The era of light-hearted scuffles about who is eating a banana over whom while they sleep seems to be over now that Whaboom has left us (RIP). Everything has instead become serious and stressful.
This week's episode of The Bachelorette opens with a continuation of last week's pre–rose ceremony drama, in which Lee had revealed himself to be fully insane, immediately skyrocketing my cortisol levels. After a week-long break, the show puts us right back in the hellish mansion where we left off.
Eric is trying to get Lee to stop shit-talking him, and Lee is just doing this crazed chuckle in response. "I'm going to have problems with some of these guys in here," Lee drunkenly says to the camera afterwards, making me want to die.
Lee's next target is Kenny, whose time with Rachel he interrupts in order to talk to Rachel for a second time, and to show her a block of wood he stupidly carved with the knife his grandfather used to carry around during Jim Crow. Kenny becomes upset and later confronts Lee about this shady move, and Lee just manically chuckles in response. What's wrong with him!! Even from the comfort of my own home, I feel attacked and unsafe watching the human form of "actually the Civil War was over states' rights" gaslight every black guy in the house.
Dean, of "once you go black" fame, is surprisingly the first on the show to suggest that Lee might be racist. He delicately dances around the word "racist" when he brings this up to the confessional cam, but it's clear that's what he means.
Even from the comfort of my own home, I feel attacked and unsafe watching the human form of "actually the Civil War was over states' rights" gaslight every black guy in the house.
During the rose ceremony, every man attempts to get Lee kicked off the show by silently and wholeheartedly wishing it to happen, as Rachel hands out boutonnieres. Moments before this mass televised ritual, Rachel appears really torn up about the decision she has to make: To kick off the racist… or not kick off the racist? Hmm. As Rachel calls out each name, I experience a sinking feeling in my stomach because I know Lee will be sticking around, as he is the sole source of the show's current drama. Sure enough, he stays and Diggy ends up as the odd man out. With a tear in his eye, says that even though he didn't know Rachel at all, he's sad to be leaving.
Under the guise of escaping the drama that perpetually dogs their steps like a fell demon, Rachel and the remaining boys jet off to Hilton Head. (Nothing says "fresh start" like bringing the same people with the same grievances against each other to a new location!) Dean gets the first one-on-one date of the week, to the guys' visible dismay. The Bachelorette's harem-inspired approach to dating is really starting to take its toll on them.
The date card sends Rachel and Dean off on a blimp ride. Dean is scared of heights and, at first, the date is his worst nightmare. But Rachel helps him through it and the way they interact with each other is actually quite sweet. Later at dinner, Dean opens up about losing his mom to cancer when he was young. I think… I'm starting to feel OK with Rachel going for Dean? At the very least, I've forgiven him for his defining, dumb joke.
On the group date, Rachel and her harem, minus Dean and Jack, who scores the second one-on-one, go on a cruise. The men (try to) dance, take their shirts off, and do whatever they can to impress her. A nice easter egg surfaces: The men have embraced calling Jonathan, the self-identified "Tickle Monster," "Tickle." Notably, Peter, who may or may not be a robot, raps about farts. His rhyme also refers to Rachel as a "girl from the hood," although her dad is a judge, and she's definitely not.
Then they're off to a spelling bee, which is really something. Eric—who we all know did not have a good week last week—hits a new low: He thinks "facade" is spelled "p-h-y-s-d-e." As he says the letters one by one with a confused innocence, everyone is shaking their damn head. The damn head shaking continues when Peter takes the stage and spells coitus "q-u-i-c-u-i," which is hilarious, of course, but also deeply shameful. The shining light is Josiah, who wins the spelling bee and really hams it up. He's very stoked that he can spell and now has a golden goblet to prove it. It's very cute.
So far, so good! No one is fighting or being racist. I feel calm, I just had some spelling-related laughs, and now I'm ready for the after party. Peter talks to Rachel first and asks her nice questions: When you're in the house do you go barefoot or wear socks? I can handle this pace. Eric has also has a nice talk with Rachel, and she doesn't seem to mind that he appeared to have a stroke earlier.
Peter talks to Rachel first and asks her nice questions: "When you're in the house do you go barefoot or wear socks?"
Next up, however, is Iggy, who ends the niceness. Last week, Iggy started the drama with Eric, which Lee has bizarrely inherited. Now he's choosing to use his time with Rachel to talk about how he doesn't think Josiah is right for her because "Josiah is covering up his insecurities." But, like, who isn't??
Iggy goes back to the group and smugly announces to Josiah that he told Rachel she should be distrustful of him. What… is… wrong… with… men? It seems necessary for the feminist movement to redefine the word "bitch" as simply "a man who is awful" because it felt very true when Josiah told the producers, "With all due respect, Iggy is a bitch."
Then, Lee goes to talk to Rachel, and tells her how Kenny confronted him about his cutting in earlier. Or, more accurately, he lies about it: "There was a side of him that came out that was very aggressive toward me," he says. "I don't know how to explain it."
The most chilling moment is when Lee tells Rachel that even though Kenny yelled at him and Rachel should view Kenny negatively for it, he "loves" Kenny. Cut to Lee telling the cameras: "I don't give a fuck about Kenny."
At this point, I am dead. This show has killed me, and we're barely halfway through the season.
The sound of Kenny's mediocre rapping brings me back to life. He's sitting with Rachel, who of course wants to discuss what Lee just told her. Kenny tells Rachel that, when he tried to talk to Lee about how he cut in, Lee was "giving him shade," which is a polite way to put it! Then Kenny leaves Rachel with something to just, you know, think about: "Maybe [Lee] doesn't always tell the truth."
It's very sad when Kenny goes to the confessional cam and evaluates the situation. He's bummed that he had to spend all his time convincing Rachel that he's "not some aggressive, dangerous human, which is absurd." He doesn't think he won Rachel over to his side.
I'm still holding out hope that Rachel will be able sniff out Lee's bullshit, and fast! I can't take this anymore.