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‘The Golden Bachelor’ recap: Good grief

Six. That’s how many times I cried during this episode of The Golden Bachelor, rose lovers. And we’re only on week two! As the dates began, Gerry and the ladies began sharing their stories of love and loss, and there were plenty of tears — not just from me. Someone call Celine Dion, because if this keeps up all season, I’m not sure my heart will go on.

Let’s recap!

It’s move-in day at the mansion, and the 15 women vying for Gerry’s heart are thrilled about their new digs — well, everything but the sleeping situation, that is.

Bunk beds. Seriously.
ABC

Yep. Production is actually making some of these senior women sleep in bunk beds. “I get the bunk, and I start thinking, ‘Maybe I’m going to sleep out on the porch tonight,'” says Theresa. “Or I might find a closet to sleep in.” Sandra is not pleased with the lack of storage space in the bedrooms, and she certainly cannot sleep on the top bunk. “I’ve had my knees replaced,” she explains. “That’s a lot of climbing.” Let’s hope Ellen got one of the twin beds or at least a bottom bunk, because she announces that if she doesn’t get up during the night to pee, “there’s going to be an accident.” (Is this the most relatable segment in Bachelor franchise history? Discuss.)

Once the women settle in, Jesse Palmer arrives to deliver the first date card. But not everyone is excited.

Nancy has questions.
ABC

Oh, my Lord, I love these women so much. That, dear Nancy, is what’s known as a “date card,” and it’s the official kick-off of this “journey.” And the first one-on-one goes to… Theresa! The other women erupt in (genuine) applause, as Theresa blushes with anticipation. “I’m really a little scared,” she admits. “I think I have a connection with Gerry, but Billy was the love of my life, and can I find that again?”

Billy was Theresa’s husband, and they got married when she was just 18. She tells this story to Susan, who is curling Theresa’s hair to help her get ready for the date.

Theresa and Susan.
ABC

The way these women support each other! We’re just a few minutes in and I’m already getting weepy, dang it. (Also love how Susan was not about to let Theresa give her feedback on her hair curling technique: “Can you trust me? I’ve been doing hair for 35 years!”)

Before we go any further, just a quick update: It turns out that Marina, the 60-year-old educator from LA, had to leave the show to deal with a family situation. ABC posted a clip of Jesse breaking the news to Gerry, who then had a FaceTime call with Marina.

Sad to see you go, ma’am! If you’re still single next year, come back for season 2!

Now, back to this week’s “journey.” Gerry arrives at the mansion in a baby blue Corvette roadster. Don’t let that car’s good looks fool you — it’s actually an instrument of death! (More on that in a moment.) “I’m wild with anticipation right now,” the Golden Bachelor says. “I can’t say I’ve been this nervous since my first date back in my high school years with Toni.” Awwww, this man is such a pure soul.

He and Theresa climb into the roadster and head out on the road. Night has fallen, and the California freeway is dark. Good thing the Corvette has powerful headlights…. Sorry, what’s that, Gerry? Your headlights aren’t working? You can’t read the signs or see the road in front of you?

Good God, producers, are you trying to kill the first-ever Golden Bachelor? Why didn’t somebody run a damn safety check on the car before sending Gerry and Theresa out on the freeway? I swear on all that is holy, if anything happens to these two…

Theresa comforts Gerry on their terrifying drive in the dark.
ABC

In an effort to soothe Gerry’s understandably frazzled nerves, Theresa puts her hand on his shoulder. “You’re doing a wonderful job,” she tells him, and Gerry LOVES it. “This is my first time driving on a California freeway. Theresa reaches over and puts her hand on my shoulder, and I instantly felt calm,” he says. “She seems very sensitive.”

Fortunately, no Golden Bachelors or Bachelorettes were harmed on the drive. Gerry and Theresa arrive at Cadillac Jacks Café, which reminds Gerry of the early days of his career as a restaurant owner. “I was serving fries and milkshakes, and it wasn’t elegant,” he says. “A date in a diner with someone I had a good start with is kind of like going home.”

While they wait for their fries and chocolate milkshake, Theresa tells Gerry about her 42-year marriage to her high school sweetheart, Billy. Later in life, Billy developed kidney problems, and he died before he could get a transplant. “I watched him take his last breath,” says Theresa, who was at work when her husband took a turn for the worse. Gerry’s tearing up, Theresa’s tearing up, and of course I’m at home tearing up as she’s telling this story. “Neither one of us thought this was going to happen,” Theresa continues. “We thought we were going to live with our spouses for the rest of our lives.”

Lord help me, this show is going to send me to an early grave. Deep breaths, rose lovers. We’ll get through this. Probably.

For Gerry, talking with Theresa about the experience of losing her husband is profound. “I didn’t feel like breaking down and crying for once,” he says. “I felt like I was talking to someone that understood the loss of a spouse.” It makes him feel closer to Theresa, and he tells her so. “I really like you a lot,” he admits.

Theresa and Gerry share a shake.
ABC

How cute are these two? As the unmistakable opening piano chords of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” begin to play in the background, Gerry and Theresa bond over their shared hope that they can find love again. “You don’t stop believing!” Gerry cries. “You just don’t stop believing!” Okay, flash mob — that’s your cue!

Everyone dances out into the parking lot, where there’s a red rose sitting on top of Gerry’s (faulty) Corvette.

Don’t stop believin’, Gerry and Theresa!.
ABC

Hell yes, she’ll accept this rose, Gerry! “You are so lovable,” the Golden Bachelor tells Theresa as they share a sweet hug.

On to the first group date of the season! On today’s date we have April, Christina, Edith, Ellen, Faith, Jeanie, Kathy, Nancy, Sandra, Natascha, and…

Franco and Gerry.
ABC

Yep, Franco’s back. You know what that means, rose lovers: Today’s date is a photo shoot. And not just any photo shoot — it’s a romance novel cover shoot. There are a few different themes for the women to choose from, including “Island of Desire,” “Summer of Love,” and “Road to Passion.” The women dash to the clothing racks to pick their favorite costume, and Leslie is irked when Natascha grabs a flashy psychedelic ensemble complete with a peace sign necklace.

Lookin’ groovy, Natascha!.
ABC

“I love color and pizazz, and it represents me!” Natascha says. She takes a look at herself in the mirror and declares, “I’m gonna say perfect!” (Man, I would kill for a tenth of Natascha’s confidence.) Leslie, however, is left with a biker jacket, which totally bums her out. “No offense to people that love the ’80s, but ’80s is not my vibe at all,” she says.

Though the women all look fabulous in their romance-novel looks, producers do Gerry dirty with a terrible looking Fabio wig.

This wig is a hate crime.
ABC

“I feel like I’ve got a raccoon on my head,” he jokes. Kathy, Jeanie, and April pose with Gerry first in the “Island of Desire” shoot, and then it’s time for the “Summer of Love” gang. Edith and Leslie pose on a motorcycle with Gerry for “Road to Passion,” but when it’s time for the wedding-themed shoot, Nancy breaks down in tears. “I just haven’t had a wedding dress on since I got married,” she whispers to April. Putting on the gown for the photo shoot “brought back all of these emotions,” Nancy continues. “The best day of my life was getting married to my husband, Mark.”

April comforts Nancy.
ABC

“I really miss him,” Nancy says. Ugh, this poor woman. She’s still upset when it’s her time to take photos with Gerry. “I’m a little teary today,” she tells him, but Franco’s already shooting pictures, so Nancy doesn’t elaborate until they’re alone later. “I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t had a wedding dress on for 36 years, and it was when I married the love of my life,” she explains, adding that it was “overwhelming.” Gerry is immediately moved. “Aww, Nancy!” he exclaims. The Golden Bachelor says he can relate: A year ago he walked by a bakery and smelled cinnamon, and it flooded him with memories of his wife Toni, who used to make cinnamon balls at Christmastime.

Not! Me! Crying! Again! Ugh.

For Nancy, the memories were both sad and joyful, as so many memories are. “I still have hope moving forward,” she says. “I think that’s really important.” Naturally, Gerry LOVES it.

The Golden Bachelor spends the rest of the afternoon getting to know his 10 dates a little bit more. Christina had plans to go to the original Woodstock, but she ended up having a baby instead! Edith loves to cook! Ellen has a master’s degree in health education! April believes her job on this planet is “to open up the hearts of others”! Like Gerry, Leslie also wears hearing aids on each ear! (To test them out, Gerry whispers a sweet nothing in her ear — and Leslie refuses to tell the producer what he said. Atta girl!)

So many deserving contenders for the date rose. Who will it be?

Nancy gets the date rose.
ABC

The other women literally said “Awwww” in unison when Gerry called Nancy’s name. How adorable is that? “Getting the rose tonight means so much to me,” says Nancy. “I’m looking forward to getting to know him even more.”

The next day, Gerry arrives at the mansion for an afternoon cookout ahead of the rose ceremony. But when he strolls into the living room, no one is there. “Where is everybody?” he asks. Pssst, Gerry — check out back!

Happy birthday, Gerry!.
ABC

Huzzah! It’s Gerry’s birthday, and the women are ready to celebrate him. Susan even jumps out of a giant cake, which of course the producers just happened to have sitting around in storage. Like the Boy Scouts, Team Bachelor is always prepared.

Though this is an afternoon event, it’s also doubling as the cocktail party, so women begin pulling Gerry for one-on-one chats almost immediately. First up, Susan talks to Gerry all about how much she loves cooking. “I made chicken piccata for everybody!” she says. “I was frying meatballs at 7:30, 8 o’clock this morning!”

Meanwhile, Kathy’s manning the grill while April and Peggy look on.

Peggy, Kathy, and April.
ABC

Dang, April! You kiss your grandchildren with that mouth! Just kidding, I love her. And I loved her even more after she performed a sexy, shimmy dance for Gerry in honor of his birthday. (“You get this every birthday!” she informs him.) Christina gives him a bottle of wine from her favorite vineyard, while Natascha sets up a birthday piñata for Gerry to smash. But all this man really needs to be happy is a warm hug. “Natascha, you are a great hugger!” the Golden Bachelor says. “That part of you reminds me of my wife.”

Yes, I’m tearing up again.

Joan is also feeling a little emotional today. Gerry joins her on the top bunk for a chat about birthdays, and how milestones like that can be difficult after the loss of a loved one. “I’ve only had two birthdays since my husband passed away,” she says. “It was a tough day. I have a hard time looking at the pictures, still.” Though her husband told her that he hoped she’d find another partner after he was gone, Joan says she wasn’t ready to hear it.

Joan and Gerry take their relationship to new heights.
ABC

“Gerry is definitely the first person I’ve dated that has lost a spouse,” Joan says. “He’s very, very, very thoughtful about making sure you know that he sees you and is trying to connect with you.”

Speaking of connections, I’m calling it now: Ellen and Gerry are endgame. (I haven’t read the spoilers, so please don’t find me on Twitter to tell me if I’m wrong.) When the Golden Bachelor sits down with Ellen, he gives her a present — even though it’s his birthday.

Gerry and Ellen.
ABC

It’s a framed photo from their romance novel shoot! Ellen is moved to tears. “I am feeling so special,” she says, her voice breaking. “And honestly, I haven’t felt special in a very long time.” Oh boy, there will be no break for my tear ducts this season.

Gerry clearly believes that Ellen is special. “I really love your personality,” he tells her, and they share a very sweet hug.

Holy cow, these one-hour episodes just fly by. Is it rose ceremony time already? Yep!

Bring it with the bold colors, ladies!.
ABC

Looking good, ladies! You too, Gerry. “A few days ago, we all met. We were strangers,” the Golden Bachelor begins. “And today, I look at this group of women, and you’re all my friends. That really makes a night like this very difficult for me.”

Oh, boy — here come the tears. (Mine and Gerry’s.) Rose ceremony roll call!

Leslie, Joan, Edith, Ellen, Sandra, Susan, Christina, Faith, April and… Ugh, poor Gerry is really breaking down, and he hasn’t even handed out the final rose.

SOMEONE GIVE THIS MAN A HUG RIGHT NOW!.
ABC

Hang in there, sir! You can do it! Okay, back to the roll call: The final rose goes to Kathy, who, along with everyone mentioned before, joins Theresa in the Circle of Safety™. Alas, this means we must bid farewell to Peggy, Jeanie, and Natascha. Palmer arrives and somberly asks the women to say their goodbyes, but the host doesn’t leave the room right away. “You ok?” he asks Gerry, gently rubbing his back. “I know it’s tough.”

We are on week two, rose lovers. How on earth is Gerry going to survive the next six weeks? If the faulty vehicles don’t kill him, these rose ceremonies might.

Though the women are disappointed to be leaving, they’re also grateful to Gerry for reminding them that their romantic lives aren’t over yet. “A lot of us, we really were kind of giving up on love,” Jeanie says. Gerry proved that “there’s nice guys out there, and there’s hope.” Cheers to that, you gorgeous grandma!

And another Golden Bachelor episode is in the books, rose lovers! Things will start to get even tougher for the women next week, if the previews are any indication, but we’ll cross that (very emotional) bridge when we come to it. For now, who do you want Gerry to end up with? Is anyone else going to join me on Team Ellen? And honestly, why don’t they give the ladies chairs for the rose ceremony? 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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