When it's at its best, The Bachelorette is about a few crucial things. Finding love. Finding said love for the right reasons. Men proving that they are far more desperate and foolish than women have ever been, and also that they spend considerably more time and effort on their hair. Horrific puns. Early returns on Season 12 are showing that, yep: we've got it good this time around.

For those unfamiliar with how this whole BatchSlap thing works, every week I'll be providing a full recap of the latest episode, complete with analysis, speculation that will initially be viewed as wild and misguided but will eventually be realized to be bulletproof, and jokes about an old Bachelorette contestant Ames that nobody will understand, except Ames. Hi, Ames!!

This initial week, however, features no plot, no arc. So instead of a needlessly detailed blow-by-blow of the premiere episode, I'm going to break down each contestant (who made it through to week two) and other major players on the show in an incredibly superficial manner. Let's go.



Coming into this season, I've had incredibly high JoJo hopes but wasn't even completely sure why. This episode firmed everything up a bit, though, and I honestly think we've got ourselves our best Bachelorette since the famed iron-but-seemingly-sweet fist of Emily Maynard.

A truly great Bachelorette can take control of a purposefully chaotic three months shot through with fear, uncertainty, scandal, absurdity, and between two and five sociopaths, and mold it into what SHE wants. Of course that has to be balanced in a manner that lets the show develop as it should, but the main concern is always that the Bachelorette gets run over -- or at least distracted by -- rampant infighting, paralysis of choice, and the dirty mind tricks that the guys who have banged 950 girls apiece know how to employ to get the thing they want. Especially if that thing is just to win, and not actually get married — something the audience almost always knows, but the Bachelorette can often struggle to identify because these guys are just so damn skilled.

Point is, I think JoJo's got it: the radar and the reads, and also this ability to steer a gigantic party bus full of egos and artfully concealed intentions and grown men who have consumed a bit too much Fireball to where it needs to be.


Chris Harrison

Let's just say it's VERY easy to accidentally type "Christ Harrison" when you try to type "Chris Harrison" while blogging about him, and that I almost didn't feel the need to correct it.

Jake Pavelka

For new viewers, Jake is one of the most notorious characters in Bachelor history, a noted mental abuser of a former contestant who is a horrible person, too, but still, you can't just mentally abuse people, and a sociopath well above grade A. He's like if someone did an independent sociopath study and somehow there was an AP test connected to it, and they got a 6 on their AP. Apparently, he's also an old family friend of JoJo's! And couldn't let her go through with this without… showing up to dispense advice, to remind the viewing public that he exists and also cares about humans in real human ways!! And they totally made it seem like he was going to try to bone her and we bought it!! Oh, silly us. I bet anything he still tries to bone her.



An ex-Marine who clearly still runs 15 miles on the beach with a telephone pole over his shoulder every morning, Alex is as wide as he is tall. Fortunately for his relative wideness, he is not very tall. Kinda looks like Dexter crossed with Sylar from Heroes, which implies that he kills people when off-duty. Loves fist-bumps and doing push-ups with women on his back. He claims that one time he "ripped the door off a totaled, burning car and pulled the unconscious driver out to safety," which is very impressive, unless he used the handle. One day he'd love to start a business with his twin brother, presumably called Bathtub Twin, Twin and Tonic, or Burning Totaled Car Rescue Services LLC. I don't see him getting cut loose until at least 4-5 weeks in, but he seems too bro-y, and too short, for the long haul here.



Is definitely a vampire. Is also a bartender, which means -- hmmmmmmm!!!! -- he just HAPPENS to work nights. Is pretty smooth with his JoJo interactions, which isn't surprising considering that he's likely been alive and seducing women so he can get to their delicious blood for upwards of 400 years. Eyebrows of Love is very excited to get their next donation from him.



Might actually be Vinny from Jersey Shore.



Is Jewish. Just kidding! He's Taoist. Just kidding again! He never said his religion. He does have a sob story, though: his dad didn't know he existed until he was in seventh grade (Christian, not his dad, although what a tale that would be), and that side of the family refuses to acknowledge his existence, plus his two brothers live with him, because they are young and poor and also hated by their family, or something. If this goes well for him, he will at some point have to ask JoJo to move in with him and his brothers.



Derek is a commercial banker, because commercials need adjustable-rate loans too. I'm pretty sure he has the kind of eyes that women (or men!) who appreciate men's eyes would speak about in a highly positive fashion. He claims to love Star Wars and Field of Dreams, but still needs to prove to me that he understands Wedge Antilles and "first door that don't have a chicken in the window is his" jokes before I really believe him.



Is that a verb? I think this guy's name is a verb.



Daniel is many things. Canadian. Terrible at drinking. A guy about whom I wrote "very funny-looking" before I discovered that he is a male model. Incredibly jacked. Naked, which is how we know that. Internet meme enthusiast. Into fingering the bellybuttons of erectile dysfunction specialists he's just met. Wearer of boy's clip-on ties. Hater.



His occupation is listed as "hipster," but he doesn't seem to be very good at his job at all. He doesn't even have any tattoos and maybe doesn't know what matcha is!! Half Dax Shepard, half Dante from Clerks -- you can see that goatee fighting its way back at all times.



This is likely our Head Villain for the season... unless I'm mistaken, and a luxury real estate agent who claims that "being born good-looking" is his greatest life achievement, makes it very clear that "financially" he's in "great shape," wears a drastically over-sculpted beard, and flatly states that "if I want JoJo, I will get her," is actually a really swell guy with a heart of a beloved precious metal. Luckily, there is a very simple way to ensure Chad doesn't win this season: show him his own reflection in the pool so he falls uncontrollably in love, and he'll sit there staring at it for eternity, which makes it difficult to go on any dates. Good question for the ladies: can a dude named Chad ACTUALLY be hot?


James Taylor

The best thing about being named after an incredibly famous musician and also being a musician yourself is that you can be pretty terrible, since nobody expects you to be even close to as good as the incredibly famous musician.



Someone gave Will decent attention-grabbing advice: come with a charming stunt. Unfortunately, Will comes with multiple non-charming stunts that are also all terrible -- a post-limo intro move with cards that fell apart because he went too many levels deep on the joke and JoJo couldn't follow it, and a third-grade origami fortune teller that fell apart because it was made of looseleaf paper. Especially since it led to the first kiss of the night, which he totally botched, turning what's normally a direction-setter for the entire season into one where she immediately realizes she has to cut him, but can't tonight because she has to fake empathy. 



Holy crap, he also kinda looks like Dante from Clerks! He's not even supposed to be here today!! He's an "erectile dysfunction expert," and if other parts of his body are as floopy as his stupid hair, I believe him.



This strapping fireman's greatest achievement so far? Oh, just saving a life. Didn't really do much during the episode, though, probably because he is African-American and anyone who knows anything knows that African-American people are not permitted to win The Bachelorette.


James F

I like to give everyone a chance, but James F is just not winning this thing. He owns a boxing gym, so he busts out some gloves and tries to punch JoJo in the face, but she's too quick for him. He's got a ton of tats, but don't worry, guys: he's getting them all lasered off. Which is good, because A River Runs Through It is his favorite film, and Tom Skerritt would never allow them in his house.


James S

So, he lists his profession as a "Bachelor Superfan," but I can't bring myself to believe that, as he uses all of that knowledge and experience to zero overall results. No smooth entrances, no understanding of how to get time with JoJo and make the most of it while everyone else is doing ridiculous things and making huge blunders; it's almost like he was never there. Maybe he hung with Christ Harrison the whole time.


Aaron Rodgers' brother

All right, here's where things get really interesting. Past Bachelorette contestants have included sons of very wealthy famous families, sons of very famous (and presumably wealthy) Indy 500 drivers, and even brothers of non-famous NFL quarterbacks. But never before has there been a brother of definitely wealthy and extremely insurance-commercial-famous two-time MVP and Super Bowl champion Aaron Rodgers WHO LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE AARON RODGERS from 65 percent of angles. He's your First Impression Rose Winner, the only one who kissed JoJo all first night, and the immediate leader in the clubhouse, by a mile.

Apparently Jordan played QB at Vandy himself for a couple years after being overlooked because he was too small, too weak, and not named Aaron, then got picked up by a couple NFL teams but never, as far as I can tell, took a snap in the league. But instead of hard-charging on any of this while telling JoJo about himself, he uses a very polished, diabolically over-casual approach that includes lines like "I got the chance to play for a couple years."

We'll see if all of his potential "HEY LOOK AT THIS STUFF THAT NOBODY CAN COMPETE WITH!!!" rounds do eventually get fired off, or if he manages to be smart and play it low and slow the whole time, then forces JoJo to prove to a panel of Aaron Rodgers and Olivia Munn that she truly loves Jordan, at hometowns.



Mark it: Luke will be a top-five guy on this show. He's handsome in that way that I will never be able to understand but know is true. He's also from Texas like JoJo, and brought her what appear to be expensive cowboy boots. He's another ex-military guy -- JoJo must've said she loves them or something, because there are way more than usual -- and he can't stop talking about how much he loved growing up in a small town, probably because talking about how much you love small towns is one of the main leisure activities for people who live in small towns.


Nick B

This guy clearly showed up to the limo and the producers were like, "Wait, you're not Nick B," and he's like, "No, I swear, look at my license -- I'm Nick B!," and they were all "Well, shit, he's clearly not the Nick B we wanted on this show but we gotta get these limos to the house, so, fuck it, put on this stupid Santa suit and hop in and we'll make sure JoJo gives you at least one rose for your troubles."



If a former competitive swimmer comes up to you right out of the limo with a bottle of wine and makes you drink it basically before saying hi, you can definitely be sure that the "former" part is accurate at least.



There are lots of reasons to immediately hate Wells: 1) he kinda looks like Josh Flagg from Million Dollar Listing; 2) he is a radio DJ and therefore professionally required to fill any dead air with incredibly cheesy sayings; 3) he brought formerly popular R&B a capella quartet All-4-One to sing for JoJo the entire night; 4) he doesn't like pizza; and 5) his name is Wells. But then there are reasons to maybe like Wells! Like: 1) his favorite movie is Back to the Future II, which is my favorite movie, and 2) even if the execution ends up being intolerable, he thought to bring formerly popular R&B a capella quartet All-4-One to sing for JoJo the entire night! And then there's the reason to know Wells isn't as cool as he wants to be: he did not bring beloved Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? house band Rockapella to sing for JoJo the entire night. Do it, Wells!!


Something you need to believe me about

Let the record state that, before I wrote this recap, due to my personal viewing nature for this episode, I did not watch the final outtake in which James S talks to Christ Harrison the whole time, and similarly did not watch the upcoming scenes in which Chad is revealed to be a homicidal maniac. I just had a feeling! Just so you know.

The rest of this season!!

This thing looks like it's going to be a monster. Chad is going to bloody any face that might be 7/10ths as handsome as his. Robby might have a secret girlfriend, which we haven't really had in a while, and those are always good clean fun. Everyone hates Aaron Rodgers' brother, and Chad somehow knows where he lives and is going to come to show up there and beat him silly.

But, most importantly, it appears that no less than five, and possibly six men (that they show!) profess their love for JoJo before this season is over. This is a huge development. Last season the number of love declarations started to inch up into new heights, and shit got live. Now this bloated a number might represent a Love Bubble, where it starts to mean nothing and they have to forbid the dudes from saying it until late, so it still has some oomph and isn't just being used as a cheap ploy to stick around a few weeks extra. But shit, man, it's going down this time around, and that means tectonic reactions every time someone says the words. And also that Chad will punch you.

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Ben Robinson is the editorial director of Thrillist and is still on the fence about Wells.



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