Chris Harrison lays it right on the table at the top of the show. Whatever anyone is thinking or feeling now, it’s just the beginning. Brace yourself for a long and increasingly ridiculous experience, since we have decided to move this season along at a snail’s pace in the hope that Brad can get his act together and actually pick someone this time.
The date card indicates that Ashley S of First Impression Rose fame, will enjoy a musical one-on-one date with Brad. Cue the squeals of joy from Ashley and roll of eyes from everyone else.
Brad and Ashley share what I would call a pretty typical first date. They go to a Capitol Records recording studio, lay down a cover track of the classic love song, “Kiss from a Rose,” hang with Heidi Klum’s husband, who is a few doors away singing the same song, and then grab a bite on some rooftop with a spectacular view. It’s a great night by all accounts and Ashley gets a kiss and a rose.
The group date is an action-packed adventure for the dozen girls that Brad has invited on set. Stuntman Steven Ho, lends his services (and ninjas) for the day. Michelle provides the DVD commentary for the shoot, offering about 50 different ways to express the fact that she’d like to kill off all the other girls on her date. Unfortunately for her, Brad is looking for his Angelina, and Shawntel the Funeral Director is perfectly cast in the role. 
During the wrap party scene, Chantal O steps up in a showy supporting role, and bares her soul to Brad. She impresses the Bachelor and proves herself to be a very pretty crier, a talent that might come in handy if the next group date is yet another cheesy student film project.
At the house, Emily finds out she’s got the other one-on-one date, and shares her story of losing her husband in a plane crash and then finding out she was pregnant with his child . The big question is whether Emily will be able to tell Brad, since as she point out, it is not exactly great first date material. He’s ready to get into the serious talk though, so he may be able to break down those walls.
Meghan on Emily: “She’s like this itsy bitsy Barbie doll with the soul of Mother Theresa… so you want to hate her, but you can’t,  because you can’t hate Mother Theresa – you’ve gotta love her. So no one hates Emily. Great. Awesome.”  (For those of you who didn’t realize, Meghan is among the 17 women vying for Brad’s heart. Aside from contributing this recap-ready quote, she has been and will likely continue to be a complete non-factor. )
If Emily’s reluctant to talk about her husband dying in a plane crash, the sadistic producers of this twisted show will gently apply some pressure by going ahead and putting her on an airplane. If that somehow backfires and makes Emily even more guarded, perhaps some liquid courage will do the trick. Sure, wine country will be awkward for awhile, but eventually they’ll get through the painful small talk and non-versations, the alcohol will work its magic, and bales of hay in a barnyard will seem like the most romantic thing in the world.
Emily gets up the nerve to tell Brad the truth, and he’s relieved and she’s relieved. Now she’s ready to guzzle wine and speak about her daughter with carefree abandon, and Brad’s ready to hand over that rose.
Since Brad decided to come back and try this superficial soulmate search a second time, the show needs to make one thing very clear. The reason that Brad didn’t find lasting love was 100% his own fault. He’s got issues. He needs to work on himself. He screwed up the most amazing opportunity in the world and is on the road to dying alone. Never mind that this might not be the ideal forum for building a normal relationship… or the fact that most of the “relationships” that came out of this show crashed and burned within 6 months, anyway. BRAD WAS THE PROBLEM and if he doesn’t employ a team of therapists to work with him around the clock, he will be the problem again. Hence, Dr. Shameless Self Promoter’s appearance on tonight’s episode… and Brad’s requirement to casually weave the therapy lessons into at least three more conversations before the rose ceremony.

As per Chris Harrison's prediction, emotions are running high at the cocktail party. Alli is dressed like a present and her dad cheated on her mom. Brad tells her he is not a cheater and thanks her for her time.  All this talk about less than stellar fathers has reminded him that he needs to find Chantal and regurgitate some of the key messages he learned in therapy.
Michelle comes along to presumably turn the tables on the crazy, since there’s really no other explanation for her musical underscore to be straight out of a Tim Burton movie. Instead, she has a mundane faux fight with ‘The Bachelor’ about kissing other girls, and that’s about it. For all of the attention Michelle’s behavior has received, I'm going to be expecting a nice, big, nutty pay-off in the weeks to come.

By far the most disappointing news of the night came from Madison the Vampire Girl. Before explaining her ties to the dark arts, the fang-wearing model is bowing out. Naturally, she doesn't really offer any clear reason for her exit, though I have to assume the answer could be found in a 'Twilight' book or 'True Blood' episode. Regardless, the producers failed us big time. Seriously, 'Bachelor' staffers -- How do you have a girl who claims to be friends with powerful vampires on this show and practically ignore it?? Extremely disappointing.
What did everyone else think? Are you as bummed as me that Madison is out so soon? Do you feel like Michelle’s craziness is being overplayed? Any early bets on who Brad picks?