It was a warm fall day in 1999 (back in the pre-Facebook stone age) when I started college and made snap judgments about two of the first friends I made on campus. Greg was obviously gay, while Dennis was an A-hole. But then, as I got to know them better, I realized that I was wrong on both counts, and 18-year-old me mused, “Wow, college teaches you that you can’t trust first impressions.”
Fast forward to graduation, when Greg was ditching his beard girlfriend to go to clubs with an Abercrombie model, and Dennis and I no longer spoke because he randomly tried to fight me at a bar (though I may have played a role in that one), and my assessment became “In the end, college teaches you to trust your instincts.”
It was a lesson that was reinforced by this season of The Bachelorette, when, during limo introductions, I dubbed Clint “that douche you knew in high school” and the most likely to get drunk. Then he surprised me by drinking coffee that first night, unveiling a self-drawn caricature of Chris Harrison riding a dinosaur and going on a nice-if-not-bland one-on-one underwater photo shoot date with Kaitlyn, prompting me to again question my snap judgment abilities.
Fast forward to now, when Clint has revealed himself to be a total toolbox and a very evident master of douchebaggery. I don’t want to “I told you so” myself, and I never take pleasure in someone turning out to be a bad dude, but it’s nice to have my faith in myself restored. I mean, really, who finds that type of behavior attractive? Why would anyone who watches the show ever want to date a guy like him? And how do we know for sure he drew that triceratops himself?
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A Bromance Crumbles
We’re picking things up right where we left off, which of course is easy when they don’t end with a damn rose ceremony. Clint believes he has sweet-talked Kaitlyn into keeping him around, despite the fact that he’s been ignoring her and only wants to spend more time with best bud Sherlock Bromes. And she was about to fall for it, too, until all the other guys threw him under the bus.
So she storms into the house to make Clint “go down in flames,” because Brobo Cop no longer qualifies as marriage material. She lays into him about letting her down and being two-faced, and he counters that guys in the house are “very, very, very jealous” of him and JJ, who have “become best, best, best friends” and are “very, very, very, very close.” He says he’s been open and honest with her, which is difficult for him, and that he’s been nothing but nice to everyone in the house.
Holy eye roll. There is no way she can fall for this, is there? She says it’s hard because she liked him, but she’s done because he’s not trustworthy or her future mate. So it’s time to say goodbye to everyone, but Clint’s not leaving without answers, and he demands to know who told Kaitlyn he was mean.
JJ suddenly flips on his Adrian Brody and wants an apology for him taking up so much of Kaitlyn’s time, and Clint is like WTF, Bronedict Arnold. Later, JJ apologizes for his rash comments, making the mistake of touching Clint’s shoulder. Clint snaps that he’s going to f***ing kill him, to get the f**k out of his face, and that he’s a piece of s**t. It’s an expletive-laden departure that can’t end soon enough, and it finally does, before JJ breaks down in tears and literally slaps himself before muttering “son of a b***h, suck it up.”
Amazingly, that goes down as one of the nastiest and most dramatic breakups in 25-plus seasons.
To Cut or Not to Cut
The guys then turn on JJ, and it’s kind of funny that they’re bashing the guy they hate for ending the relationship they hated, because if you’re going to be a jerk, at least be a loyal jerk.
From Kaitlyn’s perspective, another emotional night has drained her of the ability to make more cuts, so there won’t be a rose ceremony, and everyone’s sticking around. The guys sit there in silence until she reminds them that this is a good thing, though they want JJ gone as well.
Chris Harrison breaks the news that it’s time to pack their bags, because they’re leaving the mansion for good and heading to my current stomping grounds, New York City, to start their journey around the world.
Funky Fresh Apple Picking
The guys stroll through Times Square and check into the Knickerbocker Hotel, which, thanks to these guys, has more winners than the Knicks, and that’s not saying much. The first date card — Let’s Keep Our Love Fresh — arrives, and it’s going to auto spokesman Jonathan, Justin Aurelius, boxing champ Ben Z., volleyball Corey, Disney princess Ryan (because we still know nothing about him), tissue Tanner, JJ and Gosling impersonator Shawn. The guys cheer after every name is read off, except when Justin says “JJ.”
Kaitlyn meets the guys at Stage Forty8 and introduces them to rap veteran Doug E. Fresh, inventor of the Dougie, who will be mentoring them ahead of a freestyle rap battle in front of a live audience. So it’s like verbal sumo wrestling, with about the same level of skill (save Kaitlyn, who’s awesome). Shawn challenges Justin, Corey will take on JJ, it’s Ben versus Tanner, and Ryan will square off against Jonathan.
Before the battle starts, there’s a shot of Nick Viall and virgin princess Ashley I. in the audience, the first prelude to the return of Andi’s runner-up. Then the sparring begins, and these guys make Vanilla Ice look like Eminem. Corey, at least, looks the part before doing a half-decent job, but JJ garners boos by taking it a step too far and calling the New York City crowd a bunch of hoes.
Shawn steals the show by flashing his abs, and Justin get bonus points because his entire rap is about Shawn looking like Ryan Gosling.
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Before reuniting with the guys, Kaitlyn rushes out to say hi to Ashley, and she’s shocked to see Nick along for the ride. Apparently, they’ve been chatting via social media, though they’ve never actually met in person before. The relationship was platonic, but seeing her as the Bachelorette and knowing that she could get engaged without a physical introduction was something that would’ve bugged him.
She asks if he’s staying, but that’s her call, not his. And she needs to think about it. Week four is a very dangerous time to bring in a new suitor because it alienates everyone who has already put in the time. And all you need to do is look at previous seasons to know it never goes over well.
She rejoins the group with feelings of nausea instead of excitement, and she drops the bombshell that droops heads, deflates egos and empties beer mugs. Shawn, in particular, questions Kaitlyn’s confidence in what she already has, while Tanner is still outraged over Nick calling out Andi for their tryst during the “After the Final Rose” special (he did do that, but to be fair, he did it because he needed closure and she wouldn’t return his calls).
She goes outside to chat with Nick, who dives right in and plants a kiss on her, knowing as everyone else does that the quickest way to Kaitlyn’s heart is via her uvula. So he’s (probably) staying, the rest of the world be damned, and even she’s not happy about it. She goes back to the party, gives the rose to a supportive Justin, and heads home to sleep on her decision.
The one-on-one date card — Let’s Re-imagine the Night We First Met — goes to Love-Man Jared, but the preparations are trumped when the guys return and break the news about Nick. Kaitlyn makes the call in the morning and asks him to meet up after she gets her hair done before the date.
Awesomely, crazy Ashley S. is the woman behind the curling iron, and she urges Kaitlyn to learn the difference between lust and love because there’s always going to be another guy she’s attracted to. Nick hops out of a cab and they chat on the sidewalk, and the fact that she’s looking for a man to spend her life with means she has to be selfish, even if people get mad. They both understand what her decision will do to the group, but Nick just hopes they’ll respect it, even though they won’t like it.
So welcome back to the house, Nick. This is probably not going to help your image, and I look forward to seeing you on Bachelor in Paradise.
Love-Man at the Met
Kaitlyn and Jared head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which they have all to themselves. But despite Jared’s constant kind words, Kaitlyn is unable to give him her full attention or engage fully in the conversation. Eventually, she breaks down and asks how he’s feeling about Nick.
And even though he wants to talk about their relationship, he goes the Justin route and says that this process is about her, and she needs to do whatever she feels like she needs to do. He feels confident enough in his feelings and hers that one more guy doesn’t matter if they’re supposed to end up together.
He writes a cute, cheesy little poem, which leads to a kiss and a rose, and Love-Man is really stepping up his game. It’s something I didn’t see coming, but he’s growing on Kaitlyn, and probably America. Kaitlyn feels like she’s back on track, love is blossoming and they cap off the evening with a nighttime helicopter tour over the city.
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A Whole New World
Back at the hotel, the guys are debating whether or not they should be outraged about Nick, and it’s pretty split. Tanner, Jonathan and Shawn are damn near ready to revolt, while Buble Ben H. doesn’t understand why everyone feels so threatened and welder Josh is just ready to be done discussing it. The group date card — Let’s Play — goes to president of the Kaitlyn fan club Ian, cupcake Chris, moonshine Joe, Joshua and Ben H.
Before they head out, Kaitlyn breaks the news that Nick will be moving in that night and will compete in the next rose ceremony. She calls it a decision she has to explore that doesn’t take away from what she has with any of them, and you can cut the tension with Josh’s welded metal rose. It’s rough for the guys, and it sucks, but I get why she has to do it.
They’re headed to Broadway for a song and dance number with the cast of Disney’s Aladdin, so while it appears there won’t be any epic man-beatdowns in the Big Apple, the guys do get yet another chance to make complete fools of themselves.
Never before in a previous Bachelor(ette) season have I felt that the group date challenges were specifically tailored to the traits deemed desirable in the opposite sex, as they always seemed arbitrary. But for better or worse, Kaitlyn has used them to reveal her inner workings.
If you want Kaitlyn, you’d better be ready to literally fight for her, and you’d better be comfortable bombing in front of a crowd. There’s no room for shy guys or weaklings in this gal’s heart, as she’s now made her potential husbands box, sumo wrestle, perform stand-up comedy, teach sex ed to kids, rap, and sing and dance on the Great White Way.
Talent is not required, but a lack of shame is a necessity. God help any of these guys if they’re actually insecure about something and let it show. Vulnerability, unless you’re a big beefy dude talking about a dead relative, equals weakness, it seems.
A Magic Carpet Ride
The group heads to the New Amsterdam Theatre, where they’re greeted by lead actors Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed, as well as associate director Scott Taylor, who will put them through a “real” audition and then cast the best one to make his Broadway debut as Kaitlyn’s love interest during that night’s show.
Dance captain Michel Mindlin takes them through the choreography, and moonshine Joe couldn’t be less interested up until he crashes into a piece of the set. The judges commend Chris for his effort, and then they launch out of the stage for their dance-off before learning that only one man will be continuing on the date.
Then it’s on to the singing portion, and they’re all terrible. Just terrible. Except Ian. He’s only 1/3 terrible. Chris’ voice is actually decent, but his overacting prompts the associate director to question whether he’s mocking the process or just has no idea what he’s doing. They go with the latter, and Chris is declared the winner.
The best part of viewing this audition process is doing so next to someone who has actually auditioned for Broadway at least 100 times. She cringed throughout the entire segment, almost unable to watch.
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Prince Cupcake Chris, Ali-a-Chris, Ali-a-Cupcake
Chris and Kaitlyn get all gussied up in their costumes, sharing a kiss before the curtain rises. They watch the show from stage left before their moment in the spotlight, emerging as extras in the background, shopping in the market before some guy hands them flowers and ushers them off.
Their time on stage lasts about 45 seconds, but the resume boost will live on much longer.
They finish the date with a stair climb to the rooftop that houses the Times Square New Year’s ball, where Kaitlyn offers up a rose and her lips.
Do Snickers Satisfy?
As we head into the rose ceremony that obviously won’t happen in this episode (it’s 9:53pm, and I guess I’m going to just have to accept this trend), the big question is just how icy Nick’s reception will be. Tanner speculates that, depending on how many drinks he’s had, he’ll either avoid the situation entirely or be openly antagonistic.
Nick is preparing for the worst, but he’s willing to face the gauntlet for a chance to get to know Kaitlyn. He gets in the elevator, complete with jazzy elevator music that you can’t help but sway to, and enters the suite.
He offers a hearty “What’s up, guys,” closes the door behind him, and it’s on like Donkey Punch Kong.
We end with a credit-roll follow-up on Britt and Brady’s budding relationship. They’re giggly, and she’s excited to bring him to meet her family. It’s like a mini-Bachelorette progressing alongside the real one, only without the drama. Or the interest. But good for them.
What It All Means
Well, it’s clear that Kaitlyn doesn’t care about rules (social or otherwise), which is either ethically irresponsible or a refreshing dose of honestly that she’s putting her quest for love first, even if it’s unpopular.
Like I said, the Nick thing sucks, but I get why she’s doing it. Learning if they’re compatible shouldn’t have an impact on the other guys, because it’s not like she was going to marry one before Nick screwed it up with his presence. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be (and judging by history, it’s not).
If you’re a regular reader, you know I was a big fan of Nick during Andi’s season, and I even understand why he called her out during the “After the Final Rose,” even if it wasn’t the time or place to do so. But it may have been his only opportunity to get that closure. Though I am worried as to how he’ll be portrayed this time around, possibly as a homewrecker. But I’m hopeful.
Do you think she should have let Nick join the party? And how should the guys react? Accept or revolt? There have certainly been more curveballs thrown our way this season, though I’m not sure I get all the hate that’s out there. I mean, c’mon, we had to deal with Juan Pablo and Ben Flajnik. At least this one’s entertaining.
You can watch The Bachelorette every Monday at 8pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)