Bienvenidos, Bachelorette fans! Des and her seven swains a-sweating (oops, there are eight!) are in Barcelona this week, city of romance. (So far the sun-kissed boulevards and warm yellow stone are definitely more encouraging than Munich. Sorry, Germany.) I missed the opening minutes, but have joined in time to see clean-cut Drew get a one-on-one date card. Drew is still stewing over James (which means that the theme of this date will probably be “foot in mouth”) but he’s excited to get some face time with Des at last. I’m excited to see if Drew present himself as something more macho than “Wesley Crusher in a v-neck.”

He starts off by bounding over to Des and asking to kiss her right away. It’s all a bit Labrador-ish, but Des seems to like it. Their date is “explore the city,” and once again, while it’s a beautiful city to tour, this seems like a bit of laziness on the part of the producers. They admire the architecture for a while, and then when they stop for tapas, Drew opens up to Des and talks about his father’s struggles with alcoholism (he’s now recovered, and an AA proponent). He gets very teary, and Des follows suit. And then—augh!—Drew goes on to say that his father now has cancer. I will withhold snark out of respect.

After the commercial break, it’s night, and they wander through a picturesque alleyway to listen to some strategically placed musicians. Des opens a door and they enter a private courtyard, where dinner for two is laid out awaiting them. Drew suddenly gets a wild hare to be “spontaneous,” jumps up and whispers to Des, “Let’s go.” Then he tows her around a few corners (while the cameras follow in hot pursuit) before pushing her up against the way to seriously make out with her. Des, amusingly, still seems gobsmacked in her talking head interview—apparently Drew is a very good kisser. However, his plan has really stepped on the joke I was preparing for their dinner date (about how they feel more “Ken and Barbie” than “Romeo and Juliet”). Thanks a lot, dude.

Back at the rancho, the other guys find out who’s going on the group date: it’s Brooks,  Chris, Kasey, Michael, James, and Juan Pablo. Their date will involve soccer. Juan Pablo perks up.

Back in Macking Central, Des breaks off kissing Drew long enough to give him the rose—which he accepts. Only then does he tell Des that James was overheard strategizing about possible Bachelor-hood. (That seems a bit…less than courageous, fella.) Anyway, he haltingly tells Des what James said (if indeed he said it—funny how we’re never given footage of these damning quotes), and Des is pi-hi-hissed. She’s a bit hurt, and there’s some bleeped-out swearing, and Drew is apologizing over and over again for “having” to tell her. She tells him she’s glad, because it makes her decision easier. I get the feeling James will be receiving a red card and departing the soccer pitch shortly. (That’s my best soccer joke, people. You have been warned.)

It’s the next day, and Drew is filling in pals Hashtag Kasey and Michael-not-Mikey on what went down with Des. Those two are prepared to “manage” the James situation, while still jockeying for face time with their senorita. When they arrive at the RCD Espanol soccer stadium (sorry! futbol!), Des is waiting in cute neon sportswear. Juan Pablo is in his element, since he was a pro player—he is markedly better than the others.

Brooks notices: “Juan Pablo’s name translates to, “You have no chance, because I’m going after Desiree, right now, on the soccer field.” Heh. OK, Brooks, well-played. Just as the guys think they’re having a fun Field Day, Des tells them that they’ll be playing game against an actual team…and then out walks a women’s team who seem like college-age.

The men get an early lead, but then the girls get their number—which is basically that James is a terrible goalie who doesn’t really want to try. The guys are annoyed that he’s not putting in any effort. (In one shot, he does seem to jump away from the ball.) The final score: 10-2, Las Senoritas.

Time for a sneak peek of what’s coming up…tears! James! Lies! Crosstalk! Can’t hardly wait…

Cocktail party time! Before we get to all the secrets & lies, Chris and Des sneak off to her room for some chitchat, and Des layers on the compliments while Chris is sheepish. It all feels a little awkward and slightly incestuous—I feel like I’m watching cousins flirt. Des took a page out of Chris’s book and wrote him a poem! However, it’s so terrible I refuse to transcribe it. Just know that it has faithful rhyming couplets, and utterly no meter. Chris is not as discerning a poetry fan as I, apparently, and smooches her in thanks. Despite his insistence that “the Chris & Des love scale is rapidly rising,” I remain unconvinced.

While the rest of the guys hang out and wait for their potential future wife to finish making out with another dude, Hashtag and Michael (worst crime-fighting duo ever) strategize how they will hang James out to dry. I don’t know why they all think they need to do anything at all about it (except for camera time)—Drew already told Des, so these two should let the chips fall where they may. But of course, if they did that, we wouldn’t have the go-to bumper for tonight…so H&M decide to confront James instead. They tell him what they heard him saying, and we go to commercial with James looking like he was just slapped with a live trout.

James’s denials feel pallid at best…weird pauses, insistences that he didn’t initiate the conversation, and then goes on the offensive and attacks Michael for being a monster on his 2-in-1 date. Somehow, Chris has joined the group as peacemaker (Des is with Brooks now). James is shouting while Chris just shushes everybody. However, he says that Mikey brought it all up, and he was just going along with it. Drew says “We heard you saying it!” and then James says, “The cameras don’t lie,” to which the guys say, “You said it when the cameras and mikes weren’t on.” Then James turns to Michael and says, “Just like they were last night when you BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP.” When he what? When he WHAT, show???? We will never know.

Hashtag Kasey finally gets his time with Des, and tells her the same story that she heard from Drew, so it’s time to take action. She comes back to the party and asks James if she can speak to him alone. She also tells them that she won’t be handing out the group date rose, and Michael rolls his eyes like a sulky boy. The bloom is definitely off that rose as far as I’m concerned. We go to commercial with Des claiming that “the walls are definitely closing in on James” and that he doesn’t know what’s going to hit him. Although, given the last ten minutes of group haranguing, I suspect he does.

Des sits on a chaise longue and James initially reclines next to her, but she’s like, “Um, yeah dude, NO.” She comes right out and says that Drew and the others told her what they overheard, and James takes a breath before launching into the “Mikey said it, not me, I just agreed.” Basically, he’s saying it was all hypothetical and he didn’t mean any of it. Des is skeptical about why everyone else would say this, and James is getting teary…but I’m not buying it. He’s feeling bullied and seems panicky, but he insists, “That’s NOT why I’m here [to be the next Bachelor], and if you don’t believe that, then I should go home.” Now Des is crying, because really she believes those other guys, but she’s beginning to buy James’s shtick as well. He insists that he is Here for the Right Reasons, just as a tweet from Emily Maynard (remember?) comes up saying, “He has a twin and that guy was on my season of the Bachelorette.” Ooh, snap, Emily!

The emotions burn themselves out like it’s the last act of Kramer vs. Kramer, and Des steps away for a bit. After that, she still hasn’t made a decision, but she sends James back to the house. James is in the car STILL crying, and then says, “They’re taking everything I came here with, and taking it away from me. That sucks.” I am not clear what he thinks he came with that they’re taking, but whatevs. This is all a set-up to splice into the “back at the ranch” footage, where the group date guys are filling in the stragglers and insisting that James won’t be back, that there’s no way Des would keep him, and that he just “imploded.” Cut to…James letting himself back into the suite! All he says is, “Gentlemen…good night” and stalks off. Oooooooh!

Des begins the next day with some journaling…oh no, sketching. Fortunately, her last one-on-one date is with goofy Shirtless Zak. He has the sense to shut up about James and just try to cheer Des up. The two of them head off to take an art tour of the city and then go to a drawing class—which actually sounds awesome! I want to go draw people in Barcelona. They don their smocks (which seems excessive considering they’re using pencils, but whatever) and start by sketching the model who’s arrived. (Fully clothed, you perverts!) Then they move to drawing each other, but it’s not going well. Shirtless Zak’s rendering looks like a child’s drawing of Snooki. Fortunately, Des is crying with laughter. Makes a nice change from all the other tears we’ve seen tonight.

And now it’s time for another artist’s model, and hullo! This one does drop his robe. The guy is skinny and long-limbed, which makes for interesting lines, and some creative black bar placement by the censors. They draw for a while before Zak says, “I have an idea.” Can you guess what it is? He leaves the room and comes back in a robe of his own…Shirtless Zak is earning his nickname, y’all! He has Des going all the way until he whips off his robe—to reveal the tighty-whities beneath. OK, Zak, that was funny. I don’t find you attractive, but you seem like a kind, upbeat person. I award you one half-shirt.

Dinner for these two is in a wine cave, where there is a convenient leather couch and fur throw. Zak’s sharing time is trauma-free, as befits someone whose most difficult decision is “Which shirt shall I remove today?” His family is great, his parents are happily married, there is no illness, mental or physical, in his history. Des is delighted at his cheery simplicity, and now there is smooching. (No talking head about how hot it was, though.) But she picks up the date rose and tells him how much she enjoys his positive outlook, before asking the requisite question. Of course he accepts the rose, and tells us that he’s in love with Des. Cut to more making out in stone corridors while Des’s voiceover talks about trust and fun and the difference between Zak and James.

Back at the suite, James comes to speak to Drew privately, and Drew basically says, he heard what he heard and he felt it was inappropriate even to say. Ugh. More tears. Interestingly, he is not denying that he says the stuff about making top 4; this time he’s just saying it’s not a bad thing that he said it. He’s not selling Drew, though; Drew is taking the Prince Charming road and insists that to even think about life outside the show is to betray Des and deny the hope that you’d wind up with her. While I think that position is a little extreme (and suggests some perturbing issues with Drew’s boundaries between TV and reality), it’s enough to outwit James, who storms off in fury.

Now it’s the next morning, and Michael is delivering (yet another) closing argument to his cronies. Notice that he’s learned from his previous date debacle by sticking to shit-stirring and then letting someone else do the dirty work. Hilariously, James is the last one to come into the living room, and just plops onto the crowded couch, forcing all the other bachelors to squish up against each other. And just sit there. Silently. Fortunately, the silence is broken by Des’s arrival; she’s come to finish things with James.

They walk…somewhere…outside the hotel. Des’s voiceover tells us that she’s here to send him home, but she leads by letting James talk, and he is frantically talking about how he feels for her and his words were just hypotheticals taken out of context. He sounds truly frantic here, but it seems to be giving Des pause. Is her resolve shaken? In an outdoor confessional, she expresses confusion because he seems sincere. NO, Des, he’s not! James senses the tide turning and he pushes it…man, I’m going to be so annoyed if he stays. As Des sobs, James tells her, “Please don’t cry. Please don’t.” Does that bug anyone else? I’ll cry if I want to cry, dude! Don’t say things that drive me to tears.

And then James goes all in: he tells Des that he wants to stay with this for the long haul, but he respects her choice. If she wants him to go because they’re not a good connection, that’s fine, but if she believes the other guys, she should send him home now. And dammit, it works. She keeps him so she can have “more time to think about it on her own.”

James returns to the other guys (who have been watching from the balcony and see that he seems to have turned the tide), and reclaims his place on the Couch of Crowding. The silence is deafening until Chris asks what they talked about—James laughs wryly and then launches into a whole speech that he never actually said to Des about his great sense of self. Chris cuts him off, suddenly furious, and now we have to rehash the “he’s gonna be the next Bachelor” thing again. Weirdly, he insists he asked Desiree if he can think about what happens if he goes back home and that she said of course he could. Um…kinda? Maybe? But more to the point, why is Chris now riding this old hobbyhorse? Were the producers short on footage?

James finally realizes this is not going to go well, and says, “I don’t have to answer any of your questions” (but in a much longer speech). This dude is the embodiment of “sound and fury signifying nothing.” He stalks off while the rest of the boys express bafflement that he’s still here. Drew, however, leaves the suite—is he smart enough to go find Des and “see if she’s alright”? Use your advantage, bro! She thinks you’re a good kisser!

But no—the Ken doll misses his chance. The rose ceremony (sans cocktail party) is taking place outside, on a coastal walk, and Des is wearing simple black lace to demonstrate the seriousness of the occasion. We watch her stare pensively at his photo and then look over a balcony, searching for guidance from the stars. Alas, she cannot see them, obscured as they are in the light of the TV cameras. That’s poetical, yo.

Chris Harrison appears to do some math for these doofuses—there are but three roses, and six un-rosed guys, so three of them are getting the boot tonight. Three, seriously? Did anyone think James would be making that cut even without all this nonsense? She’s picking Chris and Brooks for sure, so there’s only one rose really up for grabs. Sure enough, she does choose those two, and now we need to sit through another plaintive telenovela score. Michael’s eyes are bugging out of his head…but it’s enough to attract her attention and keep him around! Eh, Des, don’t know about that one. I would have kept cute, boring Juan Pablo for one more week. (Maybe she figured she’d let him off here in case he wanted to visit family?) JP speaks more in his farewell interview than he has in the ENTIRE show.

I missed poor Hashtag Kasey’s departure—but he never really recovered from dropping his Hashtag Terrible Gimmick. James is bitching in the car and I was distracted about what he says, but he’s baffled about how he wound up the villain.

Cut to the announcement that the survivors are going to…Madeira! It looks beautiful there, but it seems like everyone on the damn show is crying. First Drew, then Des, then Brooks, then Des, then I think Drew again…the Madeira Chamber of Commerce can’t be happy about this. Come and weep among the frangipani!

Until then, faithful readers, I shall weep for your absence. See you next week!