Welcome to picturesque Essex, Connecticut, home to quaint New England cottages, old lighthouses, sailboats on the river – an area so rich in charm and history that the producers decided to send everyone 20 miles away to the Mohegan Sun casino. Sweet! The boys walk into their suite and there’s more bro-hugging and overzealous celebration. Six guys decide to get into the bathtub together, which doesn’t look awkward at all.
Date card! Dylan – “Our relationship is picking up steam.” I wish Drunk Craig was here to ask how “steam” was spelled. I miss Drunk Craig. Andi and Dylan take the Essex Steam Train up the Connecticut River. Andi is excited for a fun and light-hearted day. Dylan, on the other hand, decides now is the time to tell Andi about losing both of his siblings to drug addiction. He casually mentions his brother’s funeral, which ends any and all conversation, and then follows it up with “Hey, I swam across that river.” Andi has no idea where to go with this and an uncomfortable silence ensues. Here’s my take: he’s kind of reserved and he’s been on the brink of getting cut. The producers (seeing an opportunity for dramatic television) pushed this guy to share his story, so he can “really connect with Andi”. He seems like a good guy that doesn’t want to use his brother’s death as a prop on a glorified game show, so naturally he’s hesitant to bring it up and he’s struggling to find a respectful way to go to about it. This is a difficult venue to share something this heavy, and I have genuine sympathy for the guy.
They make a costume change and meet back at the train for dinner. Andi says he looks nervous, and he’s like “Yeah! You and everyone else on this show are pushing me to talk about a family tragedy on national television!” She prompts him with a coached question about his family, and he comes out with it. The story is pretty tragic – grew up without a father, his sister overdosed 4 years ago, and then his brother od’ed last November. Andi is broken up, and you can tell Dylan is having a tough time. Andi looks a little guilty in the post-dinner interview; I don’t think she had any clue to the extent of his story and she’s questioning whether she should have brought it up. On a positive note, Dylan looks legitimately relieved to get it off his chest. It goes without saying he gets a rose; then they wake up everyone within a country mile by blowing the train whistle 100 times.
Group date card – “Who’s got game?” Everyone meets at the basketball court, and Andi says she wants to see who can get sweaty and look like a man. Cut to JJ, who shows up dressed like ‘Where’s Waldo’:
They have a shoot-around, and Andi’s actually pretty athletic. Then, they bring out 5 WNBA players for a game of guys vs. girls, and the ladies pretty much wipe the floor with them, winning 135-3. Since that clearly wasn’t working, they split the guys up into two teams and they play each other for typical Bachelor stakes – winners continue on the date, losers go back to the hotel. Brian the Basketball coach looks confident, but unlike Opera Guy from last week, he’s got a reason for it. You know that old saying “those that can’t do, teach”? Well, apparently that’s not true for coaching. Brian’s got game. He was draining threes, making behind-the-back passes, stealing the ball. To paraphrase Ice Cube, he was “freaking brothers every way like MJ.” Damn straight it was a good day. Of course, I expected guys like Brian, Cody and Josh to be good. The big surprise for me was Patrick. Despite his inexplicable man-crush on Skeevy Andrew, that guy is a real athlete.
By the way, this whole basketball sequence should be sent to the Film Editing Hall of Fame. The producers made the first half look like a Lakers-Celtics series from the 80’s. I honestly thought the score was something like 34-32. Actual score? 6-6. How did they possibly make this train wreck look like a good game?
Second half starts, Brian decides to turn it on and his team wins handily. Marquel sums it up perfectly: “We wake up in the morning and breathe excellence.” He’s a legitimately funny guy and he has access to endless amounts of cookies (aka world’s most perfect food). He has to get a one-on-one date at some point, right? Anyway, Brian, Cody, Marquel, Nick, Andrew and Eric move on to date night, while the rest of the guys sulk. Josh is particularly pissed off, because he’s the uber-competitive alpha male and he hates losing more than he loves winning. But, trust him – he’s not the stereotypical athlete. Not in the slightest bit. They console themselves by saying they played harder than Brian’s team, which is the type of thing losers say. Brian points to the scoreboard and gets ready for his date with Andi that night.
Andi sits down with Eric first, and in a textbook example of foreshadowing, he babbles about how formal and stagnant their relationship is, and how they’re not communicating properly. It’s week 3 and these two already need couple’s counseling. Is there any chance this works out? Brian and Andi walk back out to basketball court and Andi challenges him to make a half court shot, promising a “prize” if he makes it. First shot – nothing but net. Andi goes all weak in the knees and does everything except send him a notarized letter saying “kiss me!”, but Brian trips all over himself, gives her a one armed hug instead, and I’m yelling at the TV as they walk back to join the group. And now Brian is here:
Instead of here:
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen – it’s Nick the Assassin, picking up Brian’s fumble and taking it straight to the end zone! Brian still gets the rose, though, because chicks dig guys with skills, even if those guys have so little game with women that they couldn’t close a door if their life depended on it.
It’s time for the final one-on-one date, this time with Marcus. Andi averts her gaze, because Marcus is so beautiful that looking at him is like staring into the sun. In another move that makes me like this girl even more (Andi, not Marcus), she decides to take him repelling off the top of the casino, because she’s afraid of heights and wants to face her own fears. This is a show that pretty much hand-tailors every date to make the star look amazing, and for her to choose an activity of which she’s deathly afraid shows a lot of guts in my book. Good for you, sister. What I didn’t expect was for Marcus to fall to pieces faster than Andi. He honestly looks like he’s going to cry. Eventually, he man’s up and takes the first step, and then helps Andi over the edge. Andi is so scared that she’s gone right past saying “y’all” and straight to babbling like a 5 year old. “Ummm, my mom plays mahjong, my favorite color is pink, and I like ponies.” But I’ll hand it to him; Marcus does a great job keeping calm and he talks her all the way down. Nice job. See you at the hometown dates.
That night, they’re back in scenic Essex for a little quiet time. They have some deep conversations and it’s all pretty typical for this show. She gives Marcus the rose, and tells him that she likes that he’s pretty, but she really likes that he finally acted like a man. Not in so many words, but that was the gist of it. I can’t figure out if she wants Marcus to be more like Josh, or Josh to be more like Marcus. They’re both good-looking guys, but they’re at opposite ends of the personality spectrum. I think she generally goes for the alpha male, but she’s been burned too many times to settle down with one. Josh needs to get more sensitive and Marcus needs to get more edgy, and whoever does it first could win it.
But wait! One more surprise! Impromptu concert! Loves Dropped Hardy? Who? Whatever. They step onto a stage conveniently located in the middle of the room, Marcus officially becomes the first contestant to use the L-word, and they dance us into the commercial break.
Next scene: Andi is sitting in her room when she gets an anonymous love letter from a secret admirer. At the same time, Nick is sitting in his underground lair, stroking Mr. Bigglesworth and laughing fiendishly. Everyone else is playing checkers; he’s playing chess. Fast forward to the cocktail party and Tasos doesn’t let Andi finish her little speech before leaping out of his seat to take her aside. That man is on a mission tonight. He doesn’t really do much with it, though. Nick would have had a pathway of rose petals leading to cello players surrounding a champagne fountain. Poor Tasos; you’re not long for this game, my friend. Brian jumps in to make amends for completely dropping the ball on the group date, and he finally makes out with her. Better late than never, and Andi is grinning ear-to-ear. Next: “Marquel is SO funny! We could SO be friends! Like, BFF forever! What was that? Oh, no. I’m not gonna marry him.”
And now, it’s time for the nightly drama! Eric the Explorer decides to come in with his judgmental guns a’ blazing and burns the whole room down. He accuses Andi of not being open, putting on a poker face and then he calls her a TV actress. AND, let’s all say goodbye to Eric. She’s understandably offended, and they argue like couple breaking up for the last time. You all know that argument; it’s ugly, it’s mean-spirited, and there’s no hope of salvaging anything. For a brief moment, he looks happy that he got a reaction out of her; and then his expression changes when he realizes it was the absolute wrong reaction. There’s simply too much drama and too little chemistry between them and this show is obviously not his scene, so she sends him home on the spot. Andi unleashes an epic mic drop on the rest of the guys about how seriously she’s taking the whole process and then storms out of the cocktail party. Eric makes the standard pitch for the next Bachelor, and I think he’s the first one out of this group that might have had a shot. Well traveled, adventurous – a season with this guy would have been a cross between the Bachelor and Amazing Race. Unfortunately, as we all know, that’s a season we’ll never get to see.
My Lovely Better Half calls Eric an MBA – he looks great on paper, but the qualifications don’t make him a great boyfriend. While I love the analogy, I kind of disagree with her. I think Eric was a perfectionist and a problem-solver. He analyzed their relationship six ways ‘til Sunday to figure out what was wrong between him and Andi, when there was nothing wrong with either one of them; they were just wrong for each other. I mentioned it after their first date and I’ll say it again now: the illusive chemistry factor is huge. If it ain’t there, it ain’t there, and the more you try to force it, the uglier it gets.
In an unusual twist, they can the footage of the rose ceremony, and Chris Harrison and Andi sit down to pay homage to Eric. Everyone was pretty upset after she lost her cool, and I have a sneaking suspicion there was a lot smack talk about Eric for the rest of the night. I’m guessing the producers figured it would be bad taste to air it (rightfully so) and decided to have a sit down instead. Andi acknowledges that they didn’t hit it off and wishes that their last conversation hadn’t gone down the way it did. In light of his death, she realizes that all the drama surrounding the show can seem pretty irrelevant, and there are much bigger things in life than the Bachelorette. Amen. It was pretty well done, and all joking aside, it’s times like this that Chris Harrison earns his money.
But the show must go on, so…..speaking of Chris Harrison, I think the sit down with Andi was the first time we’ve seen him all episode. Did he even go to Connecticut? Or did he take one look at the Mohegan Sun and say, “Fuck this, I’m going to Atlantic City. See you clowns next week.” Seriously, he does less and less every year. The man is a rock star.
Anyway, they let us know that Tasos went home, so this is who we have left:
Josh – “I HATE losing. HATE IT!”
JJ – it’s raining pants! Hallelujah, it’s raining pants!
Marcus – in new, more powerful, manly strength!
Brian – moving on up
Patrick – I know less about this guy than I did last week
Dylan – I know more about him than any of us should know. That story was brutal.
Farmer Chris – “Gee whiz, are we really leaving the USofA next week?”
Marquel + Skeevy Andrew – looks like these two go toe-to-toe next week, which I’m kind of excited to see.
Nick the Puppet Master + Cody – and in round 2 of next week’s wild card fight, these guys butt heads, as well. Is it possible that goofy meathead Cody is the one who figures out that Nick is secretly the Grand Manipulator of the group? Will Nick have Cody poisoned in his sleep?
There’s eleven left, and it’s probably time to place my bets on the final four. Cody is too goofy, Andrew too skeevy, JJ too nerdy, Chris too boring, and Dylan too broken (not being mean – I’m just saying this guy might need to work through some stuff before he proposes to somebody). Out of the rest, here’s my guess on hometown dates:
Marcus – he’s sooooo pretty…and after today, he might be the favorite
Josh – Andi is looking for reasons not to like him, and she can’t find them
Brian – Andi is looking for reasons to like him, and she’s finding them
Nick – muwhahahahahaha!
See y’all in two weeks!