Desiree's first night as Bachelorette proceeds at a rather sleepy, drama-free pace -- until one suitor's Fantasy Suite fixation gets him in trouble

By Kristen Baldwin
Updated May 28, 2013 at 05:01 AM EDT

The Bachelorette

S9 E1
  • TV Show

Happy official beginning of summer, rose lovers! I hope the 11 weeks since our last “journey” ended have treated you well. I also hope you’re prepared for an avalanche of testosterone-drenched drama, if the “this season on The Bachelorette” tease is to be believed. (Ex-girlfriends! Fist fights! F-bombs! A dude lying on a hospital cot wearing uncomfortably short red shorts! Another dude stuttering, “I’ve…I’m…I’ve…I’ve fallen for you.” Des using the phrase “times it by” instead of “multiply it by”! And tears, tears, tears!) But first, we’re gonna have to get through this somewhat sleepy season opener. Uncork the Pinot and let’s get to it.

Harrison greets Des at the Casa Bachelorette annex, and as she tours the the fancy digs and lush grounds, the Bachelorette tearfully reminds us via voice-over about her loving-but-humble childhood (“We lived in an apartment where my brother’s room was the living room. Not a lot of money, not a lot of nice things.”) and her desire to find a love as strong as the one her parents have. “I want it so bad,” she sniffles. Though she was “devastated” by Sean’s decision to give her the boot after hometowns, Des now insists she’s “exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

And that place is… in the seat of a brand new aquamarine Bentley that matches her jewelry. Cue the Ready to Love Again MontageTM! We see Des cruising the coast in her sweet sports car. We see her shop for a cowboy hat while apparently skating to her audition for the part of Roller Girl in the Santa Monica Community Theater production of Boogie Nights: The Musical!. We see her sketching palm trees and terrorizing a flock of seagulls on the beach. What we don’t see Des doing, though, is getting romantic advice from The Bachelor‘s runner-up, a la Sean and Arie’s little tete-a-tete last season — which is too bad, as Des probably could have learned a lot about the Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Baby-Talk from Lindsay. Instead, our Bachelorette sits down with Harrison to discuss what she looks for in a man (“I need someone who can communicate with me”) and why she can’t wait to find her soulmate (“I love cuddling” and “At the end of this…I could be designing my own wedding dress”).

Okay, Des, go get dressed while we meet the men. Rose-seeker roll call starts… now!

Bryden, 26: After having his heart broken “five or six years ago,” the Montana native joined the army and shipped off to Iraq. But he’s also got a sensitive side, as evidenced by the pink bow around his German Shepherd’s neck. Does an actual fist pump when he learns Desiree is the Bachelorette.

Will, 28: A banker who loves life, Bikram yoga, and high-fiving strangers on the street.

Drew, 27: A digital marketing analyst with a sad backstory involving divorced parents, an alcoholic dad, and a “severely mentally handicapped” sister. His hair is extremely neat.

Nick R., 26: The title under his name may say “Tailor/Magician,” but this compact Chicagoan prefers the term “custom clothier.” In his spare time he performs tricks (or shall I say, illusions) in tiny clubs using an ironing board and prop bottles of wine.

Zak, 31: And you thought the last guy had a hilarious job description. This dude is a “drilling fluid engineer,” which is, apparently, an actual thing. Zak likes to expose himself to wildlife while drinking coffee on his porch.

NEXT: #stopsayinghashtag

Robert, 30: Claims to have invented sign spinning, which does not seem like something that would really need to be “invented,” but what do I know? Likes to surf and skateboard with his one-eyed boxer.

Mike, 27: A dental student who has the good sense to realize that he’d be “at least 30 percent more attractive” if he had kept the British accent he had during his childhood in London.

Brandon, 26: Sad backstory number two: Dad split, mom had “addiction” issues. Today, he’s a “positive” guy who loves wakeboarding and fresh air.

Well, Team Bachelorette must subscribe to the theory that eight is enough, because just like that we’re done with the bachelor bios. The rest of you losers are just gonna have to meet America when you step out of the limo, I guess. The first dude up is Drew — who elicits an approving “Mmm-mmm!” from the Bachelorette — and next is Brooks, a 28-year-old with shaggy dark hair and sharp-looking teeth. Maybe he’s a werewolf. A guy named Brad follows; he asks Des to pull on his wishbone, and she obliges. Michael the 33-year-old federal prosecutor also pays homage to Desiree’s wishing well ice-breaker with Sean by fishing around in the dirty well water for her original penny so she can have a “do-over.” Alas all he gets for his trouble are wet hands, and Des must make her second wish with an imposter penny.

Kasey the advertising exec/cyber-stalker is next, and he informs Des that his Googling efforts have unearthed several “amazing hashtags” about her, but none are as fitting as the ones he’s created himself: #theperfectbachelorette, #marriagematerial, and #letthejourneybegin. And here’s one for you, pal: #140charactersofHellNo. Will comes bounding out of the limo with his high-five hand aloft, while Mikey T. assures Desiree that he’s an older brother too and so he understands why her brother was such an a-hole to Sean during the hometown date. Then Jonathan glides out of the limo and murmurs, “I brought you somethin’.'” He hands her an envelope which — I think we all know where this is going — contains an invitation. “Should you choose to forgo the remaining men, you may choose to proceed with Jonathan directly to the Fantasy Suite,” Des says, reading the card aloud. And she HATES it. “I’m not that kind of girl,” she retorts, her pageant smile tightening around the edges. You know, that was just a step or two away from being a not-terrible idea: If Jonathan had only cut the Fantasy Suite reference and invited Des to ditch the other dudes for a drink and a one-on-one chat, or something, he could have come across as clever rather than creepy. (#itputsthelotioninthebasket)

Speaking of bad ideas, Zak’s here, and he’s topless. “I know you had a lot invested in Sean, and I know he had great abs,” the caramel-colored suitor tells Desiree, as she struggles to hide a wince. “So I have to ask you… Will you accept these abs?” Good news, Zak: Next to Jonathan’s rude Fantasy Suite faux pas, your limo gag seems almost… quaint. Now go inside and increase the homoerotic tension of the room already!

NEXT: Brody for Bachelor in 2033! (Not really)

After James the burly salesman from Georgia gives Des an intense speech about loyalty, an ER doctor named Larry attempts to teach her a dance move — but the lesson is cut short when his suit snags one of the sparkleberries on Des’ dress. [Insert exaggerated riiiip sound effect here] “Ohhh-kay,” says the Bachelorette. Larry, you are dismissed. Desiree is far more impressed with Nick R.’s sleight-of-hand, in which he turns a flaming cocktail napkin into a white rose. Zack K.’s sneakers-with-a-tux look is completely overshadowed by the previous stunt, though Diego’s choice of attire — a full suit of armor, complete with limited mobility and vision — gets Des’ attention, in a there is no chance in hell that guy is getting a rose kind of way.

Good Lord, Chris, did you just say there are still ten more men to meet? At least the next dude, Chris, has a sense of humor: His proposal fake-out on bended knee (“Will you… mind if I tie my shoe?”) elicits the first genuine laugh from the Bachelorette all evening. Mike the dental student arrives wearing his white smock; even sadder is he thinks it makes him look like McDreamy. Once out of the limo, Robert sheds his tie in an effort to be all I’m-so-cazh, but Juan Pablo quickly one-ups him by arriving sans neckgear and oozing Venezuelan charm. Even his awkward attempt to teach Desiree how to say his name — “Say who. Juan. Juan Pablo. JuanPablo” — is somehow sexy… though maybe I’m just responding to the fact that his pockets are full of chocolate. Brandon roars up on his Overcompensation-mobile; Brian the banker’s most distinguishing characteristic is his soft blue jacket; and Micah’s self-designed suit of motley madness makes him look like the adult love child of Rick and Vyvyan from The Young Ones.

Dammit, we almost got all the way through introductions without some asshat pulling a poem out of his pocket. Thanks for ruining the streak, Nick M.! (Also, sir, waves in the ocean do not “flutter.”) Next we have Dan, who makes absolutely no impression, but perhaps that’s because he’s followed by an excruciatingly adorable little blonde boy named Brody in a tiny gray suit who toddles out of the limo clutching a yellow daisy. “Did I do everything?” he asks his dad Ben. “I gave her the flower.” My inner awwwwww was cut short, though, as soon as I remembered that Ben is the guy Team Bachelorette painted as this season’s King Douche in the mega-tease at the beginning of the episode. (The good news is, Brody will never lack for conversation starters with his therapist.)

At last it’s time for the night to begin. Nick R. gets the competition started by announcing to the room that he’s going to make Des “disappear” — which he does by pulling her outside for a drink. Nick’s trick is quickly trumped by Brandon, who interrupts and very efficiently drops a lot of information in the Bachelorette’s lap: His mom is seven-years sober, he chose meeting Des over attending his own birthday party, and he prays. (He also gives Desiree a coin his mother gave him, which is either very sweet or incredibly insensitive to his mother — I can’t decide.) Brooks, James, and Mikey take their shots next, but the first guy to score is Ben. The dude’s already got momentum thanks to his preternaturally cute kid, and once Des learns they share a mutual love of camping and road trips she can’t wait to give him the first rose.

NEXT: “We’re looking at, like, a very large love tank”

Naturally, Ben’s victory sends the rest of the guys into “panic mode,” Zak included. “I need to let her know I am 100 percent serious about this,” he tells Team Bachelorette while standing shirtless in a candlelit hallway. Naturally, he chooses to demonstrate said seriousness by stripping down to his briefs and jumping in the pool. (“Hashtag shrinkage!” yells Kasey, making what is probably his 47th “hashtag” joke of the night.) Unfortunately for Zak, his “splash” is short-lived, and the crowd quickly disperses back inside. “Thank you for that,” Des calls to him over her shoulder as another suitor leads her away. Eventually though, Des gives Zak an afterthought rose — either because she knew Team Bachelorette was going to make her keep him anyway, or because ever since she was a little girl she’s dreamed of marrying a man who could grate cheese on his midsection. Who can say?

Bryden earns a bud as well after telling Des about the boy he befriended during his deployment in Iraq, though she seems far more enamored of Juan Pablo (who? Juan), who she calls “a dream of a man.” Still, he walks away from their soccer game roseless, while Drew gets a boutonniere even after Des (jokingly) accuses him of checking out her rack. After waiting all night for one-on-one time, Larry squanders it, first by apologizing repeatedly for jeopardizing Des’ dress with his poorly-executed dip, and then by nearly nodding off during their chat.

In Lar’s defense, he’s not the only sounding slurry and somnambulant as the evening wears on (and on and on). “I am the kind of guy who does bold things,” mumbles Jonathan with a heavy-lidded gaze. “I just want to get her and me alone, and then I’m going to try and kis Desiree…on the mouth.” So he prepares a Fantasy Suite/kill room with candles and throw pillows, and then pounds out a few push-ups – presumably to make sure he looks as ripped as possible when the Bachelorette tears his clothes off in a frenzy of passion. Instead, though, Des rebuffs Jonathan’s second invitation and can barely bring herself to sit next to him for 90 seconds. The rejection only serves to make Johnny angry. “My mom says I’m good looking,” he complains to Team Bachelorette. “My love tank has not been depleted for years… We’re looking at, like, a very large love tank.”

You know the problem with a large love tank? When you fill it with booze and exhaustion, it’ll drive you straight across the border to Crazytown. Jonathan pulls Desiree aside yet again, and this time tries to drag her into the improvised Fantasy Suite — but finally, the Bachelorette has had enough. “You’re making me feel very uncomfortable,” she tells him. “Actually, I don’t even want to wait for the rose ceremony. I’m going to go ahead and ask you to leave.” Here’s hoping that Reject Van knows the way to the nearest psychiatric hospital.

NEXT: The first cut is the deepest

Clink clink clink! Harrison plays the evening-ending fanfare with his Butter Knife of Bad News and whisks Desiree away to prepare for the rose ceremony. So who will join Ben, Zak, Micahel G., Bryden, Nick M., and Drew in the “winners” circle? Brandon, Zack K., Will, Brooks, Juan Pablo, Brad, Kasey, James, Robert, Brian, Dan, Chris, and Mikey make the cut — and while I seriously couldn’t pick half of those guys out of a line-up, I’m not that surprised Des gave the boot to Diogo (suit of armor), Larry the doomed dipper, Nick R. the tiny tailor/magician, Micah with the mismatched suit, and Mike R. the accent-less dentist. Godspeed, “gentlemen.”

And with that, we’re off! Based on the super-tease, we’re in for a lot of Ben, boat trips, and bad language from James (who is kidding himself if he thinks they’d ever crown a Bachelor with such aggressive eyebrows). Thank God – this premiere was severely lacking in drama, so I’m glad to know lots of dysfunction awaits us. What about you, rose lovers — did you enjoy the first step of Desiree’s “journey”? Do you miss her bangs as much as I do? Will Kasey ever stop making “hashtag” jokes? Post your thoughts below! And be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s exclusive blog over on PopWatch before you go. If you need me, I’ll be on the couch, eating Venezuelan bon-bons. Those things are awesome.

Episode Recaps

The Bachelorette

Chris Harrison hosts the romantic reality competition series in which one single woman searches for her future husband amid a sea of studs. Will you accept this rose?
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