By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Aug 09, 2022 at 1:26 PM

It's been a stressful start to "The Bachelorette" thus far – and not just because Jesse Palmer keeps negging me into auditioning for the show every other commercial break. (No, I have never dated my cousin, Palmer; who do you think I am, a "New Girl" season six subplot!?) Between the producers ending their pre-production brainstorming session at "what if two Bachelorettes," our leads having to make up the rules as they go and our fellas being easily distracted by sports and shiny objects, it's been a ... rough start. Every episode seems to end with one or both of our leads in messy tears, then hilariously smash cut to that promo image of the two smiling carefree on a sunny convertible drive. Where's THAT season? I bet that season's a nice time ... 

Thankfully what cures all wounds? No, not time – chocolate and waffles, obviously. And where better to find chocolate and waffles than Bruges, home of tasty pastries, delicious desserts and a very good Colin Farrell movie. Surely nothing bad can happen here, right?! Actually ... pretty much nothing does, as Bruges finally delivers a fairly peaceful and pleasant episode. 

Well, minus Logan – the biggest waffle of them all. For those who need a reminder, Logan macked on both women on the opening night, then ended up accepting a rose to pursue Rachel ... only to discover that actually he wants to date Gabby instead after taking several of Rachel's roses. That's fine; Rachel's had such an emotionally uneventful season so far so I'M SURE SHE'LL TAKE THIS NEWS IN STRIDE. 

And actually, she mostly does. Logan does his best to explain and let Rachel down easy – almost too much so, trying to rationalize his flip-floppy behavior three or four times before Rachel's finally like, "OK ENOUGH I GOT IT!" He's also just ... a little too smooth at this all, like he's had way too much practice in breaking hearts and getting away with it. I am not a fan – and neither is Rachel, who wishes Ol' Turtleneck and Chain had told her this several roses sooner. After all, she's now wasted weeks of roses that could've been a guy actually interested in dating her. Logan ... (*shakes fist in his general direction*)

After yet another rejection, Rachel understandably isn't in the mood to be chipper on a group date ... which is a problem considering her guys are currently roaming around Bruges looking for Rachel but instead finding lovely architecture and some shirtless guys wrestling in melted chocolate. Typical Tuesday in Bruges, I guess? Seems like an egregious waste of good chocolate though. Between our UFChocolate fighters and Meatball, weirdly a big season for dudes dousing themselves in food. Anyways, after pulling themselves away from that spectacle, the guys find not Rachel but Palmer, who lets them know that the group date is canceled – but there WILL be an afterparty. So time to get ready to impress Rachel ... after probably watching some more of that confectionary combat.

Thankfully for Rachel, the guys do show up with their A-games for the group date afterparty. (Or, considering there was no group date, just ... regular party.) After explaining Logan's disappearance and her last-minute RSVP no to the group date – telling the guys that if anyone else isn't confident in their choice, they can choose the door – frontrunner Tino steps up by telling Rachel that he wants her to talk to him about her problems rather than retreat, because open communication is crucial for a real relationship. Tino treating this like the real deal already? ONE LIKES TO SEE IT! One also likes to see Zach taking Rachel out for some therapeutic screaming and Tyler treating her to one of those Instagram-approved glamour rooms. Meanwhile, Meatball comforts Rachel, talking about how "you've been through a lot." YEAH, INCLUDING YOU MEATBALL! Remember when you rejected her rose to her face? PEPPERIDGE FARM REMEMBERS!

Oh Meatball, we kid – after all, you're the guy who stepped up and got Hayden booted back to his way-too-beloved Rambo last week. And honestly, for as much crying and quitting talk as there's been, Rachel's got some really promising relationships growing already – namely Tino, who gets the group date rose at the end of the gathering and further cements his frontrunner status. For as janky as the process has been, it's also not NOT working. 

That being said, Ol' Turtleneck and Chain is still roaming around – and hitting on Rachel's bestie in the hopes of sticking around. Indeed, after splitting from Rachel's side, Logan drops by Gabby's room with his best Ryan Gosling "hey girl" voice, explaining that actually he's been into her this entire time. Gabby, like the good friend that she is, goes straight to Rachel to tell her and get her feedback. Rachel's ... not a fan. He humiliated her – and most of all, after taking roses on false pretenses, she doesn't trust him. However, she also wants Gabby to follow her heart and pursue who she wants to pursue, so she leaves it up to Gabby. Let's hope Gabby makes the right choice – and that the producers keep not interfering with this seasOH LOOK AT THAT, THEY'VE FINALLY DECIDED TO GET INVOLVED! CONVENIENT TIMING!

So Gabby has her group date, which goes swimmingly. They go boating and eat waffles and gulp down whipped cream straight from the kitchen's tap. Again: ARE THERE NO HEALTH CODES IN EUROPE?! While that restaurant wipes down all its surfaces, the bros move on to playing soccer against a team of local youths – and losing, so much so that the fellas resort to man-handling the kids and picking them up off the ground for an advantage. I don't know much about soccer, but I believe that's at least a red card. Is there a card above red? A hot magenta card? Also: WHERE ARE THEIR PARENTS!? No such thing as health code violations and people just fine with a bunch of grown men high on maple syrup and waffles invading children's games. Europe: What a place!

After getting schooled by futbol youths, the group date wanders off to a pub where they play Rock Paper Scissors Fish Slaps. What, you've never played? Indeed, apparently in Belgium, they play the classic duelling game – but if you lose, you get slapped with a herring. Could be worse; could be a full-size salmon. Anyways, this game must be brought to ESPN. I would watch it everyday. And despite having to pick scales out of their faces, the guys love it too – in fact, everyone has a great time on their Bruges date. Gabby's having fun falling in love, the guys are all flirty and friendly, and the vibes are good. Everyone can't stop talking about how happy they are! WHAT COULD GO WRONG!?

BAH GAWD, THAT'S THE PRODUCERS' MUSIC! Yep, as soon as people are content and pleased with how things are going, the producers decide to unleash Ol' Turtleneck and Chain on Gabby's guys. Apparently offscreen Gabby decided to act entirely out of character, somewhat turn her back on Rachel and bring her BFF's ex – a person she hasn't talked to for several episodes now – into the fold. Sure, sure, sure, TOTALLY tracks. Anyways, no one is pumped about the decision as all the guys suddenly feel like Gabby may not like any of them as much as they thought now that she's seemingly bringing in reinforcements. Thankfully, Nate – the obvious frontrunner at this point, the Tino of Gabby's gaggle – doesn't get too distracted by the Logan of it all and as a result earns the date rose. 

While we all hope the Logan decision begins and ends in a single night, Rachel and Gabby go on their solo dates – starting with Rachel and Aven, who head to a chocolate shop. I am enjoying how many of this season's dates are just going places to eat delicious things. Let's just turn this thing into "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dates." Hell, replace Palmer with Guy Fieri; WHO WOULD COMPLAIN!? Anyways, Aven turns out to be very good at catching chocolate in his mouth, very good at making out against walls and very good at finding random chatty ladies who JUST HAPPEN to be knitting some traditional wedding veils. Go figure! They have cute chats and kiss some more, followed by a dinner where they get deeper, with Aven talking about his relationship with his mother and passing along a hand-crafted band to Rachel for good luck and good energy. Cue the metaphorical fireworks! 

Things go just as well on Gabby's solo date with Johnny. Gabby hilariously notes that Johnny's a macho guy, aka the kind of guy she'd usually hate, but he's pulling it off – but is there a deeper connection? We know just the way to find out: ALCOHOL! Indeed, their one-on-one date brings them to a Belgian brewery where they find pints upon pints of beer along with a craft brewery guy straight out of Central Casting – complete with the hipster vest and curly mustache. All that was missing was him trying to talk people into drinking a septuple IPA and talking about how it has "flavor notes of licorice and Toms shoes." Anyways, the beer must be good because things start getting weird on the date. The two find a beer bath – which, much like the chocolate wrestling, seems like a waste of perfectly good product (unless it's the septuple IPA, which in that case certainly a better use than drinking!) – then take off their clothes to whack each other with hop branches? Maybe? Maybe I'M the one who's had too much to drink?

Anyways, after everyone sobers up, Gabby and Johnny head to the dinner portion of the date where Johnny casually opens up, speaking matter-of-factly about his battles with self-esteem and depression. It's oddly touching, hearing a guy just non-chalantly discuss his insecurities and the thoughts that keep him rattled in the day's quiet moments. Gabby agrees – and Johnny gets the rose. 

That leaves just a few more roses left to hand out – and one final cocktail party to help sort through the remaining Jordans. But first, we get some more cute flirting between Nate and Gabby, who gets him some Belgian chocolate to bring home to his daughter. Spoiler alert: That chocolate ain't making it back to America. That chocolate may not even survive the night. You think that guy's just gonna keep a bag of authentic Belgian chocolate sitting in his suitcase for the next several weeks? You must still be drunk from that beer bath. Sorry, Nate's daughter: You're getting Hershey's Kisses from the airport. Still, it's a very sweet gesture (literally) and only further cements these two as the obvious final pairing. 

There is, however, still the Logan-shaped elephant in the room. He knows he has some catching up to do, so for his private cocktail party time, he brings a treat from the earlier group date. No, not waffles – slapping fish! Bet you that room smelled great. The good news is that we get to see Logan get slapped with a herring a number of times. The bad news: It might just have worked to earn Gabby's final rose. The ultimate clue that it's happening? Everyone's talking about how they don't think he'll get one. The guys don't think he'll be able to make up for lost time. Heck, even a crestfallen (and fish-slapped) Logan knows he's playing from behind. But THE LADY DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH METHINKS! Anytime the producers load up the edit with a bunch of people confident something's going to happen, bet on the opposite. 

And indeed, at the rose ceremony, Gabby and her ritualistic sacrifice fur frock hand off her final carnation to Logan, sending home Michael and Mario, two guys who definitely existed on the show. The guys don't seem into it – and neither does Rachel, who barely makes eye contact with Logan as he collects his rose. Hopefully this doesn't muck up the friendship between Gabby and Rachel, one of this season's finest and most consistently charming attributes. Thankfully, Rachel seems confidently focused on her own guys – now, for the second time this season, not including Meatball who gets yet another boot despite putting on his finest Serious Person glasses for the ceremony. We'll miss you, you Prego-soaked delight; have fun in "Paradise," where perhaps we'll finally remember what your actual name's been this whole time. 

Now that the three Ms have been dumped into the North Sea, Gabby and Rachel announce the next stop on their romantic European tour: Amsterdam. And you know what that means: WE'RE GETTING BAKED ON "THE BACHELORETTE" NEXT WEEK! (Oh, hm, maybe not!)

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.