A 'Bachelorette' recap: All You Need Is Love (Also, Conch)

A 'Bachelorette' recap: All You Need Is Love (Also, Conch)

Ah, yes, The Bachelorette’s highly anticipated relationship progression is finally in full swing:

  1. start as Stone-Cold Strangers…

  2. quickly progress to Casual Polygamists…

  3. then, of course: I'm Falling 4 U…

  4. not to be confused with the much more definitive I'm Falling in Love with You…

  5. and this week we’re finally rounding home into Tell Me You’re Full-On In Love with Me — Do NOT expect it return — Or You're Outta Here Dummy, I'M THE BOSS!!!

And eventually, we have the grand slam to look forward to. As all the dudes put it: Getting Down On That Knee.

It's a scary world out there as a single person. Sometimes dating as an adult feels more like dating as a teenager than dating as a teenager ever did [ed. note: ha ha ha just kidding, I didn't date as a teenager; much like Colton I was far too busy with my career: competitive One-Act plays!!!]. Are we texting or are we talking? Are we dating or are we seeing each other? Are we exclusive or are you about to reject my proposal of marriage and marry my roommate/friend of the last eight weeks? Defining the relationship is hard, and no one likes having to sit down and have a vulnerable, adult conversation…

But here on The Bachelorette, dating is easy! Yes, everyone complains about having to share one girlfriend, and only getting to see that girlfriend for about 20 minutes a week, and having to watch that girlfriend make out with their friends, and having to sleep on twin beds. But who wouldn't trade occasionally falling off the top bunk, breaking one's entire face for a little clear, concise, formulaic romance?

Sure, you might never know where you stand emotionally, but at least you know what you're supposed to say on The Bachelorette, and approximately when you should say it. Even for someone like Garrett, who seems to have only become comfortable with spoken language in the last two to four weeks, he knows: once you've had a one-on-one/four group dates, you can tell the Bachelorette you're falling for her. If she's excited to receive that information, you should up that "falling for" to a "falling in luv with” somewhere around Hometowns. Like Jason, you might get a little leniency if you are a strong enough communicator to convey that you care about the Bachelorette, but you don’t want to say anything you don't mean yet. No matter what though, you must tell the Bachelorette you hard-O-love her before heading into the Chris-Harrison-approved bone zone, a.k.a: Fantasy Suites.

Only if you're someone like Peter from Rachel's season who's, a. never seen the show, and/or b. thinks they're hot enough to get away with skirting the rules, will you not understand that once you've said you love the Bachelorette, that means you are prepared to commit the rest of your life to her. It doesn't matter if you don’t know her political beliefs, or her job, or if she has debt, or if she's one of those people who puts butter in coffee, or if she collects luxury cars, or if she thinks she can sing but she can't, or if she has a tree nut allergy, or if she prefers colored Christmas lights over white Christmas lights, or if she takes her shoes off on planes, or if she asks her dentist cousin to prescribe her a Z-Pak every time she gets the sniffles… you will propose to her when Chris Harrison tells you it's time, knowing there's a 50 percent chance she'll sadly put her hand on your shoulder and tell you to stand your ass up.

The systematic unrolling of The Bachelorette formula was gorgeously on display in Monday's episode, and Becca was loving it. She keeps track of who is where, and when they moved into what category, and whether she’s also in that category with them like an obsessive child tracking the rise and fall of Princess the Bear Beanie Baby stock in 1997. As it stands: Blake is fully ready to Get Down On That Knee; Garrett and Colton are well into Falling in Love; Jason is a consummate wild card, as evidenced by his full physical transformation into Joey Donner from 10 Things I Hate About You…

As for Wills and Leo…well, let's get right into the ever-awkward three-on-one so that we can move onto two of the best surprises of the season: Colton's V-Bomb, and — hold onto your hats — the Baha Men.

HE LOVES ME; HE LOVES ME NOT

Becca's temporary harem has transitioned from glorious Richmond, Virginia to the sadly inferior Bahamas. When Becca expresses excitement about being in the Bahamas, Chris Harrison laughs and says, "You're making me feel like I'm here for the first time again too!" OMG Chris Harrison, stop. Can you even hear yourself anymore?

In the Bahamas, Becca is going on three one-on-ones with the boys she's in love, and one three-on-one with the boys she's biding her time with: Wills is in love with Becca, Jason really likes Becca, and Leo is enjoying his time in the Bahamas.

Leo has said a few times now that he's very different from the rest of the men, and here, he finally explains what he means: "These other guys can offer her a nice house, they can offer her an easy lifestyle — but I can offer her love." To be clear, Leo is not saying that he loves Becca; simply that love is the only thing he can offer her. And I need Leo to go because I relate to him way too much for comfort. Last week when he talked about understanding that people might not take him seriously because of the way he looked, I felt that. And now he's saying that he's poor and not quite ready to commit, but still a fun guy? Time to go Leo (straight into my arms, where we can be fun and poor together).

Becca is relieved to hear that Leo's feelings for her aren't so deep that he could imagine proposing to her any near future because she also has not been doodling his name in any of her notebooks. So she bids him farewell, and sweeps Wills and Jason away to decide who gets the date’s one available rose.

The guys on the three-on-ones usually get along just fine, and after watching them play sweaty volleyball and chat about emotions all day, by the time the two remaining fellas sit down to a romantic dinner without the Bachelorette…

I'm always ready for them to maybe just give this thing a shot on their own. KISS! KISS! KISS!

Alas, Becca comes to join them, and after three torturous minutes where she and her two boyfriends sit in front of untouched food together, she takes Jason aside to make out with him and give a coded little message: "The physical connection is there, but … with some of the other guys, they've been much more vocal about their feelings." Which isn't true. Jason is very vocal about his feelings, including the fact that he's not yet ready to say I love you, because he wants to really mean it when he says it. Given that Wills is very much in love with Becca, and tells her that very clearly, one might think that he would receive the rose. But let's be clear about one thing that is reverberating off the screen throughout this episode:

Becca is very horny. After weeks of making out, homegirl seems to be internally chanting "just make it to Fantasy Suites, just make it to Fantasy Suites" every time she has to settled for an OTP-grope. And even though she lets Wills bare his entire soul to her — how important the word love is to him, how long it's been since he's let his walls down like this, how he's being completely vulnerable and taking the risk because she’s worth it — I truly believe it just comes down to the fact that Becca is ready to visit Humpsville, pop. 2, with Jason more than she is with Wills.

And so, she cuts Wills loose, telling him she wanted her feelings to be on the same level as his, but they weren't, and knowing that, she couldn't bring his family into this. Becca tells Wills that he that he is amazing and worthy of love, plus what Wills later cites as the most painful thing she said: "I have all the faith in the world that you're going to find your person." Wills thought Becca was that person. Altogether now: wooooooof. But ever the Big Dick Energist, Wills at least innately knows to tell the car to pull over to do his full-on crying — he doesn’t need the overhead lights of the Suburban of Shame lighting up his tear tracks.

Be well baby, if you're not the next Bachelor, you'll at least be one of the hottest contenders in Paradise.

VIRGIN ISLANDS, CONCH DREAMS

Colton gets the first one-on-one date, and the guys at home cannot contain themselves wondering if he's "going to bring up his secret today." Of course, we've all known since the very first season preview that Colton’s secret is that he’s (allegedly) never had sex. But man, watching that reveal play out, watching the editors and producers have a field day with the lead-up, watching the way Colton explains it and Becca reacts to it…it was just all just so much more extra than I could have ever imagined.

Now, it is not insane to be an adult virgin. Rare, perhaps, but there are plenty of good reasons to abstain from sex: religion, mental health, physical health, waiting for love, etc. The reason that Colton ultimately gives — basically that he's just been too busy to get around to it — was a little less…expected. Of course, you could understand that Colton would be nervous about revealing this to Becca, and by proxy, millions of other people. And the Bachelorette producers, being sympathetic to those nerves, made it as easy on him as possible.

Hahahaha, just kidding, when Colton was gearing up to tell Becca during a relaxed moment on the beach, they had a man named "Action" pull in a speed boat yelling, "YOU NEED SOME CONCH!" And that's just following Becca spending a full five minutes describing how "hunky" Colton is, saying, "We have so much chemistry and passion, he could just pick me and do — whatever. Whatever he wants to do." Wowzers, Becca. And she's said that before Action takes them conch fishing, informing them that the “pistol” of a conch is an aphrodisiac, and forcing them to, uh, extract the pistol and eat it together. This leads to many fun exclamations such as, "Oh my god, so much conch!" and "Colton really knows how to work that conch!" The people that make this show are absolutely ruthless…

At home, the guys wonder how Becca will respond to Colton telling her he's a virgin. Garrett thinks it could turn her off because she wouldn’t want to "take that on," and Wills agrees: "It's a huge responsibility." Guys! What?! I don't think Becca minds the idea that she would be the first woman to have sex with Colton, simply the idea that there is a world in which she wouldn't get to have sex with Colton at all who she has been ready to have sex with since he first extracted his broad shoulders from that itty bitty limo.

Now she has conch pistol coursing through her veins, and Colton is saying that his whole life has been so devoted to football that he's neglected his personal life in many way. He explains that he "hadn't had that many girlfriends or that many dates coming into this because of sports." And now for the grand finale: "Because of that, I still am — I am a virgin."

"Really?" responds Becca, sensitively. Colton says this isn’t something he’s talked about a lot (the five men dicussing it endlessly back at the hotel might beg to differ), and he's "not even sure [his] dad knows." I know we're supposed to be focusing on family this week because Hometowns are coming up and everyone has to talk about how much family means to them, but Colton: now is not the time! Much like a parent though, Becca isn't mad, she's disappointed.

And, my friends, that disappointment is palpable. After hastily saying she understands that was probably difficult for him to tell her, Becca excuses herself from the table.

I mean, this is super rude, yes — but you've got to hand it to Becca. In a world where women are often asked to make everyone around them feel more comfortable, whatever the personal cost… our dear Bachelorette always takes the time she needs.

So, I don’t want to seem like I'm not an ally here, but Becca: maybe give the guy a break?! He just told you he is a 26-year-old virgin, and you walked away! For a long time!

When Becca comes back, she's looking for some clarity. Clarity in the form of…wondering if Colton is going to be down to clown in the near future. Colton explains that he used to be ashamed of his virginity, but now he understands that it's part of the man he is: "I'm not waiting for marriage, I'm waiting for the right heart." And that is all Becca needs to hear to give her hunk'a hunk'a burning conch the rose. She's got a heart, and in a few weeks' time, if nothing goes wrong (!!!), Chris Harrison has a Fantasy Suite key with Colton's name on it.

"I'M NOT THE SMOOTHEST TALKER"

It's hard to tell with Garrett what comes from him being self-admittedly inarticulate, and from him really not understanding that the things he says are contradictory. For example, when talking about how Becca might respond to Colton's virginity, Garrett says, "I definitely wouldn’t put a ring on the finger unless I knew what I was getting into." Without commentary, I will remind you that Garrett has told us he literally put a ring on it, and then got divorced two months later.

Garrett has also said a number of times that his former failed marriage was built upon a not-so-sound foundation of a shared love for adventure… and then repeatedly said on his one-on-one with Becca that the thing he likes most about their relationship is how much fun they have adventuring together. Other things Garrett appreciates aboout Becca include: “She's bubbly, she's beautiful, she's cute." So, it's at least reassuring that Becca is seeking a little more depth going into the evening part of their date. She asks Garrett specifically about what else made him want to propose marriage to his ex-wife beyond his shared sense of adventure…

Garrett sort of explains that he was young and immature; blinded by the idea of wanting to have a family, and trying to make this broken thing work [ed. note: for the record, Garrett should be paying me an hourly rate for this edit I'm giving him]. "I was doing anything I could to be with her," Garrett says. "I was changing who I was." Ding ding ding! Even smitten Becca catches this red flag and waves it around a little. She tells Garrett she's scared with him "that there are going to be doubts in your mind, but you're going to want to push through because you like the idea of this." Garrett basically says that she would "get a sense" if something was off with him, and that since he wants her to meet his family, "if there was a red flag, I know now to address them."

Er, what's that now?

Oh well, Becca doesn’t care, because she also likes just having fun with Garrett. So she says she has one last surprise for him, and that surprise is A SWIMSUIT UNDER HER JUMPSUIT!

Because red bikinis are much more fun than red jumpsuits…

YOU GO AND SAVE THE BLAKE FOR LAST

I'm being hard on Garrett because…well, because I don't trust Garrett and I don't like his bullshit Instagram history, what can I say? But you know who I do trust with my whole being? Blake. Because Blake is as transparent as a little bleeding heart can be. He is losing his mind all episode because he feels like he needs a one-on-one date to affirm Becca's feelings for him, and he is very open and honest about needing that.

He still lets it drive him nearly bonkers, but at least he doesn't try to blame that on anything else but his own insecurities (looking at you Chris, even though I never want to look at you again!). But all it takes is a date card from Becca and the soothing tones of the Baha Men to settle Blake's nerves. And who wouldn’t be calmed by these lyrics from not-Who-Let-the-Dogs-Out: Jump baby jump / what you got in the trunk / in the trunk.

And do you know who turns out to have a little junk in the trunk? Blake. Normally I would be embarrassed by someone so eager to show off their dance moves, but hey, he's got ‘em, and I love Blake, so let me live. It is a little startling how much Blake goes! for! it! on the dance floor, but it is also the most interesting and specific thing any man has done all episode. Add to that list the fact that Blake clearly communicates to Becca what a difficult time he's had this week, "not questioning how I feel about you, but how you feel about me, and the connections you have with the other guys."

So, naturally, Becca tells him that she sympathizes with Arie now because she sees how it's possible to have strong feelings for multiple men. She doesn’t say that privately to the camera…but to Blake…who she's dating…who just told her he's been struggling with seeing her relationships with other men. For some reason she thinks she needs to tell him this specifically because her feelings are strongest for him. I guess it works though because it makes Blake feel like he needs to make sure she understands, without a doubt, how much she means to him.

So later, when Blake is wearing his dress shirt buttoned all the way up like the hottest Mormon on his mission assignment, he explains why he works so hard to communicate and be open in his relationship with her: When he was in high school, Blake's mom fell in love with another man while still married to his father. That man turned out to be Blake's basketball coach and English teacher, and since they lived in such a small town, he found out things about their relationship through the grapevine, like the fact that his mom was moving out of their family home and into an apartment. That's… incredibly traumatizing, and also an exact plotline from the amazing/terrible NBC show Rise.

So that's why Blake is so determined to have the difficult conversations with Becca: "Because sometimes they're skipped over and it can be detrimental to a relationship, and I don't want that to happen between us." I love Blaaaaake! You know who else loves Blake?

BECCA. And she says so — not to him, but to us. Blake rounds home base, telling Becca that he's no longer just falling in love with her, he's all the way there. At the time she tells him that makes her heart happy, or whatever contractually obligated line she's allowed to say with six guys still left in the game, but she tells the camera: "My heart just recognizes his … When Blake told me he was in love with me, I think in that moment I knew: I was feeling the exact that way." I'm getting choked up just thinking about it. Becca, you’ve got to call it. Becca, just call it!!! Blake's in love with you, and you're in love with him, and I don't know why you won't just CALL IT before you get confused and make a mistake!

Narrator: She did not call it.

PTL next week is Hometowns, always one of the best episodes each season, mostly because we get to see all the very normal families with houses full of giant decorative clocks that produced these men who ended up on The Bachelorette. And this season, it seems the producers have conveniently added another visit with Becca's Bachelor-season besties, including Tia. Y'know…of ColTia fame? See you back here next week to see which of these dudes are secretly rich and who has a weird relationship with their mom and if Becca's foolproof Wrong Reasons filter missed one!