A lie detector test brings up some uncomfortable truths about the guys this week on 'The Bachelorette.'

By Kristen Baldwin
December 08, 2020 at 10:00 PM EST
Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

What an emotional week on The Bachelorette, rose lovers! A two-on-one date, a lie detector test, more heart-wrenching backstories, and this very avant-garde remake of The Elephant Man.

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It was a lot. Let’s recap!

We begin where we left off: Bennett versus Noah versus Tayshia’s ever-waning patience. She’s annoyed with the “teenage boy drama” between these two (allegedly) grown-ass men, and she’s also irked that Bennett is questioning her “integrity” by criticizing Noah. (Still don’t get that reasoning, but hey, it’s her show.)

Though last week ended with a “what’s in the box???” cliffhanger, Tayshia doesn’t seem that interested once Bennett informs her that it was a gift he gave to Noah. “Okay,” she sighs. “Bennett, do you want to go talk?”

The long and the short of their “private” conversation is this: Tayshia is insulted by Bennett’s “zero-percent chance” comments to Noah. “You’re saying that I’m not capable of making my own decisions,” she tells him. He protests and tries to explain what he really meant — dear God, rose lovers, how I cringed when he started mansplaining “the four competencies of EQ” — but the Bachelorette is 1-800-over-it.   

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All Noah needs to do, meanwhile, is tell Tayshia about Bennett’s condescending “gift.” Noah even tears up a little bit, because he’s just so very upset about the prospect of Tayshia winding up with a snob like Harvard McSnootyPants. I think we all know where this is going, rose lovers.

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Bennett is truly stunned. “Is this really goodbye?” he asks Tayshia as she walks him to the Reject SUV. “I’m really shocked.” Sorry, buddy. Perhaps the Harvard Business Review can publish a special “On Getting Publicly Dumped” edition just for you. (Also, if Paradise happens, I think there’s a zero percent chance that we won’t see you.)

Back at the holding pen, Noah smugly prepares for a happy rose reunion with Tayshia.

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Not so fast, junior! When the Bachelorette walks back into the room, she lets Noah know that he is absolutely not off the hook. “No, don’t be smiling,” she says. “That wasn’t, like, a victory for you by any means… I’m not going to give you this rose right now, either.” Oh, snap! With a brusque, “I guess I’ll see you later,” Tayshia leaves Noah to think about what he’s done.

At last, it’s time for the official pre-rose ceremony cocktail party. “Hometowns are around the corner,” notes Tayshia, who is definitely worried that Noah isn’t ready for marriage (duh). But what about the other guys?

Riley steps up first, pulling the Bachelorette aside for a surprise. “Today is actually our one-week anniversary of being boyfriend and girlfriend,” he announces, before sitting her down for the tiniest piece of cake.

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Gah, could this woman’s smile be any more perfect? Where are her toothpaste endorsement deals?

Zac brings Tayshia a framed photo from their “wedding shoot,” and then they make out. This is followed by more make-out action with Ben and Brendan. As for Noah, he does not get any more time with the Bachelorette before JoJo walks in carrying the Butter Knife of Bad News. (I don’t think she knows how to use it, though, because she holds it next to the champagne flute rather than tink-tink-tinking it against the glass.)

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Noah isn’t the only one who’s worried. Ed is “tired” and “frustrated” about his lack of one-on-one time with Tayshia, and Ivan is definitely nervous when he sees there are only five roses on the table. Rose ceremony roll call: Brendan, Riley, Blake, Ivan, and Noah (sigh) join Ben and Zac in the Circle of Safety — meaning we must say goodbye to Ed, Demar, and Spencer. (It is also important to note that Team Bachelorette did not have JoJo come in to make the “final rose tonight” announcement, because only our Bachelor Nation overlord Chris Harrison is allowed to utter those sacred words.)

Anyhow, goodbye Demar, Ed, and Spencer. Especially you, Demar. Perhaps we’ll see you in Paradise.

The next morning, JoJo shows up with a date card and a bombshell: “Next week is Hometown Week. Tayshia will be meeting your families.” Does this mean that the moms and dads etc. are already quarantining somewhere inside the Bachelorette bubble? Not sure, but Zac is absolutely overwhelmed by the prospect of introducing Tayshia to his relatives. “My family’s everything,” he says, tearing up. “My mom and dad are my heroes, so that makes it really real for me.” As we learned last week, Zac’s family helped him overcome an addiction and depression spiral. And now I’m tearing up. Darn you, Zac! Darn you, show!

Okay, so Ben gets the first one-on-one date of the episode. He left the room to “go get ready” after JoJo dropped off the date card… and this is what he came up with.

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Dude, what? Jeans and a t-shirt the color of sidewalk pavement? Why didn’t he just wear the Henley he had on before? I will never understand these guys. Though Tayshia is “excited” about Ben, she’s “still struggling to see who he really is.” (He’s a guy who wears a gravel-gray t-shirt to a date, that’s who!)

Today’s date is… an electric-scooter scavenger hunt! (Hey, there’s only so much producers can do. It’s a bubble!) A few highlights: Tayshia apparently doesn’t know anything about tennis, because she was stumped by the first riddle: “Find me a place where the score is love.” Ben is so worried about getting his jeans wet that he takes them off before climbing into the fountain to retrieve a clue. And if you thought “coronavirus piñata” was not a thing, you were wrong!

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Eventually, Ben and Tayshia make it to the “amazing oasis” that JoJo promised them… and it appears to be a bench outside the LaQuinta spa. I would tell you what they talked about while sitting at said bench, but I was so mesmerized by Ben’s clavicles that I didn’t hear a single word.

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Good God, those are HUGE.

Going into the dinner portion of the date, Tayshia says once again that she’s “yet to see who [Ben] really is.” She also feels like Ben is trying to “display this perfect image” of himself, so it’s important that he Opens Up™ during dinner. So does he? Here’s the short answer:

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Correct me if I’m wrong, rose lovers, but I think this is the first time the Bachelor franchise has ever featured a PSA about suicide — and I’m all for it. (RIP, Gia. 😢) And yes, this card ran after Ben’s conversation with Tayshia because he talked honestly about a very “rough” time after leaving the Army in 2018. “I ended up breaking my back pretty bad. I’m 26 years old and I can barely walk up the steps,” he recalls. “I was living in a city that was too expensive for me and I was completely lost. My life was very dark, and I didn’t know how to say that I needed things.” Here Ben pauses for a minute, and then decides to “go deep” with Tayshia: “I had two failed suicide attempts in 2018 and 2019.”

Fortunately, Ben had the love and support of his sister, which he says saved his life — though he never told her about his suicide attempts. (“I guess she’ll know now,” he says ruefully.) At the time, explains Ben, he “didn’t want to burden anybody” with his problems — but now, after “intentional” and “aggressive” therapy, Ben says he’s “okay. And that’s pretty cool.” Yes it is, sir! Now enjoy that date rose.

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The second “private” concert of the season is by a young man named Adam Hambrick. It goes on way too long… so long, in fact, that by the end Tayshia seems to have made her final choice. “I truly love Ben,” she says. Is that seriously what she said, rose lovers? I rewound it like three times, and it actually sounds like she said, “I’ve truly love Ben,” but that’s not English. What is happening? Perhaps it’s a Frankenbite, or perhaps I need my ears checked.

On to the group date! Zac, Brendan, Ivan, Noah, and Riley are a bit on edge because they know the group date rose means Tayshia will be meeting their families. But first, they have to get through this:

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That’s right, rose lovers. It’s the good old lie-detector date! Will Tayshia find out, as Andi did in season 10 of The Bachelorette, that one of her guys doesn’t wash his hands after using the bathroom? Let’s hope not! (Also, this contraption looks like something the Bachelor Interns found at Party City, so I think we should all take the results of this “polygraph test” with a large helping of salt.)

Tayshia goes first, and of course, she passes — though the “polygraph” flashes an orange light for “inconclusive” when Tayshia says she does not regret sending anyone home. The first “lie” detected is harmless — Noah does miss his mustache despite saying he doesn’t — but then things get more serious. Brendan says he’s ready to meet Tayshia’s family and have her meet his, but the “polygraph” flashes orange for inconclusive. Zac doesn’t even try to lie when JoJo asks if he’s ever cheated on someone (he has), and Tayshia does NOT love it. (“I feel like the saying is true: Once a cheater, always a cheater,” she says.) And a simple question — “What is your name?” — elicits a red-light “lie” response from Riley. (More on that in a bit.)

The Bachelorette’s first order of business at the cocktail party is to pull Zac aside and inform him that she has a zero-tolerance policy about cheating. “That’s basically why my marriage ended,” she says. “I will not date a cheater.” Can Zac dig himself out of this hole? Here’s his explanation: When he was dating his first girlfriend, he met another girl and French kissed her at the Bowl-a-rama. When was this, you ask? In sixth grade, which would make Zac around 11 years old at the time. Tayshia is both relieved and annoyed. “Are you joking?” she says, swatting Zac playfully. “You really scared me.” Phew. Looks like Zac is still in the running to be America’s next top husband. He and Tayshia exchange “I’m falling for yous,” and then smooch.

Next in the hot seat is Brendan, who has to explain his “inconclusive” answers about meeting Tayshia’s family and vice versa. “Proposing to someone again… I want it to be the last time I ever do that,” says Brendan, who does not want to put his family through another failed marriage. Tayshia, being divorced herself, understands his point of view.

Poor Riley is so stressed out about his polygraph “lie” that he breaks down in tears before sitting down with Tayshia during the cocktail party. “If she’s going to meet my family,” he says, “I have to be able to share this type of stuff.” Correct, sir! You can do it! Stay strong! (Can you tell I really like Riley, rose lovers?) The story behind Riley’s name is this: Originally, he was named Dwayne Henderson Jr., after his father. For the first 22 years of his life, Riley and his dad had a great relationship. As he got older, though, he learned more about his parents’ relationship, and that not everything his dad told him about his mom was true. They had a “falling out,” and eventually Riley decided that it was time to “start from scratch.” So he legally changed his name, with his mother by his side in the courtroom.

Darn you, show! Am I tearing up again? “You’ve done nothing wrong,” says Tayshia. “There’s nothing to hide… And you’re stronger than hell.”

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It’s decision time. Who will get the date rose, and the first official “hometown” date? Psych! The answer is no one… yet! “I feel like I learned so much about every single one of you,” says Tayshia. “I don’t want to give out a rose just to give out a rose… I think I just need a little bit more time as to who to give this to.”

But it’s not just the guys who are going to have to wait for an answer. Just when you thought the next scene would be a rose ceremony, this shows up on our screens:

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Oh, FFS Bennett. Didn’t Harvard teach you anything about losing with dignity? The Bachelorette is so startled she almost gets knocked over by the gate as it closes behind her. Unlike Bennett, Tayshia knows how to handle things graciously, so she invites him inside to say his piece. “I spent all day going over and over in my head our parting,” he says. “I’m so sorry. I’m so, so, so sorry for making you think I questioned your integrity… I never would.” Bennett says their goodbye was so “surreal” that he wasn’t able to tell her the way he really feels: “I realized in that moment that I love you.” If you found yourself screaming “NO!” at the TV upon hearing this, you are not alone. Tayshia is equally uncomfortable.

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She’s silent for a full 15 seconds (yes, I counted) before finally declaring herself “speechless.” Bennett insists he does not expect an immediate answer — he just wants another chance. After some hesitation, Tayshia says she needs the night to think about it, and she sends Bennett off without a kiss. (“Nice try,” she quips when he leans in for a smooch.)

So what does this mean? Is it possible that Bennett’s big declaration will put him back in the running? “I’m so confused,” sighs Tayshia. “If I ask Bennett to come back, I don’t know how the guys would react.” Oh, I can answer that: Poorly. They will react poorly. Don’t believe me? Look at Zac’s face in the preview:

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Does he look happy? He does not. I’m sure we’ll hear all about it next week when Team Bachelorette blesses us with episodes on Monday and Tuesday. (RIP my brain.) Until then, rose lovers, hit me with your hot takes. How long do you think Bennett’s second chance will last? Is Ben the one to beat now? And am I hallucinating, or did Ed really just admit to getting Botox every three months? Post your thoughts below!

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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