Before I get into recapping this week’s The Bachelorette, I first want to know if they’ve ever done a Miss Bachelorette America pageant where the girls walk around in bikinis and pretend they have talent. It goes right along with my complaints about Sean Lowe starting every episode of The Bachelor in the shower, with this season’s equivalent being Desiree Hartsock sketching in a notebook.
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I remember the rock concert episode where the girls got to pick their own outfits and the polar bear club where they jumped in the freezing water in bathing suits, but I can’t recall a group date for the girls that was so demanding of skimpy outfits. My girlfriend tells me it’s just not how the world works, but I am 100% for gender equality. Even when it comes to blatant sexploitation. Especially when it comes to blatant sexploitation.
I’m doing this for you, ladies. What can I say, I’m a feminist at heart.
All that being said, Des and the guys are headed to Atlantic City this week for some salt-water taffy, a trip to the Steel Pier and a Boardwalk Hall pageant for the ages.
You probably don’t know this, nor do you likely care, but I myself grew up just 25 minutes away from the downtrodden Las Vegas of the east. It’s just like the strip, only all the cocktail waitresses are union and have been there for 35 years. I was actually there a couple of weeks ago and did quite well playing blackjack at Bally’s. For a normal person, that is, not a gambler person. I’m delighted if I break even.
There’s also a tour of Seaside Heights, the Jersey Shore locale that was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy last year. The picture of the famous Jet Star roller coaster sitting in the ocean is one of the more iconic images from the hurricane. I can only assume they take a helicopter there, because it’s an hour-plus drive from AC, traffic pending, and we just don’t have that kind of time.
As a Jersey Shore kid (we ran on the Ocean City boardwalk during gym class), the images of devastation from my beloved coastline always hit me particularly hard, and I expect this one-on-one date to be no different. Ahhhh, the highs and lows of The Bachelorette. Let’s get started.
Pack Your Bags
Chris Harrison breaks the news to the 13 remaining guys that they’re headed to the beach. Many of them, plus Desiree, have never been to Atlantic City before. Especially in March. When it’s still pretty cold.
For those expecting the juicehead invasion, don’t get your hopes up (at least not until Seaside). New Jersey could basically be two different states. For how densely populated north Jersey is, there’s an astounding amount of open space in the southern part.
The Revel Casino, AC’s newest that is now emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, hosts the gang. And wishbone single-dad Brad is getting the first one-on-one date: “Let Our Love Shine Through.” Not unlike the sun, as it is overcast and chilly.
They walk the boardwalk, ride the Slingshot and the Steel Pier roller coaster and play some carnival games before watching the creation of salt-water taffy and chocolate-covered pretzels, all while the other guys watch on from the hotel room. And no, Zak W., stuff doesn’t “always happen on the carousel.”
Next up is a sunset bonfire on the beach, with pillows resting on an elaborate sand castle. Des asks what types of girl he dates, and he says he doesn’t really have a type. Just a sweet girl who will be a good mom. It seems like the activities were carrying the conversation, because once it’s just them, the chatting seems to die. It’s seriously like pulling teeth, as he is having such a hard time opening up.
He spends dinner glancing all around like he’s waiting for a bird attack, and there are actual awkward moments of silence. I once had a date like this, and I made out with the girl specifically because we had nothing to say to each other.
They climb to the top of a historic lighthouse, where they overlook the city and do not kiss. Then she breaks the news to him that something is missing (that being a normal conversation) and she’s not giving him a rose. She wants love that will light the darkness, and that’s not happening with Brad. Then she makes him walk down all the lighthouse stairs by himself.
Brad feels like he got hit by a ton of bricks. He opened up and shared his heart and who he is, and he doesn’t regret anything, all while forgetting to talk. Over tears, he hops in a yellow cab and heads home to Maddux. Hopefully, he stops by a casino and tries to win back his dignity.
An 11-Man Mr. America Battle Royale
The group date card — “I’m looking for my Mr. Right” — arrives, and it’s broken finger Brooks, Iraq vet Bryden, Chucks-with-his-tux Zack K., Hashtag Kasey, front-runner and Great Gatsby throwback Drew, Juan Pablo, fab ab Zak W., plumber Mikey T., villain Ben, diabetic fountain-climber and gossip girl Michael and one-knee shoe-tier Chris.
That means James and his truly heinous bicep tattoo get the one-on-one date. How have we never noticed this before??
The guys go to Boardwalk Hall, the original home of the Miss America Pageant from 1921 until 2006 (and we’re getting it back next year!), where Chris Harrison and Miss America Mallory Hagan tell them they’ll be competing in their own pageant, The Bachelorette‘s Mr. America Pageant.
They’ll be judged on interview, talent and swimsuit. And don’t worry about having no idea what you’re doing, because world-famous pageant coach Christopher Dean is also on hand to help them prep.
Apparently, Juan Pablo is an experienced baton twirler, Zak W. thinks he’s a songwriter and Chris goes straight for the high heels (nice calves, big fella). There’s Ben and a floor exercise ribbon, Brooks and a ukulele with a Michael Jackson glove, Drew reciting Shakespeare and Hashtag Kasey doing a tap routine.
It’s all quite amusing and horrific, as are the bathing suits for the swimsuit competition. There’s more banana hammocks than a beach in eastern Europe.
Oh, and the talent show will take place in front of a live audience. If these dudes have any reservations, they’re out the window now.
Time for the Show
Who will “crack” under the pressure (Speedo joke!), and who will feed off the energy of the crowd? With a rose on the line, now is not the time to hold back. Joining Des and Mallory on the judges’ panel is Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford, and we’re kicking things off with the interview portion. Rapid fire!
Kasey is a giver in his relationships, but he wants to be with a giver and not a taker.
Zak W. would be fire over water, because it’s the man’s job to fuel his girlfriend’s passion.
If Brooks was an animal, he’d be a lion.
In a relationship, Chris needs to take his girlfriends out to dinner more.
Juan Pablo’s ideal woman must love his daughter — did we know about his 4-year-old little girl previously or is that new? — and she must be a dancer.
Mikey doesn’t think women understand that guys have insides.
Apparently, we don’t get to see the other guys’ answers, just that the plumber is sensitive.
Where’s the Talent?
Kasey gives an awkward introduction prior to a really awful tap routine, Mikey does a striptease and some handstand pushups and Brooks plays the ukulele and then smashes it.
Ben takes his shirt off for his ribbon routine, which resembles a kid on a sugar rush smashing things.
Drew recites Shakespeare, Chris wears the heels and twirls hula hoops and Bryden does his best Magic Mike impression, complete with pelvic thrusts, in front of the mayor.
Zak W. plays the guitar and sings his song, which is basically “She Talks to Angels” by the Black Crowes.
A Mankini Free-For-All
I don’t need to say much about the swimsuit competition because all the guys are in tremendous shape. Drew, in particular, has just inspired me to go to the gym tomorrow. The guy has a 12-pack! The only 12-pack I have is in the fridge.
Mikey T. fires up the crowd with his pectoral bounces, Zak W. snaps some imaginary pictures and poor Brooks hams it up because he doesn’t have the chiseled body the other guys do. But Des thinks it’s sooo funny, so good for him.
Who is Mr. America?
The judges tally their scores, and Brooks is the second runner-up. The first runner-up, who will be responsible to don the crown should the winner not be able to handle his duties, is Zak W.
And the winner, reached by unanimous decision, is Hashtag Kasey. He’s as shocked as I am. He gets a sash and a bouquet and a king’s hat, and Mikey cries fowl.
Alcohol and Poetry
Desiree toasts all the guys, and now it’s time for booze and fun. Chris pulls her away for some alone time in the pool, and they both confess they are into poetry. He reads the following poem that he wrote for her:
“I knew on top of that hotel, right then and there, my feelings for you were building and real. The skeptic in me to be found nowhere.”
He thinks the poem might have earned him a rose, but let’s be serious, it doesn’t even rhyme.
Ben Pisses Everyone Off Again
Ben hasn’t really done anything yet, but Bryden goes off on a little tangent about how much he hates him, just as a person. He makes everything weird and uncomfortable. But Ben doesn’t care because he’s not there to make friends.
Ben and Des get into the pool right in front of all the other guys, who are pissed he is flaunting his one-on-one time. Mikey wants to do a cannonball. while Michael and Zak W. complain that they’ve heard more about his bar than his son. Meanwhile, Ben shows off a necklace he had made with his son’s picture inside.
Even if he’s the most polarizing person this season, these guys letting themselves get so distracted is always one of my biggest pet peeves. Just focus on your own relationship! Every second you whine about Ben is one second you’re not thinking about Desiree!
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Zak W. and the Endless Guitar Solo
Zak W. was only able to play half of his self-described “heartfelt” song during the pageant, so he wants to make sure Desiree and America get to hear the whole thing. Saaayyys she talks to aannnnggeeellls, they call her out by her naaaaammmme…
But is it enough to get him a rose? Indeed it is! Sing a song, get a rose! Unless your name is Bryden. Then your male stripper dance doesn’t even get you any one-on-one time on the group date. At least she apologized. He’s pissed, though, leaves with a bad taste in his mouth and plans on addressing the situation.
James Takes a Bubble Bath
Cause Sean Lowe isn’t here, I guess. So James takes a bubble bath and eats chocolate-covered strawberries in the tub and drinks wine in a robe when his date card arrives. “Can Our Love Weather the Storm?” If New Jersey can, so can you guys.
He’s ready for fun and to test their chemistry, but I don’t know how fun this one is going to be. They’re off to a helipad, where Jackie from the Red Cross is going to give them a tour of storm damage.
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Atlantic City was not terribly hit, even though Sandy made landfall there and the entire island was covered in water at one point. Seaside Heights, however, was pummeled, and the scene is one of devastation even after nearly six months. And there’s the coaster (which has since been removed) with the American flag on top, and James and Desiree both cry a little.
A ground tour follows, along with a meet-and-greet with a rebuilding couple who lost everything and more tears. Desiree and James, now bonded for life over this experience, decide to give the rest of their date to the couple as a belated anniversary gift.
There’s Red Cross info on ABC.com too, folks. Help restore the shore! If Snookie can pitch in, so can you!
Once a Cheater…
While Jan and Manny DiNunzio enjoy a fairy-tale dinner at the Showboat’s House of Blues, Desiree and James head to Tony’s Bar and Baltimore Grill. There, James struggles with the age-old question between honesty and judgment. It’s something many people have done but most are too scared to admit, as he tells Des that his five and a half year relationship ended after he cheated during his freshman year of college.
He says he would never do it again because he learned so much from the experience of hurting someone so deeply, but she’s skeptical. After all, you know what your mom would say. But she’s okay with it … for now.
And just for good measure, Desiree and The Bachelorette make a replica of Jan and Manny’s wedding album that was destroyed by the flood waters, followed by a private performance by Darius Rucker. Hootie is like, what’s up with the old people? Did I sign on for the TV Land version of the show?
Des deems James trustworthy, and she give him a rose before they join Manny and Jan on the dance floor and share some smooches. James has really climbed the ladder in this game of love, but that’s only because she hasn’t seen his tat yet.
A Cocktail Party and Bryden’s Feelings
Bryden has been having some issues since their first one-on-one date, and he thinks his feelings have been falling behind. And because of that, he might not accept a rose if she offers it.
Desiree pulls Michael G. aside first, and his grand gesture is a list of characteristics he likes about her, spelled out by the letters of her name but with a G at the end, in case they get married and he forces her to change her last name. Amazingly enough, it leads to their first kiss.
Bryden tells all the guys what he’s feeling about the situation, and they’re all like, awesome, bro, see you at home.
Chris tells her he’s excited about where things are going with them, and he asks about her family. She opens up about her independence based on the fact that her family didn’t offer much financial support. They lock hands in some sort of Wonder Twins transformation, then kiss to assure everyone they’re not in the “friend zone.”
Bryden Opens Up
Bryden shares his concerns about their relationship falling behind, and she tells him to focus on what he knows and not what he perceives. She wants him there and sees potential, and she urges him to take his time and not rush things.
He still doesn’t know what he’s going to do when he gets the rose, but methinks it won’t be very climactic. But I guess it means we’re waiting until next week or beyond before he makes the critical mistake of warning her about Ben. These producers are so sneaky!
It’s my favorite part of the show, because it means another recap is almost in the books! Brad is gone and James and Zak W. are safe, so only one guy is going home.
Desiree gives roses to:
Ben (who, and is it just me, does not look attractive this week)
Bryden (who accepts the rose after a nanosecond delay in walking to Des)
That means Chucks-with-his-tux Zack K. is out. Outside of the fact that he wore Converse sneakers out of the limo, we really never got anything out of him other than he’s a book publisher, and that’s only because it was written on the screen.
He’s shocked and he doesn’t understand why this happened. He saw a future, but rejection is not fun and he’s not ready to go home yet. He’s still looking for true everlasting love to complete him, and he manufactures some tears on the way out.
Desiree and her 11 remaining suitors are packing their bags for Munich, Germany, to continue their quest for love. It looks like Chris gets a one-on-one date, but what we’re anxiously awaiting is the respective feuds coming to a head.
Both our prospective villains of the season get called out next week, with Michael G. finally saying something about Ben, while Drew (possibly on a two-on-one date) and other guys speculate that James is there to be the next Bachelor (and has apparently offered to hook up eliminated men with tall, good-looking women with money after the show).
All we know for sure is that Desiree cries, and some of us just might too. So who are your favorites at this point? Are you all still on board with Brooks? What about Ben? I’m sticking to my initial impression that Drew is a frontrunner, but he really needs to do something more to stand out. Tune in next week for all the dirt.
You can watch The Bachelorette every Monday at 8pm on ABC.
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