With Hometowns just a week away – wait, really?! Didn't this season start just, like, two weeks ago?! *extremely Talking Heads voice* HOW DID I GET HERE!? – things are getting serious for Rachel and Gabby on "The Bachelorette." And nothing screams getting serious like going to Amsterdam, home of notorious tomfoolery and apparently cheese royalty. But indeed, the ladies do get serious this week, having to make some brutal cuts before meeting families – and, in one case, not having to do any cuts at all because apparently one guy just ... disappeared. I know we thought Logan was flighty – but this is ridiculous!
So upon our arrival in Amsterdam, Rachel and Gabby deliver their one-on-one dates to the dudes – and both are double-dipping, giving second solo dates to Zach in Rachel's case and Nate for Gabby. And a few of the bros are getting grumbly – Ethan because he's the only one who hasn't had a one-on-one date yet and the writing on the wall is probably becoming pretty clear, Tino because he's been reading my recaps and knows he's the frontrunner so why is Rachel wasting time with another dude.
But we'll get to Tino: Let's start with the other frontrunner, Nate, who doesn't start off the date with the traditional run and big grand romantic hug. No, the man gives Gabby a slow, contained walk-up because THE MAN KNOWS ABOUT BUILDING TENSION. It's great; it's a move of confidence. So what's on the docket for the Nate date? Boat ride? Tulip field? Pulling a "Fault in Our Stars" and making everyone uncomfortable by kissing at the Anne Frank House? No? We're ... we're just walking? Walking for a really long time? Walking all the way through the commercial break? Oh no ... OH NO!
Indeed, if Nate knows how to build up to a moment, Gabby ... less so, as seemingly out of nowhere, she explains that, because she's not ready to immediately become a mother right after this – and because she doesn't want to meet his daughter and get her emotions involved in this just to vanish – she's breaking up with Nate. It may seem out of nowhere, but actually, if we've been listening to Gabby, it tracks. She's talked numerous times about how her relationship with her mother – or lack thereof – really hurt her emotionally, so it makes sense that she wouldn't want to put another child in the same position, to have a mother who wasn't ready and therefore emotionally wasn't there. The logic is sound and more than understandable, even if it is a full-force gutpunch to the heart, as Gabby starts crying before she can even sit down on the bench.
Eventually, though, she gets it all out, and Nate handles it like a grown-up – even if he, like many of us watching, is a little blindsided. And (*sniffs air*) what's that smell? No, it's not the scent of pot brownies or pollen from the tulips. Smells like a future "Bachelor" star to me! After all, the show does need to do a Black "Bachelor" season that isn't a total raging landfill fire – and how adorable would it be to have Nate's daughter along for the trip, serving as his sounding board and confidante during the show? Hire me to produce this season, ABC! Unlike this season, I'LL ACTUAL EXPLAIN RULES AND PLAN THINGS OUT!
So while Nate gets a final date of doing nothing but looking at a river and getting his heart smushed, Zach gets the Amsterdam dream date. Gabby and Nate get a sidewalk and sadness, while Rachel and Zach get literally everything awesome about the Netherlands lining up to greet them – pretty much literally! AND TO THINK RACHEL ONCE THOUGHT SHE WAS DONE WITH THIS SHOW!
Indeed, they get to see the legendary tulip fields – and better yet, bike their way into finding a cheese vendor. God, I love how much of this season has been spent just eating and drinking delicious things. VERY RELATABLE PROGRAMMING! It's not just tasty, though; when you eat and drink, you converse and actually interact with casual discussion. It's not like the stunt dates where you're all focused on your weird gimmick that no one actually speaks. It's natural – and it's nice! After the queso, they go shoe-shopping (don't get too excited; it's for wooden clogs, aka not exactly functional footwear). And then, what better way to wash down cheese than with lemonade! Well ... wine. Wine is a better way to wash down cheese – but it'd be weird if precious kids were running a vino stand, so this'll work.
Rachel and Zach top off this run through Netherlands neighborly-ness by visiting a windmill. OH NO, THAT'S A LOADED DESTINATION IN "BACHELOR" HISTORY – but thankfully nothing dramatic happens before the two chill out in a hot tub. Hopefully the lemonade youths are gone for this part. Even if they were, though, it's more emotionally intimate than, you know, INTIMATELY intimate, with Zach opening up to Rachel that he's totally confident with introducing her to his parents and family – in fact, THEY'RE THERE RIGHT NOW! (No, just kidding, but how great would that have been?)
After about a dozen more drone shots over the tulip field, Rachel and Zach end their magical date with a tour through an absolutely gorgeous museum filled with iconic paintings and impressive architecture. (Man, just rubbing it in Nate's face at this point that his date got NONE of this.) Even better, they have an open conversation about how Zach began going to therapy to deal with some self-esteem issues, to which Rachel and him bond over how much they really enjoy going to therapy. IT'S GREAT; we love a mature 21st century conversation! And, for a perfect ending, Zach busts out the L-word, getting the rose and dancing with Rachel as they find a bonus string quartet playing nearby. Phew, I really thought the show was going to wreck the classic vibes by shipping some random country singer out to Amsterdam – because when I think Vermeer, I think Nashville. String quartet: much better.
So while Rachel's living a dream, Gabby's having the opposite, still bummed about sending Nate home and, I don't know, maybe she's seasick too. They have spent A LOT of time on this cruise ship. But anyways, she needs a pick-me-up – and what better pick-me-up than sex!
OK, yeah, this show's still on ABC, so we're not going to the Red Light District – but we DO bring in a dominatrix to talk getting down to business and to help Gabby's guys with communication. (Which, as my experience seeing "50 Shades" with a real-life submissive showed, is a critical part of the arrangement, so calling herself a "communication expert" is not wrong!) Of course, guys being guys, Gabby's fellas collapse into a bunch of awkward giggleputzes for most of the date. I mean, Logan chooses "asbestos" for his safe word so you see how seriously they're taking this. (Though, in fairness, "asbestos" would pretty quickly murder any sexy moods – so effective!) The only one who seems truly DTF – "down to featherduster," obviously – during this date is Johnny, who seems pretty comfortable with all of the discomfort. Man, it's going to be WILD going from this to meeting parents next week – a real contrast of energies.
Making it even wilder: This is the last actual date they'll go on. Yep, while Gabby had an afterparty planned to get down to serious conversations and lock in her Hometown dudes, Palmer shows up to shut it down because somebody's got COVID. And who mucked up everything for everyone? YOU GUESSED IT: LOGAN! Classic Logan. The man is a MENACE, just destroying plans all over the place. So while Logan is just ... never seen again (no, actually, where'd he go?) Gabby is a little upset that she spent the afternoon goofing around when now she wasn't able to really get down to brass tacks with her remaining bros. NOTHING'S COMING UP GABBY THIS WEEK!
On the other hand, Rachel can't stop having a great time in Amsterdam – no special brownies needed. Instead, it's MORE CHEESE as Rachel and her group date guys putter their way into a cheese market in Edam, the cheese capital of the world (not named Wisconsin). GREAT DATE! For a show notorious for people not eating on dates, WE ARE DINING THIS SEASON, AND WE ARE LOVING IT!
I'll tell you what else I love too: guys actually starting to play the game! For the first time in what's felt like years, a guy – Aven, in this case – steals away the Bachelorette for some bonus private time. We like the friendly and non-toxic vibes of the show, but the deferential attitude toward one's competition has resulted in the Bachelorette feeling a little unseen and unwanted in recent seasons. (Remember Michelle had to remind her guys why they were there?) Part of it, cynically, might be guys not wanting to be villains or disliked because they want to still be in the Bachelor Nation podcast/"Paradise" ecosystem when it's all over. Part of it might just be ... well, guys can be stupid and easily distracted. No matter the reason, the guys just haven't been stepping up much and working for that extra time for their girlfriend. COME ON, Y'ALL; WHAT HAPPENED TO NOT BEING HERE TO MAKE FRIENDS!?
So bless Aven, as he finally makes a move and steals Rachel away for some private flirtation – and bless Tino, who follows suit right after. The only problem: In the process, they're pulling her away from the cheese market. DON'T CURD-BLOCK HER!
Well, everyone will eventually get their money's worth in cheese because – lo and behold – Edam happens to have a traditional strongman competition that the guys just have to compete in. Shirtless, naturally, and rubbed down in lotion – just like Edam did centuries ago. The old local men in their old-timey hats and outfits seem DISPLEASED. (Also: Googling Edam, cheese and strongman results in ... just about no results, so it would appear this beloved tradition is approximately one season of television old.) But anyways, the guys prepare themselves for cheese combat – with Ethan particularly concerned because he's actually lactose intolerant but willing to trade a very bad night for a very good day with Rachel. THAT'S COMMITMENT, RACHEL!
Thankfully, the man's not going to need an IV of Lactaid that night because it's not a eating competition – instead, it's a cheese-lifting competition, with the guys having to lift wooden beams with increasing numbers of cheese wheels dangling off each end. I think I could lift maybe one or two Babybel cheese snacks, so I am impressed by the fellas' curd-carrying abilities – especially Tino, who wins out over Ethan and gets named (*cue regal trumpet fanfare*) the Cheese King of Edam. No matter who actually wins Rachel's heart, obviously Tino is the winner this season.
One final question, though: Skimming through ABC's press photos for the new episode, apparently there was also a cheese curd ... pond situation?
WHERE IS THE FOOTAGE, ABC!? These men took whey baths for NOTHING!? Everyone knows you don't cut the cheese! I DEMAND we see this zaniness. #ReleaseTheCheeseCut
Anyways, Tino may be cheese royalty, but he ends up looking like a joker by the end of the date. You see, Tino feels VERY confident about his relationship with Rachel and really thinks he's got this rose on lock. Just one problem: While he may be the favorite, Rachel's got some other strong connections as well, including with Tyler who scores the date rose despite his lack of rank in the cheese monarchy. And Tino just ... can't believe it. DOTH INSULT LORD CHEESE THIS WAY!? So while the rest of the guys have the usual post-date drinks, Tino runs off to a dark hallway to grumble about how he crushed this date and doesn't get how he didn't win the rose. It's not a great look – especially because he makes the situation sound very game-ified and calculated, even if that's not the case. The rest of the guys certainly don't like it – with Ethan scoring the line of the night, calling Tino a "baby back b*tch." I'm going to need that sung in the Chili's baby back ribs jingle ASAP, internet.
Anyways, things settle down the next day as Ethan and Tino talk it out, the latter explaining that they felt disrespected by him storming off and Tino apologizing, saying that he just felt hurt that a date he thought was perfect clearly wasn't enough. He'll at least always have his scepter of cheese.
We move on to the rose ceremony, where weirdly Logan still ... isn't there. IS HE ALIVE?! The show doesn't really explain what the deal is, with Gabby just saying that he's not able to join for the journey right now. So does that mean he just gets to pop back in when he's all good, no matter what? Or has he been tossed overboard for good? Logan, MUCKING UP THE RULES AGAIN! Then again: WHAT RULES!? What is the structure of this season!? I've very much enjoyed how much this show has ventured away from its old formulas and predictable structures – but I've also been more confused this season than most, and I think our stars have been the same. IF ONLY THERE WAS A PRODUCER!
The more tragic loss during the rose ceremony, though, is my beloved ritualistic sacrifice frocks. Yes, Rachel and Gabby both upgraded to fur coats for this latest ceremony, meaning we're no longer rocking the frock. I miss the aesthetic; always added a bit of tension that maybe they'd ceremonially slay a goat at the end of the episode.
And really, we could've used some tension for this rose ceremony because, before a single rose was handed out, it was obvious who was getting tossed off the boat. Indeed, who will Gabby choose: Jason who she had a great date with; Johnny, who was fun and deep during his solo date as well as during the dominatrix group hang; Erich, whose been sparking chemistry this entire season; and Spencer, who ... existed? I think he got a bonus one-on-one date for winning the boxing match – but even the show didn't care, mostly spending its time with Rachel being sad. So yeah, Spencer's done – and so is poor, sweet Ethan, the lone guy on Rachel's side who had yet to get a solo date and now never will. And he didn't even get to be the Cheese King of Edam! At least we'll always have "baby back b*tch" – and I'm betting he'll be a favorite in "Paradise." After all, he's handsome, he's nice and he was willing to sacrifice his guttyworks in the name of love (and curd supremacy).
And so our Eurotrip comes to end, as we'll return to America next week for Hometowns. (Again: ALREADY!?) I have a feeling families won't be the only special guests next episode, though, as I can't imagine this was the end of Logan. The guy was causing so many emotions and low-key dramas this season, and he's just going to ... vanish? That's not the "Bachelorette" franchise I know and love (or at least appreciate while drinking alcohol). There's still more chaos tucked away in that man's fluffy brow. He has so much more structure and stability to ruin.
Then again: Structure and stability this season – what's that!?
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.