I missed recapping the home visits, but I would never abandon you for the bitter end! Tonight, Des takes her top three gents to Antigua (finally, some truly enviable scenery). BUT…tragedy strikes even in paradise! The previews show Des telling us that she’s falling in love, and then weeping inconsolably to Chris Harrison. Whatever could it be? Is it possible that there was a flaw in her strategy for finding love by dating 25 men for six weeks? Only time will tell…

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As we recap the season thus far, we’re reminded just how many of Des’s men have abandoned ship midseason—Brian, whose girlfriend (and her plastic surgery) showed up to suggest that his rose was already spoken for; Bryden, who figured out that this show is a terrible way to meet a life partner—in part because he had to go tell that to his potential life partner while she was dating another guy; James, whose macho posturing came back to bite him on the ass; and perhaps….? Then, in a face-saving montage, we see all the guys Des kicked to the curb, before cutting to her cruising up to a dock in Antigua. Including requisite “staring dreamily into distance from private balcony” shot!

Now it’s the Top 3 recap. Can we just take it as read that Des feels strongly about all three of them in different ways, but could see herself with any one of them, and is “falling in love” with all of them? She seems giddiest with Brooks, I think…but he has doubts! His visit home didn’t seem to fill him with confidence, although he professes love for Desiree. (Of course, the ridiculous part is that feeling weird about proposing to someone you’ve know for six weeks is considered a problem in this context.)

And finally! We’re ready to start. We’re at someplace called Betty’s Hope in Antigua, and Drew and Des are beginning their overnight date. There are stone windmills everywhere. And a Jeep for driving around the island and “just exploring.” Man, the PAs are lazy this season! Plan something already. They stop for smooching, and scenic vista selfies, and meanwhile Des praises his kindness, his honesty, and his abs. Fair enough.

They arrive at a “party” that’s totally “spontaneous” and the two join in to buy trinkets and sip frozen drinks and dance awkwardly with about 8 other tourists on this empty plaza. They limbo. ‘Nuff said. A palm-frond-weaving artist makes them a heart with a rose, which he exchanges only when they kiss (each other, not the artist). What, no snow globes?

Then there’s more smooching at a different scenic vista, while they have another picnic. I’m nervous watching Drew cut a pineapple with a penknife, pulling the blade toward his palm in a way that will sever a tendon if he slips. I don’t want the Bachelorette to become Grey’s Anatomy! Drew is confessing his love, and they talk about how Des met his mentally challenged sister on the hometown date, and how special that was. OK, it was a little moving. I’m not a monster, people.

Night falls, and so does the rain…but somehow there’s a bonfire, and MORE kissing. Honestly, this is getting boring. Also soggy. They have umbrellas, because the producers are all, “Dammit, we scheduled a bonfire and we’re doing a bonfire!” Des says she “can feel the love coming from Drew’s lips.” Are you sure that’s love? Anyway, they roll with the rainy punches and trade their romantic dinner on the beach for dinner chez Des’s fantasy suite. She ad-libs an intro before handing over the invitation to the fantasy suite and asking Drew what he thinks. He tells her “I don’t ever want to give up time with you” and tells us that he looks forward to waking up and wishing her good morning. Despite the constant kisses, however, the sexual energy is not crackling between these two. They are two nice people who both want love, and it’s like choosing between vanilla and ecru.

But wow, Drew is laying it on thick! He tells Des, “I haven’t picked out a ring, but I’d get down on one knee right now. I’m ready.” I assume this is all foreshadowing for the guy who’s NOT ready yet. Then they head into the bedroom, where there’s champagne, and something for dessert, and rose petals. (It would be funny if those were all the former roses from the fallen suitors. No? Just me? OK then.) Then there’s (you guessed it) more smooching! And gross amplified slurp noises. Thanks a lot, producers.

Cut to Brooks, standing pensively on a bridge, surrounded by ducks. He’s not in Antigua, he’s in Boise. Already he is making poor decisions, if he picked Boise over Antigua. He tells us he’s nervous and doesn’t know if he’s going to tell Des he’s in love with her or not. He loves his “relationship” with Des, but can’t figure out why he’s hesitating, so he’s come to Boise to talk to his mom and his sister. He tells them that through the whole relationship there have been “ups and downs,” but I don’t really know what he’s referring to. He also says that “the idea of me proposing to her at the end of this makes me really uncomfortable.” Well, there’s your answer, dude. Also, it appears that washing your hair also makes you really uncomfortable. His pompadour looks extra-greasy.

Brooks’ family, sensibly, points out that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to propose to someone you can’t say “I love you” to, and that it would be better to end it now than to propose to save her feelings, and then jilt her after the show. Brooks knows that’s true, and moves on to asking them, “How do I say this?” But we’re not going to find out yet, because we have to move on to…

Chris! Arriving for his date with Des. OMG, Des is wearing a green bikini top, khakis and a fringed vest. She looks like a lost Woodstock attendee, and in his lavender Lands’ End v-neck, he is the Greg to her Dharma. They walk along rocks and get splashed by dramatic waves, and then Des summons the helicopter by which they will be touring the island. The island is beautiful, and it sounds like we’re getting a mashup of every movie theme song ever in the background. The helicopter lands on Barbuda Island, where Des has a picnic planned. The island looks like little more than a spit of land, so they pretty much just step off the plane and lay down a blanket. Not so much with “exploring” here. Chris doesn’t have (or was told not to wear) sunglasses, and he’s squinty and sweaty. I’m worried about the SPF level for both of them. After the picnic, they do the obligatory “Here to Eternity” making out in the waves shots. This is why I will never be a candidate for the Bachelorette (aside from the fact that I’m married and in my 40s): I see those passionate embraces and think, “Sand! Sand! Sand EVERYWHERE. Aaaaaugh!”

There is smooching on sand, smooching in the sea, smooching lying down and smooching while strolling. Des’s voiceovers tell us how hot Chris is, but in less specific detail than she did for Drew. This time it sounds a little like she’s just trying to convince herself. And I’m not sure she’s buying it. After the commercial break, it’s time for their romantic dinner—this one is happily not rained out, but there’s some weird sound like cheap pennywhistles in the background. What IS that? Tree frogs? Crickets? Grumpy PAs? I get the feeling that Chris and Des hear it too, but have been told not to react.

Chris asks a valid and serious question about whether Des would consider moving to Seattle to be with him. I like that he posed it as a genuine choice, rather than the usual assumption on this show that of course the woman will dump her job/home/whatever and go to the guy’s town. That said, Des pretty much says she’ll do exactly that, for the right love. (What does she do again?)

Now Chris is all, enough about me, what do YOU think about me? So they go through “What was your favorite thing about each date?” I am too bored to recap the answers. Just assume it’s some conglomeration of the following words: relationship, comfortable, honest, right reasons, together, love. Then it’s time to pop the Fantasy Suite question! Chris says that he would love to spend time there with Des, but he would like to “just watch the stars,” which winds up being his sweet-but-awkward way of saying, “You totally don’t have to have sex with me if you don’t want to.” Des says, “That’s exactly what I want to use it for too,” which…seems like maybe it bodes ill for Chris’s chances? I think their suite is cuter than Drew’s—this one has a little outdoor patio near the water, and then a tiny cabana with a bed.

Chris walks out of the cabana and produces…another poem! (But how did it get in there?) Des claps in glee, and Chris begins to read:

It’s exciting to see

how far this journey has taken us

from places I never knew existed

to places I’ve longed to see.

All experiences you and I have shared together.

And now here we are

One week after you’ve met my family

One week from the possibility of forever

And I’m not nervous, I’m excited.

It’s hard to deny the connection we’ve made

The chemistry

Real compatibility

Permanent friendship.

Piecing together this journey with new memories

Open to whatever is to come for us in the future

And excited to spend our lives together forever.

 

As an editor, I must say that this is a truly awful poem. It’s basically a diary entry with line breaks. No meter, no rhyme, no metaphor—except that “one week from the possibility of forever” line, which you know he congratulated himself about. The best thing about the end of this season will be not having to hear his poetry any longer. Stick to mortgage brokering, pal.

The next day, we see Des leaving a room that is decidedly not a tiny cabana, in a fairly trashy handkerchief top and white short-shorts. Super-bridal, really. Cinderella music swells in the background as Des trots off to what she assumes will be a delightful one-on-one date with Brooks. But first, she recaps how sincere and hot (and sincerely hot) Drew is, and how quirky and quirky (yes, she said it twice) Chris is. As any publisher will tell you, “quirky” can be a death knell, in both fiction and dating. But “even though I am falling in love with the other guys, I still have deeper feelings for Brooks.” What’s deeper than love? Looooooove? Lurve? Either way, this part is gonna be rough.

We see Brooks arriving in Antigua and checking into his own room (which seems to be like a townhouse? there are stairs), and then a knock on the door reveals not Des, but Chris Harrison. Chris has been summoned as Father Confessor of the Bachelor Franchise, so that Brooks can tell Chris H. that he’s confused and ambivalent. He mentions the “ups and downs” again, but then says, “we’ve had nothing but amazing times together.” So what are the downs, exactly? The fact that hair and makeup apparently refused to touch you before your closeup?

Again, I feel churlish for picking on Brooks for making the perfectly reasonable decision not to propose to someone after six weeks and about 4 dates. Chris H. drives it home by asking, “Are you telling me you’re not sure? Or are you not in love with this woman?” Brooks says, “Huh. I dunno.” Chris H. goes on to say that if he’s not sure, Brooks should use the time in the fantasy suite to talk privately to Des and get sure…but that what Chris is hearing is “I am 100% not in love with this woman.” Brooks is hemming and hawing, but he knows it’s true. He keeps looking at Chris as though hoping Harrison will say, “No problem, bro. Want me to just tell her for you?”

Dramatic music plays through lots of dead air, before Chris (who now seems to think he’s Jerry Springer or possibly Antonin Scalia) says, “So it sounds like you’re saying this is not the woman for you; that you aren’t in love with her; you won’t propose; that you’re not going to be in love with her even if you had more time.” Oof! Let Des save some face, dude! Anyway, Brooks doesn’t feel as painfully, crazily in love as he thinks he should. Chris switches from lawyer mode (could’ve used Michael) to therapist mode, and pushes Brooks to explore whether his parents’ divorce is coloring his feelings now. But Brooks basically says, “No, I’m ready to commit, to be in love…but Des isn’t the right person.” Awww, I’m sad for her! It’s good of him to be frank about this, but it makes me sad that this stupid show got her so many duds. She deserves better.

And now Brooks is still feeling bad…very slowly…and repetitively. Enough, show! Move it along! Break poor Des’s heart already. (Ooh…I would recommend doing it in the beautiful plunge pool on the deck behind you. I want a plunge pool…sigh.)

Brooks has set off to see Des without changing his clothes or washing his hair. I think I would like him to look tidier when breaking up with me on national television. But I’m old-fashioned like that. And poor Des wore her incredibly-flat-stomach-baring top for nothing!

Des is full of happy plans to spend a “stress-free” day on a catamaran heading to Bird Island, and tells us that Brooks has always been a front-runner. “I’m in love with Brooks and I miss him every day that I’m not with him.” Ouch. This is all just mean, now, show. They’ve pulled every Des-loves-Brooks line they could find, just to make it worse when he crushes her.

He approaches, and she comes up to hug him but immediately sees that he’s distressed. He’s carting her off down a pier to talk to her, and she’s asking what’s wrong and getting a little worried. He’s hemming and hawing, and she says, “Talk. To me.” Her face falls…she senses something’s up. And now she’s tearing up, because he hasn’t said it yet, but it’s clear he’s breaking up with her. The “it’s not you, it’s me” is falling flat. He’s telling her how wonderful she is, but honestly, if you were just tuning in now, it would not really be clear what he’s saying. But then he tells her, “I think when we come back together, it takes me a while to remember what we have, and when we’re apart, I lose it.” Ouch. And now the sobbing. There’s no good way to say (or hear) “I really want to be madly in love with you.” Oh, she’s doing the ugly cry. Aww, Des! You poor thing. They’re both crying, there are just whispers, and I’m surprised the show hasn’t subtitled them.Crying Des

Des is crying with no tears, impressively. Her eyeliner has not budged. Mad props, makeup team. “Why now?” she asks. Brooks says, “Honest answer? Because I didn’t know.” Ugh. Basically, he doesn’t miss her enough when they’re apart, so he knows it’s not the real thing. Des is basically in the fetal position now and won’t look at him. I still feel sorry for her, but I kind of want to know: Does this mean we won’t get to see Bird Island?

Oof! Tragic timing revealed—Des tells Brooks she loves him. Brooks looks genuinely shocked and says, “What? Why didn’t you tell me that earlier?” Des says “I can’t tell you that,” meaning of course that she’s prevented by the show’s producers from revealing her feelings that much, but Brooks says, sounding a bit annoyed, “You can say anything you want.” Des was going to tell him today. She’s pissed because she thinks she made it clear to him already that he was the one. In his defense, he looks both dismayed and a bit flabbergasted. Oh, boys. Sometimes you are not so much with the subtext.

We get a commercial break to recover a bit, and when we return it’s time for the play by play. Des thought that the hometown date went well, and is confused that he didn’t feel it. Brooks says again that he just didn’t feel that certain something that is love, and Des snaps, “Exactly. I know exactly what that feels like. I guess I just don’t know what it’s like to be reciprocated. I never have.” Brooks is just clutching his head in his hands, and Des is basically saying that she thought she would have love for the first time in her life and, “It sucks.” She tells him again that she loves him, regardless. “I don’t care that you just broke my heart. I love you.” I…am not sure that is actually showing all the backbone and pluck you were going for, Des.

They both look very sunburned in these close-ups. How long have they been out here? It’s time for Brooks to go. Especially because I’m finding it very difficult to understand what they’re saying over the surf. In a confessional, Brooks is still crying as we go to commercial.

Finally (finally!) it’s time for them to walk back to shore. If I were Des, I would call up Chris and Drew and say, “I’ve got this sweet catamaran. Want to go to Bird Island?” But she chooses to walk and cry with Brooks some more. “So now what are you going to do?” he asks her. She says she was “conflicted” about the other two, because “I didn’t want to share my heart, because I wanted to give it to you.” And now there’s more ugly crying with no tears. Brooks says, “Sorry, I’ll shut up. I’m not helping” to which Des replies, “No. Not at all.” Burn?

The two of them feel baffled about what to do now. Brooks is all, “Should I go home?” and she says, “What else are you gonna do?” Is Brooks looking for some kind of benediction? Just get the hell out of there already! Now it’s terribly awkward—they stop, hug, say goodbye, and then start walking in the same direction. Des has to stop and tell him to go ahead and she storms off back to their pier to weep in peace. Brooks is pacing and crying and won’t leave. Dude, GO HOME. This scene never ends with, “It’s OK, thanks for being honest, I’m fine!” Just stop. “This is way worse than I thought it was going to be….I never want to say goodbye.” Would you say this is the pain you expected love to feel like? (That would be ironic.)

Brooks finally gets in the car, and in a confessional, wishes that Des will find the love she’s seeking and that she deserves. Honestly, he was as nice as he could be under the circumstances…but it still sucks. And Des says, “It throws everything off, now that Brooks is gone.” Which means I don’t think she’s picking either of her remaining suitors. Indeed, she says she “can’t love them as much as she has love to give. Honestly for me…it’s over.”

Whoa! A double-neg? Next week, on the Bachelorette…nothing? Whatever happens, it’ll be on live television! I feel sorry in advance for all concerned. And we’re left to wonder for eternity about the beauties that could have awaited us on Bird Island…

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