Desiree Hartsock's Bachelors certainly know how to bring the drama (if not the ratings). Three weeks into her "journey" as the Bachelorette, the guys have already given us a hospital visit, a girlfriend scandal, a declaration of love (too soon!), and a secret meeting. So let's get to it!
The episode starts with Chris Harrison delivering a date card to the guys at the mansion. Mikey, Michael, Brooks, Chris, Brandon, Ben, Drew, Zack, Brad, and Brian are off to meet Des, who has given them this cryptic clue: "Love is a battlefield." When they arrive at their destination, the guys learn that they're going to play against/be humiliated by a team of men from the National Dodgeball League. ("We seem to be getting our butts kicked," Brooks says astutely.)
After several minutes of the Bachelors getting pegged with balls, Chris Harrison stops by to save the guys from further embarrassment. Just kidding! He's really there to tell them that they're going to split into teams and fight it out for Des' affections in a public, "winner-takes-all" dodgeball match -- all while wearing very short shorts, tank tops, headbands, and knee socks.
"When the guys walked in, I about died laughing," Des says. "It is so funny to see grown men in little tiny shorts."
The blue team -- Ben, Drew, Zack, Brad, and Brian -- handily takes the first round, eliminating each member of the red team -- Mikey, Michael, Brooks, Brandon, and Chris -- with relative ease. After a quick pep talk from Des, though -- "Whatever you're doing now, it's not working" -- the red team bounces back and wins round two, which means the overall victors will be determined by a tie-breaking third round.
"It's only a matter of time before an ambulance arrives and someone has a broken face," Michael jokes. And he's right -- or half right, at least.
The final game gets under way, but within seconds of the starting whistle, Brooks' finger is crushed by a fellow Bachelor, and a medic has to be called to the scene. After a few minutes of him writhing on the ground in pain and successfully milking the situation for some extra attention from Des, he's taken away to the hospital, leaving the rest of the guys to resume playing without him. Eventually it's down to just Chris and Zack, who manages to narrowly edge out his competitor to take "all the marbles" -- read: "all the minutes with Des" -- for the blue team. But it turns out not to matter, as Des decides to invite both the winners and the losers to the after-party.
The guys -- minus Brooks, who is still in the emergency room and at one point actually passes out from the pain -- get themselves cleaned up to meet Des for the poolside portion of the date, which kicks off with a little one-on-one time between Des and Brad. The latter explains in a confessional that he has some things to tell Des about his past -- things that have "haunted" him -- and he's not kidding. It turns out that Ben isn't the only single dad in the house; Brad also has a son, 3-year-old Maddox, with an ex-girlfriend.
But that's not all. Maddox's mom apparently had a drinking problem and tried to drunkenly steal Brad's car a few years ago. "I was trying to stop her," he explains to Des. "The next thing I know, the cops are arresting me for domestic violence."
Fortunately for Des, her one-on-ones with the other guys are less intense. Chris is the only standout; he takes her away to a secret spot on the roof for a romantic chat, and Des seems impressed -- until poor, injured Brooks shows up at the party and steals her away for some private canoodling. "Damn that Brooks," Chris jokes. "He's so good. So charming."
It looks for a minute like Brooks might win the date rose by playing the sympathy card, but Des chooses instead to reward Chris with the boutonniere -- and a private concert by Kate Earl. "I'm ecstatic right now," Chris gushes in a voiceover as he dances with Des. "This is the greatest moment so far on this journey. It's kind of like a fairy-tale."
The next day, Des is preparing for her one-on-one date with Kasey when she gets a call from Chris Harrison, who has "some bizarre news" about one of the Bachelors. Des rushes over to the mansion to confront the guy in question -- Brian, who apparently has a girlfriend back home -- telling him she just wants to know if he's sincere and ready to move on from his last relationship, which he said ended very recently. "I feel something very strongly for you," he lies in response.
Their chat is interrupted when Chris Harrison shows up with Brian's girlfriend, Stephanie, who reams him for both betraying her and deceiving Des. "You realize that this girl is looking for love, looking for a husband? You think you're capable of that?" she snipes.
The situation gets progressively worse from there, with Stephanie calling Brian a coward and Brian accusing Stephanie of throwing rocks at his face. ("I did throw rocks at your face. Because you're a jerk!" she replies.) It turns out that Stephanie actually tried to break up with Brian one day before he left to come on The Bachelorette -- he told her he was going to a business meeting -- but he convinced her to give them one more shot. "You're a lying, cheating, deceitful pig," she yells at him. "What am I supposed to tell Donovan, my son? He looks up to you."
"Brian needs to go home. He's obviously not here for the right reasons," Des says. "He wasted my time. I don't know what was going through his head."
Des moves on then to her date with Kasey, but the rest of the guys are still reeling. Brandon seems particularly shaken and later breaks down in tears on camera. "This week is really just messing me up," he says in a confessional, explaining that he identifies with Stephanie's son. "I've had a lot of men come into my life as father figures, and I've fallen in love with them. And then they're just gone. I don't want to fall in love and lose it again. I just don't want anyone to leave me anymore."
Meanwhile, on Sunset Boulevard, Des and Kasey are dancing on the side of a building, which is apparently not as fun as it sounds. ("It is physically and mentally exhausting to be up here," Kasey says of the activity.) Worn out, the two try to unwind with a romantic rooftop rendezvous -- but the Santa Ana winds nearly blow them both away. A dip in the pool proves ill-advised, too, and though they share a kiss in the water, they're both shivering to much to really enjoy it.
"This is just a disastrous date," Des says. But she decides to give Kasey a rose anyway, as it's not his fault things went so poorly. "Today has been pretty off, but Kasey is a great guy," she explains. "He is in this for me, and I really do trust him."
The second group date of the week kicks off the next day with a trip to Rose 'N' Thorn Ranch, where Des, James, Juan Pablo, Bryden, Dan, and Zak get some training from the stunt team behind Disney's new movie The Lone Ranger. After a series of "Cowboy Boot Camp" tutorials in lassoing, pistol work, and stage fighting, the guys are tasked with "rescuing" Des in a cheesy, Wild West scenario. "Whoever can be my lone ranger and break away from the pack will get some one-on-one time," she teases.
Each of the guys attempts to put his own spin on the scene, but Juan Pablo takes the cake with his bilingual version. (He performs most of his lines in Spanish.) As a reward, he gets to hide out in a barn with Des and watch an advance screening of The Lone Ranger. Not surprisingly, they end up making out instead. "Juan Pablo is the best and worst movie date, because he's distracting," Des quips. "I think he's very sexy, and he has this vibe that's just so sensual."
Moving on! Later that night, at the cocktail party, Des shares some one-on-one time with Bryden, Zak, and James, who tells Des he's having a hard time being away from his dad, who has pancreatitis. He needs reassurance that he's staying for a good reason, so she gives it to him in the form of the date rose. He's elated -- but the other guys are crushed.
The next day, Chris Harrison comes to the mansion to announce that the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party has been canceled. Instead, Des wants all the guys to join her for a "relaxed, chill pool party." The Bachelors are psyched, but things get off to a rocky start when Ben sneaks off to see Des before the bash and convinces her to take a ride in her blue Bentley. Mikey and Kasey are less than thrilled to see the two kissing in the driveway -- especially when Ben lies to them about the secret meetup. They confront him (again), but Ben's not rattled. "It's called The Bachelorette for a reason," he says. "It's not called Let's Make Friends."
Elsewhere, Brandon and Des are chatting about his feelings for her. "I am falling in love with you," he says, a little overzealously. "I think about you all day long. There's not much else to think about except how perfect and meant to be we are." He kisses her then, and though she kisses him back, it's obvious she's a little thrown by the intensity of his affection.
That night at the rose ceremony, Brandon raves that he has "never felt so confident" -- which of course means he's going home. Des awards roses to Bryden, Juan Pablo, Brooks, Drew, Zack, Zak, Brad, Michael, Mikey, and Ben, leaving Dan and Brandon the odd men out. Both are disappointed, but Brandon, in particular, doesn't react well, and Des has to take him outside to explain her decision.
"What a mistake. What a giant mistake," he says miserably. "I pretty much just got my heart smashed by a hammer. And it sucks. I was in love with Des. She just didn't feel it. Once again, someone left me. Once again. Way to go, Brandon. I can't even cry. I'm just out of tears."
Tell Us: Do you think the right guys went home this week? Who's your favorite so far?
This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: The Bachelorette Recap: Desiree Hartsock Meets Brian's Girlfriend, Brandon Breaks Down in Tears