Okay, team. This week was a rambunctious one, full of so many twists and turns that none of us could really follow the playbook. As the season goes on, the chaff will be cut and the roster will really start to gel. But in the meantime, as your stern but loving coach, I’m here to make clear what really went down on Monday night’s episode of The Bachelorette: A star turn by none other than acclaimed rapper Lil Jon, who does not appear to have anything to promote right now but showed up in full form all the same.
First, let’s get to the sports, of which there were many.
Relationship Obstacle Course: One of the group dates this week involved men racing through the treacherous steps of a relationship as if it were an obstacle course, an event MCed by last season’s bachelorette Rachel Lindsay and her chosen partner Bryan Personal Trainer. This event spun off the biggest drama of the episode, because other cast members claimed that Lincoln (the alleged nest-shitter and Becca’s declared “block of muscle”) “cheated” as he raced through stages to take a staged photo with Becca as “husband and wife.” About half of the episode was then devoted to Lincoln preening around with a framed photo Becca gave him of the two of them “married” following his win, which upset Fitness Coach Connor so much that he threw the framed photo and the glass shattered not once, but twice.
Such a display of unsportsmanlike conduct prompts Lincoln to cry, Becca to get upset, and Connor to repent. “The picture is broken, my heart is broken,” Lincoln says upon Connor throwing it past Clay and then into the pool. “It’s unfortunate he had to run to Becca,” Connor complains, before being chastised by Becca and making an immediate about-face and apologizing for his actions, declaring himself “embarrassed.” Connor ultimately repents by having Becca torch his past self by throwing a picture of his face with cake on it from the obstacle course into the pool—a beautiful, full-circle moment.
Dodgeball (on trampolines): In an opportunity to get heckled by children early in the season, the second group date of the episode involved men dividing into teams and playing trampoline dodgeball. Despite her trepidation, Becca actually seemed to dig “Chris” Christian throwing the ball extremely hard at her, making me feel like we had different childhood gym experiences. (“I’ve never had guys fight over me, so this will be interesting,” she says.) This season we’re yet again inexplicably joined by the delightful Fred Willard as MC for the event, who must have something better to do.
“What these guys don’t understand is that winning doesn’t come from bicep curls or tricep extensions. It comes from your heart,” Leo says, as his team—the pink team—loses.
Former NFL practice-squadder and potential virgin Colton is in a tough spot. One of our possible season MVPs has another issue outside of his lack of sexual prowess and Not Being Here for the Right Reasons: He dated former Bachelor contestant and Becca’s good friend Tia right before coming on the show, and apparently somehow we’re supposed to think Becca didn’t know? Colton has an uncanny quality of grinning through even the most upsetting news, and saying things like, “We could go make chicken-noodle soup and I’d be ecstatic,” or “Becca looks amazing but she smells even better. I don’t know, it’s weird to say but she had a good smell about her.”
Anyway, Colton admits to Becca that he “had a weekend” with Tia. Becca looks mad, or is a good actress. He tries to assure Becca that he didn’t come into this hoping the Bachelorette would be Tia, but given how early they cast these shows, and that he “had a weekend” with Tia, that’s hard to buy. He’s also wearing a horribly checked suit as he apologizes for having trouble articulating his feelings to Becca. “Relationships are based on honesty and trust and you will never have that doubt with me,” he tells Becca, though privately (to the camera and to all of us) he admits he’s concerned about their potential success as a couple, as “all of my conversations have included another woman’s name.”
“I’m just hoping she can look past...my past,” Colton concludes.
Meanwhile, Stone Cold Clay is as nice and boring as ever. “I definitely hope I’m on that first date card,” the NFL player tells the camera. “I’m trying not to overstep boundaries or make anyone mad, but I’m here for you,” he tells Becca. “I think it was unnecessary for Lincoln to put the picture on the table...but there’s definitely better ways to handle it,” he says of Connor’s actions. “There’s obviously some pressure tonight because Becca’s been through a lot this week,” he tells the camera, before explaining that he wants to show Becca he knows how to have a good time. Finally, the former tight end gets to what he’s (sort of) good at: slinging the pigskin out in the front of this mansion a family moves out of multiple times a year for multiple thousands of dollars. “Me and my teammates, we bump our helmets together,” Clay explains, before doing this dance and somehow getting a kiss out of it:
Probably the most interesting thing Clay did was during the obstacle court date, when he said he had “to protect the valuables, keep them warm and dryish” and the valuables he meant were his balls.
Lastly, Sports Analyst Mike did not get a date—not even a group date—but somehow got a rose, keeping him in the running for next week.
FINALLY, we get to a place worthy of the superlatives Chris Harrison throws out every episode of every season. Lil Jon inexplicably shows up for Becca’s one-on-one date with Large-Toothed Blake—who takes it back to the days of Robin Hood and pronounces his name “Little John”—and DJs as she and Blake take a baseball bat to alleged mementos of her past relationship with Arie. This is the best and most head-scratching date I’ve ever seen on this show. The producer who came up with it deserves a raise, as well as the agent who green-lit Lil Jon, and I am not speaking in Chris Harrisons. This is The Truth, just like when Becca said, “I wouldn’t say I’m an aggressively physical person” and then beat up a perfectly good television.