The Bachelor: The naked truth (spoiler alert)
There's only one question we really want the answer to after watching Monday's Bachelor episode?
Never mind "Who does Ben end up with?" Did Ben and Courtney get it on while they were skinny dipping in the ocean? That's what inquiring minds want to know.
I'm guessing Courtney would have liked to seal the deal, given how enthusiastically she wrapped her nude limbs around Ben's equally nude body parts, but the last we saw of them in the buff they were several feet apart in the water. So I'm thinking (hoping) Ben exercised at least some common sense and figured having carnal knowledge of a bachelorette before the officially sanctioned fantasy suite dates would be a no-no.
The next question is when or if the other girls will cotton on to Ben and Courtney's midnight rendezvous. When Ben confessed to feeling crappy about his "very intimate moment" with Courtney and owing "it to myself to be open with everyone," I was thinking we might get a confession along the lines of Ashley Hebert's "I saw Bentley again" reveal to her bachelors ... and you remember how well that went over.
But apparently Ben doesn't dip and tell. Courtney, on the other hand, was just dying to spill to the other women, even though she knew they'd "hate me forever and ever and ever." She even brought up the topic of skinny dipping with some of the other girls at the rose ceremony cocktail party.
Jennifer, little suspecting that a) Courtney had already bared it with Ben and b) that she herself would be going home soon, embraced the topic enthusiastically.
"If you had to pick a place to skinny dip, where would it be?" Jennifer asked Courtney.
"Puerto Rico in the full moonlight," replied Courtney with a glint in her eye.
If Jen's question had been more along the lines of "Where have you been skinny dipping?" the cocktail party would have got a lot more interesting very fast.
As it was, there was at least one surprise at the ceremony. I didn't see Jennifer's ouster coming. With Elyse getting the heave-ho on her one and only one-on-one date, I figured Rachel might bite it at the rose ceremony if Emily didn't get drummed out for harping to Ben -- again! -- about her mistrust of Courtney.
I thought Ben liked Jennifer. He certainly seemed to like kissing her, which he did unabashedly during the cocktail party. He also described their conversation as "easy," and he seems like a guy who really likes to talk, whereas every chat with Rachel, no matter the setting, seems awkward.
But nope, it was Jennifer who got to hiccup-sob in the back of an SUV, wondering what she had done wrong. (And can somebody not hand these poor women a tissue for their runny eyes and noses? They're wearing cocktail dresses, for gawd's sake, it's not like they can use a sleeve.)
Anyway, let's recap the rest of the visit to Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.
We had the obligatory "this is where it starts to get serious" voiceover from Ben and saw the girls checking into the luxurious W Resort and Spa Vieques. We also got a little taste of the Emily and Courtney drama.
"I absolutely feel that Courtney's not good for Ben," said Emily. Courtney said Emily better watch her back. "If she slips up with me a few more times I will embarrass her so bad."
The first date card came for Nicki, whom Ben had connected with during the group date in Park City.
First rule of dates: the minute you hear the bachelorette say "What could possibly go wrong?" you know something will. So Ben and Nicki got rained out on their walking tour of Old San Juan, to the point that they had to buy dry clothes. Ben channelled his inner Ricardo Montalban by dressing all in white: white shirt, white pants, white shoes, plus "one of those sweet Colombian-looking hats." Lucky for him, it didn't pour rain again: wetness and white pants can be an embarrassing combination.
Ben was feeling turned on by the fact that Nicki could go with the flow, i.e. didn't have a hissy fit about the rain. And then they happened on a wedding in an old stone church, which was a perfect segue for Nicki to talk about her divorce (as you know, previous marriages are serious stuff on The Bachelor and divorced women are suspect unless they can prove they're not just man-hating harpies.)
Nicki passed the test, reassuring Ben that she wanted to marry again and that she'd been "a different person" when her marriage broke up. She got the date rose and some smooching and yes, there was tongue involved.
Next up was the group date. Nine of the remaining 11 women, Lindzi, Courtney, Jennifer, Kacie B., Emily, Rachel, Casey S., Jamie and Blakeley, got to play baseball at the Roberto Clemente Stadium in Carolina, Puerto Rico, with help from coaches for the Carolina Gigantes.
But what started as a fun, athletic afternoon turned serious when Chris Harrison appeared. Channelling his inner Jeff Probst, he told the women they'd be split into teams and play against each other. The winners would get a romantic evening on the beach with Ben; the losers would head back to the camp, er, I mean their hotel, alone.
Red team Courtney, Kacie, Casey and Jamie faced off against blue team Blakeley, Emily, Jennifer and Rachel. Lindzi was chosen by Ben to play for both teams and got an automatic invite to the beach.
Despite having ringer Blakeley on their team ("Who knew that strippers could play baseball?" quipped Courtney), the blue team lost. From the tears and lamenting on the bus ride back to the hotel, you'd think they'd lost something important instead of a chance to fight with a bunch of other women to monopolize Ben's time.
I'm with Courtney on this one: "There's no crying in baseball; rub some dirt on it, walk it off."
On the beach, Courtney's chief rival, Kacie, scored the group date rose because of her ability to get Ben to open up, seeing as they conversed about Ben's unsuccessful past relationships and the fact he doesn't want to "come up empty again." Actually, I think Ben felt he owed Kacie the rose after changing his mind the week before and giving it to Courtney.
But Courtney wasn't so easily foiled. She lured Ben away from Kacie and the others for some kissing on the beach and told him she wanted some alone time, "you and me with a bottle of wine and skinny dipping."
Before we could get to that, though, Ben had to endure a one-on-one date with Elyse. I've been trying to figure out how she's hung on as long as she has, given I've seen no evidence of any chemistry between her and Ben.
Poor Elyse was destined to be the bachelorette equivalent of Ryan P. (although hopefully she won't embarrass herself and come back to try to convince Ben to give her another shot). Ensconced on a big honking yacht with Ben, the personal trainer prattled on about all the life goals she'd crossed off her list, including getting undergraduate and master's degrees (I didn't know they had a master's in personal training), living in Florida, living on her own and having a serious relationship. Oh, and she quit her job and skipped her best friend's wedding to be on The Bachelor. No pressure.
Then she blurted out, "Let's just screw everyone else, let's get married here and make a wonderful life together." Oops. Next thing you know Ben proposed they jump off the side of the boat together, although I'm surprised he didn't jump alone and swim back to shore.
When they got to the dinner portion of the date, Ben told Elyse his relationships with some of the other women were "far past what we can ever get to at this point." He walked her to the shuttle boat, gave her a hug and sent her on her way with some blather about her being an "incredible woman."
Courtney's amusing assessment when a burly guy came to collect Elyse's suitcase, to the shock of the other girls, was "Maybe she drank too much and the Jersey Shore came out."
Courtney left the other women to mull it over while she snuck off to greet Ben outside his room in a bathrobe with a bottle of red wine and two glasses. Fresh from breaking Elyse's heart, Ben succumbed to Courtney's charms after she opened the robe and flashed her lace bra at him.
"I'm thinking to myself this probably isn't a good idea. At the same time I want to spend some time with her," Ben rationalized. So off they went and off came the clothes.
We already know that Ben and Courtney's secret was safe at the rose ceremony cocktail party.
There were two other developments of note. Frankly, I have a hard time believing that a competitive pressure cooker situation like The Bachelor is an ideal venue for women to hone their self-esteem, but Blakeley claimed that for the first time in her life she'd realized that she deserved someone like Ben.
Ben was pleased with Blakeley's "epiphany," which he demonstrated by smooching with her. It appears she talked herself into a rose, since Ben said he'd been having doubts about her.
Emily, on the other hand, almost talked herself out of one. First she reassured Ben that she wasn't focusing on her differences with Courtney anymore, then she threw Courtney back under the bus.
"I would hate to be the one to watch things progress (between you) when I know there's some weird s--t going on and not sayign anything about it," Emily said.
"The moments I spend with each and every different woman, you have no idea what goes on in those moments," reprimanded Ben. "What I encourage you to do is just kind of drop it. Tread lightly, be careful; that's all I'm saying."
As we know, Emily still got a rose, despite annoying Ben, along with Lindzi, Jamie, Rachel, Courtney, Casey and Blakeley, plus Kacie and Nicki already had date roses.
Those nine move on with Ben to Panama City, where Kacie, Courtney, Emily and Rachel will all get some smooching time with Ben, and Casey will get to do some crying. Word on the spoiler sites has been that Casey had a boyfriend back home. Seeing her crying in the back of a car in the promo certainly hints that she'll be leaving suddenly.
The more intriguing bits of the promo, for later in the season, showed some of the other girls ganging up, apparently to confront Ben about Courtney, and Ben pulling Courtney aside for a chat after saying he'd been betrayed. Will Courtney get her comeuppance? Don't bet on it, but it's fun to think she could.
Join me for another recap after next Monday's episode, at 8 p.m. on OMNI. And tell me what you thought about Courtney's skinny-dipping stunt or anything else that tickled your fancy: here, on Twitter @realityeo or on my Facebook page.