What are you doing, The Bachelorette? What on earth do you think you’re doing out there? You don’t have enough footage to be doing us like this? Two episodes in a week? In this panorama? You think you have the structural integrity at this point to support four hours of television for two weeks in a row? You think Breandaun has eight hours of content in him? Them turtlenecks can only do so much. There’s barely any hint of a story this episode. The only theme running through the episode is Tayshia is forced to make up to four decisions, and she’s becoming physically incapable of making one because she’s wearing a full face of makeup and it’s 120 degrees outside. Please, someone free her from this hell, and therefore, free us also from this emotionally mature and respectful hell.
So Bennett is hiding a faux rubber tree in Tayshia’s villa hoping that if he just lays low long enough he’ll get to marry her, and Blake wants to remind us all that he has a penis. Tayshia has to make her way through this arduous gauntlet so we can all figure out exactly why and how Antonia from Top Chef is part of Ben’s hometown visit! Let’s do this.
It’s the next morning and Chris Harrison is back … Um, did he quarantine after returning from dropping his kid off at college before he just straight-up hugged Tayshia? Tayshia is GOING THROUGH IT. Harrison lists the guys who went home in the last few episodes, and I’m sitting here thinking, Who the fuck was Spencer? If I remember correctly, he looked like Bob Benson and made zero impact. But Tayshia needs to fill Harrison in on the fact that Bennett has gone full Trent from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, said he loved her, and is trying to hack into Tayshia’s ex-husband’s cell phone to find more evidence of him cheating to protect Tayshia’s good name. Tayshia takes Hometowns seriously, and she really wants to marry someone. Harrison offers the incredibly useful advice of “Y’know, you could just marry any of these dweebs and it’ll be fine or something?” Thanks, Chris!
There’s still a one-on-one date this week?!?!?!?!?!? With Blake?!?!? This dude is still around and still looking like he wants to invite you to his football-themed improv show. Also, did we always know he was Canadian? Because him saying “mum” was a real surprise. Tayshia heads off to meet a white lady with long white braids that come down to her titties. She’s also wearing an indigo linen maxi dress and a whimsical pendant necklace. She’s rocking the exactly look I’m trying to have coming out of quarantine — I wanna look like I’m teaching pottery theory and crystal management in Vermont. Gita is allegedly a reiki practitioner and a crystal master. She first asks Tayshia and Blake to reach into a bucket of crystals, and when Tayshia pulls one out, Gita goes “Ah, yes! The blue crystal.” Bitch, you gotta do way better than “blue.” Blue symbolizes “communication,” so that means Tayshia has things she wants to say to Blake. Then Gita has Tayshia straddle Blake as part of a tantric breathing exercise and stare into his eyes.
This is when it all falls apart. Tayshia gets right up in that Mighty Mighty Bosstones–ass beard and realizes that she is NOT INTERESTED. They all put their tops back on and sit down to talk about how breathing each other’s air during a Panasonic felt. Blake starts off the conversation by saying that he’s so into her, he’s ready to go into next week, he’s been proving how serious he is, and he has no doubt. No doubt whatsoever. We can all see where this is going, right? Right? Blake, can I walk you out?
Tayshia has an emotional breakdown at the service entrance of the hotel and realizes exactly what she has to do: put on a matching ribbed loungewear set. Is there a problem that can’t be solved with a breathable but cozy crop top and wide-legged pants? No. No, there isn’t.
The rest of the guys are speculating if Blake is coming back with a rose or not at all when Tayshia storms in, sits down, and immediately begins bawling. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone but … Riley? Can I talk to you for a second?
NO! NOT RILEY! NOT SWEET SWEET RILEY! HE’S LEARNING HOW TO LOVE AND HOW TO FEEL!
Here’s the issue with how this show and this season is handling people’s backstories and to an extent their trauma: It’s not great! Tayshia (and the show) has decided that being vulnerable and open is something that these men must do in order to keep going along the relationship track. It becomes transactional. Tayshia looks them in the eye and literally says, “Be vulnerable with me. I’m waiting on you to open up.” Tayshia is not a mental-health professional, and someone’s emotional baggage is something they have to decide to share in a relationship. It’s something each couple has to navigate together, with the person sharing being in control. I remember waiting about a month into my relationship to reveal I was going to therapy. Just regular-ass therapy! Me and my therapist sitting around talking about The Bachelorette when nothing happened at work that week!
But Tayshia (and the show) drags these men into revealing deep-seated emotional things about themselves, responds by going “Thank you. I appreciate that,” and handing them a rose. It’s emotional quid pro quo. And because the exchange all season has been so plainly “You tell me something emotional, you get to stay,” when Tayshia has to send someone like Riley home, it’s even more painful for him. He revealed some really difficult family stuff that was VERY CLEAR he doesn’t talk about often or in public. It seems like his own family has only recently started to deal with these issues, but he’s supposed to tell some girl he’s known for like nine business days without any promise of reciprocation. I’m not saying that Tayshia is obligated to keep him around because of what he told her. I’m saying that the demand for vulnerability (that’s usually paired with an implied “I’ve just got to know who the real you is before it’s too late!”) leads to my dear, sweet li’l Riley kissing Tayshia on the forehead and Tayshia on the ground again in tears. She’s torn apart that she’s hurting people, but that’s what happens when you ask people to sit across from you and tell you their childhood trauma: You get close, they get close, then you send them home. Someone is going to get hurt. That’s an unfortunate consequence of approaching dating this way. This kind of thing happens every season, but I wish it wasn’t so blunt now. And I wish Tayshia was a little less shocked that her feelings and their feelings would be impacted by all of this.
It’s time for the rose ceremony. Finally. Tayshia’s rose ceremony dress is the most 2003 mess of a dress I’ve seen in my LIFE. Bennett is there and NO ONE IS HAPPY. My God. Bennett tries to playfully shove Zac’s shoulder, and Zac leans away and says, “What are you putting your hand on me for?” Zac looks like Dwight when Angela snuck up on him. Bennett says he couldn’t handle being seen as a Harvard d-bag, and just like that, he said the quiet part out loud! Sure, sure, sure, he loves Tayshia or whatever, but he can’t have America thinking he’s a douchebag. He went to Harvard, and America should be very happy for him.
Tayshia knows what she has to do, and she’s been processing all week, so she’s ready to just hand out these fucking roses and get this over with. Zac, Ivan, and Brawndewn all get roses. Bennett and Noah go home, so what was the POINT of all this?!?! Tayshia realizes she probably just hugged her husband.
In the interest of time and all of us getting ready for the other TWO-HOUR EPISODE during this pendulum, we need to run down the “Men Tell All” mini-episode in bullet form.
• Bennett has teeth like one of those li’l Cabbage Patch dolls. I expect to find a birth certificate in his suit jacket pocket with the name “Bennett Mackenzie.”
• Kenny got his dick waxed by Blake and we’re all just supposed to accept that and move on our lives? It received no commentary when I would like an entire episode of Unsolved Mysteries devoted to the series of events that led to this moment.
• Ed says that Chassen is the Three F’s: A Fraud, Fake, and Phony, but Chassen is too stupid to know it starts with a PH.
• Chris Harrison has to whistle to stop the bickering between Noah and Bennett. If you can’t properly identify why you hate each other, you can’t get so loud that Harrison has to go gym teacher on your asses.
• Yosef is still a complete and total asshole. He claimed he was “standing up” for the rest of the guys, but no one asked him to and he keeps saying he said what he said because it was “his opinion.” In an absolutely stunning move, he says he would totally slut-shame his daughter if she was being totally classless.
• Every television program needs a tiny Riley in the corner just silently reacting. Put him behind Andy Cohen during the Real Housewives of Potomac reunion, because someone needs to react to what the fuck Monique is doing with that binder.
• Blake still thinks he might have a chance with Tayshia because “timing” isn’t a very satisfying answer, so he wants her to explain in detail why she didn’t pick him.
• Riley is the only one who gets a hug from Tayshia, and he sits down with her at the front of the class and she tells him that she didn’t send him home because his family stuff was too scary for her.
• Can we think about how hard it must have been for any and all of these guys to go home to just … sit at home and think about being sent home? There are no musical festivals to hook up with rose chasers!
• Chris Harrison is invigorated by bloopers!
See you tomorrow!