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'The Bachelor' recap: A creepy job is the kiss of death for Shawntel

February 22, 2011 |  7:32 am

1295631434_bachelor-shawntel-lh I mean, let's be honest: after Monday night's episode, there's no way Emily isn't going home with Brad at the end of this season of "The Bachelor."

And if I'm wrong, then I must be a horrible fan of this show, because the look in Brad's eye when he's around Emily is unmistakable. She's the only one he gets nervous around. She's the only one whose crap -- read: emotional issues -- he's willing to put up with. And she's managed to play hard to get while still keeping his interest -- something difficult to do in a competition that's all about declaring your undying love after mere weeks.

That's not to say the producers of this show haven't been able to fool me before. Case in point: I was totally convinced that Emily's daughter, Ricki, was going to hate Brad, and that the awkward interaction might kill the pair's fledgling relationship. Oh, and it certainly was unbearably uncomfortable at the beginning. Like any young girl forced to be on reality television, Ricki was painfully shy at first, hiding behind Emily and refusing to make eye contact or speak with Brad. It was only when she opened Brad's present, a butterfly-shaped kite, and watched it take off into the air that she finally loosened up.

Back at Emily's house -- which, by the way, is amazingly nice for a 24-year-old widow -- she and Brad continued to play with Ricki, who was weirdly instructed by her mother to call her "new friend" Mr. Brad. During the last few episodes, Emily has often seemed incredibly distant -- the only woman who isn't head-over-heels for Brad. But at home in North Carolina after Ricki was able to interact with her new boyfriend, Emily finally seemed for the first time to express genuine emotion for Brad. She looked truly disappointed when Brad held back from kissing her out of "respect" for being in the house where Ricki was sleeping. By the way, I didn't buy that so-called gentlemanly gesture for a second. Just kiss the girl. You're not getting hot and heavy. If by some chance Ricki bounded out of bed and came running down the stairs to eavesdrop, I think you'd hear her.

Even though the date ended on a somewhat odd note, it was about a zillion times more successful than Brad's visit to Chico, where he met up with Shawntel. I knew they were doomed the second he lay down on that embalming table.

Really, Shawntel? You're going to make the guy lay on a table where dead bodies rest and then show him where they're burned into ashes? Sure, I guess whoever is dating this girl needs to understand what she's into. And Brad certainly took Embalming 101. But it was beyond obvious he hated every second of it, even copping to his fear of death.

"I never thought I'd be laying on an embalming table looking up at Shawntel with a face mask on," he said. Come on, Brad, you're saying that wouldn't be the fantasy of every male in America? So. Creepy.

Still, he kept saying how "impressed" he was with Shawntel's "passion" for her job. Ugh. I dare this guy to go on at least one date and not spew out some cheesy, canned line.

Back at Shawntel's house, she told her family about Brad's tour of the mausoleum. Her dad, sensing Brad's willies, joked that his daughter wouldn't be getting a rose after the creepy walk-through. His prediction, sadly for Shawntel, ended up being right. While it was evident Brad was not looking forward to being in a relationship in which the dinner conversation centered on dead bodies, I think it was Shawntel's family obligations that really caused him to pause. When Shawntel revealed she'd consider moving to Austin, her dad immediately became distressed. "Well, that would affect our plans for succession in business," he said in a strangely formal tone. Fortunately for Shawntel's dad, his daughter will now have no conflicts of interest when it comes to taking over the family business.

I'm glad she was sent home instead of Chantal -- not only because there should only be one girl with that name on "The Bachelor," but because I'm worried my favorite woman is in serious danger of being sent home. The connection she had with Brad early on just doesn't seem to compare now with what he has with Emily, or even Ashley.

In Chantal's hometown of Seattle, Brad did bond with her dad. After arriving at her family's huge mansion, Brad learned that Chantal's dad worked his way up from nothing (both of their ancestors were masons) and that he also did not have a strong relationship with his dad. Of course, this was enough for Brad to feel like he and Chantal's dad were soul mates. But their bromance may have been stronger than anything I saw between him and Chantal. While she constantly expresses her feelings for Brad, I sometimes worry she's coming on too strong. She also chose a really unfortunate scarf to wear on her date.

That fashion choice was only slightly worse than the fingerless gloves Brad opted for on his jaunt to Ashley's hometown in Maine. Other than his hipster-inspired look, I was surprised at how well the date went. Ashley's perkiness can really irk me. "Here's the restaurant I worked at in high school," she said, beginning to tour Brad around her town. "Isn't that cute?" Uh, please refrain from calling yourself cute.

She was also crazily hyper when she arrived at her house. I get it, you're excited to see your family. You don't need to scream and then jump into Brad's lap like a child in front of your dad.

Despite her nonstop upbeat attitude -- and I can't believe I'm saying this -- I actually think Brad and Ashley could be good for each other? She's at ease in her skin, and the connection the two share never seems forced.

After this week, I'm thinking she will likely edge out Chantal to make it into the final two, though I'm still betting on Emily taking it all. Are you not dying for the scenic South Africa episode next weekend? Ah-maz-ing.

-- Amy Kaufman


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Photo: Shawntel and Brad early on in "The Bachelor" season. Credit: ABC.