Everything was set up perfectly.
Last we checked, Bennett aka Patrick Bateman and Noah were on a testy two-on-one, which Bateman kicked off by handing Noah a (world's largest sarcastic airquotes) "gift" of socks, a bandana and, most crucially, a self-help book about emotional intelligence. It was wildly condescending – which is to say exactly what'd you expect from Patrick Bateman. BUT WAIT! At the very end, Tayshia pulled a Brad Pitt in "Seven" and asked, "What's in the box?", setting up a delightful embarrassment that would make this entire tedious fight worth it.
Or so my happy, wine-lubricated brain thought. There I go again, thinking "The Bachelorette" would do something funny and enjoyable as opposed to numbingly dragging out drama for 15 minutes too long.
Yes, instead of stammeringly opening the box, revealing Patrick Bateman's sociopathy and sending him home right quick, the present NEVER gets opened for Tayshia and instead the two-on-one date goes on as expected. Sigh. What should've been a fun and memorable way to end this plot thread instead turned into 20 more minutes of tedious drama as "The Bachelorette" took what was a fun speedbump on the way to romance and made it an annoyingly long pit stop. This show is like that one friend who doesn't believe in the rule of three and pummels every joke to death – and this is why you're not invited over very often, show!
So Tayshia takes Bennett aside first and complains about how this whole situation makes her feel like he's questioning her integrity – apparently her word of the day. If you took a shot every time she said "integrity," you'd be more alcohol than man by the end of the episode. The one problem: What does her intergrity have to do with any of this? "The Bachelorette" has this kooky way of turning basic fights and twisting them into being about something that isn't actually the problem. The issue here, for instance, is that Patrick Bateman is condescending and rude – but no, it's actually about Tayshia feeling like her integrity is being challenged. Suuuuure, that's the problem when Bateman's pulling out an encore performance of his emotional intelligence speech from last week.
Noah makes things simple when he chats with Tayshia: Bateman talks to people rudely because he thinks he's better than them – a white Harvard dude thinks he's superior to everyone else? WELL THIS IS A TWIST! – and while he may be nice to her now, eventually he'll talk down to her the same way. Which he already has, but Tayshia's too distracted by working "integrity" into all of her sentences tonight to realize that.
Eventually, it comes down to a decision, and thankfully Tayshia makes the right one and sends Patrick Bateman home, something his robot Harvard yacht brain cannot process. It's truly like watching a robot try to process complex human emotions and failing, causing smoke and sparks to fly out of his ears. "I am ... dumped? But I am square jaw handsome man with Harvard degree who downloaded the latest thesaurus update? Bleep bloop, error 401, please reboot computer before self-destruct." He seems broken by the fact that people would think he's pompous – never mind that he probably rejected the SUV sent to take him home, ordering a Jaguar from Uber for rich snobs instead.
Meanwhile, back inside, Noah's smugly knocking back Tic-Tacs, basically this close to pinning the rose on himself. Now would be a great time to SEND HIM HOME TOOOO! Unfortunately, much like everything fun and good that could've come from this two-on-one showdown, Tayshia turns that down – but at least she withholds the rose, pointing out that getting chosen over Bateman after ruining her night and causing drama for the entire La Quinta is not a win for him. So no rose for him ... at least right now. Just wait ten minutes, though.
Indeed, after a nice cocktail party in which the rest of the guys bring cute gifts and nice flirtations – including CAKE! Why are you wasting time with anyone not bringing you cake, Tayshia!? – she ends up giving her final rose at the ceremony to Noah anyway. Glad we stretched that out for another ten minutes. Very useful, very satisfying television. Meanwhile, three guys are sent packing: Spencer, who I unsettlingly discovered has murder eyes; Demar, who was definitely a person on this show; and doofy Ed, who probably got lost on his way out of the La Quinta and ended up accidentally helping Harrison move his son into college. I will miss none of them. OK, maybe I'll miss Ed.
Speaking of Harrison, he's still gone, so JoJo continues playing the role of host. How will I know it's the most dramatic episode of "The Bachelorette" ever if Harrison's not there to remind me!? She does, however, deliver some important news: Next week is hometown dates and meeting the families. How's THAT gonna happen inside the bubble? Are we bringing a bunch of families over to this La Quinta next? Do they even have room, or will someone have to sleep in the "haunted" suite from last week that definitely is still haunted?
While we ponder those very important questions, Ben gets selected for a solo date with Tayshia, which ends up being a scavenger hunt introduced by JoJo riding in on a little motorized scooter with a litttle helmet. God, how I wish I could've seen Harrison do that. An image that would've haunted and charmed me for my entire life ... or, OK, maybe just five seconds, BUT STILL! Anyways, the two zip off on their own scooters and hunt down clues while Ben does hardcore parkour on his little moto-scoot like a cool guy, eventually finding their secret oasis – aka the hotel's spa which has already been used for multiple dates so far this season. TRULY A FANTASTICAL ESCAPE YOU'VE CREATED, SHOW!
I was hoping for more – but so is Tayshia, who keeps feeling like she hasn't quite cracked Ben yet. She tries picking away at him some more, while Ben – bordering on sassy – says that, if she wants to dig deeper with him, ask him some questions instead of just poking him and being like, "Be open! Dance monkey!"
So she does finally ask some questions, and welp, here it comes: While being refreshingly honest about his difficulties with vulnerability – noting that his military background trained much of that out of him – he talks about how he broke his back and ended up in a dark place in his life, leading to him attempting to commit suicide twice. His sister helped bring him back from the brink and helped him recover – something even she doesn't know but, as he's aware, probably does now that he's brought it up on a reality show. Feel free to question whether "The Bachelorette" is the place to break this tough and very personal news to one's family members, but it's truly refreshing to hear a man talk openly about his difficulties with emotions and mental health – something we need to encourage more of in society instead of telling them to suck it up or bury those feelings inside.
I said last week that the older crop of contestants this year has resulted in the most mature and wisest season I've ever seen, with real conversations and startlingly human moments. Not that the bar was set very high by this show in the past for things like wisdom and authentic emotion, but still, something genuine is oddly happening on this typically silly show.
Speaking of silly, let's have a very silly date disguised as serious! So after Ben gets a rose and watches a surprise country concert from a man named Adam Hambrick – because not even COVID can stop "The Bachelorette" from indulging in its cliches – Tayshia gathers the guys for a lie detector test. Now lie detectors are pretty famously debunked as accurate decoders of fact and fiction – and somehow I think this particular lie detector, complete with big glowing light bulbs, operated by fully trained professional JoJo Fletcher, isn't the most precise system. This thing is basically one honking horn sound effect away from just being one of those goose egg measuring devices from the end of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."
But anyways, each guy takes his turn on the Very Accurate and Legitimate Lie Detector, and each one is revealed to be FILLED WITH SECRETS! Brendan, for instance, accidentally reveals that he's neither ready for Tayshia to meet his parents nor ready to meet her family. Zac reveals that he's cheated in his past – a real no-no for Tayshia. Riley's name ... isn't Riley? Oh, and also Tayshia and JoJo ask Noah if a woman's ever faked an orgasm with him before. Why are you asking him that question? Like he would know the honest answer.
There are more important mysteries to get to the bottom of, though, so during the cocktail party portion of the group date, Tayshia learns more about each guy. Zac ends up being less serious than expected, his "cheating" incident taking place back in sixth grade when he French kissed – oddly specific, but whatev – another girl while he was dating his first girlfriend. If you're gonna be a cheat, at least that's the cutest and most innocent way to do it, I suppose.
Brendan explains his reluctance with families as well, noting that, since he's already been married and divorced, he takes these moments seriously and wants the next time he introduces his parents to a woman and proposes to be his last. Fair enough! I like Brendan; he seems like a soft-spoken and genuine sweetheart. DON'T YOU DARE PROVE ME WRONG!
Then there's Riley – IF THAT IS YOUR REAL NAME! (Well, that's a joke I never thought I'd use literally.) He's pushed to tears merely thinking about talking about his emotional past, but he eventually opens up to Tayshia: His real name is Dwayne Henderson Jr. after his father, but he had an ugly falling out with him after he received full custody of Riley, alienating his mother from his life and revealing himself to be someone he struggled to respect. So Riley changed his name to his middle name instead so he wouldn't be constantly reminded of his father.
It's a big emotional story at the end of a big emotional night – one that Tayshia ends by not actually giving out a group date rose, which may seem suspect at first but makes sense. Much like the art group date from last week, you don't want to make it seem like you're callously judging or ranking these guys' traumas.
So that's it, right? That's the episode? WRONG – and also I DESPERATELY WISH!
Indeed, after a long day, Tayshia heads back to her suite ... only to be greeted by an unexpected 11th hour visit from Patrick Bateman, creepily living up to his nickname. I'm just saying that if I was walking home alone in a dark abandoned La Quinta hotel late at night, and all of a sudden I heard a voice coming from my front door – at best the voice of a man I told to scram; at worst a total stranger – I would have mace in one hand, a knife in the other, and I'd be spinning in defensive circles until it was dawn. Bateman definitely thinks he's being Noah from "The Notebook" right now, doing a romantic gesture, but he's really being ... well, Patrick Bateman.
So he essentially invites himself in to have a conversation with Tayshia, but it's not really a conversation. He spends the whole time trying to fix his robot brain, saying he still doesn't understand what happened – DUDE, SHE BROKE UP WITH YOU; IT HAPPENS – while Tayshia truly has no idea what's going on or how to handle the firm-jawed, not-saying-no malfunctioning robot who's interrupting her night and not letting here relax after an emotionally exhausting day. She clearly doesn't want him there – in case the SENDING HIM HOME didn't make that clear – but she diffuses the situation by saying she needs to sleep on her thoughts before dodging an unwanted kiss and sending him away ... again. You do love to see healthy behavior like men refusing to accept no for an answer on television! Surely a healthy relationship being painted here!
Unfortunately, it appears from the preview that Bateman's return isn't just a one-night ordeal – because that's what we all wanted tonight after the prolonged, dragged-out two-on-one date: MORE Patrick Bateman drama. I take back what I said about this being the most mature and wisest season so far.
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.