Welcome back to the best Bachelorette recap you’ll ever read! When last we left off, the ladies had just been served a slice of humble pie. Well, not so much “served a slice” as had the entire thing slammed in their faces repeatedly by a guy in a man bun who lives life nipples first, but you get the gist. It’s clear now that the inmates are fully running the asylum. More than that, the Bachelor producers are totally fine with the foundation of this show crumbling to the ground so long as enough chaos (and tears) ensues in the process. Ladies, repeat after me: men. ain’t. SHIT.
Speaking of men and shit, apparently Meatball gets to live another day on our television screens! What a treat! I was just thinking that a guy whose entire personality is a subpar potluck appetizer really deserves to find love. Thank god for second chances!
Meatball isn’t the only one getting a second chance this season. Gabby and Rachel are getting a second chance at love along with actual rules with which to govern their seasons. Amazing. There are now two teams: Team Gabby and Team Rachel. Each team of men will only be allowed to date their appointed coach (Gabby or Rachel, but not both). Did the men get any say in which team they were traded to? Absolutely not. There’s no crying in baseball. Each week, filming will be on parallel timelines: two one-on-one dates, two group dates, two rose ceremonies, two more glasses of wine that I will need to consume.
Problem solved, right? Wrong. ABC never solves problems, people!! They only make them worse. No one is feeling the brunt of ABC’s bad decision making more than Rachel. During last week’s rose ceremony, multiple men refused her rose in favor of trying their luck with Gabby. Let me say that again: multiple men refused the rose of a sitting Bachelorette. That has never happened in the entire history of The Bachelorette. That’s sort of the whole point of this show is that the women can’t get rejected. This is a safe space for them to cultivate love and, as Rachel puts it, “feel chosen.” Refusing a rose is the opposite of feeling chosen—and it forces the very fabric of what makes this show work, what makes it entertaining and watchable, to start fraying at the seams.
Sadly, this week doesn’t get any better for Rachel. At one point Rachel even says that Clayton—the worst Bachelor to ever pollute our television screens—treated her with more love and affection than these men vying for her attention. Woof. That is bleak. Though she has a romantic one-on-one date with Tino (more on that later) the group date and rose ceremony were dismal, to say the least. And, if next week’s teaser is any indication, this is only the beginning.
On that cheerful note, let’s dive into the episode…
Falling In Louvre
After last week’s fuckups, ABC knew they had to give the women two things to salvage this journey: they had to give them rules and they had to give them Paris. It’s the same strategy Mary-Kate and Ashley’s parents used in Passport to Paris when they wanted their 13-year-olds to get off the head-sets please and broaden their cultural horizons. What I’m saying is, this plan has documented success and can absolutely not go wrong.
It’s actually wild that they filmed in Paris. Usually when the host proclaims that they’re going to “a city famous for romance,” they end up in, like, Cincinnati. But of course, ABC does not know how to let us have a nice thing. The gang might be going to Paris, but they’re staying on—wait for it—a cruise ship! So, they’re not so much “going to Paris” as they are going to stay on a giant floating toilet in a body of water somewhere near Paris.
JESSE PALMER: Anchors up! Welcome aboard!
ME: *hisses* you uncultured swine
To capitalize on the Paris momentum, ABC starts the week off with the more romantic dates. The ladies have one-on-one dates planned with Tino (Team Rachel) and Jason (Team Gabby) and the results are a chaotic 20 minutes of the camera crew trying to find narrative structures during two very dissimilar dates.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: Gabby and Rachel are not the same kind of girl. Nor are they girls with very much in common aside from the trauma bond of having to date Clayton on national television. Rachel is much more of a big picture romantic. She wants grand gestures and flowery declarations. Gabby is more of a laid-back goofball. She thrives on the small moments and lets the serious conversations happen more naturally (if at all). Because of this, Rachel’s date has the vibe and narrative structure of an Audrey Hepburn movie, while Gabby’s has the vibe and narrative structure of Emily in Paris.
For example, as Rachel and Tino make out in a rain-soaked street, Gabby and Jason get their foreheads sized for berets (“I’m a size small?? Yay!!”) and get drunk off wine they can’t pronounce. Meanwhile, ABC is grappling to make these dates seem as if they can exist in the same thematic universe. The result is b-roll that feels Mod Podged at best; the only thing holding it together is the same score of swelling music.
I will say that Tino and Rachel have palpable chemistry. Rachel even admits—out loud and to Tino’s face!!—that she “really likes” him. And she wasn’t even being held at knifepoint or anything! Willingly expressing genuine human emotion is something I could only do under the duress of torture, and even then I might prefer the waterboarding. Good for you, sweetie!
But Gabby’s date moves a little slower than Rachel’s. She doesn’t immediately click with Jason and wants to know if there’s anything deeper to him. Gabby keeps saying that Jason is “reserved,” but is it that or is he just not interested? “Reserved” seems like a nice way of saying he’s a blank canvas on which we can project anything onto. Convenient, no?
When Gabby confronts Jason about his quietness, he admits that this process has been really hard on him. Why? He has tennis trauma. Tennis. Trauma. Do not ask me for details, I blacked out halfway through his spiel. It’s not that I don’t believe him, but it did feel a little like he was ad-libbing a sob story for the cameras.
Where Jason wins me over, though, is his reaction to Gabby’s own traumatic past. Jason seems genuinely empathetic when Gabby talks about her relationship with her mother. If you’ll recall, Erich’s reaction was to pray his dinner plate was some sort of Portkey that might transport him to the Triwizard Tournament (or really, any place where he wouldn’t have to console a human woman). In comparison, Jason’s reaction is downright heroic (the bar was so high, I know). Erich, take notes.
What’s French For “This Is Totally Fucked”?
The group dates are where things start to go off the rails for Rachel. She had a nice time with Tino but she forgot that good guys are the exception, not the rule. Oh, honey. We’ve all been there.
The first blow occurs during Gabby’s group date. As I mentioned earlier, there are two group dates this week, one for each woman. Unlike the one-on-one dates, Paris will not allow any more “dates” to take place on Her soil. I guess the berets thing was Her line in the sand. She really said, “you can bring one man to shore and THAT’S IT.”
It’s hard to say what Gabby’s group date even is. There is some sort of boxing element, though the men are doing a fair amount of grandstanding as well. Most of the guys dedicate their fights to Gabby with long-winded speeches that make me want to disintegrate into my couch I’m so embarrassed for them. I hate when ABC makes them seriously fight. This is Paris. Can we not just poke each other with baguettes on the banks of the Seine like CIVILIZED PEOPLE DO?!
And what is Rachel doing during all of this? Watching. That’s right, they make Rachel and her team of guys watch Gabby get serenaded for an afternoon. Do any of Rachel’s men think to serenade Rachel as well? Well, that would require them to use their two remaining brain cells.
As Rachel watches guy after guy shower Gabby with praise and adoration, the camera catches every break in her face. I don’t know why production would think this would be fun for Rachel. After all, until a few days ago some of these guys were still vying for her. It probably stings to suddenly watch them acting in love with her friend.
After the match, Rachel gives the men a verbal spanking, and it is…
She pulled the “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed” line and executed it flawlessly. There’s nothing men respond more to than being called disappointments. They don’t want crying or loud confrontations. They want a woman who weirdly reminds them of their mom scolding them in a sports bra.
At this moment it’s clear that there are two different Bachelorette journeys happening this season. One woman (Gabby) is on a journey to find love. The other woman (Rachel) is running the gauntlet of Dante’s Inferno. Like, Frodo encountered less strife on his journey to the fiery pits of Mordor than Rachel has to endure in one episode.
After she begs eight men to pay attention to her, ABC sends her on a group date that could double as a season plot line for American Horror Story. The French are going to instruct Team Rachel on the art of seduction. I was expecting them to rub feathers down Rachel’s skin or learn how to write her sonnets. No, apparently France’s idea of “seduction” aligns more with the goings on in a middle school boys’ locker room.
What comes next is a testament to Rachel’s enduring human spirit. She watches as the guys—one of whom she may have to publicly claim in a few weeks—make out with their fists. Then the French blindfold Rachel, spin her around like a piñata, and thrust her face into the armpit of the nearest man. Tell me this isn’t some kind of biblical-level trial of the soul.
Rachel, sweetie, it’s not too late to run. Get out while you still have some semblance of your dignity intact!!
Rambo: The Bitch He Told You Not To Worry About
Every season ABC casts a guy who reminds me why, instead of giving a human man a chance, I would rather die alone in my apartment with no one to find my cooling body but my faithful dog. This season, that guy is Hayden. Last week he told Gabby that she was a little too “rough around the edges” for his tastes, a phrase she used to communicate her worst fears about herself and he used to throw right back in her face. Classy. This week he doubled down on that statement. I think his exact words were: “My dumb ass uses the verbiage that Gabby uses to describe herself, and she fucking didn’t like that. Well, bitch, maybe you shouldn’t use that word to describe yourself then.”
Do my ears deceive me? Did he just call the Bachelorette A BITCH and then roll his eyes about it with nary a care in the world? Did he?!
Another fun quote from Hayden this episode: “I’ve been comparing my ex to, like, this , right? They don’t hold a candle to her, and I don’t want to just settle. I can tell you right now, I don’t see how any guy here could be like, I’m fucking marrying these girls.”
Hayden is the kind of guy that thinks because he says the word “y’all” and smiles a lot that he gets a free pass for hating women. I’ve grown up around these guys. I’ve dated these guys. These guys are dangerous because they will say and do the most vile things behind your back and then lie right to your face about it.
Case in point: To smooth things over with Rachel, he spends the rose ceremony telling her about his dying dog Rambo. The first red flag here is that he named his dog Rambo. Is his pooch’s IG account sponsored by the NRA? And, I hate to say this about a potentially dying dog, but how do we know this dog even exists? Yes, he has a scrapbook, but “Rambo” could be any golden retriever on the internet. I would not put it past Hayden to lie about a dying dog in order to manipulate a woman.
And then! Hayden has the nerve to say that Rachel wasn’t appropriately sad enough about him carrying around Rambo’s duck paw. Buddy, you are not appropriately sad enough about being a blight on this planet. Let’s call it even.
But Rachel seems to be falling for the pet propaganda. She was on the fence about Hayden after he insulted Gabby last week, but he’s winning her over now. Meatball sees this and decides to do something for his country (he’s a maverick like that) and tells Rachel about Hayden’s alter ego. I did not think it was possible for a man who, two weeks prior, was rubbing meat sauce through his chest hairs to be the unsung hero of this episode. Who knew that Meatball—MEATBALL!!—would be worthy of a song by the bards??
RACHEL: Do you know why you’re here?
HAYDEN: I’m assuming this is about Rambo?
I’M ASSUMING THIS IS ABOUT RAMBO!! I love that he openly talked shit about the women in the house and can’t fathom that conversation coming back to bite him in the ass. No, this isn’t about your cancerous dog. This is about you being the scum of the fucking earth.
Rachel sends him packing but she should have made him walk the plank. Why else charter a boat, ABC? Hmm?
As Rachel storms back onto the ship, probably wondering what kind of centuries-old witch’s curse was placed upon her bloodline for her love life to be going this way, Hayden stares wistfully after her and says, “I wanted this to work, but… I wanted Rambo more. No one loves me like Rambo does.” Rambo only loves you unconditionally because Rambo doesn’t have access to a TV!! Just wait until he gets his paws on a working remote…
Here’s who else got eliminated this episode:
Team Rachel Eliminations: Hayden, Jordan
Team Gabby Eliminations: Quincey, Kirk
We’ll have to wait until next week to see what other horrors ABC has in store for Rachel’s soul. Until then!
Images: ABC/Craig Sjodin (2); Giphy (5)