When Brad wakes up in New York City, there are only four women left on “The Bachelor.” The rest he has tossed aside like day old egg rolls, dirty diapers, and used Daisy razors. Brad takes us on a tour of his remaining ladyfolk in case you haven’t been watching (or like to keep up the charade that you haven’t been watching) and need the refresher. First is Chantal. She’s lovely, but perhaps a bit too emotional to have signed up for nationally televised heartbreak. Then there’s Ashley who is more fun than a barrel of methed-up monkeys and will wear high heels to a fairground with NO FEAR OF CARNIES. Brad really likes Ashley and her happy energy, but they have hit speed bumps in that Ashley has questioned Brad’s feelings for her what with him dating twelve other women and all. He wants her to commit fully before he offers more than a 1/4 share of commitment.
Then there’s the other Shawntel who is from Chico, Calif. Then there is the sad porcelain doll, Emily. She is broken, but in a pretty way that makes Brad want to fix her and love her and squeeze her and hold her and keep her in a pretty glass box. Emily’s daughter is the big… let’s not say problem, but, you know, problem. He has to win over the daughter. And that little brat had better like him or else he will break mommy’s heart into a million smithereens. Again. But Brad reassures us that he is totally stable and emotionally prepared and ready for L-O-V-E. No, really. And don’t read Us Weekly okay. I mean, don’t read it ever, but especially don’t read last week’s edition where his hometown ex-girlfriend gives her take on the whole New Brad thing. That girl was nothing but sour grapes and lost chances and didn’t mean it when she said Brad only got a few months of therapy and not years.
Chantal is so excited to bring Brad to her hometown of Seattle. She even arranged for it to be sunny for his visit so he won’t get all bummed by the grey weather and fleece and instead will only see Seattle in its sunniest party dress that will lure Brad into thinking the weather is always delightful. I wonder if the producers actually hung around Seattle for days and days waiting for good weather before they filmed. Chantal has dressed like a flight attendant for her Big Date. She reminds us that she is very close to her family and this is Brad’s only chance to meet them before she is potentially * fingers crossed * engaged to the Big B. Chantal has her hand on Brad’s meaty thigh and the camera zooms in on it a few times so we know that Chantal is willing to go all the way if necessary to win’s Brad love. She is the gay divorcee and all, so she doesn’t even have to pretend she’s virginal. Brad reminds us that when he last saw Chantal in Anguilla she seemed “rattled”, so he is glad that she has been taking her meds or something and is all calm and cool and perky in Seattle.
Chantal for her part is very excited to show Brad her hometown. She loves it in Seattle, but then hastens to add that she knows they would be living in Austin, but, you know, they could come visit Seattle sometimes, right? Brad would let her out of the house sometimes, right? Brad nods that they could come visit “sometimes”, but he’s staying in Austin. It’s not up for debate. Chantal pretends that this intractability is an admiral trait in a potential partner. (Ladies, gents, here’s a hint: It’s not.) Then Chantal brings Brad to her home, which she proudly states she lives in alone. No roommates here, bitches! And no parents either, but they do live just down the road and she likes to join them for dinner, often. Chantal pulls up in front of one of the many split level ranches that woefully dot the Seattle real estate market like Mike Brady moved there after the Brady Bunch was cancelled and just started procreating houses. She opens the tastefully stained glass door and a Pomeranian in a t-shirt bounds down the stairs to meet his mommy. Brad artfully lies that the dog is super cute and not at all creepy. Chantal then reminds the viewer that Brad has to get along with her dog and cats or else their relationship will never work.
Then Chantal pulls out some beer. Okay, hold up. Chantal, a Seattle girl, drinks Corona? She may be the only person in the land of microbrews to drink Corona. I would think it was a product placement except that the name is blocked over. Maybe it’s Brad’s favorite beer? This is just confusing. Pour the man a Mirror Pond or a Manny’s for chrissakes. The couple sits down on Chantal’s couch and Brad asks her which of her three pets would be moving to Austin with her. She can only choose one. She’ll just have to kill the others to prove her love to him. She laughs nervously and chooses her dog. Then they talk about the lack of closet space in Brad’s loft-like condo in downtown Austin. Brad concedes that he might need to move into a larger house if he gets engaged. He didn’t say “if”.
Wow, if you wondered about Chantal’s upbringing, which of course you did because her upbringing is a cautionary tale for those parents who don’t want their children to look for love and make out in hot tubs and slobber over pieces of man meat on national television. Anyway, Chantal’s parents are rich. Or they put all their money into real estate. The house is huge and gorgeous and almost tastefully decorated save for some oversized objet d’arts on the coffee table that look like wine chalices. Chantal’s mother looks like she may have had some work done (boobs, face), which isn’t particularly surprising for a woman of her station (ABC). Her dad is handsome and wearing a purple button-up shirt. Her little brother is there, too, trying to stay quiet while the grown ups talk while he tries to figure out whether his sister slept with the guy yet.
Chantal and her daddy talk alone and she promises that she would never marry someone that her parents didn’t like, but she does like Brad and she wants her daddy to talk to him. So Chantal’s dad takes Brad to stand in front of a large statue of a naked man carving himself out of rock. It’s an allegory for a self-made man and Chantal’s father kindly includes Brad in this category. They bond over having masons (rock, not free) in the family and not talking to their fathers and how nice Chantal is. Meanwhile, Chantal and her mom cry over love and emotions and feelings. Chantal’s dad takes Brad to the considerable wine cellar and tells him that he approves of the match and their marriage would have his blessing. Brad thanks him, shakes his hand firmly, and the evening draws to a close. Out on the porch Chantal and Brad kiss briefly and bid each other farewell. Brad claims that he can truly see a future with Chantal. America yawns, because there are three more dates and three more families for Brad to see his future life.
From Seattle we fly to the other side of the county to Madawaska, Maine, whose claim to fame is that it is the northernmost point in the continental United States. This is not where Ashley actually lives now, but where she grew up. She reminds us that she hasn’t seen Brad in awhile and is feeling a bit disconnected, but hoping that just goes away as soon as she sees the titular bachelor. Brad pulls up and Ashley leaps into his arms and he almost twirls her around. He surveys the scenery and the girl and (much like in Seattle) declares that he could live there. You know, if he didn’t live in Austin. And, no, he’s not moving. And, no, he’s not kidding. Except about the living in Maine part. He was kidding about that. Ashley takes Brad to a local (the only?) restaurant in Madawaska and explains that the area is rife with Acadians who speak French and eat weird foods like French fries covered in cheese and gravy. How un-American is that? The waitress comes up and asks in Acadian French if they are ready to order and Br
ad says, “Si.” Which he is quick to point out is not French, but rather Spanish. Brad’s stupidity then becomes a “thing”. Maybe it is their “thing” that they can laugh about even in the middle of a fight or over coffee at the hospital when their daughter is giving birth or on Brad’s deathbed when Ashley asks him if he is ready to leave this mortal coil and he says, “Si.” And she smile cries and he is gone.
Brad scoots her chair closer and scratches her arm familiarly. The Canadian cheese fries arrive and Ashley insists they use their fingers to eat the fries and Brad stares at her like she is a talking squirrel (cute, but why is it talking?) Then Brad and Ashley go horrify the locals by giggling over lobsters and mocking their honor system farm stands. Brad is really excited that Ashley is in a good mood and perky and seemingly interested in him as opposed to the dour, unhappy, simpering girl he kept through the last 47 rounds of elimination. The point is, shut up Brad.
The pair pull up to Ashley’s parents’ house, which is a modest tract home on a paved street with a manicured lawn. In Maine that is something. Ashley tells the camera that she is almost in love with Brad right now, which makes me like her a lot more. Then she starts shrieking and jumping up and down the moment the door opens. She leaps on her mother, her father, her brother and her sister (who has full sleeve tattoos plus a substantial chest piece, which is not something you normally see on The Bachelor, but should, also, black sheep much?) Then she leaps on Brad for good measure and then sits on his lap and then suddenly the whole family is sitting on his lap more or less and everyone is giggly and freaking out and you start to wonder just how much caffeine they drink up there in the hinterlands of Maine.
The family sits down to their lobster feast. The family toasts to whatever and then Brad gets down to the serious business of making everyone feel awkward by talking about his feelings for Ashley. Brad goes out to the garage to talk man-to-man to Ashley’s dad. The dad warns him that Ashley is driven and ambitious and Brad shouldn’t stand in her way. Now Brad is worried that he’s going to hold Ashley back. Brad then talks to her sister and she assures him that Ashley is in the perfect place in her life to start a solid relationship. Brad is reassured by this and tells the camera so. He also tells us that he doesn’t want to leave Ashley’s house, he doesn’t want to leave Ashley’s town (except, you know, Austin forever), and he doesn’t want to leave Ashley. But, of course, he does because those are the rules: No schtupping in the parents’ house. It’s just unseemly. Brad tells us that he can really see a future with Ashley, but we still shrug because his words have no meaning.
Brad criss-crosses the country again landing in Chico, Shawntel’s hometown. Brad reminds us that he has just had a gut feeling about Shawntel and he really opened up to her on their last date and their relationship is on a whole new level now. He has missed Shawntel and can’t wait to see her even though it is kind of obvious to the trained professional eye (that’s me! Not really!) that the producers are really excited that Shawntel is still here because her job is the creepiest. I mean, when do we EVER see the bachelorettes job sites? Never. Shawntel walks down the marble halls of the mausoleum she calls home (like in “Hellraiser”!) and reminds us that death is inevitable and that we live in a death-denying society and much like the Miss USA with alopecia, she is on “The Bachelor” in the hopes of getting the word out that we are all going to die. And when we do she would really like us to consider interment or cremation at the Chico Mausoleum. She reminds us that she lives with Death and if Brad can’t handle the arrangement, she needs to know now. I wonder if Death leaves the bathroom door open and eats all the cheese and doesn’t replace it and borrows clothes and doesn’t return them? I hate bad roommates.
Brad finally arrives and barely notices Shawntel standing there looking pretty. He tries to focus, but Shawntel insists on giving him a tour and pointing out the couple crypts and asking about his plans for his funeral and giving him a tour of the crematory. He suddenly realizes that if he marries Shawntel their everyday conversations would be about death and embalming. Speaking of embalming, Shawntel wants him to pop up on the table and she’ll give him a little sneak preview of what will happen to him if he chooses embalming. She makes him lie down and she tells him about the whole process of embalming from incisions to grabbing carotids and draining and then pumping them full of chemicals. Brad is really freaked out, but keeps pretending that this is all totally normal and if didn’t keep clenching his jaw and his eyes didn’t dart around like a trapped animal, it would be almost believable. Shawntel takes him to the quiet room and tries to sell him a funereal wreath while explaining that as a funeral director her job is to upsell the family while comforting them in their time of need. Brad is impressed with her character. He is also ready to leave right now thank you.
After all that, Shawntel brings Brad home to her family. They live in a nice home with large roses in front. Shawntel launches herself into her mother’s arms and a bunch of squealing ensues with two younger sisters ogling Brad. They all sit down to dinner and things take a turn for the awkward when Shawntel’s dad mentions that he can’t wait for his daughter to take over the family business. In Chico. Shawntel takes a deep breath and tells her family that she is falling in love with Brad and if he chooses her and if he proposes then she is moving to Austin and not taking over the family business. This doesn’t go over super well, as you can imagine. Shawntel takes her dad aside for a talk and he gives her a full on guilt trip about how her teacher’s son died and she wasn’t there because she was on this reality show. She doesn’t cry or anything but coolly reminds him that she is a grownup who can make her own life choices and he gets what he gets for naming her Shawntel.
Seriously, people, you up your chances of your daughter being on a reality show about 70% if you name her Shawntel. The father and daughter rejoin the group and assure everyone that they are good. No one believes them. Brad looks at his watch and is all, Hey will you look at that, it’s time to go! And bolts. Shawntel stops him on the lawn and tells him that she’s in love with him. Obviously he doesn’t say it back as that would violate some Bachelor bylaw so she forces him to kiss her for awhile and then he flees. Needless to say, there was no mention of Brad wanting to stay or seeing a future with this family. In fact, if Brad gives Shawntel a rose after all of this, he is a glutton for punishment and may have a few more issues to talk over with his friendly neighborhood therapist about it.
Emily brought cameras along to her reunion with her daughter. They run into each others’ arms and hold each other for a long time and Emily reminds Ricki that she loves her more than anything in the world. As the two play on a playground, Emily really sweetly explains to Ricki that she made a new friend while she was away and she wants to introduce her. Ricki gets really shy the second Brad steps on camera and the shyness does not wane during the entire awkward picnic. Brad tries really hard in that quintessential way of guy’s trying really hard to be good with kids. But it’s sweet. He hands her a present and she is too shy to open it. With Emily’s help and a little sugar fix, he slowly gets Ricki to open up. They eventually start flying the kite (which was the present he bought her) and she actually smiles and laughs. Emily assures us and Brad that Ricki is like her mama and really shy in the beginning. She says it several times actually so we all start to believe it.
Brad claims that he would welcome and cherish the opportunity to be a father figure to
little Ricki. Little Ricki already knows that her real daddy is in heaven (no, not Jesus, the other guy, no, the OTHER guy). Emily thinks Brad is just the kind of guy she wants in Ricki’s life. A man slut? She wants a man slut who brings his therapist on dates with him in her daughter’s life? Okay then. Emily brings Brad to her tastefully appointed home and they sit and play board games and Brad pretends this little family is his. Then the ghost of the husband starts rattling the light fixtures and drops a chandelier on Brad’s head. The end. Sadly that does not happen. Instead they tuck Ricki into bed and sit on the couch. The mood turns awkward when Emily tries to get Brad to kiss her, but he won’t do it. He claims he wants to respect her and her daughter, but in reality he feels cockblocked by Little Ricki. He feels like being affectionate, but just can’t do it. He’s worried that Ricki is going to come downstairs and catch him kissing mommy and kill him with her mind lasers or something. Emily, being a good southern woman, admires his respectfulness, but is also disappointed. So despite all her genteelness, she kisses him. And he kisses her back. THEN her husband’s ghost drops a chandelier on his head. The end.* (*not the end)
Brad is back in New York and he takes Chris freaking Harrison on a tour down memory lane. Chris reminds Brad that he had a heart-to-heart with Chantal’s dad, that he loved Ashley’s family, that Shawntel’s job is the creepiest, and that Emily has a delightful daughter who does not have mind lasers. Brad really sees his future in these women’s lives. He is excited to be moving one step closer to his future. Harrison tells him to go stare at the ladies’ headshots for an appropriate amount of time and then come on out to the world’s most awkward cocktail party.
Chris Harrison greets the women and tells them that this is the shit. This is serious. Do they know how serious this is? ‘Cause this is serious. No church giggles. They all nod solemnly. When they meet Chris’ exacting standards, Brad comes out to greet them. He thanks them all for introducing him to their lives and letting him meet their families. He pinkyswears that this is super hard and then he picks up the first rose. He stares at it for a good while and then hands it to Ashley. She accepts the rose. He picks up the second rose, stares at it until the music reaches a crescendo and then calls Emily. She smiles and accepts it. Harrison pops out to point out that this is the last rose of the evening. Brad picks up the final rose and stares at the Chantal/Shawntel face-off. He calls Chantal and Shawntel looks stunned. I guess huffing all those embalming fluids has dampened her lady instincts. On the plus side, I guess Brad is more mentally healthy than one might suppose. He asks if he can talk to Shawntel and she agrees. He tells her that he just didn’t feel anything but scared when she said she loved him and she deserves more than that. Shawntel is trying not cry, but she sort of snorfles when she says that she’s never been treated the way Brad treated her. You mean dating twelve other women at the same time? Yeah, few of us have been treated like that. As Brad walks he to the car, Shawntel pitifully tells him that he is perfect and she wishes him the best and why doesn’t he love her? Brad pats her gently on the back and tucks her into a cab that will whisk her far, far away.
Back at the hotel, Brad tells Chantal, Emily, and Ashley that they are going to South Africa! Everyone looks really excited, except for Emily who is probably thinking about how far away that is from her daughter. Brad better not break her heart or the dead husband will totally haunt the snot out of him.