As much as I would love to begin this week’s blog by talking about the cardigan I wore last week or the driveway being wet, we obviously need to discuss the most talked about controversial moment of the season. Let me first explain how Emily actually ended up on this date. We planned all these trips and dates before Emily was ever cast on this show and we learned of her story. There were only three dates in Vegas, a one-on-one date, a group date, and the two-on-one date. Emily wasn’t getting the one-on-one as she had recently had one and Brad wanted to spend some time with Shawntel. Emily definitely wasn’t going to be put on the two-on-one date for several reasons, one being Brad didn’t want that. So that left one date, and that turned out to be the group date to the NASCAR track. Now with all that said, I’m not telling you at this point that we were completely naïve and didn’t know her story and that we didn’t discuss the situation. What we eventually decided to do is what we always decide to do when faced with situations like this: Don’t mess with the true emotion and situation. You need to remember that Brad who helped us decide who goes on what dates still had no idea the full extent of Emily’s story, and that information couldn’t come from us.

So, bottom line, Emily did end up on this group date and ended up at the very NASCAR track her former fiancé Ricky crashed on to end his racing career. As you saw, what you may have thought would be a disastrous situation turned out to be one of the most heartfelt, beautiful moments we’ve ever had on this show. As Emily said herself, it turned out to be extremely symbolic and therapeutic for her to get in that car and take those laps for Ricky and herself. You very much got the feeling that night that a huge weight had been taken off her shoulders, and it seems Emily is really ready to take that next step and let somebody else in her heart. I talked to Brad after this date in Vegas and it hit him very hard. He obviously felt guilty and sorry for her, but it also turned out to be a very positive step for them as a couple. I can also tell you that now that Brad knows everything, this will really weigh on his mind as he and Emily continue. This is a lot for any man to handle, and Brad is understandably a little intimidated. He put on a brave face that night and gave Emily the rose, but this is something that he will obviously have to continue to deal with. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, no matter what happens on this show Emily is one of the strongest, bravest women I’ve ever met. I continue to marvel at how she has chosen to remain so positive and ambitious when she has every right to do just the opposite.

Like Brad did on the group date I may have spent too much time on Emily here but I know that’s what everybody is talking about today. The first date Brad had with Shawntel was fantastic. Is there a woman in the world that wouldn’t love to have a guy take her to a high-end shopping center and say, “Whatever you want is yours”? Obviously when Shawntel walked back into the suite with all those bags the girls went nuts and she knew it. The other women were already nervous and jealous of Shawntel but this sent them off the charts. Speaking of off the charts, the girls’ suite at Aria was ridiculous. This two-story suite with fifty-foot ceilings made Rain Man’s suite look like a trailer. When you go to Vegas you gotta have a little fun, so some of the ladies decided to get a little crazy. Ashley H, Ashley S, Marissa, Lisa, and Alli decided to go out and get tattoos. Because we don’t do anything normal, we hooked them up with Mario Barth at King Ink at the Mirage. This might surprise you but I’m not a big “tat” guy, but this dude is a legend. He generally has a two-year waiting list and did tats for celebs like Lenny Kravitz, Usher, Stallone, and many more. The two Ashleys got matching roses right above their ankles. Ashley S got hers in blue to honor her father (Kentucky bluegrass). Lisa got a rose tattoo below her ankle. Marissa got a white rose on her wrist. Alli chickened out — or wised up, depending on how you look at it — and didn’t get one. We did shoot this but because it was such an emotional episode it just didn’t fit and we didn’t have time to do so anyway.

So it turned out to be a little sad irony that the two Ashleys were such good friends and got matching tattoos, because they ended up on the two-on-one date. Oh, did I mention that they were such good friends they slept in the same bed with that big teddy bear you saw at the end of the show? The girls were positive Alli and Britt would be the two on this date. Once the two Ashleys found out, they spent the entire day crying. They didn’t want to compete against each other but in the end this isn’t about building a friendship with each other, it’s about finding love with Brad. This date and this situation really brought out some insecurities in Ashley S. It was almost like she knew she wasn’t going to get the rose the moment she got picked for the date. Her tearful goodbye was really tough to watch. She’s a very sweet girl and you just wanted to give the poor girl a hug.

Before I leave you, we have to talk a little bit about Michelle. I want to remind you that Brad doesn’t know anything that he doesn’t see or hear for himself. I’d like to get your opinion on if you think that at this point Michelle is playing Brad perfectly. She seems to know just what to say and just what to do to keep Brad on edge and interested. We did shoot deliberation in Vegas, but again because we had so much to show you we didn’t have time to include it. I promise you will get to see this in future episodes and I’m happy you will, because sitting down with Brad in these sessions was very interesting and insightful. Marissa was one of the ladies who didn’t receive a rose this week. Brad handed her a note as she was leaving. He did this because she had written him notes along the way. It was a thank you and a heartfelt belief that she would find the right guy. It made her cry and gave her closure.

This is just the beginning of our travels around the world this season. One thing we’ve added that I love is giving the girls their own flip cameras to shoot as they travel. From time to time we’ll include some of their video in the show. Next week we leave the desert of Vegas for the rain forest of Costa Rica. By the way, if you don’t think your comments are being heard how about this: So many of you voiced your opinions about the ladies’ ages not being included, we have decided to bring them back. Starting next week the women’s ages will be included. One last very personal note this week, last Thursday (1/27) marked the ten-year anniversary of the Oklahoma State basketball team plane crash in Colorado. Among the ten onboard that plane was the voice of the Cowboys and my mentor Bill Teegins. I can’t begin to tell you how talented Bill was, what a great man he was and what he meant to my career. Remembering the OSU 10 this week! Thanks as always for watching the show and please leave your comments below or find me on twitter @chrisbharrison. You can also follow all things Bachelor at our new site.

More on The Bachelor episode 5 from EW:

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