The Bachelorette Season 16, Episode 2 Recap: The Clare & Dale Show

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Forget Bachelor Monday, it’s The Clare & Dale Show Tuesday. If this was a regular Bachelorette season, we’d be waiting to see which of her suitors Clare Crawley falls for and whether she gets engaged in the end. This time around, we’re waiting to see why and how Clare leaves the Bachelorette, if she does it with front-runner Dale, and whether the other contestants stage a mutiny when her intentions become clear.
But for now, it's time for the dates to begin. The theme of the first group date is the Love Languages, and the guys have to do an activity that represents each one, except “acts of service." What? They can’t be sent to clean her hotel room? Paint her nails? Grab her a snack?
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“Words of affirmation” is first, and it just means the men have to tell Clare nice things while she stands in a Juliet balcony. Next, they have to give her a gift, which is just something they find in their hotel room. (Ivan, the chess lover, gives her the queen piece, which is cute.) Third, is “physical touch” during which Clare and the guys wear blindfolds and one by one she just touches all of them. Like, canoodling their hands, rubbing their chests, hugging. To regular Bachelorette fans this is normal. To an outsider this would be incredibly strange. 
The biggest takeaway from this part of the date is that the show is keeping in every soundbite and clip involving Dale. We hear that Clare likes everything Dale did, and not much about the other guys at all. Dale, Dale, Dale.
The nighttime portion of the date is attributed to the Love Language “quality time,” and it gets off to a rough start. After a group toast, none of the guys immediately jump at pulling Clare aside. She says something like “So, who wants to talk?” and Bennett says he does. But right at the beginning of their conversation, Clare decides she needs to confront the other men about not being aggressive enough in asking her to go talk. “I just sat here and was embarrassed,” she says. “If you guys all want to hang out together, I can go home and go to bed!” 
It’s immediately clear — to everyone but Clare — that these dudes were just confused about production of the show. It’s the first group date, Clare! Give ‘em a break! (Except don’t because this is why you make for good reality TV.)
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Clare then goes to talk to Dale, and says, “Thanks for pulling me away. It makes me feel like you care.” Oh, well of course that’s the case when Dale does it. She also tells him that she’s scared by how much she likes him. I’m not scared! Bring it on! Blow up The Bachelorette!
Fortunately for everyone who isn’t Dale, Clare soon realizes that the other guys are worth talking with, too. She has great convos with Zac C and Riley in particular. Riley ends up getting the group rose after he woos her with a slow dance. Dale, naturally, is surprised it didn’t go to him. He's catching on to the fact that he's the frontrunner.
At the end of the group date, we get a talking head from Yosef about how Clare is “hot headed” and “hasn’t been living up to who I thought Clare was going into this.” This is only fine to say if you plan to immediately leave the show. After all, not everyone is going to be a good match. But, you won’t be surprised to hear that he doesn’t pack his bags.
Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
But press pause on Yosef for now, because it’s time for the first one-on-one, which goes to ex-NFL player Jason. Before the date, Jason gets a note from Clare asking him to write a letter to his younger self and she’ll do the same. Their date ends up basically being a therapy session. They write negative words that they have been called on ceramic that they then break against a wall. Clare writes “needy," “hard to love," “too picky," and “bitch." Jason writes “manipulative," “selfish," “can’t love," “insecure,” and “cold and mean." It should be noted that Clare takes this as Jason being vulnerable, and not as a list of red flags that she convinced him to openly share. Seriously.
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The rest of the date involves them reading their letters and talking about a “family situation” Jason went through and how he’s too scared to open up to anyone about his past. We don’t hear exactly what happened and most of their conversation is as vague as sitting in on any random person’s therapy session would be. But it seems productive for them and Jason gets a rose. They end the date with one last bit of catharsis: Clare burns the dress she wore to the finale of Juan Pablo’s season! Honestly, I’m upset. This would have been perfect for the Bachelor museum that needs to exist. 
Time for the second group date! You know the drill: They’re divided into two teams and have to play a sport, loser is sent home. This time, it’s strip dodgeball. The whole thing has a vibe of “we’re stuck in a resort and this is the best we could do.” The rules are that if your team loses a game, the whole team has to take off an item of clothing before the start of the next one. The red team dominates and soon, the blue team is naked except for jockstraps. Then, two of the men get completely naked unprompted. I have questions about the contracts these people sign. Do you agree to being filmed nearly nude in advance? What if no one else actually wanted to see those two guys naked? 
My favorite part of this is (actually, the only part I like of this) is the fact that the blue team actually does go back to the hotel. Oftentimes with these dates the Bachelor/ette will decide to just keep both teams around for the evening portion. Not Clare. 
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But the blue team's Blake Moynes isn’t having it. After getting dressed in more than a jockstrap and combing his beard, he heads back over to the group date. He interrupts Jay’s conversation with Clare, and Jay reasonably responds, “Didn’t you lose?” Look, this show doesn’t have many hard and fast rules, so Blake can do whatever, but I still like that Jay just stated the obvious. After Jay gives in, Blake tells Clare that because she liked his rule breaking when it came to them talking before the show began, he thought she’d be into this, too.
But before Clare gets to say anything, Jay has rallied the rest of the red team to confront Blake about being a “sore loser." On the one hand, I think that they need to back the hell up and let Clare decide. On the other, Clare has made clear that she wants a man who steps up. Clare tells the red team she “appreciates” them, then tells Blake that she “appreciates” him, too, but sends him back to the hotel out of respect to the others. 
Then it’s time to send another guy packing and he’s going all the way home. Clare asks Brandon why he came on the show, and he says it’s because she’s “gorgeous." She asks if there’s anything else he likes about her, and he says he doesn’t know her. If she was an anonymous person, then sure, you see how someone looks before you get to know them. But this woman has been on four previous seasons of Bachelor franchise shows. There was ample opportunity to find out if you like this lady before agreeing to film a TV series about falling in love with her. The guy literally can’t think of anything to say that he likes about Clare other than her looks. She sends him back into the pandemic. 
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The group date rose goes to Chasen with whom Clare shared a very passionate kiss. He’s no Dale, but hey, what can ya do? 
Before the rose ceremony, the other contestants hear about what happened with Brandon on the group date, and Yosef says, “I know what I would have said if she asked me that, I would have said 'I liked you a lot more before you humiliated me.'” How did she humiliate him, you ask? By having the guys play strip dodgeball. He found this disrespectful to his daughter, even though Yosef was not on that group date. He calls it “classless” and says he already saw “red flags” during his own date. Again, if you don’t like her, leave. Instead, he decides to confront her at the cocktail party. What’s the use? She’s not going to change her entire personality and the strip dodgeball has come and gone. 
The first guy Clare speaks with at the cocktail party is Blake Moynes. She reassures him that she liked that he showed up at the red team's date and gives him an early rose.
Next up is a conversation with Dale, which isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but still brings Clare to tears. It’s clear that Clare is really searching for someone to go through life with, in particular because she has gone through so many difficult times alone, including the death of her father. No one could blame her for getting emotional, but it’s tough to know how much of it has to do specifically with Dale. The episode ends with them making out while he wears a blindfold she stole from the Love Languages date. No confrontation with Yosef. No rose ceremony. No cast mutiny. 
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Next week: Yosef screams that he “expected way more from the oldest Bachelorette!” and the guys realize that Clare is way more into Dale than the rest of them. This is gonna be good. 
Winner of the episode: Dale. And honestly, it’s probably going to be Dale every time until Clare leaves.
Loser of the episode: Brandon. Gotta save Yosef for next week.

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