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'The Bachelor' recap: There are no rules, only Sean

(ABC.com )
February 05, 2013|By Adam Lukach, @lucheezy | RedEye

Rules were made to be broken, they say, which always confused me because fundamentally, that's a weird way to look at rules. I digress. "The Bachelor" plays by the rules of great television, which is to say, there are no rules, and even if there are, they are easily maimed and manipulated for maximum impact. "The Bachelor," show and man, has no master. Last night's episode was particularly rule-breaky, or something like that.

Let's start with the group date and Sean's decision to bring back the blue team. The competition was an "outdoorsy" relay race with canoe racing, hay-baling, cross-sawing and goat milking/drinking, because those things encapsulate the outdoors. After the red team out-hay-baled, out-sawed and out-drank the blue team (they couldn't really paddle, though) in the Little Group Date on the Prairie, they expected to "get more time with Sean," right? Wrong.

Sean decided he didn't want the losing team to suffer the wrath of "Bach," which hates losers ("If you do not receive a rose, you must leave the house immediately.") Instead, he bucked the rules and invited the blue team back, because his wife could have been on the blue team, goddamnit.

This made for a weird, rare moment where the dichotomy of the show fully reared its pretty little head: the idea that the show is first and foremost about finding Sean a wife, but it's also a reality competition.

So while the blue team is resurrected from a night of wine-aided wallowing, the red team finds themselves wondering why there isn't more wine on their date, because they are PISSED. After all, Desiree milked and chugged goat's milk to win that relay race, and she doesn't just handle any old goat udder like that.

But you can see the paradox of the show in the way each team reacts. "It just shows such great character," Ashlee tells us. "This is not a competition; this is about for him and finding someone he connects with." We hear a lot of "not fairs" from Des, Selma, Sarah and Robyn, who clearly do feel like it's a competition: "It's like we got nothing extra out of [winning]," Robyn says. It just does to show the saying is true, "All's fair in love and reality television." In situations like these, it's not always easy to remember that's what these girls signed up for.

The truest gamesman among the girls is clearly Tierra, who plays solely to win without regard for anything or anyone else. She broke some rules of her own, taking a break from writing pairs of words in a notebook and infiltrating the already-infiltrated group date to talk to Sean about how her 2-on-1 date felt like a slap in the face. I wish Robyn had walked outside to see them talking--that would have been a much more worthwhile confrontation than the childish argument they had later.

Despite Tierra's strategy being kind of a high-wire act, with her reckless disregard for allies and manners, she has played it well so far, manipulating Sean exactly how she wants. Did that 2-on-1 date with Jackie not feel more like an execution? Seriously, I had doomsday, Owen-Sleater-in-a-box vibes before that date ("Boardwalk Empire" reference, ignore). Even as Jackie maneuvered Tierra territory better than anyone so far, exposing an apparent airport flirting incident to the young lad, she still couldn't bring down the Tower of Tierror, who tells Sean "I get scared because I have the biggest heart" and winds up getting Jackie sent home. Girl is a predator, people.

However, we do start to see some rust in the foundation of Tierra's plan this episode.

Sean walks in on her and Robyn waggin' fingers and talkin' shit, and he wonders what's going on now that he's heard so much about this "other Tierra." He goes to Lesley to get to the bottom of it, and honestly, she kind of botches the thing a little bit. Sean demonstrates total, uninhibited trust in Lesley and even gives her the chance to put away one of her most dangerous opponents. Yet when he asks her what's going on, even begging for specifics, the best she can muster is that "She's cold to the other girls in the house." LESLEY! C'MON GIRL! *exasperated sigh*

At least she does better than Des, who can't let the blue team thing go, and comes off as super-catty when she offers nothing but vague hearsay after questioning his decision to keep Tierra. He even kind of calls her out for being insecure.

Even worse, later he goes to Chris Harrison, who offers skepticism regarding the other girls feelings about Tierra, even though he knows exactly what's happening. Oh, Chris, you sly, dirty advocate for ABC's ratings, you.

I feel obligated to mention Lindsay's 1-on-1 date with Sean from the beginning of the episode, which goes so smoothly that there's almost nothing to take away from it, other than another hilariously awkward concert where the pair dance on a podium in the middle of a crowd of people more interested in Instragramming them than they are in listening to whoever was singing.

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