Kristen Baldwin
June 11, 2013 AT 05:04 AM EDT

If the ratings are any indication, Bachelorette Nation is not impressed with the first two legs of Desiree’s “journey” so far. Thank God for this week’s scandal, Girlfriendgate — right rose lovers?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We open at Casa Bachelorette, where Harrison kicks things off with his hit-and-run date card delivery, per usual. The message for Chris, Brian, Drew, Michael, Brooks, Brad, Mikey, Zack K., and Ben is daunting: “Love is a battlefield.” (Time out: Now I have to go watch that video, which is superb.)

And we’re back. While Michael isn’t pleased about one of his companions for the day (“There are nine great guys going on this date — and Ben’s coming along too”), all of the men have smiles on their faces when they pile out of the stretch SUV to greet Des, resplendent in pink lycra. Today’s activity: a good old-fashioned ass whoopin’ from the men of the National Dodgeball League, which is apparently a real thing. The professional players spend some time humiliating the bachelors by repeatedly pegging them with angry red balls until Harrison shows up. (Confession time, my first thought when he walked on the court was, How hilarious would it be if one of the pros just nailed him in the solar plexus?) The host comes armed with an unwelcome update: The guys are going to have to face each other on the dodgeball field, and only the winning team gets to stay on the date. Even better, they’re going to do outside a mall while wearing tiny, package-enhancing shorts.

The red team (Mikey, Michael, Brooks, Chris, and Brandon) is the first to take a hit when Mikey gets eliminated — and the carnage continues until Chris is the last man standing. The mortgage broker, who we haven’t seen much of up until this point, manages to stay in the game until Drew tags him in the gut. After game one, Des offers the red team some advice — “Whatever you’re doing now, it’s not working” — and despite that being the worst pep talk in the history of organized sports, it is remarkably effective. The red team takes game two. Who will take game three, for all the marbles? (Key: “All the marbles” = “all the minutes with Desiree later on tonight,” explains Michael helpfully.) But the final round gets off to a rough start, as some blue team foot crushes Brooks’ delicate finger during the opening scrum. “Ohhh my god,” moans Brooks pitifully. (Is it reverse sexism for me to say the dude needs to man up and not look like such a wuss in front of his potential “lady”? I mean, it’s a broken finger, not a GSW to the chest.)

Eventually game three is down to Chris and Zack W., who hurl balls at each other to no avail. “They’re so intense… They’re just ready to kill each other!” marvels Des with delight. But it’s the beefy book publisher who prevails, nailing Chris in the chest and sending the blue team into a victorious pig pile on the other end of the field. Don’t fret, though, red team — Des wants everybody, even the losers, to join her at the “after party”!  (Meanwhile, Brooks is lying on a hospital bed in the ER, having passed out when the EMT reset the broken bone in his finger. Dude. Really?)

NEXT: “I have some bizarre news about one of your guys”

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