In another shocking twist, Tayshia walks out one of her favorite guys in the house as everyone starts opening up about some very real, sometimes dark chapters in their pasts.
"The Bachelorette" got real in a hurry in an episode that wasn't big on eliminations -- unless you count Chris Harrison -- but was absolutely huge on seeing people really open up and start to show more of themselves. Unfortunately for one of those guys, though, it just wasn't enough.
Before we could even get to a rose ceremony to wrap up the night, this season of unpredictability delivered another unexpected twist in that the ongoing petty feud between Noah and Bennett reached a Tayshia-sized crescendo this week.
And here we were convinced it was going to be Ed who lost his cool on "young Noah," as Bennett condescendingly calls him.
This week also saw the self-elimination of Chris Harrison, who ejected himself from the quarantine bubble intentionally so he could take his son to college, leaving former Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher at the resort to take over temporarily.
Sometimes we're not sure if Bennett is even for real. His "present" for Noah before their confrontation with Tayshia took his condescension and smugness to a whole new level. Does he think he's for real?
The guy has to know that this was a totally dickish think to do, made even more so by the dramatic presentation of items in the gift.
At the same time, there's a part of us that thinks he may actually be totally genuine; it's just that his incredible arrogance and overconfidence gets the best of him. Mostly, Bennett has been endearingly obnoxious this season, but the endearing wore off tonight.
But then, he wasn't wrong in saying that Noah isn't there yet when it comes to emotional maturity. Noah did sabotage things for the other guys and he has continuously brought up the other guys with Tayshia, as if putting them down elevates him -- well, it kind of works.
The problem is that Bennett isn't carrying himself any better. It's just that he may be too obtuse to see his own character flaws on full display here. And with the edit going into their encounter with a fed up Tayshia, it may not be good news for the Harvard grad.
Basically, their nonsense is so distracting at this point, she decided -- producers decided -- to single them out for a two-on-one confrontation (not a date), with only one of them returning to the house.
Can we say bravo to those same producers and editors for the dramatic "To Be Continued..." on a still shot of the gift box Bennett brought just after Tayshia asks what the hell is that. That, my dear Bachelorette, is the symbol of Bennett's overbearing (and at times hilarious) demeanor.
The extravagance of the display, just for the purpose of putting Noah down, is going to be hard for Bennett to explain away. And based on how the edit telegraphed the night's most heartbreaking moment, we're pretty sure he's just about done here.
But hey, there's always "Bachelor in Paradise," where he could be a hoot. Bennett could use some humility in his life, if he really is this way, because he's got a good heart under all that bluster. He just needs to be knocked back down a bit so he'll lose some of it.
Noah is immature and he's been awful much of this season, but in this instance, he seems content to sit back and let Bennett dig his own grave. So if Bennett does indeed go, will hothead Ed pick up his slack and take over the necessary "feuding with Noah" position?
There was a maturity about this entire date, as silly as it was, and how it was all explained and handled that we have to respect, even if we're not altogether thrilled with how things turned out.
Keeping it real, Tayshia acknowledged that as much as she enjoys hanging with Eazy as a guy pal, she's not yet caught feels for him. She enjoys spending time with him tremendously, but if it doesn't get more real, than what is she doing?
Kudos to her for acknowledging that, but we're not sure a haunted tour of the resort was the way to try and take their relationship to the next level. She did a fake wedding photo shoot with Zac earlier in the night and then she gives Eazy running and screaming and laughing in the dark?
If anything, that's just going to solidify that he's an absolute blast to be with. But it's hardly conducive for romance. And that's just what happened.
Unfortunately for Eazy, he was already in his feelings about Tayshia. But the date wasn't able to get her there, so after he poured his heart out to her, he basically got a, "Can I walk you out?"
She handled it with a little more class and honesty than that, but it was still very hard to watch. Eazy has been one of the most entertaining people in the house, and we've enjoyed seeing his more serious side as he started to fall for Tayshia. Unfortunately, we could also see her getting much closer with other guys, so this was probably inevitable.
We also applaud her for trying one last time with him and then giving him the dignity of telling him she didn't want to eliminate him in a rose ceremony because he deserves an explanation and a conversation. That's just classy from top to bottom.
Tonight's group date is the kind of quality reality television we need to see on our televisions, and not just because Ben inexplicably stripped down to his hands over his unmentionables.
It was remarkable and powerful to see ten men strip themselves down emotionally (even you, Ben) in front of Tayshia, with some of them even getting emotional. It's important to normalize and see this kind of behavior from men.
Even more significant was their willingness to go to these uncomfortable places not only in front of Tayshia but in front of each other. Guys have all this pressure on them (and on themselves) to always keep it together, keep their emotions stamped down and put on this stoic face, but it's just not healthy.
This silly art date is a beautiful statement of the power and impact of truth and vulnerability and how damned sexy it can be to really let go of all that machismo that's baked into our culture.
There was a beauty not just in the guys expressing themselves to Tayshia, or tearing up as they opened up about some of the struggles in their lives, but in how thoroughly they embraced this challenge to represent themselves through art.
There's a reason art is such a powerful tool to help people dig into their personal feelings and deepest selves. There is no right or wrong way to express yourself artistically, and that very freedom allowed these guys to go there in so many different and gorgeous ways.
And the important thing for other boys and men of all ages to see is that they all did just that. They let down the walls and they went there. And none of them are lesser for it. It was such a beautiful series of moments that an overwhelmed Tayshia had to leave the room to let out her own emotions with tears.
Who knew a silly group date could turn out to be so impactful. It was therapeutic for the guys, moving for Tayshia and powerful for viewers at home. Who knew?
Add this sequence to Zac opening up about his journey through addiction, divorce and ultimately recovery during his one-on-one with Tayshia and Ben opening up about his 15-year struggle with an eating disorder and the episode stands as a testament not only to the power of truth and vulnerability, but with the affirmation that we should never give up on anyone, including ourselves.
"Seeing her walk up-- beautiful, I don't think is an accurate word in this circumstance. There's another word that will be created to describe her." --Zac (seeing Tayshia in a wedding dress)
"I don't want you to do anything you don't want to do." --Zac (sensing Tayshia's hesitancy)
"I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. There's this breathtaking thing you have going on, so sometimes when I look at you I have to do a little doubletake." --Zac
"I had a great time today. We joked, we got married, we did everything." --Zac
"I don't want to be on the group date. I feel like it's going to be highly competitive. Everything I've been doing his highly competitive. I would way rather just save all my energy for a one-on-one with her." --Noah
"I know that if I'm a miracle, than who's to tell me that I can come on a TV show in the middle of a national pandemic and find love with someone as amazing as Tayshia? No one. I won't let them." --Zac
"I started, initially, with the couple. And then I added a little of the background noise just to note that there is always some drama going on around" --Bennett (getting in a dig at Noah during group date)
The usage of the blindfold, it connotated a little sexual undertones, so I had to seize the opportunity. A little 50 shades of clay, if you will." --Bennett (stealing a blindfold kiss)
"It is exactly what you think it is." --Blake (sculpting a penis to symbolize his thoughts of his time with Tayshia -- uh, okay?)
"Hey Bennett, you spell privilege P-R-I-V-I-L-E-D-G-E, right?" --Noah (to Bennett)
"Today has been eye-opening for me. And so literally and figuratively I'm gonna let my guard down for you. This is me showing up for you as myself." --Ben (getting naked)
"This is what happens when you start dating grown men." --Tayshia (crying after men share their self-portraits)
"I can say I'm excited for you. I can't say I want it to be the most romantic date in 'Bachelorette' history." --Zac (to Eazy before his one-one-one)
"The chirpy remarks. I can take them for so long until I'm finally like, 'Alright, no." --Noah (to Bennett)
"I was more like, Oh Tayshia. Grab me. Touch my muscles." --Eazy (after haunted resort date)
"Tayshia, this is real?" --Eazy (as she's walking him out)
"There's no room for error, there's no playing around. I'm not going home because some snob tried to drag my name through the mud." --Noah (before he and Bennett met with Tayshia)
"Whatever Bennett tells Noah, it's gonna be a huge diss. It's gonna be insulting, and it probably will be hilarious." --Ed
"Honestly, I think Bennett is going home but I think he's gonna cause hell on his way out." --Noah
"Every step of the way with Tayshia, you have been talking about other people and other things in your conversations. It is now a trend. I have never once had a conversation with Tayshia where I've spoken about any other gentleman in the house." --Bennett (to Noah)