Ben Higgins begins his 'journey' with a unicorn, a mini-horse, and a dental exam
Credit: Rick Rowell/ABC
4. Season 5 (Jesse Palmer)

Well guys, we’re back. And I know what you’re thinking: Our Bachelor is “just a normal guy” who likes to participate in physical activities in and/or around a barn. But don’t worry. This is not going to be a repeat of 2015 with Chris Soules (though I wouldn’t object to Ben doing some push-ups on bales of hay). Instead, our 2016 Bachelor is simply visiting his small hometown and playing some b-ball to symbolize that he’s ready for “another shot” at love. So yeah, this show’s just as subtle as it was in 2015.

Regardless, this sweater-loving 26-year-old man is ready to find love, and he’s got the haircut to prove it. (Now if only someone would tell him that Warsaw, Indiana, is not an accurate representation of all of America, we’d be set.)

What you need to know is this: Ben Higgins was rejected by Kaitlyn Bristowe on the most recent season of The Bachelorette, despite being very nice and very attractive. Also, he’s young, he loves the word “incredible,” and he likes to lean on things and look contemplative while standing in large fields. Did I mention that he’s young?

Catching up with Ben’s parents, we discover the very evident theme of the season. Remember that time Ben claimed he felt “unlovable” during Kaitlyn’s season? Me neither. But apparently, it really struck a chord with someone. To be honest, all I remember from that season is Shawn’s tight T-shirts and that one time Kaitlyn slept with Nick. But somewhere in between that, Ben said he felt unlovable, and it was in that moment that ABC realized its one true purpose: to make Ben feel loved.

And as far as Ben’s mother is concerned, she has nothing but words of support for her son: “She’s gonna be great no matter where you find her,” she tells him. Clearly, mom’s never watched this show. You really might want to watch what you say there, ma.

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On his way to find the future Mrs. Higgins (hope she’s okay with changing her name!), Ben takes his new haircut to Los Angeles, where he meets up with “three of America’s favorite Bachelors,” otherwise known as the now-married Sean Lowe, the now-married Jason Mesnick, and Chris Soules, who just so happened to be in the city at the time.

Here to give Ben “helpful” advice, they go back and forth about how many women he should kiss. Chris says all of ’em! Sean says just to be careful not to do it in front of the other girls. Jason gives the advice to not “close off anybody.” (And in his case, he means not even AFTER the final rose ceremony.)

Chris’ final words of sage wisdom are that Ben is going to find something that he likes in every single woman. (Translation: Chris secretly loved Ashley S.!) The real moral here is that Ben’s job is to make sure that everyone is comfortable (and hopefully he knew that before the guys told him).

With that, the Bachelors head out so that Ben — who gets a hotel room and not his own place? — heads to change for night one on his journey to find love that he’s lovable.

NEXT: It’s arrival time…

Welcoming us to Bachelor mansion is, of course, Chris Harrison, who claims that women have “traveled from all over the world” for this season. And by that, he means that they have one contestant from Canada.

Let’s get to the arrivals…

Lauren B., 25. Fun facts about Lauren: She’s a flight attendant who loves long walks on the beach. She also thinks you can hear someone else’s heartbeat by simply standing in front of them. (To be fair, Ben said it first.) But more than anything, she loves a good pun, handing Ben some wings and hoping that he’s ready to “take off on this journey together.”

First impression: Direct quote from my notes: “Could’ve been worse.” So there’s that.

Caila, 23. Caila broke up with her real-life boyfriend because she saw Ben on TV and liked him. So she’s stable. Also, be warned: When she likes someone, she charges at them, leaps through the air, and prays that they catch her. Luckily for her, Ben is quick enough to catch her, though that doesn’t make it any less awkward. I’m thinking “Fate: Part 2” isn’t going to be a fairytale.

First impression: Drop her. Literally. (Too far?)

Jennifer, 25. A small-business owner, all we really know about Jennifer is that she thinks “Ben and Jen” is too cute to forget. (Tell that to Jennifer Lopez.)

First impression: Forgettable.

Jami, 23. Here she is! Our world traveler all the way from Canada! And not only is she from another country, but she knows Kaitlyn Bristowe! Proof? She tells Ben that Kaitlyn told her all about his “really, really, really big…heart.”

First impression: Awkward but cute.

Samantha, 26. Recently graduated from law school, Samantha prefers Sam — a good call — and gives us our first sob story of the season: Her father died when she was 13 after being diagnosed with ALS. But now, she’s putting on her bright pink dress and making all of us cringe when she asks Ben: “Boxers or legal briefs?”

First impression: Tone down the cheesy, and she might have a shot (if only for her name).

Jubilee, 24. And the winner for least-subtle intro is Jubilee, who opens things up by firing a gun! Because nothing says love like violence! To be fair, Jubilee is a military vet. And yet, she claims there “will be casualties” on her mission to win Ben’s heart. So you know she’s a romantic!

First impression: Personally, I love you, Jubilee. I can’t imagine Ben choosing anyone else. I mean, you’re clearly the obvious choice. Again, love you!

Amanda, 25. An esthetician for an all-organic skin care and cosmetic company, Amanda’s complexion is as clear as her voice is high. She also has two daughters and what I assume is a closet full of matching swimsuits.

First impression: I don’t trust people who say “super cute.”

Lace, 25. In case you thought Lace would be subtle, you were so, so wrong. Not only is she wearing lace on her dress, but her shoes are crazy loud, and then there’s the fact that she tells Ben to close his eyes so that she can assault him on the first night. Just like that, Lace lands the first kiss, and possibly the first restraining order!

First impression: No, Ben. No.

Lauren R., 26. Lauren R. claims that Ben is her favorite Hoosier, to which I say, name ONE other Hoosier, Lauren. However, she might be serious considering that she’s openly stalked Ben over social media for the last two months. She knows everything about Ben. But Ben doesn’t get to know anything about her because this drunk lady just walked off without telling him her name. How’s that for mystery!

First impression: Can you make a first impression if they don’t know your name? If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? #lifequestions

Shushanna, 27. Is she speaking Russian? He thinks her name is Shanna. Oh god. Make it stop.

First impression: [Insert Russian here]

Leah, 25. You know that old saying: Men love a woman who can throw a football. It’s my second-favorite saying, next to this one: Men love a woman who will bend over, show them all their goods, and hike them a football, all the while not really knowing how to play football because they say “hike” before they hike it. Classic, right?

First impression: Whatever the opposite of a touchdown is, this is that. A safety, maybe?

Joelle “JoJo,” 24. JoJo clearly did a lot of thinking before coming on this show. She thought to herself, “What does a man want to see when he meets the love of his life?” And thankfully, she came to the only real conclusion: Nightmares of a half-woman, half-unicorn. Showing up in her unicorn mask, she tells Ben, “Unicorns do exist. I think I’m yours,” as if he’s just supposed to know what that means…

First impression: It started off on a bad note but got a little flirty at the end, so I’m not nixing this unicorn yet. (A sentence I’ve waited all my life to write.)

Lauren H., 25. Unlike JoJo, when Lauren H. thought about what Ben would want in a woman, she thought, “A woman who can chuck a shriveled-up bouquet at his head.” And you know what? She was right.

First impression: I kind of like them, guys.

NEXT: Ben is seeing double

Laura, 24. Why did her telling Ben that he can call her Red Velvet feel so sexual?

First impression: I want a cupcake.

Mandi, 28. Mandi is “not your average girl.” She lives her life by two simple rules: Embrace the weird and always floss. As a dentist, she’s probably one of the people in your life that you’d least want to “embrace the weird,” but here we are. She’s prepared to give Ben an oral exam — NO — and all while wearing a huge red rose on her head. As she tells him when she gets out of the limo, “Maybe if things go well tonight, you can pollinate it later.”

First impression: Wake me when it’s over.

Emily and Haley, 22. Not only are these two twins — professionally — but they’re from the only place professional twins could be from: Las Vegas. And although they’ve never dated the same person before, it might surprise you that they’re open to the idea.

First impression: They get points for trying to make a He’s Just Not That Into You reference, but I just can’t. Can. Not.

Maegan, 30. A cowgirl from Texas, Maegan wants to give Ben an idea of what it’s like to date her, hence her bringing her mini-horse along.

First impression: What does she have against full-size horses?

Wait, I take it back. Huey just stood on someone’s dress. I love him. #HueyForBachelor

Breanne, 30. Aw, Breanne packed Ben a picnic! Oh wait, just kidding. She brought him some gluten to beat on the ground because “Gluten’s Satan.”

First impression: I don’t think gluten is the evil one here…

Isabel “Izzy,” 24. She wore a onesie and told Ben she “had to find out if you were the onesie for me.”

First impression: A ONESIE.

Rachel, 23. She’s unemployed and yet she shows up on a hoverboard?

First impression: Marry her, Ben! She’s rich!

Jessica, 23. Landing the longest hug yet, she’s either clingy or we’re witnessing a love connection.

First impression: Contender.

Tiara, 27. If you thought her name was the best thing about her, boy were you wrong! Tiara is a chicken enthusiast. And for the few of you who don’t know what that means — unlike the majority of the population — that means she has pet chickens that do everything with her (specifically Sheila). She even has framed pictures of them all around her room. She also has a framed photo of Ben. Translation: She’s very emotionally stable and super great at conversing with humans.

First impression: No matter what, she’ll always have her chickens.

Lauren “LB,” 23. How has this been a long time coming? Did Ben just thank her for coming?

First impression: There’s no hope.

Jackie, 23. Jackie came prepared…with a SAVE THE DATE CARD. Apparently, the two of them are getting marred on Monday, March 14, 2016, and they’ve even got a hashtag: #tohigginsandtohold. Creative? Yes. Too much? YES.

First impression: What do you wanna bet she already has a family album made?

Olivia, 23. Sure, Olivia spends most of her time talking about dimples, but I give her points for walking away mid-conversation and leaving him wanting more.

First impression: Ben’s into it. (I’m kind of into it.)

So, with 26 very young ladies inside, it’s time for Chris Harrison to make a cheesy joke, followed by someone handing Ben a ridiculously full glass of booze to get this night started!

NEXT: A drunk girl, a dentist, and one very charming dimple

After calling his parents to tell them about all the hotties that just walked into his life, Ben — the “god” — enters the mansion, where his welcome speech is quickly interrupted by Mandi, whom I will refer to as Rose Head from here on out. Ladies and gentleman, you know what time it is.

Outside, Rose Head literally gives Ben a dental exam. If I had to describe my worst date, it would be this. The good news is that Ben appears to be kissable, though I don’t think Rose Head will have to worry about that. Once you’ve seen a man’s plaque…well, you’ve seen a man’s plaque.

Catching up with Olivia, it’s evident that Ben is taken with this one-dimple beauty. And it’s a good thing because she left her job to come here. Hope you’re worth it, Ben!

But just as the women start to quiz Ben and occasionally throw a football at his face, another limo pulls up, and this one is full of the former cast members you never really wanted to see again! Enter Becca, Amber, and Becca’s cleavage. Quick, important update courtesy of Harrison: Becca is still a virgin. Cool? Cool.

Inside the mansion, the women immediately start to panic about how Becca and Amber — but mostly Becca — have a clear advantage being in the house because people know them, to which I’d like to remind the ladies: People know them. Becca and Amber. I mean, some might even describe them as: “meh.” So count your blessings, ladies. You couldn’t have asked for less-threatening people.

So while Becca and Amber let Ben know they’re here, Lace tries to wrap her head around the fact that she’s “literally threatened by Becca.” Literally.

Panicking that Ben is going to forget her, Lace steals Ben from Jubilee to one-up herself. (So she isn’t threatened by Jubilee, the one who can fire a gun.)

Remember when Lace assaulted Ben earlier? Well, now she’d like to ask for another kiss. At least, if he can understand what she just said. “Is it awkward if I ask you for a better kiss?” she slurs, to which I’d like to say, “YES, IT REALLY TRULY IS.” Not only are you kind of oddly insulting his kissing skills, but you’re altogether being highly inappropriate.

Ben starts to say that he doesn’t want tonight to be about physical connection when Rose Head steals him away. But don’t worry, Ben is a class act, and he later tracks down Lace to tell her that he didn’t turn her down. Well, he did, but he didn’t want to hurt her very drunk feelings. But all Lace hears is that Ben sought her out, so she’s happy.

Elsewhere, Harrison brings the first impression rose into play, to which someone — I’m not sure who — says, “One women will have security.” Yes, one women will.

Lace is pretty sure that the rose — and Ben — is all hers, but Ben doesn’t agree. He’s currently swimming in a sea of women that he thinks are “way out of my league.” And when it comes time to make a decision, Ben hands the first impression rose to Olivia. Guys, she left her job. Did he really have a choice?

With that, Harrison breaks up the fun. It’s rose ceremony time! I don’t know how you all are feeling, but Lace is pissed. Also, can we talk about how Rose Head could totally play a witch in The Wizard of Oz?

NEXT: Huey bids farewell

Without further ado, let’s introduce Ben to his first rose ceremony. The lucky ladies continuing to next week are: Lauren B., LB, Caila, Amber, Jami, Jennifer, Jubilee, Amanda, JoJo, Leah, Rachel, Samantha, Jackie, Haley, Emily, Shushanna, Lauren H., Becca, Mandi, and Lace.

That means it’s the end of the road for Breanne (and her bread), Izzy, Jessica, Laura, Lauren R., Maegan, Olivia, and Tiara. (And just like that, I’m pitching a Huey-Sheila spinoff.)

And this is the part of the show where I always hope one of the rejected women will say, “Well, attraction has to be mutual, so if he wasn’t feeling it, someone else will. Bye.” But instead, these 20-somethings cry about how awful their love lives are and how no one will ever love them. The only advice I’ll give Breanne is this: I know a great boyfriend, and his name is bread.

But if you thought the drama was over, well, you’ve clearly never watched this show. While you weren’t looking, Lace had a few more drinks, and now she is pissed that Ben didn’t make eye contact with her during the rose ceremony. After all, everyone knows that a rose is not a rose unless there’s eye contact involved. (Or something like that.)

Bet you wish you’d kept Huey now, don’t ya Ben?

And that, my friends, is where our journey ends…for now. I’ll see you all back here next week. If you need me in the meantime, I’ll be convincing all expectant mothers NOT to name their daughters Lauren.

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