The Bachelorette recap: Fantasy Suites vs. reality
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Color me actually surprised, rose lovers! Brendan gave himself the boot? Ben is back? Producers are still trying to make that gross "body-paint date" idea happen? The last segment of Tayshia's Bachelorette "journey" is off to a nutty start.
We begin with the guys in their holding pen, chatting awkwardly about how they're all about to have sex with the same woman. "It's definitely getting harder being around you guys," says Zac with a weak smile. "It's just a strange dynamic at this point," agrees Brendan. In a bit of foreshadowing, Brendan admits to being nervous about proposing since his last divorce. Notes Zac, "I don't think there's anybody that wants to stack divorces." Damn, bro! Way to neg.
Oh, look! JoJo is back to sit with Tayshia in front of a tray of carbs that neither of them will touch!
Moving on. Chris Harrison arrives to fill the guys in on how Fantasy Suite week works (LOL) and remind them that this is their last chance to have all the important conversations they need to have before it's time to "get down on one knee and propose." Oh man, poor Brendan looks legitimately terrified, doesn't he?
"So if you're really not ready for an engagement," says the host, "that's something you need to realize real quick." Hear that, Brendan? At least you have another day or two to figure things out, because Ivan gets the first overnight date. He, Brendan, and Zac sit in awkward silence for a minute before Ivan heads out to get ready. "Ivan's a good dude," says Zac. "I would let my sister date him. I don't know how I feel about my girlfriend dating him." At least he has a sense of humor about things… even if he doesn't realize that his sister doesn't need his permission to date anyone.
Fantasy Suite date No. 1
You've gotta feel for producers at this point, trying to come up with date activities that don't require any travel and few outside participants. For Ivan and Tayshia's day date, they've gone back to the Guinness World Records well.
So, just like Sean and Leslie, and Evan and Carly, and many others, Ivan and Tayshia are going to attempt to break a kissing record — this time while sitting in an ice bath. The best part about this whole thing, though, is that Bachelor secret weapon Big Paulie gets to join Chris Harrison in the color commentary booth!
"Paulie, you were an orphan boy that was found on a glacier. You are no stranger to ice and ice baths," says Harrison. "What is the secret to getting through this?" (I'm pretty sure none of that is true, but then again, who knows?) Paulie says Tayshia and Ivan need to accept that their body parts are going to start "falling off slowly," and they'll be fine.
Eventually, Tayshia and Ivan start synchronizing their breathing, and they're able to calm down enough to make it more than a minute past the 5:16 world record. Congrats, you too! Here's hoping the ice bath doesn't have a "devastating" effect on Ivan's performance in the Fantasy Suite, as Paulie predicted.
At dinner, Tayshia and Ivan congratulate themselves on breaking a record, and reminisce about their emotional first one-on-one date. But is Ivan ready to drop the L-bomb? "It's hard for me to, like, really show my feelings," he says. "But I probably started falling in love with you a couple of weeks ago… Tayshia, I am undoubtedly falling in love with you right now." And she LOVES it, of course. "I definitely have been falling for you, too," says the Bachelorette, before pulling out the Fantasy Suite card from under the placemat.
In this case, though, their destination is less "Suite" than "Airstream."
Enjoy your tin can, you lovebirds!
After a night spent having conversations both "silly" and "serious" (including about religion and "future goals," says Tayshia), Ivan bids the Bachelorette farewell and heads back to the guys' suite. Well, this isn't awkward at all.
"It was a great night. Had a ton of fun," Ivan says, as Zac and Brendan slowly die inside. But now it's Ivan's turn to spiral, because Zac just left for his overnight date.
Fantasy Suite date No. 2
The date card said, "Let's explore each other." If that sounds cheesy in theory, in practice it's even worse.
Yep, it's the old "let's paint with our bodies" date — last seen, I believe, during season 3 of Bachelor in Paradise. Of course, Tayshia and Zac's artistic endeavor devolves into a very messy make-out session. These two clearly have chemistry, but I appreciate the fact that Zac never takes anything for granted. Before the date, he predicted having a great overnight with Tayshia "if that's offered to me," and after the paint date he says, "I can only speak for myself and tell you that I'm falling in love with the girl. I can't speak for her." Correct!
That night, Zac knows it's time to "stop being a jackass" and tell Tayshia how he feels. At dinner, they make goo-goo eyes at each other and talk about their first kiss. Tayshia wants to know why Zac told his mother that he doesn't want kids, and he explains that while he used to tell himself that "lie," now he knows he does want to be a dad. Does she buy it? I think so… but any doubts Tayshia may have disappear once Zac makes this declaration: "Tayshia, I think it's — I don't think, I know that I love you."
The Bachelorette is overcome with emotion. And then this happens:
"I've, like, known that I love you, though," gushes Tayshia. "I don't think I've ever felt this way before." Welp, okay then. Is it game over, rose lovers? Of course, Zac says yes to the Fantasy Suite — an actual hotel room this time — and pretty soon they're both sprawled out on the bed making out. Okay, camera crew, time to make yourself scarce!
The good times continue the next morning, as Zac and Tayshia giggle and dance on the bed together. They exchange a few more "I love yous" and then part ways. I'll admit, I thought Tayshia was just going to cancel the date with Brendan because she seems so all-in on Zac, but the final one-on-one is still a go. "Brendan's had my heart since day one," she says. "It's been hard to navigate the fact that you can love more than one person at one time." Huh. Welp, on to the next!
Fantasy Suite date No. 3
Before Brendan leaves for his date, producers make him sit with Ivan and wait for Zac to return from his overnight. Once Zac is back, the guys sit in awkward silence for a bit and then make polite conversation until it's time for Brendan to head out.
Because Brendan is the most hesitant to propose — with good reason! — producers have put together the most uncomfortable date for him possible. Please welcome…
You didn't think Neil Lane was going to let his one and only appearance this season be via FaceTime on Chris Harrison's phone, did you? The man hands out free rings on this show, and dammit, he's gonna get his screen time! Brendan clearly has no idea who this dude is, so Tayshia has to explain it to him: "Neil is a huge part of the Bachelor franchise."
The jeweler starts draping Tayshia with diamond bracelets and earrings, while Brendan looks on. Gee, what a fun date this is turning out to be for him! "A girl can never have too many diamonds, right?" coos the Bachelorette. That's when Neil breaks out the engagement rings and wedding bands. As the jeweler goes on and on about how his engagement bands are handmade ("not machine-made!") Brendan sweats, literally and figuratively. "I've been here before, I've looked at rings before," he says. "But when I propose to someone for the second time, that person is gonna be my wife for the rest of my life… Am I ready to give Tayshia the commitment of forever? I don't know."
Man, as if this date couldn't suck any more for Brendan, now he has to sit there while Neil Lane regales them with tales of his time on the Bachelor franchise.
It doesn't take long for Tayshia to figure out that Brendan is not having a great time. "I just can't read him!" she moans. "I don't know where he's at." The Bachelorette decides to let him know how she feels at dinner, just in case that's what's holding him back. "You were my first one-on-one," she says. "And I was like, 'I could totally see myself marrying him at the end of this.' And that made me so excited." Now, however, she's "stressed" about their relationship, because she doesn't know if he feels the same way.
So how does Brendan feel? It's complicated. "This has been challenging the past couple of days," he says, before pausing to take a deep breath. "I want a wife and kids and a family more than anything on the face of this earth… but there's a big part of me that's still broken. There's a big part of me that still needs time to heal."
Not to sound like Bennett or anything, but hooray for emotional intelligence! It definitely must not have been easy for Brendan to come to this realization about himself and then stick to it — especially in the face of a production machine that focuses solely on proposals.
Tayshia is devastated. Brendan is devastated. I'm sure Big Paulie, wherever he is at this moment, is also devastated. "As much as I, like, would love to be with you at the end of all this, if you're not ready that's not something I'm going to push you to do," says the Bachelorette. "I've already fought for someone to try and love me once — I'm not going to do it again."
They begin the long walk to the Reject SUV, as Tayshia laments this turn of events via voiceover. "I really thought I was going to be with him," she says. "I really thought I was going to end up with Brendan." (Girl, what? Yesterday you told Zac you love him! What is happening?) Both Brendan and Tayshia are in tears as they say goodbye in the driveway. "Thank you Tayshia," says Brendan, giving her a kiss on the cheek. "God bless you, okay?"
Gah, that was brutal! As Tayshia weeps in her pretty silver dress, I tried yelling "IF HE'S THE ONE IT'S OKAY TO DATE HIM WITHOUT GETTING ENGAGED!" through the screen, but I don't think she heard me.
Oh good, more "girl talk."
Former Bachelorette and frequent franchise critic Rachel Lindsay is here to give Tayshia some moral support before the rose ceremony. Tayshia fills her in on everything that went down with Brendan, Ben, and her final two, Zac and Ivan. Welp, that was fun! (Also, the carbs were ignored once again.)
Wait, I'm sorry, what is Ivan wearing to the rose ceremony? Is that a blazer over a… short-sleeved mock turtleneck???
My God, where does anyone even procure a short-sleeved mock turtleneck? And can we please have the law shut that store down?
Alas, we'll have to put a pin in this discussion, because look who's back!
Having returned to LaQuinta (or maybe he never left?), Ben knocks on Chris Harrison's door and says he just wants a chance to tell Tayshia how he feels about her. "I honestly don't even know if I'm, like, asking to be back in her life," he tells Harrison. "I'm in love with Tayshia, and I need to tell her."
Okay, Ben, but please wait until tonight, just before Tayshia's heading out to give away her final two roses to Zac and Ivan. I feel like that timing will be just perfect. Doesn't she look pleased?
Looks like someone's going to need a bigger glass of wine. "Of course," she whispers to herself as she and Ben walk to the couch. They exchange uncomfortable pleasantries for a few seconds, and then Ben dives right in. "The feelings that I've had for you… I just didn't know what it was, but I'm in love with you," he says. "I blew it by not telling you in the moment."
Once again, Tayshia is speechless. This is the second time a dude she thought she sent home has showed up at her room to profess his love. You can't blame her for being more than a little flummoxed, frustrated, and confused.
"I'm going to need a minute, okay?" says the Bachelorette, before shutting herself in another room with a producer. "What?" she gasps, as a camera films her through the blinds. "I just want to cry. I don't know what to do!"
Do what we're all going to do — wait until tomorrow night! From the preview, it looks as though Ben enters into the mix with a "last chance" date along with Zac and Ivan, and it also looks like he may pick out an engagement ring too… but that could just be clever editing. So before we sign off, rose lovers, hit me with your hot takes. Does Ben stand a chance? Do you think Tayshia should have encouraged Brendan to stay, even if he wasn't ready to propose? And how can "red and black" be someone's favorite color? Post your thoughts below!
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