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As you recall, last week’s episode ended with a repentant DeMario returning to the mansion in the hope of restoring his standing in Rachel’s eyes. This week, Rachel decides to hear him out, partly out of curiosity but mostly because she is a merciful rose goddess. Outside the villa, Chris Harrison and all the suitors watch from afar as DeMario makes an almost-tearful speech about how his “entire life changed” when he met Rachel and she’s the “woman of his dreams.” Then he begs to stay on the show and recites his “favorite quote” which was something about needing pain to experience joy. But Rachel was visibly over it. “I hope this pain helps you find joy somewhere else,” she snaps back, “but it’s not here right now. Thank you.” AND THEN SIMPLY WALKS AWAY. This is how I want to conduct every breakup for the rest of my life. Is this what they teach you in law school???

Next up is a dramatic cocktail party followed by a totally forgettable rose ceremony. Lucas and Blake were at it again, because yes, we’re being subjected to more of this. While Blake continues to embarrass himself by talking WAY TOO MUCH about Lucas, Lucas uses his alone time with Rachel to weave what is surely the most creative lie ever told in the name of romance. Basically, Lucas accuses Blake of peeling and licking a banana while standing over his bed. When Rachel mentions the banana incident to Blake, he responds by pointing out that he “doesn’t eat carbs” because he’s on a “ketogenic diet” so he “doesn’t eat bananas!!!!!!” Noted! Thanks for those pertinent details, Blake!

At the rose ceremony, Rachel ultimately eliminates both Lucas and Blake, sparing America from future strife. The two goons have a childish little spat outside the villa, and at one point Lucas shouts, “The thing is, it’s not about winning! It’s about the world, brother!!!!!” But they ultimately part ways and disappear into the night. Lucas went back to his Whaboom merch, and Blake went back to his protein shakes and steroids. And we all breathed a sigh of relief.

And now: the first of two group dates! Turns out, this date was the one that aired on Ellen a few weeks ago. So you’ve probably seen it already. But if not, here’s the gist. First, all the boys took their shirts off and danced for money in the audience, as one does on Ellen. Alex the nerd who codes but looks like a meathead twerked on a grandma. Jonathan the Tickle Monster couldn’t rotate his hips at all. Then Ellen had everyone play Never Have I Ever, the party game that ALWAYS results in hurt feelings. Fred the former camp kid, for example, was pretty salty when he found out Bryan, Peter, and Will have already kissed Rachel. There’s always a point in the season where the guys start anxiously measuring their romantic progress with Rachel. It’s as if they’ve just remembered that thirty other men are indeed competing on this show. Rachel belongs to no one. But it’s also kind of pitiful to watch outwardly confident men get jealous and needy. Because inevitably, they resort to acts of desperation. Case in point: Fred. After the Ellen date, Fred used his alone time with Rachel to ask for a kiss. She let him, but I have to say, she was visibly not feeling it. Fred was seeing visions of white gowns and Rachel was seeing visions of telling him to hit the road. Fred was crushed but super nice about it. Then Alex got the rose because Rachel liked his Rubiks cube or something.

This week’s one-on-one went to Anthony, who is VERY symmetrical and tall but also quiet and intellectual. I approve. But this date was lame. Rachel and Anthony rode horses down Rodeo Drive and went shopping and got horse cupcakes. Ted the horse pooped in one of the boutiques and ABC blurred it out (??). Then, the handsome couple enjoyed a romantic dinner and some smooth jazz afterward but honestly that’s the most I can recall from this date. No sparks detectable, but I am here for Anthony. He got a rose and I back Rachel’s choice 100 percent.

The second group date was a mud wrestling tournament inside a bar surrounded by middle aged female extras who were screaming things like, “Show us your butt!!!!!” Rachel brought pals Raven, Corinne, Alexis, and Jasmine from Nick’s season with her to help scope out the boys. Can I just say that I am living for the emphasis on female friendship? I will never not be happy to see Raven. Stay tuned for upcoming Bachelor in Paradise coverage where I simply fangirl for her in longform. Anyway. Pretty Boy Pitbull Kenny King is an actual wrestler, so he slayed this date. He was like, dropping skinny white dudes from the sky. But the producers made him pretend to lose the tournament to Bryce the cheesy firefighter who has really white teeth and a perpetual sunburn or something.

The end of this episode centers on the growing Eric v. Lee feud. Remember how I was talking about resorting to desperate acts earlier? That was a recurring theme in this episode. Earlier, we saw a spat between Eric and Iggy. Eric was feeling frustrated and insecure about his standing with Rachel, so he made a few bitter comments about her “playing the game” that is this show. Iggy called him out, but nothing outrageous happened. In fact, Eric addresses his concerns directly with Rachel after the wrestling date and his honesty ended up winning him a rose. It was nice moment, until Lee ruined it by continuing to provoke Eric. Lee, we now know via resurfaced tweets, is a Known Meninist, Nashville Douche, and Hater of the NAACP. So it’s pretty clear Lee’s angle here to prey on Eric’s insecurities and question his character until he explodes in front of Rachel. Don’t you love when producers cast dudes who believe in reverse racism for the sake of entertainment and pathos????? Cheers to hoping he self-destructs and loses his job. Except Lee doesn’t really have one. He’s a singer/songwriter.

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