My cable provider’s description for Episode 9 of the Bachelor indicated that Ben would “[continue] to explore what his future might be like with each of [the remaining women].” Apparently the future Mr. and Mrs. Higgins will be spending their time at luxury lodgings in tropical locations, traveling by boat and helicopter to majestic natural spots that have been temporarily closed to all other visitors. Makes sense. That’s what my married life looks like, too.
So we’re in Jamaica. Ben is staying at Rio Chico, a 14-acre private villa just outside of Ocho Rios. There are only three women remaining at this point, Caila, Lauren B., and JoJo. The first date goes to Caila. They begin with a trip down the Martha Brae River, courtesy of a 30-foot long bamboo raft complete with a captain who guides the vessel with a bamboo pole. Caila, who has thus far floated their relationship solely with her bubbly cheerfulness is uncharacteristically quiet. The silences are lengthy and interrupted only with the most banal of small talk. I’m so happy! This is so amazing! Isn’t this great?
Ben notices the change. When they stop for some jerk chicken he tries to get Caila to open up about her anxiety. She smiles and explains she’s just overthinking enjoying the moment. Giggle. Then she stares at him meaningfully while sipping from a coconut. They break then meet for dinner at Sandals Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios. Once again, Ben tries to figure out where Bubbly Caila went. She thinks it’s “funny” that he noticed and is SO glad he brought it up, because she wouldn’t have. Well, duh. This whole time she’s been providing him the easy road. She’s happy! She’s excited! She thinks he’s great! Everything’s going so well!
Now, when given the opportunity to show some depth, she starts telling him she’s scared but quickly redirects and tells him she loves him and how right everything feels. He doesn’t reciprocate, but she can feel he loves her in his breath. In his breath? This must be from the Olivia school of non-verbal communication. Ben says, “Caila is back to being the woman I know.”
Before heading back to the fantasy suite, they go swimming in the ocean. Fireworks explode overhead. Caila sees “fireworks in his eyes, in [her] heart and in the sky.” I’m beginning to think that she hasn’t so much been experiencing a relationship during this season as trying to live a really crappy romance novel. They spend the night together.
For date number two, Ben takes Lauren to Gibraltar Island to learn about Mel Tennant’s Oracabessa Bay Turtle Project. They rinse off baby sea turtles in the ocean then, two hours before sundown, release the little guys into the surf. There’s some obligatory kissing in the ocean and then they break to prep for dinner. They rendezvous (Lauren in the same two-piece that Amanda wore in the Bahamas) for a small reggae performance (of which neither looks particularly into) and then sit down for a dinner they won’t eat.
Lauren discusses her fears about his feelings for Caila and JoJo, but also how strong her own feelings are for him. They head to the fantasy suite at Sandals. Lauren is looking forward to “doing us.” Yeah, she is. (Sorry, I had to.) After a little champagne she finally tells Ben that she’s in love with him. Here’s where it gets interesting.
Ben tells Lauren that he is in love with her. Wait, what? The Bachelor isn’t allowed to tell anyone he loves them! That’s against the rules! Oh, Ben. You rebel, you. They tell each other again and get teary-eyed. Then they say it some more.
The next morning, after leaving Lauren, Ben realizes that telling Lauren he loves her complicates things. Because, you know, he’s on this emotional high and in the love-fog, but he has a date with JoJo. Crap.
Ben takes JoJo to YS Falls in Negril. After several hours of splashing in the waterfall and pools…
… JoJo finally tells Ben that she loves him. And here’s where it gets dicey.
Ben tells Lauren that he’s in love with her, too. Wait, what? The Bachelor isn’t allowed to tell anyone that he loves them! And now he’s told TWO women? This is not going to go well, Ben. Even if you mean it, these women each think that they are now the woman that you will propose to at the end of all this. No matter who you choose, one of these women is going to be not only heartbroken, but she’s going to feel deceived. Oh, Ben. Not good.
JoJo is shocked to hear Ben loves her and starts crying. Break, then dinner. Or the pretense of dinner, because no-one really eats the food. They do, however, drink from wine glasses the size of JoJo’s head. She’s petite, sure, but that’s still a big glass. They talk about having said “I love you” earlier, then discuss last week’s hometown trip. Ben has concerns that her brothers will never accept him. JoJo thinks they’ll come around. And then they’re off to the fantasy suite (the Romeo & Juliet Villa) at Sandals OCHI.
Following his third overnight date, Ben realizes that while he does love JoJo and Lauren (which is good, since he told them that), he does not love Caila and he is not looking forward to the rose ceremony. Really, Ben? You’re going to make her wait until the rose ceremony? At this point, most Bachelor/ettes graciously say goodbye to the unloved in private, prior to a rose ceremony.
Caila, oblivious to Ben’s feelings (or lack thereof) talks about what a great date they had (what date was she on?) and decides she’ll make a surprise visit to his villa. Ruh roh. Her sudden arrival clearly rattles Ben. It only takes about five minutes for Caila to realize that things are going downhill. When he says, “it’s really hard to imagine saying goodbye to you,” she tells him it sounds like a line, but then literally waves away her own statement. Giggling, she tells him that she’s enjoyed getting to know him and “I do love you, but that doesn’t mean… um…” and never finishes the sentence. Basically what we’re seeing here are her real emotions struggling to come out and Bubbly Caila fighting them every step of the way.
As the car starts to pull away she jumps out. Real Caila! She wants answers! She’s going to make him talk! He assures her that he didn’t know the extent of his feelings (for her or the other women) until after this week’s dates. She accepts it, smiles and tells him goodbye. Then loses it and bawls in the car.
The rose ceremony is staged at Good Hope Estate and Plantation. JoJo arrives first, in a dress with a fit nearly identical to last week’s rose ceremony look.
Lauren arrives next in a flowy island-friendly number.
They each tell Chris Harrison that they said “I love you” to Ben and that he said it back. They are each extremely confident. Until they’re standing next to one another and it dawns on them that Ben might have said the exact same thing to the other woman.
Ben shows up, tells them that Caila has already left. Despite the fact that JoJo and Lauren are now guaranteed to be the recipients of the two roses on deck, there is still a rose ceremony. Ben gives roses to JoJo then Lauren. Then they toast with champagne in a very awkward group, with each woman alternately smiling and throwing serious side-eye when the other isn’t looking.
The final week is not going to go well.
This week’s bracket score: 20. Total bracket score: 218.
Next week we have a brief hiatus from dates as the Women Tell All. This will also (likely) be when the next Bachelorette is announced. Here are my contenders:
Becca – Unsuccessful on two seasons of Bachelor, she’s a fan favorite because of her down-to-Earth, genuine personality. While her lack of dramatic tendencies make her likable, they don’t necessarily make for the type of television that ABC and Bachelor producers are selling.
Amanda – Everyone loves a single mom and it worked for Emily Maynard (in terms of the show, not in terms of a lasting relationship post-show). However, Amanda wasn’t exceptionally funny, dramatic, or anything. Is “mom” enough?
Caila – Making it to the last three is a good start. However, Caila’s known for being bubbly, but hasn’t shown any of her real personality. If she shook off that veneer, there’s a possibility that what’s underneath might not be universally appealing to the Bachelor/ette audience.
Those are the frontrunners. Of those, my money is on Becca. If it were up to me, I’d go with Emily. But you just know ABC would spend at least one episode trying to trick the suitors with Haley, and that’s not something I want to watch. Who are you rooting for?