I tune in a speck late because I was watching the last of an awesome Futurama (done in 3 different animation styles, including a hilarious take on anime). But we’re here just in time to see the remaining Bachelosers riding a sloop with Desiree to Madeira, off the coast of Portugal. It does look beautiful! There will be no roses on the dates today, so Des won’t feel any pressure while selecting the man she’s going to marry after knowing him for six weeks.

Desiree has invited some “friends” to join her—fellow Bachelorettes from the Sean-the-Bachelor season! There’s Catherine, who insists that her relationship with Sean is still one of “best friends,” despite the fact that the tabloids say he’s having an affair with his DTWS partner. There’s Jackie, the adorable redhead who went home too soon, and Lesley (maybe? I forget), the sassy blonde who seems perhaps too smart for this show. (That can’t be right, can it?) They drink bright yellow drinks and say nothing of consequence…and then OMG! The guys are here! They wander out to the pool deck and pretend they can’t see Des sitting there with these ex-reality starlets. If there were a scale for sincerity, we would be working in Kelvin numbers now.

Date time! Des comes to the guys’ suite and picks up Brooks in a Smart Car. They drive along the coast and stop at a scenic vista. Brooks says that he is in “a more pensive state” as he grows closer to Des and feels all the feels. Then they drive even higher up a mountain until they’re higher than cloud level. More amazing vistas. A+ to the Madeira tourist board! They pull over for a picnic at what appears to be the top of the world. The picnic is lovely, the “in the clouds” cheesy lines are coming fast and furious. (I wonder if they’re drinking port?)

The two of them do seem sweet together, if a little bland. Des says in a voiceover, “At this moment, I’m falling in love.” Wow, she’ll be crushed two moments from now when she’s no longer falling in love. But for now, just Madlibs yourselves a story from the following phrases: “cloud nine” “feelings” “heaven” “the right reasons.”

Des and Brooks have made all the Cloud Nine jokes. There are no more. Ever.
Des and Brooks have made all the Cloud Nine jokes. There are no more. Ever.

After spending the afternoon drinking wine on top of a mountain, they drive to town and…drink more wine. This time there’s a cat for local color. (No street musicians in Portugal?) Brooks looks shiny. (Why don’t they ever powder these guys down? Des isn’t shiny.) As they contemplate the hometown dates, coming next week, Brooks talks about how he wasn’t always that close to his family, but he is now, and it’s really important to him that the woman he marries fits in with them.

Apparently they now are talking about some word game they devised, where they were thinking of adjectives between “like” and “love.” Des tells Brooks that hers are “stepping” “skipping” “running” “the finish line.” And (shocker!) none of those are adjectives. But Brooks still loves her. He doesn’t give us his own “adjectives,” but we get a speech in voiceover about running and the finish line and yada yada. So we know he can take direction. The night ends with Brooks confirming that he would love Des to meet his family, and then there are fireworks over the fort. Des re-enacts them in a confessional, and is surprisingly good at it. Maybe she could be a beatboxer. Man, these fireworks (and accompanying soaring Disney score) are taking a long time.

Now it’s Chris’s turn for a date, and the guys rib him gently: “No poems today?” As he and Des leave hand in hand, the other guys rush to the back fence to peer at their departure, like maidens waving to their seamen before a voyage. Chris and Des are getting the private yacht date, and of course begin in prime “I’m the king of the world!” position. So far, they are refraining from quoting the movie. Chris applies suntan lotion to Des’s back while the two of them insist—in separate confessionals–on the presence of a physical attraction between them.

Back at the ranch, Michael points out to the camera that he’s the only one who hasn’t had a one on one date yet, and he’s a little nervous. Do you think he’ll miss out again? No, of course not—it’s his turn, so he and his hoodie can relax. Drew, meanwhile, is left on the two on one date with Shirtless Zak, and there will be a rose, but no kicking someone off prematurely.

Chris and Des are now picnicking in a meadow of wildflowers, and Des talks about how she is independent and used to be reserved, but she wants to share her life. It’s boring. Apparently the activity du jour on Madeira is picnicking. And now Chris pulls out a “scroll” and an empty bottle so they can write a message in a bottle together. And you guessed it—it’s going to be a poem. That they write together. I don’t think we should be inflicting this verse on international waters. Although my cold black heart imagines the plucky little poem, journeying over the waves in its bottle, buoyed by the Gulf Stream until it winds up in the Great Garbage Pile in the Pacific. Sail on, little poem! Wherever you are, may you be there for the right reasons.

Time for Chris and Des’s dinner. They talk about how many kids they want, who Des would meet on a hometown date, etc.. I’m still struck by the vague sense of awkwardness that suffuses all their dates—Chris might just be really smitten, but he always seems like he’s on a blind date. That said, he tells the camera that he wants to tell Des he loves her, and he’s freaking out. “I’m sweating,” he whispers to her. Do you have a guess about how he decides to tell her? If you said “in bad poetry,” give yourself a gold star! I can’t handle much more of this. Des, read him that book of classic verse, Goodnight, Moon, and get us out of here. The soundtrack music (whiny guy with acoustic guitar) is so unfamiliar and bland that I look around for the unknown musician giving the private concert—but apparently we didn’t want to fly out the help to Madeira. Chris and Des snog in a garden as we go to commercial.

Next morning, and it’s time for Michael to prove to America that he’s not a douchey sociopath (or a sociopathic douche). He and Des stroll through an open air market, drinking fresh-squeezed juice and eating mystery fruits that are never explained to us. (Plantain? Green mango?) After a bit of shopping they arrive in a tiered park with a pond, swans, and a tumbling waterfall. Again, super-beautiful. If these yahoos would just move out of the way…

After some smooching in which it looks like Michael’s nose is going to take over Des’s entire face, they arrive at the top of a hill, where two men in gondola-ish uniforms wait with a sort of wicker pedicab. Our feckless romantics sit in the cab while the two guys push them down the hill like lazy skateboarders. They’re on an actual paved street with traffic signs, and it’s incredibly narrow, so I don’t see how this will not end in the death of somebody. However, no blood is spilled on the shimmering Madeira streets (alas), and Des and Michael arrive, windblown but unharmed, at the bottom of the hill. I hope they didn’t leave their keys back at the top of the hill.

Michael and Des’s dinner is in a cobblestoned alley that seems literally to be like, the courtyard of an apartment building. But they don’t have families with twenty-seven little kids tearing in and out of the lobby like my building does. Michael tells Des that the date “exceeded his expectations.” Des receives that passionate declaration in as nonplussed a manner as you would imagine.

Cutting back to the guys’ suite for a minute, the 2-on-1 date card arrives for Zak and Drew. “Looking for a man who can make my heart race.” To the guys, this remains as inscrutable as all the date cards…I wish it were about racing those hot tub boats from Munich.

Now we’re back on the World’s Most Boring Dinner Date, and Michael is talking about the difficult breakup he had with his previous girlfriend. (Ed. note: apparently he discovered she was cheating when she posted a Facebook picture? Mike, you know how to pick ‘em.) You’ll be surprised to hear that he was stunned and sad, but now he is better, and he has feelings when he’s around Des. Seriously, Des could be traveling the world with a cardboard cutout of Spike from Buffy and this show would be sooooo much better.

Annnnnnd here’s the private concert: a woman in a black lace shawl singing local folk songs of the “O Sole Mio” variety (but presumably in Portuguese). No dancing this time.

This show is extraordinarily dull tonight, and there’s still 45 minutes to go. Oof. We’re now ready to follow Shirtless Zak and Drew on their joint date with Des—Drew frets about the presence of a rose (which will guarantee the winner a trip to the final four), but the one who doesn’t get the rose will still get to come back and vie with the three one-on-one guys for the remaining picks.

Ooh, go-karting! OK, this looks like more fun than all those bland picnics. The course is super-twisty, and set in the middle of these emerald hills that are still gorgeous. Let’s all go to Madeira! Everyone puts on their helmets and hops onto their little lawnmower cars. This looks like lots of fun, but honestly, is it really “getting to know someone” when you can’t talk to each other? Now the two guys have a race while Des looks attractively windblown. I imagine the strains of Grease in the background. Zak wins by a mile. Drew comes in so far behind it’s like watching James May on Top Gear.

Following the karting, they repair to a blanket and 18 pillows set up in the infield, which I imagine smells like fuel oil and burnt rubber—the perfect complement to food and wine. Des says it doesn’t feel like a typical 2-on-1 date (as though there were such a thing), and “it almost feels like I’m there with two guy friends.” Bad sign, bros. Zak won the race, so he gets the first private audience with Des. Drew stares mournfully at a highway overpass as he reclines on a pile of tires and thinks, “Chris got a private yacht.”

Zak brought a sketchbook full of crap drawings of all his moments with Des. Think third-grade Cray-pas sketches. Des receives them with as much delight as a kindergarten teacher tacking her favorites’ pictures on the class bulletin board. Zak tells us that he wants to tell Des he loves her, but not today. (Actually, to his credit, I guess, he says that he doesn’t want to put Des in the awkward position of pretending to Drew that Zak hadn’t just said that to her.) They return to Drew, who in their absence has eaten all the strawberries.

Drew’s turn! They go find a distant pile of tires to sit on, and have the same conversation she has with everyone. This time it focuses on Drew’s sister, and how excited she’d be to meet Des. (I got distracted by Twitter, but I think either Drew has a very little sister, or one who is perhaps handicapped? I missed the set up.) Drew does not share Zak’s compunctions about the L word, and tells Des, “I’ve fallen in love with you.” Des tears up and whispers, “I’ve fallen for you” in return. Then in a voiceover (while we watch footage of them making out) Drew says, “I’ve told her I have feelings for her, but I haven’t said ‘I love you.’” Wait, didn’t you just do that?

Now they’re back at Pillow Ranch, and Drew has the last laugh—pulling from behind to win the rose! Zak will have to comfort himself with his go-karting prowess. As they giggle, the camera pulls in on Zak and catches a moment where his face falls. He’s heartbroken. Or bored. Or tired. Or suffers from the tragedy of Bitchy Resting Face. Hard to say.

Rose ceremony at last! I feel like I’ve spent an entire week with these nitwits, and I didn’t get to do it in Madeira. Des is in a very glam turquoise sheath dress with a plunging back and a bit of a train. She tells Chris Harrison (and seriously, how sweet is his gig? He has two lines a week and then gets to piss off and enjoy Europe for weeks) that she’s loved her overseas travels, but she’s ready to get back to the States and have some hometown dates. Chris H. runs down all the guys, and Des is noncommittal but pleasant about all of them. There might be more genuine emotion for Brooks than the others? But it’s all basically empty.

Roses, roses, roses! Drew is sitting pretty, his rose already jauntily affixed to his lapel. The other four guys are arrayed in the courtyard, standing at attention. Michael has his serial killer eyes on again. Chris has made the poor choice to pop his collar. He’s such a nerd trying to be cool. Go find yourself a nice feminist slam poet, Chris! You’ll be better for it.

With little ado, Des thanks all the guys and then gives the first rose to Brooks. The next rose goes to…Chris. She does not say, “On your lapel it goes/if you say yes, accept this rose,” but she should have. And now the final rose. Luckily, I was able to observe this myself, because Chris Harrison failed to come out and alert us. The final rose-getter is…Shirtless (but not Roseless) Zak! Bye-bye, Dexter. Please don’t slay us on your way out. Michael is gracious enough to let Des escort him out and let him down easy, though he says he’s “heartbroken.” He says this without a glimmer of tears in his eyes or a crack of emotion in his voice. Back to being the world’s greatest prosecutor, I guess. (OK, then he calls his mom and sniffles some. I’m sorry I called you a sociopath, Michael.)

We get a few peeks of the hometown visits, which are made to look first crazysauce and then heartfelt. And then…dudebro alert! Des’s jerky brother is on the scene, and she’s worried that he might sandbag her again. At least it’ll be more exciting than this week was…won’t you join me?