Good morning, rose lovers! You know, I've been thinking a lot about the book I'm currently reading: 11/22/63 by Stephen King. In it, a mild-mannered English teacher living an unremarkable life suddenly finds himself traveling back in time to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Before he goes, the teacher's dying friend -- the one who sends him on this fool's errand -- warns him that history will not make it easy, because the past doesn't want to be changed.
What does this have to do with The Bachelor? Well, rose lovers, I'll be honest: Given the sad ratings so far this season, I'm starting to worry that when it comes to trying anything new with The Bachelor, success is just as unlikely as stopping the murder of JFK. Why? Because the formula doesn't want to be changed. Oh, you know what formula I mean: It's the one where a man who looks as much like a human Ken doll as physically possible -- blondish hair, all-American grin, rigidly sculpted upper torso -- and has no discernible personality whatsoever parrots out producer-fed "dialogue" about "journeys" and "amazing" "connections" with "ladies" etc. These are the Bachelors the universe seems to want. Any time ABC tries to deviate from the formula, they either get depressed ratings (Charlie, Ben), a season full of uncomfortable jackassery (Bob, Jason) -- or both (Charlie). The formula doesn't want to be changed, folks. And if things don't start picking up for our boy Ben -- both in regard to the ratings and Benjamin's own common sense -- you can bet your rose-loving booties that after this season, we will never again be treated to a Bachelor who doesn't look (and act) like he was carved out of cream cheese. I find that pretty depressing. Am I alone?
Anyhoo, on to this week's leg of our "journey." Ben is back in San Francisco, and his first order of business is to meet up with his sister Julia for ice tea and a recap of the "ladies" he's found most memorable so far: Lindzi, Kacie B., Courtney, Emily, and Jennifer. (Does he even remember the other Casey?) I'm sure he probably said something nice about all the remaining "ladies," but who has time for that? Harrison's already gathered the women in their hotel suite to run down their week: one group date and two do-or-die one-on-one dates. The first date card goes to Emily, and she's a little overwhelmed about the card's "love lifts us up" message. "I'm scared of heights!" she squawks. "This is my first time with him. What am I going to wear? Is he going to like me? What the heck does it mean to be 'lifted up'? Does this involve heights? Am I going to pee my pants?" I doubt it, honey. That kind of stuff usually only happens on Flavor of Love.
Naturally, Ben has chosen a date for acrophobic Emily that involves climbing the Bay Bridge, and he gives the standard BS Bachelor "if we can conquer this fear together, we can conquer anything!" reason. Of course, the duo plays this narrative out to the letter: shortly into the climb, Emily panics, so Ben plants one on her. Hurrah! The curse is lifted! Empowered by her prince's touch, Emily manages to both make her way to the top and make a mawkish comparison between bridges and love: "A bridge takes two things that are separate and it brings them together. And here Ben and I are two different people... and we're coming together on top of this bridge."
NEXT: The group date gets overshadowed by a solitary exit