mr america pageant bachelorette 'The Bachelorette': Bryden has doubts; Hurricane Sandy couple brings James and Dez closerThe “Bachelorette” and her men are headed to Atlantic City, for some Mr. America frivolity and some Hurricane Sandy seriousness. Who will be going home this week?

When Chris Harrison tells the Top 13 they’re headed to New Jersey, the guys are … more excited than they probably should be. Harrison hypes it like they’re headed some place super fancy and, well, let’s just say that Atlantic City is no Paris. But hey, it probably beats the heck out of staying in the frat house for another week.

Kasey sums it up as #LasVegasontheocean, which is apropos and probably why I don’t care for it. Heh.

Brad’s Date

Brad gets the Babysitter’s Club Super Special date (remember that one where they went to Sea City, New Jersey) as they take in the Boardwalk, complete with carnival games, salt water taffy and chocolate. It’s a very free-wheeling date. I’ve always thought a great first date would be at an amusement park, so the Boardwalk is like the next best thing.

Then they “stumble” upon a huge sand castle and Desiree …. does she actually say, “Let’s go see what this is!” Like, what else would it be? Plus, let’s not pretend some exhausted PA didn’t work all day on that thing.

And then they don’t even eat there! They wander off like five seconds later! That was dumb.

At dinner, it’s mucho awkward. They have nothing to talk about, but thankfully there’s wine to be consumed. Though I’m so disappointed in my talented sound editors for not throwing some crickets in there.

Then they literally have to talk about what they just did on their date because there’s nothing else going on. Dude. Ask her some questions! Have some personality! What’s the matter with you? And she could be giving a little more too, it’s a two-way street, Dez.

There’s no way this schlub gets a rose. Zzzzzzz.

And then they climb a lighthouse and as Dez sends him packing so quickly she can’t even get her breath from climbing the lighthouse stairs. “It just [breath] wasn’t [breath] there [breath] between us [breath].”

She wants a love that can light the darkness, y’all. Metaphor drink! “Natural spark,” drink again.

Brad says he got hit with a ton of bricks, but no drinking because they did not do any masonry on the date tonight. Also, why is he crying? As far as viewers could tell, you had about as much interest in Dez as you might have interest in watching paint dry.

Silliest date ever? It’s right up there. Flitting around the Boardwalk, stupid sand castle interlude, no connection whatsoever. Boooooo.

Group Date

Brooks, Drew, Zack, Bryden, Kasey, Zakkk, Juan Pablo, Mikey, Ben, Michael and Chris are going on the group date, which leaves James as the other one-on-one date.
It’s Mr. America Pageant time, which, frankly, is an awesome activity, especially since they’re making them do talents. Also love how Brooks kind-of call Dez a slutty unicorn. I would’ve gone with slutty Brigadoon.

Then Kenneth from “30 Rock” is there to train them about pageants, by making them “explore themselves” for a talent. I wonder if any guys have actual talents. Juan Pablo fakes some baton twirling moves, which is not surprising considering his soccer background, actually.

And then someone (Chris?) is wearing heels and I’m not entirely sure why. Is he busting out some “Rocky Horror”? But as Drew says, “It’s a hodge-podge of tomfoolery.” Indeed, my friend. Indeed. That’s what makes this so wonderful.

But then Drew leaves his “tomfoolery” behind by whipping out a Romeo monologue? Hmm.

Then the guys have to run through interview questions with last year’s Miss America Mallory Hagan and many of them have no idea what to say. Yeah, the interview is no joke. How else did we end up with the Iraq Such as Maps Debacle of 2007?

The Pageant

Harrison is hosting, which is a lot of fun. We don’t get enough Chris Harrison on this show and I say that with 100 percent seriousness.

They start with Interviews. Kasey is asked whether he’s a giver or a taker. He says #Helikestogiveandtouch, which is a pretty good answer. The questions are uber-softballs, and even with softball questions, Chris still fails his by saying something weird about going out to dinner all the time.

Then Mikey says that most women see men as their bodies, as meatheads, but women don’t see their “insides.” It’s funny that he didn’t say “what’s inside,” but rather implying their entrails. Also, I bet Mikey gets labeled a meathead a lot. I’ll confess — I did it. Sorry, Mikey.

Then it’s talent time and Kasey makes a really good effort at tap-dancing. It’s terrible, but also pretty adorable. Then Mikey, who just said he’s not a meathead, strips down and does upside-down push-ups. I take back my apology.

Brooks appears to make up a song on the spot and then smashes his ukulele and somewhere, Gallagher is mad. Ben goes insane with some dance ribbons while wearing pink pants, yikes. Chris in the heels with the hula-hoops is kind of funny and then, WHOA, is that Bryden pelvic-thrusting? It’s always the quiet ones.

Zakkkk kind of nails it with his original song, and then it’s ab-splosion during the swimsuit competition. Also, Mikey’s pec-dancing is kind of gross. Stop that. No girl likes that.

Brooks, Zakkkk and Kasey are definitely the top 3. I’m rooting for Zakkk. Brooks gets second runner-up, Zakkk gets first runner-up and then Kasey wins, so look at me going 3 for 3. #Rosesandtears.

The Afterparty

Chris decides it’s serious time, so he pours his heart out in the pool, though it’s very hard to hear. He reads to her from his journal and it’s like — are they in a Turkish bath? What’s with the echo?

It kind of sucks that the pageant winner doesn’t get a rose, He really should have. And speaking of roses, it’s Pile on Ben Time. Everyone hates him, he’s a bad guy, second verse same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse.

This would really be easier to swallow if the show had shown us him being a giant tool. Sure, he seems cocky and whatnot and he’s probably not Desiree’s perfect match, but this is mountain-mole hill material. This reminds us of Baggage Guy from last year, who was that, Kalon? Sure, he was cocky and stuff, but it comes across more as the guys just being jealous.

Now the guys are mad that Ben took his one-on-one time right in front of the rest of them. Oh my god! You guys need to stop being whiny babies and handle your business. Who gives a darn if Ben has his alone time in front of you?! They weren’t having sex. Let’s not be so melodramatic.

Then Zakkk whips out the guitar and plays the rest of his song for her, which is pretty melt-worthy. It’s not a Grammy-winner, but he has a pleasant voice and it’s just pretty hot that he’d play and sing for her. I’d be giving him all the roses. All of them.

And then he gets the rose, yay for Zakkkkkkkk! The extra Ks are for the rose.

James’ Date

To prepare, James has some solo spa time in the penthouse. Hee! That’s rather awesome, that’s totally what I’d be doing too.

So, this is the Hurricane Sandy date, which is a double-edged sword. Me, I’d prefer the Boardwalk date, but we all saw how that turned out for Brad. Not that I’m not concerned about the aftermath of the hurricane, but as far as a first date goes, that’s really intense and serious and it could be too much, or could it be a how-do-we-live-up-to-that-later situation. Just some thoughts, I’m not making fun.

there’s not much to say so far — donate and stuff. But also don’t forget about the tornado in Oklahoma and other such things. Lots of people need help.

Now Dez and James are meeting Manny and Jan, a couple who lost basically everything in the hurricane. They actually rode out the hurricane, which — that doesn’t seem safe. You’re really playing with fire at that point. But maybe they had nowhere to go.

Then they say they celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary in a Red Cross shelter, so James and Dez give their romantic date to them, which is very sweet. James says, “I’d rather go get fast food and hang out.” He’s cool. OK, James, you win. After the bubble bath and fast food comment, you’ve won us over. You’re not a meathead, you seem great.

Aw, we get to see Manny and Jan on their date and Manny says she’s the best thing in his life he’s ever had and … OK, I’ve held it together so far, but darn it, Manny!

On Dez and James’ pizza date, James says he has to be honest with her about how he cheated on a girlfriend of five and a half years.

Not to minimize it, but that was obviously his high school relationship since he cheated his freshman year of college. That doesn’t make cheating OK, but it’s not like he cheated on his wife. It’s not the same to compare HS relationships to grown-up relationships. The ones that last out of high school generally have a lot of growing pains, they aren’t really designed to be your forever partner because you aren’t a fully-formed person yet. Hopefully Desiree picked up on that, because —

As she points out, it takes a big man to admit that to her, even if it was a high school relationship. It’s obviously going to be a topic that gives a woman pause, so having the guts to admit it is big — because you wouldn’t have to admit it. More points to James.

And then, Manny and Jan get a restored wedding album from the Red Cross. Um … is it dusty in here? Goodness. That’s wonderful.

Obviously, loss of life prevention is paramount, but I would be devastated about losing certain keepsakes in a flood or tornado.

Finally, the night is capped off with some Hootie, so that’s obviously the best part.

The Cocktail Party

Michael decides he needs to tell Desiree her good points by spelling out her name on paper with a marker and giving a corresponding word — it reminds me more than a little of when Michael Scott went to Ryan’s business school class with his candy-bar lecture.

Chris is pretty firmly in the friend zone, but then Desiree kisses him to make him feel better (that’s my interpretation) and then he’s like — yeah, the chemistry’s there, woo. Hmmm. That remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Bryden is having a crisis of conscience about whether Desiree is the right girl for him. The First Date Curse is not a myth, fella. I would not want a first date on a show like this.

However, did you not think Bryden was going to make a move against Ben this week? Didn’t the editing really lead us all to believe that he was going to tell Dez that Ben isn’t there for the right reasons? Hmm. That was sneaky-sneaky.

Rose Ceremony

James and Zakkkk already having roses, the remaining nine go to Chris (that’s a surprise, honestly), Brooks, Juan Pablo, Drew, Michael, Ben, Kasey, Bryden and Mikey, which means just the other Zack is going home. We barely knew ye, Zack.

Next week: Munich! Germany is super cool, I must say. But what — James is not a good guy?! When did the villain turn from Ben to James? What’s happening.

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."