Fireworks and family picnics preempted last week’s episode of The Bachelorette, but JoJo and her “boys” are back. Argentina, it’s like we never left you. Because we didn’t. Everyone is reeling from the rose ceremony elimination that wasn’t. JoJo couldn’t decide between James and Alex, so with a little help from Chris Harrison, she decided not to decide. “Holding that final rose was just too tough for me. I realized that I just needed more time,” she says. Everyone knows that the hometown dates are around the corner and everyone, JoJo included, is feeling the pressure. No one is more anxious after the rose ceremony than Alex. He’s the only one who hasn’t had a one-on-one date, and he won’t let anyone forget it. His only real alone time with JoJo was when he went into the woods with Chad back in Pennsylvania, and that scenario was all about Chad. Alex is competitive. The misfire at the rose ceremony has him on edge. “I just don’t get it,” he says. “Every time I walk away, every single time, feeling on top of the world.” But then it came down to him and James at the rose ceremony. Is everything he’s feeling an illusion, he wonders? Chris Harrison arrives with the first date card and some words of wisdom about that rose ceremony. Take the fact that no one went home seriously, he warns. She did it because she honestly needs more time, but don’t doubt that she will make hard choices when she needs to make hard choices. “When she wants to send guys home, she sends guys home,” Harrison says with an ominous tone.
Alex gets the chance he’s been looking for when that first one-on-one date card is for him. “I gaucho on my mind.” Seriously, let’s have a slow-clap for The Bachelorette producers and those puns. JoJo and Alex head out of town in a car together, and the rest of the gang is stuck taking a bus. To amuse themselves on the car ride, Alex and JoJo eat snacks. To amuse each other on their bus ride, the other men freestyle rap. Despite the fact that Alex has to wear a traditional gaucho costume, including a jaunty beret-type hat and knee boots, he and JoJo have an exciting day on the ranch with the horses and the gauchos. They meet a horse whisperer, who gets very up-close and personal with his horse. The gauchos encourage JoJo and Alex to “spoon in the neck of the horse.” They both swear it is one of the most moving and relaxing moments of their lives.
“I’m in a sense of enlightenment right now. I’m feeling the way I think love is supposed to feel,” Alex says. Hold that thought, dude. At their dinner that night, Alex tells JoJo that the day was one of the happiest of his life. She remarks that it was nice seeing him so relaxed. He says he let go of the cloud that had been following him. Then, he goes in for the big moment. He tells JoJo, “I think I’m falling in love with you.” He corrects himself. “I know I’m falling in love with you.” He waits for her response. Then he waits some more. It’s obvious to everyone watching that he’s not going to get the answer he’s looking for from her. She doesn’t even manage a polite ‘thank you.’ Instead, she sends Alex packing. “When you tell me that you’re falling in love with me, I don’t feel as excited as I should feel. And that kills me because I wanted so badly to be able to say I was falling in love with you too. But I just can’t,” she says. Alex doesn’t hide his disappointment. She’s looking for him to let her off the hook and she comes up as short as he did when he said he loved her. He’s angry. She’s sad. Their goodbye is just a stiff hug. Chris Harrison might be confident on JoJo’s behalf, but she’s starting to doubt herself. “I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know what I’m doing,” she says. Jordan is next up for a one-on-one date and he, too, feels the pressure, particularly after Alex’s quick departure. Of course, since it’s Jordan, there’s a limo and a private jet. No funny costumes for him. They are jetting off to the wine region for some frolicking in the grapes. JoJo isn’t just going on dates anymore. She says she’s trying to picture a future with them. She and Jordan stomp grapes and then drink the juice from the same barrels that just had their feet in them. Drinking stinky feet juice is absolutely a sign that two people are way into each other. Alex got spooning with the horse. Jordan gets canoodling in a hot tub. I don’t need a fortune teller to read these tea leaves. Jordan is absolutely going to be around for the hometowns next week, so he decides he needs to give JoJo the scoop on what to expect. Back in town, the group date card arrives. It’s Robby, Chase, and James leaving Luke for the final one-on-one. Chase asks an obvious question that he doesn’t really want the answer to: “Why does Luke get the one-on-one? What does she want to do with Luke that she doesn’t want to do with me?” Don’t go there, Chase. Seriously. Don’t go there. Jordan and JoJo are out of the hot tub. It’s Jordan’s time to come clean. He tells JoJo that he wants her to meet his family. He also says, “I haven’t brought a girl home in years.” She asks who she would meet, and he says it would be his parents, his older brother Luke, and his dog, Carl Weathers. Noticeably absent is the brother everyone already knows, the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. “Me and Aaron don’t really have much of a relationship,” he says. Jordan explains that he was always compared to his brother, and he always fell short. JoJo does her best to assure him. “I realized right off the bat how much I liked you. And that scared me a bit. That fear has dissipated.” Jordan, like Alex the day before, goes in for his big moment. “I am so in love with you,” he says. “ I was fighting it at times, and it’s so real.” Jordan, unlike Alex the day before, gets the big reaction he was looking for from JoJo. “That makes me so happy,” she says, sealed with a big, sloppy kiss. The group date gang is getting all geared up for their big shot with JoJo. James has his game face on. “I’m going to do whatever it takes to get that rose,” he says. Things get off to a slow start when the original date gets rained out, and they have to spend all day together in a hotel suite. There are party games like Pictionary and Truth Or Dare. They each get some alone time with JoJo. Robby tells her about his ex-girlfriend who he just broke up with four months ago but still claims his top priority is his love for JoJo. Chase is nervous. He says what a lot of people would be thinking: Caring so much about somebody but to know that she’s also investigating relationships with other guys is scary. He doesn’t say “I love you” (even though he said it in one of his interview segments) but he does tell her that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. James plays the family card, telling her how much his relatives would love her because he loves her, of course. JoJo tells him he’s everything she is looking for in a husband and father for her children. Things get tense while they wait for the group date rose. If there is anyone out there who was inspired by Robby to start a drinking game with the word frontrunner, now is when that person ends up on the floor. The competitive nature of the exercise crystallizes with this conversation. Robby has always said he is the leading man, and anyone who doesn’t think he’s a frontrunner is a loser. Chase identifies Jordan and Luke as the top pick, which immediately sets Robby off. “The whole frontrunner thing pisses me off. In my mind, I’m the only frontrunner here,” Robby says. Frontrunner. Frontrunner. Frontrunner. Give it rest, guys. Robby, obviously because he is the frontrunner according to Robby, gets the group date rose and some additional time with JoJo. This sends James and Chase into tailspins. They can read the writing on the wall. They know that one of them will be going home. Luke’s one-on-one the next day is as well designed for him as Jordan’s was earlier. JoJo and Luke spend the day on a horse ranch skeet shooting. These are the same things that Luke does at home on his ranch in Texas. JoJo thinks Luke is the total package. She has an intense physical connection with him and is way into his whole cowboy philosopher, war veteran thing. For his part, Luke manages to convince her that his lack of a plan for his life is actually a genius plan for their life together. He doesn’t say that he loves her, but he does say that what they have is real and that he’s committed to seeing it through. JoJo again skips the cocktail party. By her own admission, she has ended the week with a lot of clarity. She knows what she wants to do so why not just cut to the chase? One place where the women of The Bachelorette have an advantage over the men of The Bachelor is that they all know what it is like to be on the other side of the rose ceremony. JoJo carries that empathy with her into each elimination. Even if a viewer doesn’t buy the declarations of love or enthusiasm for the ‘journey,’ it would be hard to deny that JoJo genuinely feels for the men during the pomp and circumstance of those rose ceremonies. Jordan, Luke, and Chase all get roses. Since Robby got the group date rose, that leaves James out in the cold. Strangely enough, the guys themselves seem pretty torn up to see the sweet songwriter exit. Luke tells James that he loves him, and they hug. Maybe they’ll be friends back in Texas when this is all over? They can get together and watch football and drink beer. Let’s just believe that, even if it doesn’t come true. Seeing James leave is tough. Hearing JoJo say goodbye and tell him she only wants the best for him, and to find the perfect girl stinks. We always knew James was stuck in the friends zone, but when he says,“ I hear that a lot,” it stings. Luckily for him, he’s on network television looking like a sad puppy at the shelter who needs a home. Those hounds on the local news always get adopted. Speaking of dogs, shout out to all of the animals in this week’s episode. Horses that snuggle. Dogs with floppy ears that show up at dinner. A pair of wrestling kittens. A white pony named Snowflake. Cuteness overload! We’re sure going to miss you, Argentina.