The Bachelor, Season 16: Power Rankings — Week 8by Walker James Loetscher on February 21, 2012
This week incumbent Bachelor Ben Flajnik completely undermined this poll’s credibility by cutting ties with Kacie B., who I had (until now) touted as a resounding favorite. I apologize to those of you who took my predictions to the bookmaker. While I try to adhere to rigorous research standards, the whims of a lovedrunk reality T.V. star can defy even the most objective known metrics. More on what scuppered Kacie’s campaign upcoming (hint: it wasn’t not her parents’ fault).
Elsewhere, Lindzi, Courtney and Nicki all impressed Ben on their respective hometown dates, owing largely to the fact that their parents weren’t abrasive control freaks. Next week the trio will travel to Switzerland for this season’s penultimate Rose Ceremony. Who will survive and advance to the finale? After watching Kacie go home, the answer to that question is more ambiguous than ever. Nonetheless, I present to you one self-proclaimed insider’s take on where each competitor ranks with only two eliminations remaining.
Disclaimer: all predictions prone to failure. HowAboutWe and its subsidiaries claim no responsibility in the event you incur serious gambling debt.
First thing’s first: let’s throw those lighters up for Kacie B.
Eliminated This Week
Last Week’s Ranking: 1 (Oops.)
Yeah, yeah, yeah — your correspondent missed the mark on this one. But anyone who claims to have seen Kacie’s exodus coming is either a liar or the Oracle at Delphi. Last week I called Kacie “the overwhelming favorite at this point in the competition.” I stand by that statement: she was the favorite at that point. Then Ben met her parents, who Kacie feared would sabotage her romantic endeavors (“I would be frustrated if whatever my parents say influences our relationship”) from the outset. Mom Martha and dad Vinny did little to welcome Ben into the family, instead dwelling on their suspicions of him as a ladykiller and general practitioner of uncouth behavior. It should be mentioned here that Vinny — a federal parole officer and, at least in this role, eerily reminiscent of Robert DeNiro in “Meet the Parents” — abstains from drinking altogether. Not exactly the ideal father-in-law candidate for a man whose livelihood is viticulture.
Both parents subjected Ben to uncomfortable bouts of interrogation when left alone with him. Martha was especially upfront, warning Ben that she would not condone premarital cohabitation under any circumstances. While that may be the truth, isn’t it something she could’ve kept to herself? To preserve her daughter’s best interests? Kacie will have been none too pleased with her parents’ behavior if she tuned in to last night’s episode.
Ben’s sudden reevaluation of Kacie illustrates one of the great lessons we can take away from watching “The Bachelor”: the importance of maintaining perspective in a new relationship. There is little doubting that Ben developed strong feelings for Kacie in the fleeting moments they spent alone together (which amounted to two day-long one-on-one dates and a handful of occasions when they managed to steal away from cocktail parties/group dates). But upon arriving in Kacie’s hometown, Ben learned for the first time just how incompatible her family’s lifestyle was with his own. One would think the small detail of her father’s militant sobriety might be of interest to Kacie’s winemaking boyfriend, but no, it escaped her mind until minutes before introducing the two.
Perhaps she knew her parents’ ultra-conservative values would be a sore-spot for laid-back Ben. More likely, though, the pair were too intoxicated by the romance that private helicopter tours of Latin America tend to inspire to touch on such banal topics as familial values or personal histories. That’s why it should come as no surprise that Kacie — or any contestant, for that matter — should lose Ben’s favor so suddenly. In the so-called “grand scheme of things,” Ben hardly knows any of these girls. Each week, he has to envisage a potential future with each based on a relatively limited (and highly contextualized) sample of interactions, among which this week’s homecoming dates certainly constitute the most revealing episode. And whereas Lindzi, Nicki and Courtney’s families served as great advocates to their daughters’ causes, Kacie’s did much the opposite, alienating Ben with invasive questions and pseudo-ultimatums.
The Perennial Contender
1. Lindzi Cox
Last Week: 2
Lindzi’s parents helped her make serious inroads this week, proving to be every bit as mild-mannered, affable and fun-loving as their daughter. They invited Ben to their impressive ranch (Cha-ching!), where the two couples competed in a horse-drawn chariot race before retiring to the stately Cox manor for an evening of wine and fine dining. Dad Harry called Ben “a really nice young man” and later professed (to all present) that he “would welcome (Ben) as my son-in-law.” Afterward, Ben responded in kind by dubbing Harry “someone I would go to for advice.”
Lindzi’s parents offered Ben everything that Kacie’s didn’t: common interests, a familiar lifestyle, and the promise of their parental blessing should Ben eventually choose their daughter as his bride. If Lindzi goes on to win the competition, I think we’ll look back at her performance last night as the one that elevated her to elite status.
Related: 4 Random Signs He’s Into You
Dark Horse No More
2. Courtney Robertson
Last Week: ?
Courtney’s greatest obstacle in this competition was always going to be the collective disdain with which the other cast members regard her. Now that the girls are no longer housemates and the cat-fighting aspect of the show has receded to the margins (a shame, as, let’s be honest: the cat-fights are the real reason we tune in every week), the psychological warfare she wages on Ben’s feeble brain can go completely unchecked.
Her first order of business was introducing Ben to her parents, who played the part of graceful and complimentary hosts, formally welcoming Ben to their family and assuring him that their daughter’s intentions were sincere. Doing his best used-car-salesman, Courtney’s father explained to Ben that “marriage is life’s greatest gamble; there’s a fifty-percent chance of winning” before asking him
“What do I have to do to see you drive out of here in it today?” ”Are you ready to make that bet?” Tacky, yet unrefined.
After dinner, and in the over-the-top fashion we’ve come to expect of her, Courtney staged a mock wedding for Ben, asking him to write and exchange vows with her (officiant present) before climbing into a truck whose rear-windshield was emblazoned with “Almost Married.” If anyone else were behind the gimmick, Ben might have deemed it grounds for immediate expulsion. But in the bizarro world that is life under Courtney’s spell, he seemed to throughly delight in the makeshift ceremony.
That Other Girl
3. Nicki Sterling
Last Week: 3
“Really?” Ben answered, visibly taken aback, when Nicki confessed that “after today, I am in love with you.” While it lacked the grandeur of Courtney’s backyard wedding ceremony, the gesture may have been twice as meaningful. Unrehearsed, private (save for the score of cameras and microphones looming just out of view) and from-the-heart, Nicki’s admission certainly piqued Ben’s curiosity … but did it do more harm or good?
Articulated by Nicki — a recent divorcee — the “L” bomb represents an especially perplexing proposition. Knowing that she’s failed at marriage before, Ben has to wonder if Nicki’s “love” is something she gives all too willingly. Of course he’s flattered to know that another person holds him in such high regard, but he should also question whether she truly “learned her lesson” — as she so frequently asserts — in her first attempt at marriage.
Aside from that, Nicki’s homecoming date was a run-of-the-mill affair, rating somewhere between Kacie’s disaster and Lindzi’s triumph. Nicki’s parents — who were skeptical upon meeting Ben — came to admire the shaggy-headed viticulturist greatly by day’s end, when dad offered up the family’s “total blessing and support” for his daughter’s newest relationship.
Agree with this week’s rankings? Better yet, disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Don’t forget to tune in to “The Bachelor” (Mondays on ABC) and check back here next week for the final edition of this season’s Power Rankings.