Tonight, in developments as shocking as my dog shedding or a celebrity giving their baby a name better suited to a model of Toyota sedan, reports not provided by the American Journal of Semiotics inform us that AshLee fails to realize mean things she said about Clare were being documented by the cameras that relentlessly trail everyone on the show like toilet paper stuck to a shoe; both Andi and Josh are rumored to be casting choices for season 19 of Dancing with the Stars Who Are Intent on Prolonging Their Time in the Spotlight, No Matter how Brief or Humiliating the Experience; and Elise and Chris are no longer together. Gosh, if two great kids like them can’t make it in this crazy world, who can? Of course, I said that about Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon.
After we learn that OxiClean is shaking up the detergent aisle, the real drama begins. Well, once they’re done with the recaps of last week and the previews of both nights of this week. No wonder everyone is watching the Emmys instead–at least that has a red carpet pre-show.
Following last week’s handing out of roses, the guys and girls, who clearly live very banal lives off camera, are variously shocked, humbled, and grateful by the outcome of the ceremony. Michelle reacts to having received Chris’s rose as one might to being rescued from a burning vehicle by a good samaritan. In the event any viewers have forgotten, they all came to paradise to find love, in addition to getting good tans, so now they want to see what will happen next. As does the script editor.
Back at the house, the date card awaits. It is for Robert. Will he choose Michelle or Sarah? The tense moments that follow are like waiting for Walter Cronkite to confirm whether JFK is truly dead. Indeed, Robert invites Sarah, who accepts happily. She can get ready much more quickly with only one hand to have manicured.
Despite her previous joy at being able to to stay, Michelle now goes to cry in the bathroom. She fears she will never get another chance like this to meet someone, since you really have to go on a TV show if you ever expect to get married these days. Graham comforts her by pointing out that there are “a lot of people on the planet,” although apparently very few of them living in her home state of Utah, who would like to date her. He’s right–look at the countless louts and shmoes who audition for this show. But she thinks her having a daughter puts too much pressure on the guys. I would suggest her constant sniveling is more of a turn-off.
Sarah is excited to go on her date. In a cruel twist of fate, Michelle does her hair for her. It’s like watching Betty style Veronica’s flip in advance of her date with Archie. Off the two go, the helpful chyron explaining that they are going to Playa del Carmen, which is in Mexico. They sail off on a giant boat and discuss other people’s relationships. After posing in the mandated “I’m king of the woooorld” pose on the bow, they jump in the water. Robert discusses how her arm does not detract from her beauty, presumably since no parts of her face are missing.
Michelle is featured whining some more about how everyone else is coupled up and she’s still alone. She hopes one of the new guys coming in this week will work out for her. Unfortunately, the first is Cody, from Andi’s season. Michelle zones in on him like a guided missile, but he asks Clare on the date. She wants to talk to him about it first. When they are alone with the cameraman, he tells her she was one of his favorites on her season. This is the weirdest social situation ever. Clare feels so good about him asking her, but explains that she has started a relationship with Zack. A disappointed Cody asks her to recommend a similar model.
Zack tells Clare he wouldn’t be mad if she went on the date; it’s her choice. This does not sit well with Clare. She wants to know what he would do if she was upset that he accepted a date with another girl. He seems wishy-washy, not odd for a grown man wearing board shorts and a backwards baseball cap. Clare finds his waffling disappointing, as she desires a man who knows what he wants. That’s why she keeps appearing on shows where the viewing audience expects catfights, love triangles, and serial cheating. The other girls consider Cody forceful and assertive for the way he set his sights on Clare so quickly, although that may be because he only saw her season.
Clare and Zack hash out their barely existent relationship some more. “You’re willing to let another guy jump on that opportunity that you let walk away,” she accuses him with words that might have been more carefully chosen. She admires that Cody knows what he wants, although based on what he’s told her, what he wants is likely a blonde who enjoys sex in the ocean, so if Lacy dyed her hair, she’d work for Cody, too.
Zack and Graham sit on side-by-side giant beach pillows to evaluate the Clare situation. Since all he has to do is tell her he would prefer she not go out with Cody, it’s hard to know what the big existential crisis is. But apparently, there are many more nuances to determining whether Zack enjoys shtupping Clare enough to prolong things a few more days. “Should I let Clare down?” he asks Graham meaningfully. He really doesn’t know what he wants, other than to wax religiously.
Cody has bugged Clare some more about dating her, so she wants to make clear where things stand. He wears the waistline of his shorts at his hips, reason enough to kibosh any further time together. She tells him she wants a man who “steps up” as he has, as if trying to get a date with a chick who almost never isn’t in a bikini were the equivalent of enlisting in the military during wartime, but nevertheless she can’t accept. “Yer killin’ me,” he yowls, evidently inspired by the works of Keats. But she is basing her decision on what she thinks is the right thing to do. I heartily cosign after he refers to himself in the third person.
Cody then shares his disappointment with Marcus, although how bad can it be since he grins like Alfred E. Newman through the whole conversation. “I’m heartbroken, essentially,” Cody reports. Who can he pick for his date now? He must have someone to give a rose to, Marcus warns, lest his air time on this show be even briefer than it was on Season 10 of The Bachelorette.
In a moment of surprising thoughtfulness, possibly orchestrated by a writer who couldn’t stand these fatuous cretins a moment longer, Cody points out that after he was so insistent on going out with Clare, it would be insensitive to ask someone else. Of course, he was insisting just a couple of months ago that Andi was the one for him, but let’s let him have his moment of integrity. So Cody gives his date card to Marcus, who goes bare-chested, in case we forgot how great his upper body is, to ask Lacy and her breasts. Impressed that Cody was so gentlemanly, Clare gazes at him lustily.
Marcus and Lacy go to a romantic dinner for two. She’s crazy for him because he’s “all about me.” For his part, he’s “smitten.” They talk about feelings, being open, and being on the same page. If they were on a cooking show, they would refer to acidity, flavor profiles, and composed dishes. He tells her he loves her. “At that point in time, I was a little taken aback,” she says, suggesting that if he has said it at another point in time, perhaps autumn of 1994, she would be calm. She wants to say it back, but she’s scared. And here they were sure they were being open with their feelings. Certainly Lacy was not reticent about telling the cosmetic surgeon she wanted double D’s.
Zack decides he must tell Clare that all his eggs are in her basket, or some metaphor related to reproduction or farming. Her reaction is not ideal. She sure is fussy. “If you want to date other girls, do it,” she shrills. He doesn’t, though, he insists. Unless her eggs are hard-boiled. Content now that all is secure between them and their extra large grade A’s, it’s time to make out.
Back to listening to Michelle kvetching. Since Cody was a fail, she hopes that someone else shows up that she can target–uh, fall in love with. Here he is now, strolling along the night beach to join them. But it’s Kalon, from Emily’s season. Michelle is not happy. He has a bad reputation, having left the show under a dark cloud. Naturally, though, he has a date card, and he moves in on Michelle like a gnat to an ear. “I want to zipline right into her *bleep,”* Kalon exclaims, immediately endearing himself to all of America’s self-respecting women. Well, to the scant few who think ABC was bleeping out the word “heart.”
As he prepares for their date, Kalon remarks that he likes crazy. He sees potential opportunity there. Cary Grant could take charm lessons from this fellow. Michelle asks to speak to him before the date, though. She reminds him that he referred to Emily’s daughter as “baggage.” He tries to backpedal on that classy move, whining that people are still complaining about it after two years. She tells him “no” on the date thing. I would tell him “no” on the oxygen thing.
Undaunted, Kalon invites Jackie instead, who declines delicately. Sarah is sitting right there with her, but he just ignores her. And here I thought Bieber was the most stupendous clod on TV. After Jackie leaves, Kalon returns to ask Sarah on the date, as if she were unaware that she were third choice. The date is going rapelling, by the way. She rebuffs him politely.
A defiant Kalon goes alone on the date, probably because the disgusted producers already paid for it. He gets blessed by a shaman before diving into an underwater cave, while we can only hope he hits his head on the bottom. He wishes to fall in love with himself, probably the best plan since no one else will. Well, maybe Elise.
Someone else comes across the beach now. Jesse, from Jillian’s season, has his own date card. He rips off his shirt in an obvious move to garner interest before trying to select a woman. He settles on Jackie. Marquel looks distressed when she accepts. Maybe he told her she smokes too much. The couple go down some stone stairs into a cavern and dine in the dark. These dates seem pretty low-rent compared to the pilot shows. Jesse’s concentrating on his strategy to score a rose, which he launches with simpering flattery about her appearance. He also says she looked “available” the moment she saw him, which horrifies me as I take it to mean “easy,” but maybe that term is out of the vernacular these days what with Fantasy Suites and ocean sex on TV. She gazes at him dubiously, and suggests he’s just trying to earn a rose with his blather. He insists not, and she buys it. As some band plays with what must be terrible acoustics, the two dance awkardly. ‘Ya gotta let love win,” sings the lead vocalist unironically.
At the beach, Cody is giving Michelle an erotic back rub. It’s been a while since a man touched her, she admits. It’s been even longer since I’ve wanted a stranger to reveal that on national television. Clare tells Cody that she and Zack are going to go for it, since he wanted another reminder of why she turned him down for a date. Meanwhile, AshLee questions how committed Zack should be to Clare, reminding him that, after all, “she f**ked a guy in the ocean,” as if achieving orgasm while a starfish was present somehow made it a worse transgression. Then AshLee realizes they are being taped.
While other cameras document it, she goes around telling other people she’s upset that her conversation with Zack was filmed. She is accused of being different off-camera, treacherous and disloyal, not to mention having to be bleeped. Then Lacy tells Clare about AshLee suggesting to Zack that Clare is a woman of low virtue. Clare is enraged. All of America saw her diddle Juan Pablo in the ocean, and the scene remains available on video at several sites, but how dare AshLee mention it to Zack?
Now the house is full of tension. “Don’t mess with Clare, ever,” warns Michelle. Imagine if you discussed with a third party something Clare had not actually done! The guys are a’feared of a catfight brewing, and steer clear of all estrogen. Clare confronts Zack about the episode, and he reasonably tells her not to worry about what the other girls say. But she is not pacified that Zack refused to take Ashlee’s bait. “What am I supposed to do?” she shrills. She wants him to have stood up for her, presumably by saying he doesn’t mind that she f**ked a guy in the ocean. He tells Robert he doesn’t need this bad energy, although he probably wouldn’t mind a nice f**k in the ocean himself right about now.
AshLee and Clare have their inevitable confrontation. AshLee pretends not to know what she did wrong. Clare tells her that she shouldn’t have told Zack about “Vietnam and swimming in the ocean,” making it sound as though AshLee read to Zack from a Fodor’s travelogue. Clare seethes, “I feel super disrespected,” that being several echelons worse than mondo disrespected, but only slightly more serious than majorly disrespected. “I was just telling him what I saw on the show,” AshLee points out, and in fact, Clare should credit AshLee for not being among the countless people who blogged about it at the time. AshLee is very upset, though, because she works hard on her character–which presumably means her integrity, and not the character she plays on TV– and strives to not hurt people’s feelings, at least when she’s aware that the cameras are on her.
Finally, Rose Ceremony time arrives. The tension that remains between Clare and Ashlee creates a cloud over the open bar. Two guys are going home tonight. Marquel’s shirt should just go in the trash. As Cody points out, Kalon is an obvious goner, so the other guy to leave is the unknown factor. Cody and Michelle chat about their burgeoning liking for each other now that he’s pawed her all over. Jackie is in a tough spot because she had a good time with Jesse, but there was the nice date with Marquel last time. Then again, Jackie and Jesse would be a great name for a reality show about a kooky couple.
Then there’s Graham and AshLee. Was her crass gossiping about Clare an indication of her true nature? Michelle is compelled to inform Graham about the details of that episode. She explains that AshLee told Zack that he should watch out for Clare because “she’s been known to sleep with guys in the ocean,” even though one time really doesn’t demonstrate a pattern. Also, is there something uniquely scandalous about having sex in the ocean? It seems like having sex with Juan Pablo is the real disgrace here. Graham is deeply concerned at the news of AshLee’s shameful behavior, and as his friend, Michelle wants him to turn down her rose. He does have his doubts. But will he talk to AshLee about it? Good heavens, no! That would be mature, reasonable, and not give the audience anything to talk about tomorrow on the forums.
The ceremony begins. Lacy is first to give her rose to Marcus and his abs, of course. Clare is up next. She offers her rose to Zack. Now it’s AshLee’s turn. Graham, who is fidgeting and sweaty, walks off when she says his name. Michelle follows him, while AshLee just stands there waiting as if the director called cut. Maybe he did. Then comes the big, white type on a black screen: TO BE CONTINUED. Oh, no! I’ll need some high-dose Xanax to make it through the next 24 hours.