If you feel like Desiree Hartsock’s quest for love on The Bachelorette has been particularly dramatic compared to other seasons, it’s not just you. This time around, it has been pretty easy for whoever’s job it is to figure out which parts to put on television.

In just six weeks, she has eliminated a guy with a girlfriend, had a dude fly all the way to Germany just to unnecessarily interrupt her date and quit, partook in the most awkward and accusatory two-on-one date in show history that sent Ben packing, cut ties with a guy whose main goal was to be the next Bachelor and listened to at least three of Chris’ poems, all while whittling down her list of potential suitors from 25 to five.

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How poor Juan Pablo got caught up in all the drama without even being present for most of it is beyond me. Where did he even go to avoid the James talk between Chris, Kasey and Michael, while Des was with Brooks? There were only five guys on the date. It’s like trying to figure out how many licks it takes to get to Juan Pablo’s Tootsie Roll center. The world may never know. 

So with the fat trimmed and hometown dates looming on the sun-drenched horizon of Madeira, you’d think we might finally be in for a chill week where Desiree’s relationships bloom and her main struggle is whether to pick red or white, because white is better in the heat but red is just so darn good. But you’d be wrong, as we might somehow be in for the most intense week thus far. 

And in addition to the usual helicopter rides, cliff jumping that signifies “taking the leap for love” and other Bachelorette nonsense that set new couples up for real-life failure, we’ve got a potential bombshell from Drew, who I only keep rooting for because he was my gut-instinct pick after the initial introductions. That and he has an eight-pack and the 1950’s gentleman-like quality that has me believing he would’ve stopped Biff from beating up George McFly and ended up with Marty’s mom at the prom. 

Still, whatever he says threatens both my powers of prediction (I nailed the JP pick on day one of Ashley’s season) and Desiree’s future on the show. At least one time each, she will profess her love for someone, potentially ending the show weeks early (yeah, right), and wonder if she should even continue. I’m holding out hope there was fancy editing involved in the Drew preview, but there’s only one way to find out. Let’s get started!

Welcome to Madeira

Des and her final five arrive at the tiny island hamlet via boat, and all six have a Titanic “top of the world” moment on the bow as the ship pulls into the dock. We’ve got three one-on-one dates and one two-on-one, but no one needs to go home at the end of that one. 

Desiree’s confidence is a bit shaken over the whole James sitch, so she’s enlisting the help of some friends to offer their opinions on the remaining guys. Hey, whatever gets Catherine, Jackie and Lesley a free vaca. 

They dish over the Madeira-version of a cosmo while Desiree describes her men. But since none of the friends has actually seen any of them before, it’s all a huge waste of time until they bust out the binoculars and creep the guys at the pool. They pepper Des with name-that-guy questions, and she says Chris is the most athletic, Zak is the most adventurous, Drew has the best body (Lesley confirms) and Brooks has the best eyes. Catherine gets huge that’s-why-you-won bonus points for asking which guy has the bleepest bleep. 

A Cloud 9 Date with Brooks

It’s hard to believe this is only Brooks’ second one-on-one date, and all the other guys spot their chemistry and are nervous as the couple heads off in a SmartCar. Guess the baby blue Bentley doesn’t fly in Madeira. 

They stand at the edge of a pretty scary cliff, and I don’t think it even occurs to Brooks to pretend to push her over the edge. Michael G. definitely would’ve tried that. James might have actually pushed her. 

A scenic drive up a mountain is followed by an in-the-clouds picnic and a conversation about a potential future together, and Desiree can see their relationship working in the real world. They’re flying above the clouds, and they can see happiness from (t)here. Yes, I just quoted an Amber song. That’s something Chris would put in a poem. Ugh. 

A Downturn at Dinner

Brooks gets serious over a romantic dinner, opening up about his family and how difficult his last breakup was for them. With his dad gone, he and his siblings are really close, and he’s nervous about introducing someone to them under these types of circumstances. Seems like he’s setting the stage for his family to be extremely wary of Desiree, should they meet her. 

He is falling in love, but he also admits (to us) that he’s a little behind in his emotional process and still has questions. It’s a shame for Desiree that she is further along in the relationship than the guy competing for her love, but fireworks (the fourth of July kind) make everything better, and Brooks isn’t going anywhere.

Des and Chris on the High Seas

The second one-on-one date — Let’s Sea if We Can Find Love Here — goes to Chris, who believes his relationship with Desiree is something that doesn’t compare to what she has with anyone else. He plans on dropping the big L bomb, but it appears that doesn’t go as smoothly as he’d like. 

They take a yacht to a deserted island, but first strip down to their bathing suits and slather each other in sunscreen while sharing kisses and lamenting about their passion. Cliffside picnics are the theme of the week, and they talk about their relationships with their friends over champagne. Then they toss a “poem in a bottle” into the ocean, where it immediately sinks to the bottom to join the remnants of Kevin Costner’s career.

Seriously, if you thought the poems were bad when they only had one author, wait for the collaboration. Here goes:

Experiences we share together

Keeps the memories close to heart

So that with time

Our love never parts

No matter the distance or hours away

Know that I’m out there, somewhere, thinking of you

Just as the waves crash into the shore

I long for the day that I will be with you forevermore

My only hope is that whoever finds it doesn’t speak English, but they think it’s grand and share more kisses over their proud bout of creativity. Side note: Chris is wearing those overly strappy man-sandals (mandals?) that I find ugly and upsetting. Downgrade. 

I Lll-, Llllll-, Llllove You

Chris is excited and nervous to say those three little words over dinner. But first, let’s talk kids. She wants a tight-knit family of three or four, and he grew up with his three siblings and is cool with that number. I don’t think Desiree notices, as it gets lost in the shuffle, but he says he thinks your kids should just hang out with each other and not necessarily have other friends. 

Is that something parents really want? I have two siblings, but I’ve also had the same best friend since I was five, and I don’t know about this family-exclusive stuff. Maybe I’m just looking for hidden red flags, but I could see that being one. 

Oh God No

Chris is very fidgety and awkward leading up to his declaration, so what better way to say it than … in a poem! I can’t, at this point. I really just can’t. But Desiree can, so here it is. It’s called “Individually Defined.” Sigh…

The strongest word with so much meaning

Hard to say without a stammer

But when expressed with true feeling

Sincere, for no other word can mean so much more

Like the time we had atop the hotel

Seventeen above

Feelings have changed and we’re oh so real

Meant to be is how I feel

Our hearts are open

Words expressed by you

Feelings that I know 

Are so true

I look forward to the unknown

Appreciate your emotion you have shown

And I am also hopeful to see 

If in your heart I have found a home

Expressed in writing

And felt through touch

Enjoy this moment 

And embrace this rush

The strongest word with so much meaning

Not so hard to believe it’s true

Our hearts are open and in every kiss

I truly mean that I love you. 

Somewhere in time, my 14-year-old self is like, “Wow, awesome poem, Chris! That’s the perfect way to tell your high school girlfriend you love her for the first time!” But for the grown-up me, not so much. Desiree calls it beautiful and perfect, saying it melts her heart in a good way. He is anxious to start their life together, and I’m anxious to move on to the next date. 

By the way, if you love Chris and his poems and think I’m a jerk for all my poo-pooing, feel free to let me know in the comments section below. (You can also write if you agree with me!)

(Next day bonus post: Because I basically go to bed immediately after the recaps are done, I often dream about whatever show I covered. Last night, over four hours of sleep, I dreamt that I was driving around with Chris and Desiree, trying to find cool parties and talking about the different ways to tie a necktie. There was also some arguing and drama involved, but I can’t remember what it was about. And I woke up having to convince myself this didn’t actually happen. This is what I subject myself to, all for you.)


A First and (Hopefully) Final Date for Michael G.

He thinks he’s falling in love, but I’m ready for Michael to head back to the courtroom. Juan Pabloooooooo! Michael was the only one without a one-on-one date, so he is due, and they’re off to “Have Fun in Funchal,” which is Madeira’s largest city. 

That means Zak and Drew are going on the two-on-one date, where a rose will be given out but no one will go home. 

Michael and Desiree explore the city, sampling the food and trying on the clothing, before a faux-cliffside picnic next to a man-made waterfall. They share drinks and kisses and kind words and a toboggan ride down a hill, but I don’t think anyone watching this feels the same kind of connection she has with the other guys. 

He opens up over dinner and offers his emotional side to her for the first time, particularly about his deadbeat dad, but it’s really more of the same. He talks about himself a lot and doesn’t really ask anything about her. His early pot-stirring dramatics and late entry into the love game have doomed him.

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Frontrunner Drew vs. Fab Ab Zak W.

The theme of the date — I’m looking for a man that can make my heart race — pits Zak against  Drew in a Go-kart race on a professional track with a surprise going to the winner. Zak wins easily, while a distraught and potentially over-serious Drew plans to tell Desiree how much he loves her.

This two-on-one couldn’t be more different than the Michael-Ben date, as Zak and Drew are such nice guys that Desiree basically feels zero tension. Zak gets the first alone time, and he presents her with a scrapbook he made of their experiences together. There are drawings of his abs, Madeira and sitting by the chapel in Germany. For a guy who didn’t do that great in their art class, this very happy, relaxed and laid-back Zak does wonders to win the ever-sketching Desiree over. 

Drew’s one-on-one time comes next, and his struggles letting loose are her main concern. He tries, but he holds things close so that when he lets people in, he knows he means it. He really wants to bring her home and meet his severely mentally handicapped sister, who he says will love her.

He tells her that he’s never felt this way about anyone and that he’s fallen for her (NOT that he’s in love with her, which is sooo different), and she rewards him with kisses and the rose. He is easily the most emotionally-invested in a way that could come across as too much, but he’s so genuine that it’s hard not to believe him. 

Zak is miffed, but then he’s quickly all smiles and hidden nerves. So my early pick is the first guy who is a lock for a hometown date, but we’re still awaiting his bombshell. I’m starting to think it was all a big tease and all those previews aren’t from this week’s episode. We’re on the verge of the rose ceremony, and there hasn’t been a single tear yet.

A Quaint Sitdown with Chris Harrison

Des has a good week in terms of her relationships forming, and she’s looking forward to the hometown dates. Drew is the best looking guy she’s ever met, but he’s also so sincere in everything he does and you can see the kindness in his eyes. He is definitely husband material. 

She smiles and giggles when she hears Brooks’ name, because she can completely be herself around him. She and Brooks developed some verbs to gauge when you’re in love, and they’re stepping, then skipping, then jogging, then running, then you hit the finish line. And she can confidently say she’s at the finish line with Brooks, which suuuucks because he’s either skipping or jogging. 

Still, she’s keeping an open mind and an open heart with everyone else. 

Time for Roses

It has to be Michael, right? This one seems easy. 

Drew is safe, and the remaining three roses go to:





Slam dunk. Michael is going home, and his journey is probably the first that is ending in real heartbreak. He handles it very, very well, telling her he thinks the world of her and wishes her the best. He respects that it happened before his mother got emotionally involved, but adds it will be tough to date because no girl out there will compare to her. It probably goes down as one of the classiest exits in show history, at least this close to the end. He even calls his mom from the limo, and she comforts him.

The only bright side of all this is that Desiree didn’t have to send Juan Pablo home again. We got thrown for a big time loop this week, as this episode was exactly what I said not to expect at the beginning —  a chill week where Desiree’s relationships bloom and her main struggle is whether to pick red or white. There were no helicopter rides or cliff dives. Even Michael barely squeezed out a tear on his ride out. 

Still, we’re down to our final four, and it’s off to the hometown dates. Chris’ doctor dad gives Des a slightly inappropriate exam, and Brooks’ relatives offer the previously anticipated apprehension. Zak’s entire family serenades her, while Drew’s entire family proposes. There’s no hint of Drew saying, “This isn’t going to work,” but we do have the highly anticipated return of Desiree’s brother, who apparently spies on the guys from a distance and then surprises them with ninja-like agility while vowing to rattle them, and that “This is not going to go well for her, just like before.” Unless, of course, none of that happens. Fool me once, ABC…

You can watch The Bachelorette every Monday at 8pm on ABC.

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(Image courtesy of ABC)

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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