What a doozy this episode was.
"My story is obviously nothing compared to hers and now it's just a big comparison game of sad stories." —Ashley, in tears, seriously.
In Santa Fe, Carly surprises everyone—including herself and especially Britt—by receiving the first one-on-one date card. I love how genuinely surprised Carly is. There's a very authentic "who, me?" to her that I appreciate. Britt, however:
Usually by Episode 5 there's some solid world traveling underway. In Andi's season, by Episode 5 they were in Marseille. In Juan Pablo's season, Vietnam. (We all agree we got SUPER lucky with locales) In Desiree's season, Munich.
So when there aren't sights to see and new cultures to explore, the date-planning powers that be call for desperate measures. That's when we get a "love guru" date. Because no one would EVER want to watch a simple dinner date, right?
Granted, without totally unrealistic and uncomfortable first date circumstances, we wouldn't get money shots of Chris doing this...
... so who am I to complain?
The love coach/guru/lady invites Carly to explore Chris' body with "touch" and "taste" (that's two of five, Megan), gesturing strawberries, melted chocolate, and, er, mixed nuts. Carly's reaction is priceless:
Carly's a true artist with the tools at her disposal:
Later that night, on far too many casually splayed rugs, the two share some refreshingly honest conversation:
It was impossible not to feel for Carly as she described the lack of physical intimacy in her last relationship. Who doesn't want to feel attractive and desirable? What I like about Carly is how matter-of-fact she is. She says things like, "I don't think I'm the prettiest person in the world" without ever sounding like a sob story or as though she seeks sympathy. (My boyfriend called her the most "human" of all the girls.) I could really relate to her, particularly when she mentioned being surrounded by "some of the most physically beautiful people" she's ever seen. The Bachelor mansion, especially that first night, is very intimidating.
I reeeeally liked what Carly brought out in Chris. He admitted he fears that where he's from and what he does isn't or won't be "enough", something I can't see him divulging to, say, Ashley or Mackenzie. It was one of those rare and precious moments where the lead was vulnerable.
The girls go white water rafting on the Rio Grande which is fairly uneventful save for Jade's tumble into the water.
I couldn't help but wonder what they would have shown had she not fallen in and required foot rubs from Chris. What would they have focused on? What else would there have been to talk about? Speaking of which...
... Jordan. Ugh. Don't get me wrong; I don't mind Jordan. I thought her drunken antics in Episode 2 were hilarious. But in Week 5 I'd honestly much rather watch the relationships develop than hear about Jordan, Jordan, Jordan. Do the girls like Jordan? Should they be nice to Jordan? Should Chris keep Jordan? I understand it was a matter of redemption for her, in a way, since no one wants their only televised moments to be their drunken ones. But returning is ALWAYS A MISTAKE.
On top of that, in that moment, it's not fair to the women waiting. No, I don't mean, if she returns she'll "take someone else's spot." I mean: literally, the women are waiting.
Fun Fact #1: Any part of any date can't and won't begin until Chris arrives. Even without Jordan, the girls can easily wait an hour or more for him to just GET there. (The lead often does ITMs before the date since he'll be so busy talking to each girl during.) Add to that the requisite one-on-one time with each girl, during which the other girls wait. Now add the ITMs. At this point, there are still far more girls than there are producers, so there is always a queue for ITMs. Before and after, you're—you guessed it—waiting. One thing I wasn't prepared for in the whole Bachelor experience was just how many hours I would spend waiting. (And yes, drinks are available if you're bored.)
Jordan eloquently assesses the situation: "For this situation and for you guys and for how it, you know, like, that's what sucks." And Whitney's just like:
Whitney and Ashley proceed to go at it. Ashley—who admits she just doesn't like Jordan—doesn't think they should be welcoming to Jordan, while Whitney, though frustrated, thinks they should be at least kind to her.
It's so obvious who's in the right here that it's not worth discussing, but what I liked was that Whitney—who is never in the middle of any kind of drama or conflict—picks this beef with Ashley and doesn't back down. It's a matter of compassion, and Whitney's insistence on this topic only made her seem (even more) like a better fit for Chris (who has proven to be compassionate almost to a fault) than Ashley.
In the end, the conclusion could be easily drawn by what Chris said in his ITM of his overall time with Jordan: "The time we spent together was never... valuable."
Aptly, Chris awards Whitney the group date rose, offending Ashley. What I love about Kaitlyn is her ability to call it like it is with tongue-in-cheek humor. Not everyone can get away with this:
Further, I love it when two of my favorite girls are clearly friends. :)
So... Britt... doesn't shower? I might have chalked that rumor up to catty talk but then she herself said:
I'm a big proponent of the old "where there's smoke, there's fire" adage. There sure is a lot of discussion about Britt's bathing habits going on if there isn't some truth behind it. But, meh, her hair looks pretty fantastic, so what do I know?
Chris "wakes" a fully made-up Britt up at 4:30am to take her on a hot air balloon ride which, no joke, looks pretty incredible:
I didn't particularly appreciate some of the girls vilifying Britt behind her back for "getting married and having kids" NOT being her "ultimate dream". I mean, it's not my ultimate dream either, but I'm open to the possibility of it, which I don't doubt Britt is as well. Just because Britt doesn't want to get married today and have children tomorrow doesn't make her less "worthy" of vying for Chris' affection. Her saying "I love being single" should not condemn her. Hell, I'm beyond happy in my relationship. I am completely in love and my boyfriend makes my world a more fun, more colorful place. That said, I also loved being single. I loved first dates, the butterflies, the getting-to-know-you of it all. My point is, I was a very happy single gal but that doesn't take away from my happiness and contentment in my relationship. If anything, my having enjoyed singledom adds validity to my relationship since I wasn't desperate to be in one in the first place. That said, if Britt's disinterest in settling down any time soon is true (and it really could be a game of telephone; we didn't hear it from the horse's mouth), Britt should have just been honest to Chris' face and not claimed she wanted "like, a hundred" kids.
All that aside, I just have a hunch about Britt that she's on this show for "the wrong reasons". (I said it, so shoot me.) I've had that hunch since the first night and that hunch has only grown as we've gotten to see more of her. I feel like her wheels are always turning. Her interactions and reactions always strike me as very "saying the right thing at the right time"; over-the-top, as though she's performing. I find her unrelatable (don't even get me started on the going to bed with makeup thing) and still don't feel like I know who she is. (Which, in Episode 5 and for someone who's gotten as much screen time as her, is saying something.)
Anyone a John Mayer fan? I know this is SUPER random, but Britt reminds me of the other girl (not the ex-girlfriend) in the lyrics for "Comfortable" (which is a gorgeous song, by the way): "She thinks I can't see the smile that she's faking and poses for pictures that aren't being taken." Listen to the song. It's a classic.
Where to begin? I shared my preliminary thoughts on Kelsey and her chilling "Isn't my story amazing?" in my Flare recap. I don't take back any of what I said on Tuesday but have had time to marinate. A commenter referred me to an interview with Kelsey where she speaks of her husband. (She talks about him at 3:15) It's good food for thought. I've also thought about her tweet:
I suspect that Kelsey's segment was edited in a way to make it seem sinister. I do. I get the difference between loving the sound of your story and feeling proud of your resilience after you experience devastating loss. For example, Kelsey could have just been talking about having lost her will to live, and then said she found the strength to persevere. She could have been referring to that story of self-discovery and strength as "amazing". It's all too easy to crop out certain bits, add menacing music, and then the whole tone is suddenly chilling.
THAT SAID, it's hard for me to analyze this from any angle and not still consider Kelsey responsible. No one can make you say anything, and the show's been around for over a decade. Everyone knows by now that you must to choose your words carefully. They have Kelsey on camera saying, uninterrupted:
(They then have a voiceover of "I love my story" but since I don't see it coming out of her mouth in this ITM I don't entirely trust it.)
I get the sense that Kelsey thinks telling it matter-of-factly makes her seem strong, but it only makes her seem cold.
Kelsey is not the first widow on this show—Emily Maynard? Or, more recently, Juelia?—and, unsurprisingly, there's always been an emphasis on their backstories. But what I don't love is the way Kelsey uses her story in such an ego-centric way, as though it defines her as some tragic heroine. She has also said: "I was once somebody's very important person in their life." Why isn't it, "I once had someone very important in my life?", which frankly seems more appropriate? Also: "That's how I know I'm strong. Because I love overwhelmingly." Oh-kay.
Of course, I think something like this will change who you are and certainly needs to be shared with a potential partner. BUT, what gets me is that, within minutes of sharing such a heart-wrenching story, she does this:
You can see even Chris doesn't see it coming. She says in her ITM:
"This is exactly what needed to happen because our relationship was heading in the direction of stagnation. Because I had to tell him my story. We had to have our first kiss."
That is where she loses me completely. What does her sharing her story have to do with their relationship stagnating or their first kiss??? That is why I feel she's let her story define her. She should be able to develop a relationship with a man and share a first kiss without dropping the tragic story bomb first. The whole thing just comes off like she used her story to gain access to intimacy which is far too calculated for my liking. And then later, she is overtly calm and confident—even announcing, "I feel comfortable."—at an obviously tense Cocktail Party. That behavior just unnecessary and almost juvenile.
Add to all that the fact that Kelsey is just not that well-liked. There are ITMs of several girls—girls who are not generally mean—talking negatively about her.
Fun Fact #2: In ITMs, the contestants know when they're being prompted to trash talk someone else. It's obvious. And therefore, it's not accidental. There's always that girl who willingly takes the bait, but usually, they resist. They crack when they're at their wit's end and the irritation is too much to bear. Therefore, it means something when there are multiple ITM mentions of a particular someone having rubbed others the wrong way. All I can say is, once again: Where there's smoke, there's usually fire.
Kelsey's story is not "amazing." It's sad. It's tragic. It's heartbreaking. It downright sucks. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying she should live out the rest of her life in misery. I'm just saying she should never use the adjective "amazing" to describe anything in the vicinity of her late husband's death.
All that said, do I think she deserves the terrible flak she's getting? NO. People have been tweeting that Kelsey must have killed her husband. One rabid viewer started a Twitter account in Sanderson's name. (I would link but don't want to give them the satisfaction of traffic.) That is some seriously sick shit and nobody deserves that.
Chris arrives (notice the girls waiting) and begins to talk about Kelsey and how her story "hit home". He gets choked up and leaves abruptly. I couldn't help but laugh when Chris Harrison:
I guess we'll have to wait until next week to see what comes of this:
Jade does casual very, very well:
How adorable is this? This is some well-executed mixing of prints. The American Apparel Striped Jersey Bodysuit still sells online ($62), and while her Express Portofino shirt ($59.90) is sold out in the Bird print, there's a very similar one on Asos here.
I think every girl in America wanted Carly's fabulous pink sweater:
Again, it's just effortless statement-making. I couldn't find anything similar but did stumble across this neat DIY in my search.
I loved Kaitlyn's aztec-print bodycon mini:
Kaitlyn's the Queen of hot mini dresses. Girl's got legs!
A few more items caught my eye though there wasn't nearly enough screen time for me to get a closer look:
I loved Jade's cross-back leather jacket (I've never seen anything like it) as well as Becca's David Yurman-esque gold ring.
My best-dressed this week might have been the Bachelor himself:
This shirt/tie combo reminds me of the sort of looks Chris used to wear on Andi's season. He looks so dapper.
While I didn't mind this strapless dress of Ashey's...
... I found it to be far too much for a Rose Ceremony. I'm giving it a strike since it's the second week a row Ashley's worn a Night One-caliber dress to a Rose Ceremony. (Although, I did love her gown from last week.)
My worst-dressed had to be Kelsey in her "secret visit" outfit:
There's nothing offensive about any one piece, but all together it looks so old and matronly. Even her jeans have the wrong cut. She's only 28 and built like a waif! It should be beyond easy for things to look good on her. Unfortunately, this is just a collection of bad choices. Sorry, Kelsey. :(
Until next week, fellow pandas!