Wow! We’re down to three women. To me, this is the really fun part of The Bachelor. Now that we’re down to three women, each of them gets enough screen time with Byron that we finally get some glimpses of what might really be going on. The producers are working extra hard at this point to keep us from guessing the final woman, but inevitably, some clues slip through. And, I always find it interesting to see the women on their home turf.

Last Week on The Bachelor and Preview of Tonight’s Show

There isn’t too much to say about the “Last week on The Bachelor” segment, except that someone on the staff must be reading the reviews of the show, because the infamous phrase “America’s most eligible bachelor” has now been replaced by “one of America’s most eligible bachelors.” Still hype, to be sure, but an improvement.

Then Chris Harrison tells us, “Tonight, Byron visits the three remaining women in their hometowns to meet their friends.”... “They ask some tough questions”... “And then decide which two of them will go to the next step and bring their families back to the mansion.”... “Three women, two roses. Who will go home brokenhearted? Find out tonight on The Bachelor.”

The producers have made a few changes this season, and one of them is that when Byron visits the women’s hometowns, he meets their friends, not their families. Since we’re dealing with a slightly older group this time around, it makes more sense to have Byron meet the women’s friends. And, the “take them home to meet the parents” formula was getting pretty stale.

Byron Visits Tanya in Plano

Before we get to Plano, we see Byron and Chris in front of the mansion, standing next to Byron’s limo... Chris says to Byron: Well, this week, you'll be visiting three hometowns of three women who could possibly become your wife....Chris deserves every penny he earns for having to dress like a geek every week, and deliver lines like this with a straight face...Wait, there’s a twist...Chris hands Byron a Marquis Jet Card so he can take a NetJet aircraft to all of the ladies’ hometowns....Hmmm, is Warren Buffett (whose Berkshire Hathaway holding company owns NetJets) a secret “Bachelor” fan?...I doubt it, but it’s still more believable than the fact that we’re supposed to think that Byron will be making his own travel plans....We see Byron getting on a totally hot jet. Lucky Byron. One of my fantasies is to be able to travel by private jet....However, unfortunately for Byron, his trip on the jet can’t exactly be considered “private” since he’ll be surrounded by people who are choreographing and filming his every move. So, whether he wants to or not, Byron is off to Plano, Texas.

In last week’s recap, I got to show off my knowledge of California geography as a native San Franciscan. However, this week, I confess my ignorance, at least for the first stop. I know my way around London, but Texas might as well be on Mars in terms of what I know about its geography. After I looked it up on the Internet, I discovered that Plano is about 20 miles north of Dallas, and has more than 240,000 people. Still, something kept tickling my brain that Plano was known for something notorious, not that you’d ever know that from looking at the official Plano Web sites. After some digging, I found it. Plano made the news in the early 80’s because of a string of suicides among Plano high school students, and then again in the mid-to-late 90’s because of a string of heroin deaths among Plano teenagers. Apparently getting through high school in Plano is no picnic. To be fair, I’m sure Plano is a very nice place. But, the bad stuff is always what people remember.....I realize that I have just alienated all my Texas readers, and I apologize. People either “get” Texas or they don’t, and I don’t. However, anyone who’s insulted should consider the source. Here I am, a native Californian, who voluntarily lives 2,000 miles away in a city that is perfectly flat and has long, cold winters.

Okay, back to Tanya, who is a special education teacher, and an example of what is good about Plano....We see Byron getting off his plane, and driving by some steers and some horses...Then he pulls up to what looks like a barn, but turns out to be a deserted country western bar, where Tanya is waiting with four of her friends, all of them blonde (or at least light-haired) and thin....This is where people like me get stereotypical ideas of what Texas is like. I guess fat brunettes are allowed in Texas. But, at age 31, why do all Tanya’s friends look just like her? I found it a little too “Stepford Wives” for my taste. Still, Tanya’s friends seem nice and well-spoken, and obviously made it through high school alive.

Before coming into the bar, we hear a voiceover from Byron saying how excited he will be to see Tanya because they have so much in common, but that Tanya seems to be holding back emotionally....“Holding back emotionally” seems to be the storyline that the producers have decided on for Tanya, because we’re going to hear it repeated several more times tonight....The producers usually use the “holding back emotionally” theme for at least one bachelorette each season. One important premise of The Bachelor is that the women are supposed to completely commit themselves emotionally, at the same time that they know that Byron is doing the same thing with two or three other women. Initially, I thought that the producers might have a harder time getting 30-something women to buy into that premise because they’re old enough to know better. But, this group of bachelorettes seems to have bought into it just as much as the younger women, if not more.

Back to the bar....Byron greets Tanya and sits down at a big table and pretends he can tell the friends apart....The friends ask Byron questions about what he does for a living....One important thing we learn from this otherwise fairly mundane exchange is that apparently the producers don’t tell the friends the name of the bachelor ahead of time, because they don’t seem to have looked him up on the Internet...Byron good-naturedly explains what a bass fisherman does (and probably breathes a sigh of relief that the women don’t appear to know about his stripper ex-girlfriend)...The blondes ask Byron if he would ever relocate to Texas, and he says, “Sure.”...I looked a my atlas, and it looks like there are several good-sized lakes fairly close to Plano, so maybe Byron isn’t lying.

Then, of course, because it’s Texas, they all have to ride the mechanical bull....Do people in Texas really ride mechanical bulls a lot, is that just what the producers think people expect? (At least we were spared a discussion of bull semen like the one Meredith got on her Texas home visit with Lanny on Bachelorette 2.)....The women ride the bull first, then Byron rides it. In a voiceover, Tanya calls Byron “a good sport” for riding the bull, which suggests that he probably sucked at it....Tanya’s friends seem to be impressed with Byron, and say that it’s a long time since they’ve seen Tanya so content, and with such a sparkle.....Oh! Bad sign! Veteran Bachelor/Bachelorette watchers know that when producers show us comments from friends and family that the person is “sparkling,” we should immediately get suspicious. For example, Matthew on The Bachelorette 2 also “sparkled,” and, in the end, he got that long limo ride alone.

After the mechanical bull “test of manhood,” Byron goes off alone to see if he can pass muster with the blondes....Byron dodges their questions like the expert he is....When the blondes ask if Byron is in love with Tanya, Byron replies: I know I feel a lot for her. It's like a relief to be around her.....In answer to the question “So, if it came down to it, would you get down on the knee?,” Byron replies, “If the emotions are running in that direction, of course”.....Byron may not be great on the mechanical bull, but he’s Olympic class at dodgeball....However, to give Byron his due benefit of the doubt here, part of his contract is that he has to hide what he is really thinking, not to mention that we only see the short sound bites that the producers choose to show us....Still, Byron is a pro. One of Tanya’s friends says that she wouldn’t be surprised if Tanya end up engaged at the end of the show.

Next, Tanya takes Byron to her apartment, and the two of them cook dinner together, and Byron cuts up the onions....Tanya kids him: We are not kissing, that's for sure....The nice thing about having an older bachelor is that he knows that this is a message from the woman that she wants to be kissed, so he does....After dinner, Byron and Tanya sit down on the couch, and Tanya tells Byron that if she makes it to the final two, her father won’t be coming to the mansion to meet Byron because of work, but her mother will be coming, and maybe her sister...Tanya is concerned that Byron will interpret her father not coming to California to mean that she’s not serious....Byron assures Tanya that if her father can’t come, it won’t be an issue...Then Tanya asks Byron: Do you have any questions about my feelings or anything? I know I can be kind of reserved....Byron: I think that your intentions are in line with mine. I think your feelings are the same.....Tanya tells Byron that she wonders about what she is like compared to the other women...Byron: You never worried about them until now....Byron tells the camera that he has seen Tanya struggle with being cautious and kind of reserved, so it was nice to see her be comfortable and open up more....Byron asks Tanya: So, can you see me living out here?...Tanya: Absolutely. Do you see you here?...Byron: Well, yeah, that's why I am here, to see if I could be a part of this world of yours.

The actual words of the little bit of conversation we saw between Byron and Tanya on the couch didn’t tell us much, but their body language said a lot. Most of Byron and Tanya’s kisses during the evening were short “smacks,” although there were a few of what I call “moderate kisses,” particularly when Byron left later in the evening. But, one important clue was that, although Byron and Tanya sat next to each other on the coach, there was a couch pillow between them the whole time, first held by Tanya and then by Byron. Byron seems to genuinely enjoy Tanya’s company, but, to my eyes at least, there isn’t real chemistry between them.....Now, on to Tampa.

Byron Visits Mary in Tampa

We return from commercials to see the ocean and the skyline of Tampa, Florida. In a voiceover, Byron repeats the producers “designated storyline” for Mary, that is, “Can Mary get over her past bad experience with Bachelor Bob enough to open herself up with Byron?”...By the way, I didn’t have look up the location of Tampa. I’ve been there several times, and liked it a lot.

For no apparent reason, Byron meets Mary at a softball field. Why not the ocean? All I can figure is that because Cindy also lives near the (Pacific) ocean, the producers decided that two ocean segments would be confusing for viewers...Mary and Byron run up to greet each other in one of those movie embraces that would be hackneyed, except that it looks like they are genuinely glad to see each other...Mary and Byron take turns pitching the softball to each other. It’s only slow pitch softball, but either Byron and Mary are both pretty good hitters, or the producers did some fancy editing....In any case, I suspect the real point was to show that Mary likes to do athletic things, and looks great in a tank top while she does them....Then Byron and Mary go to sit on a bench in the dugout and Mary tells Byron that she is going to take him to meet some married friends of hers and their two children...Good choice, Mary. This may be your only chance to find out how Byron really feels about kids....But, when Mary tells Byron that the husband is someone she used to date, Byron’s face falls, and tells Mary he finds that awkward...However, Mary reassures Byron, and, let’s face it, at this point, Byron has no choice but to go along with the program....Clearly, any mention of “ex’s” is a very sore point with Byron, and with his past, I can see why.....The body language between Byron and Mary during this conversation was very telling. They were sitting on a bench facing each other, and Mary had her legs entwined around Byron’s back. And, the whole time they were talking, Byron couldn’t stop touching Mary’s hair. There is definitely real chemistry here.

Byron and Mary pull up to a suburban house, and are greeted at the door by Mary’s friends, Marc and Lisa, and their two children. And, in case we somehow miss the message that Mary is preparing Byron for the future with her, there are toys all over the family room where the four of them sit down to talk....We know from comments made by past Bachelor contestants that the producers carefully stage home visits to get certain points across. I know that if I had a TV crew coming to my house, I’d put the kid’s toys neatly away, even if my family room didn’t look that way the rest of the time. So, obviously, the producers artfully planned this family tableau.

Mary says to the camera: It was important for me to have Byron meet my friends, whose hearts aren't in (the relationship) as much....Mary’s friends have plenty of questions. After all, Mary has been through The Bachelor before, so they know the drill. And, Marc and Lisa confront Mary as much they confront Byron...Byron has to explain yet again what a professional bass fisherman does. He also assures Mark and Lisa that he would consider moving to Tampa to be with Mary, saying, “I'm not gonna take her away from you guys.”...Maybe I’m echoing my own feelings, but Byron seems a lot more enthusiastic about Tampa than he does about Plano...Marc says to Mary that he was surprised that she went back on The Bachelor a second time....Mary said she struggled with it, and almost didn’t come on the show, but that, “...Lisa and Marc know that I believe everything happens for a reason. I had to see what it was. And, I’m glad I did.”

Then Lisa takes Mary away so that Mark can talk to Byron alone....Lisa describes Mary as a “free spirit” and says she feels like it’s part of her job to keep Mary realistic...Lisa tells Mary that she doesn’t want to see Mary get burned again, and she doesn’t want to see what she saw with Bob, where Bob was kissing everybody (and basically acting like a jerk).....Mary gulps a little, and carefully words her answer: I'm sure I'll see things that I don't want to see.....Lisa realizes that Mary can’t do much about this and replies: Hopefully, (if Byron is as big a slobbery jerk as Bob was) you'll be in a position where you can discuss it.....Mary laughs: I'm gonna wring his neck...Lisa: Marc might handle that.

Meanwhile, Marc is in the living room grilling Byron. Byron looks uncomfortable, but handles himself well....Marc asks Byron: What makes you right for Mary?...Byron gives a kind of lame, pat answer, “I know we're both kind of outdoorsy and adventuresome, and she's a lot like me. We can also teach each other a lot” ...I sure hope Byron said more than that, that the producers didn’t show us....Marc tells the camera that he got the impression that Byron was sincere. But, Marc doesn’t want Mary to get hurt again so he is still guarded.

Then Mary says that she and Byron have to go because they have dinner plans...In a voiceover, Byron says that he hopes he made a good impression on Mary’s friends, but that they were looking for answers he can’t give at this point....Mary takes Byron over to her house....She tells Byron that if she makes it to the next rose ceremony, she’s not sure whether she would bring her parents to the mansion, and asks Byron how he would feel about that....Byron gets a little perturbed: Bob met your parents, and he didn't make a commitment to you. Why should I have to pay the price for Bob?...Note to Byron: As much as you might want to pretend to yourself that it’s possible, you can’t completely erase the past, and any future wife of yours is going to see your past all over the tabloids....Mary gives Byron a very good answer: As much as I'm cautious with my heart, I'm even more so with theirs (her parents).....Byron replies: Fair enough. You know your parents. I don’t know them....The producers don’t let us see much physical contact between Byron and Mary. But, there is no pillow between them when they sit on the couch together.

Byron and Cindy in Hermosa Beach

Byron finally gets to go near the water. We see Cindy waiting for Byron, sitting on a blanket on the beach...Byron repeats the producers storyline for Cindy in a voiceover: Cindy and I have a great chemistry, and I need to look at her as if she is, quite possibly, my soul mate and life partner....Meaning, as opposed to Cindy being simply a beautiful woman with large boobs that she flaunts at every opportunity...Cindy is thrilled to see Byron, and gives him a huge hug...Cindy tells Byron that this beach is her backyard, and yells with excitement when they spot a dolphin...Byron suggests that they get closer to the water to get a better look, and the two of them frolic in the water for a bit...However, their frolicking is limited by the obvious microphone battery pack Cindy is wearing....And, I have to admit, I’ve always wondered if Cindy would have been as good-natured as Tanya was if she suddenly got doused with water. Cindy always appears in full make-up, even on the beach....Byron says in a voiceover: My energy with Cindy is totally different than anything with the other two ladies. I laugh so much more. We have fun. We thoroughly enjoy each other's company.

Byron and Cindy go back to sit on the blanket, and Cindy asks Byron: Would you ever move to Hermosa Beach?....Byron: Would I have to?....Interesting. This is a very different answer than he gave Tanya and Mary. And yet, Byron grew up in Southern California not too far from Cindy. You’d expect that he would be most enthusiastic about moving back there....Cindy answers (a little defensively): No, of course not....Byron asks Cindy: Would you leave Hermosa Beach?...Cindy: I think so.....Hmm, not much enthusiasm for relocating on Cindy’s part, either...Then, seemingly out of the blue, Cindy screams with excitement, and gets up and embraces a man and a woman who have just walked up...I’ve made no secret that Cindy annoys the heck out of me sometimes, and this is one of those times...We know that the producers of The Bachelor like to incite “cheerleader camp” screams of excitement among the bachelorettes. But, while adolescent screams are understandable, if annoying, Cindy is 37, and the whole thing is way too much.

Cindy tells us that she’s thrilled to see her friends Bill and Tamara because she hasn’t seen them in so long...She goes on to say: And, I have to get my friends' approval, because I think they're on the outside looking in....It’s telling to me that Mary wanted her friends’ advice, but Cindy needs her friends’ approval...Bill and Tamara sit down and ask Byron and Cindy about their dates so far...Byron says: We've had great dates. The dates were something to get to know someone better, and I knew that I liked her right from the start....Bill: How can you not?...Then Cindy reminds Bill of a time not too long ago when she wasn’t going to talk to Bill ever again because Bill said Cindy was a year older than she actually is...Byron stands up for Bill: Come on, that's an honest mistake for a guy....Cindy gets a little huffy: I know, but let's not discuss about it. This is like the most sensitive thing in the world. Why do we have to talk about this?....Hmm, on his last date with Cindy, Byron got oversensitive when she brought up his ex-wife and doesn’t want to talk about it. Now Cindy doesn’t want to talk about her age, even though Byron is older than she is...Red flag. Two oversensitive people is not a good combination.

Then Bill takes Byron away to talk to him alone....Bill tells the camera that he’s very protective of Cindy. .....Bill asks Byron somewhat incredulously: So, you think you're gonna actually meet your wife on the show?...Byron once again demonstrates his Olympic dodgeball technique: You hope you do. At this point, it's a leap of faith. I know that I'm ready to...Bill: So, do you think you could get serious with Cindy?...Byron: That's why she's here. I guess so. We're learning more about each other every day...Bill tells Byron: One of the things that you'll find about Cindy is she’s got the best heart of anyone you'll ever meet.

Cindy and Tamara are watching the men talk, and get excited that they’re ”bonding.”.....Cindy tells Tamara how stressed she is because of the other women on the show...Tamara reminds Cindy: Yeah, but he picked you....Cindy: He did pick me. But we still have three women left.....Tamara: Can you see yourself with this guy?...Cindy: I think so. I know so. I totally could. I know it's a lot for you 'cause you've never heard me talk like this before. I have been bitten....Tamara tells the camera that it’s been a long time since Cindy has been “gaga” over a guy and she has not seen Cindy have that chemistry with anyone.....Frankly, I find that hard to believe. Why would a woman who doesn’t usually feel a lot of chemistry with men even own a “f*ck me” dress like the one Cindy wore last week that was cut practically down to her waist?

One troubling moment for me in this conversation wasn’t shown here, but over the credits at the end of the show.... After Tamara asks Cindy what she and Byron do on their dates, and Cindy answers, “Make out,” Cindy says to Tamara: You better watch out. 'Cause don't you like him....Tamara: Oh, I'm not gonna like him. He's got your scent all over him...Cindy: I've sprayed my territory...Tamara: You totally did.....Cindy: It's like female cats...First off, I thought it was very strange that Cindy thought that Tamara would try to steal Byron away. Either Cindy has a serious insecurity problem or she has picked some total jerks as her friends....But, Cindy’s comments are partly explained by the last part of her conversation with Tamara when they both start up again with their adolescent excited screaming. Cindy screams, ”Oh, my god. I can't believe this!” (referring to her feelings for Byron)....In return, Tamara excitedly screams: What are you doing? Do you know what you're doing?...And then the two of them repeat this exchange several more times....Okay, I get it now. A good part of the reason that Cindy is so insecure is that she (emotionally at least) is stuck at about age 15 (or, to be fair, that is all the producers have shown us of her.).

After Byron and Bill get back, Cindy says that she and Byron need to go because there is a special place she needs to take him...On the way, Cindy asks Byron if he liked her friends, and he assures her that he did....Byron and Cindy walk down the street until they reach a restaurant. Byron points out that the restaurant is closed...Cindy: I know. This is my place, I’m an investor in the restaurant....Byron: You own this place?...Cindy: With 10 other people....Byron is very excited for her: Congratulations. I had no idea....Cindy: It (the restaurant) doesn’t look like much yet, but it will...Cindy and Byron walk down a flight of stairs to an empty room with a table and some plastic chairs. There is food on the table, but it has plastic takeout covers over it...Cindy: Thank you for being my first patron to my restaurant...Byron: Thanks for inviting me. I love this. I'm very proud of you.

Then Cindy changes to a more serious tone. She asks Byron if she can ask him a very personal question ...Uh, Cindy. Remember what happened the last time you did that...Cindy asks Byron: If I make it, or whoever makes it, to the final rose, do you think you're gonna ask someone to marry you?...Byron dodges it, of course: If it's mutual. If it's the right place at the right time with the right person, absolutely. But I didn't buy into the concept that I would do it no matter what....Cindy then tells Byron that from the first time she met him she was excited about him....Cindy: My life has changed so much since you. And I’m happy. The feelings I had with my first love--butterflies, nervousness--kind of have come back out with you. So, if you don't see a future with me, do not give me a rose unless you're serious....Byron gives another pat answer: You know we've been serious up to this point.....Cindy: Listen. This is real. This is so real. I can't even describe how real this is. But if you're being intimate and you are having the same feelings for me that you are with the other two girls...Byron: I'm not gonna talk about other situations, but they weren't like what we share....Byron is skating on thin ice here, but I guess he’s telling the literal truth....Cindy: What I understand that you have a decision to make that's with three wonderful women...Byron: You're one of those three wonderful women. Do you realize that? You are every bit a part of this as anybody else. I've had no doubt about this....Cindy:. But, don't pick me to be runner-up.

Then Cindy asks Byron if he’d like to go back to the beach....Byron asks Cindy: Do you like being home?...Cindy: I like being with you.....Byron: Home with me?....Cindy: Mm-hmm. This is the best I've ever felt.....Byron and Cindy sit on the beach and kiss while we get a voiceover from Cindy talking about how strong her feelings are for Byron, but that she’s scared because there are other women involved. At one point during the interview, Cindy starts to cry and covers her face with her hand.....Cindy says to Byron: I'm really happy with you.....Byron’s reply is warm, but not quite at the same level: I have fun with you, too, and you've known that all along.....Byron then tells us in a voiceover that there is a lot of chemistry between he and Cindy, but it’s also hard to be feeling so much for three women at the same time.

Last-Chance Talks

When we come back from commercials, it’s evening, and three limos are pulling up to the mansion. Byron is back in his bungalow telling us yet again how difficult tonight’s rose ceremony is going to be...We also hear voiceovers from each of the three women about how much they care for Byron, but also that they are very nervous because they don’t know how Byron feels about the other women....The three women are sitting in the living room, all looking uncomfortable, when Chris comes in....Chris tells the women that, although there were no last-chance talks last week, tonight Byron would like to talk to all three of them....Chris calls Mary first.

Mary looks just great, by the way. Very classy. She is wearing a very simple red dress, and is wearing her hair down. (In fact, all the women are wearing their hair down. Apparently the show’s stylist decided that tonight was “wear your hair down” night.) And, unlike previous weeks, Mary isn’t wearing the almost-white lipstick that makes her look cheap, but is wearing lipstick that matches her dress. The only thing I don’t like about Mary’s dress is that the back is cut down practically to her rear, but Byron doesn’t seem to mind... Byron and Mary’s conversation on the couch is very much a repeat of their earlier conversations, but there is one small telling moment that the producers accidentally let slip by...Mary tells Byron: I'm nervous about the next phase, if there is a next one for me. Meeting my parents is something that is very important 'cause they mean so much to me....Byron:. I know that there's been issues before with regards to parents. And I told you I respected that, and I do. I was feeling as though I was paying a price for something that happened that I had nothing to do with...One thing that Byron’s words don’t convey is that he is no longer pouting. Byron’s tone is different with Mary than it is with Cindy. He seems to be making an effort to please Mary that he didn’t show with Cindy....For her part, Mary says to Byron: I have been thinking about it a lot. And, you know, I'm not saying yes, and I'm not saying no. I hope that you don't think that because of that, I don't want to be with you.

Next is Cindy’s turn. Cindy, unlike Mary, has chosen a gawd-awful ugly dress. It is black and strapless, and the top is too small, so that her breasts are bulging out .And, the bottom of her dress looks like one of the other women went postal and slashed the bottom half of her dress into one-inch strips. Cindy clearly didn’t try sitting down when she picked the dress, because all the one-inch strips break away, and it looks for a minute like we can see her underwear until she puts a few of the strips between her legs.....Advice to Cindy: You keep saying to Byron that you don’t want him to see you as just a “good-time girl.” The first step to being taken seriously is not to dress like a whore....After Cindy gingerly sits down, she pulls another Cindy move that makes me want to take her by the shoulders and say, “You’re a beautiful, smart, caring woman—get some self-respect!”...Pretty much the first thing Cindy says to Byron is to apologize for “coming down so hard” on him on their date...Cindy: I was just having so much fun yesterday. And then sometimes it just hits me like a ton of bricks (that there are other women)....Cindy repeats to Byron how totally involved she is with him...Byron says to Cindy: You had made a comment before that was almost like, ’Get me out of here now if you don't feel I'm the one.’ You were almost sending the message of, ‘Cut it now if you can't be 100% sure that I'm the one’...Cindy: I might have been looking and searching for answers because I don’t have any. And I apologize for that. That was not the right thing for me to do. I don’t want (the experience) to end yet....As Cindy walks back, she says in a voiceover: My intuition tells me that it's not settled with him. I don't know if I did fix it. Hopefully, I did, but I made it very clear tonight that I want a rose and I want to be here.

Next is Tanya’s turn. Tanya’s outfit is better than Cindy’s, but not as pretty as Mary’s. Tanya’s dress is also black and strapless, but not as low-cut as Cindy’s. It shows off her cleavage nicely, but without bulging. Unfortunately, Tanya’s dress also looked like it was slashed, but not in as many places as Cindy’s. And, under her dress Tanya is wearing black matching pants, so she doesn’t show her underwear when she sits....As Tanya walks up, Byron repeats the producer’s “Tanya” theme, namely that he wants to see more emotion from Tanya....Byron says to Tanya: I don't know if there's times where you feel like you're holding back, if you feel like you're a little reserved....Tanya: I've felt like I've been very honest with you and open with you and affectionate with you. But that's in my head and in my heart, so you may not be seeing it outwardly....Byron: It's hard to see your emotions sometimes. You know, I said that you're not being caught up in all of this. But now, I don't even know if you're caught up in “us.” Does that make sense?....Tanya: I'm absolutely crazy about you. I have no doubts when it comes to you. You're everything I want in someone....But, although the words are right, Tanya says this in very neutral, unemotional voice—I don’t see warmth in her tone or in her body language....As Tanya leaves, she says in a voiceover that she feels a little shaken because she didn’t realize that Byron was questioning how strong her feelings were for him, even though she thought she was “putting herself out there.”

The Rose Ceremony

When we return from commercials, Byron and Chris are walking to the outside mansion steps where the women are waiting, while suspenseful music plays in the background....Someone pulls the string in Chris’ back and he recites: Ladies. Three of you here tonight, only two roses. One of you will be going home. But two of you will be moving that much closer to true love and possibly a marriage. I wish you all the best. Byron, when you’re ready....Whoa, they let Chris say a couple of extra sentences tonight.....Byron, as always, tells the women how difficult the decision is, but repeats the Bachelor formula that he has to be true to his heart, and true to “everything I'm looking for in this life, which is my soulmate”....There is a long pause, and all of the women look very serious and nervous....Byron finally says, “Mary”...When Mary goes up to get her rose, Byron gives her a huge hug....Now, you’d think, that since there are only two roses that Chris wouldn’t feel the need to remind us that this is the final rose tonight. However, the poor guy gets so little screen time that I guess I shouldn’t begrudge him a couple of sentences....There is another long pause, then Byron sighs and says, “Tanya.”....Byron and Tanya also hug, and Tanya gives Byron a little kiss, but the exchange with Mary was much warmer...Chris: Cindy, I'm sorry. It's time to say goodbye.

As Cindy hugs the two remaining women and then walks through the mansion with Byron, we hear a voiceover from Byron reminding us what great chemistry he and Cindy had, and that Cindy is a lot more than his initial perception of fun-loving and kooky. Byron says that he felt a lot for Cindy but couldn’t see the two of them “developing a relationship that could last a lifetime”...Byron and Cindy sit down on a bench near the limo....Cindy is controlled, but not as cool as Cheresse was last week....Byron: I don't even know where to start....Cindy: It's okay...Byron: No, it's not okay...Cindy: You made a decision....Byron: You don't know how hard it was to make that decision....Cindy tells Byron that she is bummed because her intuition was so wrong...Cindy: I guess everybody makes mistakes. You can't take back the past and I wish I could...Byron: Whatever guy gets you is gonna be one really lucky guy. And don't settle for anything but the best ever again, 'cause that's all you deserve. I'll miss you....In the limo, Cindy is surprisingly composed, but describes herself as “shell-shocked.”...Cindy goes on to make a very insightful comment: I think he needs a person that's opposite of him--stronger and more grounded, and not such a free, butterfly kind of a girl....Cindy says she thought that all the signs were there, but obviously her intuition was wrong.....There is no Cindy meltdown in the limo, but as we’ll see in the previews for next week, that came later...Back at the mansion, Byron toasts Tanya and Mary, “To a new beginning with friends and family.”

Did you see that coming? I certainly did. And, I think Byron made the right choice in who he sent home. To me it’s obvious that Byron and Mary have made a real connection, and I think that we got some clues tonight to back this up. As they did last week, several commenters said that they really like Tanya and they hope that Byron picks her. But, as I’ve said before, the point here isn’t which of the women we like best, but which one Byron likes best.

Tanya seems very mature and level-headed, but she’s not particularly passionate, and Byron, by all appearances, is a passionate guy. I think Byron likes Tanya a lot, but, for a marriage relationship there also has to be strong physical chemistry and I just don’t see it with Byron and Tanya. I think Byron finds Tanya attractive, but I don’t see the “can’t keep their hands off each other chemistry” that I see between Byron and Mary, and to a lesser extent, between Byron and Cindy.

On the other side, Byron also likes Cindy a lot, and finds her a lot of fun and very physically attractive. Frankly, I think Byron is holding himself back in his physical relationship with Cindy for two reasons. The first reason is that he knows that he could mess up his relationship with Mary if he gets too physical with Cindy. The second is that, while Cindy is head over heels in love with Byron, I don’t sense that Byron feels the same way, and I suspect that Cindy’s strong feelings may scare him. Also, and I may be getting a little too “amateur psychologist” here, but I wonder if Cindy doesn’t remind Byron too much of his ex-wife and ex-girlfriends, both with her kooky ways, and her sometimes sleazy outfits. It appears that Byron is honestly trying to get away from the type of women he has chosen in the past, and Cindy may be too much like the women he was formerly with. In any case, Byron and Cindy don’t seem to bring out the best in each other.

And, if, as I (and the National Enquirer) are predicting, Byron does choose Mary, Tanya will handle being sent home much better than Cindy. Personally, despite the producers attempts to throw us off, I think Byron already knows he’s picking Mary, and this was part of his reasoning for sending Cindy home this week instead of next week. Cindy was wiser than she gave herself credit for when she asked Byron to send her home this week if she wasn’t “the one.”

Is Mary really the “right woman” for Byron? Unfortunately, the producers have decided to show us as little of the women’s real personalities as possible this season, so I don’t know. All I do know is that Byron seems to be the most physically attracted to Mary, and seems emotionally invested in his relationship with her. Whether the relationship will last is anybody’s guess. It not only has to weather a couple of months of enforced separation, but, also tabloid articles about Byron’s previous relationships. Those would be obstacles for any couple, so, although I think Byron will pick Mary at the end, I’m not going to try to predict whether it will beat the odds and last. I’m a romantic at heart, so I hope so. We’ll see.

Next Week on The Bachelor

I’m bummed. Next week is a “women tell all” episode. I hate it when the producers do this. They get us all invested in seeing what happens next, then break the momentum. Every season they do a “women tell all” episode, and it’s always awkward and contrived....”25 women return to relive all of the heartaches, heartbreaks, and breakdowns.”....”Plus, never-before-seen footage”...Don’t get too excited about this. In the past, we’ve never gotten to see very much unseen footage. The previews show Byron sitting in his bungalow with Krysta on the night of the infamous pajama party...”Including (unseen footage) of Cynthia’s meltdown after she went home”.....We then get previews of a hysterical Cindy, saying she’ll probably never again meet anyone else like Byron.

“Then, in two weeks, Byron, Mary, and Tanya are caught in a meet-the-parents crossfire, when potential in-laws come face-to-face.”....We see shots of both Mary and Tanya telling Byron’s parents that they are falling in love with their son, and Byron’s parents looking awkward and uncomfortable, saying, “We've got a real problem.”....After seeing this footage, I realized that I probably won’t like the change in format that has the parents coming to the mansion, rather than Byron and the women going to the parents’ houses. These shots just make me mad at the producers. It’s one thing when the producers manipulate Byron and the women—they signed up for this. But, it makes me angry to see the producers manipulating the parents to squeeze every drop of drama they can from all the participants.

After the parents visit the mansion, then Mary and Tanya go to visit Byron in Las Vegas, and are grilled by his friends.....Not surprisingly, the ex-stripper from the National Enquirer doesn't seem to be included in the group of friends....”Will their (the friends’) opinions send him into a tailspin?”...”And then, it's the moment we've all been waiting for.”...We see Byron standing in a setting of flowers, obviously decorated by someone who doesn’t believe that “Less is more.”....We hear Byron say: My heart tells me that I have found someone very special.....”It's the most romantic proposal in Bachelor history.”....C’mon, it would be almost impossible to be more romantic than Ian’s proposal to Meredith, which, I confess, I have watched on tape at least 10 times. But, that was “The Bachelorette” not “The Bachelor” so maybe the producers aren’t full-out lying....”Who will he choose, and will she say yes?”

Over the credits, we see the scene with Cindy and Tamara, when Cindy tells Tamara that she’d better not be trying to steal Byron away.....Sorry Cindy, but after seeing this footage, it was very clear (if it wasn’t clear before) that Byron made the right choice.

See you next week. Maybe the “women tell all” episode won’t be as lame as it usually is. But, don’t count on it.