The episode begins with Tayshia carrying a platter of pastries from one room of her suite to another. For she has a guest on the way, and the producers wanted to make it look like she set up the breakfast spread herself. Soon, season 12 Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher shows up with champagne for a chat about how Tayshia is falling for more than one guy. No one touches the pastries, but they do have mimosas.
JoJo is not just here to give Tayshia advice, though. Soon, Chris Harrison announces to the men that he has to leave the La Quinta quarantine bubble to take his son to college, and JoJo will be taking his place. JoJo gets a less than warm welcome from the guys. You can tell they have been through their share of unexpected changes already.
The first one-on-one date goes to Zac. He and Tayshia have to do a photoshoot in wedding attire. But, since Tayshia has been married before, she’s very hesitant to play bride again. And since Zac seems mature and not there for Instagram followers, he just talks about how “insane” the whole thing is. But, once they start changing into more ridiculous wedding outfits — silver suits, poofy pink dresses — they have more fun. We’ve seen photoshoot dates on this show plenty of times before, and I appreciate how not phony these two are about it.
After the photoshoot, Zac reveals that he was also married before as they chat next to a distractingly loud water feature. Tayshia is pleased since they have that in common. Zac seems surprised, because that’s probably not the response he usually gets when he tells women he’s divorced.
At dinner, Zac delves further into his past and he’s been through a lot. To summarize it as quickly as possible: At 23, he found out he had a brain tumor and had to immediately get surgery. He started taking pain medication. He got married. He got involved with “sketchy people.” Did drugs. Got arrested. Got a DUI. His wife left him. Things got worse. He could have died. Finally, he stole a check from his dad, and when he went to the bank, the teller called his dad and told him to come check on his son. At this point, he had a “spiritual crazy moment of clarity,” went to rehab for four months, and is now on the board for the same rehab facility. At 36 years old, this is all pretty far in Zac’s past, but it is, as Tayshia put it, “a wild ride.” Tayshia appreciates getting to know Zac on a deeper level. He gets the rose.
Then, Zac delivers what has to be the quote of the season. “I believe in miracles. I shouldn't be sitting here,” Zac says in his confessional. “If I know that I’m a miracle, then who’s to tell me that I can’t come on a TV show in the middle of a national pandemic and find love with someone as amazing as Tayshia? No one. I won’t let them.”
Next up, it’s time for the group date, which is an art class. First, everyone has to sketch nude models. Multiple guys are scared that they will have to get naked, which is sadly a real concern because that has happened already this season. (And there actually is more surprise nudity to come on this episode.) Next, they have to make a representation of their relationship with Tayshia out of clay while blindfolded. During this, Bennett surprises a blindfolded Tayshia with a kiss — not a fan of that! — because blindfolds “connotated sexual undertones.”
Lastly, they have to make self portraits. Brendan just makes a frame and puts his head through it, but adds something sweet about how when the frame is horizontal the love of his life is able to fit into it with him. Blake — who made a penis during the clay sculpture portion, mind you — draws a bird searching for its mate and says he wants to have a peaceful family of his own because his upbringing was troubled. Riley talks about how he didn’t have a great relationship with his mother, but wants one with his own child. Overall, the guys get really deep with this one.
Then there’s Ben. When it’s his turn to present, he shows up in a robe and takes it off, revealing his naked body. (As far as we know. It’s possible he had on underwear that we couldn’t see with the black censor box.) “This is me showing up for you,” Ben says. “As myself. I’m going to give this all to you. This physical body and everything inside.” Normally a guy getting suddenly naked on this show would be played for laughs or as evidence that he’s a weirdo, but this isn’t, and I can only think that it's because of what Ben says later.
Tayshia is so overwhelmed that she runs away to cry with a couple producers. The edit makes it seem like Ben’s display is what reduced her to tears, but who knows what order this actually happened in. “I just feel like it’s a lot," she says. “This is what happens when you start dating real men.” No, this is what happens when you go on a date with ten men at once and they each tell you heavy things about their past and one of them gets naked.
At the nighttime portion of the date, Ben shares with Tayshia, “The reason I’m in fitness and nutrition is that I had an eating disorder for 15 years.” He tells her that the only person he talks to about it is his sister, and that he has trouble opening up in general. Nothing is said about whether this relates to his decision earlier — and maybe it doesn't — but it feels like a connective thread is missing that we aren't shown. Ben gets the group date rose.
The group date ends with Tayshia announcing, “Noah and Bennett, there’s something going on between you two, and I'm going to get to the bottom of it one way or another.” It comes across like the producers thought things would get dramatic between Noah and Bennett on this date like they have in the past, but when they didn’t, the plan to have Tayshia confront them was already in place. They do argue a little after Tayshia’s announcement, but it’s not even that heated. Anyway, the two-on-one is coming.
But first, the next one-on-one date is Eazy’s, and he and Tayshia go ghost hunting. Yep, at La Quinta. Tayshia has some book — well, printed out pages in a binder — about how the grounds became haunted in the early 1900s. They walk around in the dark and scream when they see creepy dolls.
At dinner, Eazy says it was a “cute ass date,” but as a viewer it was a boring ass date. Eazy says some pretty generic Bachelorette stuff, not opening up too much, but then says, “I honestly feel like I’m falling in love with you.” Tayshia’s face says it all. Eazy doesn’t get the rose.
On the day of the rose ceremony, JoJo shows up to pull Bennett and Noah aside for their two-on-one. For the drama between them is just so extreme that Tayshia cannot let one of them go at the rose ceremony, she has to do it very quickly before the cocktail party. It makes no sense other than to start drama, but the drama isn't even interesting.
Before Tayshia shows up, Bennett gives Noah a present of a red bandana, because they once talked about a ranch, mustache socks, because Noah once had a mustache, and a book about emotional intelligence, because Bennett believes Noah needs help in this area. It’s clearly an overproduced moment.
Tayshia shows up, almost immediately says she’s fed up with their drama, and then notices the box on the table. “What’s in the box?” she says. (A head?!) And we end on a “To be continued…”
If you ask me, she’s going to kick both of them off. It’s beyond clear that neither Bennett and Noah are the man for her, and I wish the show would have just let us see them leave at an episode-ending rose ceremony. All I want for Christmas is the traditional Bachelorette episode format!
Next week: Zac admits he cheated in a lie detector test and Riley is upset about... something. The promo doesn’t show much to avoid revealing who’s still there.
Winner of the episode: A lot of contestants opened up about a lot of very heavy topics this week, so a round of applause for all of them.
Loser of the episode: Bennett. Everything he does is so clearly for show and I can’t take it anymore. Sorry, Bennett Nation.