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‘Bachelor’ recap: Ben’s faith in love is renewed during dates in his hometown

Ben Flajnik and 12 of his bachelorettes perform a childrens' play during a group date on episode two of "The Bachelor" (season 16)
Ben Flajnik and 12 of his bachelorettes perform a childrens' play during a group date on episode two of "The Bachelor" (season 16)ABC

Usually you have to make it all the way to the final weeks of “The Bachelor” before you get to visit the guy’s hometown, but on Monday’s episode the bachelorettes got a sneak peak at where they could end up living if all goes well.

Ben invited his 18 remaining bachelorettes to Sonoma, Calif., where he said his faith in the “Bachelor” process and love was renewed thanks to Kacie and Courtney. The women obviously are front runners – for the moment – as they each had incredible dates with the bachelor that consisted of home videos and a romantic picnic, respectively. Ben said he felt a wonderful bond between he and Kacie, while he said he could see the big picture with too-good-to-be-true Courtney.

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Unfortunately, it wasn’t all smiles and blooming love for all of the bachelorettes. Neither Jenna nor Shawn received roses at the week’s rose ceremony, and while Shawn went peacefully, Jenna nearly was hyperventilating when she left the house. She was stunned by her elimination and was a hot mess leaving the house. Stunned probably wasn’t the word viewers would use to describe Jenna’s elimination; perhaps obviously would fit better. Jenna had another terribly awkward conversation with bachelor Ben that made it easy to see that even if Jenna was right for Ben, she was not right to find love on reality TV – not necessarily a bad quality.

Kacie renews Ben’s faith in the reality TV dating process

Kacie B. was invited on the first one-on-one date of the season. Ben and Kacie spent the beginning of their date walking around town, with Ben showing off his favorite parts of town. The pair walked through the park, played piano in a hotel lobby and twirled a baton in the middle of the street (Kacie was showing him something about herself, as she was a baton twirler when she was younger).

Ben was really happy with his date with Kacie and told her it helped him realize coming back to this process was a great idea. He told her the process worked once, and she had given him faith it could work again. Ben then offered Kacie the first one-on-one date rose of the season, and the pair walked hand-and-hand to a nearby movie theater, where home movies of both were shown. Her movie was adorable, but it was Ben’s movie that had all of us chocked up. It was a lot of Ben with his father, who died not long ago, and it brought Ben – and probably ever viewer – to tears. Ben also said he thought it bonded him and Kacie, as it helped him open up.

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Ben and some of his bachelorettes shine on Sonoma’s stage

For the first group date of the season Ben invited Brittney, Rachel, Jennifer, Blakely, Emily, Jenna, Shawn, Monica, Samantha, Jamie, Nicki and Jaclyn to star in a play – written, directed and produced by a group of children. While the ladies were hesitant at first about being forced to do sometimes embarrassing acts in front of Ben, most of them eventually warmed up to the date and got into acting as monkeys and damsels in distress. And if the auditions weren’t embarrassing enough, the group next had to dress in costumes – princesses, weasles, gingerbread men, hippies, a valley girl and more. – in front of a large audience that included a few of Ben’s hometown friends. Talk about a great way for his friends to get to know the girls. At that point, with the curtain about to go up, I’d say the best bet would be to suck it up and act your heart out. Ben loves kids, and you put down or ruin these kids’ production, you’re probably out the door at the next rose ceremony.

If anyone was going to complain about the date’s activity, I think many of us would’ve placed our bets on Blakely, who had started complaining about being on a group date before the date even began. But she played along almost better than anyone, and Ben took note of that as well as her ‘using her time with him wisely,’ awarding her the season’s first group-date rose.

More importantly to viewers, Blakeley earned the honor of being the most disliked woman in the house. The other women on the date found her to be annoying, arrogant and desperate. I can’t imagine why though; it wasn’t like she was constantly calling the rose and ben hers – oh wait she was. It was a little much – she does come off as pretty full of herself – and it led to Samantha trapping herself in the bathroom for most of the night because she couldn’t listen to Blakeley for another minute. As much as I think everyone on that date understood, I think in their heads they also wanted to tell her to suck it up and stop wasting time caring about Blakeley when she could be cuddling up to Ben.

Blakeley later annoyed even more of the women by stealing Ben away from other women twice during the week’s mixer despite having a rose. One is forgivable, but twice really seemed to cross the line of respect and decency; however, Blakeley won in the end, with Ben consoling her while she cried in the corner of a bedroom after overhearing the other women take cheap shots at her.

Courtney shows Ben “the big picture”

Ben brought his “son,” Scotch, an adorable dog, on his date with Courtney, which began with a nature walk through the woods and a beautiful picnic next to a small river. With Scotch around the topic of kids did come up, and both agreed on the subject, saying they’d like to travel, get married and settle down before having kids. Ben really likes Courtney. He thinks she is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen (sorry Ashley!) and loves that she is smart and witty. He’s really taken by her, even saying he wonders if she is too good to be true.

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The second part of Ben and Courtney’s date took place under a giant candle-lit tree. The pair learned more about each other over dinner, with Ben once again saying “The Bachelorette” helped him rediscover himself and prepared him for the next chapter of her life. When Ben asked Courtney why she was still single, Courtney said she’s been in a lot of relationships before but each one felt empty (sorry Jesse!). Ben of course offered her the rose at the end of the night.

Ben may be feeling good about Courtney, but some of the other women in the house aren’t warming up to her as quickly. In fact a lot of the women are feeling off about her, thinking something is up with her but not sure what. Even as a viewer, I get that though. There’s just something about her that is making it hard for us to like her. And you don’t want to hold against her that she’s a model or that she’s been linked to actor Jesse Metcalfe (“Desperate Housewives,” “Pasions”), but it’s hard not to based on reality TV history. One nice thing you can say about Courtney is she is very different when she is with Ben – well that could be a bad thing, but I don’t think it is in her case. She seemed less competitive and more relaxed when alone with Ben, so it’s possible she is a woman who doesn’t get along with other women; wouldn’t be the first time for that on “Bachelor” or “Bachelorette.”

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