This week showed the competition is starting to get serious on The Bachelorette, and some learnt what Lexie wants the hard way.
We return to the mansion on the brink of a rose ceremony, the first of two this week. In a surprise to absolutely no one, Dave got the chop for his raw egg chomping.
But it was this episode's big twist which had a ripple effect across the entire season: the big reveal of the Mole, and the trip to Queenstown.
You may remember last season when voice actor Daryl Habraken was the eyes and ears in the mansion for Lesina. The show went with a similar its-obvious-this-person-is-up-to-something formula, this time in the form of cousin Sarah.
We first saw her masked up in the driver's seat delivering the men to Lexie in the first episode. This season under the guise of a production assistant job title, cousin Sarah leaked Lexie essential tidbits of behind the scenes showboating.
Lexie knows what she wants ... and what she doesn't
I've got to hand it to Lexie, she is more than prepared to make the best selection possible. A little black book with notes on every guy? Genius. Big Type A energy and I'm here for it. Her strategy this week was to weed out the men she wasn't sure about with the process of elimination.
Quiet plumber Josh was the first to land a single date to the Zoo, and it was because Lexie's page for him was completely blank. One beer and a palm-read later, Lexie was won over by his fortune-telling. He walks away with a rose, dealing a savage blow to Joe who walked away empty-handed last week.
With any reality show, part of the fun for viewers is the small revelations about the contestants along the way. I was elated, in a twisted way, when it looked like we were finally being given a villain: Zach ... until he was promptly sent home.
The coder from Utah looked in pain whenever the camera paused on his face. It's helped us tell him apart from Aussie Todd: Zach more often than not looked extremely grumpy. It could have been clever editing, but he looked like he didn't want to be there from the very beginning.
A handball game with the guys was another red flag - he's caught on camera swearing like a sailor when he loses, a warning sign if I ever saw one. The last episode, when the boys were roasting him for his competitive basketball playing, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. "Is this just Kiwi tall-poppy syndrome in action?", I thought to myself.
This week, we were given no choice but to hope Lexie was going to see the light and send him home. And thankfully, she did.
It was Zach's last words on the show once Lexie sent him home that hammered in the nails of his coffin: "I have no regrets, I didn't really feel too much chemistry between her and I. Maybe she doesn't like Americans, a lot of people don't like Americans."
Let us unpack this: The chemistry comment is fine, in fact, it's great that he's honest. But to attribute your entire fortune on the show to what country you're from is missing the point entirely. Lexie sent you home because she found you intense, not because you were from the US of A. I'm pleading with these men to be a little more introspective.
A sad serenade
Speaking of introspection and the need for more of it, this brings me to the biggest lesson of all from this week:
No one should ever serenade someone they're dating, especially in front of an audience.
I've been harsh on Nathan so far, and I'll give him credit by saying he was sweet and did his best when Lexie challenged him to pen the song before the end of the cocktail party. It wasn't exactly an out of the blue proposition.
However, it must be said: Please, musical guys, think twice before you pitch an original song as your big romantic gesture. I know your intentions may be good, but it leads to a catastrophically awkward scenario if it's not well received. We just do not know where to look when you're singing, and how are we mean to react? How do we hold our hands?!
I was admittedly still shocked when cousin Sarah sent Nathan home before the show jetted off to Queenstown. But my female intuition knew in my heart that Sarah had given Lexie sage words of advice, and for that, she has my utmost respect.
But I have to mention a conspiracy theory I have. Now, this is pure speculation, but I think Lexie set up the song challenge for Nathan partly for entertainment purposes. Sarah likely let her know about Nathan's actions behind the scenes, and it was the enthusiastic fist pump coupled with a loud "COME ON!" after he finished the performance that showed both women all they needed to know.
As the competition starts to get fierce, Lexie has some important decisions to make: which Whangārei guy (Hamish or Joe?), and whether she can possibly see herself settling down with a Wallabies fan (Todd).
Who went on dates?
Single dates: Josh, Hamish, and Todd all went on single dates with Lexie.
All three got a rose!
Zach, Paul, and Hamish competed in Bree's DIY boot camp/raft building competition. Slick Paul raced ahead of the pack, earning one on one time with Lexie, and he secured a rose for his efforts.
Next was the baby-Daddy challenge. Strong winds sent Damien's table, plus the fake child, toppling. Primary school teacher Jake seemed like he had it in the bag, but Lexie preferred Matt's more laid-back approach to the challenge. Vaz was, well Vaz, and his parenting skills weren't too memorable.
Jake and Damien were both shoulder tapped a second time for a group date, plus 26-year-old Jack and 39-year-old Aidan. The boys set out to see if Lexie was going to let them down gently, or whether there was something more to be found on the rock climbing wall. Jake won some one-on-one time but there was ZERO chemistry. I'm talking zilch, zero, none. Need I mention the embarrassing comparison Art made to his brother locking lips with Lily this time last season?
And the Herald's rose goes to...
I award this week's rose to Todd. Sparks were flying on their cosy bungy jump date, and despite some unhinged screaming from the Australian, their chemistry had me swooning.
Despite his failed chance at a kiss, Lexie made it known she is keen for more. Be bold Todd, the first smooch of the season is yours for the taking.
Hamish was a close contender, who is emerging from the shadows with his humour and admitting he has feelings for Lexie already. But will a rivalry with Joe threaten to derail his chance at love?
Who should be packing their bags
Lexie knows what she wants: Someone with great banter, baby Daddy potential, and a man who doesn't need to show off too much.
I'm taking a leaf out of Josh's palm-reading book and predicting Lexie will send Damien and Vaz home next week.
Damien is hilarious on-screen, but Lexie hasn't paid too much attention to him besides a group date.
There's so much to say about Vaz, who was brutally torn to shreds when the guys caught on that this wasn't his first reality show rodeo. He dug himself into an inescapable hole by assuming boy and girl twins can be identical and willing to die on that hill. Lexie saw right through his abs.
Coming up next week
Vaz threatens to leave before the next rose ceremony, Joe reveals his chemistry is fading with Lexie, and Aidan shoots his shot. And will Lexie finally kiss someone?