The "ladies" embrace their musical sides -- from K-Pop to opera -- on a trip to South Korea, while a rivalry brews between Nikki and Clare

By Kristen Baldwin
March 13, 2015 at 07:47 PM EDT
Christopher Jue/ABC
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Hello again, rose lovers! Did you, like me, get a little teary watching Juan Pablo cuddle with Camila before setting off on his international “adventure” to find una esposa? I think it was her sad little voice reciting all the ways she’ll stay in touch with daddy while he’s gone — “In the skyyyype, on the compuuuter” — that got to me. But maybe that’s because I’m on a trip away from my family right now too. (Damn you, Team Bachelor — why must your travelogue-like formula hit so close to home?)

Anyhow, a little separation anxiety is the price Juan Pablo has to pay for finding love. “It’s good to focus on myself,” says Juan Pablo to the camera crew who has been focusing on his every action for weeks. “I can’t wait to start.” As for you, “ladies,” Harrison has some news: “It is time to pack your bags,” he says. “You’ll be meeting Juan Pablo in the beautiful city of Seoul, South Korea.” It’s possible Harrison said something after that but the lambs were screaming so loudly my eardrums were temporarily paralyzed by the trauma.

Once the whole gang has arrived in the latest Perfect Place to Fall in LoveTM,  the “ladies” stampede into their hotel suite screaming and hollering, but it all goes quiet when someone notices the date card on the coffee table. Much to Nikki’s displeasure, it’s a group date, and she’s on it — this time with Chelsie, Cassandra, Elise, Danielle, and Kat. “This blows,” she gripes. “I’m halfway around the world and I’m going to be spending the day tomorrow with five other girls who are quite annoying.” Man, Nurse Nikki, I hope you don’t unleash that bitchside manner on your tiny patients.

For the date, Juan Pabs has arranged a trip to YG Entertainment, the top K-Pop studio in the business. Even though just one day ago Harrison told the “ladies” they were headed to “the home of K-Pop and Gangnam Style,” none of them can figure out what on earth the date card — which read, simply, “POP!” — could mean. “Hmmm… popcorn?” muses Cassandra, while someone else (Kat?) guesses “bubble blowing contest.” No, silly billies — you’re going to be dancing with one of the biggest K-Pop bands in the world, 2NE1! Naturally Kat is thrilled (“I’m a dancer — I’ve been doing it since before I could walk,” she boasts), and naturally Nikki is annoyed. “This is the worst possible date I could ever be on,” she sighs. But even though Nikki kind of wants to “pout and throw a giant fit,” she pretends to be a good sport and busts out some busted dance moves like “the sprinkler” and “that thing where you wrench your knee back and forth while hopping on one leg.”

Her attitude continues to darken, though, once the women start learning the choreography — or, more accurately, once Kat starts schooling them all on the routine. “If there was a sign that said, ‘I am the best at this!’ I’m sure she would put it on her forehead,” snipes Nikki, who nevertheless maintains her outside face (little girl who’s just been offered a pony ride) and hides her inside face (mean girl who’s just learned Kalteen bars actually cause weight gain). Things are about to get worse, Nikki: 2NE1 wants you to perform during their concert tonight! “I kind of want to crap my pants,” she admits. “I am just hoping that we’re performing for the South Korean School for the Blind.” Good one, blondie!

NEXT: “Uuugh. Yuck.”Unfortunately for Nikki, none of the hundreds of Korean teens packing the multi-story mall for this concert appear to be visually impaired. The edits during the performance are so quick it’s hard to tell if any of the “ladies” — or Juan Pablo himself, who’s also dancing — are truly embarrassing themselves, but it’s clear none of them are really following any of the predetermined dance moves. Mostly they just bounce up and down in groups, with Kat breaking free to undulate in her own imaginary spotlight. Lest she seem like too much of the party girl, though, Kat hastens to grab Juan Pabs during the post-show cocktails and tell him that she’s “more than just, like, fun and games.” In fact, Kat continues, her drive to become a “strong, successful, independent” woman stems from a tough upbringing: Her alcoholic dad left when she was five years old and essentially abandoned the family — leaving her “awesome” mom to hold things together.

Oh dear, Nikki, you’re probably gonna feel really awkward about this scene when you watch it back — seeing as while Kat’s over there opening upTM to Juan Pablo, you’re back with the other “ladies” accusing Kat of playing to the cameras and mocking her for being “so on all the time.” All of Nikki’s trash-talking makes the other women uncomfortable… for Camila’s sake, of course. “In this setting it’s easy to become catty,” says Danielle, in what may be her first full sentence of the season. “Nikki has done that and I don’t feel like that’s necessarily a good role model for Camila.” Elise, meanwhile, tells Juan Pablo that he has to make sure he doesn’t choose one of the “girls who aren’t going to be, like, a good mother.” (In unrelated news, Elise once starred in something called Yule Log Hotties.) Once Nikki gets her one-on-one time with the Bachelor, though, she’s all sweetly shy and earnest about how “hard” the situation is for her since she wants something “real” — oh, and did she mention that she works with kids every day and is a great diaper changer?  And he LOVES it. Nikki gets the date rose! As for the other “ladies,” I think Elise sums up their feelings the best: “Uuugh. Yuck.”

On that note, it’s time for Sharleen’s one-on-one. Granted, she looks as excited about the date as normal people are about waiting in line to buy stamps. “I don’t know if he’s the one for me,” she admits. At least Juan Pablo is really looking forward to their time together. “She’s my favorite one right now,” he tells Team Bachelor. “Today’s going to be a good day.” The duo stroll through a Korean market, first shopping for souvenirs (a traditional Korean dress for Camila) and then eating exotic foods (no idea what they are, but they all come with their own exaggerated crunch sound effects). Over tea, Sharleen continues to condescend to Juan Pablo – but it’s really more in the way she says things to him rather than what she says. “You’ve got a bit of a smart-ass side to you, but I mean that in a good way. It makes you interesting and not bland,” she remarks coolly, without the tiniest hint of a smile. When Juan Pablo asks her what she means, Sharleen explains the definition of “bland” with the bored expression of an underpaid SAT tutor. That said, when Team Bachelor‘s confessional cameras come calling, Sharleen praises Juan Pablo for being “more fun than I expected.” (Damned with faint praise yet again!)

NEXT: No smooch for you!Before dinner at the Korea House, Juan Pablo leads Sharleen out into an empty courtyard and asks her to sing for him. She’s all like What? Oh, I could never…! and I have to feel comfortable with someone before I can share that side of me! and so on and so on… Toots, you’re not fooling anyone. You can barely act as though you even like this guy — don’t bother pretending that your goal when signing up for this nationally televised dating show was not to get more exposure for your career. (I mean, everyone knows opera scouts watch The Bachelor.) Anyhow, she “reluctantly” unleashes a few runs, and after the notes finish echoing off of the stones, Sharleen slinks over to Juan Pablo, grabs his bottom lip, and pulls him in for a kiss. And he LOVES it.

By the time they sit down to dinner, Sharleen says her “skepticism is fading rapidly.” After all, they both know how alienating it can be to live somewhere other than their home country, and they both want at least two more kids. Right, Sharleen? Sharleen? That silence you hear is the opera singer trying to decide whether to tell Juan Pablo that she might not want to spawn at all. “Kids, for me, is something that I never even thought about,” she begins, hesitantly. “I have dated someone who had a daughter… I was not ready for that.” And to Sharleen’s credit, she admits that the idea of being with someone whose first love is and always will be his daughter — well, she no likey. Oh my Lord in heaven Juan Pablo if you give her the rose after that I am going to come through that TV screen right now and smack your stubble-covered face! Welp, looks like I’m going to South Korea, folks: The Bachelor says he appreciates Sharleen’s “honesty,” and she gets the rose.

Okay, Andi, Alli, Kelly, Clare, Lauren and Renee — you’re up! Your “krazy” group date with Juan Pablo will feature a whirlwind of wackiness, from karaoke to street food to photo booth silliness to paddle boat races to… fish pedicures! Speaking of distasteful activities involving sea creatures, as soon as Clingy Clare tells Juan Pablo that she doesn’t want to try octopus, that impish Bachelor leads them directly to a stand that sells toothpick-sized chunks ‘o’ tentacles. All of the other “ladies” down their octopus with no problems, but Clare can’t help but make a big show of how she’s too scared to try it. After lots of cutesy fussing, she finally chokes it down, and Kelly manifests her annoyance with this three-snap-worthy dig: I know you’ve swallowed bigger things than that.”

At drinks that night, Renee — who is quickly proving she’s the most normal, grounded woman on the show — decides it’s time for her to make a move and give Juan Pablo a smooch. “He’s so handsome and adorable,” she reasons. “And he smells so good!” But her moves leave a little something to be desired. Note to women trying to land a single dad: Do not provide a single dad with the mental image of his child watching him kiss you before you try to kiss him. Sure enough, as soon as Renee brings up Camila’s name, Juan Pablo starts doing some mental math: “I’ve kissed six girls already and I don’t want my daughter seeing her dad kissing 20 girls, so I’m going to take a step back and I’m going to try not to kiss anybody tonight.” Nice work, Renee! Now you’ve ruined it for everyone!

NEXT: Clare has sexy teethDespite the moratorium on kissing, Andi manages to make her one-on-one time entertaining by teasing Juan Pablo about his dancing skillz (or lack thereof): “Look, I didn’t see some great moves from you today,” she tells him after the Bachelor playfully calls her a “terrible” dancer. “Escuse me? Escuse me?” he replies with mock indignation… but he’s loving it. “My sense of humor is hard to get,” he tells Team Bachelor. “Andi gets it.” You know who doesn’t get it? Lauren. She pulls Juan Pabs aside for a private dance, but it’s really just an excuse for her to wrap her arms around his neck and attempt to mash her lips on his. Despite her efforts, though, the Bachelor leans away and tells Lauren that he must remain chaste tonight for his daughter’s sake. The only problem? Lauren knows that Juan Pabs’ tongue has visited many mouths in the last few weeks, including Chelsie’s, Nikki’s, Cassandra’s, Sharleen’s, Andi’s, and Clare’s. So what’s a girl to think? Well, this: “It makes me feel like he isn’t interested,” a tearful Lauren confesses.

Hey, camera operator No. 12! You’re falling down on the job! Lauren is over there in the corner sobbing in front of Juan Pablo and we need some tape of it right now — chop chop! “I know that you’ve, like, kissed other girls,” Lauren sniffles. “I hate hearing that.”

(Hmmm… what possible way could you have avoided this situation, honey? Is there some kind of, I don’t know, life choice that would have prevented you from watching the guy you want to date kiss a bunch of other chicas? It’s quite the dilemma.) Of course Juan Pablo feels “horrible” about it, and he comforts Lauren with a long hug and murmured suggestions that she trust her gut. The “ladies,” watching all of this from afar, can’t decide if they’re pleased or dismayed by this development. “Oh, they’re hugging!” cries Andi gleefully, while Renee (?) moans, “Oh crap, they’re hugging and walking.”

Not for long if Clare has anything to say about it; she grabs Juan Pabs for some one-on-one time, while Kelly and Andi turn their hate for her into hilarious role play outside. “Try some oooctopus,” Andi says, attempting but failing to do Juan Pablo’s Venezuelan accent. Kelly shrieks and flutters her hands in front of her face, gasping, “That’s the most I’ve eaten in two weeks! Are you so proud of me?” (I’ll admit, that dog lover is funny. If they ever bring Bachelor Pad back, Kelly definitely needs to move in.) Andi and Kelly’s assessment of the situation isn’t far off, as Clare is at this moment fawning all over Juan Pablo about the octopus incident. “I threw up in my mouth a little bit,” she giggles. “But I swallowed it back down. Is that awful?” Um, yes. As is your transparent ploy to get Juan Pablo to kiss you by insisting that you want to take a break from kissing him. “I know I said no kissing,” she teases, “but I didn’t say for how long.” I’m guessing the ban ends… now? Yep, poor Juan Pablo admits that he’s “helpless” in the presence of Clare’s “sexy” “teeth” and “lips,” so the two end up smooching over chocolate treats. Suck it, Lauren! (Or rather, don’t.) But it’s Andi who gets the date rose — proving once again that age-old adage, The way to a man’s heart is through mocking his dancing skills.

NEXT: Science.

At last it’s time to storm the palace for a South Korean cocktail party! Juan Pablo knows the night could be tense, because the “ladies” are “gettin’ a little uncomfortable with each other. I can feel it.” And even though two of the three women who are safe — Nikki, Sharleen, and Andi — have made an agreement to let the other “ladies” get one-on-one time first, Nikki thinks that kind of courtesy is for suckers. She marches her pink-satin-miniskirted butt over to the bench where Juan Pablo is having a heart-to-heart with Clare. “There comes a point where you do have to be a little selfish,” she explains. She muscles in to have a meaningful talk with Juan Pablo about how women avoid eye contact and men are great at staring contests, or something. (It’s a proven fact, folks. Science.)

Everything’s going fine until Juan Pablo makes a passing comment about how the women “might have your things in the house, or whatever.” Immediately, Nikki’s bitch radar begins pinging. “He kind of hinted that there might be some sort of problem in the house,” she muses. “I can only think that he just came from time with Clare — someone who doesn’t really like me that much.” Oh snap, it is so ON. Clare’s already pissed about Nikki butting in on her time — “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness,” she fumes to Team Bachelor — so clearly these two show ponies are about to get into a major dogfight. (Sorry, folks, but I’m too tired to unmix my metaphors.)

Unfortunately for all of us, the Nikki-Clare smackdown is more of the restrained, I’m-silently-hating-you-right-now variety than the loud, I’ma-cut-you-skank variety. The duo sits down on opposite ends of the couch (poor Kelly is trapped in the middle) and coolly dismisses the other’s concerns. “Yeah there was a lot of drama in the house, but who ever chooses to bring that up in their time with him?” says Clare. Nikki counters with a baby-voiced plea: “I just feel like, keep it to yourself, you know?” Oh, Clare knows. She knows that and so much more, toots: “You’re one way with the girls and one way with him,” she tells Nikki sharply. “If you were to be how you are in the house around him, like, I don’t see that warranting, like, a rose.”

But as Nikki points out, it’s not Clare handing out the roses. And tonight, Juan Pablo’s really not looking forward to the task. “It’s the first rose ceremony out of the country, and people will have to fly back home, 12 hours, feeling rejected,” he sighs. “And that’s not fun.” (Well… it might be okay if they’re in first class. Those seats recline all the way down!) Roses go to Renee, Chelsie, Kelly (we miss you, Molly!), Danielle, Cassandra, Ali, Clare, and Kat, meaning Lauren and Elise must board the Reject Plane to nowhere. But first, please take a moment and say your goodbyes. Also, Elise, could you please take a moment and explain whatever the hell it is you’re wearing?

Well, rose lovers, we’re on to Vietnam. Will Clare and Nikki finally come to blows? Will Danielle speak for a second time? Will Renee finally get a kiss? Post your predictions now! And be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s exclusive blog over on PopWatch — as well as my on-the-scene report from Sean and Catherine’s wedding (featuring 84-year-old Bachelor superfan/occasional EW.com correspondent Nanny). Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to download 2NE1’s greatest hits.

Chris Harrison hosts the veteran reality romance series. Will you accept this rose?
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