‘The Golden Bachelor’ recap: A senior spat erupts

You know it’s going to be a tough one when The Golden Bachelor opens on a shot of our dear Gerry Turner sobbing his heart out. This week, our senior star was blindsided by a sudden departure, and rising tensions in the mansion led to a confrontation between two women.

Let’s recap!

It’s a new day at the (Golden) Bachelor mansion, and the ladies are enjoying a quiet morning. Susan is floating the pool, and Theresa, Leslie, Christine, Joan, and Faith are enjoying some good old-fashioned girl talk about their (collective) boyfriend.

Theresa, Joan, Leslie, Christina, and Faith on ‘The Golden Bachelor’.

“I was fortunate enough to get the first date. That was amazing,” Theresa says. “I really do feel like I have a good connection with him. But so does Leslie, and so do you, and so do you.”

Now that the group is down to 12 women, Leslie worries that some of the women might start getting “a little more catty.” Speaking of which, Kathy’s out on the sun porch talking smack about her competitors with Susan, April, and Nancy. She scoffs that some of the women seem completely disengaged with the whole process until Gerry walks in, and then they snap to life. “It’s like somebody electrocuted them!” she quips. “It’s like The Three Faces of Eve!” (Google it, kids.)

Sorry, but we must take a second to appreciate Susan’s Dia De Los Muertos-inspired pajamas.

Susan and April.

It turns out this little gathering isn’t just a regular coffee klatch. This is an official meeting of ASK’N (which stands for “April, Susan, Kathy, Nancy”) — a girl gang with this cheeky motto: “You’re ask’n, we’re tellin’!”

Not sure how I feel about these grown women forming a full-fledged clique in the house, but I suppose everyone deals with the pressures of reality TV in different ways.

Gather in the living room, ladies. Jesse Palmer is here with some important news: A “super-fun” group date is starting… right now! And here’s the really good news: All the ladies are invited! “Awww, that’s my man!” Leslie says. “That’s my man!” Theresa replies. Not taking the bait, Leslie acknowledges that Gerry is (currently) everyone’s man. As for the group date activity, it’s a Bachelor franchise staple: A talent show. (The very same talent show I witnessed as part of my set visit last month. More on that tomorrow, rose lovers.)

Some of the women are excited about getting on stage (“I’ve performed my whole life,” notes Leslie), while others are apprehensive. “I don’t really have any talents,” frets Joan. “But I’ll give it my best!” Don’t sell yourself short, ma’am. Your bio says you enjoy dancing “after a couple glasses of wine” — and that’s definitely a talent.

Though I am approximately 1,000 percent certain that Gerry didn’t come up with this group date idea, he says he’s excited to see the women tackle something that scares them a little bit. “Today gives me the opportunity to see a different side of their personalities,” he says. “I think it’s going to be a whole bunch of fun.”

Gerry and Jesse kick things off by welcoming the women to the club and then inviting their third co-host/judge to the stage: Kaitlyn Bristowe!

Kaitlyn Bristowe, Gerry Turner, and Jesse Palmer.

Love how the audience reacts like Beyoncé just arrived. Simmer down, folks. (JK, Kaitlyn – we love you.) “I’m here to support you, but there’s a lot on the line tonight,” the former Bachelorette says. “Because the winner of the talent show is going to get a very special and very romantic one-on-one dinner with Gerry tonight.” Break a leg, ladies! (But not really! Please be careful!)

Sandra goes first, and she tells a spicy joke about a man choosing between two women to marry. (Spoiler alert: It involves Sandra saying the word “boobs” while cupping her own. Priceless.) Susan impresses (or frightens?) Gerry with her karate skills, and Ellen… well, you’ve just gotta see it.

Ellen schools the talent show audience.

Her talent, you see, is teaching sex ed to middle schoolers. Faith once again breaks out her guitar and serenades Gerry with an original tune; Kathy does some very impressive push-ups (and not “girl” push-ups, either); and Nancy, bless her, does the whipped cream challenge. (Gerry LOVES it and gives her a standing ovation.) April performs a kind of spoken word “beatnik” poem, and like her fellow contestants, she feels inspired watching these “golden” women show off their various abilities. “I realized we have skills!” she says. “When I walked on that stage, those skills were alive and well, and so was I. And I’m proud of it.” Hell yeah, April!

You may remember that Leslie, the fitness instructor from Minneapolis, told us in the series premiere that she used to date Prince — and he wrote the song “Sexy Dancer” about her. I’m mentioning this now because it’s time for her talent. Hit it, you sixty-something siren!

Leslie busts a move.

Yep, after busting some very impressive moves on her own, Leslie pulls Gerry up on stage and gives him a very tame lap dance. “Leslie’s a very talented dancer,” Susan says. “But she got a little dirty there, a little sexy there at the end. Yeah, maybe it was a little much.” Looks like Kathy and Theresa agree.

Kathy and Theresa take in Leslie’s performance on ‘The Golden Bachelor’.

I can understand why they were a little taken aback. It’s not every day you see a woman in her 60s dropping it like it’s hot — and that’s a damn shame. Leslie ends her performance by producing a plate of cookies and declaring, “I bake, too!” She pops a cookie in Gerry’s mouth and then gives him a quick kiss.

After watching all of these bold women show off their talents, Joan is scared. “This is not my thing,” she admits. But Joan is not a quitter, so she gets up on stage and performs an original poem entitled, “I Just Hope I Don’t Vomit on Your Shoes.” It’s all about how nervous she was meeting Gerry that first night, and why she’s excited to get to know him more. It’s very sweet. (“As I stand here tonight without a talent to expose/ I recite this poem to Gerry because I really just want another rose.”)

The Golden Bachelor just LOVES it.

Gerry is moved to tears.

Awww, don’t cry, Gerry! It’s time to choose which woman you’re taking to dinner. And the winner is… Joan! Everyone claps for her, though the other women are clearly disappointed. “I’m a little emotional about it,” says Leslie, tearing up. “I’m really, really happy it’s Joan, but I can also be disappointed for myself.”

Emotional maturity FTMFW!!!!

Holy cow, it’s our first romantic dinner date of the season! (Yes, I know Theresa and Gerry had a one-on-one dinner, but that was fries and a milkshake and a flash mob.)

Gerry and Joan on ‘The Golden Bachelor’.

The Golden Bachelor begins by praising Joan for overcoming her nerves and doing such a great job at the talent show. “Somebody that puts themselves out there like that, it’s very attractive to me,” he says earnestly. Joan enquires about Gerry’s (semi-recent) dating history. He admits that he felt almost obligated to start dating again one year after Toni’s death — “everybody says a year is the magic number” — but he simply wasn’t ready.

Joan can totally relate. She, too, tried dating about a year after her husband passed, but ultimately felt like it was “a little too soon.” Now, two and a half years later, she’s Ready to Find Love Again™. Even though Joan’s daughter just had a baby, and she has a lot of other responsibilities at home, she chose to come on this “journey” because she realized it was time to do something for herself. Gerry LOVES it. “I need a little handhold on this,” he says with a smile, taking Joan’s hand in his own. “I’m as excited to be spending time with you as I’ve ever been with anyone.” Wow! Rose lovers, do I even need to tell you what happens next?

Joan gets the date rose.

And then they share a smooch. These two are just too sweet together!

The next morning, however, Joan gets some bad news. Her daughter, who is only 15 days postpartum, is really struggling — and she needs her mom. (Boy, have I been there.) We see a tearful Joan assuring her daughter that she’s “figuring it out” and will head home as soon as possible. “My family needs me,” she tells the other women through her tears. “I wish I could be here for the whole journey.” Pretty soon, everybody’s crying — including me. “My heart’s breaking, I know how bad she wanted to be here,” Susan says.

Leslie, Joan, and Theresa on ‘The Golden Bachelor’.

Oh, my goodness, poor Gerry has no idea what’s about to hit him. “I woke up this morning feeling like a million bucks!” he says cheerfully. He’s on his way to the mansion for a one-on-one date, and he’s still riding high from his evening with Joan. Until…

Joan breaks the bad news to Gerry.

If Gerry were a die-hard fan of this franchise, he’d know that what the sudden appearance of a Bye-Bye Bench™ in the mansion’s driveway means. But I think he’s more of a casual viewer. Anyway, Joan begins by thanking him for a great night, and adding that their connection was “so deep” it “healed my heart, like, a lot.” Now for the bad news: “I got a text this morning, and I think I need to go home and be a mom right now… I don’t want to leave our journey, but I’ve got to be a parent.”

Gerry looks shattered.

Gerry processes Joan’s departure on ‘The Golden Bachelor’.

Ugh, it never gets easier watching this precious man cry. “I get it, I understand,” he says, his voice tight with tears. “But I can’t tell you how disappointed I am.” Still, he is wise enough to know that “sometimes the right thing to do is the hardest.” Gerry and Joan share a long, sad hug and a farewell kiss before she climbs into the Early Departure SUV. “I hope one of my good friends back there gets to spend their life with him, because I think he’s worth it,” she says in her exit interview.

“My heart, it maybe got a little fix from Gerry,” Joan continues. She follows that up with a bona fide Truth Bomb: “Because as you get older, you become more invisible. People don’t see you anymore, like you’re not as significant as when you’re young.” Daaaaamn, Joan! Testify! I’m only 51 and I felt that.

While we give Gerry a few minutes to dry his tears, let’s turn our attention to fashion designer Michael Costello. He’s just arrived at the mansion to fetch the lucky recipient of this week’s one-on-one date… Ellen! Congrats, ma’am — and enjoy your trip to “dress paradise.”

An assortment of gowns for Ellen.

Before you start screaming about how unfair it is that they just set up a few clothing racks in the mansion’s spare room rather than giving Ellen the full Rodeo Drive treatment, one important note: Producers made a concerted effort to shorten production days on The Golden Bachelor, and keeping things in one location can help that. And don’t worry about Ellen; she’s LOVING her Pretty Woman moment.

Ellen’s big reveal.

“She looked stunning,” Gerry gushes. “But what completed her look was the big smile on her face.” (This man is almost too pure.) The Golden Bachelor says that Ellen is the woman he feels most comfortable with, but he’s hoping to feel more of a romantic connection during their day together.

The two of them make their way to a rustic bench on a hilltop, where Gerry reminisces about how broke he and Toni were early in their marriage (“We were so poor, we invited our parents for visits because we knew they’d bring groceries!”). Ellen reveals that she first met her husband when she was 10 years old, and they were together 25 years. (In our interview, Ellen referenced her “ex-husband,” so I believe she’s divorced, not widowed.) Then it’s time for something truly special…

Oh for Pete’s sake.

Come on! ABC had to shoehorn Neil Lane product placement into The Golden Bachelor? Is nothing sacred? The date ends with Gerry offering Ellen the date rose (and a smooch) while they float above the hills in a hot air balloon.

Gerry and Ellen on ‘The Golden Bachelor’.

And it’s rose ceremony day again! Theresa is worried because she’s “barely had any one-on-one time with Gerry,” which is a big change from their sweet diner date last week. Indeed, she’s still talking about her “don’t stop believin'” date to anyone who will listen — including Kathy, who would very much like to be excluded from Theresa’s narrative. “I don’t want to hear that,” she says. “I think she thinks she’s got this.” Kathy feels like Theresa is lording her connection with Gerry over the other women — which doesn’t really seem accurate based on what we’re shown, but it makes sense why Kathy is upset.

During the pre-cocktail party gathering, Kathy’s nerves and worries get the better of her, and she leaves the group in tears. Later in the evening, April suggests that everyone adopt a “keep your mouth shut” rule when it comes to kissing Gerry. Theresa suspects this is aimed at her, and she does NOT love it.

The mood is certainly the tensest it’s been when Gerry arrives. Fortunately for him, none of the women rush to tattle on anyone else. Instead, the women try to work it out among themselves. Theresa asks April if she was talking about her with the “keep your mouth shut” comment, and April replies that she felt the need to say something because Kathy felt so hurt. This irritates Theresa, in a Well, why didn’t Kathy just say something to me herself? kind of way.

Speaking of Kathy, she’s having her one-on-one time with Gerry now. She’s showing him photos of her dad, and it’s making her emotional. “He taught me hard work, and being a good person is what matters,” she says, choking up. Gerry consoles her with a big hug. “I’ve had a rough day,” Kathy continues. “The last 24 hours or so, I’ve had a lot of meanness towards me.” Naturally, the Golden Bachelor finds this concerning. Kathy doesn’t name names, even when Gerry asks her who she’s talking about. All Kathy will say is that she wants Gerry to be happy, and that he should take care to make sure the women he chooses are being authentic.

Gerry is quite moved by this, and he excuses himself for a moment. Cut to:

Gerry gives Kathy an early rose.

Well, whaddya know? Kathy’s getting an early rose! The other women screech with surprise and delight when she re-enters the living room — though Theresa does look a little nonplussed. She pulls Kathy for a quick one-on-one chat on the (in)famous Bachelor mansion hallway stairs.

Theresa barely has time to get the “what’s going on?” question out of her mouth before Kathy responds. “I feel like you’re dismissing me, like, ‘He and I are going off into the sunset. Go pack because you’re going home,'” she says. “That’s how you’ve made me feel sometimes.”

Theresa is mortified and starts to cry. But Kathy doesn’t let up! “When you say things like you guys have a huge connection, I think that’s the kind of stuff that sounds possessive, territorial, and ‘get the hell out of my way, he’s mine.’ That’s not a pretty picture, Theresa.”

Kathy lets Theresa have it on ‘The Golden Bachelor’.

Damn! Who’s displaying some excessive “meanness” now? When Theresa tries to explain that she was just being honest about her feelings, Kathy barks, “I’m not buying that, Theresa! What comes out of our mouths is our responsibility, and we own it.” Um, exactly, Kathy. Maybe dial the anger down to a 5?

It probably won’t come as a surprise to hear that Theresa leaves this conversation in tears. Faith tries to comfort her, and then producers send Gerry in to get the drama debrief. Theresa weepily explains that “everyone” has been saying she’s been boastful about her connection with him — and she feels awful about it. Gerry gently suggests that now that she and Kathy have talked it out, she should probably just “let it go.” Privately, though, he tells producers that this little dust-up could be a “stumbling block” for his relationship with Theresa.

With that, it’s time for the rose ceremony. Who will join Kathy and Ellen in the Circle of Safety™? Rose ceremony roll call: Faith, Sandra, Leslie, Nancy, Susan, April, and Theresa round out our final nine. That means we must say goodbye to Edith and Christina. Good luck to you, ladies!

As the rose ceremony winds down, Theresa tries to smooth things over with Kathy by asking her about her conversation with Gerry: “Did you have a really nice time with him?” Kathy jokes that she was “mostly crying,” but she praises the Golden Bachelor for being a “great guy” and “so intuitive.” But just when it seems that Theresa has learned her lesson about oversharing, she launches into a whispered story about how Gerry comforted her earlier in the evening when she was crying in her bedroom. “Theresa, that’s the kind of stuff you’ve got to keep to yourself!” Kathy shoots back.

From the looks of the preview, this senior spat spills over into next week. But for now, rose lovers, we’re down to our final nine. Were you sorry to see Joan leave early? Do you think there’s a romantic spark between Ellen and Gerry? And what do you think caused Susan’s gas — her meatballs or Edith’s guacamole? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @KristenGBaldwin.

The Golden Bachelor airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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