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The Bachelor: African Queen(s)

I’ll be up front about this – I couldn’t help but love this episode of The Bachelor because there’s a special place in my heart for South Africa, and that will be even more true next week when the gang heads to Cape Town to hang with Brad’s family. I spent a month doing an internship in Cape Town a few years ago, and it was probably the best experience of my life. As you saw on TV last night, South Africa is just a breathtaking country. Every time I see it in a movie or on TV, I’m reminded of that.

So as you can imagine, I was way more into the scenery than I was Brad’s dates with the three remaining ladies. But that wasn’t just because I love elephants and simply zero in on them to ooh and ah. It was also because the elimination this week seemed to be so obvious. I mean, did you expect to see Ashley (or “Assley”, as Brad says) in the final two? I sure didn’t, and after their awkward date I thought he’d send her home on the spot. But we have more to discuss before we get there.

Chantal, The Emotional Rollercoaster

By now we’ve been clearly told who each of these ladies are, and Chantal is the emotional rollercoaster. If they play the clip of her saying “highs and lows and highs and lows!” one more time, I will scream. Yeah, she cries a lot, but we’re not talking Britney Spears quality mood swings here. Call me when she shaves her head and beats up Chris Harrison with an umbrella. (Actually, I can see that happening if she doesn’t get chosen in the end.)

Chantal met Brad for a safari date, and she was dressed in a rather unflattering combination of VERY short shorts and a tied-up top. Ouch. She and Brad had fun on the safari, though I don’t know how you could have a bad time when you’re staring right at a giraffe.

I don’t know about y’all, but I would so not be down for having a picnic right next to a hippo. That’s the most dangerous animal in Africa! I did a horseback safari when I was in South Africa, and the guide told us that they’d lost THREE horses to the hippo. They go near the water, CHOMP, and you’re down a pony. In. Sane.

Chantal told Brad that getting engaged to her meant actually getting married – a quaint idea for a show that’s resulted in, like, one and a half marriages. (That one where the guy dumped the girl he picked and married another girl counts as a half, yes.) As much as I like Emily, I think Chantal is a better match for Brad. Also? I kind of think Emily is too good for this show. It’s how I felt about Chris Lambton last season.

Eventually, Brad pulls out the Fantasy Suite card, and Chantal decides that three bites of food was totally enough and sprinted to the suite. Only it wasn’t a suite. It was a treehouse. Only it wasn’t really a treehouse, it was a wood platform in a tree with a bed on it. Seriously, no walls, no noticeable bathroom, no protection from lions and tigers and bears oh my. How romantic! Chantal giggled “What happens in the Fantasy Suite stays in the Fantasy Suite.” Oh, honey. You want to think that’s true, but STDs spread easier than you think.

Emily, The Tragic Mom

Time for date number two! Emily got a really good date – riding elephants. Awesome! As they watched some baby elephants play (baby elephants are THE BEST) they talked about Emily’s daughter, and Brad assured her that he is ready to be a father figure to a five-year-old kid.

Like I said, I really like Emily. But I think she is totally wrong for this process. She has a kid to think about, and that makes the idea of a sham engagement a whole lot less hilarious. And will she be moving to Austin? Did they talk about that? Furthermore, Emily’s feelings for Brad seem to be progressing at a normal pace, rather than the insanely accelerated speed required for this show. Brad is still like a nervous, lovesick schoolboy around her, and she’s still a little distant. As my mom pointed out last night, if she didn’t look the way she does (incredibly gorgeous) she would have been gone long ago.

Brad pulled out the Fantasy Suite card with the look on his face of a kid on Christmas, and Emily handled things beautifully. She made it perfectly clear that she’d love to spend some private, intimate time with him…talking. Because she’s a mom and wants to set a good example. Now I like her even more! Call me a prude, but I find the idea of three girls (especially ones who know each other!) sleeping with one guy over the course of a few days a little icky. I guess I’m old fashioned.

Ashley, The Needy Child

Ashley arrived for her exotic date with Brad in, yes, yet another pair of teeny tiny denim cutoffs. Guess what guys? There are fabrics other than denim that will be less hot and sweaty in Africa! Try cotton!

Ashley and Brad’s date started off on the wrong foot and never recovered. First she whined about having to take a helicopter. Oh, you have to have a bird’s eye view of the most beautiful place on earth? Oh, how sad for you. Excuse me while I go grab my tiny violin. The only thing more sickening than that amazing experience being wasted on her was Brad’s claim that he’d take care of her. What, are you flying the thing? Is your name suddenly Jake Pavelka? Are you also going to throw the GPS out the window? If it plummets, it plummets. You only live once.

What happened next was truly amazing – a real, honest conversation took place. And it was excruciating. Brad asked Ashley what she wanted from life, if her career ambitions would get in the way of a personal life, etc. Ashley gave a lot of non-answers. Everyone was uncomfortable. Then they decided to talk about jellybeans instead. But at dinner, the tough conversation was picked up again. And again, Brad asked questions and Ashley didn’t really give answers – or at the very least, not the ones Brad wanted to hear.

It was like watching a breakup, only no one broke up. For the first time I wished Brad’s therapist had been there, so he could spell the whole thing out for these fools. Guess what, Brad? You’re 38 years old and you would like to settle down with someone in Austin, Texas, get married, have a couple kids and live happily ever after. Guess what, Ashley? You don’t want any of that. You’re 26, you act like you’re 16, you’re about to finish dental school and you want to make all the right moves to have a successful career. You’ve never been to Austin and would like to live closer to your family, who happen to live in Maine. I now declare you broken up.

Had Brad sent Ashley home then and there, rather than presenting her with the date card, I would have had so much more respect for him. So much more. It was painfully obvious that these two have been kidding themselves the whole time – there’s no way they could get engaged in a week. What’s truly ridiculous is the way Brad kept saying things like how he was “trying to reconnect” with Ashley and wanted to get back to “the way we used to talk”. Seriously, dude? You have not been together for 15 years. There is nothing to salvage. You had one good date and after that it was complete paranoia, second-guessing and reassurances. You have been trying to rekindle the spark since the second date. Cut the cord.

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd

It seemed obvious that Brad would send Ashley home after all that, but Brad still insisted to Chris Harrison that he and Ashley had a great connection, once upon a time. For reals, buddy? The carnival was fun, but that girl is like a kid who needs to be babysat, not a wife. Luckily, Brad kept a clear head. He pulled Ashley aside before the rose ceremony, apologized for their terrible date and said goodbye.

Shockingly, Ashley was shocked. I can’t believe she didn’t see this coming. Even as they were breaking up and Brad said that he could be proposing in a week and didn’t know if he would fit into her life, she didn’t really give him anything to go on. Look, honey – you either want to move to Austin and settle down or you don’t. It’s pretty simple. But Ashley didn’t see it that way and she left, heartbroken. I bet that poor girl will never be able to go to a carnival again.

Brad returned, where Emily and Chantal were waiting in silence (seriously girls, you’re in Africa, there must be something you can talk about) and asked them to accept his roses. With just two women left, the “celebration” felt incredibly awkward. My favorite part, though, was when he said that he respected Ashley way too much to put her through a rose ceremony, and that “she’s worth more than that.” What about those other tramps you eliminated during rose ceremonies, Brad? Was that just because you have so little respect for them?

Next week is “The Women Tell All”, which is sure to be a hoot with this crowd. And then in two weeks, we’ll see Brad lean over a railing in Cape Town, deep in thought, before making his final decision. Who do you think he should pick? Who do you think he will pick? (I’m going with Chantal and Chantal. Also, NO SPOILERS. If you read the final result online, don’t ruin it for everyone else.) And are you thinking about selling a kidney to pay for a trip to Africa? No? Just me?


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