The second episode of the dystopian dating show had everything: dogs, a robot's first kiss, an angry girlfriend, and "whaboom."
Screenshot via ABC
FYI this post contains some spoilers.
The Bachelorette is probably the only occasion in which a guy who says "whaboom" is officially deemed "husband material" by anyone, let alone Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher. That's why America loves it so much.
This week's episode opens with Chris Harrison seeking verbal confirmation that all the men still thought Rachel was beautiful. After the contestants each name their favorite aspects of Rachel ("She smells so good."), Chris very literarily foreshadows the tragedy that is to befall one of the contestants—"I hope everybody is here for the right reasons"—and then leaves the muscular group of suitors with their first date card.
Among the chosen are two men that have made no discernible impression on me as a viewer, Jack and Iggy; the fratty "once you go black" guy, Dean; professional tickle monster Jonathan; Whaboom's rival, Blake; pro-wrestler dad, Kenny; Rachel's former summer camp ward, Fred; and Whaboom himself, Lucas.
The main event of the date is a relay race, presided over by alleged perfect couple Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher; it is designed to tease out who among the group is "husband material." As I previously alluded to, Whaboom wins. More importantly, though, Blake is pissed and does many straight-to-cameras in which he outlines his intentions to expose "the real Lucas." This results in a beautifully petty line: "The one thing that can ruin this for [Lucas] is me—and I'm going to."
This leads us to the first confrontation of the week: While Lucas is out of the room, talking with Rachel, Blake announces to the group that he "knows Lucas from a previous encounter." This choice of phrasing makes it seem as though they once hooked up, but what's revealed isn't quite as exciting. Blake uses his opportunity to talk to Rachel during the group date chats to disclose that he was roommates with Lucas's ex-girlfriend so he knows... things... bad things... about Lucas, the main charge being that Lucas is only here to "further his 'whaboom.'"
The whole thing comes across as needlessly dramatic on Blake's part, and devolves into an intractable argument between the two men. When the camera pans out from a tight shot on Lucas and Blake to show the rest of the room, there's a stunning tableau of the men's annoyed reactions to the drama. Kenny looks exactly like the Skai Jackson meme. The fight is indeed very dumb: Lucas maintains his innocence, and Blake keeps insisting that it's all an act. In Lucas's defense, he wisely used his time with Rachel to recite an original poem—which was really bad and rhymed "smile" with "entail"—which Rachel seemed to find endearing. If I had to guess, Blake is going to be sent home before Lucas.
Side note: It seems like Blake, who originally introduced himself as a personal trainer, now identifies as an "aspiring drummer."
When Dean has his time with Rachel, they revisit the "once you go black, you never go back" incident. I'm trying to learn how to live with the fact that Rachel likes this corny white guy. She tells him, again, how much she loved the comment, and how she actually wanted to be the one to say the line to someone, but he had scooped her. When she reacted to the comment on the first night, I thought she was just being polite, in the way one often has to be around clueless white men. But she seems genuinely into it. It's insane. The rest of the evening's chats are inconsequential, and it almost seems as though Rachel actively dislikes a handful of guys in the group. She definitely isn't into Fred or the tickle monster. At the end of the night, Dean gets the first impression rose and goes in for a big horny kiss.
It seems like Blake, who originally introduced himself as a personal trainer, now identifies as an 'aspiring drummer.'
The crowning drama of the episode comes later, and I literally can't wait to talk about it. But I'm going to, because first I need to talk about Peter's one-on-one. Peter immediately stood out to me during the premiere because he is really hot. I didn't notice, however, that he might be a robot—and I fear that Rachel might be making the same mistake (of not noticing that he might be a robot).
For the one-on-one, she takes Peter on date with her adorable dog to a puppy pool party. Everything seems pretty normal—Peter and the dog are getting along swimmingly—and Rachel is already smitten with him. But when the two go to dinner, it becomes more apparent, perhaps without the distraction of a cute dog, that Peter might not have a human consciousness. Rachel is very animated during the date—the way a non-android would be when out with someone they're into—but Peter maintains an eerily blank stare. Whenever the camera pans to his face, one can almost see the metal gears turning behind his eyes. It's very odd. He says he's into her, but he displays nothing remotely resembling what we would recognize as human emotion. And at the end of the night, when it is very apparent that a kiss should occur—Rachel is practically begging for it—he doesn't go in for the kiss! Rachel is the one who has to initiate it. Prediction: Peter is a robot who has not been programed to kiss… but he can learn.
Now the main event. Last episode of The Bachelorette teased that someone's girlfriend will be showing up to rain on one man's parade of lies. Turns out that man is DeMario! The scene was just as good as one could hope. After a group date with the remaining men—a game of basketball in which no game whatsoever was to be found—DeMario's girlfriend slinks out of the stands and pulls Rachel aside to tell her that DeMario is her boyfriend of seven months. What follows is incredible: Rachel heads into the locker room where the men are waiting post-game and asks DeMario to come with her. Demario is riding high from the game (he dunked) and everyone is thus under the impression that he is about the receive the group date rose. Then he rounds a corner and sees his girlfriend! From the look on his face, you know that he recognizes her—but he turns to Rachel and says, "Oh, who is this?" It's extremely good. The vengeful ex promptly tells him exactly who she is, adding that she has the text message receipts to prove it. When DeMario can't explain himself at all, Rachel gives him the boot and storms off.
Chris Harrison, as always, is waiting in the wings to debrief with Rachel after the incident, but she just blows past him. Finding out that one of your potential partners is a liar with a girlfriend really breaks the fantasy of the set-up. "I didn't sign up for this shit," she says. "I don't even want to do this anymore. I want to go home."
But she doesn't, of course. Luckily, there happen to be a bunch of other men on the scene to comfort her. After they each take turns assuring Rachel that they do not have secret girlfriends and would, in fact, kill anyone who had a secret girlfriend in order to defend her honor, Rachel's optimism returns and her trust in the process is tenuously restored. That is, until everything is upended again by DeMario's ominous return to the gates of The Bachelorette mansion…
The episode may end on a cliffhanger, but we all know that DeMario has been eternally banished from this televised quest for love. I'm pretty pleased with how quickly The Bachelorette brought out the tears, robot conspiracies, pointless fights, and the inaugural "I don't know if I can do this" of the season. Here's to many more.