By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jul 19, 2022 at 1:01 PM

Two episodes in, things are getting messy on our tag-team "Bachelorette" season – and I'm not just talking about the grown man dumping a jar of Ragu all over his bare chest. (I guess it's just alfredo sauce for me from now on!)

I mean, of course things were going to take a turn; last week's premiere basically announced there were no producers and the show's plan for how two Bachelorettes would work out was a strong, confident shrug. But after a fairly pleasant premiere, episode two started to show the cracks under its happy surface – from our first "villain," to some tension quietly forming as our Bachelorettes start connecting with the same guys, to some guys beginning to choose one leading lady over another. Make no mistake: This season is still starting out strong, with lots of personality mixed with a lack of toxic psychopathy, but I'm worried Gabby and Rachel's happy car ride on the posters and ad copy is going to end "Thelma and Louise" style by the end.

So after last week's ditched rose ceremony, things are a little overcast at the mansion. For one, it's literally overcast and rainy – but also apparently there's not enough beds for all the bros still in the house, so some of them had to resort to sleeping on the couch and maybe in that F1 car that guy brought to the premiere. Ah, the glamour of primetime television! Again: IS NO ONE RUNNING THIS PROGRAM!? Is this like that CBS reality show "Kid Nation" where they just basiscally abandoned a bunch of youths to create their own society, no matter what happened – but, instead of helpless children, it's wannabe Instagram influencers and reality podcasters? So even more helpless?

Thankfully, somebody is attempting to run this show: Gabby and Rachel, who decide the best way to kill the rainy day blues is to look at some abs – and luckily they've got about 30 sets of them sleeping all over the mansion next door. So they send Palmer over to the Jordans (I've decided they're all Jordans this season) with the news that Gabby and Rachel are hosting a fashion show – in order to meet all the guys they didn't get to learn about on night one and to help basically decide their first group date guys. And also abs. Because yes, this isn't just any fashion show – it's a swimsuit fashion show, and unfortunately all of the options come from the Borat collection. Brace yourselves, black censor boxes: You're gonna have abs of steel after the workout coming from this banana hammock segment. 

After suiting up, lathering up and even sock-stuffing up, the Jordans begin the show – with Logan (the guy with the two chicks last week) starting things off with some confident posing, strong interview answers and finally an impressive worm dance for the talent portion of the pageant. Even more impresssive, really, when you think that he's got VERY little protection downstairs while he slaps his body forcefully against the ground. Maybe he secretly wore a cup. But no matter the case, Rachel has him on her radar. 

Other people on our duo's watch list include Jacob the horse-riding Fabio knockoff, who turns around a chair and busts out ... some glasses and shows off his impressive financial acumen. Here I was expecting some "Magic Mike XXL" action – and instead I got the first "Magic Mike" and got duped into learning about the economy! DAMN YOU AND YOUR DECEPTIVE PECS! But hey, learning how to improve my credit score and eliminate debt is hot as well – and Rachel concurs. Surprising no one, Rachel also digs Johnny because he's rocking a pilot hat. 

As for guys who are NOT cleared for takeoff? Quincey gets points for being brave enough to rock the mankini – but I think he gave more of a show than the ladies asked for. And speaking of shows no one asked for, here's Meatball grabbing a jar of tomato sauce and turning himself into a big ol' plate of saucy mostaccioli. It's the worst thing to happen to Italian cooking since that time I tried to make the timpano from the end of "Big Night" and gave everyone food poisoning. And not even any parmesan cheese! I mean, considering it was a guy named Meatball on Let It All Hang Out night, I guess things could've gone even raunchier and even worse – but Italian Rachel was not impressed, mainly because she doesn't do this grocery store sauce nonsense. EITHER BATHE YOURSELF IN NONNA'S AUTHENTIC GRAVY FROM THE HOME COUNTRY OR DON'T DO IT ALL!

Anyways, brace yourself for this reveal: Meatball and his finished-in-the-sauce body doesn't get invited to the winners' group date. Instead, he gets to shower while Aven, Logan, Brandon, Jason, Johnny and Colin score the alone time. So the ladies get to hang with the guys they really want to, while I get a different take on the tired "Bachelorette" formula that feels engaging and fresh! Everybody wins!

Well ... not everybody, unfortunately. To start off the night, Rachel pulls Jason aside for some solo chats ... only for him to reveal that he's feeling more of a connection with Gabby and plans to put his focus on their relationship. I mean, he breaks the news tactfully – and everyone knew this had to happen at SOME point – but that doesn't make it any less crappy for Rachel, who doesn't do much better creating sparks with anyone else on the group date. (And not just because she still has the image of chunky tomato sauce glooping across a man's chest stuck in her brain.) Brandan tries to impress Rachel by saying he's traveled to most of the U.S. ... but still has more than a dozen to go. THAT'S NOT CLOSE, MY GUY! You and "Virgin For A Year" Quincey apparently duking it out for least impressive commitments this season.

And somehow he wasn't even Rachel's worst interaction. That honor would go to Colin, who can't stop talking about how much he loves Harry Potter and listening to the audio books. Sir, you are a 36-year-old man nerding out about the on-tape version of a book series intended for children. So yeah, the only sparks here are from Rachel planning to bust out the Avada Kedavra curse on Colin at the rose ceremony later this episode. 

Thankfully, Logan comes to save the day once again, complimenting Rachel on her bravery for coming back to "The Bachelorette" after The Unspoken One's season went so bad – and saying that her bravery made him brave enough to do the snake in a Speedo. It's cute, flirty and ends with a kiss – finally Rachel has a promising interaction on the night!

Just one problem: Gabby too had a cute and flirty chat with Logan that ended with locking lips. Logan, you dirty dog ... 

In another fun formula changeout, though, Rachel and Gabby have to talk out how they're going to handle the situation, with Gabby eventually stepping aside to let Rachel pursue Logan and give him her rose while she gives Johnny her carnation on the night. SEE, THIS IS WHAT WE LIKE TO SEE! Our stars having fun meeting guys and being supportive and making rational, thoughtful decisions that benefit everyone! But really, though: If guys are already picking their sides and the ladies are already having competing interests by just the second episode, this isn't going to get better. Or maybe it will! Gabby and Rachel seem like good people, and the show is giving them the space to figure things out. I HAVE HOPE! (*politely ignores entire history of this show screwing things up*)

Now that we have an idea of how group dates are going to go, we dive into our first solo date with Rachel taking out F1 racer Jordan, who still looks like he's maybe 14 years old. I deem you "Baby Driver." So what better way to combine his need for speed with Rachel's fondness for flight than a ride on one of those zero G airplanes. Back in my day, they were called Vomit Comets – ROMANCE!

Thankfully no one hurls – but Rachel does start feeling wrong during the dinner portion of the date. You see, while Baby Driver is nice and sweet and handsome and opens up about how he had to grow up fast as the oldest sibling in the midst of his parents' divorce, Rachel already knows he's not the guy. Fair enough – though less fair is ABANDONING HIM AT THE DINNER TABLE FOR 30 MINUTES IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR DATE! While she's figuring out how to handle things in the other room, poor Baby Driver's just sitting there. And right after his chat about growing up in a messy family situation at that! Rachel, you don't have to stress about breaking his heart at this point: You leave him at the table alone for a sitcom-length amount of time, he knows death is in the air. 

So indeed, Rachel sends a very considerate and gentlemanly Baby Driver home while the country duo the show booked for the date's now-canceled romantic finale sings to a completely empty room. Because listen, if you say you're paying theses musicians in exposure, THEY'RE GETTING THEIR DAMN EXPOSURE! The ONE THING the "Bachelorette" producers actually planned and coordinated on this season thus far, and it ends up just being a glorified soundcheck. 

Speaking of plans, so I have a question: How ... does this work? So Rachel just sent Baby Driver home ... but what if Gabby was into him too and wanted to keep him around? Does one of the Bachelorettes have veto power over an elimination if it's not a joint axing? For a show that was so rigid to its formula over the past several seasons, we are even more free and untethered than Sandra Bullock in "Gravity" right now. And much like in that movie, I AM VERY SCARED FOR EVERYONE INVOLVED!

And on the topic of scary things, time to meet the season's first villain: Chris! ... Chris? Am I supposed to know this Chris person? Earlier during the Speedo pageant, Chris made "an impression" by doing some strange basketball dribble group participation beat ... thing that kind of just confused everyone. Like, do we clap or stomp on the dribbling or after the dribbling? YOU'RE LIKE "STOMP" BUT SO MUCH WORSE! And speaking of worse, he follows all of that up by singing to Rachel and Gabby ... and Adele, he is not. Never thought I'd miss the days of the "Bachelor: Oops! All Jeds" spinoff. 

Two episodes in, one of my key takeaways from this season is I would very much like to play Gabby in poker. Anyways, the song is so bad that the producers, who couldn't be bothered to supply enough beds, step in to supply a savage burn. 

So not the best first impression. Not the best second or third one, either, as he starts talking smugly around the mansion about how he's already planning for fantasy suites – and how that, if Rachel or Gabby have sex with another guy that week, it'll be a dealbreaker. Not that he's sure he'd even tell them that it's a problem for him – no, apparently he might keep that as a fun surprise? Because he saw how well that all went for Clayton and company last season. But most of all: We're talking fantasy suites, my guy?! It's the second episode of the season, we haven't even had a proper rose ceremony yet and WE JUST MET YOU! And it went BAD! PLAYOFFS!? WE'RE TALKING PLAYOFFS!?

Really, though, even as the first villain, the show couldn't care less about Chris. We clip through these requisite scenes of in-house drama and grumbling pretty fast, without Chris registering as much of a real problem – more just blandly irritating. Gabby and Rachel couldn't particularly care less either, as Gabby heads out on her first one-on-one date while Rachel watches on and wonders what it must be like to have a connection with someone this season.

Gabby has no such problems, though, as she goes on a helicopter ride (complete with a hot tub pitstop) with girl dad Nate. He's a real sweetheart who tells Gabby during the dinner portion of the night that he's a father – to much relieved acceptance from Gabby – gets teary thinking about her back at home and describes her as "the human form of coffee." I love him – and judging by all the making out and from how truly engaged she is in their conversation, asking actual follow-up questions rather than the usual "I love that" or "thank you for sharing," Gabby seems to love him too. Both of their dates may have been in the sky, but only one Bachelorette's off to a flying start in the chemistry department thus far. 

But hey, we've still a cocktail party – and things do improve there for Rachel as she gets swept off her feet by Mario, doing some dancing and exercise. It's great – except Gabby's having a chat close by that's interrupted by all their commotion, resulting in some real "gah, roommates, amirite?" facial reactions from Gabby. Again, I wouldn't say tensions are boiling already this season, but there's a bare simmer starting to form. Rachel also has fun playing pop-a-shot with boardwalk carnival game owner, which is a career path I didn't know I could hand and now want. WIN OR LOSE, THE STUFFED ANIMALS ARE MINE!

Unfortunately, the fun can't last forever as Quincey and company decide that they need to bring up Chris's attitude and smug fantasy suite projections to the ladies. They say withholding that information would be basically like lying – which sure, fine, but I always think putting yourself drama-adjacent is a great way to be considered part of the drama and not considered a romantic interest. Rachel and Gabby, though, appreciate being told about Chris and immediately confront the guy about his words. He doesn't have much of an argument to stand on – and neither Gabby nor Rachel want to mess with him anymore, not that they even really interacted with him much before this anyways – so he's walked through the crowd and shown the door. Somewhere a producer is pulling their hair out at seeing this early drama not even lasting a single episode ... that is, if this show had any producers this season.

BUT WAIT! Chris has more to say, coming back to the mansion to chat not with Gabby and Rachel but to grumble at the guys who revealed his crappy attitude. But even THAT barely lasts as Gabby and Rachel get word of his return and march over to re-show him the door – with 30 other dudes at their back. And it rules. Let's take one final moment to laugh at Chris, a man who was already planning for fantasy suites in episode two only to get voted out faster than Crypto Guy and a man named Meatball. And now let us never think of him again. 

He's far from the only guy to get eliminated Monday night, though. With the women handing out roses from both them, Boston guy Ryan gets the axe – probably because Gabby and Rachel got tired of talking about the Red Sox and Ben Affleck movies – along with Harry Potter audiobook fan Colin and a few other Jordans who never really made an impact. Remember Brandan in the blue flying squirrel body suit thing? No? Well, yeah, he's done. 

The most important development perhaps on the entire night, though? Another new "Bachelor" audition ad! Last week's very aggressive "dump your crappy boyfriend and come on our show" approach has been benched for now, replaced Monday night with a slightly more sensitive "love hurts – we can make it better, so come on our show" angle. Plus, it ends with saying we should all pour ourselves a third glass of wine – so can't argue with this ad! Actually, hold on a second, I ABSOLUTELY CAN! Judging by the past season – and hell, this show's entire success rate – I question the idea that you make love "better" for anyone other than ABC and my judgey wine-drunk eyes. And I'm concerned Rachel and Gabby will end up questioning it too with the little dramas hiding under the surface of these first two episodes. Rachel and Gabby are making smart, thoughtful decisions and navigating things great right now – but it's only going to get tougher the more invested everyone gets.

But for now, let's just enjoy the peace while it lasts ... and hide any other sauces in the house from Meatball. 

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.