Sean's back. He's here for the "most amazing journey ever," which seems to include Christopher Columbus's trip to the New World. Did Christopher Columbus have roses and 19 single ladies from a remarkably diverse (for this show, anyway) cast? "If I had to guess, I'd say my wife was in that room last night," Sean promises.
Chris says again that Sean is "probably the most sincere bachelor we've ever had on this show." Unless they've used this audio twice, this is the second time Chris has prefaced thought this with "probably," just in case he forgot one unbelievably sincere bachelor. He's here with the date cards—and the first one-on-one goes to Sarah, who has the most unbelievable drawl ("I am soooo excited for my date with Seeeeeean"). Also, she says things like, "Just because I have one arm doesn't mean we're going to be able to stop having fun." Next we have a helicopter, which means thousands of viewers across the country just downed their first shot. It's unbelievable that anyone evinces any surprise when Sean stops by in a helicopter—otherwise known as "not [a] normal mode of transportation," as Kacie B. puts it. Kacie B., as a veteran, should definitely know that on "The Bachelor," helicopter is, in fact, the most normal mode of transportation.
Sean and Sarah fly over to a skyscraper in L.A. for a peek over the edge: They're there for a Champagne toast—but, ha ha, it's at the base of the building. How will they get there? Not by helicopter. By a 300-foot free fall. "Ohhhhh my goooosh," Sarah says. "What catches you?" Sean doesn't know the answer but tells Sarah to trust him. Apparently they'll drop 40 feet per second: "a straight-up free fall," their handler says. Which brings us to the first adventure-sport-as-metaphor-for-relationships moment of the season: "As long as he's [with me], we're going to take this plunge together," Sarah says. (More shots.) "Ohhhhh my goooosh." Sarah screams the whole way down. The people inside that building must love, love, love this attraction. Later that night, Sarah tells Sean the most boring possible version of a story about how she wasn't allowed to go zip-lining with her dad because of her arm. She gets the rose. "Sarah has blown away my expectations," Sean says.
Next up is our group date—obviously the biggest one of the season—and Tierra is this year's premiere group-date-hater. "I hope that I am not overshadowed by big personalities," says yoga instructor Katie, in what has to be the most futile wish ever expressed on this show. The women travel by limo (apparently another normal mode of transportation) to a palatial California estate, where Sean is waiting for them. "It was so dreamy," says Selma, who probably is aware that this is not actually Sean's real house. The flashing lights and makeup gear suggest, correctly, that we're here for a photo shoot—for Harlequin books, "the most trusted name in romance." Some women are happier to hear this than others. "Uh, homegirl's a little excited to do a photo shoot," Katie says about Kristy, the Ford model, who is exploding with glee. The grumbling is just beginning, though: "One girl who's driving me bananas is Tierra—I don't appreciate her personality," says Robyn, who is absolutely smoking when she's all made up and not falling in the middle of her back handspring. "Tacky hos are a dime a dozen," the makeup artist agrees.
The shoot begins, and everyone glares when political consultant Lesley M. smooches Sean during their cowgirl-themed shoot: "The eye of the hurricane is coming," she says. "Cat 5." Somehow she's most appealing with her offhand hurricane talk than when she's actually with Sean, but who cares: She made Tierra angry, and that's what counts. Kristy is so excited that this is a modeling challenge she basically rips Sean's clothes off, puts his hands on her bottom, and nudges a strap off her shoulder. She wins the prize, which is a "three-cover deal" with Harlequin. "Victory!" she yells.
When we come back, we're at the cocktail party, with bazillion women and one Sean. Lesley M. is the first one up. "Give me the real reason you're here," Sean says. Does he know something we don't? Is she a plant? Lesley says something about how she wasn't going to reveal this, but she's here for ... love. They spend the rest of the time giggling and not making out. On returning to the rest of the women, though, Lesley realizes that she's made classic "Bachelor" mistake #1 (not putting out), so she tracks him down and lays one on him, all while Daniella watches. "They're gonna have a make-out session right now, I can feel," Daniella says. "I am not okay with that."
Kacie B. gets her own time with Sean, who seems to be keeping her around because she's nice and his friend and not at all because he wants to hook up with her. "It's a transition that you're here," he says. "Is that something you want to do?" she asks. Sean nods, or makes some sort of head motion that suggests to Kacie that he's happy, rather than peeved, that she's there. "It felt really good to go from friend zone to girlfriend zone." We'll see about that, Kacie. More awkward conversation follows (sample: "I'm vegan, but I love the beef," from Catherine), but the award for the most awkward of all goes to Katie, who's just not having it, and briefly confides in Kacie. What follows is the least dramatic exit on this show ever: Katie goes to find Sean, tells him she's leaving, and wishes him good luck. "Let me walk you out, then," Sean says. Namaste, Katie.
Kacie gets the rose. "I got taken out fo the friend zone tonight," says Kacie, who, we bet, is wrong. "I wanted to punch her," Tierra says.
The night's second one-on-one is with bridal shopgirl Desiree. "I want a girl with a great sense of humor," Sean says, by way of explaining why he doesn't mind setting up this prank: Alone in a room with what she'll be led to believe is a million-dollar piece of art, the sculpture will spontaneously break. Ha! Hysterical. What follows is the slowest, most boring five minutes the show has ever produced: Desiree is welcomed into the "Bachelor art gallery" (as if) and introduced to the piece, which she's told includes stained glass "gathered from churches near Chernobyl." I totally hate this prank/date. The sculpture crashes to the ground, she apologizes, and Sean comes in and rescues her—it's that much of a waste of time. "It cost five dollars," says the actor hired to play the stereotypical angry artist.
The second part of Desiree's date is marginally more interesting: He's clearly into her, and vice versa, and she wears a purple bikini for swimming at his place. I never thought I'd say it, but I wish there was a helicopter in this segment—maybe ones shooting flame into the house, like in "Skyfall"—because this is as boring as your office friend's third OKCupid date this week. She gets a rose. Yawn. "She's probably going to be here for a long time," Sean says.
It's time for the cocktail party back at the mansion, an event livened up by two events: Amanda's weird strategy of dealing with "The Bachelor" by pretending she's not on it, singing songs in her head, and remaining silent until Sean comes to see her. Also, we have what must be this show's most-frank discussion of race ever. Seriously, someone could have just said the "race" and that would have qualified, but Sean and Robyn have a full-blown discussion of whether he's up for a black girlfriend. Short answer: Sure! "I have noticed the show becoming more culturally diverse," says Robyn, who is polite enough not to say that a single Michael Jackson CD playing on a boom box in the attic would have made this show more culturally diverse. "I'm interested in knowing what exactly he's looking for and how race plays into it. I'm not completely sure if Sean's attracted to black females." Good news: He is. "I love this question, by the way," Sean says. "People assume he probably goes for white girls who are blond. ... My last girlfriend—black." Unfortunately, race aside, they seem to have the chemistry of two people who have to briefly ride an escalator on the same step.
We at last arrive at the rose ceremony. It's still too early in the season for any real animosity to have developed between the women, so it's uneventful—except for some forceful head shaking from Desiree when Amanda gets her rose. Out tonight? It's community organizer Brooke ("Love just was not here") and single mom Diana, whom Sean tells "I just didn't think it was right to keep you away from you girls if I didn't see something long-term."
"The Bachelor" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. We'll be back next week with all the drama, tears, cocktail dresses, and inappropriate touching anyone could handle.
Did Sean make the right choice? Tell us on