Maclean’s Bachelor Panel: Week six

The fantasy date episode: Brad hunkers down with three finalists (on three different nights) in the Maritimes

Sonya Bell, Colin Horgan and Aaron Wherry

Our Maclean’s Bachelor panel reconvenes to consider what they’ve learned from another hour and a half of The Bachelor CanadaFind all of their panels here.

From: Sonya
To: Aaron, Colin

It’s all fun and games until Canada’s Prince Charming turns into a toad.

Bachelor Brad Smith, who has espoused the virtues of commitment and communication for weeks now, handed roses to the exact two girls he has identified as being emotionally closed off and perhaps not ready for a serious relationship: Whitney and Bianka.

Kara, my mascara streams down my cheeks with yours.

It’s safe to say most viewers went into this week’s episode expecting that after Whitney’s cold and calculating side was exposed during the home visits last week, she was going to be the one sent packing Wednesday night. (Well played, you crafty reality TV producers you, well played.) Exactly no one was going to miss her. That included, it seemed, Brad: “I can’t be with someone who’s emotionally repressed and that’s what I get from her.”

So I let my guard down. I watched “the most amazing fantasy dates ever” transpire in the Maritimes to Celtic music, secure in the knowledge that the only real heart that would break this episode would be New Brunswick’s. (There were three dates in three Atlantic provinces. You know which ones were chosen.)

But this episode took a turn for the weird, fast. I’m talking, of course, about the high-stakes overnight dates in “fantasy suites” that followed the regular one-on-one outings. All three girls said yes to Brad’s proposal, though well aware that the invitation was being extended to a different girl in a different province the next night. The Bachelor Canada: a little like a swingers party. A very one-sided swingers party.

Perhaps Aaron can tell us a bit about how the overnight dates play out on the American series. My key question: Has a bachelorette ever failed to receive a rose, then revealed that she’s pregnant? Would the show have you sign a waiver on that?

Part of the reason I’m feeling so sore over this episode is, of course, that I had both called Brad as being a nice guy and predicted he would ultimately choose Kara. Going forward, I just don’t know what to think, and what to make of Brad–is he secretly intimidated by the idea of a woman saying “yes” at the end of this? As it becomes more and more clear that Whitney just isn’t that into him, is he getting caught up in the thrill of the chase?

“I still believe that I could be the guy for her,” he told the cameras.

The only thing keeping me going at this point is the promise of a reappearance by Senator Larry Smith, Brad’s dad, when the two remaining girls meet his family later on.

Because Brad, man. You’ve changed.

From: Aaron
To: Sonya, Colin

My favourite part of every Bachelor season is the arrival of the “fantasy suite” invitations, when the remaining contestants are presented with the opportunity to spend a night “as a couple” with the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Basically it’s like presenting a member of the opposite sex with a card that says “Would you like to have sex with me right now? Check yes or no.” In this case, it seemed Brad could barely contain his boyish glee as each of the ladies read their respective cards.

For the most part the sexy time is only alluded to: awkward giggles, rose pedals on the bed, then cut to exterior shot of the bedroom light going off. But this time Bianka—once again daring to challenge the show’s reality—confronted the weirdness, confessing that she was a bit uncomfortable spending the night with a gentleman who was about to spend the two subsequent nights with two other women. (In the ensuing debate, Brad somehow thought it would help to tell her that the other women were totally okay with it.) After a few uncomfortable moments during which it seemed he might cry, she came around and decided to spend the night. I think I’m supposed to high-five him here, but I don’t know the emoticon for that.

So far as I know, Sonya, no one’s ever ended up pregnant as a result of a night in the fantasy suite. I imagine there are producers and lawyers and signed agreements involved in ensuring all precautions are taken. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and assume there’s a producer in the bed with the couple the entire night to ensure all protocols are followed.

Presumably, one way or the other, Brad didn’t sleep much this week. Or he’s been hypnotized by Whitney’s eyebrows. Or he’s been hypnotized by Whitney’s boobs. Whatever the case, his decision to send Kara home seemed shockingly dumb. Not least because the producers had spent the previous hour trying to convince the viewer that Kara was obviously and resoundingly the girl for Brad. Maybe this was meant to make the end of this episode a surprise. Or maybe this was meant to make us think Brad is an idiot. I’m reminded of Brad’s comments about there being a difference between what’s going on and what we see. But this was a wholly weird ending: punctuated by Whitney’s post-rose interjection that she needed to talk to Brad. Though she privately confessed to not being sure that she and Brad were meant to be together, once she had an opportunity to talk to him, she didn’t seem to have anything to say. And, er, that was that.

So it’s all a bit of a mess at this point, I think. Which ss maybe as it is supposed to be.

From: Colin
To: Sonya, Aaron

A fine mess, indeed. But maybe this is what we should have expected after Brad started the whole week off with the lofty proclamation that “I hope the Maritimes help me find the person I’m going to be with for the rest of my life.” It’s up to you, Eastern Canada! No pressure. Oh wait, I meant ALL OF THE PRESSURE.

There was some pretty sage advice handed out near the end of this week’s episode by way of a cross-country telephone call. Whitney, who suddenly had cold feet about, well, everything, called her sister Camille in Calgary (it was unclear whether she talked to her dad) and fretted that should she be the one left standing after that evening’s rose ceremony, she might not be actually capable of going through with it. Camille replied it would probably be unfair to go on with things – unfair to Brad, unfair to herself. “Follow your heart, it might not be the easiest but it’s probably the best,” she said.

Yes, exactly. Isn’t that what this whole show is about, fundamentally?

I find it interesting that it’s becoming increasingly clear that the majority of those remaining in the final weeks are totally incapable of following that logic, even though it’s technically what they’re all here to do. Brad in particular is becoming an insufferable hypocrite, droning on and on about how he really just needs a gal who’ll, y’know, be open about her emotions and stuff because, like, that’s what he really needs after shutting himself down and all that. And yet, curiously, he has decided to keep the two girls who are least capable of showing off any of those attributes, even when he’s asked them to do so directly.

When it comes to Bianka, her reticence to commit to anything in the beginning initially seemed rather levelheaded. Why would she fall in love instantly with some guy she’d never met? Smart! I’m doubting this performance more and more each week. I suspect she’s a sham, constructed from the plastic reality she continues to throw herself into – just a vacuous expanse of “ums” and “I don’t knows”, all of it feigned reluctance disguising what seems like the true ulterior motive: fame. As for Whitney? “I just don’t know if I’m actually ready for — if this is actually what I really want,” she blubbered into her iPhone down the line to her sister. But how easy it seemed for her to wait until after actually getting a rose and assuring herself a spot in the final two before telling Brad any of it. Is her competitive streak that strong? Or is she just Queen Manipulator? Hard, stubborn, fake, and ultimately very boring – Whitney has a silicone personality to match everything else.

And yet, and yet, and yet…

Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Maybe, like I pointed out with Laura B, we’re all entitled to a bit of a breakdown of logic and the giving in to emotional (coastal) waves that blind us and override our sense of self, self-worth, or self-respect. Are these three any less forgivable for being immensely frustrating? Probably not. They’re human, after all. Maybe Brad is all talk and, as you suggest, Sonya, isn’t ready for anything other than the chase.

Or maybe, as you say, Aaron, Brad’s just an idiot. Maybe they’re all idiots.