The most common refrain on Monday night’s Fantasy Suite episode of The Bachelorette is some variation of the phrase “I think I’m gonna throw up.” We never get confirmation of gastrointestinal release, but when I consider that this nausea-inducing episode was actually only the first of two Fantasy Suite episodes this week—which are just the first of a three-week stretch to this season’s finale—I share their vomitous sentiment.
Because I thought this season was over! You thought this season was over! It really seemed like the season was over, didn’t it?! As a Bachelor professional, tens of people have asked me over the past week to confirm to them that this week’s “two-part Bachelorette event” would of course be the finale—and I had to tell them that, as a Bachelor professional, I really had no clue. It was as unclear as ever how this season would continue to unfold. Until, apparently, so many people asked the Bachelor franchise itself that they were forced to put out one of the most confounding graphics I’ve ever seen:
Here's when it's all going down – Plan your watch parties accordingly. pic.twitter.com/lU08TniAiz— The Bachelorette (@BacheloretteABC) September 2, 2022
Now, earlier in the season, I would have loved a double-episode week in order to get to know our double-Bachelorettes and their unnamed, real-estate-selling, protein-shake-swilling boyfriends. But that ship has sailed. Why finally give this season more time to breathe when there are only six men left? I mean, a guy made it to Hometowns without ever going on a one-on-one date, and without the audience ever learning more about his job as a carnie entrepreneur. We’ve just found out more about front-runner Tino beyond the fact that he was once called a baby back bitch, and none of it seems great. The Men Tell All was 80 percent ads, 10 percent apps, and 100 percent unsuccessful at changing lives via cruise ship. All in all, this season has taught me to expect very little in terms of quality, and even less in terms of quantity …
But now they’re doubling the run time of the season with only six doughnut heads left in the competition? It is, quite simply, weird. And yet, Erich has shaped up his mullet for the occasion and Johnny has just learned that people usually get engaged at the end of this show, so the only way to go is forward. Even if it is a national holiday and I can’t imagine how this season could possibly warrant eight more hours of broadcasting, let’s see what fence-jumping moment could warrant a two-night event …
Love on the Brain
Both Rachel and Gabby talk a lot this episode about how hurt they were during their last Fantasy Suite experience—y’know, when Clayton told them each he loved them only to turn around and show how little value he placed on such a sentiment by attempting to break up with them in tandem immediately afterward? Perhaps that lingering sting is why Gabby kicks her Fantasy Suites off with a sure thing: Erich, who she knows she can’t harm by telling him she loves him this week … because she already told him last week!
Though Gabby seems to want to explore all of her relationships to their fullest extent (ABC-approved coitus), it’s becoming increasingly clear that Erich is her first and only choice. Not because of any notable crackling electricity between them, but because Gabby more or less tells us as much, and I guess we just have to trust her on that. I mean, we can see that Gabby likes to sit on Erich’s lap, and give him tiny kisses in rapid succession like her neck is attached to a spring … but banter between these two consists of Gabby taking Erich to a natural pool in Riviera Maya, Mexico, and asking him, “Have you ever jumped off anything before?” (He has!) And the height of Erich expressing his emotions about Gabby seems to be telling her that he “was like, damn,” in various heightened moments throughout their relationship.
So, the Gabby-Erich connection isn’t clicking for me, but for them, the chemistry is off the charts; they establish once more during the nighttime portion of the date that they’re falling in love with each other, after which Gabby unveils a card from beneath a pile of charcuterie written by Jesse Palmer, who is apparently in possession of the same penmanship as the coolest, meanest girl at your middle school. They spend the night together, and the next morning, shoes are everywhere …
So you know what that means, wink wink, nudge nudge.
The Full Package
Rachel takes a different approach from Gabby on her first one-on-one, choosing Aven—whom she regrets having not yet told her true feelings to going into Fantasy Suites. In addition to being hot and nice, a big part of Aven’s appeal to Rachel after Hometowns seems to be that his parents weren’t mean and belittling to her. Because wouldn’t it be nice if your future father-in-law had never tried to lure you into conversational entrapment via a series of escalating trick questions about a life decision that his adult son has already made? However, another big part of Aven’s appeal is revealed after Fantasy Suites, when Rachel wakes up looking like she got tossed around on the permanent press cycle for an entire evening and tells the camera: “Aven is the full package—the full package.”
Once again, shoes are positively amok.
So, stunningly, Tino now has some actual competition … which will be terrible news to Tino, who loves nothing more than to opine to the cameras about how much he has this in the bag. Given his confidence that the other men are no competition for him, you’d think Tino would be sitting pretty during Fantasy Suites. But, no—he somehow finds ways to both brag and whine in equal measure! It is as charming as it sounds.
By the time they make it to their Fantasy Suite, though, it’s Tino who’s pretending like he’s doing just fine and Rachel who is a bundle of nerves. She’s under the impression that there’s no way Tino could be comfortable moving forward with an engagement, which is nerve-racking for her considering that she loves him. For us, it’s simply hilarious, considering how little thought Tino seems to have put into his parents’ behavior during Hometowns. He says he knows that he and Rachel should talk about it, but it’s kind of like he thinks that if he just ignores it the whole problem will magically disappear on its own. (Can’t relate.) When Rachel tells Tino that the last thing his dad said to her was that he wouldn’t approve of Tino proposing, Tino actually gawks:
He had no idea! Despite Rachel saying the exact phrase, “I feel like your parents really did not like me,” to him multiple times! Tino reassures Rachel that his parents will come around because they have to; he loves her, and he sees his future with her, and that means that eventually, they’ll have the time to see her as the beautiful, smart, ambitious woman he’s fallen in love with. I’m stunned that this is actually very sweet and the exact right thing to say. Tino should always be talking to Rachel and never be talking to the camera.
Tell Me You Love Me
But it wouldn’t be Season 19 if one of our Bachelorettes did not at least briefly doubt herself because a floppy-haired man from Florida isn’t ready to marry her. We haven’t heard Gabby talk much about her expectations of how this will all end, and there have been times this season when I assumed that Gabby wouldn’t necessarily let the contractually suggested engagement weigh too heavily in her final decision. But during Monday night’s episode, Gabby says that she’s grown throughout this process and realized that she really is ready to be engaged …
Which is how she finds herself on a beach with a 25-year-old man named Johnny who, I kid you not, has just said to the camera, “Gabby is the dopest girl I think I’ve ever hung with.” I’d need to gather the Ringer staff to see where “the dopest girl I think I’ve ever hung with” falls in the “I’m falling for you” to “I’m falling in love with you” to “I’m in love with you” Bachelor(ette) feelings spectrum—but for Gabby, it’s clearly not quite enough. When pushed, Johnny lets Gabby know that while he has strong feelings for her—she is the dopest girl he’s ever hung with (he thinks)—he doesn’t foresee himself being ready to propose in one week’s time. Gabby is sad, because she really saw something with Johnny, but at least she still has Jason—whom the editors show chatting with Jesse about how he’s definitely not ready to ask Gabby to marry him yet—and Erich, who is fully in love with Gabby and totally not going to ruin it.
Oh, just kidding! Erich writes Gabby a secret little note, invites her to come to a bridge covered in twinkling lights, and then tells her that after their magical night together, “Picturing the girl I’m in love with doing that with somebody else kind of crushes me.”
Gabby doesn’t say it this time, but the look on her face is clear: She’s gonna throw up. And that’s how we got ourselves into a two-night event, folks. Tune in on Tuesday for Jason’s and Zach’s Fantasy Suites, and to see whether everyone can follow the BRAT diet and just chill out a little.