The Bachelorette is back, and so is DeMario. Summarily rejected after his girlfriend (oops!) showed up mid-basketball date last week, he’s returned to the mansion to beg for Rachel’s forgiveness.
This means the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party has been thrown in chaos, with the men filing outside as if they intend to ritualistically sacrifice their former rival. They ultimately just observe from an awkward distance, shuffling uncomfortably under the floodlights that the producers have turned on to indicate that something is Not Right.
To Rachel, he admits that he was “not 100% truthful” (great spin, DeMario!) and says he’s desperate to regain her trust. “In order to experience joy you need pain,” he tells her, having apparently cribbed that line from a Chicken Soup for the Soul book he found in the backseat of the Lyft he took over here.
Then Rachel proceeds to deliver a trifecta of excellent burns, which will I present here, in order:
“What I saw in the gym yesterday, that was a boy. I’m looking for a man.”
“I’m glad that you’ve realized that you should move forward, but I need you to know that forward isn’t that way, to the mansion. [She points.] Forward is outside.”
“I’m glad that this has been a life lesson. I’m glad you gave me the quote about the joy and the pain.”
It is extremely cathartic to watch a woman deservedly shut down some man’s bullshit. I want to pulverize this interaction into a fine powder and snort it. I want to apply it delicately to my undereye circles to both brighten them and reduce their puffiness.
Back inside, Jonathan whips out horrifyingly oversized prop hands à la noted Philadelphia attorney Jack Kelly. On the bright side, they seem to impede his tickling ability. Alex is back with the ultimate panty dropper, his Rubik’s Cube — which, by the way, he doesn’t even fully solve. Will and Rachel kiss in close proximity to a Fisher-Price basketball hoop.
Whaboom continues to whaboom. Blake continues to make it his mission to sabotage Whaboom, as if there is a world in which this man is a legitimate contender for Rachel’s heart. There are infinite possible universes, and yet in none of them does Whaboom win The Bachelorette. Whaboom, for his part, insists that he recently woke up to find Blake looming over his bed, peeling and licking a banana. Blake resolutely denies these allegations: “I don’t eat carbs, because I’m on a ketogenic diet.”
Once the dust — and banana peels, as the case may be — has finally settled, it’s time for the rose ceremony. To my great delight, both Whaboom and Blake are eliminated in one fell swoop, and so is their boring-ass feud (and so is Jamey? I think?).
Outside the mansion, Blake and Whaboom find themselves conducting their exit interviews far too close to one another. Their reflections on their time on the show soon devolve into unintelligible insults and mocking impressions that sound more like sea lion noises than human words. The ensuing argument lasts for what feels like a full five minutes, but then again, calling this an “argument” is like calling Kraft Singles “cheese.” (Though, for the record, Kraft Singles are delicious, and so is whatever this was.)
The next morning, Chris Harrison delivers a group-date card: Brian, Jonathan, Peter, Alex, Will, and Fred are invited to join Rachel at a taping of Ellen. (Which, in space and time as we know it, happened back in March!) The men are instructed to peel off their shirts and dance up on women in the audience. They do, gladly, and get dollar bills jammed into their waistbands for their trouble. Alex has apparently discovered his calling, grinding and twerking like a man possessed. If Bachelor in Paradise doesn’t work out for him, he should look into that Magic Mike Live show in Vegas. Then they play a round of Never Have I Ever with Ellen, which leaves poor Fred — who’s already discouraged that Rachel can’t seem to get past the elementary-school version of him that lingers in her mind — feeling insecure that three of the other men have already kissed his longtime dream girl.
That night, Fred asks Rachel for her permission to kiss her, which makes her uncomfortable, then goes ahead and kisses her anyway, which seems to make her even more uncomfortable. But he nevertheless feels great about the smooch, which inspires him to envision their wedding day. Rachel returns to the men and, group-date rose in hand, asks to speak to Fred. But he’s not getting that rose — he’s getting sent home. She doesn’t feel the connection. Ugh. Sorry, Fred. The group-date rose goes to Alex instead.
Eric, who’s never been in a relationship before, seemingly spends an entire day describing at great length, to anyone who will listen, his insecurities about his connection to Rachel. Iggy decides that he, too, can be irritating. He pointlessly confronts Eric about what he’s been saying, and there’s some low-key unpleasantness between them. (I know, this is dull — it’s even duller when you watch it in real time! — but you’ll need the context later.)
Anthony — who is very sweet, but who I have to admit I forgot existed — gets a one-on-one date with Rachel. They ride horses down Rodeo Drive, which seems fun, if... arbitrary? The couple gets outfitted in cowboy boots and hats without leaving their saddles. Then they swing by the Sprinkles ATM for horse-friendly cupcakes, before one of the horses finally, inevitably poops in a boutique. This is the way most Beverly Hills tourist outings end. She gives Anthony a rose and they make out in close proximity to a jazz quartet, which is only slightly more romantic than a Fisher-Price basketball hoop.
The week’s second group date taps Brady (who?), Dean, Adam (who?), Kenny, Bryce (who — oh, right, the transphobic one), Lee, Jack, and Eric. Rachel’s beloved Bachelor classmates Corinne, Raven, Alexis, and Jasmine are taking charge of their plans (can’t wait to see which of these ladies ultimately hook up with which of these guys on Paradise!), escorting the gang to a surprise location. And what a surprise it is: They’re going mud wrestling.
The boys strip down to their shorts and grapple two at a time in what looks like cat vomit before a crowd of screaming women. Kenny, of course, is literally a professional wrestler. The self-styled Pretty Boy Pitbull destroys Jack and then Lee, blowing the girls a kiss as he does. Yet Bryce is somehow declared the winner, which is bullshit. Kenny — who later reveals he’s a former Chippendales dancer and demonstrates some tank top-tearing moves for Rachel — is the most fun person on this date by a factor of five.
When Rachel debriefs with the girls, Dean gets a lot of love. But Raven shares that earlier, on the obligatory party bus, both Bryce and Lee told her that they think Eric is the worst match for Rachel. Despite Raven's misgivings, Rachel gives the group-date rose to Eric, to Lee’s thinly disguised chagrin. As Eric puts it, “Lee has a snake in his DNA.”
At the episode’s second cocktail party, both Lee and Iggy take Rachel aside to further shit-talk Eric, who soon finds himself embroiled in a to-be-continued shouting match with Lee.
Do I think Eric, who’s never been in love before, should marry Rachel? No. Do I think all this bad-mouthing of him is justified? No. Do I think it’s a coincidence that Lee, who won’t stop going on about how “aggressive” he thinks Eric has been, is raaaaaaaaacist?