'The Bachelorette' Recap: Tussles in Brussels
'The Bachelorette' Recap: Tussles in Brussels
Bill King
Bill King
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Let's be honest. Andi Dorfman's Bachelorette season is a trainwreck. Even if she decides one of these guys is less bad than the others, I don't exactly see wedding bells in her future. Unless, of course, it's of the shotgun variety.

On the eve of team USA's World Cup round-of-16 showdown with Belgium (are you boycotting waffles?), Andi and her remaining six potential hubbies are heading to Brussels for more dates, drama and, hopefully, realizations that sometimes it's better to just be single.

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I like Andi. I really do (more than I expected to, in fact). But at some point, she has to start seeing through these guys. Josh is angry, jealous and egotistical, especially for someone who basically failed at the one thing he constantly brags about formerly doing. He's your typical athletic bad boy, and he seems both too good to be true and like he is hiding something. 

Then there's Brian, probably my favorite at this point, who has the relationship experience and reaction time of a high school freshman. Farmer Chris is a secret admirer at the age of 32. All the other guys hate Nick and are about to bare their fangs. Dylan's backstory is way too heavy and emotional kryptonite. And I think we'll all be surprised if Marcus makes it to the end without boiling a furry rodent in the name of love. 

And with all the rumors floating around, I'm starting to wonder if even Andi is in this for the right reasons. 

But hey, somebody's gotta win, right? It's just that as the season progresses, the line between us viewers and the losers who get sent home week after week is getting progressively blurrier. I'm honestly not rooting for anyone at this point, but I'd prefer Brian or Nick.


Hometowns on the Horizon

This is the last round of dates before Andi visits the final four's respective homes, and it's a battle between the lovers and the love-nots, as half of the guys have already professed their undying devotion to Andi (some in writing). Then there's Josh, who only says those words to his mom. 

To mark their arrival, Dylan pulls his hair back into a tiny little ponytail. And inexplicably, three other guys (Chris, Marcus and Nick) are wearing scarves. Inside. Seriously. I know I just said it, but three of the guys are wearing scarves. INSIDE. Then Chris Harrison and the first card arrive, along with news that there's no rose on either of the one-on-one dates. 

Nick is hoping to avoid the dreaded group date, and he's completely sold that he is the winner of the season. But the card reads, "Marcus. Let's get a taste of Brussels, heart, Andi." So it's time to do some exploring. 

Mussels in Brussels

Andi and Marcus stroll around town arm-in-arm, taking in the shops and sharing a lunch of Mussels in Brussels, over which he admits that he's been journaling. A lot. Like almost every night. And it's pretty much all about her. Except when he takes time to sketch unicorns and butterflies. But mostly it's drawing their initials inside interconnecting hearts, which he then stabs repeatedly with his pen until they drip the blood of the non-believers. 

She brings up the fact that he was going to leave, but he stayed because he's head over heels in love with her. It's creepy, but she mistakes it for romance. So they share a banana split and their feelings, and it's the first time he actually believes she is his girlfriend. He definitely prefers Andi's kisses over the mussels as the highlight of Brussels. Then it's off to dinner at the Academy Palace.

They dine like royalty, and Marcus decides to finally open up about his family. His dad walked out, and he admits having abandonment issues, which sadly explains his clingy latched-on tendencies. His mom would be the first to admit that she wasn't the best parent, but she did the best she could, complete with beatings that he used to despise but has since made peace with. And now that he's older, they've repaired their relationship. 

Andi appreciates his openness and resiliency, and she says he is everything she's been looking for in a man ... to eventually consider prosecuting. He professes his love a few more times, and kisses are shared before they part company, with Andi muttering about what a man he is. I think if we added up all the times people talked about being a man or doing manly things or coming at you like a man or handling the situation like a man, we'd break some sort of manly man record. Just try not to pay attention to it from now on. I dare you. It's like trying to get Pharrell's "Happy" out of your head.

Nick Makes a Move

Marcus gets back from his date, and Nick decides to take a chance and pay Andi a secret visit. He pretends to have lost his key and gets one to Andi's room from the front desk. Camera crew aside, I have serious questions about the security measures in place at this hotel. Andi's first response is to wonder if anything is wrong, and she more than happily accepts his invitation to take a walk.

She changes out of her fancy evening wear for a hand-in-hand stroll, and while she feels a bit guilty about letting Nick hijack her one-on-one, she likes the excitement of breaking the rules. She asks him to elaborate on his crazy feelings, and he admits that he tells himself he's going to marry this girl. The master manipulator, who I hope is genuine, scores a killer makeout sesh, and Andi describes their relationship as pure passion. 

Nick says he will remember this day forever.


Cracking the Walnut Shell

Josh scores the next one-on-one, "Let's Ghent It On," and he can't help but boast a bit after everyone thought he was going to be the first name read off the group date card. He invests in a shirt that covers his pecks, apparently trying to fill the void that left with Cody when the opportunity presents itself, and we learn that Ghent is a city in Belgium.

Andi's on a high from two guys actively wooing her, but Josh doesn't quite fit that mold. He's like a big grizzly bear, more likely to crush you with a hug and eat your trash than to cuddle you like a cub. Andi is sure he has fun on every date he goes on, but she wants to dive deeper and encourage him to talk about his feeling. Yes, singular.

They enjoy a goose parade, which is exactly what it sounds like, while she laments that he might break her heart. But he is also lamenting, as one apparently does in Belgium, because he is reluctant to be vulnerable. While he's never felt like this before, he also hasn't been in a situation where the girl in his life is also dating five other guys. Well, four guys and Dylan. 

Real Men Have Feelings

She keeps asking him to open up, and he repeats that it's tough under the circumstances. She doesn't want to compare him to everyone else, but it's just not going to work if he's closed off when all the guys are wearing their hearts on their scarves. 

Some couples do dinner and a movie, while these two do dinner and a castle. She is starting to wonder if he is even capable of expressing feelings, but after he starts talking, maybe it'd be better if he didn't. Cause it's mostly subdued rage. He hates group dates, doesn't like to share her with other guys and struggles with the format. Then he promises her that he is not, in fact, too good to be true, which is every humble guy's tagline. 

He also assures her that she will love his family, then elicits the smile of the season when he admits that he's falling in love with her. It's bright like a Belgian Christmas Tree, and she takes comfort in the fact that it's finally real. A smooch session in which it actually sounds like he's gobbling up her face and a private American Young concert follow.

Andi says she will remember this night forever. Ouch. 

Downton Abbey

The date card reminds Nick, Brian, Dylan and Chris that "true love is sacred," and with hometowns right around the corner, Nick tells the other guys that he can't wait to never have to do a group date again. Like ever. The other guys don't like that, and all three make pouty faces. Still, Nick vows that he will be better than the salty no-fun surly burger he cooked up while miming in France. 

The guys are vying for the most important rose of the entire season, and she'll determine on the Belgian countryside which man's family she definitely wants to meet. They explore the ruins of an old castle, then hop on rail bikes and pedal down the train tracks. Brian gets bonus points for quoting Dumb and Dumber, while farmer Chris points out that he's not cut out for this kind of manual labor. Huh? They rhyme words to pass the time.

They then visit a working monastery at an abbey, where the only rule is no kissing, and it's one-on-one time. She and Chris channel their inner Ghost and lock lips (apparently the word "sacred" means nothing to you heathens) over a pottery wheel before smearing clay on each other's faces. Then Andi drops the bombshell that only the guy who gets the rose will continue on the date, while the other three will retreat in shame to the hotel.


A Three-Man Freak-Out

Everybody tenses up after learning of the raised stakes, and it's on like Western European Kong. While Dylan rattles off the list of relatives Andi would meet on his no-chance hometown date, Brian and Chris get annoyed at Nick's constant strategizing. 

Brian admits Nick is smarter than him, but he doesn't respect his opponent because he thinks Nick is fake, so he decides it's time to lay it all on the line. Brian tells Andi that he's falling in love with her, and that if she went home with him, his mom would see their faces and no one would have to say a word. Back with the guys, he promises not to dwell on Nick's certainty at getting a hometown date while harping on it repeatedly. 

Nick says (to the camera) that the other guys aren't threats and should just leave, then he tells Andi that these are feelings he's never felt and would openly admit that to his parents. She exudes sparkly, toothy happiness, and he chooses to abide by the rules of the sanctuary and keep his lips in his pants, denying their urges in a place of God. Now that's sacrifice.

The one thing I do respect about him is that he recognizes that she isn't allowed to say all this stuff back to him, trusting that if he's the one, it'll pay off in the end. 

Bitter Grapes and Tasty Ones

Andi reiterates the importance of this group date rose before awarding it to Nick, boosting his confidence to historic highs while dashing the dreams of the other three guys. The ride back to the hotel is filled with profanities, doubts and a complete lack of understanding how she can like the guy they all hate. 

Back at the hotel, Nick and Marcus join in the curse fest. Josh questions Nick's intentions, and Marcus is convinced he will make the final two and then walk. He's a snake, a fake, a douchebag and a salesman, and he's there for the wrong reasons and has nothing on any of the guys left in the competition. I'm not saying that I don't see their point to a degree, but just because he's better at catering to Andi's needs doesn't mean he has ulterior motives. I mean, they bash him for researching the cities when they arrive. That's just smart. 

Meanwhile, Andi and Nick share their excitement over wine, both all smiles. His favorite part so far? Falling in love with her. They have flirty conversations about their future and what kind of parents they would be, and she loves the side of Nick that she's seeing. She takes him for one last surprise -- their own private fireworks show -- and it's his perfect end to a perfect group date. Not so much for the other fellas. 

Love him or hate him, this guy is the frontrunner. And I'm kinda on the bandwagon. I put the blame for the majority of the Nick hate on the other guys. 

Saucer of Milk, Table Two

Who says only chicks are catty? After all, lions are felines too. And as soon as Nick gets home, the claws come out. At first, it's complete silence. Then Josh coughs a few times, and that's Brian's cue to unleash the fury. Marcus thinks Nick likes to get in their heads and make them feel insecure, which is a decisively not-manly complaint. 

Chris polls the guys about whether Nick is focused on Andi or strategy, but he refuses to elaborate when Nick asks for more information. They accuse him of being there for the game, which he refutes, saying he is focused on his relationship with Andi. But he's right in saying that he can't control what others say about him and that he's not there to live in a frat house. 

He points out that all the guys handle their feelings in different ways, and they can get on him about how he expresses himself, but his end game is an authentic quest for love. He isn't exactly happy at the tongue lashing, but he can't waste all his energy trying to convince other guys of anything.


Narrowing the Field

The fleet of Bentleys carries the guys to the cocktail party at the chateau, where Andi must ponder who she is sending home with Dylan. Josh ramps up the desperate rhetoric, saying he's super excited for his family to meet someone he's falling in love with. Marcus wants to show her off, proud she is his girlfriend. 

Chris takes her out to the garden and explains the beauty of Arlington, Iowa, then adds that he's falling in love with her, in spoken words instead of ghostwritten letter form. Dylan seals his fate even further when he describes the importance of this rose ceremony as "It means you can legit see that I can propose to you in three weeks." 

Brian promises she'll love the dynamic of his family before Nick interrupts to open up to Andi about the target on his back. He tells her he can't shake it and can't do anything right, but he's moved to tears at the excitement of telling his family how he feels about finding love.

Watching this, Chris feels he's leaving something on the table and pulls Andi aside again. She thinks he's leaving, but he just forgot to kiss her before and wanted to get another smooch in. And with that, it's time for some roses.

The Rail Car Ride is Over

Andy reminds the guys that they're all great, and she' be lucky to have any of y'all (forlorn). But she's picking the three guys she sees the most potential with, because she has too much respect for y'all (forlornier) to take anyone along otherwise. Nick is safe, and the other three roses go to:

Josh
Marcus
Chris

That means it's the end of the line for coach Brian and high school haircut Dylan, who say their goodbyes and hit the road. Dylan tells Andi she deserves the best and how much it would have meant to take her home. It's hard to be a guy who doesn't open up right away, and he wishes he could have sooner. Still, he tearfully believes that he deserves love again.

Brian also tells her she deserves the best, upset that he poured his heart out to the girl of his dreams only to have it backfire. He will give his all to whoever he ends up with, and he'll be furious if Andi doesn't end up with the guy she deserves.

It's bittersweet for Andi, who is excited to meet all y'all's (anticipation) families, and the ensuing laughter and happiness just makes elimination worse for Brian, who overhears it from outside. For the credits, we're treated to Dylan chasing Brian around with pickles and pickle juice, as they are apparently the only things Brian fears. Pickles. And pickle juice. You will be missed, good sir.

Homeward Bound

It's on to the emotional hometown dates, where relationships are forged and destroyed by supportive or crazy parents/siblings. Josh's family is a bit overbearing, and his mom tells Andi that she doesn't see her son ever cutting the cord. Chris generously offers her the option of being a homemaker, while Nick and his mom share tears over his intense feelings. 

We don't get much of a sneak peak of Marcus' date, but emotions run high as the news is delivered regarding Eric's paragliding accident and tragic passing. It is unclear how any of them will be able to cope or continue on normally, but in the end, love must find a way. Or, more realistically, love must endure Dancing with the Stars before an untimely end. 

What can I say, the heart wants what the heart wants. 


Watch The Bachelorette every Monday at 8pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)