The first episode of this week’s Bachelorette double-header opens in Santa Barbara, with Nick getting the one-on-one date card. He and Andi go bike riding and take a hike, and Nick tells her that he feels like a 12-year old boy around her. Oh god, I hope not: do you know 12-year old boys?
Andi digs deep into Nick’s romantic past, which includes a seven-year romance and a quickie engagement (to someone else), among other things. He tells her he’s pretty skeptical about soul mates, and though I’d think this would be the kiss of death for a starry-eyed hopeful romantic, Andi delights at the challenge: “I think that if I develop real feelings for him, I can turn him into a believer,” she says. This sounds like a solid plan of action.
The group date takes place at the Music Academy of the West, where Andi’s suitors greeted by none other than Boyz II Men. Best line of the entire season thus far goes to Eric: “I’m pretty sure I touched my first butt to ‘I’ll Make Love to You’ in seventh grade.” Andi is very pareve toward Eric, and I have no idea why: dude is not only the best-looking one there but hysterical, and seems like one of the sharper tools in this shed of contestants.
‘I’ll Make Love to You’ is the very song the guys are tasked to sing with Andi in front of a live audience. They are predictably horrible. Andi kibitzes with Cody, the beefy personal trainer who looks like a fitter Moose from the Archie comics, and Josh, who gets the rose.
Andi’s next one-on-one date is with JJ, whose official occupation is being a “pantsapreneur,” a businessman who sells exclusive, custom pants. Don’t look for that word in the dictionary, though. They wear makeup to look like senior citizens—because JJ said he wanted to grow old with someone in a previous confessional—and walk around Santa Barbara together. He gets a rose.
Back at the mansion, a guy named Ron makes a hasty exit after getting a phone call that a friend of his died. Then Dylan tells Chris about how his siblings died, both from drug overdoses. In the midst of these serious real-life moments, a breath of frivolous manufactured drama blows in when, at the cocktail party, JJ and Josh confront Andrew about getting a waitress’s number when they went out together the other night (wait: are the guys allowed to leave the mansion by themselves?). But he gets a rose anyway at the rose ceremony, as do Marcus, Brian, Marquel, Tasos, Cody, Patrick, Chris, Eric, and Dylan.
The second episode begins in New England because, Andi tells us, it’s quaint, and because, the producers don’t tell us, it’s cheap.
Dylan and Andi enjoy a scenic trip on a lovely train reserved just for them, and then Dylan reveals that his brother and sister both died but looks too angst-filled to discuss it further, and who can blame him. In fact, he can barely discuss anything after that, and remains quiet until dinnertime when Andi tells him to buck up and open up—or else. And he does, the music is cued and tears are shed, and he gets a rose.
Onto the group date, which turns out to be a basketball game with the men up against Andi, who gets a little help from some new friends: WNBA players. The women win, because WNBA, and then the guys break up into two groups to compete for a slightly smaller group date with Andi, where the winner will be one of five men instead of ten, which is fifty perfect more normal.
Eric pulls Andi aside. We know from a previous clip in the episode that Andi has expressed doubt about their relationship, despite a seemingly lovely first date; she feels they’re not thriving in this kind of contrived atmosphere, but it’s the only atmosphere they have at the moment. She tells him this, and he looks shocked.
Brian comes to grab Andi and they proceed back to the court, where he makes a crazy half-court shot and Andi appropriately fawns. It’s the perfect opportunity to lean in for a kiss, but as Brian tells us just a bit later, he’s bad at reading signs. He gets the rose anyway.
The final one-on-one date of the episode goes to Marcus, who is so obviously Andi’s favorite that I don’t even need to check Reality Steve for spoilers because I can spoil it myself just from the way she makes eyes at him. They have the obligatory “death defying” date where they rappel off the side of the building in which the guys are staying, but not before Marcus allays the fears of an anxious Andi. “I need to be the man in this relationship and hide my fear,” he explains. Ahh, sweet, sweet machismo. When they reach the bottom, she holds him tightly and says: “I couldn’t have done it without you,” embracing the cliche once and for all.
Andi seems to be a pretty unaffiliated Jew—so far she hasn’t mentioned her Jewishness explicitly, at least compared to the Bible-thumping of former Bachelor Sean—but I do find it a little ironic that her apparent intended is of German and Polish descent. Just musing aloud here.
Marcus gets a rose by dinner, and is the first to whisper-yell “I’m seriously falling for you and it’s terrifying,” into Andi’s ear against a backdrop of loud country music.
At the cocktail party with all the guys, Eric takes Andi aside and tells her he came to the show to fall in love with a real person, and not a TV actress. “You have a poker face with me,” he says. Andi freaks out, likely the culmination of fatigue and the stress of being a Bachelorette and also, maybe, because she knows he’s right. Eric—who was probably just hoping that Andi would finally ditch her shiny façade for a real moment with him—tries desperately to salvage the situation. But alas, she is too offended to listen to reason. She sends him off in quivering rage, with a chaste kiss on the cheek.
“Love is the reason to live,” Eric says in his confessional, which is the beginning of a painful and sobering final segment dedicated to his memory, instead of the expected rose ceremony. Chris Harrison and Andi reminisce about Eric, who died in a paragliding incident as Andi was wrapping up filming for the show, and send their condolences to his family. It’s surprisingly not tacky.
The show will return in two weeks, perhaps to give us time to process this reminder of mortality in what is usually the glibbest show on television.
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Image: ABC / The Bachelorette