bachelorette cowboy date 'The Bachelorette': 'The Lone Ranger' is a reward?Desiree has whittled her stable of men down to 16 — and there are a lot of hot-headedness and muscles running around that “Bachelorette” mansion. We can’t wait to see how it plays out on the dodgeball field. Plus, that one crazy girlfriend shows up! Woo hoo, gang.

Group Date

Chris, Brian, Drew, Michael, Brooks, Brad, Mikey, Brandon, Zack and Ben are heading to the group date, which starts off with a game of dodgeball. The winners get to continue the date with Desiree. Excellent.

But first! The guys get pummeled by the National Dodgeball Team, which is a lot of fun. But then the teams are broken up into Mikey/Michael/Brooks/Chris/Brandon on Red and Drew/Brian/Brad/Zack/Ben on Blue.

The shorty-shorts and knee socks are awesome indeed, this a terrific date. Way better than roller derby, which was just sad (and way more dangerous for the participants). The first game comes down to Drew and Chris, with Drew coming out the victor for the Blue Team. He’s very exhilarated.

The Red Team wins the second game, so now it’s the rubber match. They’re playing for all the marbles with Desiree. Or something. But right at the top, Brooks gets run into during the scrum for the dodgeballs and he may have a broken finger. But they keep going, with the Blue Team having to sit someone out.

We aren’t sure we can compare this fight for Desiree’s marbles to Game 7 of the World Series, but we get that it’s intense. in the end, Zack pulls it out for the Blue Team, so Drew, Brian, Brad, Zack and Ben are getting the extra time with Dez.

Except Desiree totally cheats and brings everybody. Weak. We like the 15-passenger-van-o-tears when half the people have to go home and act like they’re on their way to a funeral or something.

The Hospital

Brooks’ finger is broken, so he’s in the ER now. Wow, that really stinks. Poor guy. Of course, it’s a great way to stay in Desiree’s mind and standout, especially because he’s First Date Curse guy. Those first-solo-date people can often fall by the wayside as the season goes on, so this might end up being really great for him.

The Afterparty

It’s time for “Queen for a Day” in “Bachelorette” land. Seriously, are you familiar with this old game show? Housewives had to explain how sucky their lives were and the one whose life sucked the worst got, like, a dishwasher. The guys and their sob stories this season feels a lot like that.

Brad’s big bombshell is that he has a 3-year-old son named Maddox. So, not a sob story, but still — a look-how-hard-my-life-is story, kind of. He also has to reveal about his domestic violence charge against Maddox’s mom, which was dismissed, and how he’s not that guy, but
that is in his past.

Chris then throws down the gauntlet by taking Dez off to a rooftop spot he “found” (coughproductionassistantcough), where he and Dez talk and bond. It’s a smooth move.

But then Brooks shows up with his broken finger and, well, there’s no competing with that, fellas. Rose = won. Except TWIST. The rose goes to Chris in a big surprise. And then that means the two of them get a private concert, where they dance and kiss. The other guys are supremely jealous.

The Girlfriend Bombshell

Dez gets a call from Chris Harrison with some “bizarre news” and Harrison is not going to let this guy get away with this. Because Chris Harrison is a superhero. A love superhero.

It turns out the guy with the girlfriend is Brian, who has so far been kind of a non-entity. You’d think if they knew this was coming, they would’ve edited him into the show more up to now so we could be even more outraged.

Then Stephanie the girlfriend shows up and Brian looks like he just swallowed his tongue. GOTCHA, BRIAN! And this would go over a lot better if Stephanie was a better actress. She’s terrible, this doesn’t seem real at all.

She has a son and blah blah great heaving breaths blah blah no tears blah blah too much botox to properly emote. Superhero Chris is trying to keep some civility, but Stephanie is running roughshod over the entire encounter. She’s wound up, huh?

Also, she apparently threw rocks at Brian and she definitely has the crazy eyes happening. But he cops to sleeping with her two days before coming on the show. Whoa! That’s kinda skanky.

And Dez says he’s gone, so adios Brian. We hardly knew ye.

Dez then tells the guys that they better not be hiding anything and the camera lingers on Ben, so — DUN DUN DUN.

Then poor Brandon is (over) identifying with Stephanie’s son, who has men come in and out of his life as the kid of a single mom. Yikes. Brandon seems very sweet and not at all serial killer-y, but he definitely is intense and maybe has some issues he needs to work through.

Kasey’s Date (#lovedefiesgravity)

What happened to Kasey’s hashtags? C’mon, dude. Those were gold. Anyway, he’s a little concerned because now his date has kind of been overshadowed by that big drama, but he’s #herefortherightreasons, so he can turn it around.

The date is some kind of insane Cirque du Soleil on the side of a skyscraper. That looks pretty fun, but Desiree is definitely distracted from how the day has gone. #getusoutofhere

At dinner, the feast is crashed by a terrible rain/wind storm. Ahhh, is the rose going to blow away?! But they decide to go swimming instead — except it’s freezing. Worst. Date. Ever.

But that won’t stop Hashtag Man, as he decides he’s going to make out with Desiree whether she likes it or not. Put this towel on your head and kiss me, lady!

He gets the rose, which — after all that, how could he not?

Second Group Date

Dan, James, Juan Pablo, Bryden and Zakkkk are going on the second group date. Interesting that there’s not two solos. But anyway, ti’s time to cowboy up as they learn how to do cowboy things.

They actually ride to the date (or they appear to) in a stagecoach. Not sure how far they would actually travel in that thing, but the show makes it look as though they ride in that coach to the date.

Desiree looks absolutely smashing in her Miss Kitty best — “from the 1900s,” as James informs us. And then it’s time for some stunt work, which is pretty fun, though the plug for the looks-absolutely-wretched “Lone Ranger” is terrible.

After some basic training, they have to saddle up and compete in the final challenge, where they ride a horse, fake fight some thugs and then shoot an old man. Zakkk is the funniest, for my money, though Juan Pablo does his scene in Spanish, which is awesome. And then he wins, so JP and Dez get a private screening of “Lone Ranger.” That seems like it should be the punishment for the four losers.

But Dez and Juan Pablo make out, so that’s more fun for them.

That night, it’s back to the group for a cocktail party at the ranch. Bryden is once again hesitant to make the moves on Dez, so she has to lay the signals on pretty heavily. He’s adorable.

Zakkk and Dez seem to be really comfortable with each other (they laugh a lot, which is key), while James has a father back home with cancer. Yikes. That’d be hard — what if he died while you were gone? That’s be devastating. Also, while James seems very nice, there are also a lot of pecs and teeth in that picture. A lot. It’s kind of alarming.

But he gets the rose, because he’s looking for a sign that says he’s doing the right thing by being away from his father. The other guys are so disappointed, especially Zakkk. But you can’t com
pete with cancer dad.

Ben’s Sneaky Peek

Dez has canceled the cocktail party and instead they’re all having a pool party, which definitely sounds more fun than the late-night shenanigans in fancy dress. As the pool party stars, Kasey shows off some Ice Man moves #TopGunvolleyballscenewhat?!

Meanwhile, Ben sneaks out the front door to see Dez privately for a few minutes in her car before she even arrives at the party. Now see, that’s just smart. Whether Ben thought of that himself or an enterprising PA with a cattle prod did the doing, I approve either way.

So Ben and Dez go for a quick drive and then Mikey and Michael (because of course it’s them) see them pull up at the mansion after their ride. Michael, continuing to complete mis-identify the point, says this isn’t about Ben making friends with them, it’s a character flaw.

Big fat disagree on that one. You’re just mad you didn’t think of it first. It’s not a character flaw. It might be sneaky and underhanded, but it’s also fun and romantic for Desiree. Why don’t you just mind your business, Michael? Why are you so worried about what Ben is up to?

Also, Michael says this is “going to come out at some point.” Come out to whom? Desiree knows what he did, she was there. She appeared to like it. Michael is ridiculous.

Anyway, the pool party is a raging success. Desiree is the best. But while she’s having fun, Ben lies about needing time with Desiree. Mikey thinks the lying is what’s the worst part, not the inherent sneaking off itself. Which — whatever. Ben can’t win in this situation. Because if he came back and was all, “I just took a private spin with Dez before the party,” you guys would’ve found that abhorrent. He can do no right with you at this point.

So Mikey decides they need to have a confrontation about it. He takes Ben off with Michael like a couple of steroid thugs and Ben says his dating life isn’t public, which — OK, you’re on a TV show, but still. He doesn’t owe these guys anything. And Michael says something about the lying and “you can’t unscramble that egg” and how they’re not going to be friends. Somehow we don’t think Ben will cry himself to sleep tonight over that one, Michael. The thing you don’t understand is that Ben doesn’t care what you think, which makes it hard for you because you think he should care. But he doesn’t.

Now it’s Brandon’s turn and his issues are shining through and you can tell Dez isn’t quite sure what to do with him. There’s a difference between sharing past things and having a therapy session, plus then he says he’s falling in love with her and he, like, makes her kiss him. Wow. Also, he feels so good right now, which means he’s probably in for a big disappointment tonight.

Rose Ceremony

Desiree designed this dress she has on and it’s really beautiful, though someone needs to poke her between the shoulder blades and make her stand up straight. Also, when she tells them she trusts them 100 percent, the camera lingers on Ben. DUN DUN DUN.

James, Kasey and Chris already have roses. The remaining ones go to Bryden, Juan Pablo, Zakkkk, Brooks, Drew, Zack, Brad, Michael, Mikey and Ben. Yep, so Brandon is going home, along with Dan.

Dan was kind of a non-entity, but Brandon is pretty crushed. He’s crying and telling her how huge of a mistake she’s making, but she’s right in saying that it’s better now than later if his feelings are so intense and hers aren’t. It would be worse three weeks down the line, dude.

You’re not in love with her, dude. You have some issues you need to work out and then you’ll probably be an amazing partner.

Next week: Atlantic City and lots of smooching, so it seems. Plus, a Mr. America Pageant. Excellent. Also, everybody hates Ben.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."