A sexy swimsuit shoot brings out insecurities and tears galore for Chantal and the other "ladies."
4. Season 5 (Jesse Palmer)

Ahoy, rose lovers! I hope you’ve had an amazing, amazing week. Also, I hope you’ve got your rain gear at the ready, because Hurricane Bachelor is still raging. Tonight, it continues its destructive path through the world’s most beautiful resort destinations by hitting Anguilla, where it leaves a trail of tears and doffed bikini tops in its wake.

The “ladies” arrive, do the requisite oohing and ahhing over their fancy resort digs, and then cuddle up on an outdoor couch to hear the romance rundown for the week from Harrison — who’s in yet another blue shirt, this one a fetchingly crumpled linen number. Here’s the deal: Three one-on-one dates (no roses) and one “pretty amazing” group date. (Hey, if it doesn’t involve bats, it sounds good to me.) Harrison drops off the date card, which reveals that Emily will be going on the first one-on-one date. And boy, does she have a lot of work to do, because the Bachelor is nursing a raging inferiority complex: “In a lot of ways, I feel like I don’t deserve to be with this woman,” Brad confesses. (Can’t blame him — it is hard to live up to a ghost.)

The date begins with — what else? — a helicopter ride, which takes Emily and Brad to a private strip of sand in the middle of the ocean, where they are totally alone except for the camera operator who, one hopes, has a powerful zoom lens. Over the course of the picnic lunch, Brad gets redder and redder, both from sunburn and his bad case of nerves around Tragic Single Mom. After some desultory chatter about their mutual fear of “opening up,” Brad and Emily begin making out, proving that they have no fear of “opening up” their mouths. Night falls, and the duo arrives at their seaside dinner, where Tragic Single Mom has barely had a sip of wine before Brad asks if she’d let him meet her daughter, should she be lucky enough to score a hometown date. Her response? A “deep sigh,” one that Emily explains thusly: “I am overprotective and I’ve really never introduced her to anybody that I’ve dated.”

Emily, God bless her, knows that it puts her at a disadvantage with the other “ladies,” but that’s not enough to make her change her mind. This makes me love her. I will put aside the fact that she went on the show in the first place and simply celebrate Emily as perhaps the most non-insane woman ever to compete for a rose on this storied reality TV franchise. (And now that I have thrown my allegiance behind this poor woman, I know one thing for certain: Her “journey” will not end well.) Persistence, thy name is Brad! Rather than succumbing to frustration and shunting Emily aside for an easier woman, he does something unprecedented in the Bachelor universe: He gives Emily a major spoiler. “I’ll tell you right now, and I shouldn’t tell you… The next rose ceremony, I’m giving you a rose… We’re going to your hometown, period.” Brad hopes this heads up will give Emily enough time to make all the “mommy’s bringing home a stranger and a pack of TV cameras” phone calls she needs to in the coming week.

NEXT: Britt gets her (very brief) momentThere’s no helicopter or vulgar shopping spree for Shawntel’s second one-on-one date — instead, there are bikes, giant coconuts, dominoes, and a picturesque farmers’ market. While Brad and Shawntel browse, a local woman named Auntie B. dispenses some all-too-convenient advice about making sure their families know when they decide to get married (I hope she didn’t get paid in coconuts), and then Brad and Shawntel relax on a lawn that may or may not be littered with goat poop. In that romantic setting, the funeral director tells the Bachelor that she’s falling in love with him. (For those of you keeping score, now both Chantal and Shawntel have used the L-word with Brad.) The revelation loosens Brad’s tongue as well, and he begins to regale Shawntel — who is very close to her dad — with tales of his absentee father. “I don’t talk about these things with my brothers,” he marvels. Someone’s wife material! The night ends with a concert by Anguillan singer Bankie Banx, who I like to believe refused to give a private concert to the Bachelor and his date and insisted that some other tourists and locals be invited, too. To repay Mr. Banx’s kindess, Shawntel and Brad walk out of the concert, strip off their clothes, and make out in the surf.

Knock knock! Back at the “Ladies” Lounge, a kind of feeble imitation of the Accent Table of Doom is at the door. Will it finally bring a one-on-one date to poor Britt? (I would have been dying to know the answer to this question had the “tonight on The Bachelor” previews not shown Britt at dinner alone with Brad.) Anyhoo, the next day the Bachelor arrives and leads Britt — who I am just noticing is borderline anorexic-looking — to a yacht. Not for nothing, folks, but I’ve got to admit that I kind of agree with Michelle’s assessment that this fancy high seas date seems wasted on the blandly sweet food writer who has zero discernable chemistry with Brad. “Not only do I not see them getting married,” gripes Michelle, “I don’t know if I even see them friending each other on Facebook.”

After encouraging Britt to conquer her fear of bashing her skull open on a large rock with a cliff-jumping exercise, Brad tries to tease a little personality out of his blonde companion (talk about the blind leading the blind!), but the day ends with the chemistry meter on negative zero. Will sparks fly at dinner? Britt must think so, because she wears a satin nightie to the table. Unfortunately, the only feeling she elicits from Brad is pure awkwardness. “I think enough of you to tell you right now,” stumbles Brad, “I don’t see a future with you tonight.” Britt asks for more time — what else can she do? — but Brad is brutally honest, saying he doesn’t want to string her along, because he did that on the show once before and was “crucified” for it. And with that, he deposits Britt on a dinghy and sends her off into the night, where she’s unceremoniously dumped on the resort beach and forced to make the walk of shame back to the hotel. While most date-dumped women are spared the humiliation of facing the other “ladies” after the Bachelor gives them the boot, poor Britt must endure a shrill welcoming chorus of fakeness from the other bachelorettes before she reveals, “Actually, I’m packing.” Ouch! Unnecessary roughness, Team Bachelor.

NEXT: Boobs, bawling, and a silent goodbyeThat said, I’d take a dumping by dinghy over a 2:07 a.m. wake up call, which is precisely what Ashley, Michelle and Chantal get from Brad the next morning. Why? Because they’re doing a photo shoot for Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue, of course! While Chantal feels like a “fat lard” and is in no way excited to show some skin for SI, Ashley is more than willing to strut her stuff, going so far as to pose topless (with some conch shells protecting her modesty, of course). Ultimately, Chantal loses her top too, but the real boundary-pusher is Michelle, who pins Brad to the beach and assaults him with her lips and talons. Miraculously, Brad realizes that this probably isn’t kosher with the other women. “Today’s group date is not going well,” muses Captain Obvious. “I think kissing Michelle went a little too far… Something is telling me this day is going to get worse, not better.”

It is, Brad. For one thing, the only cocktails available at the pool are some foamy green concoctions that look like something the Sea Hag from Popeye would serve at a dinner party. For another, none of the women are going to let you off easy — Ashley plays it cool and nonchalant telling the Bachelor that she’ll be ok if things don’t work out, Chantal whines about how his body language “sucks,” and Michelle… well, let’s let Brad explain, shall we? “I think our conversations are always deep,” he tells Mistress Mole Hair. “I’m scared we’re a little too much alike.” (Really? So you’re a lunatic fame-seeker with stalker tendencies too?) In other words, Brad is concerned that with his temper and her mental instability, theirs would be less a relationship and more a special episode of COPS. But the real drama comes when Brad takes the date rose from the table in front of Chantal and Michelle — “Now for the most awkward moment of the date,” he jokes lamely — and brings it to Ashley. Oh, look — Chantal’s bawling! That never happens. “If you can’t choose me over one out of three girls, then send me home,” Chantal sobs angrily, before stomping off and leaving Brad alone by the pool. For the love of God, man, do what she says — and the sooner the better.

Oh, thank the Lord — it’s Harrison! How we’ve missed you, buddy. Brad tells our fearless host that he wants to skip the cocktail party and go right to the rose ceremony, so Harrison marches over to the “ladies” to drop the bomb. Brad, meanwhile, stares at a table littered with sand, shells, and photos of the remaining women, waiting for his harem to arrive. When they do, Brad looks like he’d rather be facing a firing squad than the assemblage of estrogen before him. I have to say, I had no real clue who was going to get sent home, so I was ill prepared for the joyous outcome: MICHELLE HAS BEEN DEFEATED! MISTRESS MOLE HAIR’S REIGN OF TERROR IS OVER! The only bummer is that she refuses to let us witness the nuclear meltdown that is no doubt brewing inside of her; she ices Brad out with a curt goodbye and lies down in the back seat of the Reject Limo and stares straight ahead, denying Team Bachelor the hysterics they crave so badly. That’s our girl — spiteful to the end. (Though as a wannabe actress, Michelle really missed an opportunity here. Did she learn nothing from evil Wes and his spectacular drunken Reject Limo flame-out? Now that was a memorable exit.)

Well, rose-lovers, was it good for you too? How did you celebrate Michelle’s departure? I’m ready for those hometown dates — especially the one where Shawntel puts Brad on the slab like a corpse — and frankly I think even more of Emily and her parenting skills after seeing the preview where her daughter rejects Brad. Final four, folks — who’s going to take it all home? Be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s thoughts on the situation in his exclusive blog on PopWatch. Now, jump off that giant rock and let’s talk Bachelor!

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