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‘The Bachelorette’ Recap: The Battle of the Lukes

Also: some heavy Halo Top sponcon and a guest appearance by “two of the best guys in the league,” Boston Celtics Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown

ABC

We must start this post with some serious clerical work. The crux of Monday night’s episode of The Bachelorette was the Battle of the Lukes, an hourlong showdown between Luke P. and Luke S. It has been a Bachelor franchise tradition for many seasons to deal with similarly named contestants by popping an initial at the end. Once upon a time, Hannah was Hannah B., not to be confused with her season’s runner-up, Hannah G. Ben Higgins, who had gone by Ben H. on The Bachelorette thanks to the presence of a Ben Z., chose Lauren B. over Laurens H., R., and LB, while Arie chose a different Lauren B. over a Lauren S., a Lauren G., and a Lauren J. Normally, I don’t have much of a problem with this—most of the Laurens got eliminated well before the winning Laurens B., and I can’t recall any direct conflict between contestants of the same name.

But Monday night was far more awkward. Not just in the sense that Bachelorette fights are inherently awkward, but in that every contestant had to repeatedly clarify whether they were talking about Luke P. or Luke S. Each time, I had to go into my mind to think about which initial corresponded to which guy.

It was bad enough on television and will be worse in this article, so I’m taking a stance. When we talk about Luke P.—the jacked recipient of the first-impression rose, who stopped having sex for Jesus and is too dumb to avoid blowing a massive lead as this season’s front-runner—we will call him Hot Luke. When we talk about Luke S.—the mild-mannered political consultant from Washington, D.C., who didn’t have any notable moments on this season until the Battle of the Lukes—we will call him Tequila Luke, due to Monday night’s revelation that he is launching a tequila business.

The Lucas fracas began during a game of rugby. Honestly, the rugby game was pretty cool—the guys didn’t look entirely dumb playing, and the location (for some reason, an abandoned fort) was beautiful. But toward the end, Hot Luke began taking a bit too much pleasure in showing how much stronger he was than everybody else. At one point, he took out Tequila Luke, and Tequila Luke confronted him about it. Hot Luke responded by lifting Tequila Luke off the ground and body-slamming him, at which point everybody decided it was best to end the game.

The consensus is that Hot Luke overstepped his bounds. Everybody was playing a physical game, but body-slamming is not a part of rugby. Instead of admitting he was wrong, Hot Luke cast the blame on Tequila Luke. Tequila Luke was sprinting toward him with clenched fists, Hot Luke protested, and he was just acting in self-defense. Everybody (rightly) called BS on this, since Hot Luke is twice Tequila Luke’s size. Nobody thought Tequila Luke acted aggressively, and nobody thought Hot Luke needed to body-slam Tequila Luke to end the confrontation. But Hot Luke doubled down on his defense. Not only did he continue telling the guys he believed his actions were right, he told Hannah that Tequila Luke was—dun-dun-DUNNNNNNN—there for the wrong reasons. Hot Luke explained that he genuinely feels passion for Hannah and talks about her all the time, while Tequila Luke never talks about her and spends most of his time talking up his tequila brand.

This put Tequila Luke in an awkward situation. First of all, Hot Luke was slandering him and winning. Second of all, Tequila Luke probably really would like to talk about his tequila, but if he talks about his tequila now, he’ll look like he actually is on the show to self-promote, a terrible state of affairs that Tequila Luke openly lamented himself. (Out of respect to Tequila Luke, I’ll stop calling him Tequila Luke to avoid any implication that his passion for manufacturing tequila is his primary defining feature as a person. His actual primary defining feature is that he’s wildly forgettable because he has no personality, so from now on I will call him Other Luke.)

As the rugby matched spilled into a cocktail party, Other Luke confronted Hot Luke, basically telling Hot Luke that he never wants to see him again. In response, Hot Luke did the annoying thing born-again Christians do in confrontations where instead of admitting they’re wrong, they just say, “I’m sorry you feel that way, because I love you and respect you and would love to be your best friend forever,” which would be a nice sentiment if it weren’t for Hot Luke lying about Other Luke behind his back. The episode ended with a cliffhanger, as Hannah called both Lukes into the principal’s office to explain themselves.

This looks like a pretty cut-and-dry case. Other Luke is donezo. He never had any spark with Hannah, and he’s not going to get there now by fighting a guy she cares about, regardless of whether he’s right or wrong. Luke—oh, by the way, since we decided the other Luke is Other Luke, I feel comfortable calling Hot Luke just “Luke” now—is clearly the asshole: He’s physically aggressive, refuses to acknowledge he was wrong, and openly blasphemes another guy to win the fight. But none of that really matters, because The Bachelorette is not a morality contest. Hannah likes Luke more—actually, in this episode, she admitted that she has stronger feelings for him than any other guy—and that is how winners of arguments are declared on this show.

That said, Luke’s charm is wearing thin quickly. As an early favorite, all Luke needed to do was sit idly by while the riff-raff dropped off, but his insistence on Alpha-ing every moment has started to piss everybody off—especially Hannah. He refuses to let any situation pass in which anybody looks better than him, and he doesn’t realize how petty, controlling, and insecure this makes him look. Had Luke simply admitted his fault in Rugbygate and apologized, he would have come off looking fine. Instead, he refused to back down and got swallowed up in a brawl with a much lesser Luke. While he might win this small fight with the dude in 13th place, doing so may not get him much farther than 12th place. It’s becoming clear that Luke’s need to be validated as King of Every Situation makes him and Hannah incompatible.

Worst Kiss: Garrett

I have been writing about The Bachelor and The Bachelorette for four years now, and as far as I can remember, not once in this time have I found it appropriate to bank on one of the staples of Bachelor analysis: kiss criticism. Many viewers of the show see kiss criticism as a critical part of determining which relationships are legitimate and passionate and which are phony and sparkless, and I get that. But I generally stay on the sidelines. I am not an award-winning smoocher, so how can I call myself a smooching expert? I am neither the smoocher nor the smoochee, therefore how am I to say for certain that a smooch was unenjoyable? How can any of us poo-poo the smooches of others?

At least that’s how I felt until Monday night’s episode, when I saw something which caused me to break my silence: the dreadful pecks of Garrett:

Garrett kisses for no more than .8 seconds at a time, then ferociously whips his head back to remove his mouth from the kissing zone. He kisses in short bursts, like an out-of-shape person who just climbed 10 flights of stairs and then started kissing someone but also needs to catch his breath. Garrett kisses like this parrot drinks water. Garrett’s kisses look like what J.J. Watt does to this blocking sled, but with faces. Perhaps he was once told that there are kissing cops who fine kissers who kiss for more than 1.5 seconds.

After Garrett completes his 11 reps of mouth kisses, he finishes his set with a horrific forehead kiss. Forehead kisses are generally bad, but it’s even worse given the situation. This forehead kiss does not come about because Garrett’s mouth is at forehead level; it happens because Garrett wants to indicate that he is done doing mouth-to-mouth kissing, so he grabs Hannah by the back of her head and tilts her so that her forehead is at lip height, and gives a light kiss. This is the kiss of a short dad trying to act paternal with his adult 5-foot-11 daughter.

If Garrett actually enjoyed the kissing, he’d keep doing the kissing! But Garrett does not enjoy the kissing. And if a guy can’t commit to multiple seconds of kissing, what can he commit to?

Worst Politician: Other Luke

Other Luke is, according to The Bachelorette, a political consultant, which made me wonder: What political party is he a consultant for? After tonight’s episode, I think I have a good guess.

Other Luke’s opponent is Luke—a huge, self-important stupid jerk with dumb hair who seems to have terrible policies on basically everything. Other Luke’s job should be pretty easy: convince Hannah of what everybody else can see so obviously, which is that Luke is a big dumb idiot who sucks in every way.

Given the opportunity to tell Hannah this, however, he takes an alternate path. He launches into a speech about how he came from humble beginnings, and that his parents were social workers, and that integrity is important to him. Hannah doesn’t care about any of this, and Luke again fails to explain to Hannah that Luke is a big dumb idiot who sucks in every way. Next, he fact-checks Luke’s tequila claim, spending his valuable time with Hannah trying to prove that Luke lied about something Hannah doesn’t give a crap about, when he could be plainly, flatly explaining that Luke is a big dumb idiot who sucks in every way.

When this fails, Other Luke decides to handle this like politicians do, in a high-stakes tête-à-tête with Luke. Other Luke gets Luke to acknowledge that he is, in fact, not on the show to promote his tequila business, and tells Luke that he must go tell Hannah that the tequila claim was false, and Other Luke is on the show for the right reasons. Other Luke explains to Luke that this is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also in Luke’s best interests: Hannah’s interest in Luke may be wearing thin, and his reputation may be in real trouble if he keeps up with these shenanigans. Luke promises he will do the right thing and heads off to talk to Hannah.

Of course, Luke does not actually do that. As we knew from the beginning of this exchange, Luke is a big dumb idiot who sucks in every way, and was never going to do the right thing or listen to anybody else’s advice. I’d be disappointed in Other Luke if I hadn’t watched hundreds of politicians do the same thing.

New Frontrunner: Tyler C.

In the wake of the downfall of Luke, we must crown our new front-runner: Tyler C. (Tyler C., of course, must be referred to as Tyler C. for the entirety of the season, even though the alternate Tyler who caused him to be initialed thusly, Tyler G., is already off the show.) Hannah is feeling mightily bummed out after the Luke scenario, and Tyler C. has the next one-on-one date. What do you know? He cheers her up!

Tyler seems like a good guy. I praised his analogy game last week, and now it seems like he’s a legit contender. But more importantly, I just wanted to drop this video our Bachelorette podcast produced.

The Bachelorette actually kinda threw me off with Tyler C.: Normally, if anybody on the show played sports at any level at any point in their life, it’s mentioned in their job title; who can forget Robby, the “former college swimmer”? But Tyler is described as a “general contractor,” hiding the fact that he got a camp invite from the Baltimore Ravens in 2017. (The Bachelorette website claims he was “drafted” by the Ravens, which is false. As I have learned over the years, Bachelor sites are not exactly accurate with their NFL takes.) Tyler played quarterback at Wake Forest for two years and transferred to FAU, where he played tight end. I bring this up so I can talk about his time at Wake Forest, where he once went 5-for-19 passing with three interceptions in a game his team lost 59-3 to Florida State.

This is good! The more tangential your NFL career, the better your hopes are on this show. (Colton Underwood: played in a few preseason games, got to be the Bachelor; Jordan Rodgers: didn’t even get in any preseason games, wins The Bachelorette; Clay Harbor: actual NFL player, eliminated in Week 3.) So you know what that means: Tyler’s the man to beat now.

Biggest Waste: The Lack of John Paul Jones

JPJ doesn’t get a lot of screentime, which is tragic, because he is literally capable of making me laugh just by saying his own name. And this past week we found out that The Bachelorette is holding out on fire JPJ content, like when he asked Hannah to cut off a lock of his hair:

We dealt with this last year when the show failed to give us adequate footage of Bri faking her Australian accent, only to learn they had the footage all along. I guess maybe there is some bonus to boosting The Bachelor’s online channels by sharing deleted scenes but … I think it would be better if the funny stuff was in the TV show!

Worst Sponcon Ever: Halo Top

From time to time, The Bachelorette does sponsored stuff. I get it. Nearly every episode features luxurious shots of hotels and a contestant being like, “This is the best hotel ever!” primarily because said hotel has agreed to let ABC film in their location for free. On Becca’s season of The Bachelorette, they went to Richmond, Virginia, because the perks were good. I get it. Sometimes dates are even sponsored, like when Rachel, Peter, and Rachel’s dog Copper attended a dog party with prominent BarkBox signage. I get it. I’ll say or do anything for money. I get that The Bachelorette exists so corporations can put their products on my TV screen—and thanks to the crisp definition of my Samsung television, it really feels like those products are inside my living room. Samsung: inspire the world, create the future.

However, product placement starts having diminishing returns if it’s too blatantly forced. And that’s what happened on Jed’s date with Hannah in Boston. The two went to Quincy Market and the bar that’s spent the last 20 years living off the fact that its exterior was used on Cheers (where everybody knows you’re a tourist!). After that, the two walked to Boston Common, where Hannah had a bright idea: Let’s go eat ice cream in the park!

First off, Hannah, weird idea. This episode was filmed March 28. The high in Boston that day was 54 degrees. Everybody on the episode was wearing jackets. This was not park-ice-cream weather.

But you know what? Fine—Boston has a lot of good ice cream spots. Except: Hannah and Jed did not go to a local ice cream spot. As they walked into the park, they were greeted by a whimsically dressed ice cream man standing in front of a Halo Top–branded freezer. He reached into his freezer and handed them pints of Halo Top. He did not scoop the Halo Top into a cone for them, as you would expect a street ice cream salesman to do. He just gave them the damn pints, like you can buy at your grocery store.

I think I know why whimsical Halo Top guy did not scoop the Halo Top into a cone. It’s because Halo Top is low-calorie ice cream, by which I mean it is garbage-ass faux ice cream that disintegrates into weird ice cream flakes if you attempt to scoop it without allowing it to briefly warm up. I am sure that Halo Top is legally permitted to call itself ice cream. But it is a farce. I would say Halo Top is the poor man’s ice cream, but it costs more than regular ice cream despite tasting worse. The sensation of Halo Top entering my mouth literally reminds me of the sensation of writing on a chalkboard, which, for the record, is one of my least-favorite sensations. Eating Halo Top taught me to appreciate my indulgences in life rather than trying to have a watered-down version more regularly. It’s better to have great ice cream once a month than to shovel a bowl of sweetened clay down your throat every day so you can pretend it’s ice cream.

What I’m saying is: This was terrible sponcon because I didn’t buy it for a second. It also makes me feel bad for Hannah and Jed. I could have great chemistry with a person, but it would surely be ruined by having to stand outside in 48-degree weather pretending to enjoy birthday-cake-flavored frozen antacid tablets.

Worst Take: Jed

After a beautiful March afternoon of frigid weather and ice-cold flavored talcum powder, Jed and Hannah headed to the Boston Celtics’ practice facility, where guards Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier met them. They were given jerseys with their names on them—for some reason, the Celtics opted not to give Hannah, whose last name is Brown, a Jaylen Brown jersey, and instead gave her a Kyrie Irving jersey that said “HANNAH” on the back. We then went straight from the worst sponcon ever to the greatest sponcon avoidance I’ve ever seen:

Solid C– job by whoever’s job it was to cover up the shoulder logos on the Celtics’ jersey. No free rides for Nike or General Electric. This is a Halo Top show.

Altogether, the date was fun. Jed hit an improbable shot while kissing Hannah, and Jaylen Brown gave Hannah particularly earnest life advice: She should pick “somebody who’s there for the rough times and the good times … somebody’s who’s going to accept you for your flaws and your beauty.” Honestly, that’s incredible stuff. As far as I can tell, 0.00 percent of 22-year-old pro basketball players are in monogamous committed relationships—how did one just give the most cogent advice on picking a life partner in the 20-year history of the Bachelor franchise? It’s a good thing they didn’t bring Kyrie Irving on—he would’ve been like, “Government scientists invented the concept of love ahead of World War II to convince American soldiers to die for their women back home. You shouldn’t pick anybody unless you personally administer a test proving your brain waves have a similar frequency to theirs.”

Anyway, Jaylen and Terry did their jobs, which led to Jed saying this:

Scary Terry and Jaylen Brown, two of the best guys in the league.” My dude, WHAT?!?! Is this an excerpt from a May 2018 episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast? Last week, we discussed how there’s always musical guests on this show who are just replacement-level country musicians with two first names, and how there’s always a snippet beforehand when the guy has to say, “Oh yeah, I’m a huge Hunter Nash fan.” Most of the time when this happens, I roll my eyes while also acknowledging that just maybe there’s a chance the guy is just a huge Hunter Nash fan. But I know Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown are not two of the best guys in the league. I can look it up and see that Terry Rozier shot 38.7 percent from the field. Saying he’s one of the best guys in the league is like saying Tyler C. is one of the best quarterbacks in all of Wake Forest.

Anyway, shortly after this, the Celtics lost four games in a row to the Bucks, who lost four games in a row to the Raptors, who might just go ahead and lose four games in a row to the Warriors. But remember: best guys in the league.