The Bachelorette recap: Daring it all

Kristen Baldwin
·16 min read

Craig Sjodin/ABC

Happy Tuesday before Thanksgiving, rose lovers! Hope everyone stays safe (and at home) for the holiday weekend. Before we all adjourn to chow down on some turkey, let’s chew over this week’s episode of The Bachelorette. (I’m sorry, that was just terrible. Forgive me.)

It’s a tense morning at the La Quinta resort, as Ben and the other guys are still stewing over Noah’s “bold move” at the group date. And then Chris Harrison comes in to twist the knife just a little bit more. “You shaved the mustache, and you got the rose — on a date you weren’t even on!” he recaps. “So, lesson learned: Tayshia likes bold.”

To that end, the host announces that Bennett, Ivan, Blake, Riley, Demar, Kenny, and Zac are going to compete for an “unbelievable, intimate, romantic one-on-one date” by writing and performing an original love song for Tayshia. And don’t worry, producers have set them up with all the equipment that they need, including a tambourine, a ukulele, a xylophone, a flute, some kind of reed pipe situation, bongos… you get the idea. The guys all disperse to their corners and try to write something remotely usable. Bennett mutters to himself, listing words that rhyme with “house” (dude, maybe don’t go with “douse”), while Kenny the boy band manager gets right down to crafting some lyrics, including “Let’s put the bulls--- away and let’s spend the day ALONE!”

The concert begins, and… you know, it’s a tone-deaf nightmare. But the guys do their best. Zac’s song has a bit of a ‘50s rock vibe, and Kenny the boy band manager manages a quasi-pop tune. Then comes Blake, whose song has no actual melody — but he does use an accordion and a mandolin. Here’s how it sounds, in reaction shot form:

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Not sure Bennett has any right to laugh at Blake because his white-boy rap is… Well, I’ll let Kenny describe it: “Watching Bennett rap, it’s — as expected — f---ing awkward.” But Bennett’s embarrassing performance is good news for Ivan! His rap (“I can see it now/ we can have a beautiful life/ you’re smart sexy and passionate/ and I can see you as my wife”) sounds like a Grammy-winning masterpiece in comparison. Though Demar offers some stiff competition with his original composition, “Mocha Latte,” Tayshia crowns Ivan the winner. “I would love for you to meet me at my suite tonight,” says the Bachelorette.

Just a reminder: Ivan is a 28-year-old aeronautical engineer who enjoys playing chess against himself. Is he too quiet and reserved for Tayshia? “He’s not the typical type of guy I may go for,” says the Bachelorette. “He’s shy at times.” Nothin’ wrong with shy, honey! And, the guy’s got a real job.

First up on Ivan and Tayshia’s romantic date night: A game of the floor is lava!

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, rose lovers: I am here for these low-budge quarantine dates! Although producers do allow Tayshia and Ivan to order one of everything on the room service menu, so this date isn’t completely free. Plus, a game of Twister costs about $17 bucks.

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Also, I love that The Bachelorette is now borrowing ideas from Bachelor Pad.

Tayshia and Ivan seem to be having a really fun time, with the Twister and the bocce ball and the room service. Ivan is Black and Filipino, and he’s surprised to hear that Tayshia’s never met someone with his background before, especially since she grew up in California. “This is like the capital of the world for Filipino people, outside of the Philippines,” he says. To be fair, Tayshia, who is Mexican and African American, tells us that “there aren’t many people like Ivan and I where I grew up. And so I haven’t really had a man my age that’s also of mixed descent to relate to.”

GOOD LORD! Look at the size of that sundae!!!!

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Dammit, now I want ice cream.

Back at the holding pen, the guys are gathered for the reading of the next date card. I guess the song competition didn’t count for the group date, because Zac, Kenny, Demar, Bennett, Riley, and Blake are the names on the card. Noah is the first to pipe up, noting that he’s a little disappointed he’s not on this group date — even though he crashed the last group date and ended up with a rose. “Seems a little greedy, Noah,” sniffs Bennett. “Thank you for your input,” Noah smirks in response.

Boys! Boys! Knock it off. Ivan and Tayshia are talking about their families right now. Ivan’s dad is 73, Tayshia’s dad is not yet 50 (“My dad could be your dad’s dad!” marvels Ivan), and they each have younger siblings. And here’s where things get sad: Ivan’s younger brother took a “dark turn” into drugs and alcohol when Ivan went to college. “Eventually it caught up with him,” says Ivan. His little brother went to prison for four years, right after becoming a father. “When my niece was born, for the first two years of her life she couldn’t even touch her dad, it was literally through a glass screen,” says Ivan, tearing up. “To see my brother, like, having to put his hand up there to hers… It was just so tough.” Then, as now, Ivan works hard to be a “second dad” for his niece. “Oh my God, you’re going to make me cry!” says Tayshia, giving Ivan a hug. Great, now we’re ALL crying!

After watching his brother go through so much, Ivan says he won’t “pass judgment on anybody.” His brother confided in him about the “really dark times” he endured in prison, and now Ivan is even more attuned to the issue of police violence. “Especially with George Floyd, and that’s like police brutality,” he says. “That’s something that really hit home for me. You can only imagine how much wilder it could be in prison, right? My brother used to tell me stories about how these CO’s, correctional officers, would beat him up.” To this day, Ivan feels guilty that his first question was always, “What did you do?” But “it doesn’t matter. No matter what George Floyd did either way or what my brother did, these people have a job to do and they need to do it right. They can’t just be hurting people for no reason.”

What's that, rose lovers? You didn’t expect to see two people of color discussing entrenched bias in law enforcement when you turned on The Bachelorette? Neither did I! When Ivan asks Tayshia how the events of 2020 have affected her, she gets emotional. It’s hard for her to talk about being a Black woman in America today, and of course, I’m sure she’s feeling pressure as the Bachelor franchise’s second (!) Black lead. “I think being in Orange County, surrounded by a lot of people that don’t look like me… I’m realizing that I’ve been trying so hard my whole life to blend in because I knew I was different,” says Tayshia. “Hearing people yell, ‘Black lives matter,’ it hit me more than I realized, just because those are people in my backyard that I’ve been trying to prove for so long that I’m the same as them.”

What’s that, rose lovers? You didn’t expect to see two people of color discussing Black Lives Matter, the burden of perceived otherness, and systemic racism in modern American when you turned on The Bachelorette? Neither did I! “I appreciate you opening up to me about your family, and how this entire year has impacted you,” says Tayshia. “Because I really haven’t been able to talk to someone that really understands me.”

What a time to be alive. Do I even need to tell you that Ivan gets the rose?

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Up next: The group date! The guys meet Tayshia outside on the lawn, where they’re soon joined by former Bachelorette Becca Kufrin and former Bachelor/Paradise contestant Sydney Lotuaco. The “ladies” announce the totally fun and not at all cheap date activity: Truth or Dare! Once divided into teams of two — Bennett and Demar, Kenny and Blake, Zac and Riley — the men are handed a map and sent to find various challenges around the property. First up:

Riley, bless him, downs an entire mason jar full of “Forbidden Love,” a.k.a. a refreshing blend of tomato, apple, banana, spinach, cow intestines, and water scorpion. Bennett and Demar, meanwhile, need to track down Bachelor Nation overlord Chris Harrison and ask him to autograph a part of their body “where the sun don’t shine.” But I’m gonna call foul here: This looks more like Demar’s upper thigh than his ass cheek.

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Later, Zac shows up and bares his actual butt, so I hope Harrison washed his hands before going back to his lunch of crab legs and Veuve Clicquot.

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Oh Lord, now Blake and Kenny have to “give us your best orgasm for one minute through the hotel phone.” I really, really don’t want to watch this. But duty calls, rose lovers.

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Kenny’s awkward exclamations (e.g., “Oh, T! T! Don’t stop! Don’t stop!”) reverberate loudly throughout the La Quinta Resort grounds for everyone — including the guys who aren’t on the date — to hear. Blake goes next, and his cringe-worthy love noises are equally mortifying.

“Blake’s got some demons, dawg,” notes Eazy. “He needs to go to church!”

The final challenge is called “That Burning Sensation,” and it’s a simultaneous truth and dare. The men must eat a habanero chili pepper and then profess their feelings for Tayshia… ideally without vomiting. “We are proposing, with a puke bucket next to us,” explains Kenny.

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One by one, the guys propose fake marriage to the Bachelorette. Bennett, who’s definitely sweating but doesn’t seem too fazed by the pepper, smoothly informs Tayshia that he knows she’s “going to be the best life-long partner I could ever ask for.” (“Bring it home!” cries Sydney, who’s looking on with Becca and swooning.) The Bachelorette LOVES Captain Harvard’s proposal. “Oh my Lord Jesus, yes!” she says, accepting the giant plastic ring.

Question: How many Bachelor Interns do you think had to get in the pool to position the two floaties for this establishing shot?

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The cocktail party will double as the “truth” portion of the “truth or dare” challenge. Bennett launches right into his confession, explaining why he ended a previous engagement. “It’s a little tough to talk about,” he says. “I don’t remember a time when my parents were solid… Sometimes I think people get married and it’s for the wrong reasons. I was close [to getting married], and I knew it wasn’t right.” Bennett goes on to say that today, fake proposing to Tayshia, was a “massive pivot point” for him. Meaning, I guess, that he might be able to love again? Anyhow, the bougie duo seal their conversation with a kiss.

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For Blake, Tayshia has this “truth” question: “What’s one thing your ex would warn me about?” Of course he’s all, Nothing! My exes love me! Nope! This is essentially the equivalent of answering the “What’s your worst quality” job interview question with, “I’m a perfectionist,” so zero points for Gryffindor. Other “truth” highlights: Riley says he won’t let his job get in the way of family; Kenny promises he won’t be “smart-assy” when he meets Tayshia’s parents; Demar reveals that his mom has been divorced twice, and he never wants to put his own family through that experience. And Zac… well, his one-on-one chat with Tayshia takes place in the hot tub, so it’s clear that this is the only truth she wants to hear from him:

Hoo boy, here comes the date rose fake-out! First, Tayshia thanks Bennett for allowing her to “connect” with him; then she lets Zac know that she enjoyed the time they spent “looking at the stars and talking about life;” and finally, she praises Blake for showing her a “different side” of his personality. And the date rose goes to… Zac!

Am I the only one who was expecting another one-on-one date after this? I’ll admit, I’m very confused about where we are in the “journey,” rose lovers. Let me think this through: Last week, there was a rose ceremony and then a group date. This week, we got a group competition which turned into a one-on-one date with Ivan, so I guess that was the one-on-one for the week? Which means after the “truth or dare” group date, it’s actually time for the rose ceremony.

Not so fast, rose lovers! Ben, who did not get any time this week, is still spiraling after disappointing Tayshia at the last group date. “I’m going to walk to her room, secret-mission style, in the cover of darkness,” he explains. “Hopefully she likes it.” And wouldn’t you know it? Ed is also feeling insecure about his standing with the Bachelorette, so he too is planning to head over to her room, to “let her know how excited I am to see her.” What’s that? You think producers encouraged both Ben and Ed to make the same “bold move” at the same time because it’ll be totally awkward and embarrassing when they both show up at Tayshia’s door? How dare you be so cynical! Everything about this “journey” to find “love” is completely organic, okay?

And anyway, look where Ed wound up.

“She’s, like, on the other side of the entire resort,” explains Harrison, who nevertheless invites poor, baffled Ed in for a drink. What’s that? You think producers intentionally gave Ed the wrong directions in order to set-up this platonic meet-cute with Harrison? How dare you be so cynical! Meanwhile, at El Presidente suite…

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“I really just wanted to apologize for making you disappointed in me at the last afterparty,” says Ben. “I’m terribly sorry.” Tayshia appreciates the sentiment, but she still admits to being frustrated with Ben’s failure to “jump at the chance to make a connection” with her. I have to say, she’s being a little harsh. The guy missed one conversation. Cut him some slack! Eventually, Tayshia forgives him, and the two share some strawberries and champagne, Pretty Woman-style.

After his little misadventure the night before, Ed is feeling salty as he heads into the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party. “Noah’s a joke,” he says. “We know that. Tayshia deserves someone who’s here for the Right Reasons™, and he’s just trying to stir the pot.” Bennett agrees: “Noah is juvenile, and it’s ridiculous for a woman of Tayshia’s stature, beauty, prowess to end up with a guy like Noah.”

As promised, Ben grabs Tayshia first. Riley and Brendan follow and then comes mustache-less Noah with his rose. His mission: Throw the other guys under the proverbial bus. Noah tells Tayshia that he’s been getting some “heat” from his rivals for crashing the group date. Plus, “It’s kind of been implied that you gave me the rose just to kinda shake things up.” And she does NOT love it.

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“You’re joking!” says Tayshia. “I’m not gonna give you a rose for show.” Oy. I wish she wouldn’t take the bait, but I also understand why she does. These people are in a bubble, folks! They’ve got nothing else to think about except the “journey” to find “love.” The Bachelorette is so annoyed with the idea that some of the guys think she’s handing out roses to “start s--t in the house,” she decides to call a house meeting.

“I’m a grown woman and I can make decisions based off of what I want to do,” announces Tayshia firmly. “And if you’re going to be questioning me, I’ll gladly walk you outside, okay? I’ll see you guys at the rose ceremony.” With that, she storms out of the room. That’s right, suckers — the cocktail party is ovah! Hell hath no fury like a Bachelorette scorned!

The men quickly discover that Noah was the last one to speak to Tayshia before she went ballistic, and they are beyond irritated. They’re even more annoyed when they learn that Noah told Tayshia that some of the guys think she gave him the rose “just for show.” After all, none of them – literally not one – has indicated anything of the sort. Noah also claims that he tried to raise these concerns with the other men before tattling to Tayshia, but of course, that’s a big ol’ lie, too. “You literally never said that to any of us sitting here!” huffs Jordan.

Bennett, too, is beyond peeved. “There is zero percent chance that you end up with Tayshia,” he informs Noah. “Everyone here knows it.” (I really wish, though, Captain Harvard hadn’t put this image into our minds: “I’m here for love, not for breastfeeding Noah.”)

The Bachelorette is clearly still pissed when she arrives at the rose ceremony. She glares silently at her potential husbands before handing out the boutonnieres. Rose ceremony roll-call! Ben, Eazy, Riley, Brendan, Bennett, Blake, Demar, Spencer, and Ed join Noah, Zac, and Ivan in the circle of safety. That means we must say goodbye to Chasen, Jordan, Kenny, and [stifled sob] Joe the anesthesiologist, a.k.a. the purest soul ever to appear on The Bachelorette. Dear TV Gods, please let Paradise happen this summer — and please make sure Joe gets a prime spot. (You can read my full Q&A with Joe right here.)

Welp, there are 12 guys left, rose lovers. Who do you love? Who do you hate? And who thinks Joe should be the next Bachelor (after Matt James)? Post your thoughts below!

The Bachelorette airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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