[Note: This recap includes a general discussion of suicide.]
It’s a rough week for your trusty food-centric Bachelorette recapper. There are no kale-and-dungbeetle smoothies for the suitors to drink, no pepperoni pizzas made of clay, and no vast tureens full of ice cream. A food angle only presents itself when one is willing to stretch the definition; luckily, “wow, that’s kind of a stretch” is basically this column’s raison d’être. So here’s the big stretch of the week: The main course this week is producer-engineered drama, and it’s extra cheesy. Just like both of these guys.
So let’s get to it.
Yes! For the briefest of moments, yes. This week we go one of the cardinal Bachelorverse institutions: the weird cross-arms mutual feeding.
It was a strange week for good old Riley, who has a rough encounter with the world’s least convincing polygraph machine. We’ll get to that in a bit, but first, he attempts two old chestnuts in one: “celebrating” the “anniversary” of their “relationship,” and doing the weird interwoven cake-eating arms thing. The cake looked exactly like a fancy dessert in a not-particularly-interesting restaurant. Hope it was good.
Not enough, probably!
Breath strips, Tic-Tacs, piñata candy, metaphorical cookies, steak, a brown thing, “their finest red,” and, uh, the bottom half of an unnecessary cliffhanger sandwich?
The episode opens where the last one left off, with Bennett and Noah still rolling around in the mud of their extremely pointless feud. It should really end this way, but it doesn’t:
It’s tough to say whether the remaining dudes, Ed among them, are grateful to have their boring mess elsewhere or are frustrated to not have more camera time, but Ed would evidently like to skip all this and get to the kissing. So he pops a breath strip. It took your intrepid Bachelor food correspondent an embarrassingly long amount of time and a second opinion to determine that this was a Breath Strip and not a tiny clear plastic spoon with which Ed was scooping something out of his hand.
He breath-stripped in vain, as there will be no kissing. Ed, who will be eliminated shortly, also wears a sheet mask for an interview. Did the producers love fucking with him, or what?
Anyway, Tayshia talks to both of these goobers. Bennett is Bennett, and is full of shit. Noah is Noah, and he’s a shit-stirrer, but he’s also not wrong here, even if he’s also a turd. Tayshia ultimately decides to send Bennett, who is great TV precisely because he’s a pair of human boat shoes who thinks he’s self-aware whilst having approximately zero self-awareness, home. He tries really hard to convince her she’s wrong about him being a smug, condescending asshole by being a smug, condescending asshole who seems sad, but she sends him home anyway. She then says it’s hard, because he’s such a “good person.” Is he, though?
It makes this Tic-Tac-gulping youngster think he’s a winner.
He is not, and Tayshia doesn’t give him a rose. The cocktail party happens, she eats cake and makes out with a bunch of folks, and then gives out roses. Noah gets one. Ed, the Mocha Latte guy, and the one who looks like a recurring character on Riverdale don’t. Moving on. Sorry, Ed.
The next day (maybe? The timeline’s always so fuzzy), JoJo arrives to tell the gents that next week is “Hometowns.” For the uninitiated, “Hometowns” are dates that typically take place in the hometown of the date-ee so that the dater can meet the date-ee’s family and, like, wander around their high school or learn to throw axes or whatever. There’s always drama, it’s a big deal. This year, that won’t be happening, for obvious reasons, and instead “family visits” will take place. For a lot of these guys—most of whom, it must be said, seem far better adjusted than the typical Bach dudes—this seems to really make the whole thing seem real. Ben gets the first one-on-one, Blake gets the other (and is definitely going home, as I’m not convinced that Tayshia even knows who he is), and the rest of the dudes are doomed to another group “date.”
But first, JoJo rides up on a scooter to tell Ben and Tayshia that their date is a scavenger hunt. One clue is hidden inside one of many piñatas. They hit all the piñatas before finding it, and ignore all the candy. It’s reasonably cute! More scavenger hunts and ghost-hunting, less hanging out in the pool of the La Quinta Sleep Chalet and Sweat Lodge. Then they sit on a bench, drink wine, and Tayshia inexplicably tells the man who last week opened up to her about his decades-long struggle with an eating disorder that he hasn’t really opened up to her yet. Because he is a “tough cookie to crack.” Tayshia. Friend. You’re doing great. But you’ve got to start keeping flashcards on which of these guys have “opened up to you” already, because that’s not a great look.
[Quick note: This is the section containing discussion of suicide, if you want to skip ahead.]
So they go to dinner and Ben gets to take part in another “be vulnerable or I’m sending you home” moment. Rather than saying, “Yeah, remember my eating disorder?” he speaks candidly to Tayshia about two prior (and startlingly recent) suicide attempts, which occurred after he broke his back and had to leave the military. It’s upsetting. I’ve got nothing but admiration for Ben for speaking so frankly about his experience; it was sincerely moving. But Tayshia seems oddly disengaged the whole time (maybe it was overwhelming? I’d be overwhelmed), and as a viewer it was difficult to get past the shock of learning that the show actually brought someone who had so recently dealt with such significant mental health issues into such a charged and stressful environment. Ben seems to be doing really well, but wow, that’s concerning.
Then they drink wine (Ben: “I asked for their finest red”) and don’t eat steak and a brown thing, then awkwardly slow-dance to a guy singing a song and playing a guitar. Ben gets a rose.
Then the group date happens, and it is the fakest polygraph test in the history of television, a medium densely populated with fake cop shit!
The less said here, the better; it’s all about setting up more “vulnerable” “conversations.” Tayshia takes the test and is “forced” to “admit” that she’s “falling in love” with multiple dudes. Zac confesses to having “cheated” and then later reveals it was in the sixth grade through a weird, kind of creepy, overly detailed anecdote about french kissing, and also he confesses to falling in love with Tayshia, who later admits that she’s falling in love with him, too. It’s the least I’ve ever liked them together. You’re trying too hard, y’all! You were cute already!
Brendan also has to say he’s not sure he’s ready to meet Tayshia’s family, nor to have him meet hers. I’m sure this won’t be important next week. And then Riley gets asked what his name is and it comes up as a lie and wow, what a mess this storyline is. Basically, he fills in more details about his parents (something addressed last week) and it turns out he legally changed his name after he learned some disturbing things about his father, for whom he was named. So, not a lie, and no one’s business. Boo, Bachelorette. Boo.
And then Bennett comes back and will apparently be waiting to hear from Tayshia on
whether or not the show still needs a villain if he can remain at the La Quinta Palace Of Rich Guy Dreams.
Well, it can’t be anyone else. See you for two episodes next week.