With five episodes in the books and only nine competitors remaining, HowAboutWe launches its inaugural “The Bachelor: Season 16” Weekly Power Rankings, where you can find one self-proclaimed insider’s take on whose stock is rising and who could be in danger as Ben’s decision draws nearer. This week saw the surprise departure of Jennifer, who Ben had previously dubbed “best kisser” of the bunch. Following her out the door was Elyse, whose campaign to win Ben’s heart floundered on a beachside one-on-one. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the nine remaining contestants and where they stand after last night’s developments.
1. Lindzi Cox
Lindzi remains my favorite despite being relegated to a largely peripheral role in this week’s episode. Ever the sweetheart, Lindzi avoided controversy while twice garnering preferential treatment from Ben: first in the form of a free pass to the latter half of the group date (the other girls had to win a baseball game for the right to attend), and later as the first competitor to hear her name called in the Rose Ceremony. She and Ben stole away for a midnight stroll on the group date – trading kisses with casual aplomb along the way – and the other housemates seem to regard her more as friend than foe.
2. Courtney Robertson
“Beware the models, musicians and actresses” has long been a mantra of wary Bachelors and Bachelorettes … or at least it should have been. After sixteen iterations of “The Bachelor” and eight more of “The Bachelorette,” any seasoned viewer knows that the intentions of the aspirant-star-cum-true-love-seeker are often dubious at best –- is she in it for love, or simply exposure? While it’s too early to conclude which of those motives defines Courtney, one thing is for sure: she has embraced the role of this season’s femme fatale with open arms. From the sinister cackling that punctuates her sentences to the disparaging remarks she exacts at fellow competitors in confessionals, Courtney seems hell-bent on alienating herself from every cast-member not named “Ben.” Hate her or love her, though, one can’t help but admire the power-play she executed last night, accosting Ben on his way to bed before cajoling him to the beach for an after-hours skinny-dip.
Kacie B. cast a considerable shadow over the competition by impressing Ben on the season’s first one-on-one date, an affair that began with her twirling a baton but ended with Ben sharing home videos and speaking earnestly about his late father. Though she hasn’t seen much of the limelight since, Ben’s affection for her is yet to wane, as evidenced by some playful banter/face-sucking on this week’s group-date – the rose for which he eagerly presented her.
The Dark Horses
4. Nicki Sterling
This spot was reserved for Jennifer, until Ben pulled a fast one on us and opted to eliminate her in favor of Emily. The greatest beneficiary of that elimination would appear to be Nicki, whose one-on-one date with Ben weathered an early rainout to reach a rather steamy climax: an impromptu make-out session and – unbeknownst to us until the closing credits – a couples chocolate bath, replete with whipped cream and a cherry on top. At 26, Nicki is already a divorcee, but she came up with the right answers when Ben broached the subject to leave herself in good standing moving forward.
Already the recipient of both a group-date rose and a successful one-on-one, Rachel exudes a quiet confidence and maturity that is lost upon some of her feistier housemates. While others revel in impulsively professing their love to a guy they hardly know, Rachel readily admitted her guarded nature to Ben last week, assuring him that she would make an effort to open up more in the future. My advice: continue playing it close to the cuff: compelling Ben to earn your trust can only reflect kindly on your character.
6. Emily O’Brien
I know what you’re thinking: how does Emily merit consideration ahead of three other competitors after excoriating Courtney to Ben’s face (and thus flaunting her own insecurities) … again? The short answer: if her appeals were that off-putting, wouldn’t he have ousted her already? The fact that he hasn’t says he’s interested, and willing to give Emily some time to reconcile her apparent mistrust (or jealousy) of Courtney. She did countenance one of her greatest fears (heights) to share a kiss with him atop the Golden Gate Bridge. The fact that she’s a PhD candidate can’t hurt, either.
The Long Shots
7. Blakeley Jones
One of the more puzzling developments of this week’s episode — at least in the eyes of this correspondent — was Ben’s sympathetic reaction to Blakeley’s appeal to him before the Rose Ceremony. On the surface, it seemed every bit as desperate a plea as the one voiced by Elyse earlier in the episode, yet here it elicits an “Aw, shucks!” response from Ben and later, a rose. What gives? Look for Blakeley to finally receive the one-on-one date she’s been clamoring for next week – it will likely represent a “do-or-die” trial for her at this point in the competition.
Casey and Jamie fall to the cellar by default: between them they have exactly zero one-on-ones and group-date roses thus far. I don’t mean to imply that those are the only benchmarks by which “success” on “The Bachelor” can be qualified; rather, that it is merely difficult to draw much of a conclusion from the paltry body of work these two have offered to this point. And judging by the trailer for next week’s episode, things will only get worse for Casey S., who was shown leaving the Bachelor complex in tears, ostensibly stricken by an unexpected tragedy. Here’s to hoping the best.
Who will sink? Who will swim? Tune in to “The Bachelor” on ABC next Monday to find out. Then be sure to check back here for our updated rankings next week.