Sarah Kowalski and Tigh Rickman are respectively a graduate of, and a candidate at Stonecoast MFA. Both longtime fans of reality televison, they are both relative newcomers to ABC’s The Bachelor. However, much like crack cocaine, it only took a small hit to hook them both, and now both watch religiously with their fiction writers’ eyes.
As we enter into the fifth week The Bachelorette, we find our heroine Ali and her band of merry men heading east across the Atlantic to Iceland. Here, amongst the glaciers, active volcanoes and sweater shops, she will choose which seven bachelors out of the remaining nine will continue with her on this journey. Will Kasey reveal his secret? Will she learn the truth about Kirk’s past? Will she open her heart to passion hot as flowing lava, or will she instead turn her heart from them, cold as the permafrost…?
On the Reykjavik Poetry Slam and Kirk’s One-on-One Date
Sarah: So we began with a gambit: this week’s one-on-one date wasn’t assigned via date-card as usual; rather, the gang held an impromptu poetry slam on the streets of Reykjavik, in which the object was to win fair Ali’s heart with a hastily composed love poem — preferably incorporating some Icelandic phrases.
Sarah: Honestly, it made me a little sad about the state of our American literary education that, out of all these guys, it didn’t occur to a single one of them that poems don’t have to rhyme. Seriously, guys — it’s the 21st century.
Tigh: Especially Frank. Isn’t he supposed to be a writer and somewhat literary? And since they all chose rhyming schemes, I was a little disappointed that Chris L. didn’t at least fulfill his birthright and come up with a ‘Man from Nantucket’ limerick.
Sarah: That would’ve been brilliant, actually.
Tigh: But the clear winner was Captain Kirk, who by far had the best poem and presentation. His “eyes like root beer” line was actually pretty good, I thought. And Ali’s eyes are indeed like root beer, one of a kind. But the downside to the exercise was that it forced heretofore Silent Chris to express himself verbally. It was in this way that the question of whether his silence was strategic or a result of a complete lack of personality was quickly and painfully answered.
Sarah: Yep. Looks like the latter, and it was not a pretty picture. You know, I was just reading an Errol Morris article in the New York Times about the paradox that we are, by definition, often ignorant of our own ignorance. In other words, stupid people often don’t know they’re stupid, and people who don’t know what romantic chemistry looks like sure don’t know when they don’t have it with someone. There’s a lot of that going on this season.
Tigh: Absolutely. There’re several guys in this season who fit that bill as well–Krazey, Frank, Chris N., etc. It seems The Bachelorette process is about separating the personal views these people have of themselves from who they are in reality (i.e., going from a suitor saying “I’m looking for love” to having their subsequent actions back the statement up). It’s a lot like online dating–you write about yourself as you perceive yourself, whether that jibes with how the person on the other end of the table on the first date sees you, well that’s a different story.
Sarah: True. And that process of reconciling the perceptions makes for a great story. So, bad poetry aside, Kirk won his lady — and he deserved it; but honestly, I think he would’ve gotten the date if his poem had been anything better than vomit-inducing.
Tigh: Yeah, I got the feeling his fate was pre-ordained. Great physical chemistry + no one-on-one dates to this point = winner. Yeats himself would’ve lost out to Kirk, I think. Of course, going up against Krazey, whose inaudible recitation of his poem sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher with strep, didn’t hurt either.
Sarah: So, we got to watch Kirk and Ali explore Reykjavik — it honestly did look like a fun date. Trying on crazy sweaters, feeding overly assertive geese, having some coffee… no helicopters, no bungee-jumping. The big news was that Kirk seemed a little coy when initially discussing his romantic history — Ali felt like he was holding something back.
Tigh: Yes, this was the most ‘normal’ date to this point. I guess the producers decided their just being in Iceland was exotic enough to keep the date interesting. And I think it helped out Captain Kirk a lot, gave him a chance to take it from the purely physical stage to a deeper emotional understanding, although as you say he seemed a little bit coy in the beginning about his ‘history.’ And now that I think about it, he never really came clean, did he? Sure, he went into his past health issues (my friend Dan suspects they were caused by meth) and the pain of being a fallen track star, but we didn’t get much else, other than “I’ve dated some really great girls.”
Sarah: I don’t see the meth thing. He was a runner! He got asbestos and mold poisoning! As far as the romantic history… I guess my assumption was that what he was trying to say was that his health problems had taken away from his dating history somewhat. We didn’t get all the details, but if he left school and moved home for a while, and felt too weak to have a normal life, I can totally get not dating anyone for more than a year. He’s not that old. Is he? Late 20s?
Tigh: Something like that. And I think you’re probably right. In any case, he did a great job dovetailing the illness with his views on love and romance. Again, a great job moving things along emotionally with her. He’s definitely making progress.
Sarah: You make it sound so strategic!
Tigh: I don’t think he was being calculating, just doing the right things. I think that if he doesn’t end up getting the Final Rose (and I think he’s the out-and-out frontrunner at this point) he’ll end up being the next Bachelor for sure.
Sarah: I can see that.
Tigh: Meanwhile, back at Bachelor Nordic Headquarters, Krazy Kasey was staring longingly out the window, contemplating the physical manifestation of his deep and sincere feelings for Ali, the Chekhov’s Gun of this week’s episode: his infamous tattoo.
Sarah: I mostly just felt bad for him this week. What a delusional dude.
Tigh: And it didn’t help having Frank as his consigliere. I couldn’t tell if Frank was seriously trying to give Kasey some advice or just messing with him.
Sarah: I think Frank was just trying to suss out the specific nature of the Krazey. Not messing with him, exactly… just, sort of, poking at him to see what the hell was going on under there.
Tigh: Kasey is indeed a fascinating creature. The good people at The Bachelorette knew his impending two-on-one date with Ali and Rated R was going to be the draw of the episode, and they milked it for all it was worth. Which was fine by me. I couldn’t wait to see it, especially after Rated R’s cast removal…”One small step for Justin, one giant leap for Rated R.” From what we’ve been hearing in the tabloids of late, this could be the Unintentional Metaphor of the Week. But before the Rumble in Reykjavík, The Throw-down in Ice Town, The Volatility on the Volcano, there was a group date…
On the Group Date
Sarah: What a little shop of horrors! Riding ponies across a frozen tundra to the tiny, toothy maw of an ice cave? Really? Have these people never seen The Descent? I was firmly on the side of Chris L. who asked, “What next, are we going to play with snakes?” But Tennessee Ty was eating it up — his competency on tundra-ponies gave him a leg up when it came to winning Ali’s heart.
Tigh: But is he really a cowboy? Isn’t he in medical sales? I was a little confused by that.
Sarah: Not really a cowboy. Just happens to have ridden a horse in the past. I’m a cowboy, by that definition. I can even do an emergency dismount!
Tigh: And he has a southern accent, which doesn’t hurt.
Sarah: True. Meanwhile, Frank was sulking his way through the snowy outing. Then, his jealousy and neuroses came to a boiling point in the steaming lake at the end of the night — he kept popping his head out of the water like a nervous seal, trying to figure out where Ali was and who she might be kissing.
Tigh: That was borderline creepy if you ask me. His saying things like, “There’s steam and I can’t see them” and “I’m an emotional disaster” didn’t help matters either. I think Ali set a bad precedent last week by taking him aside and making him feel better. This is a guy who wants to be coddled, and that’s kind of what she’s doing. Of course, seeing her slink out of that snowsuit to reveal a skimpy bikini, I’d have probably been a little off my game too. Yowza!
Sarah: First-date outfit idea, for any ladies looking to win your fella’s eye: bikini under snowsuit. Duly noted! Yeah, I agree with your “coddling” assessment. I’m not sure why Ali’s doing this… I guess she sees Frank as a good safety, and she wants to keep him open as a fall-back option. She kept him on the line this week, too. She called him on his sulking, but with the ultimate message of “If you step it up, you’ve still got a shot.” Whereas you and I know that, compared to head-and-shoulders frontrunner Kirk and top tier guys Chris L. and Roberto, poor Frank is probably not long for this world.
Tigh: Totally. Frank’s an okay guy, and he’s harmless enough, but I don’t think The Bachelorette format really favors a guy of his personality type. Did you notice how drunk Ali got at the swim party at the hot springs? That champagne went right to her head. She went from sober to slurring words in no time flat. I think that kind of helped her get a little more brutally honest with Frank (“I don’t even know you exist on the group dates”), which will help his cause in the long run, I think. Kick him back into line, Tough Love style. But as you say, I don’t think it’s going to be enough.
Sarah: So, ultimately, the group date rose went to Ty and his southern charm.
Tigh: And well deserved. Ty (pronounced Tigh) was on point all day.
Sarah: I don’t have a read on him yet. He seems nice enough, I guess, but I was a little turned off early on by his lynch-mob ragings at Rated R. Even though, as we’ll see next week (according to every tabloid source out there), Rated R deserves all the mistrust and shunning he can get. But, group date wrapped up, it was time for what we’d all been waiting for: countdown to Krazy vs. Rated R: the Death Match.
On Kasey and Rated R’s Tag Team Date (AKA The Main Event)
Tigh: And what a setting for it! We saw the return of the obligatory helicopter ride as Ali and her dates were flown over an active volcano and then into an ice cave where they were fed ice-cold vodka. Talk about drama! This was going to be the blow out of all blowouts! An arctic meltdown beyond even Al Gore’s wildest dreams!
Sarah: Yes, the secret of Kasey’s tattoo was to be revealed in a glacial landscape under a volcanic sky… Plus, we’d been treated to Rated R’s smirky, squirrelly wrestling metaphors all episode: he was going to “take his opponent out.” He could “see the fear in Kasey’s eyes.” His hand was “shaking with adrenalin.”
Tigh: Somewhere Hulk Hogan is hulking out and planning a copyright lawsuit. Has to be.
Sarah: And then… what? Oh yeah, nothing. They wandered awkwardly around the ice together, then Ali had a bit of one-on-one time with Justin in which he mouthed some generic platitudes about looking for love, followed by some one-on-one with Kasey, in which… dun, dun, dun, drumroll… surely, the tattoo would FINALLY be revealed…
Tigh: The stage was set; a cut-away to Ali saying all Kasey had to do today was “act normal”; Kasey, sitting awkwardly next to her, his mushy, cheese-filled lines coming quickly, tumbling over each other incoherently and in no particular order whatsoever. Ali began talking about their night at the museum. “I hope I didn’t come across as saying what you were doing was wrong,” she said, her root beer eyes soft with compassion. “Well, it’s funny you should ask,” said Kasey, apparently to the voice in his head which had actually asked a question. Now was the moment. He turned his forearm skyward and put his hand on his sleeve, ready to roll it back to reveal the one thing she could not ignore, the permanent emblem of his love. The sleeve moved from off his arm and there it was…the tattoo. And stunned silence. Poor Ali. Not something you really want to deal with with a hangover.
Sarah: But then, did you notice how he framed the reason for the tattoo in his actual explanation? He claimed that he got it for himself, to remind himself of this experience, and of his own sincerity and feelings, regardless of the outcome. He spun himself into a way more reasonable explanation than the actual truth. As if some part of him had, perhaps, already accepted the fact that he might not end up with Ali after all.
Tigh: He gave Ali a way out, and she took it, dodging a major guilt bullet in the process.
Sarah: She took it, all right. Took it all the way to the helicopter, which she and Justin mounted and flew off in, leaving Kasey alone on a glacier, like a symbol of man’s inhumanity toward man. Though in all fairness, I’m sure the camera guys standing 20 feet away filming him gave him a ride home shortly afterwards.
Tigh: Yes, Kasey, go. You’re free now.
Sarah: Go be a dreamer. And a lover. It was almost as though he was taking your advice from a few weeks ago and singing “The Rainbow Connection” for us.
Tigh: My friend Nikki suggested that he seek out “I’m not crazy, you’re the one who’s crazy” Michelle from last season’s Bachelor, settle down and have twelve or thirteen nutso kids.
Sarah: Funny you should ask! Michelle is one of the cast members on the upcoming Bachelor Pad, where they put all the rejects from prior seasons in a house together and hope for nudity and emotional violence. I can’t wait!
Tigh: Just when I think my life can’t get any better….this!
On the Pre-Rose Ceremony Mixer
Tigh: Yes, everyone’s favorite segment, chock full of last-ditch efforts, pleas and outright beggings: The Pre-Rose Ceremony Mixer. So where did the key players stand going into it this week? Ty, Captain Kirk and Rated R were all sitting pretty with their roses already boutonniered. Roberto was laying back in the cut, content after his strong showing last week; and Chris L. was also feeling pretty secure. Frank was feeling low for not bringing his A-game on the group date. This left Silent Chris and The Last of the Craigs to do some last-minute lobbying to protect their place on the show. And Craig decided to do it by drawing a fake tattoo on his arm a’la Krazey. I have to say, I thought that was a low blow, and to see Ali cracking up at it like that was a little disappointing. It was like they were dancing on his grave. Dude, she was his heart (or was it the other way around?)!
Sarah: I agree — it seemed a bit too soon, and a bit too mean. But I guess Ali needed a release, because she lost it, and claimed it improved Craig in her esteem.
Tigh: Frank brought out the waterworks to once again play the guilt card; Roberto brought his good looks (“You’re just so good looking!”); which left Chris N., who spoke for the first time this season at the poetry slam, to step up and try to lock in his rose. And boy did he…well…he…
Sarah: He likes Mexican food!
Tigh: In fact, you might even say it’s his one guilty pleasure!
Sarah: That’s… something she didn’t know about him. Mind-blowing. His fate was assured at that point. Craig, at least, had shown himself to have the personality of a 13-year-old Mean Girl, which Ali found preferable to no discernable personality at all. And so Silent Chris was splitsville.
Tigh: Yeah, the emperor had no clothes. What we once thought was a piece of brilliant strategy (laying low and letting the other men implode around him) was in fact an acute lack-of-personality disorder. Not only that, but he was totally shocked that he didn’t get the rose! I mean, really? Did he even go on any of the dates? If this were a junior high track meet he wouldn’t have even gotten the I participated ribbon.
Sarah: So, we’re down to the final seven. Just like Snow White and her dwarves. And next week, they’re off to a city near and dear to my heart: Istanbul!
Tigh: I thought they were going to Constantinople!
Sarah: Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople. You can’t go back — never mind.
(But, in all seriousness, I had that song stuck in my head for the entire month I lived in Istanbul.)
Tigh: So who do you like at this point?
Sarah: I think the final three will be Kirk, Chris, and Roberto… though you never know; it’s possible Frank will stick around through some magic of wheedling and emotional codependence.
Tigh: I agree with your top three, and would rank them in that order. As we learned during Chris (The Man!) Harrison’s impromptu, Svengali-like psychological analysis of Ali, she might just be afraid to let herself fully open up to these men (and that would be bad for ratings!). And as we’ve seen, Roberto is someone she “would be intimidated to talk to” in the real world. Again, I see her moving forward with Captain Kirk but Roberto is pure sex, man. I see him in a fantasy suite for sure, but beyond that, I’m not sure Ali’s insecurities will allow her to let down her guard and move forward with him in the same way as Kirk.
Sarah: I agree. I think she has the most chance of opening up with one of the two guys who’ve already shown themselves to be willing to make themselves vulnerable with her: Kirk about his health scare, and Chris about his dead mom. It sure would be nice to see Roberto as the next Bachelor, though. Girls would be lining up around the block for those dimples.
Tigh: They’d all want his ball in their glove, that’s for sure.
Sarah: Ew. I don’t think girls want that. If “ball” and “glove” mean what I think they do.
Tigh: What? I…dude he’s a baseball player. A baseball player!
Sarah: I mean — sure, they’d want to play catch!
Tigh: No glove, no love, baby.