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“The Bachelor ”recap: Tulum and doom

Fantasy Suites week turns into a nightmare when Kelsey sends Joey a note reading, "We need to talk."

They’re the four most dreaded words in any relationship: “We need to talk.” And this week on The Bachelor, those words threatened to turn Joey’s trip to Mexico for Fantasy Suites into a nightmare.

Let’s recap!

¡Bienvenidos a Tulum, rose lovers! Joey says this beautiful resort town is “the type of place that I’d want to get engaged,” but still, our Bachelor says, “I don’t feel right.” Joey is so afraid that whichever woman he chooses — Daisy, Rachel, or Kelsey — will reject him, he can’t bring himself to be completely vulnerable. He’s still got PTSD from his excruciating Proposal Platform™ moment with Charity. “I don’t want to feel like that again,” says the Bachelor, choking up. “I don’t know what to do.” Ugh, I hate seeing our sweet angel baby cry. It’s going to be okay, Joey Joe!

Meanwhile, we get our little montage of the women checking in to the (promotional consideration provided by) Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa (Daisy) and the Secrets Tulum Resort & Beach Club (Kelsey and Rachel) as they reminisce about their respective relationships with Joey — and the possibility of getting engaged to him in Mexico. They’re all excited and nervous and could use a little guidance and wisdom. You know what that means, rose lovers: It’s time to activate the Golden bachelorettes!

<p>ABC</p> Rachel and Susan chat on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Rachel and Susan chat on 'The Bachelor'

YES, Susan! Get that all-expenses-paid trip to Mexico, you senior queen! “Jesse wanted me to spend this time with you and talk to you about this whole journey,” she tells Rachel. “Think of me as your mom, your best friend right now.” (LOL, props to this franchise for stubbornly maintaining the fiction that Jesse Palmer — or Chris Harrison before him — has any decision-making power about what happens on this show.)

Rachel confesses that she’s now “in love” with Joey, and Susan urges her to let the Bachelor know: “It’s okay to say it!” But Rachel is worried; her last two exes cheated on her, and now she could once again be rejected by the man she loves for another woman. (At this point, I fully believe that producers won’t cast women who haven’t been hurt by infidelity in the past. Those sick-slash-brilliant bastards.) Susan wants Rachel to know that her past does not need to dictate her future. “What I learned about myself from this show was, ‘I am the prize,’” she says. “You have to love yourself before you can love anybody else.”

Preach it, Susan! Here’s hoping Rachel takes that energy into her overnight date with Joey — which begins, as required by Bachelor law, with a #huju.

<p>ABC</p> Joey and Rachel execute a #huju on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Joey and Rachel execute a #huju on 'The Bachelor'

Today’s date involves swimming in a cenote, which Joey describes as “an underwater cave situation.” Sorry, but can we just take a moment to appreciate the camera operator who shamelessly zoomed in on Joey’s abs as he took off his shirt to go swimming?

<p>ABC</p> Award-winning cinematography on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Award-winning cinematography on 'The Bachelor'

Somebody’s getting a raise!

Joey and Rachel start by diving off the lowest platform, because they’re sensible like that. Platform number two is a little scarier, but all goes well. Alas, their jump from platform number three (which features a sign reading “love is a leap of faith” in Español, because of course) ends in an injury to Rachel’s face. At first, she tries to play it off — “it’s fine!” — but Joey knows better, and he convinces her to get out of the water.

<p>ABC</p> Rachel is in pain on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Rachel is in pain on 'The Bachelor'

Rachel continues to insist that she’s ok, but at this point she can’t even really open her mouth, so production sends for the medic. She winces as he examines her jaw, and after a few more attempts to say everything’s fine, Rachel breaks down in tears. “We do need to go to the hospital to make sure she is okay,” says Joey.

<p>ABC</p> Rachel and Joey in the hospital on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Rachel and Joey in the hospital on 'The Bachelor'

This is not the way Rachel hoped to spend what could be her last date with Joey, but as usual our Bachelor is completely understanding and supportive. Eventually, the doctor returns with the good news that Rachel’s X-ray was clear, and she is free to go. And hey, they still have the dinner portion of the date — though the only food on offer is some kind of cheese tray. (Hooray for less food waste!)

Rachel knows that she’s going to have to continue Opening Up™ if she wants to make it to the final two, so that’s what she does. Rachel admits that she’s worried she’s “playing catch-up” with the other women, and that she’s struggling not to conflate the experience of being cheated on with the fact that Joey is dating two other women. “It’s okay,” Joey whispers, as Rachel breaks down in tears. He gives her a big hug, and then assures her that he knows “how hard this week is… Just know that I was so excited to see you today.”

And with that, it’s time for the all-important Fantasy Suite card.

<p>ABC</p> The first Fantasy Suite card of the week on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

The first Fantasy Suite card of the week on 'The Bachelor'

Props, once again, to Palmer’s A+ penmanship. Rachel’s answer is quick and definitive: “Yes, let’s do it.” All rightie then! Have fun, you crazy kids.

The next morning, Joey and Rachel snuggle and smooch in bed for a bit before enjoying breakfast outdoors. “I finally told him that I love him,” says Rachel. “I think we definitely got closer.” The Bachelor says he’s “falling for Rachel,” and that he believes a life with her could be “so beautiful.”

All right, sir. Go back to your room and shower. Your date with Wife Candidate No. 2 is coming up!

<p>ABC</p> Kelsey debates herself on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Kelsey debates herself on 'The Bachelor'

It is, Kelsey. It is. But perhaps a chat with this Golden gal will help.

<p>ABC</p> Leslie visits Kelsey on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Leslie visits Kelsey on 'The Bachelor'

Hey, Leslie! Nice to see you. (And why haven’t they announced you as the Golden Bachelorette yet?) Like Kelsey, Leslie lost her mother at a young age, and they both get emotional as Kelsey explains how she saw butterflies — “a symbol of my mom” — during her hometown date with Joey. “I just got the chills!” says Leslie, who assures Kelsey that her mother “would be very proud” of her. Ugh, now Kelsey’s crying again, poor thing. Dammit, Team Bachelor, it’s not fair to make me cry during Fantasy Suite week.

Leslie advises Kelsey to be “open” and “completely organic” during the overnight date. But she also wants the young woman to protect herself. “I went into my last day confident,” she says. “And then I didn’t get chosen, and that was hard… I would say, just always have something in the back of your head that you might not be it.” Wise words. But Leslie’s final words to Kelsey are the wisest yet: “Joey would be very lucky to have you.” That’s right, girl! YOU ARE THE PRIZE.

A new day dawns, and Kelsey meets Joey at the dock for their date. As they climb aboard the yacht, Joey tells us that he needs more “clarity” about how Kelsey is feeling, because “she’s never said the l-word.”

<p>ABC</p> Joey and Kelsey hit the deck on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Joey and Kelsey hit the deck on 'The Bachelor'

“My hair’s all crazy,” says Kelsey, as the wind starts deconstructing her loose braid. “I like it when it’s crazy,” Joey replies. “I think it’s one of your best qualities, how crazy your hair is. I think you don’t need to tame the mane.” THIS MAN! He is an absolute prince. And he does seem truly smitten with Kelsey.

Their boat anchors in a cove teeming with sea life, including stingrays and turtles. Joey and Kelsey swim and smooch amongst the creatures as the camera operator who drew the short straw films them from underwater. Everything is going so well, Kelsey thinks she might just have the courage to drop the l-bomb at dinner. On the other hand, Leslie’s “remember it might not be you” warning is still freaking her out a bit. “I’m not guaranteed this,” Kelsey reminds herself. “I’m trying my best to be hopeful.”

You shouldn’t have to try that hard, girl. Do you see how this man looks at you???

<p>ABC</p> Joey's a smitten kitten on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Joey's a smitten kitten on 'The Bachelor'

Kelsey admits to Joey that she’s feeling a little anxious after talking to Leslie, though she’s trying to keep hope alive. The Bachelor says he completely understands how she’s feeling, because he, too, thought he was going to be The One on Charity’s season. “I do feel like sometimes that I struggle to be open because I still have that fear that it can be taken away,” he adds. “I don’t want to feel that feeling again.” Now it’s Kelsey’s turn to encourage Joey to be vulnerable, because their relationship could be “the most amazing thing in the world.” Okay, Kelsey. You know what you have to do. Go for it!

<p>ABC</p> Kelsey declares her love on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Kelsey declares her love on 'The Bachelor'

Atta girl. The Bachelor LOVES it. “I’m falling in love with you fully,” he tells Kelsey. “I’ve felt it for a while, and I’m so excited about what can happen between us.” Awww, good for you, buddy! Now go enjoy your time in the Fantasy Suite, you two.

The next morning…

<p>ABC</p> Kelsey and Joey smooch in the kitchen on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Kelsey and Joey smooch in the kitchen on 'The Bachelor'

Yeah, they are really into each other. Kelsey doesn’t even mind that Joey doesn’t know how to crack an egg properly. (Can’t blame her, tbh.) They share a homemade breakfast of eggs, toast, and bacon — side note: why the hell did production give them a plate of macaroons for breakfast? — and smooch a lot more before parting ways. And in case you were wondering, Kelsey’s mom approves.

<p>ABC</p> Butterflies gather for Joey and Kelsey on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Butterflies gather for Joey and Kelsey on 'The Bachelor'

Before we get to the last date of the week, we need one more pep talk from a Golden bachelorette. Daisy, meet Sandra!

<p>ABC</p> Sandra meets with Daisy on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Sandra meets with Daisy on 'The Bachelor'

Oh, come on! Why didn’t anyone tell poor Sandra that she has lipstick on her teeth? Not cool, Team Bachelor. Anyhow, Daisy fills Sandra in on her “journey” with Joey, explaining that she told him she’s falling in love with him, and he said he “feels the same way.” Sandra suggests that Daisy should “keep those positive thoughts” and not spend time worrying about the other women. “They don’t count,” she adds. “Be open, and don’t be afraid to talk with Joey, talk about your expectations, what’s in your head.” The spunky septuagenarian ends by encouraging Daisy to give Joey some “sexual oomph” during their alone time. “Men like that kind of thing,” she adds.

#Huju No. 2!

<p>ABC</p> Daisy pulls off a flawless #huju on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Daisy pulls off a flawless #huju on 'The Bachelor'

Today, Joey and Daisy will be zipping around the jungle on an ATV. Despite the Bachelor’s best efforts to get muddy, everyone’s athleisure wear remains dirt-free when they reach the random couch in middle of nowhere.

<p>ABC</p> Joey and Daisy take a break on a random jungle couch on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Joey and Daisy take a break on a random jungle couch on 'The Bachelor'

The throw rugs and matching end tables are a nice touch. Daisy, like Rachel and Kelsey, says she’s been having a hard time with “that space in-between” — meaning, the days when she knows Joey is with someone else. Speaking of which: Back at the hotel, Kelsey is about to slide headfirst into an insecurity spiral, thanks in part to Leslie’s warning about protecting her heart. “There’s still two other women,” she frets. “It’s scary.” More on this later.

Later, Daisy and Joey dress in matching pastels for their outdoor dinner.

<p>ABC</p> Joey and Daisy are pretty in pink on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Joey and Daisy are pretty in pink on 'The Bachelor'

Daisy laughs as she recounts how emotional she got earlier in the day, “on-and-off crying” to Sandra while they discussed her relationship with Joey. With her last boyfriend, who wasn’t as “emotionally available,” she would “get shut down” if she expressed her feelings to him — and she’s still recovering from that. But Daisy says that with Joey, she knows she’s completely “safe” to Open Up™. Still, it takes practice.

This prompts the Bachelor to talk about one of his past, non-show relationships with a woman he met in Hawaii. “That relationship, it was like the first time I questioned if I was really a good person, because I didn’t make her feel as special as she wanted to feel,” he explains. Oh, my Lord, this MAN. Joey adds that he started to worry that he capable of being a good boyfriend and that he might not be “enough” for someone to choose him. “I have insecurities,” he says. “Especially through something like this, because I’m afraid someone falls in love with the idea of Joey as the Bachelor and not Joey as the person.” Don’t worry, sir — pretty sure all these women are in love with both Joeys.

Daisy understands the fear of choosing someone who doesn’t choose you back, and just the thought of it causes her to tear up. “I’m just really thankful for you,” she whispers. “You’ve honestly changed my life and how I look at myself.” The Bachelor likes what he hears.

<p>ABC</p> Joey drops the l-bomb on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Joey drops the l-bomb on 'The Bachelor'

Okay, so we have our final two, yes? Rachel didn’t get an “I’m falling in love with you” on her date. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Sorry.

Joey gives Daisy the Fantasy Suite card, and of course, she accepts. Cut to:

<p>ABC</p> Daisy and Joey enjoy the morning after on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Daisy and Joey enjoy the morning after on 'The Bachelor'

Even if you’re not #TeamDaisy, you’ve gotta admit they’re pretty cute together.

Have you looked at the clock lately, rose lovers? If so, you’ve probably noticed that there are only about 10 minutes left in the episode — and Kelsey hasn’t even made her “we need to talk” trip to Joey’s room yet. Clearly, we’re not getting a rose ceremony tonight, dammit.

Instead, we watch scenes of Joey and Daisy smooching and saying goodbye after their date with footage of Kelsey standing around her room looking forlorn and concerned. “I keep thinking about what Leslie said,” she explains. “If it’s not me, it’s something I don’t think I could get over.”

Girl, you are only 25. This is absolutely something you could get over. But clearly, you’re mid-spiral, and nothing’s going to stop you. “There’s something I need to talk about with Joey,” says Kelsey, as we watch CCTV footage of her heading to his room on the fourth floor. But the Bachelor isn’t home, so Kelsey goes back to her room and composes the ominous “we need to talk” note.

About what, you may ask? It’s not really clear. Kelsey says there’s “a conversation that needs to be had” before the rose ceremony. “I would rather leave now than have my heart completely broken,” she adds. Okay, so is the note, like, an ultimatum? “Tell me it’s me or I walk”? That doesn’t seem like Kelsey’s style.

<p>ABC</p> Joey finds the note in his door on 'The Bachelor'

ABC

Joey finds the note in his door on 'The Bachelor'

“I don’t understand what this is,” says Joey. “I’m confused.” We are too, buddy! Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until next week to find out what Kelsey wants to talk to Joey about, because the episode is over.

Only two weeks left, rose lovers! Before you go, a few questions. Does anyone out there believe Rachel will make the final two? What do you think Kelsey has to say to Joey? And would you watch a talk show where Susan cooks meatballs and offers motherly advice and encouragement to her guests? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @KristenGBaldwin or on Bluesky at @kristengbaldwin.bsky.social.

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