Welcome, ladies and gents, to The Bachelorette: World Cup edition. Now I’m not sure how many of you are soccer fans, but everyone can get behind the good ol’ US of A every four years, right? Me? I played the sport for nine years.

So spoiler alert (to both people who somehow don’t already know and yet also care, stop reading), the Americans just beat Ghana, the team that knocked them out of the last two World Cups, 2-1, on a stunning header by 20-year-old John Brooks in the 86th minute, just four minutes after Andre Ayew notched the equalizer following Clint Dempsey’s amazing goal just 30 seconds into the game.

And while I, of course, played no role in the outcome of this match, I also kind of did. You see, I recently paid off a credit card, inexplicably paying one cent more than the owed total. And after three months of statements showing I had a penny credit, Capital One stepped up to the pitch and spent 49 cents to mail me a check for “No Dollars and .01 Cents.” 

I cashed this check, making the bank teller’s day, and immediately concluded that this was, in fact, a lucky coin. Extensive research showed it was not 1 in 176 million Powerball lucky and only equal-money-up-to-$5 scratch-off-ticket lucky, so I took my chances with national team soccer. And you see the result.

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The Group of Death

So what does this have to do with Andi’s quest for love, you ask? Well, I’m in such a good mood that very little date drama will negatively affect my attitude, meaning the chaos we’re in store for won’t be enough to knock me off the pedestal. 

After a pseudo-week off in which a one-hour special recapped the four episodes you watched over a three-week span, Andi is back on the dating scene. If you tuned in, sorry you wasted your time. And if you didn’t, the only things you missed were Tasos’ emotional goodbye following the forbidden never-before-seen rose ceremony and the fact that all the guys, Josh in particular, ganged up on Nick after he consoled Andi when Eric left.

He did what they all wanted to do but didn’t have the soccer balls to actually try, and they bugged out on him for it. C’mon, jabronis. There was nothing underhanded about it, and you’re just jealous. Thankfully, that trend appears to continue. So lace up your cleats and strap on those shin pads. It’s about to get chippy. GOOAAALLLLL!

French Kissing

Andi and the boys have traveled to Marseille, France, which producers spent weeks teaching her how to correctly pronounce before she could experience the most romantic style of tongue-involved smooching in existence. The first date card arrives, written in the international language of love, and it invites ex-baseball player Josh to “Voyons si notre amour peut tenir le cap,” which, according to Google, means “Let’s see if our love can stay the course.”

Andi reiterates that the only French she knows is how to say her name, and Chris Harrison asks her if she’s falling in love. She responds with profanity (a recurring theme this season) and the fact that she’s taking the plunge for more than just one beau. Back at the house, Andrew is distraught at only having gone on group dates and is determined to show Andi his true personality, which I’m assuming won’t be by telling her he’s gotten a random waitress’ digits and is still enamored by the fact that they can be Andy and Andi. 

She picks up Josh and leads him around the Marseille raw fish and pastry market, where they eat sandwiches and walk along the water. Then it’s off on a rather chilly schooner ride full of French flags and kisses. 

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Athlete or Boyfriend?

Andi is determined to dig a bit deeper into Josh, to see if he’s just your typical sleep-around athlete who never settles down. He plays right into the mold by telling her they have to play tennis and he’ll kick her ass at it, even though he doesn’t play tennis.

He furthers it by challenging her that she must think he sucks because he was only a second round pick (48th overall) in the MLB draft. It’s true that the Milwaukee Brewers took him with the seventh pick of round two in 2002, but I double he’ll be bragging that he never made it above single A in five years. The fact that he lists his greatest achievement as “Being drafted in the 2nd Round (48th overall) in the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft” obviously means he didn’t have much of a career. 

But she’s still impressed by the potential he displayed 12 years ago, before he enrolled at Georgia and was a walk-on safety for the football team in 2009. But yeah, we’ll buy it when you say the main reason you walked away from baseball was because you wanted a family. Sure thing. Enjoy those smooches while they last.

The Calanques (Sounds Like a Futbol Team Nickname)

Josh and Andi take their boat to a private canyon chain overlooking the Mediterranean for a picnic on the rocks. And part of me wonders if he is as dumb as them. She asks him the most exotic place baseball ever took him, and he points out that he was always in the podunk towns associated with the minors. And because he was a high draft pick, he spent those years getting hazed by all the veterans, and he didn’t like it one bit — those bullies.

She worries that she and Josh are purely physical, much like the relationship she had with Juan Pablo, and she tells him she needs to be careful with a pretty face like his. He disagrees, believing cares and inhibitions are as pointless as soccer dives and panties. 

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Dinner and Dessert

They cap off the night with dinner at Palais Longchamp, a palace complete with ancient naked sculptures, and Andi is still looking for that emotional connection. She opens up about being cheated on by athletes in the past, and he responds with a solid “Yeah, that’s what happens.” But he’s not an athlete anymore (WHAT IS HE??), and he doesn’t want to be judged that way. 

He hasn’t dated anyone in five years because he was with a girl while he was playing ball, and all her friends told her that he was probably cheating on her, so she went out and kissed another dude. And since that’s just not how he was raised (wink, wink), he now has trust issues, likely because he thinks that makes him sound vulnerable. And no matter how many girls he bangs, he’s just not willing to drop the L bomb unless it’s forever. And this is the first time he’s felt that way in forever. Bleh.

Okay, so Josh is sooooo not the type to admit that he’s cheated, and I’m not saying that he has, but the dude TOTALLY has. Still, that sh*t-eating big-toothed smile has worked on a lot of girls, and it earns him kisses and a rose. It just means Andi is like every other girl who falls for this type of garbage over and over again, and Josh calls it the best day of his entire life. But is it better than when he was “drafted in the 2nd Round (48th overall) in the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft”? Probably not.

The night ends with a private Ben Fields concert, and they dance and make out on a piece of red carpet. Ben sings about not taking things slowly, and Andi is ready to jump right ahead to the fantasy suite. Even though she still didn’t find that emotional connection. But he’s sooooo hot 🙂

Blackies, Mimes and Threats, Oh My

The group date card arrives, inviting Marcus, Dylan, Chris, J.J. Marquel, Cody, Nick, Patrick and Andrew to, well, nothing. It’s just a blank note signed “Heart, Andi.” But instead of wondering if they’ll, I don’t know, be miming, JJ, Brian, Marquel and Nick instead discuss their dislike for Andrew. Nick didn’t tell Marquel “the first rose ceremony story” because he didn’t want him to snap, but apparently, after Ron got a rose, Andrew nudged JJ, leaned in and said, “Whoa, she gave it to the two blackies.”  

This is disturbing to Cookie Boy, who is hurt and doesn’t want the first thing people recognize about him to be that he’s black (especially given this show’s history). He wants to confront Andrew, even though he realizes it’s probably not worth it. 

Andi greets the guys and explores Rue de Venise before leading them to the Ecole de Spectacle System Dance Studio, where they will be learning how to mime in order to show off their non-verbal communication skills. As someone who used to dress up as Cookie Monster, Winnie the Pooh, the Green Power Ranger (Spandex that left nothing to the imagination) and several other characters (for money, not for fun), I understand mastering this technique both in and out of the bedroom. And I fully admit I have no idea what that means.

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Talk to the Hand

I didn’t think it was possible for producers to find an activity that this group of guys sucks at more than singing, but here you have it. The boys have to perform in front of a live audience in the middle of a square, and it’s like watching newly-born fawns try to walk for the first time. It’s kind of cute, but also awkward, weird and a bit terrifying, as you’re always a little afraid someone is going to blow out a knee. 

They have their moments, particularly Marquel and Marcus. All except for Nick, who is openly miserable and insists on being the talking mime of the group. He hates being on group dates, and he’s not afraid to let everyone, including Andi, know it. But c’mon, suck it up, Brosephine. Have some fun. You’re in France. It’s where the Coneheads are from.

Afterwards, it’s on to the nighttime portion, where they share drinks and their sometimes angry feelings. JJ gets the first alone time, leading her to a giant Ferris wheel for a late-night ride above Marseille. 

Hey Jealousy

As they eye the group date rose, Marcus admits that despite the bromance in the house, there’s still a bit of jealousy that is increasing as time and dates go on. But it’s really all an excuse to rail on Nick V., and Cody, Andrew, Patrick and Chris take the opportunity to call him out on his arrogance and how he’s acting like he’s smarter and more deserving than everyone else. 

Cody is rubbed wrong by the frontrunner vibe and that Nick said it’s possible he is closer to Andi than the other guys. And he bases it on some teasing comment Nick said about Cody being thankful. 

Andi disrupts the conversation and feels the tension, pulling Chris aside to ask him what’s happening. He stops short of throwing Nick under the bus, saying he just didn’t handle things well. And since Chris is the nicest guy ever, it raises an offsides flag for Andi about Nick’s attitude. Meanwhile, Cody confronts Nick over the teasing, telling him to keep his mouth shut and listen, and Nick apologizes, insisting he meant no harm and wasn’t mocking. 

Cody uses his one-on-one time with Andi to call Nick a great dude who he would never say anything bad about before totally saying a whole bunch of bad stuff about him. He believies that Nick calling him “Mr. Thankful” is some sort of grave insult, and that puts Nick on the hot seat. 

Andi calls out Nick for being salty on group dates, and he admits he doesn’t like them. She says it’s hard for her to watch him sometimes, and while they have the emotional connection, she’s shocked that two of the most sincere guys in the house both had bad things to say. He owns up to the Cody comment but downplays it (since it probably meant nothing), and she wonders if he’s manipulating her. 

To prove he’d never whisper sweet nothings in an effort to get ahead, he reads her an original non-rhyming poem that is still better than anything Chris wrote to Desiree, and at first I think she’s not buying it, but then she asks if he’s going to kiss her already. Later, she admits it just got complicated between them. 

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Confrontations and Roses

With the tension so high, Marquel just can’t hold off any longer. While Marcus once again creepily admits to Andi that he’s falling in love with her, and with Dylan’s blessing, Marquel confronts Andrew and gives him a chance to defend himself. Andrew denies ever saying anything like that in his entire life, as he gives everyone an equal amount of respect just below what he gives himself, regardless of background. Marquel accepts it and moves on, and it’s all very anti-climactic, though Andrew is caught off guard. 

Andrew then gets his time with Andi, and he informs her that he is being attacked and is questioning whether he wants to even be in the competition and deal with the bullsh*t. She considers not giving out the rose at all, due to all the different variables in play, but then she gives it to JJ because he always makes her feel like she’s on a date, regardless of whether it’s solo or group. Nick calls it a low point for him.

Coach Kermit

The final date card goes to Coach Brian, offering a first-time one-on-one recipe for love, and they’re off to the cinema for popcorn, champagne, snuggling and smooches during The Hundred Foot Journey. Then it’s on to the market for ingredients and sea urchin snacks before heading back to Andi’s apartment to prepare … frogs’ legs. 

He’s standoffish in the kitchen because he doesn’t enjoy cooking, and the night takes an odd and silent turn. She wants him to be turned on by her chopping, come up behind her and steal some kisses, but instead, his distance bums her out and kills the romantic mood. The kitchen is hot, but the relationship is not. 

What started out as a sweet dinner-and-a-movie date ends up like the passionless Hundred Mile Journey, or more accurately, a bad first Match.com date. But she’s not ready to give up on him, so they ditch the kitch and head out to a restaurant for real food and beer. He’s feeling regret over his actions, so he again expresses his inability to seize the moment before holding her hand and sneaking in a kiss. She restores his confidence, and all is (half) right in the world again. He is rewarded with a rose for being cognoscente of his shortcomings, and he lures her back in for more kisses and a promise to lock lips every chance he gets.

Josh Grobin Hijacks the TV

I dunno if it’s my DVR, but everything freezes until Josh Grobin pops onto the screen to introduce the new ABC singing competition Rising Star. And it jumps from the 1:34 mark to 1:44, which likely means I just missed 10 minutes of the show. So if anyone wants to fill me in on what happened in that time span, please comment at the bottom of the article. 

Kesha (now sans $), Ludacris (who couldn’t make it to the set in time, which doesn’t bode well for a live show) and Brad Paisley are the Rising Star judges, and each performer will sing until 70% of live voters choose to raise the wall and reveal the artist. But you must download the app!

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Back to the Action

Apparently, Chris Harrison has delivered devastating news that there’s no cocktail party (thanks, Josh Grobin!), so it’s rose ceremony time. Ex-ballplayer Josh, coach Brian and pantsaholic JJ are safe, and the remaining five roses go to:

Hot and creepy Marcus

Arrogant frontrunner Nick

Farmer Chris

High school haircut and sob story Dylan

Can’t-believe-he’s-still-here Cody

That means it’s the end of the line for bromancers Patrick and Andrew (he of questionable morals) and Blackie Marquel. Andrew came here with sincere intentions, but he considers himself a bully victim, and that’s just not fair. So he’s disappointed and frustrated.

Patrick is sorry he didn’t get a one-on-one date, and he’s surprised that he’s going home. He attributes it to the fact that Andi didn’t get the full Patrick experience, because he’s heard from tons of people (and not just girls!) that he has many attributes desirable in husband-type persons. So it’s her loss.

Marquel came looking for the opportunity to fall in love, but it wasn’t in God’s plan for that to happen. Still, meeting Andi made him realize those emotions are possible, and he appreciates being in a place to even feel again. He’s nothing special, he says, but he wants to love real bad, and he’s looking forward to his next opportunity. He’s clearly the class of the guys leaving, and at least he’ll always have his cookies. 

Onward and Upward

The decisions are getting harder for Andi as more of the throwaways leave, but she’s feeling increasingly comfortable with y’all (resignation that it’s not going to get better) and can’t wait to continue the journey. France had too much drama, so the next round of dates will take place in one of Andi’s favorite cities — Venice. 

There are more proclamations of love and a tricky lie-detector test that could reveal sinister intentions, along with a dramatic and tear-filled goodbye to a potential suitor that Andi just can’t keep around any longer. 

Andi has whittled down her World Cup of Love to the final eight players, with a couple longshots still in the mix (looking at you, Cody, JJ and Dylan). Is your favorite still around? Does Josh have a secret that he’s hiding from Andi? Is Marcus as creepy as I think he is? And what are your thoughts on Nick? Is he honest and sweet? Or a manipulative and arrogant misogynist? And will Andi end up happy and in love? Or is the season destined to end in heartbreak?  

Will this one be decided in regulation? Or are we headed to After the Final Rose penalty kicks, a la Jason Mesnick? The first half has nearly come to a close, and it’s still anyone’s game. Except, of course, if you’re Cody, JJ and Dylan.

Watch The Bachelorette every Monday at 8pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order