Desiree Heals New Jersey With Her Love

On this episode of the Bachelorette, Desiree gets "changed" by a devastated New Jersey coastline, and the men get semi-naked on stage. Let's do this thing.

Chris Harrison's Traditional Introduction

As usual, Chris Harrison states the obvious: there are thirteen men left. There are dates. There are roses. This is the Bachelorette. But then, he throws a real curveball by announcing that the men are leaving L.A. to embark on a literal journey to...Atlantic City. [Tepid applause.]

Welcome To Atlantic City!

The men pal around on the plane -- the homoerotic tension absolutely crackles -- and then arrive in Atlantic City. Brad gets the first one-on-one date. Remember Brad? The guy who was arrested for domestic violence after an altercation with his drunk baby mama? Yeah, him. Brad spends a long time staring at his son's photo, I guess to remind himself that he does, in fact, have a son.

Brad's One-On-One Date

Unless you enjoy long, painful silences, there is not much for you on this date. On a scale of one to robot, Brad is like an eight. But then he and Des go on some rides on the boardwalk and some of Brad's bolts are loosened sufficiently to simulate human emotion. Later, Brad and Des shove chocolate-covered pretzels in each other's faces and I'm pretty sure this is a preview of how their wedding's gonna go. Des asks Brad what type of woman he usually dates, and he says he is looking for someone who would be a great mom -- or, at least, a better mom than the drunk mess who is his child's actual mom. The rest of the date is largely silent. Des and Brad eat dinner in a lighthouse while facing the camera and not speaking, except to remark occasionally upon the food they are eating, the rides they went on earlier, the stairs they must climb to get to the top of the lighthouse, and other objects directly in front of them. Finally, Des tells Brad he's going home because she doesn't see "forever" with him. Des explains that she wants a "love that can light the darkness," and I think I'm falling a little bit more in hate with her every week.

Group Date: The Mister America Competition

This date is literally a spectacle, so please do watch it. Des greets the men doing that stupid two-hand wave that everyone does these days. Chris Harrison and a lady in a tiara (who turns out to be Miss America) greet the men and announce that they will be competing in a mini "Mister America" competition. Michael says he's dreamed of this day since he was a child and I think he's joking, but I also think it reflects badly on Michael that I can't tell. Highlights of the competition: Kasey uses the word "rationship"; Juan Pablo just stands there in a scarf looking hot and the crowd goes wild; Mikey stands with his feet ten feet apart and tells everyone he's sensitive and then, five minutes later, performs a fairly off-putting striptease; Brooks sings and smashes a ukelele and everyone except me is charmed; Chris comes out in heels and swings hula hoops on his arms, which I don't think is actually a talent; Zak does some VERY earnest singing and guitar playing (and okay, he actually can sing); and, finally, the men compete in a swimsuit competition and I want to know where they all get their abs airbrushed. Brooks gets second runner-up, Zak wins first runner-up, and Kasey wins, for some reason.

Post-Competition Cocktail Party

Des brings the guy to an indoor pool/bathhouse for their cocktail party. Chris takes this opportunity to recite to Des some of his poetry, which is written entirely in the passive voice and includes lines such as "The skeptic in me can be found nowhere." Oh, God, please make it stop. Des makes out with Chris because she, too, writes poetry, and let's just take a minute and imagine what that must be like. Then Evil Ben sidles up to Des and shows her a necklace he has of his son's fingerprint and WE GET IT, you have a son. By the way, Ben seems icky and annoying, but I'm still unclear on why the other men loathe him so passionately. In the end, Des gives the rose to Zak W, proving that having a guitar and abs will get a guy pretty far in life.

James's One-On-One Date

On their date, James and Des take a helicopter...over a devastated portion of the Jersey Shore ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. Womp womp. I feel like this whole date is not doing much for those New Jersey "Open For Business" commercials with Pauly D and Chris Christie, but okay. This week in tortured metaphors, James gives us this: "This rollercoaster used to be a sign of joy...But [the American flag on the top] is a sign of hope." The helicopter lands and James and Des get out to survey the devastation. Then they are inflicted on some poor couple, Manny and Jan, who are just trying to mind their own beeswax and rebuild their lives after having their home destroyed, and I really just can't with this right now. James and Des "decide" to "give" their date to Manny and Jan, thereby making Hurricane Sandy actually about Des and her "big heart." As Manny and Jan toddle off to the date of their lifetime, Des and James reflect on what good people they are for fixing Jan and Manny's life. James then decides to Ruin Everything by telling Des that he cheated on his ex-girlfriend. Desiree is disappointed but she decides it's okay, since James was honest about it. As Manny and Jan are treated to a concert from Darius Rucker (the artist formerly known as Hootie), Des and James show up to ruin Manny and Jan's night. So, what we're supposed to get from this date is that Des is "selfless" because she gave up a date that she neither planned nor paid for, and James is "trustworthy" because he told the truth about cheating on his ex-girlfriend. Bachelor logic at its finest.

Pre-Rose Ceremony Cocktail Party

Michael lets us know he has a "gesture" he wants to present to Desiree, which involves spelling out her name with a marker and giving her an unoriginal compliment for each letter. I make this noise a lot while watching: "Ueeccchhh." Later, Des and Chris talk and Des tells him she had to fend for herself growing up, I guess because most of her parents' finances were going towards s'mores supplies and new sleeping bags for the tent. Meanwhile, Bryden is struggling because he feels like he's falling behind and he is considering leaving. Des tells him to "focus on what you know and not what you may perceive," which sounds like a riddle from a troll that you have to answer before you can cross the bridge.

Rose Ceremony

Des calls Bryden's name and he just stands there all dramatic-like, and then he accepts the rose, so THAT was anticlimactic. Zach K the book publisher is going home. My husband says that Zach is going home because, and I quote, "He's the shortest and he has the worst face." That pretty much sums it up.

Verdict

There is not much to redeem this episode other than the men's silly talent competition, which actually just reemphasizes how talentless they really are. Save your energy and just write a check to the Red Cross, attn: Manny and Jan.

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