Thanks for your patience this week! As my Twitter friends know, I was in Paris this week and couldn't justify occupying a day holed up in a hotel to recap. In the future, check or follow my tweets as I always post updates there!
"Figuring out a life for the two of us here is very possible." – Chris, seriously, about Arlington, Iowa, where the population is 758.
Week 8 was intense but Andi was really great from beginning to end. I felt emotionally drained just watching her be so "on" and engaging for every family. Kudos to her – she didn't phone it in with anybody.
Nick seemed way more at ease this week and I think getting out of the "house", meaning living with the other guys 24/7, did wonders for him. That's not to say I think he has enemies; I just think – and personally feel myself – that it's a huge relief to finally be out on your own. Bearing in mind "on your own" still means you're cut off from the world and under the constant watch of a producer. But hey, baby steps.
I had to laugh when Andi, politely but clearly overwhelmed, said in her ITM, "Oh my gosh, this is a big family."
Andi is particularly on point in her girl chat with Nick's sister, Maria. She doesn't force Maria to come out and verbalize her fears of Nick getting hurt again. She anticipates it – we are in Season 10, after all – and is understanding and comforting while managing to not be untruthful.
Oh. My. God. How cute is Bella??
Bella: What do you like most in my brother?
Andi: I like that your brother and I have a very good mental connection... We just kind of get each other. Like, when he says things, I understand him, and I feel like he really understands me.
Pretty solid thing to like most in a potential significant other. Just sayin'.
Nick has a heart-to-heart with his mother that is touching and tearful, yet not too tearful, and once again makes me wonder how and why people don't like him:
I had heard rumors from Night One of Andi's being freakishly good with names. But that first Rose Ceremony is always so cut up it's easy for anyone to look good with names. But lo and behold, Andi is INDEED THAT GOOD WITH NAMES:
Nick: I will never get enough Andi. I just want it to be us.
Okay, I know I've developed a reputation for conspicuously and stubbornly defending Nick. But I'm starting to think the same people who don't like him probably didn't like me while on The Bachelor. Those who think Nick is arrogant, an asshole or, my favorite, "creepy", are likely among the many who thought I was awkward, snobby, or my favorite, "weird".
There were many people who didn't feel that way. They just got me – something for which I am eternally grateful.
And I, like many of you who have commented on this blog, get Nick. I haven't actually met him but I know we speak the same language. I don't know how else to put it.
Nick: It's becoming more and more impossible to say goodbye to Andi.
He never says these things with a “look-how-romantic-I'm-being” look on his face. They're simple truths and I believe him.
We open with a candid shot of Chris casually doing the rounds:
I like Chris. I can see what Andi sees in him. But I don't know if I really buy this farm they're selling being a feasible future abode for her. (I elaborate a bit more on this in my weekly recap for Flare magazine.)
Nonetheless, these two are cute:
My only issue with Chris is I think his approach to courting is too exaggerated and grand gesture-focused for my liking. I don't feel much real deep conversation and mutual understanding happening between these two. (On or off-camera... I just don't see it.)
Chris: This love is definitely beginning to take off. (cue airplane)
Ummm. Okay. It's cute. A nice gesture. But the cheese factor of that line, combined with this being the way he's telling her he "loves" her for the first time, is just not authentic to me. I think it's what a guy could think is the right way to make a romantic gesture, but who misses the jokes and fumbles with knowing when to make a move. It reminds me a bit of the dismal Secret Admirer gimmick; it's all a bit misguided and over-the-top.
I'm all for romantic gestures – grand ones, even – but think they mean the most when there's an existing foundation of true understanding and mutual love. I think Chris and Andi like each other and are certainly attracted to each other, but I don't see them really being on the same wavelength. (I know a thing or two about that!)
That ITM from last week (remember the nondescript top, generic Bachelor background, cat-eye makeup) is the gift that keeps on giving:
It must be said that Chris looks ÜBER happy with his family. Adorable:
Just a side observation: When Chris is talking to his mom and admits he's watched this show, his mother says, “Oh, we've watched it every season." This stood out to me only because last week Chris was pretty accusatory towards Nick, saying that since Nick had watched the show – despite his only having admitted to watching Des' season (hardly a textbook on strategy) – he had studied it to "strategize". I just thought it was interesting that Chris was the one to accuse Nick of this, since Chris has apparently watched every season.
Chris' mother seems to be a total lush and is so entertaining she should have her own show: “I wish from the bottom of my heart that you make a good decision because your life depends on it, I guess.”
Down in Tampa, Andi and Josh resume looking stupidly good together in their coordinated outfits:
And they make out just enough to distract me from how sibling-like they can sometimes look:
Josh's Too-Serious™ aside, I could actually relate when he described his past with baseball:
Josh: Growing up, I mean, baseball was my life. I was all about baseball. I loved it more than anything, more than anything in the world. That's what I wanted to do, I was sure I was going to be a baseball player, I was going to go to the Hall of Fame, everything.
Andi: And then what?
Josh: And then... I finally realized what was important in life. The life of a baseball player and athlete in general is very tough. When I was younger, when I started playing pro ball, for five years I kind of just sucked it up because there were a lot of expectations and I just didn't have that passion anymore.
Give or take a few words, I think a lot of us, upon replacing "baseball" with whatever it is we chose to pursue – hell, let's say "opera singing" – can probably relate.
Andi's ITM going into meeting Josh's family is super telling:
"Who wouldn't be nervous, like, thinking they're about to maybe meet their inlaws, like how could you not be nervous? It would be devastating to me to walk into their house and them not accept me."
She didn't say those words – or anything similar, really – regarding anyone else's family...
DAYUM, that nondescript ITM got shit done:
Andi: I definitely hope that Josh's family is ready to accept that if Josh and I end up together, we'll be making our own family, and we're never going to abandon our separate families, but our family will be the priority.
Remember, it was in this same ITM that last week she expressed doubts about Josh because of his lack of effusiveness.
Josh catapulted to the near-top of my likability chart this week, thanks to his chat with his mom. I sometimes feel like Josh has an ever-so-slight affect to him, like he's always carefully weighing how he is perceived. (Of course, he can't be blamed; it's not like this is a normal social situation.) But in this moment he was so sincere, real, vulnerable, and genuinely himself. It was one of those moments where you're reminded why you watch reality television:
So when the producers asked him what activity he would like to do with Andi during his hometown date in Dallas, he actually wanted to recreate the Pilot strip number from Episode 2's Magic Mike-themed charity group date...? I thought his embarrassed bravery was cute back then, but now I just find it strange. I can't for the life of me imagine why or how he thought this would be an appropriate activity which would allow for quality time spent together and to give Andi a proper taste of his hometown. But, uh, okay.
I really liked the conversation between Andi and Marcus' sister, Kathy. Kathy was basically like, yeah, he's over-caring:
Andi: I worry that he can fall that fast.
I'm sorry to say that, while I've always more or less liked Marcus, he was really off his rocker this week. It's as though the whirlwind of this social experiment/emotion pressure-cooker has caught up with him and left him very emotionally unstable.
Case in point: I know it's Bachelor-world and they're prompted to talk deep for cameras, but it struck me as inappropriate and forced that Marcus would choose this moment (or concede to prompts to choose this moment) to thank his brother for having been a father figure to him when their father left the family.
Even his brother looks at him with a, "What? Here? Now?" look on his face:
I'll give Marcus the benefit of the doubt and just chalk it up to the pressure-cooked emotions + wine:
I REALLY like Marcus' mother, Halina. She's so elegant and articulate. I love how she carefully describes her surprise at Marcus' openness but never seems dismissive, judgmental, or like she isn't open-minded:
Marcus: This is the happiest I've ever been. Andi is my soulmate. I feel that with her.
THE NEWS OF ERIC'S PASSING
It felt wrong to screencap this segment so I didn't. Along with the rest of America, I did not find it easy to watch. As for the franchise's approach, I don't think this was an inappropriate course of action. It showed that Eric was well-liked and respected and will be sorely missed even by people who didn't know him very well or long. But in a way, watching everyone's reactions – especially Andi's – I felt like a voyeur, as though I was watching something private and not any of my business.
I don't know what to think. It's just horrible and tragic.
A Rose Ceremony seems so trite after the segment prior and they all know it.
While I do think Marcus was swooped up by the whole process, it's impossible to not feel for him when Andi sends him home. But I do think the minute he was out in the real world he probably recovered very quickly. I imagine this was unbelievably hard on Andi and anyone who thinks it's easy or that they could do better in her shoes is lying to themselves.
Surprise! I was so enamored with Chris' hot-farmer daytime look I couldn't let it go unmentioned. Chris dresses shockingly well, defying any dated stereotypes I might have believed about farmers. Also, he deserves props, since realistically considering the retail options in a town of 758, he must do the bulk of his shopping online.
As for the Rose Ceremony, all four guys did very well (proportionate to their past performances, of course):
A runner-up mention goes to Nick for successfully pulling off a preppy ensemble, especially amongst a sea of grey. He looks like a J. Crew ad, in a good way.
But SURPRISE AGAIN, my best-dressed of the week was actually Chris Harrison:
I not-so-secretly love a three-piece suit, as long as it fits impeccably well and it's not otherwise loud. Chris Harrison's nails it on all fronts. The suit fits him perfectly, and his use of color and patterns is beautifully subtle. They're interesting but not distracting. I love it.
There were too many outfits to mention them all, so I've focused on what I considered the most notable.
My favorite daytime look was Andi's casual cardigan + silk blouse + jeans combo for her hometown with Chris:
It's the perfect mix of comfort and easy style. I covet that cardigan.
I liked her ensemble for her hometown with Marcus, but I didn't love it:
While no single item in this outfit really stood out to me, I thought they all came together well enough. It was, in my opinion, a tasteful date outfit. Nothing more, nothing less. (That said, her legs look INCREDIBLE)
I'm torn on her Rose Ceremony dress:
She obviously looks great but I don't know how much I can credit the dress for that. I like the fit and love the color but am distracted by the material, which strikes me as slightly old and brocade curtain-like. Anyway, the main attraction was her hair, which looked glossy and gorgeous.
DRINKING GAME WORD OF THE WEEK
1. (making a sudden but fierce return) Stop
Until next week, fellow pandas!