This week is a mega-Bachelor-stravaganza, with a “Chris Tells All” show followed by two hours of Bachelor on Sunday (counterprogramming the SNL 40th anniversary special, which now makes me wish we could see a Bachelor edition that was all former SNL comedians–just as broken, twice the funny!), and even more Bachelor on Monday! How can there be any dating left to do? And yet, here we are…

Sun sets on Deadwood, as the girls are pulled in horse-drawn wagons down the street outside Woody’s Old Time Photos (literally), and Chris is dressing for his cocktail party while contemplating the “train wreck” that was sending Ashley and Kelsey home. They all meet up in the girls’ hotel suite (I think?) and everyone is dressed up, but lots of sleeves and full necklines–I’m thinking Deadwood must be freezing.

Britt takes the plunge to ask Chris what happened with sending both girls home, and then the other girls quickly praise him, “We’re so proud of you! You saw through her!” He laughs, but his expression falls the next moment, as though “sending them home” is actually a metaphor for “had them killed.” Enough of this–on with the cocktailing!

Chris observes to us that the next stage on their journey is Iowa (not heaven), and he doesn’t want to bring anyone that he’s not really serious about. This makes an excellent segue into his one-on-one time with Megan, who asks him up front how he’s feeling about them. Chris sighs and then–to my shock–admits that there are other relationships that are “moving forward quicker” and that he’s not there with her. She thanks him for being honest and then…he WALKS HER OUT! The other women are flabbergasted (Whitney notes, “I thought she’d say goodbye”) and seem genuinely sad. They’ve barely even been able to enjoy their time without Ashley and Kelsey sucking all the air out of the room, you guys!

We get a little inside-the-SUV weeping from Megan, and Chris tells us that hurting her was “[bleeping] brutal”. Megan goes on to say “We would probably fall in love if we had more time, but he just has to go with his gut.” Er, not sure that’s where it was heading, Megan. But best of luck to you–you seem like a nice person.

Then Chris H. comes in to make this party even more of a downer when he tells the women that there will be a rose ceremony tonight and someone is going home. It’s a bachelorette slaughter! What, did the show’s budget get cut? They couldn’t afford to send more than five women to Iowa? Poor form, producers.

Whitney is shocked that the rose ceremony’s not just a formality tonight, and says that she’s worried for Carly. Britt, I notice, is now hanging on Whitney the way she used to hang on Kelsey. Maybe it’s sincere, but that kind of “oh, we’re such good friends I just have to touch you all the time,” feels disingenuous in a competition situation. Watch your back, Whit!

FC and Harrison have stepped into the next room to mentally prepare for the rose ceremony, but FC says that he doesn’t think he can do it! He has strong feelings for all those girls! Harrison’s all, “What are you saying?” when of course that should read, “Thank you for saying what the producers asked you to.”

While the women fret and mourn, Farmer Chris steps back into the suite and announces that “he talked to Chris Harrison and told him that there won’t be a rose ceremony tonight.” Carly is weeping with relief. He tells them that he feels strongly about all of them, and that he wants to take them to “someplace he calls God’s country…we’re going…to IOWA!” The women react like he said Bali or Paris, and who am I to gainsay them? Carly leaps into his arms in her glee that she is not being summarily dismissed/executed/left in Deadwood as a mannequin at Woody’s Old Time Photos.

And away we go!

The next day, we’re in Iowa! It’s sunny and windy, and the women are in their most cheerful plaids. I don’t know what city they’re in, but there’s a river and buildings and it looks like a real place. Oh, it’s Des Moines. They check out their sweet and say nice things as they take in the view (which like all generic hotels, looks out over the roofs of other buildings.

Britt bounces in with a date card: “Jade–Join me in my hometown.” All the women gasp, and Jade is gleeful, while the others are “jokingly jealous” which is basically “actually jealous” with a smile. “Why don’t you just give her the ring,” Kaitlyn “jokes.” Whitney observes that Jade’s the first of them to get a second one-on-one date, and Britt tells her straight out, “I am very very happy for you, but very very jealous also.” As Jade gets ready, she interviews that the girls are trying to be nice, but they’re all “cranky and jealous.” Tee-hee!

It’s time, and she trots out (in skinny jeans and an OK shirt that shows off her boobs) to a waiting SUV. Meanwhile, back upstairs Britt does the narrative work for us by explaining that it’s important to see Chris’s hometown and to “have that information,” because they all need to decide if they want to live there. After all, she notes, “He’s not budging.” And why would he? Arlington, IA is “where hills and prairie meet”!

Farmer Chris is leaning on a fence talking to his cows and addressing them by name. I am immediately skeptical because it has been my understanding that most farmers who raise livestock don’t really engage with them as pets, since they’re going to have to be eaten one day. But maybe this is a kinder, gentler farm. (Or they’re milk cows…I don’t remember.)

Driving out there, Jade is looking out the windows and says, “…So much corn.” Heh. That’s about the size of it, honey.

When we come back from commercial, Jade happens to get a chyron for her talking head, and I notice for the first time that she is ostensibly a “cosmetics developer.” Now, I don’t know what that is–on this show, might mean “Mary Kay Lady”–but it sounds like she makes makeup, which also sounds like it needs a lab. Could one maintain one’s high-pressure cosmetics development career in a town of 400 people? I’m just askin’.

Jade pulls up to a nice suburban house with a motorcycle in the drive, and walks tentatively up the drive. Chris bounds out to give her a big off-her-feet hug, and then makes out with her in his nicely appointed kitchen. House Hunters fans will enjoy the granite-stainless combo. The house is big and has lots of light, but Jade notes that it feels a little bachelor-pad-ish and Chris admits it “needs a woman’s touch.” (Comments like this always make me look around my apt. full of mismatched furniture and unhung art and think that I must need a woman, too.)

Walking out back, there’s a little yard surrounded by fallow fields as far as the eye can see, all of which Chris’s family farms. They go up and Chris introduces her to some of his cows (Jessica and Bennett, to be specific). As they walk back to the house, Chris says, “Don’t know what else to show ya,” and we get the first glimmers of, “man, this is really in the middle of nowhere” panic brewing.

Back at the hotel, it’s another date card! I expected this one to be a group date, but instead it’s just for Whitney: “Let’s look for love in Des Moines.” Commence the squealing. (And pouting from Kaitlyn and Britt.) The women are all freaking out about not getting to see his hometown, but a quick cut to Jade shows us the bloom is off the rose.

Chris and Jade are on his motorcycle, riding into town (FC is a thoughtful and sensitive partner who has an extra helmet for Jade–good job, sir), and I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that there are no people on the streets, no cars on the road. (There is a letter-sign outside the local junk shop that says “Welcome home Chris,” though!) Jade tells us that it’s sinking in just how isolated the place is. They’re walking through downtown past closed stores and Chris tells her that it’s all “gone downhill” in the manner of other dying manufacturing towns, but there are now just a few businesses open.

Jade tells us in a talking head, “There are no bars, there are no restaurants, there’s not a small movie theatre. There’s nothing to do.” Damn right, lady! That’s why people leave small towns. But Arlington genuinely sounds sad and dying. No wonder Andi Dorfman was all, “Hellz no” after visiting. Jade hits it on the head when she says, “As much as I love that I’m sharing this with Chris, Arlington just feels like this little ghost town.”

Night falls (man, that was a lot of walking around an empty town) and Chris takes Jade to a football game at his old high school. So HERE’S where all the people are! Where did they all come from? Don’t any of them eat out? Anyway, it’s all very Friday Night Lights…especially when Chris brings him over to meet his parents! Eep! Jade is delighted to have been introduced, but I don’t think she’s sold on living in a ghost town.

Back at the hotel (which is perhaps not adequately heated, if Britt’s hoodie and Kaitlyn’s dumb watch cap mean anything), Kaitlyn is grousing about how the one-on-one date pretty much means Jade has it in the bag, if she wants it. Britt is losing her shit because her confidence has been shaken.

FC and Jade walk through the hallowed halls of Starmont High, entering his old English class, yada yada. He tells us that Jade’s told him she has a wild side, but he hasn’t seen it yet, and he needs to know about it to make his decision. He’s trying to open the door by asking what kind of high school student she was, did she get in trouble, etc., but she’s still deflecting. We know this is leading up to a Big Confession, though.

And here it comes…she was rebelling against her parents, and she sells it well as learning from mistakes, etc.. He says all the right things, but Jade doesn’t “feel quite ready to tell him” her secret. (I believe we all know the secret from the internet, but I’ll wait to reveal it when she does.)

More making out against banks of lockers, tee hee, snuggle snuggle. This is boring. I would never make it here. Also, it looks damp and rainy and cold. They are sad for Starmont, which loses the game 27-34, but not too sad to make out in the middle of the football field while fans in the stands cheer, “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” Chris’s mom is ringing a rally cowbell vigorously. No pressure!

Chris admits that he feels insecure about his hometown, because he knows it’s not exactly a draw. Jade is sweet and tells him he shouldn’t feel ashamed about where he comes from, and that’s enough for FC to decide she “fits in” to his life. I hear the chimes of doom faintly ringing…

Back to the booming metropolis of Des Moines, so Chris and Whitney can have their date. They start out at the Des Moines Social Club as Chris tells us the city has a “real metropolitan feel to it.” Hmm, the “social club” is actually a photography exhibit, which is nice. They wander around for a little, and then Chris reveals that they’re going to spend the day taking their own photos all over the city. Whitney translates that into “documenting our love,” so it’s not exactly art–more like kissing selfies all over town, but hey, whatever floats your boat. A good time is had by all.

Back at the hotel, Jade is giving everyone the down-low on Arlington. She’s polite about it but not super-enthused, and the other women are listening, except for Britt who starts crying. Ugh, enough, you self-centered freak! Not everything is about you all the time. ESPECIALLY not when Carly, with mischief in her eyes, has planted the seed that they should all take a road trip to Arlington! YAAAAAASSSS DO IT.

So Becca, Carly, Kaitlyn and Britt all jump in the car and head for small-town adventure!

Back with FC and Whitney, they’re stopping by the river to look at all their photos. Whitney says he makes her comfortable, feel like herself, yada yada. I’m wondering how long a commute she’ll have from Arlington to anyplace that can sustain a fertility nurse.

Back at the road trip, the girls gleefully announce that they’ve crossed the town line into Arlington and…womp womp. Even though there’s no football game today, the streets are just as abandoned, the stores just as closed. They pass the one stoplight and freak as they discover just how small Arlington actually is. Pulling over, they get out of the car to search for human life.

No luck.

The market is closed, the library is closed, the bank is closed, even the Methodist church is closed…but that doesn’t stop Carly from receiving a sign. She peers in and sees “the exact same picture of Jesus in the exact same frame” that her grandparents had, so she takes this as meaningful. Oy.

Finally, the girls find a convenient townsperson hanging out on their porch. First they ask where to go to get something to eat, and he says, “Um, not in Arlington.” In answer to “what do people do around here?” he tells them, “They go somewhere else.” Not looking good for Arlington, y’all. And it turns out that guy is the pastor! Britt gently freaks out in a talking head: “There’s not even a restaurant in this town. It’s just…SO much smaller than I thought it would be.”

Back in big-city Des Moines, FC and Whitney walk past a line of fans snapping pics and walk into a cool-ish cocktail bar to meet three of Chris’s besties. They all look roughly the same as Chris–slightly burly, receding hairlines, close-cropped hair–and seem friendly enough. They grill her a little bit, but politely, and this is probably more relationship talk than any of them has done in the last five years. Whitney acquits herself decently, and I assume they leave with the impression of “nice Southern girl.” They give her their blessing.

The ladies are back from their road trip and reporting to Jade, and Britt makes a tactical error by flipflopping. They all acknowledge how crazy-small the place is, but Britt says, “I don’t want to say it was depressing, because I know how important it is to Chris, but…I don’t see myself in this town.” That was also what she told the other girls in the car, but then she maintains that on the ride home, she realized that the country is so gorgeous that she could totally see herself there! All this does is make her Public Enemy #1 to the other girls, because she’s committed the worst sin possible on the Bachelor: Fakeness.

Time for another date card! This one’s a group date: “Britt, Carly, Kaitlyn–Icy our future together.” Kaitlyn is bummed, because she hasn’t had a solo date since the one with Jimmy Kimmel. They quickly figure they’re going ice skating, and Britt’s all, “Oh no you guys, I can’t skate!” The women turn on her and say that she says that for every activity and then she’s awesome at it. This leads to a crazy/delightful talking head where Carly has made up her hand like Senor Wences and has a conversation with hand-Britt about how she’s going down. Trashes her lipstick and everything! It’s funny and mean and sad all at once, which is exactly why I watch this show.

Back at the bar, FC’s friends are sent away so Whit and Chris can have some more one-on-one time (well, one on one if you don’t count the creepy Bachelor fans pressed up against the window watching them). Whitney wants to tell Chris a little about her unusual family situation: her mother passed away ten years ago (suddenly), which he knew, but she explains that she has no relationship with her father. So she tells him that she really wants a man who has a great relationship with his parents, because she wants them for herself. FC is touched, I suppose, but now it’s time for the next surprise! He had one of their pictures from the day painted as a mural on the wall outside the bar. (It doesn’t look anything like her, but it does have her plaid shirt tied around her waist, so we know it’s Whit.) She is inordinately touched.

Ooh, coming up after the break, Jade reveals her secret to Carly, who says in a talking head, “It’s one thing to say it’s cool, and another to say, ‘Hey Mom, don’t Google my wife.'” Plus, who’s going to rat out Britt for hating on Arlington? (Oh, Carly again? Girl, you’re going home anyway.)

Back in the suite, Whitney is doing the debrief on her date, and it’s all very “Summer Loving.” Jade is sitting there awkwardly, thinking about how she has to let Chris know of her checkered past. She starts with Carly, because she feels closest to her in the house. She knows she needs to tell Chris before he finds out some other way–LIKE HER DAD DID. Ew! His co-workers told him. Not good, Jade. Carly doesn’t have much advice to give, other than, yeah, tell him soon.

Now it’s time for the group date! The three chosen women enter the Wells Fargo Arena, which is empty and dark…until the lights come on and Chris is standing in the middle of a hockey rink! I also note that Britt now has the ubiquitous plaid shirt tied around her waist. Are they just passing it around? Does the plaid shirt get a rose?

Anyway, they all put on skates and fumble around the arena, and then they play some hockey. None of them are very good on skates so it’s pretty evenly matched. I will say that this is the first Bachelor season where they’ve let the bachelor look silly and not just the bachelorettes–I like it. After assorted icy shenanigans, Chris and Britt walk off (de-skated) for some alone time, and so Britt can “confess” their secret road trip to Arlington, and claim she loved it. Cut to Carly mock-interviewing Kaitlyn about what Britt is saying, which is hilarious. In talking heads, Carly is getting more and more freaked out, and I know she’s going to try to tell on Britt, which will probably get Carly sent home. (Well, to be honest, Carly was probably going home anyway.)

Carly says to camera, “If Chris ends up with Britt, she’s gonna…leave him.” Cut to Britt telling FC how much she loved it there, and how “alive” she felt there. Chris is of course thrilled to hear it and doesn’t question it at all. He says “Her and I [sic] could make a special, great life together.”

Carly and Chris get some time now, but they stay in the arena…where Kaitlyn and Britt can see them! Blech. Feels lame. Carly wastes no time in trying to throw Britt under the bus and keeps telling him that she’s “freaked out” for him…I almost feel like Carly’s just given up on getting Chris for herself, which would make her Chaotic Neutral and SO much more fun!

Chris is rattled, as Carly hoped he’d be, but we see no more of that date (including no one-on-one time for Kaitlyn?). Now they’re in some bar that looks like they brought drinks into an ABC Carpet & Home, sitting around a table that has the date rose on it. Chris takes Britt away for a little chat so he can figure out if she’s being truthful. Britt tells him that the week has been hard because she just wants so much to bring him to meet her family–“but not if you don’t want to!”–and he asks her to describe a family visit for him. She talks about how her family dinner would be in the living room, off paper plates, everyone eating off each other’s plate (OK, that last bit sounds weird), and that “my whole life is within a couple of blocks.” Where is this girl from again?

Chris takes this as a segue to talk about Arlington, and Britt insists that although she was at first taken aback, she was eager to “try it.” Chris quotes some of what Carly told him, but not in a real confrontational way, and she just wiggles around it and says she wants to be a mom, wherever. I guess that’s enough for him, because then they’re just making out.

Back at the couch, Carly and Kaitlyn are dissecting things, and Carly’s trying to convince herself that FC will see through Britt. Kaitlyn, more sensibly, suggests that Britt is not lying, but simply “molding herself” to what she thinks Chris will want. Yeah, that’s about it. Chris comes back and exchanges Britt for Kaitlyn, and they wind up in some other–what the heck is this room? It’s full of giant plastic letters. I’m so confused. Kaitlyn feels like they haven’t had enough time together and is worried that he’s forgetting about her. He reassures her and seems to like her confession, so he rewards her with the rose. He tells Kaitlyn that he feels like “the luckiest man alive” with her, and says that he can’t wait to meet her family. She’s thrilled.

Back at the couch, Carly doesn’t seem too bitter about it, but Britt just puts her head in her hands. They sit in stony silence, but Britt is getting ready to blow. (Also, I finally get a look at the name of the weird place they’re in! It’s West End Coffee & Salvage. Of course.)

Chris tries to give a fumbling speech and Britt is Not. Having. It. Carly gives a nice little speech about being grateful for the time they had together and ends it with a little dig, “And I like Kaitlyn, so I’m glad you gave the rose to her.” Britt can’t jump in on that fast enough, insisting that she “loves” Kaitlyn and she “gets it,” but she’s still furious. She talks about how hard it is to feel like she’s “last in line” and that she wants to be her husband’s first choice. That is not an unreasonable feeling, Britt! For that reason, perhaps you should not seek your husband as one of 30 women vying for the same guy!

Chris fumblingly says that he knows it’s hard, but it’s what he felt he had to do, and it was an incredibly tough decision. He doesn’t get into specifics, but he says to Britt that it sounds like maybe she doesn’t want to be there any more. She leaps on that and says, “It sounds like you’re saying, ‘If you want to leave, leave.'” Chris is now baffled, and once again wondering how he’s found himself in another Females-Having-Unpleasant-Emotions situation. To his credit, he shuts it down, saying that it’s disrespectful to Carly and Kaitlyn to be having this argument right in front of them. He tells Britt that it’s just one more chapter in the journey (Bachelor Bingo!) and that he’s looking forward to seeing her tomorrow, and he leaves.

Carly and Kaitlyn awkwardly side-eye Britt, like they’ve been left at a cocktail party with an angry wolverine. Britt tries to do the “Nothing against you” apology, but come on. She insists that it’s because she needs to think very hard about what she’s bringing home to her family, and if “the man she’s giving so much too thinking it’s more important to validate someone else than to give that back to me…?” Kaitlyn calls her on her drama queening and says, “Well, you made me feel pretty bad…” Britt apologizes for the awkwardness and says, “If I could have masked my feelings, I would have.” Uh-huh, sure honey.

Carly finally speaks up and basically calls out Britt for being a Farmer Chris hog, and then sinks into pity party: “If anyone here has to worry, it’s Carly Waddell.” I am worried that she’s starting to refer to herself in the 3rd person. In a talking head, Carly says she’s sad not to get the rose, but Chris seeing through Britt’s facade was worth it to her.

Back at the hotel, Carly and Kaitlyn are telling the others about the date and speculating that Britt might leave, and that she won’t recover from her outburst. This is interspersed with Britt crying in a talking head about how she shouldn’t have started “processing that out loud” in front of the other girls, blah blah blah. As C and K get more and more gleeful about the prospect of Britt leaving, whether because she quits or because Chris sends her home, I get more and more sure that Britt is staying and Carly’s getting the boot.

But we’ll have to tune in tomorrow to find out what happens! Britt weeps! No cocktail party! But Britt talks to Chris and they’re kissing! Glimpses of hometown dates for Kaitlyn! Becca! and Jade! (Um, isn’t that a spoiler?) Let the mayhem continue!

See you tomorrow, my roses…