“The Bachelor” recap: Stop, chop, and roll

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In Jasper, Alberta, Joey must cut his roster of potential wives from six to four.

This week on The Bachelor, reality hit Joey like the bracing waters of a polar plunge, as one woman decided to leave — then changed her mind — all while he struggled to choose his final four.

Let’s recap!

The cold open gives us a preview of the moment Maria realized she is on The Bachelor. (“Bringing you to meet my family knowing that you are that way with these other women, it just doesn’t sit right with me… I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”) Spoiler: She can.

Pulling back to the beginning of the week, Joey and his final six women have arrived at Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, home to majestic mountain vistas and pine trees for days. The Bachelor rides up to the (promotional consideration provided by) Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on a motorcycle — is he licensed to drive one of those? — and says he hopes this final week before hometowns will bring him “clarity” and “confidence.” Jenn, for one, is ready to give him both: “I just want to get naked and cuddle in the woods!” (Looks a little chilly for that, but okay.)

Before the dates begin, host Jesse Palmer checks in with Joey over a friendly game of tennis.

<p>ABC</p> Jesse and Joey on 'The Bachelor'


Jesse and Joey on 'The Bachelor'

“I’m feeling good, man,” says Joey. “But this is a very purposeful week. I’m not taking hometowns lightly.”

Neither are the women. Daisy, Jenn, Rachel, and the Kelseys are all hoping for another one-on-one before this week’s rose ceremony, of course, but the first date goes to… Daisy! All the women do a good job acting happy for her, but Jenn is clearly very bummed, and she goes outside to cry. “I just hate feeling this way,” she tells Maria. “I just have so much anxiety.” (Side note: Why is everyone still wearing their coats and puffer vests inside the lodge? Discuss.)

Going into his date with Daisy, Joey is hoping she’ll finally express how she’s feeling about him. You see, all the other women have said some version of “I’m falling for you” except for Daisy. Will today be the day? “I feel like I need today to kind of understand how I’m feeling,” she admits. Well, perhaps climbing atop your trusty steed, Thunder, and riding though the park with Joey will help.

<p>ABC</p> Joey and Daisy ride through Jasper on 'The Bachelor'


Joey and Daisy ride through Jasper on 'The Bachelor'

Oh ffs. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but producers have defiled this breathtaking landscape with a portable hot tub. (I wonder what the permit situation is for something like this.) As they soak in the steamy water, Daisy says she’s excited about “the possibility of going home… Well, I guess, either way I’m going home, but hopefully it’s with you,” she adds with a laugh. The Bachelor urges her to “stay optimistic,” and then they smooch.

<p>ABC</p> 'Bachelor' producers will honestly put a hot tub anywhere


'Bachelor' producers will honestly put a hot tub anywhere

In her confessional, Daisy admits that she’s not in love with Joey “yet,” but she can see a future with him. She plans to be honest with him at dinner. “Like, I’m not going to sit here and be like, ‘I’m in love with you,’ when I’m not,” says Daisy, adding that she’s a little worried if she doesn’t drop some form of the l-bomb, Joey will send her home. Stay strong, girl! Don’t fall prey to Bachelor groupthink!

Back at the lodge, the group date card arrives: Kelsey T., Maria, Rachel, and Jenn, you’re up next! Jenn, who is still wearing her puffer vest inside, is despondent.

<p>ABC</p> Jenn is warm and weepy on 'The Bachelor'


Jenn is warm and weepy on 'The Bachelor'

Could someone please crank the thermostat? Or maybe check if Jenn has a fever? I’m sweating just looking at her.

Anyhow, that night, Daisy and Joey head to Papa George’s Restaurant for dinner. Both of them are a little on edge; the Bachelor is anxious to hear how Daisy is feeling, and Daisy is anxious about telling him. She begins by explaining that while she doesn’t need her family’s approval to give herself permission to love him, she does need to see how he fits in with the people she loves. “If I’m being, like, 100 percent honest,” she adds, “I really, really like you. But, am I there yet? No.” Oh man, poor Joey looks so crestfallen.

<p>ABC</p> Joey just wants all of Daisy's love, guys


Joey just wants all of Daisy's love, guys

Don’t give up yet, sir! Daisy just said that she can see herself falling in love with you; she just needs more time to figure it out. “I appreciate your honesty about it,” says Joey. “I just want you to feel confident for me to meet [your family] even if you’re not there yet.” Daisy explains that it’s a huge thing for someone to come home with her, because of how much her family went through when she had her serious health struggles. “I just know they’re gonna have some big questions for you,” she says. Joey feels confident that he can be the person to take care of her “in sickness and in health,” and he’s ready to make that case in front of her family. In other words…

<p>ABC</p> Daisy secures a hometown date on 'The Bachelor'


Daisy secures a hometown date on 'The Bachelor'

Daisy, you’ve just locked in a hometown date! Congrats. They end the night with a little ice hockey, because when in Canada… you know the rest.

The (relatively tiny) group date is all about enjoying the great outdoors. Joey meets them at a lumber farm, where a professional lumberjill named Anita Jezowski is there to teach the women about her sport. Everyone gets into it, doing their best to saw logs, split wood, and throw axes, but Maria is in a mood. “I don’t usually do the outdoors,” she says. “I’m a little lost in this.”

<p>ABC</p> Good try, Maria


Good try, Maria

“After coming off such an amazing one-on-one, I’m not happy about being on a group date with three other people,” she complains. “If I’m not going to be with Joey, I would just rather be by myself.” Fortunately, Maria is able to take out her anger on a defenseless log, which she assaults with an ax.

Of course, all this practice leads to a contest: Joey’s Ultimate Lumberjill Competition. The winner gets a “Timber Queen Extraordinaire” log trophy, and, I guess, a good cardio workout?

<p>ABC</p> Put your core into it, Jenn!


Put your core into it, Jenn!

The final challenge in the course is the “Elk Milk Chug.” I’m sorry, what does this have to do with being a lumberjill? Rachel is lactose intolerant and allergic to milk protein, but she absolutely refuses to lose.

<p>ABC</p> There isn't enough Lactaid in the world to make this ok


There isn't enough Lactaid in the world to make this ok

Even though Joey and I are both gagging, Rachel manages to keep that thick stuff down. (I hope she has a private bathroom in her hotel suite.) She wins round one, but Kelsey T. wins the overall competition and gets the truly hideous trophy.

As Joey is in the middle of his post-competition confessional, Jenn walks up and interrupts him.

<p>ABC</p> Jenn steals a hug from Joey on 'The Bachelor'


Jenn steals a hug from Joey on 'The Bachelor'

“I’m just going to steal you for a little good luck kiss,” she coos. Wait, good luck for what? Now I’m confused. Joey was just talking about the competition in the past tense, yet while Jenn is smooching him mid-confessional, the camera cuts to Maria holding an ax. Given how much she’s complained about this whole date, I think it’s very doubtful that she’d still be practicing her lumberjill skills once the competition was over. So… were the producers making Joey talk about the competition before it actually happened? That seems unnecessary. But whatever; reality TV has its own definition of “reality.”

Both Rachel and Maria witness Jenn’s sneaky kiss, and they do NOT love it. “I did not need to see that,” mutters Rachel. And Maria says the whole thing makes her sick to her stomach. “This is just too much,” she grouses.

At the after-party, Jenn is honest with Joey about how disappointed she was when she didn’t get a one-on-one date. Part of her concern comes from how “complicated” her family is, because her Vietnamese mother doesn’t entirely understand “American culture” — and I’m sure that includes husband shopping on TV. Jenn’s also never brought anyone home before, which makes the prospect of a hometown date more stressful. Joey says her family dynamic doesn’t scare him or change his feelings for her. “I’ll do everything in my power to feel like I can be a part of your family,” he adds. This makes Jenn feel better, and they smooch.

When Kelsey T. sits down with Joey, she reveals that her dad — the one who stopped talking to her for a long time when she wouldn’t devote herself to his church — doesn’t know she’s on the show. It’s unclear, then, if Joey would meet him if he gave Kelsey T. a hometown date. One thing is certain: Kelsey is deeply infatuated with her Joey-Joey. “I know how my heart feels, and it feels full when I’m with you,” she says. The Bachelor LOVES it, and they smooch.

And then it’s Maria’s turn.

<p>ABC</p> Maria just realized what show she's on


Maria just realized what show she's on

“[Last week] changed everything for me,” says Maria. “I just can’t hear and know that you feel just as good or better with [other] women. I can’t do it anymore.”

Joey tries to assure her that he “truthfully” cares about her, but it falls on deaf ears. “So, is this it?” he asks. “Is it something that your mind is made up? Because it feels like it might be.” Maria nods her head and whispers, “I think it is.”

Spoiler: It’s not.

Maria leaves the room to cry and vent her feelings to an unseen producer. “I only want to be with him,” she says through her sobs. “I just don’t like that I can’t say he’s mine.” Meanwhile, poor Joey can feel his proverbial walls going right back up. “I’m questioning everything,” he says with a sigh.

After a few minutes, Maria returns — and now her mood is penitent. “I just had a little moment,” she says. “I might have, I don’t want to say overreacted, because it’s just truthfully how I feel. I think out loud a lot and I say things, and I don’t want you to ever think that it’s you that I’m running from.” Maria credits her behavior to being “scared,” and basically implies that now she wants to stay.

Look, everyone’s entitled to a freak out, but Maria is 29 years old, and her freak out was dangerously close to being a tantrum. None of the other women on the group date wanted to share Joey, either, but they made the best of it instead of pouting and moping. I like Maria and was even starting to root for her as the next Bachelorette — but this bratty behavior is giving me some second thoughts.

Joey, too, has some reservations. “I need someone that’s in it, fully,” he says. “I don’t need an apology. What I need… is you feeling like you can still be here.”

Of course she can, silly! Maria informs Joey that she won’t kiss him tonight because he needs to learn his lesson. Then she smooches him. "You are all over the place, woman," says the Bachelor. He's not wrong!

Well, Joey, are you ready to hand out the date rose?

<p>ABC</p> No rose for you, ladies


No rose for you, ladies

“I need more time,” says the Bachelor. Welp, okay then. It’s time for the final one-on-one date of the season. Kelsey A., you’re up!

Joey’s looking forward to an easy, drama-free day as he and Kelsey A. stroll around exploring Jasper. They hit the souvenir shops, grab some hot cocoa, and play some pool at the Whistle Stop Pub. Then a man named Paul Hardy, billed onscreen as a “Typical Canadian,” sidles up to chat with Joey and Kelsey. “There’s a pretty awesome event that, when in Canada, you have to do it,” he tells the couple. “It’s called the Polar Bear Plunge.” This franchise loves to dip its contestants in subzero waters, doesn’t it? (Somewhere, Tierra is still shivering.)

Kelsey’s very excited to try it, but Joey is hesitant. “I don’t got a lot of meat on these bones,” he says. “So, I get cold pretty easily.”

I’m sorry, but we must take a moment to appreciate the graphics that Team Bachelor created for this polar plunge event.

<p>ABC</p> Give the graphics team a raise


Give the graphics team a raise

“High-pitched squealing and shrinkage,” LOL. Good luck with all that, Joey. “I don’t do well in the cold,” frets the Bachelor. “And it’s f---ing cold.” That’s the whole point, buddy! Love is like submerging your meat sack in a painfully frigid lake and hoping you don’t die. Three… two… one… plunge!

<p>ABC</p> Joey and Kelsey A. try to stay warm on 'The Bachelor'


Joey and Kelsey A. try to stay warm on 'The Bachelor'

“I can’t breathe,” pants Joey. (“This is stupid!” bellows an off-camera plunge participant.) Joey and Kelsey clamber out of the water and take refuge in a little outdoor sauna.

Dinner takes place indoors. Joey and Kelsey talk about her potential hometown date. She’s hoping he will meet her dad and all four of her siblings. Kelsey gets emotional talking about how close she is with her dad, and how strong he’s been since her mother died. Oh, it’s time for Joey’s patented Tear Wipe™ — everybody drink!

<p>ABC</p> Joey comforts Kelsey A.


Joey comforts Kelsey A.

Kelsey says the only thing that she really fears in this “journey” is Joey not knowing who he wants to be with in the end. The Bachelor says he’ll only propose if he has “zero doubts,” and Kelsey LOVES it. Go on, Joey — give her the hometown date rose!

Oh boy, now two of the four roses gone. That means the pressure is really on for Kelsey T., Jenn, Rachel, and Maria when they talk to Joey tonight at the cocktail party. It’s a make-or-break moment, ladies!

Hey, look who’s here! It’s Jesse Palmer, Host.

<p>ABC</p> Jesse Palmer brings the room down


Jesse Palmer brings the room down

Our man does not need a butter knife to deliver bad news. For whatever reason, Joey has canceled the cocktail party. It’s all over but the crying, rose lovers. Who will join Daisy and Kelsey A. in the Circle of Safety™?

Just when we think we’re about to find out, Joey enters the rose ceremony room and asks Maria if she’ll join him in another room for a chat. The other women do NOT love it.

<p>ABC</p> Rachel is displeased


Rachel is displeased

Sorry, Rachel, but our Bachelor needs to double and triple-check that Maria is still in it to “win” it. “I like you. I see something in what this can be,” he says. “But the last time I left you, you were on your way out… I want to feel confident that you want to be here.” Maria once again insists that her meltdown was the result of her insecurities getting the better of her. “I like you, a lot,” she says. “I’m here, and I want to be here.”

Cool, cool. Time for a rose ceremony roll call? Yes, let’s do it. And your final four are…

<p>ABC</p> Our final four


Our final four

So sorry, Jenn and Kelsey T., but your “journey” ends here. Aw man, I really liked Kelsey T., too. She’d make a good Bachelorette, IMHO, but I think she’s going to have a lot of competition. And Jenn’s right — somebody else will be more than happy to be her “person.”

Holy cow, it’s almost hometown time! Before you go, rose lovers, a few questions for you: Do you think Maria overreacted to the group date, or was her behavior understandable? Were you surprised Joey sent Jenn and Kelsey T. home? And would you rather do a polar bear plunge or chug a glass of elk milk? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @KristenGBaldwin or on Bluesky at @KristenGBaldwin.bsky,social.

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