Let's get ready to rumble! It's that time again, Bachelorette fans — time to round up all the men Desiree Hartsock rejected and put them in a room together to work out their issues. Because that's not awkward at all.
The Men Tell All special kicks off with a taped segment showing Des and Chris Harrison "crashing" Bachelorette viewing parties in L.A. and New York. There aren't quite as many screaming girls as there were when Sean Lowe did the same thing last season, but there are a few surprise special guests: past Bachelor/Bachelorette stars Ashley and J.P. Rosenbaum, Jason and Molly Mesnick, and Trista Sutter, who says the show's fans are like her "family."
Next up is another taped segment, featuring Des and past Bachelorettes Ali, Emily, and Ashley talking about how Des should handle the "bad boys" during the Men Tell All confrontation. Emily recalls how good it felt to "rip [Kalen] a new one," and Ali advises Des to "have [her] bulls–t detector on," especially when it comes to Ben, James, and Brian.
That might be hard to do, though, seeing as Brian doesn't even show up to face Des. Chris Harrison explains that they invited him back to defend himself, but he opted out — so they're going to talk about him anyway. First, though, there's a video recap of all the drama this season, focusing mainly on Brian, Ben, and James, the latter two of whom elicit boos from the mostly female audience. Jonathan — a.k.a. fantasy suite guy, who was shown the door halfway through the first night — also gets some screen time, but the crowd doesn't seem to react much to his being there, probably because, as Michael notes, they don't remember him.
"I really sucked that night," he tells Chris Harrison by way of an apology. "I just want people to know that [the fantasy suite thing] was a joke gone wrong. I'm sorry for people who had to watch that."
Moving on to the real villains! First up in the proverbial hot seat is Brian, whom Mikey calls a "coward" for not showing up. Brian, as Bachelorette fans know, was eliminated a few episodes into the season when his girlfriend — a single mom — showed up to confront him about lying to her and Des.
"He cheated on her on national television and expected not to get caught?" Ben asks incredulously. "Seriously?"
Adds Brandon, who famously broke down in tears on the day Brian's girlfriend was revealed: "You don't do that to a woman, ever." (Having grown up with a single mom, Brandon took Brian's affront personally.)
Chris Harrison then asks fan favorite Juan Pablo what he thought of all the drama. "To me, it's not a competition. When I heard Ben say, 'I'm not here to make friends — I'm here for Des,' those were the two things on Ben that got me, like, 'Whoa, we just got here.' We're getting to know 24 people, you've got to get along with them, and [Des] is the one deciding who she's going to pick. If she doesn't like me, she is just not going to like me."
Well said, Juan Pablo. (Is it any wonder that Des got hate mail after she eliminated him?)
Next in the hot seat is Ben, who watches his "highlight reel" with a scowl and then attempts to excuse his less-than-princely behavior in the reject limo. (After Des sent him home, he went on a rant about wanting to get drunk and start dating right away.) "I had just been battered for eight hours, and not just about small things — huge things in my life," he tells Chris Harrison. "The only thing I regret about the show is some of the words I said in that limo."
Oh, is that the only thing you regret, Ben? One of the guys speaks up and says that Ben's ex — his son's mom — approached him in Vegas and told him that Ben was cheating on some other ex-girlfriend when she got pregnant with Brody. Ben insists he's a good father but admits that being on The Bachelorette taught him some "ways to improve [himself.]"
James, on the other hand, sees nothing wrong with his behavior on the show. After sitting through his own highlight reel — which centers around the alleged conversation he had with Mikey about wanting to be the next Bachelor — he attempts to shift blame onto the other guys in the house. "I feel like my integrity was stripped and my character was stripped from me with those conversations," he tells Chris Harrison, noting that he felt "bullied" by Kasey and Drew. "I think there's a few guys that owe me an apology."
Not surprisingly, none of the guys offers one up. Talk then turns to Mikey, whom James kind of threw under the bus. (James' defense to Des was that Mikey was the one talking about meeting girls and becoming the next Bachelor.) Mikey doesn't seem to mind James' allegations, though — in fact, he admits that he suggested to James that they could "have a good time together" in Chicago once the show was over. "People need to have a plan B in life," he argues.
Kasey takes issue with that. "You're going to look at your wife on her wedding day and say, 'Hey, honey, if this doesn't work out, I've got this girl'?" he asks accusingly. "That's what you're saying!"
Things get heated then, as Mikey stands up to confront Kasey for badmouthing him on the show. There's a lot of shouting and pointing — Mikey looks like he wants to hit Kasey — but Chris Harrison manages to get the room under control again, which gives Juan Pablo an opening to speak his mind on the issue.
"Listen, I'm going to be honest with you," he says. "I like James, but my daughter or my sister I would not want to date James right now. If he becomes good James, I'm happy with it. But right now, no my daughter, no my sister." Harrison then asks the audience whether they'd trust James to be the next Bachelor, and the answer is a very resounding "No." Sorry, James!
Next in the spotlight is Juan Pablo. "In the history of this show, no guy has made a greater impact with less screen time than our soccer-playing single dad," Harrison says in his introduction. "He's the fan favorite we barely got to know, so let's get to know him now!" After a brief highlight reel showing Juan Pablo in a speedo and then Skyping with his daughter, Harrison asks the soccer stud to share what he wants out of life. "Right now, I am almost 32 years old. I really want a family," he says, adding that he would like to "settle down and have a wife and two more kids."
Having a family is Zak's dream, too — one he thought he was getting with Des. He takes the stage next and is clearly still sad about being dumped in the last episode, though he admits to "coming on a little strong" with the ring he gave her. He can't help it though — he spends six months of every year on an oil rig and has to get "creative" about meeting and wooing women.
Speaking of creativity, Harrison brings up the journal Zak gave Des on their second date, which included a "secret message" written in invisible ink: "Love is it / The only reason to open your home to a stranger / The one creature worthy of surrendering freedom / No risk is too great / No apprehension justifiable / All hope is rooted in it / Because love is our only hope for happiness / And I am happy to say this is love."
On that note, it's time to bring out the Bachelorette herself! Des greets the guys a little nervously, noting that "it's not everyday you see all your ex-boyfriends," but she seems to relax once she and Harrison start chatting. She happily accepts Jonathan's apology for the fantasy suite stunt, but she's less forgiving of Ben. "As I got to talk to Ben more and more, things started becoming very insincere," she explains. "I couldn't gauge emotion in his eyes when he was talking about things." Then, addressing Ben directly, she adds: "I think that came out when you were sent home and in the limo. The first thing that came into your mind was, like, 'Hey Hollywood!'…It was very arrogant."
James takes some heat, too. She accuses him of manipulating her feelings and making her feel bad for trusting the other guys, and then says he wasn't there for the right reasons. "You don't think about your second wife while you're still with your first," she says. "You were in a relationship!"
"You were in a relationship with 25 other guys," he fires back. To which she replies simply: "Ugh."
Her reaction to Zak is much softer. Asked why she sent him packing after the hometown dates, Des explains that he "would sometimes hide behind [his] smile" — which she herself has been accused of. "I wasn't sure if maybe I'd be the one that you would have a hard day and want to come home and talk to about that," she shares.
Zak seems to appreciate her explanation. He even has a response prepared — in the form of a song. "It hurts the most to say goodbye," he sings. "I'm moving on. I'm moving on."
And so is Des! Come back next week for part one of the "most dramatic" finale ever, per Chris Harrison. (He means it this time, he swears.)
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