Bachelor
Brad and a Date Get Closer

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"It's My Birthday and I'll Behave Like a Soul-Sucking Harridan If I Want To"

As we begin the second episode, let us all hope that Brad got all the unnecessary apologizing out of his system in the premiere. Not that this show has any lack of recurring themes. For example, Brad has not only been given a second chance, but an "amazing" second chance. He greets the morning by marveling that things just got "so real," which is a phrase that long ceased to have any sort of meaning on this show. He apparently wants to find someone that he can throw a football to instead of just aimlessly tossing it up and down to himself. I'm going to go ahead and assume the editor is using the football self-tossing as a sly masturbation reference.

While the women hang out in the mansion, Chris Harrison strolls in and goes over the rules of the game -- the rules set down by the Marquess of Queensberry 150 years ago.

Ashley H., the dentist artist, gets the first date, which she thinks is an "honour," which has to be the loosest use of that word ever. She's excited because she's the first one he's going out with. Yeah, THIS season. She is outfitted in a dress that has single-handedly depleted the world's supply of lamé. He says he just wants the date to be a lot of fun, unlike those dates where the woman hopes you have a dentist's appointment or tax preparation lined up. "Have her home before ten!" yells someone in the house, while some other hatchet-face moans how perfect he is, what with the suit, the hair. I believe that might be Raichel. You will remember -- probably unfortunately -- that Raichel is the "manscaper."

Brad tells us that Ashley has no clue where they're going, which is also something serial killers can say. And they drive down a darkened road (with the car's interior lights on so we can better see the growing horror on Ashley's face). But instead of one or both of them being brutally murdered like they would if this were a perfectly indecent slasher flick, it turns out he's leading her to a carnival that is all for them. Because carnivals set up in the darkness on the edge of town aren't creepy enough, let's have one with just two people! The Bachelor is horrifying enough on its own, but the carnival is upping the creepiness factor, especially as it reminds me of the opening of The Lost Boys. Here's hoping Brad doesn't get all oiled up and rock out with a saxophone. Unless that's your thing. (That's no one's thing.)

Brad lets Ashley flip the switch that turns on the lights on all the rides, and unfortunately no one gets electrocuted. We watch what feels like three hours' worth of these two nimrods playing carnival games, which means this is going to be one of those dates where the Bachelor marvels at how his date was able to drop her intellectual façade for once and unleash her inner child. Brad actually appears to injure Ashley at one point when they high-five.

Back at the house, there are fifteen women who find out that they are going on the group date. In an interview, Michelle moans that it's going to be hard to get his attention, and tomorrow's going to drive her crazy, because it's her birthday. Here's guessing Michelle decides to take everyone down with her.

Back at the carnival, Brad and Ashley are eating cotton candy and being "wacky" for a photo booth. Then they sit down for a serious chat. "You sound like you're preparing for the worst," says Brad, after Ashley starts talking about standing on her own two feet, and then they bond over the fact that both their fathers split when they were kids. Ashley's father actually had addiction problems and is homeless. She doesn't even know where he is, which is awful, and I will make less fun of it than I did whilst live-tweeting. Brad blames his father for his own problems with pushing people away, but at the same time he also has a role model for what NOT to do. Ashley wants to know if he came back on this show to redeem himself, because she's worried that he's going to feel more pressure to actually pick someone this time, and they go on like this forever, and I can't believe I'm actually nostalgic for the relative excitement of watching them run around the carnival. At least the carnival bears the possibility of a ride malfunctioning and sending them spinning or plunging to their deaths.

And now Brad is saying inane things like how because of Ashley he can breathe now, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean, and then of course he gives her the rose, and Ashley, who has already earned the nickname "Ash" from Brad, thinks they are going to get married and have babies? Essentially? And now they are on the ferris wheel and they are making out and I am getting motion sickness, and also annoyance nausea. Brad feels he's on his way to finding his wife.

The next day, Michelle is all pissed because she is turning 30 and has to suffer the indignity of sharing Brad on a group date. "Happy freakin' birthday to me!" she moans. God, what a sour person. In the Hummer limo on the way to the group date, the women all toast Michelle on her birthday, so it appears she's talking about it endlessly with them as well as with us. There are also lots of clips of the women who are apparently excited to be doing this, but that's because today is not their birthday.

They arrive at their destination, in a range of dress from casual to formal to bam-chicka-wow, and it turns out that they are going to make commercials for the American Red Cross, which sounds like much more fun than wearing bikinis and getting drunk and talking shit about each other. Everyone moans about the part they're given, especially Keltie, who whines about being the "butch in a neck brace with two arm casts." She looks miserable. Madison is a dominatrix, and Melissa is a cougar because she is ... 45? She tells us that she quit her job to go on this show. She's a waitress, so I imagine it's a little more along the lines of "I couldn't get someone to cover my shifts so the diner fired me."

Michelle moans some more about it being her birthday today. "People are going to piss me off today, I know it." I think she probably says that every day, birthday or not. She's like a reverse motivational speaker.

So this gang of bachelorettes who likely are unable to donate blood because of toxicity reasons are making commercials exhorting others to give blood. The idea, if you can call it that, is some kind of melodramatic soap opera. Brad, with a pasted-on mustache and chest hair that looks like it was swept up from a barber shop, plays Gustavo, a philanderer with the acting skills of a lobotomized porn star.

Michelle glares during a scene in which Brad has to keep kissing Stacey and Emily, and Melissa decides to intrude on the scene and kiss him herself, earning enmity from Raichel, as well as Michelle, who is still all bitchfaced out because no one is making her feel like she's the queen of the world, what with it being her birthday and all.

Britt is very nervous about having to make out with Brad on a bed with Chantal, because she's a prude. The scene involves the two of them seducing him only to find out he's a vampire? And the tag is, "Don't be scared, we just want your blood"? Does that in any way make sense to anyone? And Britt is so nervous that she decides to just "go for it," which involves swallowing the entire lower half of Brad's face. "OK, really? Really?" Michelle tells us, but not because she thinks Britt's a skank or anything: "This is not the way I thought I'd be spending my 30th birthday. Uh-uh."

And finally the other women have started noticing that Michelle is acting like a giant baby because of her birthday. Michelle actually stomps off backstage to sulk. Did she say she was 30 or five? Brad goes to find her, and she apologizes, and he tells her not to for some reason. Yeah, apologizing is apparently Brad's full-time job now! They have a conversation about having a good time, instead of a conversation that involves telling her to grow the fuck up or go home.

"All I want for my birthday is Brad," Michelle adds, telling us that when she kisses Brad, fireworks

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