Des sends a "lying, cheating, deceitful" suitor packing, but the rest of the guys still think Ben is the real villain

If the ratings are any indication, Bachelorette Nation is not impressed with the first two legs of Desiree’s “journey” so far. Thank God for this week’s scandal, Girlfriendgate — right rose lovers?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We open at Casa Bachelorette, where Harrison kicks things off with his hit-and-run date card delivery, per usual. The message for Chris, Brian, Drew, Michael, Brooks, Brad, Mikey, Zack K., and Ben is daunting: “Love is a battlefield.” (Time out: Now I have to go watch that video, which is superb.)

And we’re back. While Michael isn’t pleased about one of his companions for the day (“There are nine great guys going on this date — and Ben’s coming along too”), all of the men have smiles on their faces when they pile out of the stretch SUV to greet Des, resplendent in pink lycra. Today’s activity: a good old-fashioned ass whoopin’ from the men of the National Dodgeball League, which is apparently a real thing. The professional players spend some time humiliating the bachelors by repeatedly pegging them with angry red balls until Harrison shows up. (Confession time, my first thought when he walked on the court was, How hilarious would it be if one of the pros just nailed him in the solar plexus?) The host comes armed with an unwelcome update: The guys are going to have to face each other on the dodgeball field, and only the winning team gets to stay on the date. Even better, they’re going to do outside a mall while wearing tiny, package-enhancing shorts.

The red team (Mikey, Michael, Brooks, Chris, and Brandon) is the first to take a hit when Mikey gets eliminated — and the carnage continues until Chris is the last man standing. The mortgage broker, who we haven’t seen much of up until this point, manages to stay in the game until Drew tags him in the gut. After game one, Des offers the red team some advice — “Whatever you’re doing now, it’s not working” — and despite that being the worst pep talk in the history of organized sports, it is remarkably effective. The red team takes game two. Who will take game three, for all the marbles? (Key: “All the marbles” = “all the minutes with Desiree later on tonight,” explains Michael helpfully.) But the final round gets off to a rough start, as some blue team foot crushes Brooks’ delicate finger during the opening scrum. “Ohhh my god,” moans Brooks pitifully. (Is it reverse sexism for me to say the dude needs to man up and not look like such a wuss in front of his potential “lady”? I mean, it’s a broken finger, not a GSW to the chest.)

Eventually game three is down to Chris and Zack W., who hurl balls at each other to no avail. “They’re so intense… They’re just ready to kill each other!” marvels Des with delight. But it’s the beefy book publisher who prevails, nailing Chris in the chest and sending the blue team into a victorious pig pile on the other end of the field. Don’t fret, though, red team — Des wants everybody, even the losers, to join her at the “after party”! (Meanwhile, Brooks is lying on a hospital bed in the ER, having passed out when the EMT reset the broken bone in his finger. Dude. Really?)

NEXT: “I have some bizarre news about one of your guys”

The poolside portion of the evening begins with a one-on-one between Desiree and the previously-MIA Brad (a.k.a. DJ Mak), who is eager to tell the Bachelorette about the things in his past that have “haunted” him. And no, it’s not that he has a three-year-old son — it’s that he named the poor kid “Maddex.” Wait, sorry — maybe Brad means he’s haunted by the fact that three and half years ago Maddex’s mom tried to steal his car and yet the cops arrested him for domestic violence. (Yeah, that doesn’t sound fishy at all.) Chris, who spends much of the evening nervously chewing his nails, ultimately tries to make a big impression by leading Desiree up to the roof for a romantic helipad chat. “After my time with Des, my feelings have definitely changed,” says Chris. “I’m feeling a lot more confident… I think I might get the rose.”

Don’t count your boutonnieres before they’re pinned, sir, because a town car just pulled up — and inside, a bruised and broken Brooks, ready to slide in at the last moment and steal the sympathy vote. Poor Chris looks crestfallen. “Damn that Brooks,” he tells Team Bachelorette, only half-joking. “He’s so good. So charming.” Indeed, even though he’s still wearing his ridiculous shorty-shorts and sweatband, Brooks is still able to make Des swoon, and soon they’re smooching under a purple blanket. But in a surprise move, Des does not award Brooks the rose for his injury — instead, it goes to Chris, who can’t believe his luck. Not only is he safe for another week, he gets to steal Des away for some double-secret alone time and a private concert by this lady. Hooray for non-muscular nice guys!

The next morning, Des reflects on her “journey” while putting her thoughts down in what appears to be that “antique” journal Zak W. gave her last week. “I love this entire group of guys, and I’m hopeful my future husband is here,” she muses. But her reverie is broken by a phone call from Chris “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” Harrison. “I have some bizarre news about one of your guys,” he tells Des — who, by the way, is wearing flesh-toned pants that are so tight, from some angles she looks naked from the waist down.

Anyhoo, whatever information Chris has, it’s enough to send Des speeding down the hill to Casa Bachelorette for a showdown with the offending d-bag. Sorry, Kasey, but your “love defies gravity” one-on-one date is going to have to wait, because Desiree has a few questions for Brian first. “So, is there anything that I don’t know, that you need to tell me?” asks the Bachelorette, after taking Brian and his hot pink t-shirt outside for a private talk. “Like, I just want to know if our conversations and what we’ve talked about are sincere.” Obviously the answer is no — by this point both the previews and Desiree herself have told us that Brian has a girlfriend back home — but Team Bachelorette knows the To Catch a Cheater “gotcha” moment is going to be so much more satisfying if it comes after we watch Brian lie to Desiree’s face. Which, of course, he does: “I feel something very strongly for you,” he says. “I think my past relationship, while it was, you know, a short time ago, was one of those ones… that was really over a long time ago.”

NEXT: Brian gets busted

Des listens patiently, biding her time until Brian’s lovely, raven-haired girlfriend Stephanie is properly positioned right behind him. Just as Brian’s saying that he’s still friends with his ex, Des cuts him off with an icy, “Do you know how she feels about it? Because she’s actually here.” (Cue the audience chant: Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!) Stephanie greets the Bachelorette with her hand outstretched and a deliberate, “Hi, I’m Brian’s girlfriend,” but Des is all, scorned women don’t shake hands — scorned women gotta hug! “Oh Jeeze,” mutters Brian, his eyes darting back and forth as he looks for an escape route. But he’s not going anywhere until Stephanie reads him the riot act. “Brian, you told me that you weren’t going to see anyone else. I believed you!” He’s barely able to stutter out a perfunctory denial (“Stephanie and I have had a relationship, we had it in the past”) before his petite one-time paramour pounces. “It’s in the present, Brian. We’re still together. I tried to break up with you a day before you left to come here on the show. You told me you just needed time to yourself to get things sorted out,” wails Stephanie, her voice climbing an octave in her distress. “Why would you do this to me?”

Harrison tries to step in to referee, but nothing is stopping Tropical Storm Stephanie and her rapid-fire assault on Brian’s character. She insists he was professing his love for her the day before he left for the show, and chides him for not being a role model for her son Donovan. “It’s unfortunate that I’m being attacked,” offers Brian weakly. “I also certainly didn’t want to hurt you.” The situation gets progressively more shouty — several times Harrison tries and fails to stop Stephanie’s shrieking — and eventually a blurry picture of what possibly, maybe, at one point might have happened begins to form: Brian and Stephanie were dating. Stephanie, despite being a roller-skating and balloon enthusiast, can sometimes have a bit of a hot temper. (“I did throw rocks at you!” she huffs at Brian. “Because you’re a jerk!”) Brian, being a bit of a coward, thought the best way to distance himself from this “toxic relationship” was to hightail it to a Bachelorette casting session and, eventually, inform Stephanie — through his appearance on a nationally televised dating show — that he doesn’t see a future for their relationship.

Whatever happened, it’s over now, because a rather large gentleman named Paulie is here to escort Brian out of Casa Bachelorette… forever. Once the Reject Van has pulled away, Des wants the rest of the guys to know she is not having it: “If you are hiding anything, tell me now.” [Nine seconds of awkward silence] Anyone? Bueller? All rightie, then. Kasey, it’s finally time for your date!

But Brandon, bless his heart, has a hard time recovering from Hurricane Stephanie’s visit — in part because as the child of single mom himself, he overly identifies with Stephanie’s son Donovan. “I had a lot of men come into my life as father figures, and I’d fall in love with them. And then they’re just gone,” he sobs, tears streaming down his cheeks. “I don’t want to fall in love and lose it again. I just don’t want anyone to leave me anymore, you know?” Ugh, thanks for the gut punch, Team Bachelorette. Would someone please get Paulie? Brandon needs to be wrapped in a soft blanket, bundled into the Sadnessmobile, and shipped off to the nearest intensive therapy center for adults with severe abandonment disorder.

NEXT: Kasey’s shot at romance is gone with the wind

Meanwhile, on Sunset Boulevard, Kasey and Desiree are ready for their bandaloop close-up as they dangle from the side of a hotel. Miraculously, they get all the way through the aerial date without either one of them making a “love is a leap of faith” comment. It seems mother nature is not Team Kasey, though: That night, as the duo try to share an intimate drink, they are nearly blown off of the roof by chilly gusts of wind. Naturally, they decide the best plan is to strip down and jump in the pool, which was, to use Des’ term, “freeeeeezing.” The towel Kasey helpfully wraps around her head does little to keep the Bachelorette from shivering, so he goes in for a kiss instead. And she does NOT love it. “This is just a disastrous date,” she sighs. But because Des knows it’s not Kasey’s fault that Brian ruined her mood and the wind was angry enough to topple potted plants, Kasey gets the rose.

The second group date of the week begins with James, Juan Pablo, Bryden, and Zak W. boarding a stagecoach outside of Casa Bachelorette and winding up at Rose ‘N’ Thorn ranch. Des awaits them on a balcony, dressed kind of like that doll lamp I used to have when I was 9. Suddenly, a no-good varmint emerges from the door behind her and starts mock-manhandling her — until she kicks him over the balcony. And that’s when we learn the theme of today’s product placement date: cowboy lessons from Tom Harper and the stunt team behind Disney’s new movie The Lone Ranger.

After a series of tutorials in lassoing, quick-draw pistol work, and stage fighting, Tom brings in the horses for one final challenge: Damsel in distress scenarios! One by one, the guys have to “rescue” Desiree from ne’er-do-well black hats. And if the way Desiree’s eyes widen as she watches her suitors take down bad guys is any indication, she LOVES it. Juan Pablo performs the majority of his scene in Spanish, which Des finds so enticing that she awards him the “Lone Ranger” badge and the extra alone time that goes with it. Unfortunately, that alone time is in a barn, where they’re required to watch an early screening of (what else?) The Lone Ranger. Not surprisingly, they spend a lot of time making out instead.

The Bachelorette’s lust is not sated, however, so that night at the post-cowboy cocktails, she lures Bryden into a tree and encourages him to suck her face. After all, says Des, Brydan “can’t make the moves — he just doesn’t know when to make them. So I do kind of lead a little bit, and then once I get close, then he’s, like, on it.” As is Zak W., charming Desiree with his self-deprecating humor. “Did you realize that I, uh, actually made an attempt to kiss you today?” he asks. “You got this guy, like, coming in like [makes goofy face] Wurrrrrr…” Des laughs so hard she practically cries — and even though she’s probably had one too many jelly jars of moonshine, I don’t think it’s just the booze making her giggle.

Things take a more serious turn with James, who admits to Des that he’s struggling with being away from his father, who has pancreatitis. “I just want to know from you, uh, do you think that I might be somebody that you can see yourself with?” As an answer, she gives him the date rose.

NEXT: “Once again, someone left me”

The next day, Harrison arrives with a bad news fake-out: “Tonight’s cocktail party has been canceled” — but only because Des wants all the guys to join her for a “very relaxed, chill pool party.” Hooray! Hold up, guys — you wouldn’t be cheering if you knew that Ben has a plan to kidnap Des before she even steps foot in Casa Bachelorette. “Before she even has an opportunity to talk to the other guys, I’m going to see if I can make a little mini-one-on-one date.” So Ben and his douche tank top waylay Desiree in the driveway, where he suggests they go for a fifteen-minute car ride in her Bentley before joining the party. While they’re off cruising, the rest of the guys mill around the pool wondering aloud where she is and oddly not noticing that Ben is missing. Soon after, the sports car returns and Kasey and Mikey spot Ben kissing Des in the front seat — much to their chagrin. But when they confront him about his secret rendezvous with the Bachelorette, the worst Kasey can threaten is, “You and I are not going to be friends.” It would be scientifically impossible for Ben to care less.

Unfortunately, it seems physically impossible for poor Brandon to stop caring so much about Desiree, even though it’s only been, like, six days — and his intensity is clearly making her uncomfortable. “I am never going to hurt you,” Brandon tells Des, his gaze boring into her soul. “To be honest, I am falling in love with you.” Oh, honey, it’s week three — don’t you know the “I’m falling in love with you” card is not valid until the week before hometowns? This does not bode well for you. (Side note: Why is Des carrying around a pen and index cards at the pool party? Is she collecting recipes from the guys?)

Man, is it rose ceremony time already? Des arrives in a royal blue strapless gown topped with some kind of sequined breastplate, and starts assembling her team for another week: Bryden, Juan Pablo, Zak W., Brooks, Drew, Zack K., Brad, Michael, Mikey, and (of course) Ben. That means Dan, and more importantly, Brandon, are headed home. The latter does not take it well. “Des, I just feel like you’re making a huge — I just don’t understand,” says stunned Brandon. At first Des just whispers her explanation — “You’re a great person, just not for me” — as the rest of the guys mill about in the background. But once Brandon leaves, she follows him outside and tries to make him understand. “You have to have that chemistry — it’s just something I can’t explain,” she says. “I just know, and I’m so sorry.”

Of course, Brandon assumes Des isn’t “feelin’ it” because he’s just not good enough. “Once again, someone left me,” he sighs, defeated. “Yeah, way to go, Brandon.” Jesus, Team Bachelorette, you’d better hope someone keeps this poor kid away from sharp objects and sleeping pills for the foreseeable future.

On that downer note, rose lovers, what did you think of tonight’s “bombshell” episode? Do you believe Brian, Stephanie, or none of the above? Do you think Juan Pablo will ever get a one-on-one date? And why can’t Ben be a more interesting villain? Post your thoughts below! Be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s blog over on PopWatch when you’re done. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to send Brandon a Hang in There kitty poster. He could really use it.

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?

  • TV Show
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  • 159
  • Mike Fleiss
  • ABC