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‘The Golden Bachelor’ Recap: Somebody’s Gonna Get Hurt

It’s been a while since ABC’s Bachelor franchise sparked enough of our interest to actually tune in so we just have to ask: Is there always this much crying?

The second episode of The Golden Bachelor is a bit of a blubbering mess as the first one-on-one and group dates stir up painful emotions for the women before the final rose ceremony tasks Gary with doing the one thing he hates most: making a decision. Unlike past installments of the reality dating series, this show is constantly wading into uncharted trauma-tory, digging up past hurts, tasking its cast with sharing deeply personal heartbreak to fuel its driving premise of second chances and life after love. It’s at its most shallow, superficial fun when we’re laughing with the women about hearing aids and knee replacements but, this episode especially, focuses on the depressing reality of why we’re all here: loss. It’s inescapable, inevitable, and sometimes so hard to contend with that we’ll do anything — even don a tacky costume wedding dress for a poorly lit photoshoot that will then be framed and gifted to us on camera where we’ll grin and bear the embarrassment as we label it “The best present we’ve ever received.”

The pursuit of love really is exhausting.

Luckily, these oldies have more energy than the rest of us watching at home so we push onward. Here are the winners and losers of this week’s The Golden Bachelor.

Loser – Gary’s Freeway Fail

Gary is a 71-year-old man from Indiana whose mind cannot possibly fathom how to navigate LA traffic so, naturally, the producers gift him a classic Thunderbird with faulty headlights and send him on his way just as the sun’s going down. The result: a five-minute car ride that might be the most tense span of television we’ve seen in a while. If Quentin Tarantino had directed that scene in Clueless when Cher accidentally took the freeway, it’d probably look something like this.

Winner – Theresa’s Diner Flash Mob

Despite Gary’s failed Fast and Furious audition, Theresa seems to be having a great time, calming him down with gentle shoulder touches and opening up about her own devastating loss. Sure, sharing that your husband died of kidney failure in your arms is a truly insane conversation to have over milkshakes and fries at a kitschy California diner but when it ends with a scripted flash mob dance break, isn’t it worth it?

Loser – Leslie’s Flower Child Meltdown

The performance of this 64-year-old aerobics champion in this week’s episode was disappointing, to say the least. Leslie spent most of her time fuming over missing her chance to don 70s garb for a fake photoshoot instead of realizing that leather is the sexiest thing you can wear and working her goods for a one-on-one. This is not the kind of behavior becoming of a woman who once dated Prince. Play smarter, not harder, Leslie.

Winner – Nancy’s Storybook Ending

Most of the women had a good time during the romance novel cover shoot but for Nancy, the unfortunate choice to play dress up in a wedding gown quickly turned into a form of exposure therapy. That polyester and machine-stitched lace emotionally gutted the poor woman but luckily, she was able to weaponize those tears into receiving a rose before the night’s ceremony.

Loser – The Top Bunk Crew

Ok, no we know the producers are having a laugh because how are you going to make senior citizens sleep like they’re in summer camp? Someone’s going to break a hip. It won’t be Sandra, whose two knee replacements are too precious to risk climbing up a rickety ladder meant for a child. And it certainly won’t be pickleball co-captain Ellen, who risks wetting the bed every night if she’s not close to a bathroom. But Edith? Joan? Who will be the first to fall?

Winner – Susan’s 7 a.m. Chicken Piccata

Italian women treat that whole “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” cliché like it’s Gospel and Gary better be ready to worship at the altar of Susan’s 7 a.m. chicken piccata and garlic-fried meatballs.

Winner – April’s Grilling Technique

On the other hand, April’s motto when it comes to cooking also has its merits. She’s not here to fill Gary’s stomach after all, she’s here to decorate his life with love and joy.

Undecided – Nancy’s Killer Drive

We’re not sure how to feel about Kathy yet and it seems Gary doesn’t know either. She’s the last to get a rose this week despite appearing to be the most competitive of the bunch. At one point in the episode, as the women fret over a bug in the bathroom, Kathy issues her war cry: “I will kill!” The cockroach, or the women standing between you and a one-on-one date, Kathy?