“High Hopes for Blake:” Sharleen Joynt on Episode 2 of The Bachelorette!

Sharleen Joynt—FLARE columnist and former Bachelor contestant—shares her insider POV on the second episode of Becca Kufrin’s season

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I knew I would like Becca as Bachelorette but she’s exceeding even my (sometimes unrealistic) expectations. At every possible turn, instead of sliding on that glass slipper with a bit too much ease, she instead reminds us that she’s just like us; she’s joked about usually living in yoga pants and repeatedly emphasized what a normal girl she is. When the guys were changing into their tuxes on that first Group Date, she laughed uncomfortably, as much at herself as at the situation: “Like, I don’t know what to do right now!” (I really related to this as that’s how I’d feel in that situation.) While remaining optimistic and a downright incredible sport about the process (particularly considering what was done to her last season), she straight-up called it out as being “reverse dating” and said that it led her to feel an attachment to Arie that she wouldn’t feel so early in real life. She said she didn’t think she would cry “till Week 5,” indicating she knew full well that tears were on the horizon, and also that she was wrong to think it was something she could predict. She is fully herself and is aware she isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, to be in these temporary glass slippers. It’s these constant little fourth wall-breakers and that self-awareness that remind us, like the page of an Us Weekly issue: “Stars, They’re Just Like Us!” Becca represents that to me. She’s the Everygirl, the woman you’re friends with, the one you especially root for.

As far as Episode 2s go, this one didn’t let me down. Both Group Dates were the right mix of competition and kitsch, which is, in my opinion, how they should be this early on. Blake’s 1-on-1 struck the perfect balance between humour—smashing things with abandon in a massive warehouse sounds SO satisfying (whether or not they pertain to your ex, honestly)—and romance.

What did let me down? A couple of the guys. Namely, Lincoln and Connor. Believe it or not, I err slightly on Connor’s side in the whole framed photo debacle (I’m at about 40 Lincoln, 60 Connor). Don’t get me wrong: think it’s a red flag that Connor not only possesses such a rage mode, but further that he allowed himself to go to said rage mode over something so indisputably trivial. (Seriously, who gives a crap if Lincoln’s photo is facing out for the guys to see?) But I saw Lincoln’s behaviour as even worse. It’s one thing to place the photo in a reasonable spot—on a table, any table—and entirely another to become next-level obnoxious about it when others express irritation. His bizarre peacocking of that damn photo felt almost like the result of some social ineptitude rather than actual pride over what it represented. And it’s not like the photo sat on the table for just a few minutes and Connor suddenly threw it out the window. Several attempts were made to make the photo face downward, or to ask Lincoln directly to move it, and he continued to provoke the others until Connor snapped. It came to the point where it was less about the photo and more about one-upping each other.

Lincoln seems to be competitive to the nth degree: The ITM of his “WIN WIN WIN” mantra (this was likely frankenbitten somewhat but I think the gist remains the same), plus the fact that he just couldn’t help rubbing it in the others’ faces. But let’s reverse the roles: given how competitive Lincoln clearly is, if someone else had won and rubbed it in his face, I don’t doubt he would’ve been deeply irritated, too.

Look, all this aside, if when Lincoln ran to Becca for a new framed photo, he had taken even the slightest bit of responsibility and admitted that, hey, maybe he had been a bit obnoxious and kinda/sorta asked for it, I’d be #TeamLincoln. But his post-photo-throwing behaviour was that of a petulant, whiny child who couldn’t fathom how he had caused what ended up transpiring. And the crying was downright strange. Overall, they both behaved like children. Connor should’ve just been the bigger person and shrugged off Lincoln’s juvenile display (like every other guy there was able to do!), and Lincoln should have been more conscious of the others and just let Connor (or whomever) make the photo face downward and left it at that. Neither of them were capable of proving to be the bigger person in that scenario. As Becca said, it’s very early (too early) on for there to be this sort of drama. Here’s hoping these boys grow up.

On a lighter note, Jordan is turning out to be even more hilarious than I could have hoped. His one-liners remind me of those of Canuck Daniel Maguire’s; you’re not quite sure if he intends to be as funny as he is, but it doesn’t really matter. I think my favorite quote of his from last night is: “If we could take an IQ test, and I’m certain I would pass it a little higher than you’d think a male model would.” I’m still not entirely sure where he stands on the ingenuinity scale, but for now his entertainment factor is so on point that I don’t really care.

My frontrunners after this episode are as follows…

The Bachelorette season 14 episode 2: A photo of Bachelorette season 14 contestant Blake in a maroon short-sleeved shirt and grey pants

(Photograph: Courtesy City)

1. Blake, 28: I think a lot of us have high hopes for Blake and so his predictably strong 1-on-1 was very welcome. There’s something very endearing about him; he has the magic of a good-looking guy who maybe doesn’t know how good-looking he is. He comes off as sincere and modest, never entitled or pretentious. The daytime activity of their 1-on-1 was definitely more about Becca and he correctly took a backseat, playing the supporting role in her walk down memory lane (and the subsequent sledgehammering of it). In his ITMs about the date, he stressed how natural it was to be together (the exact thing Becca noted about him on Night One) and how “perfectly” they “meld with each other.” He gets bonus points for using such a great verb!

Bachelorette season 14 episode 2: A photo of contestant Garrett in a Blue suit jacket and white shirt

(Photograph: Courtesy City)

2. Garrett, 29: As per Bachelor/ette frontrunner formula, the First Impression Rose recipient was on the down-low this week. Garrett was still a bit omnipresent throughout the episode in terms of commentary, and his 1-on-1 time during the Group Date was prominently shown. We all know Garrett is going far this season, and he’ll be getting a 1-on-1 soon.

The Bachelorette season 14 episode 2: Contestant Wills in a white button-up shirt and navy blazer

(Photograph: Courtesy City)

3. Wills, 29: Wills is a dark horse based on Night One; his limo exit and conversation were hardly shown—they were part of a montage of Becca talking about the respect she had for the men and how comfortable they made her feel—and all we saw of their 1-on-1 time was about his Harry Potter tattoo. But he and Becca shared a sweet Group Date conversation where he got emotional talking about his parents and where they shared what seemed like one of the strongest kisses of the season thus far. Wills beat out Garrett for that Group Date Rose, which is no small feat. Wills kind of came out of nowhere this week but I now think he’ll be going quite far.

Bachelorette season 14 episode 2: A photo of contestant Colton in a black leather jacket and light pink t-shirt

(Photograph: Courtesy City)

4. Colton, 26: I think Becca is well within her right to take issue with Colton dating Tia. This is actually something I’m particularly stringent about in real life so I can admit there may be some bias here, but in my single days, I was uber conscious to not date anyone my friends had dated. I realize that ex territory is a grey area, and of course if the connection is powerful and undeniable and potentially worth souring a friendship over, it can take precedence. But for the most part, in real life and with all the options online dating can provide, I think it’s usually poor form to incestuously date around the same social circle.

Therefore, I find it very suspect that Colton just so happened to date Tia before coming on Becca’s season, and I for one really would have liked to hear how and when he met Tia and whether or not he was already in talks to come on this Bachelorette season at that time. Did they date right after Tia finished filming Arie’s season, or during the airing of Arie’s season? This information is pretty important information considering there’s no question Tia was a candidate for Bachelorette herself. It’s hard to imagine that Colton wasn’t at least considering auditioning for the show, if not already partway through the casting process for this season when he and Tia were chatting each other up. If he was indeed already in talks to be on the season (which is likely), and Tia was indeed in talks for Bachelorette (which is also likely), it goes to show that pre-season couple strategizing may not only be limited to Bachelor In Paradise.

Obviously, this is all up to Becca and she felt inclined to keep Colton anyway, so perhaps these details don’t matter. The fact that she kept him despite this unsavory information could mean a lot for their relationship, but I maintain that I still see more Bachelor potential in Colton than romantic potential between him and Becca.

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