Bachelor Pad season premiere recap: The Ex Factor
Jake comes face to face with Vienna -- and kills her with kindness -- while Gia begins her new life as a career Bachelor reject, and Ames rebounds hard with Jackie.
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Déjà vu, rose lovers! Doesn’t it feel like we were just here, sacrificing our Monday nights to the reality TV gods as Ashley meandered her way through the Bachelorette “journey.” And now we’re camped out at Casa Bachelor again, ready to spend three hours of our lives watching a bunch of Bachelor/Bachelorette rejects who, much like my 17-month-old toddler, prefer negative attention to the existential horror of no attention.
Harrison welcomes us to the “home” for wayward contestants, those who did not find “lasting love” through Mike Fleiss’ sadistic social experiment. So who are they? Let’s recap:
Justin the wannabe wrestler, who tried and failed to game the system on Ali’s season of The Bachelorette when he was busted with a girlfriend. Now he spends his time shadowboxing in the dark and hanging out by heavily graffitied brick walls, plotting his revenge… against, you know, people and stuff.
Jackie from Brad’s season, who made no real impression until she made an ad hominem attack on Michelle Money at the Women Tell All. Now she’s “anxious” that Michelle will be in the Pad. Which brings us to…
Michelle, who behaved like a psycho hose beast dominatrix during Brad’s season, but now claims she’s simply misunderstood. “I don’t consider myself to be crazy by any means.” Okay, whatever honey. Moving on… Wait, what? Her dad has stage four colon cancer, and she wants to win the money for him? And now here’s her dad on camera saying it gives him “strength” to see her succeed? Damn you, Team Bachelor Pad! You clearly want us to give Michelle the Man Eater a second chance — and it’s working. I am powerless against your Sad Dad secret weapon. Well played, you bastards.
Gia the “swimsuit model” is next, who cheekily pokes fun at her new status as a career contestant by talking us through a handwritten flowchart of her sexual “journey”: Jake —> Bachelor Pad 1 —> Wes —> whatever the female version of “cuckolded” is when Wes cheats on her with Vienna —> lifelong rivalry with Vienna. “It’s all about Vienna, how Vienna can be famous,” Gia sniffs. “That’s all she cares about.” Says the woman going on her third reality show in less than two years. Of course she’s followed in the lineup by…
Vienna! And her new nose! She is “competitive,” “awesome.” She’s living in Hollywood, and hopefully not pursuing a career in acting, because her line reading of the following is completely unconvincing: “I have heard rumors that there’s a possibility that Jake may be on Bachelor Pad.” [dramatic, over-exaggerated swallow of fear] “I’ll probably want to sleep with my eyes wide open.” Good thing she’s dating…
Kasey, a.k.a. the “guard and protect your heart” guy from Ali’s season. Team Bachelor Pad seems to think we forgot about the infamous tattoo on his wrist, because it practically gets more screen time during his welcome package than he does. (There it is hovering by Vienna’s head! There it is getting some sun on the deck!) Now he’s “head over heels” for Vienna, but he’s worried she doesn’t quite love him as much as he loves her. Still, he and his 30 pounds of newly gained muscle are prepared to protect Vienna from her angry ex. “He’s a piece of sh–,” he sneers. “I’m going to go take a Jake and wipe my Pavelka. That’s what I think of him.” Sounds like he’s about to step right into the danger zone with…
NEXT: Grab a cocktail… it’s going to be a long night.
Jake the pilot. We all know what went down here, but now Jake would have us believe that he’s a victim. “I was completely devastated by Vienna and my’s breakup,” he says. (That’s not really English, but okay.) And hey, sure he got mad during their bordering-on-violent breakup interview, but that’s just because his “heart was being crushed.” You know, the way he wanted to crush Vienna’s windpipe under the heel of his boot — that kind of crushed.
Erica the “princess” from “Prince” Lorenzo’s season is next. Her chief personality trait is wearing a tiara and sounding perpetually sleepy/drunk/hungover from too much Vicodin. Though she has a trust fund, she wants to win the $250K so she can be financially independent from her parents. Will do whatever it takes to win. “There’s not a lot of things that I wouldn’t do outside of compromising my morals,” she drones, “but my morals aren’t really that strict, so that’s okay.”
Graham from Deanna’s season, which I will admit to you I didn’t watch very regularly. Did people like him? He sponsored a fresh water well in Cambodia, so he can’t be all bad, I guess. Claims he wants to win the money for childrens’ charities. Do we believe him?
Ella the cougar from Jake’s season got dumped on a dreaded two-on-one date. She’s a single mom who wants to win the money so she can upgrade from a two-bedroom apartment to a house. Just in case we doubt the veracity of her claim, Team Bachelor Pad shows Ella pausing to stare wistfully at a cute little white house in her neighborhood. What’s that? You need more reason to root for her? How about this: “My mother was murdered in front of my sister and myself by my sister’s dad, my stepdad,” explains Ella. “He shot her with a sawed-off shotgun.” Okay, okay! I hope she wins! Just make it stop! Let’s move on to…
Holly, who I will heretofore refer to as The Evil One because she broke the heart of my favorite contestant of all time, Mike Stagliano from Jillian’s season. He and Holly were engaged for “a few months” until she “freaked out” and called off the engagement due to her commitment issues. Though they reconciled briefly, Stag pulled the plug on their relationship. What will happen when they see each other again? Let’s ask…
Michael, who says it’ll be “kind of awkward and hard.” The breakup was “too big a hurt to bounce back from,” and Stag doesn’t see a chance for he and Holly to find love again in the Bachelor Pad. Stay strong, little buddy!
And with that, we’re ready to head to the Pad, where Harrison is stationed in the driveway in his standard-issue First Night Suit and Tie, waiting to greet the limos. One by one, the contestants arrive: Michelle; Blake (from Ashley’s season of The Bachelorette); Holly (who seems to have turned a feather duster into a miniskirt, and is awed by Blake’s use of the word “dysfunctional”); Graham; Justin; Erica (whom Blake dismisses as “thick” — stay classy, pinhead!); Vienna (who wastes no time campaigning against Jake to anyone who will listen); Ames (also from Ashley’s season); Gia (who wastes no time defending Jake and sharing the wisdom she accrued from her first go-round at the Pad); Kasey; Jackie; Alli and Melissa (both from Brad’s season of The Bachelor); the Stag, who makes a beeline for The Evil One and then proceeds to stand next to her in awkward silence; Ella; Kirk (no idea, seriously); William (the doofus roastmaster from Ashley’s season); and, of course, Jake.
NEXT: “It’s a sex challenge!”
The pilot plunges headlong into the crowd and begins gladhanding his fellow contestants like a politician on two hours’ sleep and a steady diet of Red Bull. When a red-faced Kasey introduces himself, Jake’s fake smile and excessive enthusiasm almost cause his face to crack: “Kasey — hey, yeah! I know who you are! Terrific!” That’s one word for it, pal. He eventually makes his way out to the backyard, where Vienna is cowering in fear next to the outdoor sofas. He greets her with a short, apologetic, “Hey, how are you?” and though her response is barely audible, he keeps trying. “Good, good to see you. You look… you look nice.” As Ali, Blake, and Holly look on with silent glee, Kasey and Jake proceed to have the world’s most awkward conversation about Southern California weather ever in recorded history.
It’s almost enough to make me feel bad for Jake, but in an effort to rehabilitate his public image, the pilot keeps hitting the I’m-the-victim note just a bit too hard. “Kasey thinks he wants to get in a fight with me,” says Jake. “And I’m scared for my safety.” As a gesture of good will, Jake pulls Kasey aside for an air-clearing chat in the backyard. “I, uh, just wanted to like, you know you guys really seem to make each other happy,” he sputters. “I just wanted to tell you that I think that’s really awesome.” Kasey tries to accept this peace offering, but he can’t quite forget some of the things Vienna has told him about Jake — even though he appears to doubt that some of those things actually happened. “Whether they were true or not, they’ve still been said to me,” he explains. And with that, they part on civil, agree-to-disagree terms.
Clink clink clink! Harrison and his butter knife greet the gang in the living room to explain the rules — guys vote the girls off, and vice versa. The first challenge is a couples’ game, so the contestants are advised to “choose wisely.” Not sure that’s even possible in this house? While some of the pairs are obvious (Vienna and Kasey, Holly and Stag), others are born of necessity and impaired judgment. “Last night I had a few cocktails,” confesses Kirk. “And you wanna know what happens when maybe one too many? Erica becomes your partner.” Meanwhile, Ames — who seemed almost classy on The Bachelorette — is rebounding hard with Jackie on the outdoor loveseat. Notes Graham wryly, “He’s making an alliance.” But Ames and Jackie decide not to pair up with each other for the day’s competition, because “power couples” are always targeted. Thus, he joins forces with Michelle and Jackie teams up with Jake. If the competition is about who can become emotionally unhinged the fastest, both of them should do quite well.
Instead, the competition looks like it’s on the set of a porn film starring Cirque du Soleil: A metal catwalk-like structure holding nine harnesses, which are hanging over nine double beds, awaits the contestants in the driveway. (I love that already, in episode 1, ABC has spent more on this challenge than they did for the entire first season of Bachelor Pad.) For the challenge, dubbed “Hook up,” the men get strapped into harnesses, the women grab hold of their partners, and then the duos are raised 10 feet off the ground. Whichever team can hold on the longest without dropping wins two roses and a romantic date away from the house. “Believe me,” intones Harrison, “that is where you want to be.” But before any of them can find sweet escape, the be-harnessed men must mount the women awkwardly on the makeshift beds (“What if somebody here gets an erection?” wonders William in his out loud voice) and lock into position.
NEXT: Jake makes a little girl cry
And they’re off! Who will be the first to drop? Little Billy’s triceps aren’t developed enough to support Gia and her hefty cleavage, and they’re the first couple out. Holly gives up next (“I would rather be drinking!” she hoots), with Alli and Graham following suit. They drop like sweaty, insecure flies — Melissa and Blake, Erica and Kirk, Ames and Michelle, Ella and Justin — until it’s down to just Jake and Jackie versus Kasey and Vienna. One of Jake’s legs is starting to turn purple (“I’m scared for my safety!” he says again), and even though Vienna urges her man to hold on (“We can’t let him get immunity!” she hisses, apparently confusing Bachelor Pad with Survivor), ultimately Mr. Guard and Protect Your Heart becomes Mr. Drop You 10 Feet onto a Cheap Mattress.
So while Jake and Jackie collect their roses, Vienna — who stormed off to the hot tub the second the competition ended — begins verbally emasculating her man. “I kinda expected a little bit more from you,” she whines. Kasey tries to reason with her. “They beat everybody else and deserved to win,” he says, keeping his steely gaze on the horizon. “Don’t rub it in my face.” The fight follows them out of the hot tub and into the backyard later that day, where Kasey accuses Vienna of not having her head “in the game,” which prompts Vienna to insist that her weaknesses are all his fault. “What I need is for you to be comforting and not be mean to me,” she whimpers. Her puppy-dog eyes wear him down, and soon they’re canoodling on the couch.
It’s a good thing they’ve mended fences, at least temporarily, because the super-couple has a lot of campaigning to do if they want to stay in the house. Kasey and Vienna first convene with Michelle and Blake, and the “core four” then reaches out their tentacles to ensare Holly and Stag, and Erica and Kurt. But who will be the fifth guy who can give Team Ka-Vie a majority? Stag, bless his heart, suggests Rated R — a.k.a. the guy who calls Kasey his “sworn enemy.” While Justin agrees to keep Kasey safe, he confesses to the camera that he’s going to “do what I do best and mess with people’s minds.” This involves tattling to Alli that Graham plans to “work on her” to get her vote… a juicy bit of gossip that Alli promptly tattles to the Core Four. Is anyone following this? If Michelle, Graham, Holly, Stag, Erica, Kurt, and Alli are on one side, that must mean Gia, Jake, Jackie, Ames, Ella, Melissa, Blake, and William are on the other? Am I missing someone? Probably, but it’s making my head hurt so I’m going to stop using it and just watch.
While all of this strategery is going on, Jake and Jackie are off to enjoy their date on Hollywood Boulevard. Before they can get to dinner, though, the former Bachelor is approached on the street by a tearful little girl who can’t believe she’s meeting her TV idol. I’m not sure what’s sadder — that she was so starstruck by Jake, of all people, or that she confesses that her “dream” is to be on TV. Aim higher, sweetie!
NEXT: “The biggest mistake in Bachelor Pad history”
At dinner, Jake fills Jackie in on his side of the Worst Breakup Ever, which essentially boils down to I loved her, she sold me out to Star magazine, my heart was crushed. Jackie buys it, concluding that Jake’s aforementioned heart is in the right place. Vienna’s ears must be burning, because back at the Pad she is railing against Jake to the cameras “Everything he does is for show,” she fumes. “The only way to really see the real Jake is to put a fly in the house alone with him. [sleepy-eyed pause] And glue, like, a little tiny video camera on the mouse… the fly.” (Oh, Team Bachelor Pad, don’t you know that friends don’t let friends film confessionals drunk?)
The next day, Jake and Jackie still haven’t figured out who should get the bonus rose, which they earned by winning the “Hook up” challenge. Jackie briefly flirted with the idea of giving Vienna the rose as a “peace offering” from Jake, but that exceptionally stupid idea never got any traction… Oh wait, he’s actually considering it! “That’s a dumb, dumb move,” marvels Justin. “That would be the biggest mistake in Bachelor Pad history.” And what a long and storied history it is! But the temptation of public redemption is a great one for Jake, even in the face of this particularly articulate argument from Gia: “You’re trying to kill the enemy. You don’t put the enemy in a bomb shelter when you’re going to bomb them.”
To everyone’s surprise, Jake does give the rose to Vienna, with the caveat that he wants to talk to her and Kasey in private. (Gia cries and cries and cries. It’s bad enough to have a guy choose Vienna over you once in your life — but twice? That’s harsh.) Once they’re alone, Jake apologizes to Vienna for raising his voice to her on TV. “I’m very sorry that I told you to quit interrupting me,” he says. “I was wrong, and I’m sorry.” All this time, Vienna watches sadly as her main weapon in the house — oh, everybody, please protect me from Big Bad Jake! —disintegrates before her very eyes. You’ve gotta give it to Jake: Whether he’s an actual human being with true feelings of regret or a sociopathic man-machine bent on image rehabilitation and fame, giving Vienna the rose was a brilliant move. Getting played like a second-hand violin puts Vienna in the mood. “I’m going to marry you,” she whispers to Kasey in the hallway. “And I’m gonna have your babies.” Perhaps nine months from this very moment, in fact: The duo scurries off to a private room where Vienna strips off her clothes, dons a black bar, and climbs into bed with Kasey. What we witness next can best be described by a line from Steel Magnolias: “Looks like two pigs fightin’ under a blanket.” File under: Things I Didn’t Need to See.
Wow, is this episode really still going on? Apparently so. Gia still needs to Jedi mind trick Kasey into forming an alliance with her, which she does with a gentle threat: “My team against your team, if that’s how you want to play. You’ll see how it ends up.” Uncle! When the voting begins, it seems that Alli has the proverbial target on her back, because she’s guilty of playing both sides — and, probably, of not being hot enough to keep the guys’ attention. But Vienna’s allies are voting to send Gia home — so will Kasey keep his word? He wants to do the right thing, but his girlfriend isn’t having it. “Your level of integrity isn’t with her right now,” says Vienna. “Your integrity is with your friends, your girlfriend, and people you trust.”
NEXT: I can’t believe I wrote six pages on Bachelor Pad
On the guys’ side, Justin is in the crosshairs — much to his chagrin. “I haven’t even swam in the pool yet,” he whines. But Blake is starting a stealth campaign to get Kasey off the island, or out of the Pad, or whatever. Can they lobby the votes in time? Seeing as it seems like this cocktail party has been going on for 14 hours and shows no signs of stopping, they probably can. As with everything in this game, all roads lead to Gia… will she stab Kasey in his newly-muscular back? Only Harrison knows for sure!
The rose ceremony inches along at a glacial pace, with challenge winners Jackie and Jake handing out the buds. Ames, Erica, Blake, Holly, William, Michelle, Kirk, Ella, Stag, Melissa, Graham, Kasey, and Gia all step forward to collect their flowers, which means Alli and Rated R are getting the first rides home in the Reject Limo. So does this mean Kasey actually went against Vienna’s wishes? I think so, but my IQ drops about 15 points during this show so I can’t quite figure out the math. Either way, Justin does not handle it well; he refuses to shake hands with the guys and defiantly plucks the rose from Jake’s lapel before making his exit. “I’m walking out of here with a rose one way or another,” he huffs. Alli’s exit is a lot quieter — in fact, I don’t know that anyone notices her leave. “I’m walking away without the love or the money,” she sighs, before dissolving into tears.
And with that, our “journey” has begun! Did you make it through all three hours? Who do you want to “win”? Were Gia’s pink-and-silver sneakers the ugliest footwear you’ve ever seen? And how many times will Team Bachelor keep making jokes about the Masked Man? I think it’s time to let go, guys. Now strap on your harness and let’s talk Bachelor Pad!
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