Fresh off the Hurricane Sandy tour, our Bachelorette and her swains are ready to get the heck out of Dodge…and while it’s hard to imagine anyplace more romantic than storm-ravaged New Jersey, the producers are whisking everyone off to Munich! (I ask again, why no tropical locale? Surely this show makes enough money to afford peak season fares?) There will be funiculars! Carriages! Castles! Tears! Everything we need for a perfect Bachelorette international date.

The “previews” last forever…they should just call them Cliffs Notes. And we open with a yodel—never let it be said that the sound editors are asleep at the wheel. The boys all pile off a tram looking like an Abercrombie ad—the array of hoodies is truly astounding. They wander around Munich admiring the plazas, the architecture, and the general oldness. Chris Harrison meets them and says that it’s Des’s first time in Europe, so they’d better make it good! There will be three dates today, a solo, a group, and a 2-on-1–and for the 2-on-1 daters, if you don’t get a rose by the end of it, you get the boot pre-rose-ceremony.

They arrive at their hotel, which is swank (check out the bathroom!), and soon the first one-on-one date card arrives. It’s for Chris, and it’s in German! He makes an excellent stab at reading it aloud, but he doesn’t know German, so it’s still a mystery to him. Turns out the date is “wander around the city with Des.” While I agree that can actually be a great way to get to know someone, I think the producers kind of slacked in the planning department.

They go looking for a dude dressed as a gnome (they ask for help from a kindly passerby, only to realize they’re right in front of him), then they eat sausages, then they dress up in “traditional” “costumes.” Am I watching The Bachelorette or The Amazing Race?

While they’re having fun, Bryden is brooding at home and has decided that he wants to go. Maybe? That’s what the other hotel-bound dudes think, and then Bryden decides he has to tell Des OMG RIGHT NOW, so he goes off in search of her. Hoping to find her while she’s “wandering the city.” After asking several English-speaking passersby if they’ve seen television cameras, Bryden is directed to a music hall, where inside, Chris and Des are blithely dancing arm in arm. Either Munich is tiny, or this is all completely staged. Bryden says, “I hope it doesn’t ruin her date,” hoping very much that it will ruin her date.

He approaches Chris first, apologizing for interrupting, but cutting in. Chris is so understanding as to seem like he’s not that concerned…but he pulls it together enough to be annoyed and concerned that Des will be upset. Bryden indeed tells Des that he’s going home, and she’s all, “You couldn’t figure that out before we dragged your ass to Munich?” She lets him go without much fanfare, but by the interview, she’s crying. Shake it off, Des! You don’t need him.

Chris and Des have beer at some restaurant in what looks like a castle but is probably Munich’s version of an Applebee’s, and he assures her that he’s here For The Right Reasons. He looks cuter here than he has before, so I’m going to believe him…for now.

Back at the ranch, the group date card arrives, and it’s mostly significant because it means the guys figure out who’s on the two-on-one…and it’s Ben vs. Michael! (Not Mikey.) Neither guy is happy about it, and both of them appear to think that Ben has the edge. Ben talks about the “connection” he’s already forged with Des, and then Michael says the best thing ever: “In this gladiator-like setting, I need to go now and…murder Ben.” I am so on board with an MMA/Bachelorette crossover!

Now it’s later, and they’ve changed into formalwear for their fancy dinner. Chris is STILL talking about Bryden, and now I think he’s more broken up about it than Des. Let it go, dude. But in a talking head he tells us that he’s so excited that he doesn’t have to do anything tonight but spend time with Des. “I don’t have to worry about when I’m at the hotel, about what time I have go to bed, if I brushed my teeth…” Dude, if you’re that much of a worrier, maybe you’re not ready for a relationship.

They talk a bit about what Chris wants, and Des’s past relationship with a meanie who never opened up or complimented her or said he loved her…which is the perfect time for Chris to bring out the poem he wrote for Des! If he thought of that himself, I applaud him. It was perfectly timed, and she of course is swooning. She basically grabs him by the head and plants one on him—go, Chris! I didn’t really think he was going to make it for the long haul, but he has certainly made hay (or sausage?) while the sun shines this week.

Now it’s time for the “private concert” portion of the date, tonight provided by Matt White. I don’t know who that is, but he has a squeaky voice. I wonder if when Des goes home, she’s going to be confused the first time she goes out to dinner and doesn’t get a private concert afterwards? Meanwhile the rest of us settle for takeout and Spotify.

Group date time! Des meets the guys in a cheery red parka and they ride a gondola up to the top of a mountain—for all my snarking, the scenery is amazing. I am grateful my husband bought us that HD TV. They’re so high up they’re above the clouds. And suddenly, the sound of yodeling splits the air! Juan Pablo is delightfully stymied by the pronunciation of “yodeler,” which he wants to pronounce, “joddeler.” Go for it, JP! Sure enough, there’s an old man in a Tyrolean ensemble yodeling on the observation deck…all the bachelors take a turn co-yodeling (codeling?), but we get no instruction on the difference between “yodeling” and “shouting.”

Now it’s time for sledding! This really has become The Amazing Race. They ride these tiny plastic sleds down the mountain, with much tumbling and slipping and crashing. Drew (I think?) accidentally slams into Desiree, and admires how she shakes it off. Like a dope, he doesn’t take a page from any number of romance novels and use the excuse for a little snowbank snuggling. Sharpen up, Drew-or-whoever!

We cut back to the Hotel Room of Posturing, in which Ben and Michael appear to be sitting and stewing at each other. Chris is back, so he reads the date card to them: “Let’s Heat Things Up.” Michael is determined to “expose Ben for the fraud he is.” Ben appears not to be sweating it.

Back to the group date, and the sledders move on to a hotel made of snow! They explore the rooms, which have furs strewn over the benches of snow, and…discreet electric lighting? Not quite clear how that works. Maybe this is a Styrofoam hotel. Even the date rose sits on a little platter of snow (which is probably not good for the rose, actually). After a toast (“Prost!”), Brooks whisks Des off to a private room for a little snoogling. Now Des and Mikey are outside on some furs in a snowbank, drinking, and Mikey suggests that they making the “Des and Mikey Tenorelli family of five” mini-snowmen. But here comes…Shirtless Zak? He’s wandering around the castle carrying two glasses until he finds the couple, at which point he starts yodeling-ish. Des decides she’s had enough snowman-making (or maybe she only wants one snowkid?), and yodels back at Zak.

Zak makes the most of his time by telling Des that after college he thought he…was going to be a priest? How Thorn Birds! But he came to Europe, climbed a mountain, and figured out he didn’t have a calling. (I begin to wonder if “climbed a mountain” is Zak-ese for “banged a European chick.”) I get distracted and miss how the next segue happened, but now James is with Des.

Brooks is doing some confessional smack-talking, accusing James of being different with the guys than he is with Des. Apparently James is “cutting” and “vulgar” around the guys, even though he’s sweet and charming to Des. So, you mean he doesn’t treat his competitors on the dating game show the same way he treats the object of his affections? Weird. Brooks spies on Des and James a bit, but doesn’t interrupt, just complains a bit. However, maybe it was enough, because he gets the group rose. (Why? Not sure.)

James is outraged that Brooks got the rose, because “we’re two polar opposite people.” I am outraged at the questionable scarf James is wearing.

When we return, it is at last time for our 2-on-1 date. Let the games begin! Ben says that he’s just going to pay attention to Des, and if Michael tries to start something, he’s just going to be “a good Christian man about it.” Meanwhile, Michael says it’s Armageddon. Jeez, dude, dial it back a notch. Also, try blinking once in a while. They’re sharing a (silent) limo out to where Desiree awaits, which gives us more time to listen to Michael’s cocky voiceover declaring Ben a “fraud.” Apparently, he is no gentleman.

Des awaits her suitors and says it up front: “Today is going to be…extremely awkward.” Well, as long as nobody’s fooling themselves. Now they’re prosting again, which lets Michael bust out the German for “you are very beautiful.” Des is pleased, but then Ben steers the conversation to the flatness of Texas, and she seems mesmerized. This does not speak well for her. Michael is frantically looking for a conversational entrée, and sort of drags her attention back with a screech. Then we mercifully cut to the “wacky activity” portion of the date. Des pretends they’re going to do a polar bear plunge into the nearby lake, and they all put on bathing suits and robes…but just as they’re gritting their teeth (and perhaps worrying about shrinkage?), Des saves them! They’re not going to jump in the freezing lake, but instead will ride in a “Hot Tug,” a floating hot tub-boat. OK, that looks kind of awesome.

Their time in the boat grows contentious, and I think the only thing more awkward than a 2-on-1 date is a 2-on-1 date that becomes a debate while sitting half-naked in a hot tub. This is getting squirmy. Michael is totally on the offensive—hello, lawyer!—and gets a bit cutting about Ben’s son, and how he hasn’t talked to him since they’ve been in Germany. Ben looks genuinely pissed, but is biting his tongue. Des can see what’s going on, and in a confessional says that she was incredibly uncomfortable at Michael “pushing Ben’s buttons.” Bad news, Michael—that means she thinks it’s your fault.

And the backstabbing continues back at the Hotel of Posturing…but this time, the pack is after James! So…Hashtag Kasey (he gets Hashtag back for tattling) tells Brooks that James told Mikey that “if he places in the top 4, he has a good shot of becoming the next Bachelor.” Also that James and Mikey would go out on a boat together with ladies back in Chicago. Never let it be said that only women are gossips. One of the guys (I’m not sure who) says that he will tell Des about it, and now I know that this guy hasn’t watched previous seasons. NEVER be the one to talk shit about another contestant, even if it’s true. They always, always kill the messenger on this show.

From group hostility to 2-on-1 hostility, we’re back at dinner with Des, Michael and Ben and Michael is STILL harping at Ben. He is both obnoxious and shiny, and he is losing the battle. Ben is playing the family card about Easter, Michael is being a jerk, and Des looks pissed. Ben actually gets up and excuses himself, and Des scolds Michael. Michael talks over her in an effort to defend himself, and he has lost this date. (I find myself wishing Des would toss them both and go out with Juan Pablo instead. His accent’s so cute! Why aren’t we seeing more of him?)

Des goes out to check on Ben, allowing him to play the injured gentleman, and he does it to the hilt. In a confessional, Des grazes over the “if everyone in the house hates him, there’s probably something to it” idea, but lands on the Ben Flajnik classic, “Well, he’s nice to ME.” She brings Ben back to the table, and then takes Michael down to the wine cellar to ask him, “Tell me why you hate him,” basically. Michael has a glimmer of recognition that he needs to dig himself out of a hole, but then he just rats Ben out for not talking about his kid and for talking about his bar business. Des listens, but I think Michael’s toast.

Now it’s time for the rose—and remember that the loser has to go home. Des says nice things about both, and then tells them that “the person I’m giving the rose to the one I can see a future with.” And gives the rose to Michael! I’m shocked. Ben leaves pronto, and Des has to scamper after him to see him out. Basically, his pride is wounded, but there aren’t any tears. “The fact that Michael made it farther than me? Wow.” Back in the hotel, the guys are waiting up, and when Ben’s suitcase is wheeled off, at least three of the guys leap up in joy. Ben, meanwhile, is saving face by announcing his plans to get drunk, and asking, “How long do I have to wait before I can be seen in public with somebody?” Nice.

More castles! Des is blinged the hell out for the rose ceremony, and kind of looks like a soap opera actress—do with that what you will. There’s also a full-length fur? shearling? velour? coat. Her hair is pretty J. She and Chris Harrison sit down to talk about the day, and how Des was hurt when Bryden left. Chris tries to put the fear of God (or Dating) in her by asking how she’d feel if she falls in love with one of the guys and he rejects her. Meanwhile, the other guys arrive, and are plotting how they’re going to tell Des about the terribleness that is James.

But wait! They are thwarted—as they’re jockeying for alone time, Des is in the back telling Chris Harrison that she already knows who she’s sending home, and doesn’t want any one on one time. Sorry, losers! Shut your pie holes. But will Drew make Des listen to him, thus getting himself booted for tattling? (I do notice that James is the first one who thinks to STAND UP when Des enters the room.) Des drops the “no cocktail party” bomb and then stalks off again, while Drew looks like he’s going to puke. Let it go, dude.

God, this show has been going on forever…can we wrap up this rose ceremony already? Des could have just emailed her choices and spent a night in the hotel watching cable and ordering room service…which would have been the best date she had all week.

Finally, it’s time for the lineup, and Drew is STILL going on about James. Kasey seems more resigned to having him around another week. In addition to our pre-picks of Chris, Brooks and Michael, Des gives roses to Zak, Kasey, Juan Pablo (he does nothing, and still she picks him! Seriously, what has he been doing this whole time?), and Drew (will you shut up about James now?). The final rose is between Mikey and James, and basically, they both look the same: short, thick-necked weightlifters. James has a little smarmy suavity over Mikey, but not much. It’s enough for Des, though, and she gives the final rose to him. We have no idea why, though, because the producers would rather play Drew’s monologue of hate. Mikey is escorted away, and we get a glimmer of next week’s date, which appears to be…Spain? I missed it while tweeting something snarky. Anyway, looks like the guys ruin another European city for Des when the truth about James comes out. More tears! Recriminations! And hoodies! See you next week….