The guys pose for a calendar, Ali goes on individual dates, and the season's first villain emerges
Ali Bachelorette Beach
Credit: Chris Chavira/ABC

Such a satisfying process, The Bachelorette. It is around this time in the season — when there are still lots of bachelors vying for our starlet’s attention, but they’re all starting to take on distinctive personalities — that I realize how much I would like to date this way. Why is it that it doesn’t work this way in real life? Remind me, would you?

Since it doesn’t, let us get on with dissecting the highlights of what our lucky Ali got to deal with:

Frank, Individual Date No. 1

He got a sweet ride in a vintage convertible… only to have it magically break down on the side of the freeway. (How overly cynical does it make me that I assume this was rigged for some reason?) Frank took it as an opportunity to show his fun-loving ability to roll with the punches, and it must be said: While I was sorta wary of Frank and his unclear employment status and his residence with his parents in suburban Illinois and his hyperactive tendencies last week, I was a bit charmed by him this week. Both feelings may be due to my history of dating struggling artists — and the difficulties they have caused in my life — but it might also just be because Ali started to visibly, sweetly warm up to him, as well. Or it might just be because he got a damn cool date with her.

I could do without the part where they walked on Hollywood Boulevard with tourists and endured paparazzi attacks, but being up at the Hollywood sign at sunset isn’t a bad way to spend your dusk. They got a little deeper into his Paris story — apparently he lived there for a month and a half, and is now managing an unnamed retail store (what, not a sponsor, ABC?) while he writes screenplays. ”Everything I do is kind-of based on that gut feeling I have,” Frank told her, and scored. ”I feel like because I’m so career-driven, sometimes I lose track of what’s more important, and that’s love and family,” Ali told us, in a nod to her continuing major guilt-trip for leaving the show last season. ”I feel like if Frank was in my life, he would remind me of that every day, and I love that.” This sentiment precipitated — yes! — our first major kiss of the season.

Since the car was now magically fixed by mechanical elves (who also, it seems, deliver the car directly to wherever you currently are on your loooong date), they headed on up to the top of the Hollywood Hills and had a cupcake-and-champagne picnic on the hood. (While this is my dream come true, I couldn’t help hoping they’d also had some food along the way. They should’ve been hungry for more than cupcakes by now, and I don’t mean that as a double entendre.) Here, Ali noted that Frank was funny, smart, and quirky. ”There’s nothing, like, normal about you,” she said, accurately. ”And that’s good.” She also pledged, to the camera, that she would stop the game-playing that had heretofore plagued her dating life and ”let each guy here know exactly how I feel about them.” Do you know when it’s really easy to stop playing games and let guys know exactly how you feel? WHEN YOU HAVE MORE THAN A DOZEN MEN VYING FOR YOUR AFFECTION. Just saying.

NEXT: Rated ”give it up already, Craig”

Anyway, the upshot was that she was into Frank. ”I met a guy today who made me believe that everything I’m looking for is possible,” Ali voice-overed. And there was more making out. Yay. He got a rose for the night.

Guy Fight!

Anyone who doesn’t think men get bitchy need only watch this episode for counter-evidence. There were more hints at tension between Craig R. and our beloved wrestler Rated R, Justin. The two had a weird exchange back at the house in which Craig R. seemed unnecessarily upset by the fact that Justin told him on the first night that he was in real estate and gym management but saved his wrestling revelation for Ali. He punctuated this with yet another unclever play on Justin’s wrestling name (”rated I don’t believe a word you say”), a trope I am so tired of that I’m going to start rooting against Justin just so I don’t have to hear any more.

The real bitchery, however, came courtesy of hair-guy Craig M.’s bullying of the poor, defenseless weatherman, Jonathan. ”I’m going to have to hang out with Craig M., which is absolutely terrible,” Jonathan said of their impending group date. ”He is not a good person.” Craig M. tried, briefly, to pick on the muscled, gorgeous, tattooed Jesse: ”I want to know what Ali’s going to think when she sees your [bleep]ing tattoos. Are you serious? Did your mom do that for you?” Jesse’s response: ”I don’t talk shit. I just hit.” That was pretty much the end of that, and it was back to targeting Jonathan for Craig M.

Group Date!

So then 12 guys went on a ”date” with Ali to a beach house in Malibu, which was ostensibly planned that way so she could make the most of her Britney Spears (on a good day) hair extensions and enviable abs. It was also planned with little regard for Justin’s hobbled, crutch-laden state, as he had to make it down massive stairs and across the sand. But I continued to be distracted from this by Ali’s abs — or, more accurately, my sudden desire to get down on the floor and do 300 crunches. Once I finished that, I noticed that they were shooting a ”sexy guy calendar” as their ”date,” which is a great coincidence since I just did that on my last date. Small world. While Ali was ”really grateful” that they got ”the opportunity to give back” — it was some kind of charity thing, I guess — Weatherman was still bitching about Hairman: ”The amount I want a rose is equal to how much of a dick Craig M. is.” (Presumably, quite a bit.)

NEXT: Jonathan makes a forecast

Now, in a continuation of a theme — that men are not only as catty as women, but as insecure — the guys were squeezed into tiny Speedo-type skivvies to test their devotion and self-esteem. Craig R. experienced a life-altering revelation: ”When they handed me this to wear, my first thought was no way, not a chance. But it really feels nice.” Someone asked Steve — who was pretty damn ripped — if he had an extra sock lying around because he had ”a little extra room in there,” but he appeared unfazed by this taunting, probably because he was too busy looking for an extra millimeter of fat on his frame and coming up empty. Steve then, admirably, took to talking a mortified Jonathan into his assigned black bikini briefs: ”You have great legs. You have a great ass.” Jonathan, in a moment of extreme weakness, even admitted to the camera: ”I don’t have, like, a huge…” Then he added, ”I’m here for Ali, so I’m going to have to show the junk in my trunk. … The forecast for the day is 100-percent chance that my crotch will show.”

Craig M., on the other hand, reported he was ”pretty pumped for the photo shoot.” Whoever styled the shoot got Craig, perhaps like he’s never been gotten before, as he was posed holding a cigar and snifter, shirtless, in aqua pants and a sweater over his shoulders. I am so happy for him that he has this photo to remember his Bachelorette experience by, and to get blown up to life-size and hung on his own bedroom wall.

In a genius move, Ty once again pulled out the guitar — boys, there is no such thing as too much guitar when wooing a girl — and sang to Ali on the beach. Having now played for her twice, he dropped his recent divorce news on her at the cocktail gathering post-shoot. It went so well he got the rose for the night. (Songs + self-revelation + cocktails = girl a puddle of goo.) Jonathan, meanwhile, dropped the Craig M.-is-a-douche news on Ali, and she took it well — as she should, given that she pulled a similar move in trying to reveal Vienna to Jake. ”He’s literally like a dangerous person,” Jonathan told her. (Dangerous mainly to himself, rather than Ali, I think, but point taken.) ”He’s just crazy. He’s looking to get laid out.” And despite the rose for Ty, she got pretty cuddly with Justin, too — it looked like, maybe, after about 19 cocktails. ”I like you,” she cooed, laying all over him. ”I hope you like me.” I’m still not sure she knows she’s there with 15 guys who are hers for the taking.

NEXT: Jesse looks good. Duh.

We learned Jesse was the man when The Bachelorette producers cryptically sent over cufflinks with his initials — JB — on them. Lucky him, because he was taking a private jet with Ali to Vegas! And here Frank just got the damn Hollywood sign. Jesse displayed an admirable appreciation of fashion: ”Ali looks incredible today, wearing the skinny jeans and heels.” And he was very good at holding Ali’s hand while she was scared to death on the plane. (Bachelor producers love to mess with Ali’s fear of flying!) He also looked very good with Ali in the convertible Ferrari waiting for them at the Vegas airport, though it should be said that anyone would look good in that car — and Jesse would look good in anything. So it was kind-of sensory overload.

Know where else Jesse looked good? At the private pool, with his shirt off. Eating oysters. While Ali hinted, ”this is an aphrodisiac.” His response? ”If it didn’t have a lemon in it, it probably would’ve tasted like [bleep].” Okay, honesty. We like that. He looks good doing that. Oh, right, he looks good doing everything. Like… wearing a suit! Which was his next task as The Bachelorette producers’ dress-up doll for the night. Sure, Ali had a pretty silver gown, too, but really. The suit. The shirtless bit at the pool. So hard to pick a favorite Jesse! Can I have them all? Ali, clearly having similar thoughts but also trying to be sensible, told us, ”I know he’s a nice guy, but I need to make sure there’s a connection beyond that.” Oh, the connection beyond that. It always ruins everything. She concluded, after some talk about coming from small towns and woodworking (why is woodworking inherently sexy? Is it just Aidan from Sex and the City? Or was it sexy before that?), that he’s nice enough for a rose. ”Do I know if it’s right for me? I don’t,” she said, and though I knew she was probably right, it totally harshed my Jesse mellow. Luckily, Jamie Cullum — who, Ali informed us helpfully in voice-over, is ”a very talented singer-songwriter” — was there to boost my spirits with an impromptu performance. Ali and Jesse made out, moved by Jamie Cullum’s singing and songwriting and probably about 25 glasses of champagne. All was well. He got a rose for the night.

The Final Roses

Back at the house, however, all was not well. Specifically, Craig M. was wearing Jonathan’s white military-type jacket thing and performing something of a send-up of him, though not a terrifically good or funny one. Jonathan was visibly rattled by Craig M. donning his outerwear: ”I mean, who knows what diseases he has?”

When Ali arrived for the final cocktail party of the episode, wearing a killer white mini-dress, tensions escalated further for all the guys. Chris L. still refused to tell her about his mom, even though she once again asked about his family life. He explained, ”It felt like butterflies talking to her. I was, like, melting, melting.” If only he could express half this sentiment while with her. Korey stammered through a quick interaction with Ali before Frank smoothly interrupted to tell her he missed her since their date. ”I left that date feeling like, ‘Ali’s my girlfriend,”’ he told her, and this earned him a serious kiss, much to all the other guys’ chagrin.

NEXT: Pssst. Craig M. When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

Roberto, on the other hand, kept his standard impressive control of the situation. Ali, once again, blushed and giggled in his presence, telling him, ”You’re very handsome.” This time, instead of teaching her salsa, he got out his baseball gloves — he used to play pro ball, natch — and gave her a quick knuckleball lesson. I can’t wait until next week when he teaches her to cook a perfect quiche or sculpt pottery.

Finally, Ali confronted Craig M. about Jonathan’s accusations — without revealing who had complained about him — in a supremely awkward, and unusually astute, sit-down. ”I just keep thinking, ‘Does he want to get to know me more?”’ she told him. His answer? ”You’re obviously very attractive.” (Gee thanks.) ”You say you want to get to know me, but you haven’t asked me one question about myself,” she persisted. His final answer:

”I don’t know. Um, I guess what’s in my head right now is… I’m misunderstood… like Craig’s just here to have a good time… but… you know, I got that out… but I think if you gave us the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time together I think that would totally change things. Absolutely. One-hundred percent.” Uh-huh. Good thing we cleared that up.

He then stormed back into the house and ”called a meeting” of the guys to find out who’d tattled on him. ”It kind of hit me pretty deep,” he revealed, showing no evidence of such. There was some nonsense in which he went back and forth with Jonathan, who admitted to not liking Craig M. but refused to flat-out say he’d talked to Ali about him, which disappointed me a tad. Why not just say it? Nonetheless, I agreed with Jonathan’s assessment that, ”If Craig M. gets a rose tonight, I will know for sure there is no God.”

We then watched Ali meaningfully stare at portraits of Craig M. and Jonathan before coming out to lower the boom on the three non-rose-getters of the night: Guy I don’t remember (Tyler V., it turns out), other guy I don’t remember (Chris H., we hardly knew ye), and Craig M. ”She missed a huge opportunity,” Craig told the camera. Jonathan had emerged victorious: ”Thanks for having my back this week,” Ali whispered to him. And while I celebrated that I miraculously wouldn’t have to put up with an obviously horrible person as a producer-picked ”villain” past Week 2, I also wondered how long it would be before this emerged as a strategy to win Ali’s heart: ratting out other guys in the house.

What do you think, Bachelorette TV Watchers? Who’s the current frontrunner? Frank? Roberto? How happy are you to be rid of Craig M., on a scale of 1 to 3 billion? Sound off in the comments, and don’t forget to watch the deleted scene below:

Episode Recaps

The Bachelorette

One single woman searches for her future husband amid a sea of studs in this romantic reality series. Will you accept this rose?

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