The Bachelorette is struggling with perspective right now, probably because there was a foreign relations spectacle smack dab in the middle of tonight’s episode. Halfway through, ABC paused the broadcast to show U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands with Kim Jong-Un. After that, Becca’s petty romance troubles seem, well, petty. There’s also the matter of Clay, the NFL player, who left the show at the end of the episode because he needed to support his family back home. The real world really invaded the fantasy of The Bachelorette tonight, and everything’s looking pretty flimsy in comparison.
Without Trump’s intrusion, though, the episode might have seemed weighty. Becca Kufrin remains to be one of the most aggressively personable Bachelorettes the series has seen. She doesn’t have the bawdy humor of Kaitlyn Bristowe, but she’s morbidly attentive to her contestants, and they can’t help but bask in it. This week, she ratifies her connection with Blake (horse guy), forges a connection with Garrett (bad Instagram guy), settles the drama with Colton (Aly Raisman guy), and writes a song with Chris (Eddie from Friends guy). She also pulls a few gems from the rough that went unnoticed in previous episodes, like Jason (slicked-back-hair guy) and Clay (NFL guy who will later leave). Becca, like a producer herself, knows how to highlight these men. Speaking to Clay after their football group date, she notes how happy she was that Clay could have fun playing football without “intimidating” the other men. (He's very good at football, but he's also overwhelmingly affable.) And, for what it’s worth, Clay seems to be a beloved resident of the house. When he leaves, the men seem genuinely upset, especially Leo, a doe-eyed stuntman with a pile of hair.
Before the seriousness sets in, there’s some drama. Petty drama. Very far from dictator-to-dictator drama. It involves Jordan, who would be tiresome without his relentless catchphrases. This week, his phrases are as follows.
“I talk to God every day, and God knows.”
“You are a skeleton of a man.”
“Attached to me is professionality.”
“I’ll cook, I’ll clean — I’m a golden retriever.”
“I could be a boyfriend, and have a girl’s day.”
He also notes that Becca has “that bright smile” that he wants in a woman.
Throughout most of this, Wills (Harry Potter guy) has his jacket pulled over his face. Jason, who only recently earned top-tier status (“I have a little crush on you,” Becca tells him), says at one point, “That was fucking awesome,” like he’s the little kid from The Incredibles.
Jordan is insufferable, and the drama surrounding him equally so. Becca is a good sport for putting up with it — her interactions with Jordan always seem half-hearted, as if she’s going through the motions for the producers. (One person on Twitter called it Jim Halpert-ing.) When Jordan comes to explain the “drama” to her, Becca says dismissively, “I have a sense of humor about it.” She’s not unduly concerned about this. But, that doesn't mean the episode won't belabor the point.
A miniature recap of the drama: Jordan told one guy in the house that he had over 4,000 matches on Tinder in 2017. Perturbed, David relates this to Becca. Becca, unperturbed, makes a sly comment about it to Jordan. (“4,000 matches, huh?”) Jordan, aghast, tells David, “You are a skeleton of a man.” Like a lot of Bachelorette drama, none of it really matters because Becca is largely disinterested in both men.
The only trouble is, things turn violent when David falls out of bed. It is beyond me how someone falls out of bed and ends up in the hospital, and I found myself pausing the teleplay to inspect the red stains on the towels in the episode. I am 70% sure it was red paint and not real blood. But, apparently, David did fall out of his bed and get a bloody nose. Jordan insinuates that he might have pushed him, which also seems illogical. Aren’t there subtler and more manipulative ways to get under someone’s skin?
David going to the hospital instantly boosts his score, though. His absence looms over the rest of the episode, if only because Becca is forced to remark throughout it, “I wish David could be here.” (A preview for next episode shows that David will return with a markedly different face. Allegedly.)
The other drama is slightly more important. Colton Underwood dated Tia Booth, a former Bachelor contestant. Tia, along with Kendall Long, Seinne Fleming, Bekah Martinez, and Caroline Lunny from The Bachelor, all show up for the first group date, a lush spa date during which a number of men get their nails painted. (Jean Blanc gets points on this date because he brings his own head massager. His own accessories? We see you, Jean Blanc!) This date is fashioned exclusively for Tia and Colton to encounter one another and, suffice to say, it was not necessary.
Tia chats with Becca re: Colton’s history, and the truth, as usual, isn’t as interesting as was promised. According to Tia, she and Colton kissed a little, nothing more. He ended things because he applied for The Bachelorette. He may have assumed that Tia would be the Bachelorette. After that, he and Tia didn’t correspond. Now, he’s on the show, and dating a good friend of Tia’s. None of this is exactly promising, but Becca plows through the drama to make a connection with Colton anyway. She likes him. Maybe it’s the velour vest he wore in the premiere episode? "Honest" Colton gets the rose for being open and vulnerable with Becca.
Becca only has one solo date in this episode, a painful songwriting date that should never have existed. Richard Marx, the man I know best as the writer of “At The Beginning” from Anastasia, invites her and Chris to write a song for each other. Becca, a smooth operator, writes a verse and doesn’t seem to care if it’s good. (She’s also tone deaf. I bet she’s a good publicist!) Chris struggles with writing the song because he has difficulty being vulnerable. A typical Bachelorette journey for them both: He opens up to her, they sing a song, she weeps a little, and it ends with an awkward solo concert from Richard Marx. And no, Richard doesn’t sing “At The Beginning”!
Life is a road and I wanna keep going! Love is a river I wanna keep flowing!
The final date is our football occasion, a spectacle that gets way more into the football than previous seasons have done. The Bachelorette incorporates sports a lot, but it’s rare that the show features an actual game. Clay scores a touchdown in this! There’s some brewing excitement about the outcome of the game! The navy team almost loses, but they don’t! Of course, the downside is that someone does get hurt. Clay hurts his wrist pulling off a touchdown, and all the men seem upset about it.
“We wanted to see Clay be healthy,” Leo tells the camera, looking pained. “This guy is a world-class athlete. We don’t want to see him get hurt.” It’s all fun and games until an NFL career is on the line. Later, Clay remarks, “Got hurt playing football on the Bachelorette, that’s pretty funny.” Monday night, Clay thanked his fans on Twitter for their support for the show. His wrist, he added, is fine after a few months of rehab. Ideally, he'll be playing again this coming September.
That being said the show was filmed months ago and after a tough rehab I am finally ready to play some football. I look forward to finding a team and seeing you all on NFL Sunday’s. Thanks for all thoughts and prayers!— Clay Harbor (@clayharbs82) June 12, 2018
With Clay on his way out and the show spilling over its time slot, the Bachelorette skipped the rose ceremony for this episode. So, we are left in limbo: Who will get Clay’s rose, now that he left? Will it be “I like quirky girls” Garrett? Or “I just want to cook with my girlfriend” Blake? Becca, the decision is yours.
The Dearly Departed: Just Clay this time around.