Not much happens with the Bachelor franchise that’s really surprising to me, but the result of what really may have been “the most dramatic Rose Ceremony ever” would seem to qualify.
Kudos to those of you who thought you noticed Sean Lowe gradually becoming more distant from Desiree in recent episodes, but except for the cocktail party where she called him out for giving out pity roses, I didn’t see too much that was slowing her inevitable march toward a marriage proposal in three weeks. She appeared to regain her favorite status in St. Croix, but went home in fourth place on Monday’s show, following a night that set a new franchise standard for disastrous home visits.
To make matters even more confusing, given that Sean’s choice on who to eliminate came down to Catherine and Desiree , it seems that the Seattle graphic designer/food writer is a distant third among the three left, even though she is the only one of those three it’s been even slightly possible for me to imagine Sean with in the end. Lindsay is way too immature and flighty, and I don’t see any passion between him and AshLee – it’s as if he’s decided to put off the hard work of telling her it’s over until it can’t be avoided any more.
Stop One on Sean’s grand tour came in Houston, hometown of AshLee, who with each passing week gets more and more rapturous about the caliber of the love she has found with this man who is dating three other women. The two of them take a stroll into what looks like a cow pasture, sit and drink wine, and discuss the pending meeting with her parents. AshLee attempts to look casual and coquettish, but she’s just too intense to pull that off.
Her minister father Bruce and his wife Deborah, who adopted AshLee out of foster care when she was four, seem like very decent sorts. What’s more, you get the sense that they know how bad it’s going to be for their daughter if she were to get cut now (especially after she admits she told him she loves him), so both try to get Sean’s promise that he won’t hurt her in the end – a promise he obviously can’t keep except in the case of the winner. Bruce tells Sean that he agreed to allow a 17-year-old AshLee to get married because she might have made some bad choices if he had said no (translation: if she’s going to have sex, than darn it, it’s going to be married sex). Sean and AshLee part with her speaking of the “pixie dust” he has left in his wake, while Sean doesn’t seem even a little bit more like he’s genuinely into her.
Next up: an uncharacteristically sunny day in Catherine’s hometown of Seattle. These two always seem to get along like male and female best friends in a romantic comedy, who only later realize they’re in love. They goof around on the street and toss fish at the Pike Place market, because you can’t have a TV show in Seattle otherwise. Later, presumably after a good shower, they proceeded to her mom’s house, where they were also joined by Catherine’s Filipino granny and her sisters Monica and India. Sean looks comfortable enough in the all-female environment … until the sisters start chattering away.
Monica and India both seem skeptical of this relationship, beyond the fact that it’s The Bachelor so why wouldn’t one be skeptical. They ask Catherine, in so many words, how much she can really be into this guy. What they seem to be getting at are the cultural differences between Sean and Catherine that the show has barely touched on. Her response is that if Sean proposed, she’d be willing to “try this out,” which is a lot more ambivalent than women on this show typically are at the final four stage.
When the sisters talk to Sean, they let him know that his fantasy of being the perfect family patriarch might not be a good fit with Catherine. She’s always put her career goals ahead of her relationships, they say. She has fun when she starts going out with someone, but things always seem to happen. They also tell Sean she’s a slob, as if he hasn’t been given enough to think about. He leaves Seattle wondering if he ever really knew Catherine at all. Amazing, considering that they have had two whole “dates” and a few stolen moments at cocktail parties to get to know each other!
Sean then heads to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where Lindsay’s father, Maj. Gen. Mark Yenter, is one of the local bigshots. He and Lindsay wander around town, eating a cupcake and having a beer at the restaurant when she used to work. She continues to come across as way too young for all this. Seriously, has Lindsay said anything in two months to make one believe she has any kind of hidden interior life? Sean talks about liking her “youthful energy,” and I can see that, but that’s not the basis for a proposal.
Sean is understandably nervous about meeting the general and his wife, but Lindsay helps put everyone at ease by bringing up her first-night wedding dress garb. Once the laughter dies down, Mom and General ask Sean the right “You’re not going to hurt my little girl, are you?” questions. Sean tells Mom that he’s not currently in a position to say he loves Lindsay (a Bachelor no-no before the proposal), and the general seems legitimately flummoxed by the question of whether he would give his blessing if Sean were to propose. He sort of agrees, but in a way that makes it clear he’s not too sure about all this newfangled reality TV stuff.
Finally, we’re back in Los Angeles: home of the Bachelor mansion and of Desiree. She and Sean meet for a short hike, and continue to exhibit the body language of a real couple, something I haven’t seen much with the others. The two then head to Desiree’s home, where she will be preparing the night’s meal (not sure why this wasn’t done at her parents’ place, unless given what she’s said about her folks and money, Desiree wasn’t comfortable taking Sean there). He is admiring her tastefully decorated home when there’s a knock at the door. A young man is there purporting to be Desiree’s ex. He is mad because she won’t answer his texts, and then he tells her he loves her more than this “actor.” Sean interrupts and tells the fellow he ought to leave if Desiree doesn’t want him there! Everyone is about to come to blows!
Something about this whole scenario has seemed a little fishy all along, and Desiree finally spills the beans: the “boyfriend” is an actor that she brought in as a prank, because of how she herself was the victim of a similar gag on their first date at the fake art gallery. Sean says ha ha, you got me back. And he actually doesn’t seem all that offended (the most offensive thing about it was the actor’s performance), although given what happened next, it got the night off to a less than hopeful start.
Desiree’s parents and brother Nate arrive. The folks seem like regular people, but we barely see Sean interacting with them, because we have to get to Nate, the part of the show that appeared in all the teasers. Nate does not like The Bachelor, no, not one little bit. And he seems nearly as offended by Sean personally – you can tell from the blank look on Sean’s face throughout their whole conversation that he’s not at all used to this kind of hostility. Nate does not believe Sean really cares for Des, and calls him a “playboy.” When he retorts with his default praise for any female, that he’s “crazy about” Desiree, Nate, without even realizing it, has the perfect comeback: “You’re crazy about a lot of girls, right?” Yes, by my count, he’s said that to around 20 separate women this season.
Sean tells the cameras that he didn’t like having his integrity questioned, but that he couldn’t cause a scene on the date. After he leaves, Desiree, who senses something went very wrong, gets the lowdown from Nate on what happened. She’s in tears wondering about what this does for her chances. For his own part, Sean admits that his feelings about Des shouldn’t be colored by her having a jackass brother, but he might now have trouble seeing himself as part of this family.
Sean prepares for the final rose ceremony, and the revelation of which disastrous hometown visit was just slightly more disastrous, Desiree’s or Catherine’s. He worries out loud about doing the wrong thing. Just before the roses are to be doled out, Desiree asks for a brief word. She apologizes for what happened at dinner and he tries to set her mind at ease. Once back in the Rose Chamber, the first two tickets to next week are dished out: AshLee and Lindsay. At this point, Sean leaves to think it over some more. Arrrggghhh! Chris Harrison tells Sean to make sure he gets this right, because advice like that is why he makes the big bucks.
Finally, Sean returns and Catherine gets that last rose. As he walks Desiree out to the courtyard, he admits that this might have been a mistake, and she agrees through her tears. Her final hug is heartbreaking, even for this show. “Don’t let me go,” she begged. But go she did – possibly to the role as next Bachelorette. Come on, the woman is a bridal shop employee, and she’s obviously better suited to the role than any of the other three still in the competition.
As for Sean’s decision, who knows if we got the real lowdown on why Des was cut after seeming like a winner for so long. The brother was a pill, true, but would you let that stand in the way of the woman of your dreams? It seems he just lost interest in her along the way, but the show definitely did a good job of hiding that.
Next week: Fantasy Suite week, in Thailand. Insert your own “Phuket” jokes here.
What did all of you think? Doesn’t it seem that Sean got rid of his ideal winner?