The Bachelorette Recap: Power Plays

Oh, no. Oh, no no no no no. This isn’t right. Everything is wrong and bad and everyone is stressed out. What happened to a fun night out with the gals?? What happened to a girls’ trip to Cabo?! I thought we were all going to order one of those cocktails where you pour the drink over cotton candy and post a boomerang on our Insta stories! We. Bought. Matching. Rompers. What happened to Girlie Season?

This is not the Girlie Season I was promised. This is the part of the girls’ trip when we all realize that we stayed one day too long. We’ve all been zip-lining. We’ve done the party boat. Everyone has made out with a waiter at Mermaids Beach Club, and the only thing left to do is stare into the abyss that is our own soul and find ourselves wanting. When the sun has risen and Paul or whatever his name is has left the villa, the only thing you have left is your hangover and a $350 pending charge from Mermaids Beach Club.


I’m not saying that this episode of The Bachelorette is the same emotional experience as a friendship-ending fight breaking out over the hotel-room hair dryer on day six of a seven-day vacation. And unlike that fateful trip to Cabo, I do not regret starting this journey with these women. What I am saying is things got dark and things are getting weird. But ultimately, I’m thankful that we have two leads who have developed enough of a sense of self to navigate the unknown. This show and this crop of men seem very invested in doing everything they can to throw this process into utter chaos, but Gabby and Rachel are going to sit down, assess, and fight through it.

Let’s get to it.

There is a lot we could talk about, but one thing looms large in this episode: the systematic destruction of Gabby’s and Rachel’s well-being. At each fucking turn, SOME MAN is appearing out of nowhere to snatch a rose away or tell them that they’re “rough around the edge.” Who the fuck does every man involved in this process think they fucking are???

It’s morning in Bachelorette Valley, and Gabby and Rachel do not even know the fresh hell that awaits them. They decide that this is the week to take back their power and force the men to decide. Sitting at home on my couch, I thought of the many ways that production could cause this to backfire. Don’t ask for the men to pick a side when this television program once let the men vote on whom they wanted the Bachelorette to be. But ABC didn’t have to resort to such things when these men have their voices and opinions to wear down our two historic Bachelorettes.

Jesse comes in with a real “cool dad just setting the table for prom weekend” energy to tell the men there will be two one-on-one dates and an absolutely massive group date. Zach gets the first one-on-one date with Rachel, and they show up to an undisclosed location in Beverly Hills to meet Karamo! I’m not sure what synergy and vertical product integration is happening on my screen, but Karamo’s got a pep in his step for Rachel and her love story! Okay, sure! Karamo says that Rachel reminds him of an Old Hollywood movie star, so he’s going to give them a glamorous Hollywood date at a movie premiere. I immediately started racking my brain for what new releases Warner Bros. had in the spring and came up empty, and so did the show.

While Rachel is away, Gabby shows up to get some extra time with the contesticles. She’s wearing her most distressed jean shorts and is ready to party, and the guys are ready to … show each other their finest linen camp shirts. Gabby makes the mistake of knowing what football is, which prompts the men to stand around and play catch while an actual NFL cheerleader/ICU nurse stands around waiting for one of them to pick her up and kiss her. How do the men fuck this up? On Michelle’s season, the men kept shoving her out of the dance-battle circle on the sleepover date because they were having so much fun with each other. There is a hot woman who wants to make out with you. DO THAT. One of my first relationships was long distance, and when I’d go visit my boyfriend, he’d spend half our time together forcing me to watch QI. Our time is limited. My youth is dwindling. How have you fucked this up?? I relate to Gabby in this moment of having her mental stability worn down by a bunch of guys in Express resort wear.

Meanwhile, Rachel’s one-on-one date continues. Karamo’s contributions just underscore how hard-working Bobby is on Queer Eye. They should have flown Bobby in to have him build Rachel and Zach a duplex in an afternoon. It’s time for a getting-dressed montage and the film premiere. There are six photographers and the smallest step-and-repeat I’ve ever laid eyes on. I literally wrote in my notes, “This is the fakest shit I’ve ever seen in my life.” It’s time for the film Me & You, and bitch, I guess. It’s home videos and photos from Rachel and Zach because there isn’t enough footage to cobble together a montage of their love. After the film, Zach cries about how much he loves his mom, and he tells Rachel that his dad wanted to be a pilot so he’d take them to an airport to watch planes take off. Rachel loses her goddamn mind. I used to do that with my dad!!! Girl, marry him now. It’s not going to get any better from here. Zach gets the rose.

The next date card has been handed out offscreen, and it’s time for Erich and his fucked-up haircut to shine! Gabby stops by the mansion to pick him up with America’s Grandpa, Grandpa John!!! Gabby tells him that these are all her boyfriends and he asks repeatedly for a date. Get this old man some tail. I’m sure he’s been in a war. He deserves it.

They head to somewhere for a sound bath in a Fyre Fest tent. Gabby’s intention is “Moving forward in this journey with confidence, despite any fears I may have.” Erich’s intention is to be in the moment, and Grandpa John is asleep under a lil’ blankie. Afterward they go bowling and find some lady named Julie for Grandpa John to bowl with. Gabby and Erich make out while the septuagenarians entertain themselves. Gabby is really excited about Erich, and I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but she keeps saying that she feels so safe with him and he’s doing so much to be patient with her. The only thing we see him do is wait to speak until she’s finished speaking. Let us see that chemistry!

At the evening portion of the date, Erich talking about his parents’ marriage brings up Gabby’s pain caused by her mother. Gabby ends up saying that maybe she’ll never know a mother’s love and she’ll miss it. Oh. Oh, Gabby. This is hard. This is clearly a very important part of her life and she describes it as key to the development of her personality and self-reliance. But in this moment of fear and doubt, she sees her relationship with her mother as something too complicated and seems to think that it makes her hard to love. Gabby has created this story that she’s so different from the other Bachelorettes and the men are going to want Rachel because she’s easier to love and understand. Gabby also says that because of her past, she loves deeply and intensely. If you’re someone who loves deeply, not having the effort and intensity returned by your partner can feel like a thousand little rejections every minute. I really feel for Gabby in this moment, because when you’ve been putting it all away and you suddenly find yourself getting more emotional than you planned, it can feel like you’re out of control. Erich tells her that he’ll be open and honest with her and he wants to give her whatever she wants from him. Gabby sits in his lap and makes out with him. If she could, she’d slice him open and crawl inside him to get even cuddlier. He gets the rose.

Time for the group date! Tell me, Quincey, what is it?

“The biggest group date in Bachelor Nation history!”

That’s it, Quincey.

“The biggest group date in Bachelor Nation history!”

You … you already said that.

“The biggest group date in Bachelor Nation history!”

Someone get Quincey some water.

The activity is … who gives a shit? We gotta get to the afterparty, where this whole fucking thing comes off the rails. Gabby is so excited going into the afterparty and ready to make some great connections with the guys. Rachel is off making out with everyone, and she hopes that Gabby is having the same fun that she’s having. Cursed words.

Gabby sits down with Tyler and he tells her that he has a better connection with Rachel. Gabby is excited and wants him to tell Rachel! That’s cute. Then she sits down with Hayden. This Josh Peck–looking fuck. He keeps saying that his “values” line up with Rachel and that he loves Gabby’s whole bubbly, goofy thing but she’s rough around the edges. FUCK. OFF. Then Gabby sits down with Jacob, who tells her that if she were the only Bachelorette, he’d leave because he’s looking for something for the rest of his life. She’s smokin’, though. DOUBLE. FUCK. OFF. It’s not that they’re not attracted to or interested in Gabby, it’s that they decided to basically call her a silly cheap floozy on their way to Rachel. No one wanted a fucking explanation. Gabby immediately goes into a shame spiral. This is hitting her in the exact spot that she carries all this other hurt and pain.

She sits down with Rachel to hand out the group-date roses. Rachel gives hers to Aven, and Gabby says she’s not going to give one out. Rachel is so upset and offended on Gabby’s behalf. Rachel’s faces are rivaling Justin’s from Katie’s season. They talk to each other once the cocktail party is over and Rachel makes sure to ask “Did you talk to Jason?” What a good friend. When Rachel asks Gabby if either of them should address it, Gabby says “I’m here to find a lifelong partner. Not teach dudes how to act.” Yes. Correct. Put it on a tote bag.

The time has come for Rachel and Gabby to take a stand. In screenwriting, this is called “The Climax.” Jesse comes in with a whole bunch of new rules no one’s ever heard of before and says they’re skipping the cocktail party and going to a dual rose ceremony. Pick a side, you dumb-dumbs. Everyone except Logan knows what they’re going to do, apparently. Also, Rachel is worried that someone is going to reject Gabby’s rose. This is what we call “irony.”

Rachel gives her first roses to Tino and Logan and they accept. Gabby gives roses to Nate and Johnny. No problem. Rachel then goes to give a rose to Termayne, a man I’ve literally never seen before. He says he doesn’t want to be the first declined rose of the night but he would just like to be friends with Rachel. Then he turns and looks expectantly at Gabby. It doesn’t work this way, buddy. (Wait, Jesse. Does it work this way?? You just made up all these rules.) It’s entirely bonkers that the men still think they get to send a rose back like a cold entrée at the Cheesecake Factory and pick something else off the Skinnylicious menu.

Then Jesse takes Rachel’s rose away. What is happening!!! Termayne is realizing that this gambit might not pay off as he gets back in line.

Gabby gives her next rose to Spencer and Rachel calls up Alec. GODDAMN IT. Gabby gives a rose to Jason, Mario, Kirk, and Quincey. Rachel gives one to Tyler, Jordan, and Ethan. Okay, okay. Rachel then gives one to Meatball, and he turns it down. You Winnetka piece of garbage! You poured sauce on yourself in public, you should be happy that anyone can still look at you in a sexual way.

While this whole nightmare is unfolding, the men who have received roses have been sent out of the room into two different parts of the mansion to watch through the window and attempt to read lips. Thrilling cinema.

Rachel and Gabby exit the rose ceremony room full of a bunch of weirdos who think they’re in charge of this experience. Gabby and Rachel are pissed that the men have tried to wrestle back control once again. Gabby tries to tell Rachel that she knows how she feels and Rachel insists that this is worse because this was in public. Rachel is right. This is horrible. Their last roses go to Michael (WHO???) and Hayden. HAYDEN??? This guy sucks! Send him home!!

And that’s it for this awful rose ceremony. Wait … who is that hiding in the bushes? MEATBALL!!!!!

The Bachelorette Recap: Power Plays

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