Props to Sars. Damn good show, bosslady.
"Ladies, if you would, come join me in the living room, please," calls an enthusiastic Chris "Holy Holy Holy He's A Boring Host" Harrison while we are treated to an establishing shot of The Malibu Barbies' Dream House (y'all, it's even in Malibu). The fifteen remaining contestants come a-running into the room, stop short with a collective look of "oh, sorry, we heard a male voice calling us and we just assumed the voice was made of cash," and continue in anyway because, well, this room has rolling cameras in it! Today, Chris is wearing a rugged, outdoorsy, short-sleeved blue button-down, causing brand confusion between him and every other reality-show host ever, while insuring the continuing bland Probstification of the lot of them continues unchecked. The only difference between those two at this point is that Chris's luxury item is actual luxury. Chris indicates the women's plush surroundings and asks the ladies what they think of the house, doing so with such a self-satisfied air you'd think he built it using his own hands, and the ladies coo and applaud with such a self-conscious obsequiousness that you'd think he built it using his own money. I've got your numbers now, you crazy, crazy, magnificent, gold-digging bastards, you. Chris launches right into the plot of tonight's episode: "Andrew has planned some exciting, romantic fantasy dates." Oh, he's planned them, has he? I'm sorry, but I was under the impression that when people planned dates, it involved, like, calling a restaurant, making a reservation, arranging to pick the other person up. You know, the "planning" part of the planning. Andrew has taken care of the part of the evening that includes the following: "Act humble, tousle hair fashionably, buy shoes no one but me can afford, add Dr. Scholl's Short-B-Gone lifts to shoes no one but me can afford, call Daddy and publicist from the limo to tell him it's about the wine and not the tires, and show up." But the "plans"? A little bit more of a stretch, is what I'm saying.
Chris adds that the girls will be going on individual dates with Andrew "later on in this process" (not so fast, Shannon), but for now, they'll be going out in group dates of five. Which, truth be told, pretty much eliminates the word "romantic" from Chris's earlier speech, right along with the aforementioned "planning." Way to shoot from the hip, Chris. Anyway, he concludes with great mystery, "I think someone's left you a present out on the porch." And if I didn't know any better, I would say that the terminology of "a present out on the porch" connotes less a surprise of the "exciting" and "romantic" variety, and more of the "deposited by that strange dog that inexplicably lived in the house during last season of The Bachelorette" kind. Chris calls upon Elizabeth to go fetch the box, perhaps thinking of what must be her innate, caring-for-animals goodwill based on the matronly, ye olde weddyng dress she wore at her mom's house back in the season premiere. Elizabeth -- not a blonde and therefore finally beginning to individuate herself -- leaps off the couch like her non-blonde-hair has been set on fire (and with such insanely catty energy coming from these girls, I would say she's not out of the woods yet, actually), and makes for the door. On her way toward it, Chris yells some cautionary words behind her: "And don't open it!" He means the box. That line kills. Did Andrew tell them that whoever laughs loudest at Chris's non-joke gets a stack of twenties or something? Elizabeth returns with a large white box bedecked in a red bow, and dances around it like it was some kind of godsent totem that dropped to earth from outer space. The producers must be crazy! Open it. OPEN IT! The only way for this drawn-out intro to pay off at this point would be if the opened box revealed the shooting script from the final scene of Se7en with Mike Fleiss's head Photoshopped in.