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The ‘Bachelorette’ Recap: An Eternity in Bruges

Unfortunately for Rachel and Gabby (but mostly Rachel), another unintended consequence of having two leads has emerged: the inevitability of wandering eyes

ABC/Getty Images/Ringer illustration

I think the time in this season has finally come to ask ourselves: Aside from the perks of international travel, access to America’s least consistent stylists, and the opportunity to stare down the barrel of Jesse Palmer’s chest in a decadent cable-knit sweater every once in a while, are Rachel and Gabby getting any benefits out of being co-Bachelorettes? Has there been anything special about the dating experience of being surrounded by a bunch of dudes who constantly waffle on their feelings, say yes to dates and then just wait to see if something else more interesting comes along? The dating experience where, if a man has the power to reject you, he will? The one that’s making Rachel feel like the least desired woman in America every hour on the hour?

I have to wonder if Gabby and Rachel wouldn’t have been better off simply springing for a Bumble Premium subscription and splitting a handful of Groupons for a lobster cruise on the Hudson. Did these two elite women really need to put their careers on pause, get spray tanned within an inch of their lives, and go on national television in order to star in a weeks-long Virgin Voyages commercial? Because a man named Logan can annoy you anywhere in the continental U.S.—there’s really no need for it to take place in a room full of furniture that’s designed to get wet and within the confines of a TV show designed to break down all your defenses and make you fall in love with a pharmaceutical sales rep who probably leaves comments on Ryan Reynolds’s Instagram posts.

On Monday night, Gabby and Rachel went on a cruise with their polyamorous pods and all they got was this stupid, confidence-shattering insecurity. Now, let’s be clear, the weeping in this season is nothing new. The Bachelor(ette) has always been designed to facilitate heartbreak after heartbreak, until finally, the only thing that’s left is a proposal on a platform made entirely of pampas grass. But the franchise is usually a little better at disguising that psychological gauntlet as a fairytale love story. Because, at its best, The Bachelorette is a numbers game: If you put an eligible woman in a room with 30 (mostly) eligible men, she’s probably going to be able to get along with half of them and fall in love with at least one of them. But not only did Season 19 of The Bachelorette screw over Gabby and Rachel’s ability to solely choose their own brotestant destinies—they also didn’t increase the quantity of Gabby and Rachel’s dating pool. Now it’s barely halfway through the season, we’re basically down to hometown numbers, and the husband pickings are … slim.

Even top contenders are keeping us on our toes. I trust Erich about as far as I could throw him back toward the CrossFit gym from whence he came; Tino has “gonna make Rachel weep her bodyweight in tears on a dock in the very near future” written all over him; and the season’s most eligible contestant, Nate, is probably about to get his big, beautiful heart broken because Gabby isn’t ready to make a life-altering commitment to motherhood while living aboard an abandoned cruise ship. Maybe when this is all over, Nate could adopt Zach and Tyler and they could all be one happy family, but short of that—the season simply is not giving “happily ever after.”

Which brings us to Logan, the single greatest threat currently facing the Virgin Voyage: Ghost Ship; the man constantly haunting its halls and bathroom mirrors with the visage of a Victorian child and a crippling main character complex.

Anyone who dates hetero men knows that there exists a semiannual shift in the cosmos wherein every man they’ve interacted with is suddenly sliding into their DMs, responding to their Instagram stories with long-dead inside jokes, and pretending that he thought he was texting his doctor whose name is also Jodi and then correcting the “mistake” by offering up a long-dead inside joke and asking what you’ve been up to. (Just a totally hypothetical example.) These inexplicable vibe shifts aren’t usually an issue on The Bachelorette, because all the brotestants are socially and contractually required to give the lead constant attention until one of them chooses to stop. But by simply bringing one other dating option into the mix, Season 19 has enabled the possibility—nay, inevitability—of wandering eyes.

And Logan is the brotestant to start spiritually sliding into Gabby’s DMs despite her showing no recent interest in him whatsoever. There is no doubt in my mind that if Rachel were the only Bachelorette, Logan would be waxing poetic about how he’s well on his way to falling in love with her; but because Logan has been given the opportunity to think there’s maybe something more interesting for him out there, he is instead waxing poetic about the totally novel position he’s been put in to choose between two women on ABC’s new show, The Loganorette. Which really was not the result I had in mind when this grand two-lead experiment in televised female friendship began.

Main Character Wannabee

Logan spent most of the last episode talking about how he accepted Rachel’s rose when it seemed like his only option, but now that he’s being asked to commit to Rachel while still being able to physically see Gabby with his eyeballs, he’s suddenly realizing how connected he felt to Gabby all along. Does anything about that sound … pathological to you? Well, not to Logan! He’s sure that telling one Bachelorette he’s actually more into the other Bachelorette is the most difficult, the most dire, the riskiest thing any one person in Bachelor Nation history has ever had to do—but he’s willing to do it because the only thing this man loves more than making everything about himself is doing so at the worst possible time for all parties involved.

Mere moments before Rachel is supposed to be going on a group date in Bruges, Belgium, with her boyfriends, Logan—one of those boyfriends—shows up to tell her that he likes her best friend more. Now, if Logan really did have stronger feelings for Gabby, but accepted Rachel’s rose because he didn’t want yet another man to reject her on national television, I could maybe respect that. (I would especially respect it if he then further reasoned his way through realizing that Gabby didn’t choose him in the first place, meaning she couldn’t be that into him, meaning he might as well stick it out with Rachel so as to not further destroy her fragile psyche—this is the kind of deference to the Bachelorette I expect.) But I have a really hard time believing Logan’s intentions were so altruistic. Mostly because every time Logan talks about the situation he’s gotten himself into, his eyes are absolutely glowing with the possibilities of being the most special boy aboard the Virgin Voyages: Actual Virgins. You see, Logan is a videographer—a storyteller—and throughout the episode you can literally hear him shaping this narrative into his own special fairytale, explaining how he realized his feelings for Gabby in grand, sweeping statements about his hero’s journey: He hopes that Rachel can forgive him, but he knows what he has to do; he knows it’s unlikely that Gabby will take him back, but it’s a risk he’s willing to take; all of the other men have had so much longer to spend with Gabby, so it would be unbelievable if she gave him a rose, but if she did …

But what’s especially shudder-inducing is the way that every time Logan talks about breaking up with Rachel, he acts like he’s been doing her some big favor by not breaking up with her until now. Sir—every man that is already marked for Rachel’s top four has a jaw that could cut glass and the personality of a sweet himbo who got dressed by cartoon birds. She doesn’t need you; let’s remember who the Bachelorettes are (Rachel and Gabby), and who they aren’t (Logan and the white-knight-complex he rode in on), and get this the hell over with.

Logan starts off by telling Rachel, “I’ve never really gotten a chance to tell you how honored I am, like when you put a rose on me,” to which I say, keep it. Logan then outlines how he formed such strong connections with both women early on, and how he mistakenly thought he could forget about his feelings for Gabby. He tells Rachel that when his name was read on the Bruges group-date card, he realized that everyone else in the room was sure Rachel would be who they end up with at the end of this, but he wasn’t. Of course, we know from listening to Logan talk about his interest in Gabby to every camera that will listen for the past two episodes that he had no such dramatic realization …

But it’ll make a hell of a story at the Men Tell All segment he’s crafting in his head, won’t it? Rachel’s had a tough go of it this season, emotionally speaking, but she’s really at her best when she’s furious, and while she doesn’t get angry about Logan saying he has to step away from dating her, the moment he starts in with the “I look at myself in the mirror and I’m like, I’m a fool, because look at you,” she looks like she is about to try to wedge his 6-foot-5 ass through a porthole and not tell anyone about it until the season is over.

The BACHELORETTE doesn’t need your “it’s not you, it’s me” speech, Logan. Because it’s not your show, it’s hers!

Well, y’know, and also her best friend’s, which is really just a persistent kink in an otherwise healthy and non-toxic franchise, isn’t it? Logan skips down the hall from Rachel’s room to whatever creepy, empty corridor Gabby is staying in, tells her what he’s done, and says he’s not looking for an immediate response from her. Gabby tells Logan that he was the only man for whom there was any real overlap in her and Rachel’s interests, and I can only assume she just added 10 years to his life expectancy based on how giddy that information makes him.

Gabby tells Logan that she needs to talk to Rachel before she gives him any answers, and when she does, Rachel tells Gabby that she wants her to explore things with Logan if there’s something there to explore and not to worry about her. And listen, I’d probably follow Gabby off a cliff, laugh the whole way down, and thank her for choosing me—but you know what they say: You can pick your friends and you can pick your boyfriends, but you can’t pick your friends’ boyfriends.

Slap My Fish and Call Me Bruges

So, I don’t ultimately love that Gabby chooses to bring Logan back into her boyfriend circle, nor that she has him tell the aforementioned boyfriends he’s moving into their wing of the Virgin Voyages: Non-Monogamy at Sea. Especially after they’ve just spent a lovely day making Belgian waffles and slapping each other with fish!

When Logan joins in for the nighttime portion of the group date, the other brotestants are sent into a tailspin, wondering if they really have the connections with Gabby they thought they did. Luckily, Nate remains a mature, hot-dork king who just wants Gabby to be happy (and also continues to show a great deal of concern for Rachel’s happiness, which, with our bar for these men way down in the Virgin Voyages engine room, is really touching). Nate gets Gabby’s group-date rose, to which Erich whines: “That sucks … I don’t necessarily know ranking-wise where I stand, but I don’t need to be here eight more weeks just to see what happens.”

Um, I’m sorry, Erich—“See What Happens” is actually the alternate title of this franchise, so buckle up, buttercup, because you’ve got a long road ahead of not getting every single one of Gabby’s roses.

And Rachel has a long road ahead of continuing to untangle the psychological knot of near-constant rejection while also allowing her mind to accept that there is a group of the very nice men who are choosing to date her, and therefore she has dates to go on. But even after Jesse gives Rachel a surprisingly sincere pep talk following Logan’s breakup, Rachel still can’t bring herself to go meet up with the men in Bruges for their group date.

She is able to gather herself for the nighttime portion, however, and everyone there just wants to make sure she knows that she’s loved and cared for … everyone except for Tino, who wants Rachel to know he was hurt when she canceled what should have been their group date time together. And wouldn’t you know it … she loves it. She loves that he’s honest with her, that he’s vulnerable about his feelings, and that he’s got a head built like a gorgeous Easter Island statue. It’s enough to ultimately clinch the group-date rose for Tino.

It’s Time to Secure Some Boyfriends

But between all this drama and Bachelorette-switching—and what I have to imagine is up to an hour of lifeboat safety instruction and humming “My Heart Will Go On” per day—this season has felt particularly short on true romantic connections for our co-Bachelorettes. So it’s time to positively zip through some one-on-ones with Rachel’s and Gabby’s probable future fiancés, Aven and Johnny.

Aven and Rachel don’t have a pore between them, and for their date, they just float around Bruges being gorgeous and making out against old brick walls. Despite all the rejection, it does kind of seem like Rachel has three full-on husband candidates at this point, meaning that things are about to become a very different kind of complicated for her. Nevertheless, she’s solely focused on Aven right now, and during the nighttime portion of their date, he opens up about the distance he had with his mom growing up. But they’ve become much closer in his adulthood, and Aven loans Rachel the bracelet his mom gave him before he came on the show, in hopes that it will bring her some luck too. (It looks suspiciously like a motion-sickness bracelet to me, and I just want to know what Aven’s mom knew about the Virgin Voyage and when she knew it.)

Gabby’s one-on-ones tend to be a smidge less Disney, but the balance between goofball daytime energy and trauma-analyzing nighttime energy lands somewhere in the vicinity of romance. She and Johnny just laugh and laugh while trying beers at a brewery and then, for reasons unknown, soaking in a bathtub full of it.

At night, Johnny tells Gabby that he struggles with confidence issues and depression, and while it is a vulnerable confession, and Gabby appreciates his openness as always, it seems like a pretty freshly explored topic for Johnny. He gets the rose, and they just laugh and laugh some more …

Until it’s time for the cocktail party, when Rachel’s men see Logan for the first time since he defected, and Gabby’s men slowly realize that this dude is definitely getting a rose. Michael and Mario (Gabby’s first-impression rose, remember him?!?) are sent home, and the episode’s final four minutes are devoted to one of the most harrowing midseason previews I’ve ever seen, featuring floods of tears and what appears to be multiple heel turns for multiple favorite boyfriends. If everyone makes it out of this alive, it will be a Virgin Voyage: Miracle.