Welcome back to The Bachelorette, where Andi’s personal journey to find love plays out publicly each Monday night for our entertainment. Last week, Andi winnowed her crop from 25 studs down to 19 or so stallions all looking for love.
Here's what happened on The Bachelorette:
Bachelorette milestone: To kick off tonight's episode, Andi said the H word. No, not "horse-faced" even though that would be apt for at least a few of the contestants. Instead, Andi said "husband," because she believes her future spouse could be gelling his 'do, trimming his ear hair and flexing his pecs in a mirror in the rented mansion right now.
First-date card: For the first one-on-one date of the season — the stepping stone to finding lasting love or at least 22 more one-on-one dates, a few nights in a fantasy suite and a Neil Lane diamond ring — Andi chose to go with Eric Hill, naturally. Attracted to his joie de vivre and adventurous spirit, she selected the man who passed away from injuries incurred during a paragliding accident in the weeks after he left the show. He spends the date laughing, building sandcastles and talking about their potential and his future. It’s depressing.
New drinking game: The rules of this season’s Bachelorette drinking game are simple: whenever Eric appears on screen, smiling, laughing, opining about life and love, drink. Drink not only because drinking games are fun, but because Eric’s ghostly presence on this show is depressing and dark and makes you question life while watching escapist television.
Bachelorette milestone: Helicopter date! After romping at the beach, Andi and Eric hop in a helicopter and are flown to the top of Bear Mountain, where they continue their romping, but now in snow in their bathing suits.
Best post-Olympic career move: Snowboarder Louie Vito apparently knows the path to fame and fortune: teach Bachelorette contests how to snowboard. Next stop: Dancing With the Stars!
First rose: If you’re wondering what kind of adventurer Eric is, he sneaked across the border into Syria. He tells Andi the tale of being almost taken prisoner and mistaken for a spy. He texted his parents and said goodbye. (Drink.) Tells her how he would give it all up for a family, because he really wants kids. (Drink.) Andi hands him a rose ensuring our drinking game will continue for another week. He mentions that Andi could be his future wife. (Drink.)
Group date: As an escapist chaser to that heartbreaking opener came a group date built out of the best of reality-TV fluff. A gaggle of men who still blend together into a blur of hoodies, aftershave, pomade and flexed biceps are told that for their first date with Andi, they will be required to strip down and do their best Magic Mike impersonation. It’s for Andi’s entertainment and also the The Bachelor’s own branded charity, Bachelor Gives Back. It’s as if the ABC producers brainstormed, "Can we think of a way to objectify men in the same way we objectify women?" Well done, show, you did it.
The all-male revue: In order to win a shot with Andi, the men are required to strip in front of a live studio audience and shake what their poor, poor mothers gave them while hoping that their mothers are not watching. Don't worry, ma, it's for charity! Under a wave of hooting, hollering and flexing, they do. Carl, who is an actual firefighter, was assigned to don and then strip firefighter attire. He was not thrilled. The teacher who was made to strip on national television was not thrilled. The only person who was thrilled was Cody the personal trainer, who was more than happy to dedicate his biceps to charity and his abs to Andi.
Worst moment on reality television: Men stuffing towels into their pants … for charity. Followed closely by a robot stripping into his robot skivvies and flashing his … er, gears in a move sure to send his sister to years of therapy.
Best moment on reality television: Chris Harrison resignedly smacking a contestant’s gyrating behind.
The drama: At the afterparty, Andi hoped to spend the evening getting to know the now clothed men. Unfortunately, Craig, a tax accountant with an inability to hold his liquor, got completely tanked and kept interrupting tête-à-têtes to drunkenly ask Andi revelatory accounting questions like, What’s the worst thing on your credit history? Andi acknowledged that everyone’s been drunk, but not everyone has been that drunk on national TV and then thrown himself fully dressed into the pool. Andi asks the world at large, "What on earth happened tonight?" The answer is clearly bourbon shots. Many, many bourbon shots. Also, the opera singer sang opera directly into her face.
Group-date rose: Does not go to Craig, but instead to Marcus, a clean-cut guy who was both an officer (at the strip club) and a gentleman (at the afterparty).
Second date: Chris the farmer, who earlier declared Andi to be “the most amazing woman in the entire world,” but only because he’s never been on FarmersOnly.com before. Because Chris knows a thing or two about horses, Andi takes him to the horse races. They sip mint juleps, bet on some horses and re-enact scenes from War Horse. He gives Andi exactly what she wants: someone here for the "right reasons" and not just to get wasted and soak in the hot tub with friends. She pins a rose on him.
Most egregious use of extras: During their date, Andi and Chris “happen” to sit next to a kindly, gently inquisitive older couple who have been married for 55 years and happily dole out marriage tips. Wonder how long casting took for that couple?
Bachelorette milestone: Private concert! A two-person band called This Wild Life was forced to serenade the couple on a stage decorated with lawn jockeys.
First kiss: Chris plants one on her as they dance, which probably made it all that much weirder for the band. The kiss earned Andi an upgrade to "the most amazing woman on the planet."
Cocktail party: Nick V. — who won the first-impression rose last week — woos Andi. Marquel, who didn’t get any time with Andi on the group date, makes her smile. Josh M., the nonstereotypical baseball player, goes in for a kiss. Crazy-eyed Craig does his best to help Andi move past his drunken humiliation by singing her a song.
Rose ceremony: A parade of men with names like Ron, Dylan, Andrew and JJ and Nick who have gotten no screentime at all get roses, followed by Marquel, Tasos, Josh, Cody the personal trainer and some other men.
The final rose: Despite crazy-eyed Craig's heartfelt humble-pie eating, he was sent home to think about what he's done, leaving Bradley the opera singer to collect the final rose. It's safe to assume that Andi is giving the opera singer the benefit of the very grave doubts because of her friendship with opera singer and fellow former Bachelor star Sharleen.
Who went home: Carl the firefighter got sent home home after humiliating himself and debasing his noble profession by dressing up as a fake firefighter and stripping. He's going to get razzed so hard at the firehouse. Also leaving is Nick S., a pro golfer who was sent home, probably because his moustache and beard don’t quite connect.
Best reason to come back next week: It's a two-part "event" that kicks off on Sunday.