'The Bachelorette' Recap: Hoop Dreams and Crushed Hopes
'The Bachelorette' Recap: Hoop Dreams and Crushed Hopes
Bill King
Bill King
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
You might think this is just another Monday night edition of The Bachelorette, but you'd be wrooonnnggg. It's actually the culmination of an epic two-night drama-bomb extravaganza, or as producers thought when they looked at the schedule, "Oh, crap! The NBA Finals and the World Cup are on ABC? Better double up one of these puppies!"

I don't know how excited I am for the double feature, or for Andi's season so far, for that matter, because four hours of this delicious trash can be a lot even for the most hardcore of Fandis (and yes, I'm sticking with that term). There's a lot going on, and very little of it is rainbows, unicorns and butterflies. It's actually been pretty dark.

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If Andi is able to happily end up with one of these guys, I reckon they might have gotten the toughest part of their relationship -- surviving the show -- out of the way. Already, we've seen Ron lose a friend, listened to Dylan's tragic multi-death backstory, watched a former contestant's third chance get denied, heard about a dude getting digits immediately after a group date, shuddered as operatic Bradley shed tears over desperately wanting to be loved and planted the seed for 25-year-old Marcus' pending jealous "no one has what we have" Fatal Attraction moment. And don't forget the emotionally-motivated "y'alls."

And again, that is not including Eric's death, which is impossible not to think about as his and Andi's relationship blossoms, especially considering no one but him seems to posses the combination of likability and confidence. It's either one or the other with these guys, except maybe Josh, but he seems too good to be true. And he's a former professional baseball player. Who knows what he's doing now?

So how can Andi possibly top aging 50 years and desecrating a classic Boyz II Men song? Can you say running the train and playing with some balls? All aboard! Choo-CHOO!

Uncasville Beckons

Andi is continuing her quest for love at the romance capital of the world, Uncasville, Connecticut, because there's no greater aphrodisiac than the Constitution ... State. Farmer Chris backs up this point by saying the one place he's always wanted to visit, in the whole wide world, is New England. Way to shoot for the stars, buddy.

The first date card arrives, and it goes to high school haircut Dylan. It reads that their relationship is picking up steam because they'll be riding the Essex steam train up the Connecticut River, but I'm expecting her to pull the emergency brake once he lays his tale of tragedy on her. Even though he's nowhere near the front of the pack, I hope he at least gets the timing right.

They sip champagne while he peppers her with questions about her ideal date and her longest relationship, but it's all fodder for him to open up about himself. He had an eight-year relationship that ended badly, but the girl is engaged now, so he's happy for her. It was tough, though, because the breakup happened the day after his brother's funeral. And boom, there it is. 

He quickly bottles it up and changes the subject to the fact that he once swam across the river, and then things get weird. It's like a teaser for the saddest story ever. It's obviously difficult to talk about, but once you start, you can't stop. You either go or you don't. I feel like this is more of a therapeutic way for him to get this all off his chest, to the world, and Andi is just the catalyst. 

The Most Fun Meal Ever

They sit down for dinner, and Dylan offers commentary about the things he is doing at that very moment. He says he's on a train and eating dinner, and that he lives nearby. Andi is growing tired of the titillating observational banter, so she just tells him to get it over with already. What follows is a slightly longer, more detailed version of what Dylan told Chris on Sunday night, so there's no need to dive into the details again. 

He breaks down while telling the story, and she just listens with a sad and knowing "Yeah, this is never going to work out" look on her face. He doesn't want her to feel bad for him or keep him around because of this, and I hope for his sake that she doesn't. 

You just don't end up with the first person you share that kind of information with, but she cries that he had to go through these awful experiences. It's just too much at the start of a relationship in this type of situation, but she gives him the rose anyway. Now let's just hope that because this is all out in the open now, he'll be able to loosen up and have some fun.

This Date is a Real Slam Dunk

Another date card arrives, and Andi wants to know who of JJ, Chris, Andrew, Eric, Nick, Marquel, Cody, Tasos, Brian, Patrick and Josh actually has game. And while coach Brian clearly has the advantage on this group date, the real winner is Marcus, who by exclusion scores the second one-on-one date.

What the guys don't know is that WNBA's Connecticut Sun play their home games at the casino's arena, so they're about to be emasculated by some female pros -- Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings, Elena Delle Donne, Lindsey Harding and Nneka Ogwumike. 

Brian can spin the ball on his finger and Marquel can almost dunk, but the women smoke the guys. And like with Boyz II Men, the consensus is that if Andi is basing things on the game, she should probably stay single.

Splitting Up the Bromance

Because getting destroyed by supremely-talented women is only fun for so long, the guys will be splitting up into two teams and squaring off for a shot to continue the date with Andi. The losers will be heading home with only the balls they couldn't get in the basket. 

It's Eric, Nick, Brian, Cody, Andrew and Marquel (Rosebuds) versus Chris, Josh, Tasos, JJ and Patrick (Fives of Hearts), and things get chippy pretty quickly. Brian is clearly the most skilled, raining three pointers, but none of the guys look as terrible as I expected. It's all tied up at halftime, but the Rosebuds turn up the heat in the second half and nearly shut out their opponents the rest of the way.

Andi bids the Five Failures adieu, and Josh is pissed over the loss. He says he's not a sore loser and then does everything in his power to prove otherwise, much like how a racist always prefaces their racism with a hearty "I'm not racist." They sit dejectedly in their locker room and pine over how much harder they played than the team that handily beat them, and their sorrow is quickly swallowed up by the cheers of the victors.

Skill vs. Romance

After coach Brian's dominating performance in the game, he is certain the rose is his to lose. But does Andi feel like rewarding on-court feats? Or will she go with romance? She takes her six winners to the Hard Rock Cafe in the casino, and Eric gets the first one-on-one time. She feels their relationship has stalled since their first date, so she wants to address the situation. 

He feels exactly the same way, and he thinks the dual realization is a breakthrough, but she's not feeling it. He tries to open up more about his family and his travels, but she's correct in that those two topics are really the only things they've talked about. He adds some stuff about leaving his religion, but the connection is chilly even though she claims the spark has been rejuvenated. 

Brian and Andi return to the basketball court, where he teaches her some moves before arranging a high school "If I make a half-court shot, what do I get?" moment. It is literally the exact same way I orchestrated my second kiss ever, with my first girlfriend, when I was 15. He swishes the shot, and she is so impressed and turned on that she really wants him to lay one on her. But instead, he misses the signs and just gives her a hug. C'mon, Brian, if 15-year-old me can go for it, so can you! He admits that he clearly read her desire for a kiss, but regrettably let the moment pass.

No hesitation from Nick, though, who manages to strategically place a hand on her butt while they smooch. Still, she gives the rose to the MVP both on and off the court, and Brian gets the vote of confidence and reassurance that he sorely needed.

Rappelling in Love with Marcus

Andi is sure that Marcus is the total package, here for the right reasons and to find love with her. And since she's desperately afraid of heights -- the date card said "The sky is the Limit" -- it's a leap of faith day. They will be strapping in and rappelling down the face of the hotel, a mere 30 stories high. I get this is some people's biggest fear, and the wind is pretty intimidating, but you have to recognize that you're not going to die on national TV. Then again, it's not my phobia.

She hesitates in hilariously messy fashion, but he sweetly walks her through it with off-topic banter about her mom and golf, and they celebrate their accomplishment with their lips. They could've filled up the last hour of the show with the slow progression down the facade, but thankfully the show isn't live. Meanwhile, the other guys are watching from the room as they rappel past, and Marcus suggests they kiss in front of them. Andi respectfully declines. 

They retire to dinner at the Griswold Inn, the oldest continually run tavern in the country, and he covers up the rose with a napkin because it makes him nervous. And that's a "You Don't Know You're Beautiful" 1D moment for Andi, because clearly he doesn't realize what a catch he is. He hasn't dated in three years because he got crush-dumped by his ex, so she ends the suspense, and roses and saliva are exchanged.

They cap off the date with a Jon Pardi concert, where they dance, sing and liplock the night away. It seems like a perfect opportunity to slip off and squeeze in some blackjack. Instead, Marcus tells her that he's falling in love. Too early, bro. 

Yet Another Explosive Cocktail Party

Aren't these things supposed to be fun? It's drinks and conversation, not the Thunderdome. But it wouldn't be The Bachelorette without some doins a transpirin', and this time, an anonymous secret admirer and an early favorite are taking center stage. 

Andi gets a special delivery love letter from one of the guys, and it tells her that she has every quality the author is looking for in a soulmate. It's either really sweet or really creepy, depending on who penned it.

The guys are stressed out and tense when Andi enters the room, and Tasos asks for the first alone time. Instead of their usual spontaneity (I think their next fun task was to see how much of her hand she could fit in his mid '90s ear gauges), he just wants to chat and asks her how the experience is going for her.

She is in the midst of diving into a well thought out answer when Brian interrupts, pulls her away and requests the kiss he botched on the basketball court. And according to Andi, he's a really good kisser.

Marquel Fresh (her new nickname for him) always makes her laugh, and he teaches her some standard self-defense techniques that involve her wrapping her arms around his head. Then he strategically places a pillow over his lap before being interrupted by Eric, who turns the tables on her.

Eric Explores Being a D*ck

He's been toiling over their previous conversation, and he's come to the conclusion that she's the one not being genuine. After all, he's been sharing some pretty heavy stuff, and she's saying he's not opening up? I mean, he told her about SYRIA. And leaving his religion. Who doesn't swoon at that kind of stuff? Then he says that he came on the show to meet a real person, not a TV actress, and her face turns to stone, y'all (the raging white hot anger of a thousand burning suns). 

Yeah, that is not something you say to a girl, and Andi is well aware of that fact. We can all see how this is going to end, but we might as well watch the fireworks before the grand finale, right? I guess there wasn't enough drama in this episode, so time to manufacture some.

He calls her interactions with him a poker face, and she's hurt and taken aback. This, he says, is the real Andi, but that's a backfire. She's reduced to tears, and the other gentlemen take notice. She points out that he's continually calling her fake and insulting her, and this is so far past healthy that she doesn't want to waste his time anymore and sends him on his way. She's not going to fight for someone who doesn't believe in her, and if he says the word "acting" one more time, she's going to lose it, "ees okay" style. 

A Tirade of Y'Alls

As Eric stoically takes his leave, tearlessly upset that he made Andi cry, he laments that love and family are what life is all about, and if Andi misunderstanding what he was trying to say is what points him in the right direction, so be it. But he's more ready than ever for that love and family, and it's quite sad that his dream will never be realized. 

As for Andi, she turns her rage on the remaining guys with a slew of y'alls. If any one of y'all thinks this is a joke, and if any of y'all think she's fake, then there's the door. She's trying to be natural for y'all, and she's just plain exhausted. And she doesn't mean to yell at y'all, but if y'all don't think it's real, then leave, because it's so real to her. 

In Memoriam

Instead of a rose ceremony, which just doesn't feel right after Eric's final appearance on the show, Andi and Chris Harrison dedicate the last 10 minutes to the charismatic explorer who tragically died in a paragliding accident shortly after his exit. 

He won over Andi early on and played a central role in the season in only four weeks, but his departure was painful for her. He wasn't as open with her as some of the other guys, and the relationship just didn't live up to that great first date. 

Still, she wouldn't have handled anything differently in the context of how it played out, even if it wasn't an ideal final conversation to have. Eric's accident and passing came immediately after the final hometown date, and Andi and the whole Bachelor family gathered to grieve together. She was caught up in the whole experience, but this incident put everything into perspective and helped her focus her priorities. 

PS: The Roses

So after Eric left, there was a cocktail party and a rose ceremony that ended with Tasos being the only guy not to get a rose. But the producers felt showing that would be disrespectful to Eric's memory, so they went with the tribute instead. I understand the thinking, but I guess we'll have to wait until the Men Tell All to hear from our Greek wedding coordinator again.

It's a rather abrupt ending, and shocking because I don't think anyone saw Eric leaving this early, especially after their first date just last week (our time). At least this won't haunt Andi over the course of the next several weeks of dates, until the top three are revealed, and it will be interesting to see how it affects her final few decisions.

Brian is still my frontrunner, as I think most of the others have a fatal flaw. The one-on-one dates went to Dylan and Marcus, who at 26 and 25, respectively, strike me as the two who are least emotionally prepared and just not mature enough to handle this process. That's a definite for Dylan, but Marcus' fate is going to come down to how he handles his jealousy.

As for the others, Andrew, Patrick, JJ and Cody are all shopping in the No Chance department. Josh is too good to be true, and Marquel is an unlikely sleeper thanks to Andi's favorite color being black. That leaves only Nick and farmer Chris to compete with Brian and, I guess, Marcus in my final four. And I'm not feeling particularly optimistic about any of them.

Who do you think offers Andi the best chance at happiness, and who are you rooting for and against? What do you think about Eric's parting words? Honest and accurate? Or mean-spirited and pain-inducing? The journey for love continues in two weeks (June 16 at 8pm on ABC), with some serious mime-on-mime action. Sure beats the somber tone of this one. See you then. And RIP Explorer Eric.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

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