Meredith Hoffa
May 27, 2014 6:38 pm

I don’t think it was just my dazzlingly splendid couch dessert* and I don’t think it was pregnancy hormones either: tonight’s episode gave me emotions. Small little waves of emotion, mind you, and only at times, but waves nonetheless. There were moments I found myself smiling serenely at the TV, awash with something I can only describe as warm feelings.

Maybe it’s because the two men Andi chose for 1-on-1 dates tonight were decent — like they came across as actual, likable human beings instead of scary, spray-tanned cardboard cutouts with glow-in-the-dark teeth, and that was pleasing. Plus: has this show ever seen a contestant like Andi? So what that she’s already maxed out my “y’all” tolerance and soon is going to do same with “stop.” In the universe of this franchise, she’s a MacArthur Genius. She’s great with making sentences in English. She doesn’t do upspeak. She asks somewhat interesting questions of her dates. She knows the word “aligned” (as in she and Nick V. are “aligned” on what they seek in a mate.)

Low expectations can be a beautiful thing.

The 1-on-1 with Eric

Knowing Eric’s tragic fate since filming made me nervous about watching this segment. OF COURSE ANDI PICKED HIM FOR THE FIRST DATE OF THE SEASON. Man. It seemed like it would be stressful to watch, considering whenever I’m watching Eric onscreen, I find myself obsessively wondering whether his family and friends are seeing this and what it might possibly be like to be in their shoes at this moment. But Eric’s date with Andi was just sweet, and not because he’s gone. It was just a really nice date. The Bachelor tropes were out in full force: The two frolicked on a beach. They played with sand while exclaiming how much they just love playing. They flew a kite and giggled. Did you think a helicopter would not be part of this? Please. It’s episode two already! A helicopter WAS part of this, and it whisked them to the to top of Bear Mountain and plopped them onto a pile of snow, where they were given cute gear and a snowboard lesson and we got a tiny sense of just how freakishly good Eric is (was) at everything.

Post sportif, a thermos of hot cocoa magically appeared. I cannot tell to you how much I love this Bachelor practice. Contestants might be on a mountain peak, in a gondola, on a train, or making out in a roiling hot tub, when a picnic basket will appear out of nowhere. Or flutes of champagne with berries. Or a cheese plate. This delights me so, so much. How did it get there? I always wonder. It gives me a morsel of hope that such a thing will happen to me in real life.

At night, cozily situated in the “log cabin,” Eric and Andi had a conversation which, amazingly, sounded like a conversation between two normal humans. Usually contestants on this show just talk about how much they love love, and how important (pronounced “imporTinn” — which I guess makes the word sound more imporTinn) family is to them. But tonight I swear they sounded like two actual people getting to know each other. And when Eric told his harrowing story about his experience traveling in Syria — and texting his parents to say goodbye — I was floored. Such foreshadowing sadness. It was something.

The Group Date

Stripping down for charity. It was only one season ago that Andi was in the exact same boat!

What a pleasure it was to get to know Craig and begin to witness his unraveling. At this point in the day he was not yet drinking (presumably) but still, you could see the hot mess simmering just under the surface: the shrieky giggling, the flying spittle caused by unbridled anticipation, the obsession with Josh M.

My other favorite parts of this date were 1) Marcus, the Nic Cage/Ryan Gosling doppelganger who, despite his introverted nature, donned a Captain Stubing outfit gamely and made a delicious stew out of the solo he was assigned, and, 2) the moment when Chris Harrison spanked a gyrating Dylan, though it wasn’t the spank itself that tickled me as much as it was the resigned look on Chris’ face when he did it. If i knew how to make a GIF of it I would.

The nighttime cocktail party was boring. “Y’all clean up nice,” Andi cooed, employing what seems to be another one of her stock phrases. Josh cornered Andi to tell her he’s more than a dumb jock, then proceeded to act like a dumb jock. The opera singer gave Andi a personal concert at two-feet range, which made me insanely uncomfortable. And by the end of the night, Craig (that Craig!) was so wasted and causing such fracas that the generally unflappable Andi was flapped, distracted, and very distraught indeed over her brand new realization that certain cast members might not be there for the right reasons.

1-on-1 with Chris the Farmer

This is the first time I can remember the show shooting at the horse races, so I appreciated the creative venue. I ignored the silly parts — namely the senior couple planted to dole out lessons in love — and enjoyed the rest of the date, which was all about Andi’s fantastic 1940s dress and hair, pretty mint juleps, and Chris’ hound-dog eyes, which make him look disarmingly innocent and half asleep at all times. Like the date earlier in the episode, I thought these two connected, and as Chris talked about his former fiance, Andi seemed to really listen and relate. During the slow-dancing to the band, Chris looked like he might melt into a puddle of chardonnay happiness, and my cold, cynical heart thumped for him. It was super sweet, and by the end of the episode I felt very optimistic for Andi, for them as a duo, and, most importantly, for myself, since I’m going to be lounging around with a newborn devouring this entire season like it’s my job and I cannot accept a total wash of a season like Juan Pablo’s BS parade.

Let’s face it: I’m particularly jazzed about next week’s Boys II Men bit (Motownphilly’s back again, heyo!) and on seat’s edge to find out who accuses whom of being a liar. Bring on the mansion-wide strife!

*Please understand that to me, this show pairs best w savory/salty items. The ideal snack is wine with a platter of some sort: soft cheeses, olives, cornichons, hopefully some salumi — things that I’ll get back to in earnest once this cute but very much-not-in-a-rush baby finds his way out of me. Please understand, too, that even though I am a lady, I do not normally endorse diet/lowfat/let-me indulge-my-sinful-chocoholic style food marketed to ladies, which I guess these treats are, which is why I have never encountered them before tonight. But O Happy Day, they are delicious and a discovery I am so grateful to have made. I misjudged them. So sue me.

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