight on them and go running into the ocean.  It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, and we’re all really excited to see the blurred-out regions signifying the fact that they really are naked!

Ben and Courtney skinny-dipping - The Bachelor Season 16
Finally the cocktail party arrives and the girls are nervous.  Elyse’s sending off makes them feel like anybody could get sent home now (which is true and always has been true). Courtney says she feels like they’re missing some people, and then realizes that that’s because they are.  Good job girls.

The producers manage to orchestrate an apparently coincidental conversation about skinny-dipping that involves Courtney.  She doesn’t come out and say that she and Ben went skinny-dipping, but all of a sudden all of the girls are shrieking excited about skinny dipping and eager to know everybody’s skinny dipping history and in agreement about how “freeing” it is.  We get lots of shots of Courtney looking smug in her secret and Jennifer shrieking on and on about how amazing skinny dipping is.  I don’t know how exactly this unfolds but it’s probably something like this:

Producer: Ok we need you, you, you, and you to sit here.
(girls take their places)
Producer: Is everybody drinking?
(girls hold up their drinks)
Producer: Ok good.  So now we’re going to need you to talk about skinny dipping.
Girls: skinny dipping?
Producer: Don’t be cute.  You heard me, skinny dipping.  We need you to all get really excited about skinny dipping.  Jennifer you need to get so fucking excited about it that you’re practically screaming and jumping out of your chair.
(girls look at eachother and sip on their drinks)
Producer: Jennifer, you then need to ask Courtney where she would like to go skinny-dipping if she could go skinny dipping anywhere in the world.
Jennifer: Why Courtney?
Producer: I’ll worry about why Courtney.  You just ask the damn question and don’t forget to shriek and hop up and down in your chair when you talk about skinny-dipping.

In another part of the beach party, Blakely tells Ben that she writes down something that she likes about him every day.  She says that she likes him for being… I don’t remember… kind and caring I think, and that she never thought that somebody like him would like somebody like her, or that she deserved it.  She says that for the first time she feels like she can have somebody like him, and that she does deserve it, and that even if Ben doesn’t choose her it will be OK because she’s gained something she’ll never lose in the process.

Blakely bares her heart - The Bachelor Season 16
This is one of the most beautiful things anybody has ever said on this show, and I take back every rotten thing I said about Blakely.  Ben sits there and nods and smiles as if somebody is telling him about their son’s great new job.  Then he realizes that this woman is opening up and he says the following:

“I’m glad you opened up”
“I’m glad to know you’re capable of opening up like that”
“I wasn’t expecting you to open up like this”
Then, in confessional:
“I love how open she was”

(I am, of course, paraphrasing slightly).

Shortly before the roses are passed out, Ben and Emily have some alone time on the beach.  Emily expresses regret for having talked to Ben about Courtney the previous week, saying that she wants to just “focus on us, and where this is going”, rather than on somebody else.  She says she felt awful about it and never ever wants to do it again.  Ben seems pleased.

Emily then brings up Courtney again.  Ben is just as confounded as we are.  He again tells her not to talk to him about other girls, and again uses overly dramatic language: “I would tread lightly if I were you.”.  As if there are some mysterious Bachelor powers that may suddenly rear up and strike Emily down if she continues to talk about another girl.

Emily feels even worse after this little chat than she did last week.  She thinks she’s blown it again, and we totally agree.  She’s a “PHD Student”, and one wonders if she’s earning a doctorate in sticking her foot in her mouth.

The rose ceremony is relatively uneventful, although Blakely almost has a heart attack waiting for her rose. She actually starts to hyperventilate.  Emily is predictably left to the last two, but amazingly she gets the final rose and Jennifer is sent home.  An absolute shocker.  Although we don’t learn why Ben sent this sweet girl home, we do discover that Jennifer is not an attractive crier (but who is, right?).  Before toasting, Ben asks all the girls to continue to stay open with him, because he’s staying open with them.  Open. Open. Award time.

MARF: Casey S is still lookin’ really good, and will continue to receive this award until she is sent home or suffers some sort of terrible disfigurement.

Ben’s Best Line: As he comes to pick up Elyse for their date, he finds all of the ladies in swimsuits tanning on the lawn.  He takes a deep breath, smiles, and says “Aahhh… what a sight”.

Ben’s Biggets Mistake: I’m sorry to see Jennifer go, but once again I can’t really question Ben’s rose allocation.  His biggest mistake, to me, was how he let go of Elyse.  Cowardly and immature. Also his continued blind affection for Courtney, who each week looks more and more like an actual real-life biatch.

The ‘Fit that Didn’t Fit: Let’s add insult to injury and put Jennifer’s evening gown on blast: “maternity dress” is how my friend described that thing, and I have to agree.  With a droopy extra flap around the chest, and no form-fitting below, the dress did no favors for Jennifer.  All in all a very rough night for her.

Pole Position: Kacie B, Kacie B, Kacie B.  Courtney is second, and boy was I wrong about Jennifer in third.  Let’s go ahead and put Lindzi in her place.

Next week: The troop is off to “The most glamorous city in all of Central America” (Ben’s words, not mine): Panama City.  I guarantee these girls no less about Panama City than I do (which is absolutely nothing), but they flip out anyway and raise their champagne glasses for a toast.

It looks like we’re in for helicopter rides, beaches, boat rides, dancing, fishing, and Casey S’ mom dying.  Seriously it looks like somebody in her family passes away, and in a cruel twist of fate, Chris Harrison is the freaking person to tell her about it in front of a bunch of cameras.  Let’s hope it’s just the pet bird.