Previously: JoJo met her mixed bag of suitors, now finding herself on the receiving end of a showy Limo Parade introduction or 20. And this morning, JoJo’s awake, alive, and ready to date by the small sub-group. Her top matches the azaleas on her balcony; hats off to the wardrobe department for that touch.

At the Romance Villa, the guys are starting their day with a round of screwdrivers and a kind of gross toast to JoJo. Chad, for one, is Chad-in’ around the house: In a brief break from hurling bitter insults, he uses a weight belt to lift a suitcase full of…bricks? as the remaining dudes enjoy morning cocktails and laugh at him like normal people. “Chad is the worst” is the episode’s most prominent theme. He becomes more and more loathsome over the course of two hours, and his defense (well, one defense; we’ll get to another reason later) is that he’s a merely a soldier for honesty, and people just can’t handle his realness.

Chris Harrison floats in to remind them of the drill: There will be two group dates, and just a single one-on-one date. He then evaporates into thin air (go with it), leaving the first group-date card.

Suddenly: CRASH SOUND!!! Everybody runs outside. There’s an exploding limo parked out front of the villa, but help is on the way — let Brandon (Hipster, 28) recount it for you, as he slips a wisp of hair behind his ear: “Out of the fire truck steps the most beautiful fireman I’ve ever seen in my life.” JoJO CAN work a pair of suspenders. After she douses the fire, she scoops up the first group date — or as the left-out Chad deems them in a confessional, “the B Team.”

JoJo’s takes her first pack of brosephs to fireman camp, “Hands down the hottest date I’ve ever been on.” That statement appears both literal and figurative, as everyone gets so sweaty while they hack things open with axes and run around in the blazing sun wearing heavy fireman gear. It looks like a nightmare, for the dudes, specifically. Wells — hot Radio DJ and definite “indoor kid” (same) — wilts under the physical duress, and the others claim to feel bad until it gains him extra attention from JoJo. Sunstroke-y like a fox, amirite?

ABC, Rick Rowell

Grant is naturally great at this competition, being a real firefighter and all; Luke narrowly loses the “meet JoJo on the roof” physical challenge to him and really beats himself up over it.

Meanwhile, back at the Romance Villa, James Taylor made up a song about their situation on the sidelines because of course he did. Everyone, even Aaron Rodgers’ Brother Jordan, is singing “Hey JoJo, where’d you gooo?” around the imaginary campfire. It is the most endearing thing that as happened so far, so naturally Chad hates it.

After the date, JoJo hangs out/makes out with Grant briefly (giving us visions of Trista and Ryan part 2), and then does the same with runner-up Luke. But it’s Wells, who shows her pictures of his dogs, who gets the group-date rose.

JoJo chooses Derek (commercial banker, 29) for her one-on-one. Weren’t you expecting it to be Jordan? JoJo and Derek’s date is a choose-your-own-adventure situation (sky or sea? North or south?) and a private jet ride later, they’re in San Francisco. The make romance on Fisherman’s Wharf, a scenic-if-unimaginative location.

Back at the Villa, Chad and Daniel (aka the Producer’s Dream Team) are having a meeting of the minds. “Nice guys are the worst,” Chad decrees, before likening the contestants to a protein shake in a nonsensical analogy. Wow, these guys are day-drunk, huh?

After the second group date announcement, three contestants don’t get chosen. Chad finds a way to be a dick about the fact that they're visibly disappointed.

Over in San Fran, JoJo and Derek have some fairly by-the-numbers bayside chat about how they’ve both been hurt before, andthey’venevertalkedaboutthiswithanyonebutweareCONNECTINGrightnow! They kiss, and a fountain emits ropey geysers in the background.

Speaking of excitement: The second group date pack is ushered onto the set of ESPN’s Sports Nation, where they find JoJo already holding her own among the hosts. Hmm, this show can really double as a low-key anchor audition — know what I mean, Dr. Travis Stork of TV’s The Doctors?

The date-competition involves everyone doing their best touchdown dances, and Jordan takes another opportunity to mention that fact that yes he IS Aaron Rodgers’ brother. Then James Taylor makes his OWN protein shake analogy; what is even going on here with all the protein shake talk?


Next, everyone's forced to make a fake proposal, and it is very weird. Chad attempts to “neg” JoJo during his proposal, calling her a “little naggy,” as if this is the 2007 VH1 reality show The Pickup Artist and not the hearts-and-flowers Bachelorette. Nuh, bruh.

During the “press conference” portion of the competition (the hellish rigors of the firemen date seems preferable now), Chad tells everyone he’s too “real” to act like he’s in love with JoJo, which, fair enough, but his approach is tin-eared.

“Where keeping it real goes wrong,” Sports Nation cohost Marcellus Wiley aptly sums up. While JoJo does notice everyone seems to hate Chad, she applauds his candor. He’s the runner-up, but James Taylor wins the game.

Post-date, James Taylor gets a kiss from JoJo after reading her a poem that he wrote. She meets with Chad next, and in trying to unpack his whole “deal,” she discovers something that suggests his hurtful behavior may be more than just an effective play for screentime: His mother died six months before the show. That’s a hell of a thing and can take you right outside of yourself, as I can attest from firsthand experience. But grief and his professed love of puppies aside, Chad remains deeply unpleasant. James Taylor gets the rose.

Villa of Romance Cocktail Party #2. Before the party pops off, Chad takes JoJo’s hand for a chat, but really so he can walk into the house with her to piss everyone off (this feels orchestrated by the powers behind the camera). Their entry violates the contestants’ notion of fair play, as does Chad’s choice of tie, which matches JoJo’s outfit. They also decide that he’s eating too much food from the buffet, though with all of that waiting around time I’d hit the free food pretty hard too, tbh.

“I didn’t have a protein shake so I could dive into these,” Chad reasons. IT IS THE THIRD PROTEIN SHAKE MENTION IN THE EPISODE.

As this drama unfolds, JoJo enjoys a fake snowfall and Will (who?) makes her toilet-paper the house. It's a lot of memory making. Being the Bachelorette seems exhausting.

Everyone confronts Chad in a very passive-aggressive way, but he laughs in their faces and stalks off with his new sycophant Daniel behind him. After Chad interrupts JoJo’s patio tete-a-tete for a second time, he’s confronted AGAIN by Alex. But Chad shan’t be stopped, and after scoffing his way through the rose ceremony in a V.O., he is of course asked to stay. James S., Brandon, and Will are sent home.

Next week: TWO nights of Bachelorette (geez!) and I’ll hopefully get to see more of Ali, the sweet, chill piano player of my dreams.

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