Andi awakes at her palatial product-placed villa, complete with fresh calla lilies in the bathroom and a plunge pool on the patio, and tells us how excited she is to simultaneously date 19 guys in 6 weeks so she can convince herself that one of them is a real relationship.
Coach Chris Harrison is greeting the bachelors at Camp DudeBro, explaining the show (does anyone need the rules explained now that we’re on, like, season 20?) and dropping off the first date card. And the first date goes to…Eric! How am I supposed to be snarky about a dead man’s date?
Andi comes by to pick him up, and she is dressed like trash. Girl, what is happening here? Cutoff jorts and a loose open-backed tank do not a glamorous outing make. She leads Eric out to a product-placed convertible and off they go! We get snippets of Eric the Explorer’s past adventures, including hanging with a witch doctor. And where are they going? The beach! (Andi’s bikini makes her look super-buxom, and it looks kind of windy and cold.) They build sand castles, frolic in the surf, yada yada. Kinda chill for a Bachelorette date…
…too chill, of course! A helicopter lands nearby to take them on a tour of the coast. I think this show is single-handedly keeping the private helicopter tour industry afloat. Eric tells us that the chopper was great, but he can tell there’s even more to come. What could it be? I kind of wish that Eric would be unimpressed and say, “Yeah, this is nice, but it’s not like when I rapelled down Victoria Falls.”
Commercials include a Suave ad featuring a former Bachelorette who’s now married, and whom I don’t recognize. It’s not Catherine, right? Who is that lady?
We’re back, and the surprise is…they landed on the snow-capped top of Bear Mountain. Good thing they brought hoodies! They’re standing barefoot in the snow–aren’t they freezing? Then what should they come upon but some stunt snowboarders in the wild! One of them turns out to be their instructor–so off they go to get suited up. Andi is trepidatious, but cheerful–though she acknowledges that her snowboarding is not much better than her dancing. I think the snowboard instructor got more time with her than Eric did! (Eric, clearly, already knows how to snowboard. Do you think the rejected “snowboard engineer” from last week is on a couch somewhere, shaking his fist in envious fury?)
Cocoa break! I don’t see where she was hiding that thermos in her jorts, let alone the mugs. After that, they switch to sledding, which is much more cuddly and less life-threatening. Andi tells us, “I think Eric’s chances of getting a rose are pretty good.” I think they were about 100% as soon as he took his shirt off at the beach.
Now it’s time for a quiet dinner in a lavish log cabin complete with roaring fire. Andi tells us, “Eric is very very interesting. He’s smart, he’s hot…he’s hawt.” Eric got his travel bug from his dad, and has apparently visited every country. (Every one? Do, like, layovers in airports count?) And now, holy crap, they’re talking about his time as a journalist in Syria. I think they made this dude up. Also, let us all record in our diaries the day that we heard about the Syrian war zone on The Bachelorette. Look out your window, I think a pig just flew by.
OMG. Eric is telling this story about how while in Syria, he was mistaken for a spy and feared for his life. To the point where he wrote out a text on his phone to his parents, telling them goodbye. I don’t want to hear this when we know that he has left his parents bereaved! It’s really fighting against the silly pleasures of this show.
Back at Camp DudeBro, the bell rings and all the men start hooting and hollering like a pack of confused Pomeranians. It’s the Group Date card! It’s a huge list, and I can’t pause my TV, so you’ll just have to conclude who’s there by who gets the other one-on-one date. The “hint” for this date is “Let’s bare our souls.” The guys start cringing again and regretting the carbs in that last beer.
Andi and Eric are now talking about marriage and kids (geez! on a first date, Andi? slow your roll), and how he’s totally ready to settle down. And every single one of his siblings is married with three children. Andi is delighted and thinks he’s a perfect gentleman. Of course, she offers him the rose, which he accepts. I can’t feel any chemistry between these two–but I can get behind any date that ends with s’mores and wine!
Coming up after the commercial break: someone has too much to drink and jumps in the pool! Andi is pissed that they’re having fun, when they’re supposed to be freaking out about whether they’ve gotten enough face time with her. “They do know that they’re here to date, right?” she snits. Gee, Andi, it’s almost like a reality TV show isn’t a valid way to pick a life mate!
Time for the group date! The men come trooping off the Bachelor Bus to discover that their group date is…stripping! How nice for them. Andi recalls how uncomfortable she was when she had to participate in a naked photo shoot, and she has learned from that experience by turning around and making her suitors equally uncomfortable. Except they’re not, of course, because all these people are exhibitionists, and the men know that this show airs during the family hour and they won’t be required to show their junk.
The guys audition for Andi and a dude who looks like a male stripper coach should look (jacket over no shirt?), and then they’re assigned to groups–firefighter, soldiers and cowboys–except for two standouts who get solos: Nick and Marcus. Marcus is not psyched about getting his “Officer and a Gentleman” solo, but is determined to do his best. Oh, and did we mention that they’ll be doing this for an audience?
Nick S. gets the equivalent of last year’s “fire hydrant” costume: a full-body robot suit. He immediately does an interview in his best robot voice. Oh, OK, I laughed.
Showtime! I think I see some Bachelorette alums (is that Kelly, Molly-the-dog’s owner? Yes! And Sharleen, whose busy opera schedule apparently doesn’t stop her from attending “premieres” of this nature) in the seats. Andi comes up and explains that the proceeds tonight all go to “charity”–they don’t say which–and then we’re off.
First up are the cowboys, in chaps and plaid. Chris the Farmer says that he doesn’t care about taking his shirt off–but he does wish he wasn’t doing it next to Josh. And now it’s Robot time! Nick starts out fun, but takes it ALL off, shocking Andi with his man-parts. Then the firemen come out and kind of lap-dance various members of the crowd. Chris Harrison seems traumatized. The soldiers are next, and all of their abs have definitely been through basic training. Next, it’s Marcus in dress whites…and holding those light sticks you use to guide airplanes to the jetway. Don’t understand that part. But he throws Andi his hat, and brings it home. And he twerks! Good job, Marcus. I don’t respect you any more, but you looked great.
That night at the cocktail party, Andi’s thinking that they’ve all had their fun, and now it’s time for the serious business of Finding Twoo Wuv. But not all of the men seem to have gotten the memo, and Andi is thinking, “Didn’t you losers see the footage of me at the gun range? Whose balls do I have to shoot off to get you to pay attention to me?”
Brian makes the first move to steal Andi away from the group, and she tells him he impressed her a lot that day. She tells us “Brian is growing exponentially,” which I think is an infelicitous expression when you’ve just finished telling him what a good stripper he was. Josh is up next, and tells us he has some things on his mind that she needs to know; when they get together, he tells her, “I hope you don’t stereotype me because I was a pro athlete.” Is that the secret? Oh, no, it’s that he hasn’t gone out with a woman in five years! She seems unfazed, and in a talking head is impressed that he “called her out” about making “dumb jock” assumptions.
Craig is drunk already, and sitting cross-legged on the couch in his socks. The other guys are giving him serious side-eye, as Tasos narrates the horror for us in a talking head.
At DudeBro manor, Andrew, Nick JJ and Chris are the only ones left (besides Eric), and Chris gets the date card! JJ, “pantsapreneur,” is bummed.
Cut back to Andi’s party, where she’s now being serenaded by Bradley. She applauds politely, but maybe she could set him up with Sharleen instead? Craig has now decided it’s time to get his one-on-one time and pounces on Andi, who can instantly tell that he’s blitzed. She tells Craig, “Ask me anything, I’m an open book.” He asks, “What’s the worst thing about your parents,” and she’s taken aback. You told him to ask you stuff, lady!
Now we hear more Craig antics intercut with Andi trying to have her one-on-ones with the rest of the guys, and finally, she has to see what’s going on when Craig and someone else wind up in the pool. She is unimpressed and says, “This is not what I expeected.” One wonders what exactly she did expect when she put 19 testosterone junkies in a room with nothing to do except drink for hours.
Rather than ignore the behavior, she feels like she has to get in the middle of it all. Craig shoves someone in the kitchen as he’s staggering around the house, and the party mood has changed. We get a glimpse of a producer (who looks more NPR than The Bachelor), who finally wrangles Craig into bed so that the dating can continue.
In a more contemplative mood, Andi takes some time with Marcus in the garden. You’ll be happy to hear that neither of them is willing to settle in their romantic lives. And at last, it’s time to assign the group date rose…to Marcus, for his confident solo stripping and general demeanor! Marquel looks crestfallen, and didn’t get any Andi time that evening because of Craig’s shenanigans. You snooze, you lose, buddy.
The next day, it’s time for Andi’s one-on-one date with Chris, and they’re off to the races! They’re going to Santa Anita Racetrack, and Andi’s all dressed up (which isn’t actually necessary). Chris shows up in shorts and flip flops, so the first thing is to get him changed. She escorts him into an unused bar with an array of clothing spread out for him to choose from. (Somehow I think this would be way more exciting for a woman than a man.) But he does look great, down to the bowtie (wonder if he tied it himself?). You can see from all the passersby in the background that their attire is completely inappropriate for the day, but whatever.
They watch the horses in the paddock, place their bets, and go to the clubhouse to enjoy some mint juleps. (That’s Kentucky, Andi, you dummy.) It does look like a beautiful day, though, and the horses are pretty. I, of course, would love it. And then a Romance Interlude: an elderly couple sitting next to them say (completely unprompted, I’m sure), “Excuse me, how long have you been together?” “Well, it’s actually our first date!” This does not feel at all preplanned. Honestly. Would I lie to you? But Central Casting did a great job finding the Charming Old Couple.
What? We’re ending the date without the cliched jumping for joy as one of their winners comes in? Missed opportunity or unlooked-for tact from the producers?
Night has fallen, and Chris and Andi are staying at the track to have their private dinner. This feels weird, frankly. But I suppose by now Andi’s perfectly used to having meals in Abandoned Ghost Restaurants after a full season on the Bachelor. Chris is sweaty. Andi is still a little miffed about last night’s drunken shenanigans, but happy to be with him. And we have our first “soul mate” of the episode! Chris is still looking for his, in case you were wondering. He actually proposed to a girlfriend before, but says he knew even then it wasn’t right. Andi is impressed with his honesty and his seriousness (in deciding that a reality TV competition was the best way to choose a life partner). She gives him the date rose, and then they stroll out for…the inevitable “private concert from a band you’ve never heard of.”
This is a guy with a big Brooklyn hipster beard who is apparently part of “This Wild Life”? I assume by day he is a curator of artisanal pickles. On the backstretch, the thoroughbreds yawn in their stalls and the grooms curse this stupid TV show, keeping them up late when they have to get up at 4 am. But as you know, the course of true love never did run smooth–even at the racecourse.
DudeBro Ranch is full of feels this evening, since Craig is worried about making amends with Andi, while several guys who got cut short last night still need to make an impression. Andi arrives for the final cocktail party this week in some sort of tiered disco ball confection. (Do you think the Bachelorettes sign up for this show because it’s the only place you can get away with so many Swarovski crystals?)
Nick V. didn’t get a date this week, so he whipped up a little fake one-on-one date card, snagged some strawberries and champagne from the kitchen, and whisked Andi off for a tete a tete. I doubt that he’s going to be the final guy, but y’all, he pings my Romantic Nerd-dar! I hope some lady snatches him up when he inevitably gets booted off the show. Marquel is wearing All the Patterns: floral necktie, wide plaid shirt, striped socks. If he’s as bold in bed as he is sartorially, Andi should totally hit that.
Then a montage of “goofy attempts to impress” that include some sock puppetry, smashing plates (thanks, Tasos), and snippets of interviews that never actually include a complete sentence. Josh is so nervous he’s babbling, and Andi is giggling that he can’t stop talking. Hey, dummy, you’re supposed to kiss her at this point! Don’t miss your window! Well, he misses the first one, but he catches it on the rebound (that’s sports talk, in honor of Josh’s vocation, but I am not stereotyping him you guys!). It seems nice enough.
Craig is giving a wild-eyed talking head interview explaining that he needs to make a big apology gesture…it turns out he’s written a song. Sort of. Well, there’s a guitar there, but his singing is on the level of “bad Neil Young karaoke.” I will give him points for actually rhyming and more or less observing a regular meter. Andi seems to forgive him as well, while seven other guys peek through the window.
And now it’s time for the rose ceremony! Was Craig’s apology enough? Will we lose the guys, like Patrick the Serial Killer, we didn’t hear from this week? Was Josh’s kiss enough to seal the deal?
First up: Vaughn. Then Dylan, JJ (what is so compelling about the Pantsapreneur?), Marquel, Andrew, Tasos, Josh, Cody (ugh, Macklemore? Why?), Nick V., Patrick, Brian and Brent (the hairstylist). And the final rose goes to… (they keep zooming in on Nick-the-Robot-Stripper, who looks pissed)…Bradley! I guess Andi’s more Fledermaus than Chippendale, in the end.
Sorry and farewell to Nick (golfer), Carl (firefighter, big glasses), Craig (Andi whispers “I just couldn’t get past it, but I have all respect for you”). He’s kicking himself.
The rest of them recover quickly and look forward to next week: two full episodes over two nights! (Oh, c’mon, show, I can’t give up that much time to recapping. I hope Elana can do it with me.) There’s more public performance, sports, “right reasons,” secret-keeping, and tears from Andi. So, same as every season. See you next week!