The Bachelorette fully entered the post-Chad era on a slumpy note. JoJo Fletcher and her eight remaining suitors took a somewhat subdued trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The guys left are all relatively nice (except Alex) and pretty boring. There's no uncertainty about who's going to win, so the tension has to come from interpersonal conflict, but none of the remaining guys have strong, interesting personalities, so I'm worried that the next few weeks will be snoozefests. Let's just call this for Jordan and skip to the finale, shall we?
Alas, we can't, so we have episodes like this. This week, JoJo had a one-on-one with Wells, to me the most likable of the contenders but also the least likely to win (so unlikely, in fact, that he got eliminated). They did some Cirque du Soleil-type stuff with Fuerza Bruta and he finally kissed her, but there wasn't enough of a spark and he was sent home. I've already forgotten what they did on the group date - I think they played soccer? - but the group date was mostly about sowing discord between former buddies Jordan and James. Luke got the group date rose. Then there was a two-on-one with Chase and Derek where they had to tango-fight over JoJo. She said "you're cool and all, but Chase is hotter" to Derek. Finally, there was a rose ceremony where she gave everyone roses because she couldn't bear to make a decision between Alex and James. Congrats, guys! You're all winners!
Vamos a las awkward moments.
7. Shilling SUPER HARD for Argentina
Argentina must have taken out a huge ad buy, because I can't remember another episode where the location got pushed so hard. The in-episode commercial came at the very beginning and was longer than usual. "Argentina is a great place to find love" and its variants were invoked numerous times throughout the episode. The "sponsored by" bits are always awkward, and this one seemed relatively sincere as far as paid promotion goes - Argentina is genuinely beautiful - but all I could think about was how much more Argentina paid to get a better ad. I want to know the rates!
6. "Bésame, bésame muchacho"
JoJo's date card message to Wells - "bésame, bésame muchacho," Spanish for "kiss me, kiss me boy," - is a botched reference to a famous song called "Bésame Mucho." You've probably heard it. Here's a beautiful version by the Brazilian singer João Gilberto. I suspect that JoJo or whomever wrote the card for JoJo half-forgot that "Bésame Mucho" exists and wrote down a familiar-feeling phrase, getting it sort of wrong in the process and annoying me. Perhaps I'm not giving The Bachelorette producer who planned this date enough credit and is in fact an intentional reference. If you're the producer and I'm wrong, email me at email@example.com and let me know. But I'm probably not wrong.
5. James and Jordan's poker beef
James, sensing his days are numbered, attempted to sabotage the frontrunner by talking bad about Jordan to JoJo during his one-on-one time. Leah used a similar tactic with Ben against Lauren on The Bachelor last season, to disastrous result. It didn't work at as badly for James - he got to stay, after all - but it did make for a tense group date cocktail party. The actual conflict was a little confusing: James and Jordan disagreed about the rules during a poker game, and Jordan acted "entitled." Really it was James' insecurity about not being as good-looking and cool and famous as Jordan, and he wanted JoJo to know that Jordan knows he's good-looking and cool and famous. Jordan called James "pathetic" in a way that allows him plausible deniability if he's ever criticized for calling James "pathetic," and JoJo pretended to care while she stroked Jordan's floppy hair. The best part was Alex and Robby sitting back and watching James and Jordan take shots at each other like "hmm, interesting!" Hopefully this was just for the cameras and James and Jordan are still friends! James is nice! He shouldn't do stuff like this!
4. The two-on-one was too boring
Remember Alex and Chad's two-on-one just two episodes ago? That was a great two-on-one. Those dudes legitimately hated each other. The tension on their date was palpable. You can look at a still image from that date and say, "oh, that looks like a miserable situation." This two-on-one was positively soporific compared to that one. Chase is an inarticulate charisma vacuum, and Derek is interesting in his own way but he freezes up around JoJo. The show took an unprecedented step of doing two two-on-ones in a season in order to create drama, but it backfired. They should have sent Alex instead of Chase. Alex is a jackass, but he would have at least goaded Derek into doing something interesting.
3. Derek's kind of weird
The first intimation I had that Derek might be a little eccentric came back in Episode 4 when he told Chad "perception is reality" when Chad was confronting him about thinking Chad was scary or whatever. But this week his slight eccentricity was on display during and after the two-on-one. When they were tangoing, he said Chase was "in his head, I'm in my heart," which was an interesting turn of phrase. Later, he was saying mild swear words at odd times. He referred to JoJo's beautiful "damn eyes" when he and JoJo were "freakin' sitting" together. Then, after JoJo chose Chase and she put Derek in a minivan to whisk him off to the airport, he said "I wasn't enough. I thought I was, but I'm not. I'm Derek. And Derek is imperfect." Derek talks about himself in third person. Liam thinks that's weird, Derek.
2. JoJo makes them wait
Before giving out the last rose in an opulent room that seems to be the inspiration for Game of Thrones' just-destroyed Great Sept of Baelor, JoJo was like "I can't" and walked outside, leaving the guys to stand there like "ummm, what's going on here?" Chris Harrison was like "JoJo, whassamatter?" and she was like "I can't, Chris." They came up with a plan, and then she came back in. At first it seemed like she was going to eliminate both Alex and James and I got excited, but then she gave them both roses and I was disappointed.
1. The saga of Wells' first kiss
When Wells was summoned for his one-on-one, it came to light that Wells and JoJo had not yet kissed. The other guys were like "whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat." Alex asked "What if you kiss and there's no sparks?" because Alex is rude. When JoJo came to the guys' suite to pick him up, the other guys were cracking jokes at his expense. Wells was super nervous and in his head about having to kiss her, so much so that his hands were shaking when he and JoJo left for their date. They went to Fuerza Bruta, and Wells was overthinking it, not kissing her because he was waiting for the perfect moment. There was one cringe-inducing moment when he almost kissed her at what would have been the perfect moment, but then he chickened out and chastely gave her a peck on the cheek. The pressure kept building and building. Then when he finally kissed her, she yelled out "That was the moment, Wells! That was the moment! You did it!" Not what a guy wants to hear when he kisses a girl for the first time. That first kiss ended up being the last, as she declined to give him a rose. Womp womp.
This was a great awkward moment because it was relatable in a way the show usually is not. First kiss insecurity is real, especially for people who think rather than act like Wells. We've all waited for a perfect moment that never came, or did come and we let it pass. It was also narratively organic, naturally occurring early relationship awkwardness. The producers didn't have to do much manipulating to make drama. And it was sweet. It was the only good part of the episode. I'm going to miss Wells.
Hopefully next week is better! What if there's an amazing twist where Jordan puts Alex in a chokehold and gets arrested for assault and Luke becomes the frontrunner? Wouldn't that be exciting? Wouldn't that save this season?