The bloom is off the Bachelor rose this week, as Juan Pablo said some pretty gross things about gay couples and parents–he subsequently attributed them to the language barrier, and then released a GLAAD-approved statement taking it all back. But consider this your first look at the real JP, I guess.

Tonight, we start with a glimpse of JP picnicking with his daughter and her grandparents (presumably). The kid is being benignly bratty for the cameras, and he’s being the gentle authoritarian so we can imagine he’s a good dad. Then it’s time for dates! There are two individual dates and one group dates, and we can tell that the group date will be soccer, because duh.

But first, there’s an individual date with Cassandra, single mom. “Who’s ready for a wild ride?” Said ride is a jeepish kind of convertible, and they drive around Long Beach until they drive INTO the ocean and the car turns into a boat! OK, that’s pretty cool. Although I can’t help but notice that Cassandra is not wearing her seatbelt. Eventually, after zipping around on the water, they pull up to a yacht for a meal and some quiet time. Water frolicking and sunset cuddling ensues.

Back at the house, a blond girl tells another girl about her mother’s tragic and sudden death from melanoma. She’s explaining how it was her mom’s dying wish that she go on the Bachelor, but the other girl is not catching the snap and asks, “Is she OK now?” No, you idiot, this is clearly all leading up to “and now she’s gone.” But it’s an opportunity for blond girl to get attractively misty.

Renee (other single mom) is taking JP’s commitment to make his decision with Cassandra quickly as a sign that she could be going home…but out on the date, JP has taken Cassandra home to make dinner. (Camilla’s staying with the grandparents.) They make pasta, they salsa (er…I guess? It’s mostly just swaying) in the living room and we get our first “connection” of the evening. His house seems nice, anyway.

Time for the group date announcement: “Let’s kick it.” Kelly, Renee, Charlene, Danielle, Alli, Lauren, Kristy, Lucy and Nikki (and the girl who read the card, who didn’t say her name) are going on this date. The only two left are the two blond teachers, Chelsea and Elise.

It’s dessert time Chez JP, and there’s an amusing moment where he hands her a chocolate and she says, “Oh, malted milk ball?” JP is baffled, even after several repetitions, and professes ignorance of this “malted milk.” We never find out what the bonbon actually was. Then she takes out her phone to show him some pictures of her kid. I’m just surprised she’s allowed to have her phone! The talk turns more intimate as JP reiterates that he knows as parents, they need to take this seriously, and then he offers her the date rose. She accepts, and her kid will be with relatives for another week.

The next day, JP is playing with his old teammates on the L.A. Galaxy soccer team. Once’s he’s all warmed up, the girls, all in cute workout gear, are ferried to the stadium by limo. They are particularly impressed that the car drives directly onto the field, which bodes well for how impressed they’ll be with JP’s two-year-old soccer skills. He’s puffing a little…someone’s out of the workout routine (I say, snottily, from my couch). The women are varying degrees of psyched (Alli, regular soccer player) and nervous (Andi). They start out with drills, and I notice that although Kelly the Dog Lover is on this date, Molly the Dog didn’t get to come :(. Sharleen (opera singer) also seems perturbed by the whole venture.

Back at the ranch, the Greek chorus of leftover girls discuss whether the group girls will move in for kisses, and which of them will get dates. Elise thinks Chelsea’s too young for JP and won’t get the date rose. Chelsea just giggles.

Back at the stadium, and the girls have all painted eye black and face paint and what have you, and put on their red and blue team pinneys. I’m having gym flashbacks. It appears their uniforms include gold lame sports bras. Just sayin’. The game continues, and we get a montage of Sharleen getting hit by the ball repeatedly, including at least one shot right to the face. But she knows that being a good sport is the way to JP’s heart, so she shakes it off. The red team is killing blue, so JP jumps in to even things up (and to show off). The women seem less vicious than these games can sometimes get on this show…but the night is young.

The sun has set and the stadium lights are on, and the women have all changed into cocktail wear. Nikki’s first up with JP, and explains that she wants a little time with him to discuss why she’s been a bit reserved so far. He encourages her to open up, and Nikki says it feels very easy talking with him…but we don’t hear her saying anything of note. He hugs her goodbye, and she regrets not going for the kiss, but is sure none of the other girls will have the same connection. I wouldn’t bet the farm on that, hon.

Andi the prickly ADA is next, hanging out in the concession stand with JP. Um, how romantic? They get Cokes and make out in front of the industrial strength refrigerator. I get it–stainless steel is sooooo sexy, you guys!

Back at the house, the next individual date card comes, and it’s for Chelsea! Elise is devastated. There’s also another blonde woman there whom I can’t identify. I’m confused–do the

Holy crap–back at the stadium, we get a snippet of Danielle telling JP, “I was actually abducted when I was two years old.” And THEN WE CUT??? That is all we get of that story–WTF, producers? Apparently that’s not as interesting as hearing Sharleen talk about being nervous. JP brings a blanket out to center field (or whatever it is in soccer) and they sit together–she is playing this smart, y’all. She’s a little reserved, makes him come to her, and he’s clearly smitten. The other girls are furious, witnessing them smooching. Andi, in a talking head, says, “I just made out with him. I expected to be getting that rose.”

Back on the couches, JP thanks them all for being part of his “favorite group date” (out of 2), and then gives the rose to Nikki. Andi has the “Yeah, sure, that’s OK, ain’t no thang” face on, but is clearly losing her shit. Sharleen as well, in a talking head, asks, “Are you serious?” I don’t think she’s in danger of missing a rose this week, though.

Chelsie and Lucy speculate on what “Do you trust me?” means in terms of dates, and Chelsie’s sharp enough to know it’ll be “something at least semi-scary.” To relax, they car-dance to a Spanish track on the stereo while JP sings along. Guess it’s a long drive, because we have time to cut back to Elise at the house, badmouthing Chelsie again. Elise feels her competition is too young to be a possible stepmom, and maintains that she’s not worried at all. I think she’s told us this a little too often for it to be believable.

Back to Chelsie and JP, now dining at a Venezuelan place. They have sandwiches and things that look like egg rolls and they take a bunch of it to go…since we know what the next part of the date is, though, I’m not sure it was a good idea to fill up. They arrive at an enormous bridge, where they’re going to…bungee jump! Eek eek eek. Chelsie is trying to be cool, but she’s not psyched. It’s a tandem jump, connected by ankles. This does NOT look safe, although of course I’m sure they’ll be fine. But looking over the bridge, there’s not a wide expanse of deep river. There’s a little bit of water, and some dirt, and some concrete. They’re basically on a highway overpass. They both seem scared. I have to say, Chelsie’s talking heads about how freaked she is are charming. I’m liking her more now. On the bridge, she’s been driven to tears, which is the sign for JP to comfort her and “make her brave.”

This is the part I always kind of hate–because even when the bachelorette is terrified, and the bachelor seems all supportive, he still ends at, “But let’s just do it anyway.” Although, even as I type the words, JP tells Chelsie they won’t do it if she doesn’t want to do it. He says if she isn’t having a good time, they won’t do it…which makes her feel like she can trust him…so they do it. She’s hanging from her ankles and gibbering about how she can’t believe they just did that, and then they kiss. “I’ve never had a first kiss hanging upside down from a bridge,” she observes. It was very Spiderman. They walk off arm in arm, bungee harnesses still around their butts :).

After a costume change, they go to Pasadena City Hall for an intimate dinner a deux. (In its defense, Pasadena City Hall has a very nice courtyard.) They talk about fears, and JP says that his biggest fear is not being an example to his daughter. Chelsie says hers is “not being happy.” I think she could have dug a little deeper on that one.

Back at the house, Elise is STILL going on about how Chelsie’s a baby (and she’s still talking to this unknown blond woman I haven’t ID’d). Unknown blond says, “I think she’s like 25 or 26…how old are you?” Elise is stunned and says, “Oh. I’m 27.” So can we shut up about this now?

Returning to Pasadena, Chelsie talking heads about, basically, how she’d better get a rose after jumping off that bridge, and sure enough she does. Hey, she earned it. And now it’s time for the requisite private concert from another person I can’t identify. Whoever it is, Chelsie seems psyched and like she actually recognizes him. She’s cheering and dancing, and has the best private concert response I’ve seen on this show. She also tells us that it’s country star Billy Currington, and she even knows the song and sings along. Maybe Billy will give her a rose too?

The next morning, JP surprises the house by sneaking in to make breakfast–arepas, so they can sample his Venezuelan culture, but also he wants to check them out without hair and makeup. Kelly’s the first to see him, because she gets up early to walk Molly, and she hides her face as she scuttles back upstairs. A flurry of “Eek! I’m not ready!” ensues, but the more confident women come down all tousled and PJ’d, knowing that that’s the point. Eventually everyone comes down, oohs and aahs over breakfast, and JP then announces that instead of a cocktail party that night, he wants to just have a pool party that day instead! Lucy “Free Spirit” tells us that she’s in her element, and can do cannonballs and flips all the livelong day. Oy. JP jumps in, and the girls all follow. I disapprove of the heavily fringed bikinis on two of the women. But the lounging and cocktails look good.

Apparently the alcohol has kicked in, because they’re playing chicken in the pool and clucking like hens on the lounges. A couple of them are sneering at…Nikki, I think? Or maybe Elise? because they find her too obvious. Sharleen hates it and isn’t good at putting herself forward, apparently. She gets some alone time with him and intimates that she’s not happy with the surroundings, playing on his desire to be a fixer. A few tears, and she’s in his arms–I can’t tell if she’s wrong for this show, or if she’s a genius.

Poolside, the other women are spying and whispering, “Oh, they’re totally holding and kissing!” Clare finds it too much to bear, because she had a great time on their first date and hasn’t seen him since. She retreats to a bathroom for a little privacy. What is it with women and bathrooms this season? Someone (Renee?) goes to comfort her, while other girls eyeroll at her surprise that dating a guy who’s dating 15 other women in front of you doesn’t always feel that great. But she rallies and goes out for a little convo with JP, who must be exhausted because he just had this discussion with Sharleen. JP is courteous, but I don’t see him lunging for her or moving in for the smooch. I think Clare’s on thin ice.

Eventually, Chris Harrison arrives to put an end to the pool party and take JP away to contemplate his roses. I take this opportunity to observe that clearly, the bachelorettes were not required to pack their own beach towels, because all the towels match. That’s how gripping this episode is.

Rose ceremony! I was futzing with my phone and missed the first few, but Kelly, Sharleen, Chelsie, Elise, Nikki, Kat (aha! That was the unknown blond), Ally, Cassandra, Clare, and Lauren (who?) all get roses. Up for the final rose is Danielle, Lucy, and a blonde girl who is not any of the blondes I’ve learned. And the final rose goes to…Danielle! Oh, good–I’m glad she didn’t trot out her abduction story for nothing.

Chris comes out and instructs Lucy and Christy (ah, Christy) to say their goodbyes. Christy strides out of the house in sequined silver short-shorts, weeping. Lucy is also tearing up, which doesn’t seem as c’est-la-vie as her “free spirit” chyron would suggest. She does, however, walk out barefoot, holding her heels sole to the camera so we can see that they’re red. Sorry, hippie chick!

Next week: opera singing in a Chinese courtyard! Fish pedicures! Catfights! Weeping! I will only participate in some of those activities. Hope to see you back here!