The Bachelor
4. Season 5 (Jesse Palmer)

Is it just me, or were the home visits surprisingly tame this season, even with Shayne’s mother’s lipliner and Amanda’s faux parents’ R-rated performance? That must have been why Chris Harrison’s opening voice-over was already plugging “the most romantic season finale ever!” If you play it backwards, you hear, “We know this episode is boring, but you’ve stuck it out this long, so we also know that you’ll be back.” True. You got me. Let’s break this snoozefest down date-by-date:

Shayne: First of all, every time Matt says something — like meeting Shayne’s famous father, Lorenzo Lamas (pictured) — is “massive,” I wish he had said “major.” But moving on… Matt met Shayne and her father, whom he correctly identified as “a bit of a star,” at a restaurant. Seriously disappointing. Was Lorenzo afraid we’d hunt him down if we saw his home? (Oh, you surprisingly handsome, delusional man.) Shayne was nervous because she had once introduced a guy to her father, and the dude admitted that he’d met Shayne at a bar in a club. Why would this be at all shocking to Lorenzo? (Unless, maybe Shayne was underage at the time, and producers edited that part of the story out?) Anyway, I thought Lorenzo was actually a thoughtful, decent dad. He told the camera that he’d been married at 21, and didn’t want Shayne to rush in to anything. So, he set her up: He told Matt that he thought she was on the show for the exposure, that “She wants to be a good actress, but she wants to be a star more. This was her opportunity to be on television, right? I mean, come on.” Lorenzo wanted to give Shayne an out, or, hear her say that she was on the show for Matt — which she did. Lorenzo’s conversation with Matt — about wanting him to be careful with Shayne’s emotions, which he himself had toyed with by not being in her life as much as he should’ve been — wasn’t patronizing; it was sweet.

Next came the visit to Shayne’s mother’s house, which Matt also correctly identified as having leopard everywhere. “I was kinda digging it,” he said. And shockingly, so was I. Yes, it’d be easy to take shots at Shayne’s mom for being a walking L.A. stereotype, but the fact is, you could feel her warmth, and that of her home. Serving Matt English food, showing him a video of Shayne dancing when she was younger, asking him how he’d feel watching Shayne kiss a costar — she was real. By the end of the date, Matt admitted that he had no more doubts about the Cuddle Master’s motives for being on the show. We’ll see if he sticks to that story…

After the jump, Chelsea, Noelle, and Amanda get their equal time.

Chelsea: My gut tells me that Matt is Chelsea’s to lose — and that, unfortunately, they might not end up together. She took him home to meet her parents in Durango, Colo. She told the camera that she doesn’t wear her emotions on her sleeve FOR ANYONE. (I thought it was just for people asking her to do so in front of millions of viewers…) That’s going to be a problem, because we know Matt likes affection. I absolutely adored Chelsea’s father, Kerry. Like my own dad, you 100-percent believe him when he says he just wants his daughter to be happy. He could tell Matt made Chelsea feel that way, so he actually encouraged her to open up to the man. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” he reminded her. Saying goodbye, Chelsea kissed Matt and told him that she wanted him to miss her while he was on his other dates. Judging by the outtake that showed how much fun he was having carrying her down the street wearing Old West cowboy and prostitute costumes, I think he just might. You never know what footage the editors aren’t showing us, but I feel like he and Chelsea are the most comfortable around each other. That they seem to be able to make the situation real, even though there are cameras around. We know he wants someone athletic, who makes him laugh, and who can be his best friend. If she can get over her hand-holding phobia, it could be her. He already calls her “sweetie.” Ahhh.

Amanda: If the physical connection doesn’t continue to blossom with Chelsea, then my gut says Amanda gets that finale proposal. (My gut still thinks Shayne is too young for Matt.) We didn’t get to see much Amanda-Matt interaction in Tallahassee, and I hope that doesn’t come back to bite her. Most of Matt’s time was spent with the two actors she’d hired to play a prank on him (and, I suspect, because her real parents, who were shown for approximately two seconds sitting down to dinner, were too shy to be filmed for that long). Matt said he really had been fooled, but for a moment there, maybe around the time that Fake Mom rubbed the “good boy”‘s nipple through his shirt, I thought he was on to it. I kinda wish we’d have seen Amanda ask Matt if her “mother” had hit on him, just so we could have seen how he handled the situation with her. Regardless, Amanda was right: Matt trying to bond with her fake parents, even while they bombarded him with inappropriate questions and caresses, was endearing. (And a sign that he must really like her.)

Noelle: We all knew Noelle would be the one not getting a rose this week, but at least she made Matt’s trip to Loveland, Colorado memorable. How long were they riding the world’s slowest horses for? (Not that I have anything against slow horses. I still remember Daisy, the horse I took lessons on when I was in elementary school. It was a sad, scary day when my instructor tried to put me on Tristan, who you can tell by his name was trouble.) I don’t know about you, but I tend to tense up anytime the word “conservative” is thrown around on a reality show. But Noelle’s dad, Larry, was lovely. The questions he was asking Matt over a game of horseshoes — i.e. what kind of person goes on this show? — were totally legit and non-confrontational. He, too, just wants his daughter to be happy, and told her to express her feelings. I appreciated Matt’s honesty with Noelle’s family members when they asked if he was on the verge of falling in love with multiple women (yes), but would’ve advised against his joke about being “flexible” with where he lives after the show: “I can get my legs over my head as well.” (Do I have a dirty mind?) Matt told Noelle that he had to work harder to connect with her, and we all saw that. Yes, they finally got to the cuddling state, but she used it as a moment to tell Matt that he had all the characteristics that she didn’t. She meant that they completed each other (oh, I wrote that), but it made me think that they have nothing in common other than being nice.

So, which coupling are you rooting for now? Which lady was Matt thinking of when he smiled after Noelle’s father said he’d married his best friend? (And was that best friend his second wife? I was confused.) And do you think Chelsea (my vote!) will manage to kill the romantic mood next week in Barbados?

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