Emily Maynard and her final three men steamed up the beautiful island of Curaçao this week on "The Bachelorette," but they kept the action on-camera. That meant no fantasy suite overnights for anyone this season, not even "Sweet Arie," who has been stoking Emily's fire for weeks. Nevertheless, the seaside setting provided plenty of opportunities for smooching, cuddling, and showing off of bathing-suit bodies -- but the fun came to an end when Emily had to send one love-struck suitor packing.
Date No. 1: Butterflies and brawn
Phew -- too many episodes have aired without one of the show's signature helicopter rides, so it was a relief to see Sean and Emily hop into a chopper for the first date of the week. Emily said Sean would be "the best dad ever," and that his combination of rippling muscles and endearing vulnerability gives her "butterflies in [her] heart."
Even so, Sean was treading on thin ice -- Emily was majorly miffed that he remained the only suitor who hadn't yet said "I love you," an intolerable omission from a member of the top three. The tension mounted as Sean continued to dance around the topic despite Emily's insistent digging for the three crucial words.
Sean stepped up his game over dinner, and pulled a Jef by whipping out a letter that he'd written to read aloud to Emily. Unlike Jef's, the letter was addressed not to Emily but to her daughter Ricki, in hopes that he'd one day be her father (but never replace her father). The letter was followed, finally, but Sean's confession of love. "I have fallen in love with you, and I know it without a shadow of a doubt," he said, shifty-eyed and sweating slightly. Emily grinned in approval, and took his concession as a cue to present him with the room key to their fantasy suite. He accepted gratefully, but was careful to state that he was excited to stay up late and talk to her (not just to see what was under all her bedazzled dresses). Emily allowed it at first, but decided to kick him out after a sexy hot-tub makeout session, citing her desire to set a good example for her daughter.
Date No. 2: Daddy issues
It's hard to believe that a guy who rolled into the first rose ceremony on a skateboard has made it to the top three -- but Jef, who kept his pompadour the whole season, is a clear front-runner. He makes Emily laugh "more than anyone." Plus, she likes "guys with a little bit of an edge."
Jef and Emily got to ride on a yacht and play in the water on their date, which started out surprisingly stiff but warmed up once Jef revealed that his family had approved of Emily during last week's hometown date, and that his religious, skeptical parents were finally open to meeting her. The family talk flew thick and fast, but Jef was obviously (and rightfully) weirded out that he still hadn't met Ricki, and that he was about to propose to Emily without having a clue what it's like to be a father. He asked her whether he'd be a good parent, and she assured him that he would be but struggled a bit to clarify exactly how or why. None of his family had seemed confident that he was ready to be a dad, and he clearly shared their uncertainty.
Jef's shining moment came over dinner when he refused the room key to the fantasy suite out of respect that Emily's daughter would one day be watching the show, along with his own family. "They're involved in this process, too," he said. "There's a time and a place." His reasons for refraining from a night alone were identical to Emily's, and she was sent reeling with what looked suspiciously like love. Jef might be the most outwardly unsure about his abilities as a father, but proved once again that he has the most potential for the role. Emily might have met her match with this one.
Date No. 3: Keep your hands where we can see them
Emily and "Sweet Arie" have a reputation for sucking face like two teenagers at a lookout point, and this week was no exception. They had an immense amount of trouble keeping their paws off each other but managed to cool it long enough to swim with Curaçao's friendly dolphins, who also seemed to want a piece of the Bachelorette. Emily admitted to being concerned about the intensity of her sexual chemistry with Arie: "It's hard to even talk," she said. "We just want to kiss each other." They came up for air to reminisce about some of their best moments together, but tellingly, those were all moments where they had been kissing.
Emily resolved to spend dinner finding out whether there was more to Arie than a pair of lips. They discussed their daily schedules, and Emily was aghast to find out that he's accustomed to waking up at 9 a.m. -- a revelation that led to that whole Ricki thing being brought up. Arie went on about how much he wants to be a "buddy" to Ricki to gain her trust, which scored him major points.
Yet Emily still made the shocking decision of not even offering the fantasy suite key to Arie, after realizing that she didn't trust herself to uphold her motherly morals in the face of their urgent, mutual desire to get it on. It was clear that she'd taken the right precaution during a goodnight kiss with more chemistry than the rest of this season's smooches combined. "Good lord, he's hot," she concluded.
The Rose Ceremony: Ouch
Emily was sad and shaky going into the rose ceremony, and confessed to Chris Harrison that she lacked clarity about her decision. "I had three perfect dates," she said. "I see a happy life with each of them."
To make her decision even more painful, each of the men had taped what Chris referred to as a "last plea" for her viewing pleasure. Sean was a repetitive and a little dull. Jef struck the requisite "edgy" note in a deeply cut V-neck T-shirt. Arie peppered his speech with strategic reminders of the sexy kisses they've shared.
Emily looked physically ill while watching the appeals for her love. She really felt terrible about having to hurt someone so deeply. "I don't think any of them thinks it's them -- that's what's so hard," she said.
Jef received the first rose, and a long, harrowing pause followed, punctuated with heavy sighs from Emily. Arie finally received the second rose, and Sean's face was transformed with shock and grief. She was right -- he did not see it coming.
Sean shook with emotion as Emily walked him out. "I think you know it's going to hurt me," he said, which had her sobbing into her hands. He took his leave calmly but gravely, fending off tears and working through his shock. "I knew without a doubt that I was going to marry her," he said. Oh, Sean. Not to worry -- with those biceps, there's always "The Bachelor Pad."