It’s only Episode 2 and JoJo’s got her very own polarizing love monster. Meet luxury real estate agent Chad, a six foot-four-inch simmering pillar of rage who’s obsessed with both protein and authenticity. Lest you assume Chad is here to make friends, let him assure you: he’s here for the charcuterie. Chad hates every last one of the “parade of losers” surrounding him — even/especially his new greasy Canadian yes-man Daniel. He really doesn’t seem to be a big fan of women. Of course, it’s quite possible that the character Chad hates the most, for even agreeing to appear on this shitshow, is himself. But this realization could take years, maybe lifetimes. We’ve only got eight weeks, and there will be blood. Sometimes it’s the only way to get more meat. Once he learns he hasn’t been selected for the first group date, Chad furiously packs huge cans of protein powder into his suitcase (they’re better than friends and never talk back), straps the suitcase onto his weight belt, and…proceeds to do some pull-ups. You know. Normal stuff. Meanwhile, hose-lover JoJo points 10 of her suitors towards a grueling training course at the Rio Hondo Fire Academy, then shoots them into the distance and watches them burn as they compete for her love/their survival. “There’s equipment everywhere. It looks really scary,” confesses Evan the erectile dysfunction fixer in direct opposition to the extreme confidence he displayed during last week’s premiere. Come on, now. I expect more from the dick doc.
Indeed, not everyone can thrive in “hands down the hottest date” JoJo’s ever been on. Spindly radio DJ Wells buckles under the heavy gear and needs to lie down for a spell — which could have seemed like an effective ploy for one-on-one time with our Bachelorette were he not sputtering for air and about to pass out. “This guy is not cut out for chopping wood,” says wannabe male model and real-life war vet Luke, who nearly hacked his way into a first-place finish in the “rescue JoJo from a burning building because she refuses to jog down the stairs” challenge. But it was actual firefighter Grant who busted through that non-glass ceiling like a pro to score extra screen time at that night’s cocktail party. JoJo loves Grant’s selfless attitude and melts in a halo of his muscles as he promises to the woman he recently met, “I’m never gonna leave the house and NOT tell you I love you.” It’s exactly what she wants to hear, performed with the Bachelor franchise’s signature “Stress ANY random word!” cadence. Where’d they find this guy? He’s perfect. The pair make out hard, the various eye-popping cutouts in JoJo’s white dress sparking out lust flames every which way. Runner-up Luke seems to get an even longer private vulnerability check-in and kissing session on the balcony. But the group date rose unexpectedly goes to failed firefighter Wells, who showed some real spunk today as well as a photo of his bloodhound named Carl. “Is that you with a beanie on?” JoJo leans in, intrigued. “I didn’t recognize you. That’s hot.”
Derek, a 29-year-old commercial banker with a poor man’s John Krasinski vibe, is the lucky winner of this season’s first solo date, a Choose Your Own Adventure-style journey that somehow looks just like all the other dates on all the other seasons. JoJo and Derek instantly agree on the “SKY” cue card over “SEA,” then hesitate slightly on “NORTH” vs. “SOUTH.” Neither of them wants to diss Mexico directly, so they mutter something vague about northbound opportunities and hope for the best. A few jet-lagged thumb wars later and they’re picnicking in the vicinity of the Golden Gate Bridge. Here we go! More kissing. It’s such a breeze. The pair enjoy a low-key dinner, during which Derek reveals he’s been “closed off” for the past few years. JoJo can so relate — “Ben said he loved me. But that wasn’t my love story…” she trails off, finally handing back the talking stick. As ambiguously as possible, he suggests his ex cheated on him. They have so much in common it’s insane. Sure. After a sparkly-gowned walk in the park, they reprise their first kiss as silhouettes against a gorgeously lit fountain. “I have a little crush on JoJo,” Derek admits in a voiceover. It’s the most restraint a contestant has shown in ages. “I’m WILLING to be in love!” the protein-packed Chad yells, blazing his way onto the scene for real this time. He’s the main dish now. No supplements. It’s so big of Chad to spread himself around like this among lowly human commoners when there could be bonus cold cut platters back at the mansion. You never know. Joining His Meatliness for the second group date are football bro Jordan, never-nude Christian, former Santa suit wearer Nick, lyrical fop James Taylor, and Alex the vertically challenged marine. As if there weren’t enough egos in play, JoJo is also there, plus SportsNation hosts Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley, who power-rank the guys in a series of challenges at L.A.’s ESPN studios. The touchdown dance-off is harmless enough (unless you’re Jordan and just got rug burn because that’s not real grass), but the dizzying proposal practice throws out every red flag in The Bachelorette’s thinly sliced book of meat flaps. Chad just doesn’t understand why all these fake, childish guys are getting down on one knee and LYING to JoJo about all her amazing qualities. It’s like a remedial talent show or something. Not Chad’s style. Nowhere near enough protein.
This noble hanging Chad will not stand for that typical reality TV nonsense of building up the main love interest with positive affirmations. How could he even KNOW what he loves about JoJo yet? Chad’s gotta be true to himself! He squats, cups her butt, and barely monotones “Will you marry me?” JoJo understandably wants more, since this is her show and he’s supposed to be playing along. “Starting off a little naggy here,” he warns her to the shock of everyone in the newsroom. Later on, though, Chad “redeems himself” in JoJo’s eyes (it helps that she really, really wants him to) (kiss kiss kiss) by insisting he was just joking and also keeping it real. Which is it?! JoJo doesn’t care to find out right now. She’s into the whole “honesty” thing, fingers crossed. “There’s so many different sides of you,” she tells the very obviously unstable guy. “You’re mysterious.” Translation: “You’re hot and I love the drama.” The next night, everyone in the house has declared Chad “public enemy number one,” according to Alex the marine, and it’s not just because he’s hogging all the munchies. Somehow Chad manages to hit pause on his self-induced challenge of crushing the cold cuts long enough to greet JoJo outside the mansion with a glass of white wine and preemptive “Remember how sexy you think I am once everyone starts badmouthing me” chitchat. It works for a few seconds, but she’s got a lot more guys to mentally undress before the rose ceremony, giving Alex and Chad ample time to snarl at each other across the patio. Chad pretends to be offended by the attention, referring to his male obsessors as both the Care Bears and the cast of West Side Story, desperate to swarm him with their emotions at any moment. But you know he loves it. He intentionally eggs Alex on by interrupting his time with JoJo (hey, remember her?), then gets up in his face and gently taps him on the nose. “You’re gonna lose your damn teeth,” predicts Chad. To which Alex, admittedly one of the most mature Care Bears of the pack, fires off the ultimate Alex-ish zing, calling Chad “the most disrespectful dude in the entire house. Every single person here knows it.” Wait for it… “You’re a meltdown.” There it is. He’s a meltdown! Not violent enough for you? Well, it’s only Week 2. Have faith. Alex spends the rose ceremony providing a lofty voiceover about how if Chad gets a rose, Alex will feel “degraded,” and all symbolism of what it means to be rose-worthy will be lost. Aw, sorry bro: This is JoJo’s world, and rose-worthy means good-looking and ready to fight. Chad is here to stay. Following a quick farewell to Will (who I didn’t realize ’til the last minute was a different guy than James Taylor), James S. (the Bachelor superfan I really wish would stick around to provide more deadpan social commentary) and Brandon the hipster, JoJo toasts to her remaining men, many of whom now legit wanna kill each other. Clink! Coming up: Chad gets (more) physical. We see him shove Erectile Dysfunction out of the frame, but then James Taylor is the one who’s bleeding?! See you next week for a double dose of rose-fueled aggression Monday and Tuesday nights!