It’s another beautiful morning at Hummingbird Nest Ranch, and the remaining “couples” — Ryan and Natascha, Bri and Chris, Rudi and Matt, Jamie and Trevor, Sheridan and Julia, and Brandon and Savannah — are feeling great about their “relationships.” But we, the United States of Rose Lovers, know some shiz is about to go down, for two reasons: 1) Ryan just said “nothing can break that apart” about Brandon and Savannah’s relationship, and 2) Chris Harrison just showed up, ready to crack the whip.
“I know you’re probably expecting me to come in here, hand out new songs, and get you moving toward that next performance,” says Harrison. “That’s not going to happen.” Nope. Instead, it’s time for those couples who lack chemistry — you know who you are, Julia and Sheridan! — to face the figurative music. Tell ‘em, Chris: “You’re going to be going on dates, but it’s not going to be with who you think it’s going to be.” In other words, producers reaaaally wanted to figure out a way to make Julia go on a date with Brandon, and this was their solution.
Poor Sheridan. This guy knows he’s toast.
So, here’s the crazy-dates lineup: Jamie and Ryan, Chris and Rudi, Julia and Brandon. “If you feel after today that maybe you’re not in the best relationship,” says Harrison, “I want you to know that there is time… The next time I see you, I hope to see really strong, committed couples only.”
I almost feel bad for Jamie, Ryan, Chris, and Rudi – they’re just pawns in the producers’ evil-genius plan to make Julia reveal her true colors. Almost. As for the ones left behind… “I’m going to stay home and just trust that Brandon’s going to be respectful of me,” says Savannah. Oh, gurl. Those of us watching trust that this will be the moment your “relationship” with Brandon does the following:
Before Julia heads out with Brandon, she assures Sheridan that she feels “so, so good” about the status of their relationship. “I can’t imagine this changing anything,” she insists. “I feel like it’ll be good.” Sheridan is doubtful, as he should be: “Normally the girl goes for the [bleep], not the nice guy.” Truth!
Even though Rudi is the one going out on a date, she’s freaking out about what Matt will do while she’s away — perhaps because Natascha is intentionally cozying up with Matt to make Ryan jealous. “She was just being so flirty!” frets Rudi. “It just makes me sweat a little bit.” Though Natascha jokes about having a “ménage à trois” with Matt and Trevor, it looks like Matt is going to keep it in his pants (for now).
Things are predictably platonic on two of the three dates: Rudi and Chris jokingly spy on Hummingbird Nest Ranch with a pair of producer-supplied binoculars, while Jamie and Ryan have a polite but stiff chat. But guys… what are they wearing???
Ohhhh, they’re having a spa day! I sure hope Ryan takes off his gold pimp medallion before getting a seaweed wrap or whatever.
Now for the main event: Julia and Brandon. Naturally, producers have given them the most “romantic”-slash-opportunistic date: They’re going to be writing and performing a song together at L.A.’s iconic Roxy theater. And some poor musician named Joel Crouse has to help them. As poor Sheridan mopes around Hummingbird Manor (or whatever) writing a song about Julia — awww, it’s called “My Expense,” guys! — Julia and Brandon giggle and flirt and write a song about “their story.” Spoiler alert: It’s not called “Lying Liars Who Lie.”
“Performing with Brandon definitely is a moment where I realize that I’m falling for Brandon,” gushes Julia via voiceover, as we watch her make out with Brandon at the Roxy. “I want to end up with Brandon.” Duh, Julia. Duh x 1,000,000. Now both of you need to get your butts back to Hummingbird Manor (or whatever) and break the bad news to Sheridan and Savannah.
When Julia walks into the room, it’s pretty obvious to everyone assembled — Sheridan, Matt, Rudi, Trevor, and Jamie — that she does not come bearing good news.
“Something is not good,” sighs Rudi. “I’m feeling for Sheridan at the moment.” As she should be. From the moment Julia opens her mouth — with a disingenuous, “I’m sorry” — Sheridan knows he’s about to get dumped, and he’s in full “I am a rock/I am an island” mode.
“Whaddya need to know? Whaddya figure out?” he asks Julia icily. He knows the answer, but he wants to make her say it. And Julia has the audacity to pout. “I don’t know why you’re being so mean about it,” she whines. YES YOU DO, you psycho hosebeast.
“I don’t think I can do this with you,” whispers Julia through her fake tears.
“Then… I wish you the best with Brandon,” says Sheridan sadly. He pats Julia on the leg and gets up to leave. “You’re seriously just going to, like, walk away?” whines Julia. He’s all, What else would you have me do, woman? But behind his chilly façade, Sheridan is super bummed. “I’m laughing so that I don’t cry,” he tells Julia, before heading into the next room to say goodbye to the gang.
Fare thee well, hairy dude. Normally, I’d be wishing you luck on Paradise… but not this year. It’s probably for the best.
And now it’s Savannah’s turn to listen to some nonsense. She and Brandon retire to the Indian Wall Hanging room for the conversation — and at first, poor Savannah actually thinks it’s going to go well. “I trust him,” she says. “I actually see longevity here.” Rose lovers, do I need to tell you that Savannah’s misguided optimism does not last long?
“I feel like you’re 95 percent in this with me,” he tells Savannah. “But there’s a 5 percent that’s mysterious that scares the s--- outta me.” Okay, so Brandon’s way of telling Savannah that he’s dropping her for Julia is by blaming Savannah for not being “all in” with him? Somebody do a DNA test on this guy, because I’m pretty sure he’s 100 percent that douche-bag.
When Savannah tells Brandon that she wants to feel “chosen” by the man she’s in a relationship with, Brandon has the nerve to tell her she’s giving him “attitude.” Bitch, WHAT? Throw in the dismissive way Brandon says, “You deserve everything that you want, sweetie” and it’s clear that he and Julia really do deserve each other.
A clean break would be easiest, and kindest to Savannah, but Brandon has no interest in being kind. Dude just wants as much screen time as possible — even if it means being an asshat on national television. He follows Savannah into another room and tells her he wants to “fix” things between them. Dude, you just told her you still have feelings for Julia. Pick a goddamn side! “My choice is you,” he says. “I’m willing to make the decision now to work this out with you.” That’s clearly BS because Brandon says they can only move forward if Savannah trusts him “fully” — which is something he knows damn well she cannot do.
“I am not going to be a second choice!” Savannah snaps at him. “I don’t want to figure this out, Brandon. This is done for me.”
Fare thee well, Savannah. Normally, I’d be wishing you luck on Paradise… but again, not this year. It’s probably for the best.
As soon as Savannah leaves, Brandon tracks down Option B and starts filling her head with garbage, too. “I’m choosing to do this well and right with you,” he says. “I’m glad we’re going to move forward together.”
Blech. Also gross: People who put their dirty-ass shoes on the furniture.
Were you people raised in a barn? But I digress.
Harrison returns and informs the five remaining couples that they’ll be performing at The Novo in Los Angeles, and he sends them off to discover their new song assignments. And in case you needed more proof that Brandon is the literal worst, he says Pat Benatar’s classic 1984 power-ballad “We Belong” is “not [his] jam at all.” Dude, you can just eff right off.
Arrrgh, just when I thought Brandon couldn’t get any more obnoxious, he tops himself yet again! That morning, he and Julia join Ryan and Natascha in the Ranch’s coffee nook. Natascha jokingly tells Julia to put on some “earmuffs” (damn, I love Old School) and asks Brandon what he would have done if Savannah had said, “I’m in it to win it with you.” Look at this asshat’s answer!!!
WOW. “Brandon is a playa-playa,” scoffs Natascha. “I think Brandon needs to get his s--- together and pick a damn girl and stick to it.” Preach!
It’s performance time, rose lovers! Julia is feeling pretty good about her “connection” and “chemistry” with Brandon… until Natascha drops this bomb in the green room:
That’s right! Just before Julia is set to take the stage with her (new) man, Natascha decides to tell her that Brandon essentially said he would have stayed with Savannah if she let him. It’s cruel, it’s brutal, it’s calculating — and I absolutely LOVE it.
Julia is, in a word, chagrined. “I don’t really like this conversation,” she snaps. “It feels super, um, you know, not good.” Correct! And that, dear Julia, was Natascha’s intent. You reap what you hoe, honey!
“It feels so vindictive and dirty, I don’t even truly believe her,” huffs Julia, who so doesn’t believe Natascha that she storms right over to Brandon’s dressing room to confront him. Brandon responds the way you’d expect him to — he prevaricates — and Julia has no choice but to believe him when he says she has no reason to freak out.
And this week's judges are: Rachel Lindsay and “her husband, Brian,” singer-songwriter-producer Andy Grammer, and “true pop legend” Toni Braxton.
Matt and Rudi
Song: “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton
Judges’ verdict: Queen Toni likes it.
“It was fantastic, I loved it — but I wanted to be uncomfortable,” says Ms. Braxton. “I wanted to be in my seat like, ‘Okay, get a room!’ But I thought you guys were fantastic.”
Trevor and Jamie
Song: “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” by Meghan Trainor and John Legend
Judges’ verdict: Guess what? Jamie’s really nervous! And the judges can see it.
“About the first half, it was a lotta nerves, which then affected some of the actual notes,” says Mr. Andy Grammer. Rachel says she wishes Trevor would’ve matched Jamie’s “passion” in the performance, while Queen Toni urges Jamie to have more confidence in herself. Sorry, Ms. Braxton, but Jamie doesn’t “do” confidence.
Chris and Bri
Song: “Lover” by Taylor Swift
Judges’ verdict: We didn’t see too much of this performance (producers were too busy showing us Jamie’s backstage meltdown), so we’ll have to take the judges’ word for it. “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” raves Queen Toni. “I see love. I see a connection. I — woo!” Adds Rachel, “I’m not even a Swiftie, but I might be after hearing you guys sing this song.” Mr. Grammer says that Chris’s falsetto is “special.” To cap off this feelings-a-thon, Bri and Chris exchange their first “I love yous,” right there on stage in front of hundreds of strangers. (“How romantic!” says every attention addict everywhere.)
Brandon and Julia
Song: “We Belong” by Pat Benatar
Judges' verdict: Rachel’s whisper says it all, rose lovers.
“It seems a little disjointed as far as the connection is concerned,” says Rachel diplomatically, noting that it was “more like a karaoke performance.” Ouch. Queen Toni takes things a step further: “I thought they were having a fight, and she was trying to make up with you on stage… I just felt that there was some tension.” Double ouch.
Hey Sheridan, any thoughts you’d like to add?
Same, dude. Same.
Ryan and Natascha
Song: “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne
Judges' verdict: I still don’t buy these two as a couple at all, but the judges offer nothing but praise. “Your voice is unbelievable, my dear,” says Mr. Grammer. “I was really impressed by both of you.” Rachel calls their performance “fun, flirty, and sexy” — all while Julia seethes on the sidelines. “Natascha is a bad person,” she grouses. “What performer purposely throws off another performer? That was so unfair!”
All’s unfair in reality TV “love” and war, honey. Even so, Julia decides to confront Natascha after the show, right in front of everyone. “I just feel like, Natascha, what you did to me today, another performer should never do to someone,” she says through more fake tears. “It felt very vindictive and, quite frankly, dirty.” Her statuesque blonde rival is unfazed. “I didn’t it mean to hurt you in any way,” says Natascha flatly. “However you feel is however you feel… Tonight, right now, it’s not about you.”
ICE COLD. (And true.) All rightie, folks, it’s that time: Rose ceremony roll-call!
The “judges” have decided that the “couples” moving forward are… Bri and Chris, Rudi and Matt, Natascha and Ryan, and Jamie and Trevor. SUCK IT JULIA AND BRANDON! Hope you enjoyed your short-lived stint as Bachelor Nation villains.
“I wish I could go back and choose Sheridan,” sighs Julia. Welp, you can’t! And in this case, I’m actually glad there’s (probably) no Paradise this summer — no more screen time for either of you!
Only two more episodes left, rose lovers. Who (if anyone) are you rooting for? Is Natascha evil or just an evil genius? And do you think Matt got splinters from doing pull-ups from that wooden beam? Post your thoughts below!