From the moment Rachel Recchia spoke her nightmare into existence, Bachelorette fans knew it was doomed to happen. Going into what would become one of the most dramatic rose ceremonies in Bachelorette history, the Floridian flight instructor told producers, “If someone were to reject a rose tonight, there would be a disaster.”

Way to make sure that it happens!

Monday night put Rachel’s sisterhood with her fellow Bachelorette, Gabby Windey, to the test. The results? Positive, but inconclusive. The two began this season together, ostensibly, as support for one another. But with no structure in place to determine which of our Bachelorettes are dating which men, things have gotten a little messy in the mansion. The show’s producers, usually controlling to a fault, appear to have loosened the reins in favor of organized chaos: By refusing to provide any safeguards between these two women’s dating pools, they ensured their shared humiliation. It was not fun to watch.

Gabby, who reminded us this week during a one-on-one date that she’s estranged from her mother, has been worried that she’s too “messy” for The Bachelorette and all the men on it. The guys this season, unfortunately, mostly seem too self-absorbed to help her overcome that feeling; when she stopped by the house this week, they seemed more interested in a game of football than in a woman whose heart they’re ostensibly competing to win.

Then, during a cocktail party, three men apparently decided to preemptively inform Gabby that they’re only interested in dating Rachel. Not all of the men were delicate about it.

Things started out respectfully enough when Tyler told Gabby he wanted to pursue his “really good connection with Rachel.”

But then came Hayden. After a meandering speech about “values,” he informed Gabby, “I do have my intentions fully for Rachel.” He then took it upon himself to inform Gabby that she’s “goofy” and “a little bit more—I don’t want to say, ‘rough around the edges,’ but” Ugh!

Somehow, that was not the worst thing a man would say to Gabby Monday night. That would be Jacob, who informed her that if she were the only Bachelorette, he would not have the “heart” to continue. UGH!!!!!

Gabby was (understandably) shaken when she rejoined the group, and producers milked the moment for all it was worth. While Rachel cheerfully gave away her rose for the evening, we got a close-up of Gabby’s cracked, plastered-on smile.

Gabby opted to skip handing out a rose, and once the women got away from their men, Rachel asked her Sister in Bachelorette-hood what happened. A direct quote of her response once Gabby explained: “I’m gonna kill ’em.”

As promised, the structure this season appears to have been left entirely up to the Bachelorettes’ discretion—so they canceled the cocktail party and decided to proceed with a new kind of rose ceremony. After the nixed cocktail hour, host Jesse Palmer informed the guys of the new game plan for the now-expedited rose ceremony: The women will each name the guys they want to stay. Should they accept the rose, each man will date the women who chose them exclusively.

“I’m here to find a lifelong partner,” Gabby said. “I’m not here to teach dudes how to act.”

Readers, these men really do not know how to act.

Going into the rose ceremony, three men were already safe with roses: Erich with Gabby, and Aven and Zach with Rachel. For a while things proceeded smoothly. Soon enough, however, Rachel’s deepest worry came true. She picked Termayne Harper, who politely rejected her rose–and in the name of “fairness,” Palmer opted to let Termayne rejoin the group just in case Gabby chose to give him a second chance. (Personally? I hate that idea—let the men sink or swim with the woman who chose them!)

Soon enough, however, Rachel’s deepest worry came true. She picked Termayne Harper, who politely rejected her rose–and in the name of “fairness,” Palmer opted to let Termayne rejoin the group just in case Gabby chose to give him a second chance.

The night went well for Gabby; all of her picks (Nate, Johnny, Jason, Tyler, Mario, Ethan, Kirk, and Michael) happily accepted their roses. Rachel, meanwhile, got a “no” from two more men—and, in perhaps the most crushing blow of all, the last of them was a guy known to everyone this season as “Meatball.”

In a production flourish that instantly sent this writer back to the hallways in middle school, one contestant exclaimed in disbelief, “Meatball just rejected Rachel! My brain is spinning right now!!!”

As Rachel began to cry, she echoed the same refrain Gabby had earlier—that she felt unworthy of being Bachelorette, and that these guys’ rejection felt like confirmation. But the fact that both these women feel that way says the issue lies not with them but with their environment.

It’s telling that at one point while talking about her self-perceived deficiencies as Bachelorette, Gabby compared herself to Rachel before walking it back and throwing in an obligatory, “Not that I’m comparing myself to Rachel…”

But of course she was comparing. In a dating game show that runs on numbers—who makes it past Week One, who gets the most roses, who gets the most screen-time—wouldn’t any of us? By letting the Bachelorettes date from the same pool for weeks, producers set them up for inevitable disappointment during a season that should, as we’re so often told, be all about their “journey.”

Why do these sauceless dudes keep getting opportunities to embarrass them? This was supposed to be the summer of Gabby and Rachel! (That said, the solidarity might be cracking; did anyone else notice that Rachel just happened to keep Hayden even despite his “rough around the edges” comment? Let’s hope that receives at least a follow-up!)

At least now, Gabby and Rachel can rest assured that their dudes are really here for them. Right?

Well…Have you seen the season previews? Next week, Gabby and Rachel and the bro brigade are headed to Paris to fall in love. But Logan seems to double back on his choice to see his relationship with Rachel through to the end. Apparently, he still has “feelings” for Gabby. Who could have seen that coming? (*cough* Everyone!)

Somehow, however, that’s not the biggest cliffhanger going into next week. The real head-scratcher is whether or not Rachel will hand out a second chance. In the very last moments of the episode, Meatball attempted to roll off the break-up plate and back into her good graces. One hopes that Rachel—who seemed to have offered him a rose out of kindness in the first place—decides to let him simmer in another pot.



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