With the niceties of the disappointingly drunk-free marathon opening night in the rear-view mirror, it's time for Arie Luyendyk Jr. to drive head-on into his quest for televised love in season 22 of The Bachelor
And with that sentence, I am approximately 1/17th of the way to meeting my racing pun quota. Buckle up.
The Ride of Arie's Life
After harsh cuts, including pit stop Ali and the chick who bronzed a lot of dick, 21 potential Mrs. Aries remain in contention for being forced to learn how to spell his last name. So who will emerge as the favorite? The pole position remains unclear. And even though single mom realtor Chelsea and deceptively sexy nanny Bekah have the fastest laps thus far, neither figures to end up on the podium.
I went with elephant cuff link Seinne and Tia the Weiner Queen of Arkansas as my early picks, but I refuse to be married to either. And based on recent results, so will Arie. Still, the true field of Sprint Cup contenders has yet to be revealed, and it might not happen until we've ejected some of the crazy from the vehicle. Hoping to aid this process, inexplicably, is a game of real-life bumper cars -- aka demolition derby.
You read that correctly. Someone thought it was a good idea to take 15 catty, anxious and desperate women who are all competing for the affections of one man, put them in beat-up old cars and have them smash into each other. What could go wrong?
Other than the two ladies who score one-on-one dates, this might be the week where it's best to be one of the four who get to stay at the mansion. On to the show!
Boogity, Boogity, Boogity -- Let's Go Racing, Boys
Chris Harrison arrives in a baggy button-down (is the H-bomb hiding a dad bod under there?) to deliver the first date card of the season, and fake proposal publicist Becca gets to "hold on tight." Arie rolls up on a motorcycle, and the always-living-on-the-edge beau secures his date's helmet (safety first, kids) before whisking her away to an ocean-side mansion in Malibu.
They are greeted by designer to the stars Rachel Zoe for a Cinderella makeover, with Becca renting the runway for a private fashion show. Arie gifts her all the duds, though, along with some red-soled stiletto glass slippers. The final surprise is a Neil Lane necklace and earrings, followed by a pillowy-lipped smooch that's every bit as flashy as the bling.
Dinner is at the Hudson Loft, where Arie tells Becca she's the most like him at the start of his time on The Bachelorette. He wanted to spoil her and implores her to ask questions, and her first is if he can fix her brakes. He can, and it's a match made in heaven.
She had a seven-year relationship that lasted in part because he was there for the hardest time of her life, when her dad lost his battle to brain cancer. She got through it with her mom and sister, and now they're all best buds. Arie also likes family, so it's a rose, kisses and a confetti cannon blast that startles Becca and my dog. Sorry, Ned.
The second date card -- Home is where the heart is -- goes to Coach Krystal, who is already being billed as a villain. She didn't want to gloat, so she went right to bed for "beauty sleep." Earlier, she complained that she has a problem with motorcycles that would have required a long talk with Arie if she had been on Becca's date. Elephant cuff link Seinne's deadpan response? "Well, it's good that you weren't."
She's cute and bubbly as they hop a private jet to Arizona for a glimpse of what daily life could be like, and after a drive-by of the Pizza Hut that employed him and a stop at his high school, it's off to Casa de Arie for a history lesson of childhood photos and home videos. They swing by Arie Sr.'s, where Krystal meets the two-time Indy 500 winner along with Arie's mother and younger brother. For what it's worth, I feel like we're also now acquainted with mom's plastic surgeon.
Krystal is envious of the close-knit family since hers is apparently shitty, and over dinner at the Bradbury back in LA, she opens up about growing up fatherless with an emotionally unavailable mother. She breaks down while recounting a phone call from her younger brother, for whom she helped care, to say he was in the hospital and had been living on the streets.
He appreciates her openness and honesty, assuring her that the past doesn't reflect poorly upon her, and they cap the date off with a rose and some gentle necking during a private performance by singer Connor Duermit.
The next day, she irks the other suitorettes by refusing to divulge any details about the date. Like anything. She won't even answer, "Did he drive you?"
The group date card -- Let's hit love head-on -- goes to photog in a race car Maquel, Indian restaurant co-owner Marikh, Tia the Weiner Queen of Arkansas, yellow dress waitress Valerie, kissing bandit Annaliese, black Lauren G., stuffed-animals-don't-say-no Kendall, deceptively sexy nanny Bekah, cute Jenny, elephant cuff link Seinne, drunk or dumb Jenna, non-kidded booberrific real estate agent Carolina, poor Dutch linguist and kiss racer Brittany, Spanish-speaking Bibiana and single mom realtor Chelsea.
That means the dateless wonders this time are older social media manager Lauren S., tech salesperson Lauren B. (only one Lauren date per week), low cut/high cut Jacqueline and this year's Ashley checkered flag Ashley.
The girls (and their girls) are bouncy and looking sporty in yoga pants and sports bras as they hit the race track for the no-holds-barred demolition derby, with the driver of the last functioning vehicle being declared the winner. But before hostility can manifest, kissing bandit Annaliese melts into a puddle over apparent "bumper car trauma."
She had a rough time at the carnival when she was a kid, getting stuck in a corner and bumped repeatedly, so naturally this is her worst nightmare. Arie comforts her, but there's no way the race car driver is ending up with a girl who is afraid of bumper cars.
Wave the Yellow Flag
Racing legend Robby Gordon handles play-by-play with Chris Harrison, who roasts his main man by asking, "Could this be the first time that Arie actually wins something on a race track?" The action gets underway, with a sobbing Annaliese the early target of cutthroat bitches looking to add to her trauma.
After some help from Arie to escape an early trap, though, Annaliese starts taking out other cars. Bibiana, who's got a bit of Spanish Jersey Shore in her (she's like Alexis, if you replaced all the fun with attitude), shouts profanities as she speeds around the course. But it's poor Dutch linguist and kiss racer Brittany who's kicking ass and taking names.
Favorites Seinne and Tia the Weiner Queen of Arkansas are the last two rolling, and the giver of elephant cuff links drinks the milk and hoists the trophy. Also, I want to participate in a demolition derby.
To the Victor Goes the Spoils
The intense competition continues at the after-party, sans Brittany after the Smasher of Cars complained that she wasn't feeling well. Single mom realtor Chelsea again jumps the gun, immediately pulling Arie aside to peel back another layer of her "mystery." It's the big reveal of her 3-year-old son, and it turns out that Emily wasn't the only single mom in Arie's dating past.
After more face-caressing, Chelsea defends her man-stealing practices by pointing out how much she sacrificed to be here. Indian restaurant co-owner Marikh implores her not to discount "what everyone else has gave up."
Seinne scores bonus points by having attended Yale, lived in Scottsdale and studied abroad in Brazil and Italy, and Arie is starting to take notice of my impressive pre-season pick.
Spalexis Bibiana grows impatient as other women garner more of Arie's time (one makes him twirl her while she squeals like a toddler -- I'm not positive, but it's definitely dumb-or-drunk Jenna), so she takes it out on the cameraman and storms out.
In the end, Seinne scores the date rose, making me look like a damn genius. What can I say? I know talent when I see it.
The cocktail party invites more conflicts, with Bibiana intent on quickly making up for lost time. But his focus is on poor Dutch linguist Brittany, who is still seeing stars, and he presents her with a certificate declaring her "most hardcore."
The chemistry with deceptively sexy nanny Bekah is red hot -- and, man, this dude loves face groping. Coach Krystal already has a rose, but that doesn't stop her from snatching Arie away from dateless tech salesperson Lauren B., which roils the group.
Indian restaurant co-owner Marikh plays Truth or Dare, asking Arie the color of his underwear and uncomfortably responding, "Okay, that's cute," when he answers black. Stuffed-animals-don't-say-no Kendall presents him with a taxidermied seal, while cute Jenny asks if he watches the morning news and eats Raisin Bran.
Saucer of Milk, Table Two
Bibiana finally gets her time but is too reserved and preoccupied to forge a connection. And then lo and behold (and with no guidance from producers, I'm sure), Coach Krystal interrupts for even more time.
It gives Bibiana the perfect outlet for her frustrations, but picking a public fight seems dumb since only one can go home. Still, they square off in the middle of the festivities, and Bibiana's blood is boiling. It also doesn't help that Coach K. is increasingly employing that Valley Girl stereotype where you raise your inflection at the end of every sentence even though it's completely unnecessary.
Bibi ends the altercation by shouting, "Mic drop," which I'm not sure you're actually supposed to say in a true mic drop moment, and walking away. She also threatens in the confessional that if she's eliminated, Krystal should "sleep with one eye open." Then Chris Harrison clinks the champagne glass, and it's time for posies.
Who is Slowing the Herd?
Coach K., fake proposal publicist Becca and elephant cuff link favorite Seinne are safe, and the remaining roses go to:
Photog in a race car Maquel
Deceptively sexy nanny Bekah
Single mom realtor Chelsea
Older social media manager Lauren S.
Tia the Weiner Queen of Arkansas
Bumper car kissing bandit Annaliese
Tech salesperson Lauren B.
Poor Dutch linguist and Smasher of Cars Brittany
This year's Ashley checkered flag Ashley
Indian restaurant co-owner Marikh
Non-kidded booberrific real estate agent Caroline
That means it's the end of the road for cute Jenny, black Lauren G. and yellow dress waitress Valerie (who is wearing a red dress). He walks out a crying Jenny to explain that at the end of the day, he just didn't see it. It's the first time she's ever been dumped. He gives her a hug and sends her on her shame-filled way.
Red Flags Galore
My favorites seem like solid picks at this point, as fatal flaws abound in most other contestants. Coach K. and Chelsea are the villains, Maquel and Bekah are too young, Kendall and Jenna are effing weird, Marikh can't properly formulate a sentence while Corinne-style piggybacking off mom's business, Bibiana is too much of a hothead, Caroline brags about her real estate sales and Annaliese is scared of bumper cars.
Ashley, Jaqueline and a pair of Laurens are presently unknown, and Becca and Brittany hardly seem like end-game material. Who's left? Elephant cuff link Seinne and Tia the Weiner Queen of Arkansas, that's who.
Do you agree with my assessments? Who is emerging as a contender in your eyes and how long do you think the villains will stick around? Can Bibiana break her frustrated streak or is she too far down the Coach Krystal rabbit hole to save herself? (We're only two episodes in, but the real question seems to be how long it will take Arie to figure out what we already know. I'm guessing later rather than sooner, for TV's sake.) Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.