06/18/2013 11:18 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

'The Bachelorette' Season 9, Episode 4: Desiree Hartsock Finds Mr. America In Atlantic City

The fourth episode of "The Bachelorette" should be renamed "How To Feign Excitement About New Jersey." Chris Harrison shows up at the remaining contestants' dude-bro pad in L.A. to inform them that Desiree has flown the coop to ... Atlantic City! While Des talks about how excited she is to be in the Dirty Jerz and waves to random police officers on the boardwalk, her man friends pack their bags and pile onto a plane. It's East Coast time.

Not Even A Carousel Can Save This Date
Brad -- the man known only for his sad single-dad/alcoholic-ex backstory -- gets the first one-on-one date. He and Des hang out on the Atlantic City boardwalk, ride the carousel and rollercoaster, eat lots of saltwater taffy and chocolate and giggle a lot. Des thinks Brad is now a totally different person since he opened up to her last episode. Back at the hotel, the other men sip rosé and stare out the giant windows of their penthouse, while discussing how Des and Brad are NOT a good match. That doesn't stop them from being supremely jealous, though. "Things always happen on the carousel," declares Zak W.

Back on the beach, Des and Brad stumble upon an expansive sandcastle which just happens to have cushions in the middle for them to sit on! (You've truly outdone yourselves, ABC interns.) Des and Brad stilted conversation and then they head to dinner -- which they don't actually eat -- and have even MORE stilted conversation. All we learn is that Brad likes to "chill" and thinks Des is "amazing." Everyone watching wishes that Des would just end this now and put us all out of our misery. But instead, she has Brad climb up many flights of stairs to the top of the lighthouse they're in before she sends him home, back to his son. "I want a love that can light the darkness, and I don't think Brad and I can have that love," says Des, making one of "The Bachelorette" franchise's signature way-too-obvious metaphors. She watches from the top of the lighthouse, looking slightly sad, as Brad gets taken away ... in a yellow cab. This is New Jersey, after all.

These Dudes Were Made For A Beauty Pageant
Brooks, Bryden, Zack K., Drew, Juan Pablo, Zak W., Mikey, Ben, Michael, Chris and Kasey get this week's group date, which by process of elimination means that James will get the final one-on-one. Group dates have consistently been the most entertaining part of this two-hour love journey/masochistic viewing experience, and this week's is no exception. The men arrive at a random building in AC, which we quickly learn is super historical (thanks, Chris Harrison!). It also is the place that the Miss America pageant is often held. Brooks is excited to see Des, because he thinks she's a "mystical unicorn," and Michael reveals his childhood dreams of being Mr. America. Lucky for Michael, this date is a pageant -- "Bachelorette"-style.

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The pageant -- which will be in front of a real, live Atlantic City audience (in case anyone forgot, this episode takes place in Atlantic City) -- features a talent portion (turns out Juan Pablo is a master at the baton), a question portion and a bathing-suit portion (some of the dudes are given Speedos, while others get to wear trunks). Everyone is relieved to see that the producers knew to give Juan Pablo a Speedo. Some of the pageant highlights include:
--Kasey is a "giver, not a taker."
--Brooks would be a lion, the "king of the jungle" if he could be any animal.
--Juan Pablo apparently has a daughter ... whom we've never heard about before now.
--Mikey is a sensitive dude. "Most women see guys for their bodies," he says. "We cry inside, we like long walks on the beach."
--Kasey performs the best fake tap-dance routine I've ever seen.
--Brooks also embraces a fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude and pretends he knows how to play the ukulele. At the end of his performance, he smashes it. "I smashed a ukulele on stage. How many people can say that?"
--Ben ribbon-dances, Drew recites Shakespeare surprisingly well and Chris hula-hoops shirtless while wearing high heels. Who says the guys are talentless?
--Bryden essentially does a routine from "Magic Mike." The poor Atlantic City mayor who was roped into being a judge at this monstrosity of a pageant is not pleased.
--Zak W., who made a point of telling everyone he's not good at guitar or singing, performs an "original" song and he actually sounds pretty good.
--The swimsuit competition: There are no words to describe. Only photos.
--Brooks is crowned second runner-up, Zak W. is the first runner-up and Kasey wins the big crown.

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The second half of the group date is basically just the dudes -- half-naked in a pool -- trying to get Des alone long enough to convince her to give them the group-date rose. We learn that Chris began going to coffee shops and writing poetry because he was "going through emotional stuff," back in the day. So naturally, he reads Des a poem he wrote about her. Ben is STILL not there to make friends and all of the other men are super angry that he dares to spend one-on-one time in their line of vision. (Seriously ... fakest villain ever.) Zak W. insists on performing the second half of the song he played for Des during the pageant, and this time it's just awkward. Which producer gave this guy a guitar? Reciting poetry and playing songs for women on national TV should just be banned -- even if you have a nice voice. However, Zak's musical efforts earn him a rose. Bryden, on the other hand, gets ZERO one-on-one time with Des, and he is not happy.

Nothing Says Romance Like The Wreckage Of A Natural Disaster
While most of the dudes are on the group date, James is lounging around the penthouse by himself eating chocolate-covered strawberries and taking a bubble bath. But his lap-of-luxury time comes to an abrupt end with the start of his date with Des. This is the PSA portion of "The Bachelorette," where the franchise reminds viewers that a terrible natural disaster called Hurricane Sandy occurred last year, and the J-Shore is still recovering. Des and James still get to go on a helicopter ride, but this time they're flying over utter destruction, accompanied by a Red Cross lady. How romantic and not-at-all tacky! As the couple gets out of the helicopter and onto the streets of Seaside Heights (yes, the same Seaside Heights of MTV "Jersey Shore" fame), Desiree suddenly realizes that Sandy impacted people's lives.

Des and James meet a real-life couple, Jan and Manny, whose house was destroyed in the hurricane, and it really is heartbreaking. Des and James get emotional, and because they are such "good people," they "give" the second half of their date to Jan and Manny, who had to spend their 38th anniversary in a Red Cross shelter. It's nice to see ABC giving these people a beautiful dinner, a limo ride and their restored wedding album, but I was seriously hoping that the show would just pay for them to get a new house in exchange for being used as romantic fodder. While Jan and Manny enjoy their date, Des and James end up at a bar drinking beer and eating pizza -- which looks great! (Obligatory reminder that Desiree was poor when she was growing up.) James reveals that he once cheated on his GF of five and a half years ... when he was a freshman in college. It's unclear why this is so relevant, since it's been about 10 years since then, but Des appreciates his honesty and wonders if he'll have a problem with "temptation."

After their pizza, Des and James meet up with Manny and Jan, who give the pair their marital seal of approval. "Those two are the epitome of weathering a storm," says James, and all of America cringes. Then both couples are treated to a private Darius Rucker concert, and James KNOWS he made the right decision to leave his sick father at home to go on reality TV. Cue a rose and a make-out session.

Sparkles, Doubts And Acrostic Poems
Des shows up to this week's cocktail party clad in even more sparkles than last week! (Desiree is seriously giving Emily Maynard a run for her money.) But Bryden, the Iraq War vet from Missouri, is feeling uncertain about this "process." He thinks his feelings are "falling behind" where they should be and needs to talk it out with Des ... or take himself out of the running. He might NOT accept a rose this week -- the horror!

While Bryden questions everything, Michael tells Des he has a "gesture" for her. By gesture, he means he wrote an acrostic poem of reasons he likes her -- which luckily for everyone, only goes as far as D-E-S. Des makes out with him, possibly just to stop him from reciting more poetry. (Also, he has a splint on his thumb. What happened?) After the poetry sesh, Chris pulls Des aside to talk about her family, her humble upbringing and how independent she is. Then the conversation veers into extremely weird territory and they end up talking about how they're "BFFs" and pinky-swearing. They also make out, presumably to end the awkward banter. Finally, after much pensive staring, Bryden talks to Des about his concerns. Des tells him that she wants him to stay and hopes he'll give the whole thing another chance. Bryden leaves the convo feeling a bit better, but still uncertain.

An Adorable Publisher Bites The Dust
Des thanks the guys for being so "open" and letting her be herself. But one of the men has to go home in addition to single dad Brad, so...
SAFE: Chris, Brooks, Juan Pablo, Drew, Michael, Ben, Kasey, Bryden (who DOES accept the rose) ... and Mikey. (Zak W. and James have roses already.)
ELIMINATED: Zack K., the cute one we never got to see who works in publishing. Zack is very shocked, even though no one watching is. I do, however, start to question Des' taste. A cute, single man in publishing is hard to find.

Next Week, In Munich -- The Land Of "Castles And Sausages"...
Munich! Selfies! Sledding! Dancing! Champagne! Make-outs! Ballroom dancing! Sparkles! Falling in love! James isn't here for the right reasons! Igloo! Someone feels sick! Des will be crushed! Ben is a fraud! Blow-ups! Armageddon!

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Tweets About 'The Bachelorette' Season 9, Episode 4