One suitor can't hold his liquor after a group strip-tease date (it's not as kinky as it sounds), while Andi has a close encounter of the bittersweet kind with bachelor Eric Hill.

By Kristen Baldwin
May 27, 2014 at 05:03 AM EDT
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Greetings, rose lovers! Ooops, sorry — didn’t mean to shout. I’m sure many of you are still recovering from your holiday weekend hangover. I’ll try to keep it down as we gently ease back into the work-week with part 2 of Andi’s “journey.”

However sluggish you’re feeling, though, it’s nothing compared to the fog that’s enveloped Andi’s brain until just this second. “Waking up this morning after the first rose ceremony, it finally hit me — like, I am officially the Bachelorette,” she marvels. (Andi, are you okay? Can you tell me what year it is? Who’s the president?)

Over at Casa Bachelorette, Harrison’s giving the guys the week-one rundown — one group date, two one-on-one dates, knit caps and hoodies optional but encouraged. With that, the host drops off the date card and takes his leave. Carl, please tell us who has the honor of the first solo date: “Eric, love is everywhere.”

Oh dear. This is awkward. I mean, of course Andi chose Eric for the one-on-one. He’s incredibly handsome, his limo-exit gift of two dolls from the Andes mountains was genuinely sweet, and his name does not rhyme with the word “anal.” Anyhow, what’s awkward about this is not just deciding what tense to use while discussing Eric’s scenes — I’ve decided, after a lengthy internal debate, to go with present — it’s deciding how we should feel about watching Eric’s scenes. Should ABC/Warner Bros. removed him from the series entirely? I don’t think so — and not just because it would have necessitated some real editing-bay gymnastics and likely resulted in choppy, disjointed “narrative.” Unlike Russell Armstrong, the husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Taylor Armstrong, Eric Hill did not take his own life — nor did the pressures/expectations/exposure of appearing on a reality TV show contribute in any way to his death. It still feels uncomfortable and sad to watch him on The Bachelorette — I prefer my trash TV without a side of mortality-reminders, thank you — but it doesn’t feel dirty. And that, to paraphrase Robert Frost, should make all the difference. So hug your loved ones (virtual group hug for you, Eric’s mom!) and let’s get through this date together.

Andi picks Eric up in her convertible and drives him to the beach, where she strips off her teeny-tiny jean shorts to reveal a teeny-tiny white bikini. They build sand castles, fly a kite, and make sand angels — which isn’t really a thing but it does allow Team Bachelorette to sneak in a gratuitous shot of Andi’s crotchal area. Oh hey, look, it’s a helicopter. Could it possibly be there to whisk Eric and Andi away to a “surprise” second location? Why yes, yes it could. The duo alights atop snowy Bear Mountain. Holy crap, put your flip-flops back on, you two! I’m getting frostbite just looking at you. Fortunately, a nice young man named Louie Vito is waiting for them with snowpants, parkas, and all the other gear they need to take an embarrassing, nationally-televised snowboarding lesson. (Embarrassing for Andi, that is: Eric is at ease on the board, while the Bachelorette proceeds to pratfall her way down the mountain. Oopsie-daisy! Tee-hee-hee!)

NEXT: Welcome to “the fine world of male exotic dancing”

The date concludes with a fireside dinner in a rustic “cabin” that looks about three times the size of my apartment. It’s all going so well that Andi feels the need to list all the things she’s not good at, just to make it clear to Eric — whom she calls a “Renaissance Man” — that she doesn’t deserve him. Do I wish that Team Bachelorette had edited out the part where Eric talked about his danger-soaked trip to Syria, where a terrifying encounter with two militants prompted him to type a “goodbye” text to his parents? Hell yes. Sure, it was probably the most substantive monologue anyone’s ever given on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, but watching Eric choke up about saying goodbye to his parents while knowing his parents later had to say an all-too-painful goodbye to him? Brutal. Please, Andi, just give him the rose and give us all a moment to compose ourselves.

Ding-dong! It’s an Accent Table of Doom at the door! Brian, Marquel, Bradley, Craig, Brett, Patrick, Cody, Carl, Tasos, Josh, Ron, Marcus, Nick S., and Dylan, the date card has a message for you: “Let’s bare our souls.” Yes, Dylan, there will likely be a thong involved. Cut to the next morning, when it’s all aboard the tour bus to OHM Nightclub, also known as a passageway to “the fine world of male exotic dancing.” It’s time for some payback, boy bitches! Andi’s still traumatized by her “naked” photo shoot date with Juan Pablo, so she’s going to make you strip down with a group of oiled individuals known as the Hollywood Men. But don’t worry — it’s all for charity via Bachelor Gives Back, also known as the producers’ public attempt to balance out their karma.

The dudes are divided into top three food groups found on the Female Sexual Fantasy menu — soldiers, firemen, and cowboys — and taught some simple routines. This is as good a time as any to observe that Craig, drunken star of the “tonight on The Bachelorette” episode preview, is already beginning to exhibit doofus tendencies. “I hope I turn on some girls and make some money for charity!” he hollers, forcing Josh into an awkward high five. “Josh is a stuuuud,” gushes Craig, who, incidentally, sounds like the lovechild of Forrest Gump and Jeff Spicoli. “He’s kind of the full package.”

So to recap: Craig probably belongs on Boy Meets Boy, Nick S. the golfer is wearing a terrible robot costume that looks like it was sewn together by a blind one-armed child, and the rest of the guys are dressed their “marble bags” and ready to objectify themselves for charity. Speaking of charity, Team Bachelorette has invited Kelly the “dog lover” and Sharlene the opera singer to extend their 15 minutes by appearing as Andi’s “VIP” guests at the amateur striptease extravaganza. It’s all fairly routine except for the moment that a thong-clad Nick S. bends over and shows Andi & Co. his rhymes-with-Emil region. “I kinda saw a part of a man that no woman is supposed to see,” laments the Bachelorette. Once fireman Dylan finishes undulating his booty in Harrison’s face and Marcus’ completes his Top Gun-themed solo dance, the guys stream into the audience to collect tips for charity. (If those fistfuls of dollars Andi tossed into the air are any indication, they raised at least thirty bucks.)

NEXT: Strategically placed old people at Santa Anita Park

The after-party commences at Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyard, an expansive Tuscan-style villa filled with candles and throw pillows. Josh uses the romantic setting to badger Andi about stereotyping him as a “typical athlete.” He hasn’t even dated anyone in five years! (Random, anonymous hookups and one-night-stands? Sure. But no dating.) The Bachelorette, who admits she’s no stranger to dating jocks, LOVES it. Craig, meanwhile, has been drinking non-stop since they arrived (does Linus work at Malibu Rocky Oaks?), and by the time he accosts Andi in the hallway he’s a slobbery, red-faced St. Bernard of a man. His 80-proof response to Andi’s “ask me anything” salvo is simultaneously hilarious and heart-rending: “What’s your worst thing about your parents?”

Even after she extracts herself from Craig’s boozy clutches, Andi can’t really escape him; the blotto buffoon’s bellows are echoing so loudly throughout the villa eventually the Bachelorette gets up from her sit-down with Ron to find out what in the holy hell is going on. The answer: Craig has just jumped into the pool fully clothed. (Props to whichever dude yelled, “Take your shoes off!” in a failed attempt to save Craig’s footwear.) After the tax attorney drunkenly shoves Patrick, producers finally step in and send Craig back to Casa Bachelorette to dry out. The liquor industry’s loss is Marcus’ gain, though: He gets the date rose. Maverick FTW!

Chris gets the final one-on-one date, and after the Craig debacle all he really needs to do to get a rose is not give himself alcohol poisoning. Shouldn’t be too hard, as his date with Andi is a classy, formal-dress affair: Playing the ponies at Santa Anita Park. Team Bachelorette has even planted a sweet-looking elderly couple — married 55 years, God bless ’em — in the box seats next to Andi and her date to serve as a living What If? scenario. “You make a beautiful pair,” the charming, bow-tied gentleman tells Andi, before dispensing some marital advice: “Do not put your courtship on camera.” “Just learn to trust each other.”

At dinner Andi probes into the soft-spoken farmer’s past, asking why he’s never found his soulmate. Chris explains that he thought he had found The One back in college. “Actually, we got engaged,” he tells Andi, who does her darndest to arrange her facial features in a way that says “I’m listening sympathetically,” but instead her expression clearly reads, “Imma cut a bitch.” Fortunately for Chris, he manages to swerve back onto Andi’s good side with some mumbled flattery: “I am here for you. I can honestly tell you that you were the one that I was hoping for.” Lapel, meet rose. This Wild Life, meet America.

NEXT: “Hi, I’m Carl.” “And I’m Carl’s glasses.”

Okay, Andi: chin up, girls out, cocktail party – go! Nick V. takes control early on by handing the Bachelorette a date card and leading her outside for a mini one-on-one, where they drink champagne and talk about their mutual desire not to settle. Marquel moves in next, but frankly I couldn’t hear anything he said over the clashing cacophony of patterns on his shirt, tie, and socks. Josh undercuts his “I’m not your typical jock” platform by vomiting a series of words onto Andi’s sparkly dress – none of which form a complete sentence. “You’re rambling!” giggles the delighted Bachelorette. “You’re a mess!”

In related news, it’s finally Craig’s chance to sit down with Andi. Will he be able to erase the image of himself running around the vineyard villa in his underwear, soaking wet and butt-ass wasted? Why yes! Unfortunately, though, Craig replaces it with something even worse: a white-guy-with-guitar apology. “I bared my junk to 13 other guys/but I hope and pray that it’s all right,” Craig croons in the key of loser. “Oh Andi/Pleeeease let me stay.”

Yeah, that’s not gonna happen, pal. When all the boutonnieres have been distributed, Ron, Dylan, JJ, Marquel, Andrew, Tasos, Josh, Cody, Nick V., Patrick, Brian, Brett, and Bradley join Eric, Marcus, and Chris in the rose brigade – meaning Craig, Nick S., and Carl must take the long walk to the Reject Van alone. In the end, Andi “couldn’t get past” Craig’s boozy behavior, Nick’s extreme anatomical exposure, or, presumably, Carl’s Charles Nelson Reilly glasses.

Well, y’all, week two is done! While I won’t miss Craig or his balding partner-in-crime Nick S., I do wish we had a chance to hear more than four words out of Carl the Hot Firefighter. So tell me, rose lovers, who are your early favorites? Post ’em below, and be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s exclusive blog over on PopWatch to find out if he’s recovered from his xxxtra-close encounter with Dylan. See you next week! (Wait – two episodes? As Andi would say, stop it.)

Chris Harrison hosts the romance reality contest series. Will you accept this rose?
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