After last week's drama with James -- and the previous drama with Bryden, Ben, and Brian -- Desiree Hartsock was due for a break. And this week, she finally gets one. Episode seven of The Bachelorette is -- for the most part, at least -- angst-free on Des' part, and chock-full of cheesy romance. So let's get to it!
The show opens with Des and the guys literally sailing into Madeira Island, a Portuguese archipelago off the coast of Africa. It's gorgeous -- as Drew notes, "If you can't fall in love in a place like this, you better check your pulse, because you're not breathing anymore. This is built for love."
Des has three one-on-one dates and one two-on-one date scheduled for the week, but before she gets to any of that, she wants to sit down with "some girlfriends" to get their opinion of the guys. Enter Catherine, Jackie, and Lesley from Sean Lowe's season of The Bachelor.
After a brief update on Sean and Catherine -- "It's been a whirlwind," she says of their post-show life -- Des gives the girls a quick rundown on the five remaining guys. Chris is "supportive," Brooks is "such a positive guy," Michael is "genuine," Zak is "very adventurous and wants to go everywhere," and Drew is "the sweetest person you'll ever meet." He's also, apparently, the best kisser of the group. But Michael is the most successful, Chris is the most athletic, Brooks has the best eyes, and Zak is the most adventurous.
Next up is Des' date with Brooks, which involves a lot of driving. They hop in a little smart car and head up a mountain, finally arriving at a secluded picnic spot on a peak amid the clouds. "Welcome to Cloud Nine," Des quips, as fog rolls in around them.
Later, in a confessional, she adds, "We didn't just break through the clouds. I feel that Brooks and I really had a breakthrough in our relationship. The way I feel right now, I am so hopeful for everything. You know, the good, the bad, the ups, the downs -- this is the moment that I've been waiting for...Picture the best dream you've ever had, times that by 10, and then live in that. That's where I am right now. This is the fairy-tale I signed up for."
Brooks, for his part, says falling in love with Desiree would be "awesome," since it's the reason he came on the show. "I hope to look back and say, 'That's a moment I had with my wife,'" he notes of their romantic kiss in the clouds.
At dinner that night, Brooks talks about what a big deal it would be for Des to meet his family. "The last serious girlfriend I had, when we broke up, that was, like, really hard on all of them, as well, because they get so invested," he tells Des. She, in turn, reassures him that it would be a big deal for her, too. In an attempt to describe her feelings for him without using the word "love," she offers up verbs like "skipping," "stepping," and "running," which are meant to explain how quickly she's headed for the "finish line" with him. And judging by Brooks' reaction, it might be too quickly.
"I'm a little bit behind in my emotional process," he says in a confessional. "I still have questions, you know? I haven't introduced a lot of women to my family."
The next day, Des has a one-on-one date with Chris, who is way ahead of Brooks in his "emotional process." He and Des strip down to their bathing suits and hop on a yacht, which takes them to a deserted island. "The chemistry we have -- it's pretty legit," he says in a voiceover as he rubs sunscreen on her back. "It's hot."
Once on the island, they set up a picnic in a field of wildflowers, and Chris surprises Des with a romantic activity for them to do. Together, they write a poem about their relationship and then pop it into an empty bottle, which they then toss into the ocean. "Chris is so romantic, and he's so creative," Des gushes, noting that he's the perfect combination of manly and sensitive.
Later, at dinner, Chris tries to work up the nerve to tell Des he loves her. He's sweating and anxious, but he finally pulls himself together enough to read yet another poem he's written for her. This one ends with, "Our hearts are open, and with every kiss, I truly mean that I love you."
It's a tough act to follow, but Michael is happy to try anyway. He and Des meet up the next day for a little sightseeing around Madeira, culminating in a high-speed trip down a hill in a toboggan. "Love is a wild ride," he quips of the adventure.
At dinner that night, he opens up to Des about his relationship -- or lack thereof -- with his biological father, who walked out on him and his mom. "I don't want my tombstone one day to read, 'World's Greatest Prosecutor,'" he tells her. "I want it to read, 'Loving Husband and Father.'"
He also talks to Des about his last serious relationship, which ended when he discovered that his then-girlfriend was cheating on him. He hasn't loved anyone since, but he's ready now, thanks to Des. "I just have this feeling when I'm around you," he gushes. "It gives me hope."
Later, in a confessional, he adds, "I am falling in love with Desiree. I knew that it was going to take the one I'm going to marry to make me feel like I can fall in love again."
Next up is Des' two-on-one date with Zak and Drew. This one goes a lot better than her disastrous two-on-one date with Michael and Ben, in part because no one is going to be sent home at the end of it, but Zak and Drew still feel competitive. So naturally, Des makes them actually compete -- in a go-kart race. Whoever wins will get a "surprise" at the end.
The surprise, it turns out, is the first one-on-one time with Des. Zak crosses the finish line before Drew, so he and Des head off to a little patch of grass, where he presents her with a gift of sorts: a collection of sketches documenting special moments in their relationship. There's a picture of his torso (to commemorate his showing up shirtless on the first night), a drawing of Madeira, and then a drawing of the spot in Munich where he and Des had their first kiss. She loves it, but she can't dwell too much -- Drew is eagerly awaiting his own one-on-one time with Des.
During their chat, Drew tells Des that he has difficulty letting people in. But, like Michael, he's ready to be vulnerable with her. "I've never had this feeling with anyone," he says. "It's like you've known me my entire life. I've fallen in love with you."
Those are the magic words, apparently, because Des rewards Drew with the date rose. Zak doesn't have to go home, but he does have to go into the rose ceremony not knowing if he's safe or not. And that's not a good feeling.
"The mood in the house is sheer panic," Chris says. "Everyone's packing, everyone's nerves are through the roof."
Meanwhile, Des is talking to Chris Harrison about who she plans to cut that night. She sounds pretty sure of her decision -- in part because she's already in love with one of the guys. And unlike past Bachelors and Bachelorettes, Des doesn't play coy. She's "at the finish line" with Brooks!
It's a big bombshell, and Chris Harrison doesn't even try to hide his surprise at her confession. "So...is it over?" he asks, referring to her search for love.
Not so fast! Des says she can also "picture a life with Chris." To which Chris Harrison replies, "Wow. That's complicated."
Not so complicated, however, is the rose ceremony. Brooks, Chris, Drew, and Zak are safe, leaving Michael to pick up the pieces of his once-again broken heart. After a sad but cordial goodbye with Des, he calls his mom, who tells him, "If she didn't love you as much as you loved her, it's not meant to be."
Next week: Hometown dates!