Mandi Bierly
January 31, 2012 AT 08:00 PM EST

Last night’s episode of The Bachelor was controversial because Courtney broke ranks and sought Ben out on another girl’s date night to make good on her earlier proposal that they go skinny-dipping. When I asked Ben about that decision before the season began, having just seen it teased in a promo, he said he compartmentalized his relationships with the women and didn’t compare them. “So if more women wanted to go skinny-dipping with me, they should have asked… and I would have gone,” he laughed. “Those are things you do when you’re trying to get to know someone and you get in a relationship.”

I laughed, too, because I didn’t know how foolish Courtney would make the other women — who seem to show each other more respect than she does — look. Some fans are coming down on Ben for agreeing to go skinny-dipping with Courtney when that many women were left. If it had happened on a sanctioned date, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. (I mean, other than the fact that Courtney appears to be manipulating him so she can keep saying “Winning!”) I’m just as disappointed in ABC for running all those promos that made it look like the women either saw it happening or found out about it right away. A rep for the network says neither it nor the ladies can comment on when the other women catch wind of it. We’ll just have to tune in. (At the very least, it will certainly make the Women Tell All interesting now that they’ve definitely seen it.) 

Skinny-dipping aside, I’m surprised more people aren’t frustrated with Ben for his handling of Emily’s second attempt to warn him about Courtney. I get that he’s into Courtney, and doesn’t want to be told he’s being played — especially after he just got naked with Courtney on national TV. I also think Emily gets nervous and doesn’t articulate Courtney’s deception well. But if I were Emily, I think I would have gotten up off the sand and left the show when he told her to “tread lightly, be careful” after he got annoyed that she assumed Courtney was showing him a different side of herself than the women have seen. He said Emily has no way of knowing what Courtney is like when it’s just the two of them. True, Ben. But Emily was also assuming that you wouldn’t be happy knowing that a person you’re falling for is purposely treating others like dirt. From the promo we saw at the end of the episode, it appears other women will finally speak up and Ben at least takes Courtney aside at a rose ceremony and addresses his-their concerns. Do you think she talks her way out of it? If he keeps her around after that, I’ll have no pity for Ben. She’s been childish (referring to Shawntel as “whatsherbutt”) and manipulative (withdrawing enough to force him to give her that one group-date rose) to his face. At some point, we — and the ladies — have to stop forgiving him for being powerless to resist a model and hold him responsible for his choices.

Your turn. Would the skinny-dipping have been okay with you at this stage if it had happened during an actual date, or do you think Courtney was in the clear no matter what? Are you annoyed that the women didn’t immediately learn about it? Do you think Ben handled Emily’s accusations fairly, or did you lose a little respect for him over that as well? Go!

Read more:

‘The Bachelor’ recap: Nude Awakening

Chris Harrison blogs ‘The Bachelor’ episode 5

‘Bachelor’ host Chris Harrison talks Courtney versus Emily, tonight’s skinny-dipping

Bachelor Ben Flajnik talks Jenna, skinny-dipping, and more — VIDEO

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