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Two women... whittled to one: Stewardess Rachel Veltri. Fifteen men... whittled to eight. $1 million on the line for any one of them... possibly whittled to $1.

Who's in it for love... and who's on it for the other thing?

Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN

Jordan Murphy
JD Roth
EP: John Foy, Bruce Nash, Todd Nelson, JD Roth
Packager: 3 Ball Productions, Nash Entertainment, NBC Studios
Airs: Mondays at 9:00pm ET on NBC

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"And Then There Were Three" - August 9

So here we are at the homestretch of one of the most convoluted seasons of any reality dating scenario ever devised for television. If you've been keeping up with all the twists and turns so far, then you're far better than I am. That said...

*K-Ci and Jojo's "All My Life" playing in the background* Preston and PJ... STILL together.

Last time, Rachel hit up her phone for dates and a cheap "24" homage. Mike got the first date at 9am, David S. got the second at 12pm, Caleb got the third at 3pm, and Mike gets another at 6pm. The man on the outside, Morgan, is also the man who burns his million-dollar check, all leading to this: three men, three 24-hour dates, one elimination, two men, two final pleas, at least five instances of the "but" scenario, and two final decisions.

For the last time, to recap...

Mike - $250,000
Caleb and David S. - $1

Mike, who isn't even thinking about the check, is the richest one out there, but this being the finale with no million dollar checks left, expect it to change. The boys are in the event room to start, but Jordan moves the party to the vault room. True to form, it's even-spread time, as Jordan presents the guys with one of four mystery checks, two worth $1, two worth $1,000,000. For Caleb and David, it's a win-win situation. Mike, too, decides to swap, thinking that money is now completely out of the picture.

Next up, fantasy dates for 24 hours. David is up first, but first, he admits to the guys that he had $1. He wanted to take the money out of the game, as did Mike. Caleb heckles Mike into thinking that giving up the $250,000 was a bad idea. Did it work? That's between Mike and ... Mike.

Limo's here to pick David up, still thinking about his play for the money he doesn't know he has, as he and Rachel head to the Montage Resort & Spa. Potential for romance here. Rachel's about as skeptical as David is, especially given the fact that she's done this before. "Part of me just want to take (David's word) with a grain of salt!" She asks how David and her are going to "beat this", whatever it means. David's answer: "I become rich." Aaaaand cue the drum beat. But Rachel sees the mystery checks as a gambit that was worth the investment.

After dinner, love on the throw-rugs, as David and Rachel discuss how hard it is to have the next couple of days. Rachel says he seems genuine. David, on the other hand, says that Rachel's "not the greatest kisser." All of a sudden, he's not really that much in love anymore. Rachel seems to think otherwise.

Back at the house, "What do you think they're doing today?" Oh, just the worst kissing imaginable, that's all. Caleb starts packing for his date, thinking that if he got concrete evidence of Rachel being all hugs and kisses with everyone else, then he's going to play for money. Part of his game? Not doing anything. I've never seen a woman grovel so hard since last week's episode of "Studio 7". His playing hard-to-get is either because he likes her or because of a gameplan. Or it could just be an act of scariness, as Caleb thinks that she's playing for something.

We go to a cottage "in the middle of nowhere", as Rachel sees if it could be moved in a different direction. Caleb tries to find a connection, while the other guys comment on the original moves that Caleb didn't make. Rachel, on the other hand, doesn't think that Caleb's capable of trust. "He may think that I'm not just here for love, and I'm possibly here for money." Surely enough, Caleb's as close as he's going to get, thinking that she will get his check in the end. Good thought, Caleb. Go with that. Rachel goes with the old standby: "What I feel for you is real... and I don't say that to everybody." It worked, as Caleb starts to let his guard down ever that more for the rest of the date. However, in this game, the only thing that's a given - money - isn't even that much of a given. But Caleb has found the connection he was looking for. "He doesn't know me well enough to know if that's who I am," and that's a yellow card from Rachel.

Finally, we go with Mike to... no, wait, Caleb's still watching. Okay, let's go to Mike with Rachel to try to see something more long-term at a posh suite on the Sunset. Mike thinks about the mystery check more than Rachel, even though that was not his intention. Luckily for him, Rachel spots a distraction: a tour bus. That's totally random now, is it? They take in the bus as they try to discuss future. Rachel isn't being totally honest... Shame for Mike, because he is.

Back at the house, the guys think that she's genuine, but they still don't know her true intention. "If she gets one of these chumps to fall in love with her, maybe she gains." Aaaaaand cue the drum beat.

Meanwhile, Rachel lets Mike know that she wants to explore something long-term, but Mike can't stop thinking about the check he said he wouldn't think about. Rachel talks about playing the "Sweetness" card: "Maybe he'll feel bad for me and take me over the money, because I'm so gosh darned sweet." She then channels the spirit of Paul Revere in "one if yes, two if no". She gives Mike one wink. Yeah. He's in.

That night, more love on the throws, as Mike whispers sweet nothings into her ear. Let me get the captions on here... "I could never give you up forever." He ALMOST said "I could never give you up for money." "I just self-edited myself. Thank God." In the end, Mike decides that he's playing for love. And boy is he. Hand strategically placed on her boobie.

Before we get to the elimination, the guys talk motivation. Mike thinks Caleb's gonna go, but before anyone goes, Jordan outlines the operative: fireside chat. Simple. David lays his heart on the line... very robotically. Mike decides on the "here I stand, I can do no other". But Rachel wanted to hear more. Could it be the end for the sure thing? Caleb... "You know I want to be here. So it's up to you." That was sure blank.

Elimination time, as Rachel prefaces it with having formed a connection with each of them. Mike is down first... and he's in. David is down next... and he's out. Cause of death: no spark. Or so she says. Bringing up Rachel's choice of love or money, "if that's something she had, then she just totally played me." That leaves Caleb, the wild card, to compete with Mike, the sure bet. As for David, he came in with a dollar, he leaves... with a million. Ouch. "It's not the end of the world, it's just $1 million." Yeah, you could go on Millionaire and make that up easy. Meanwhile, we pause for a break and station identification.

Later that night, both men are freaking out of the decision of rubbing someone out of their life over money. "A million bucks would last you the rest of your life," Caleb says. Not really. Next day, they meet Jordan in the event room with "the box" with their checks in it. Jordan just reminds them of the events to come. To sum up, he won't tell you what to do, and he won't tell you what not to do, but he will tell you that you are the sum total of your choices, and to each one of them goes a consequence to be weighed carefully. Caleb's mind? Still changing. Mike, like myself... "Relationship retarded."

The decision doesn't get any harder, as Rachel looks at her check for $1 million. Thought she had forgotten about that? Yeah, neither did I. Remember, if the man chooses money, Rachel leaves empty-handed... again. If he chooses love, then it's on Rachel. "With that said, I'll leave you to your thoughts." Jordan likes leaving people to their thoughts.

Rachel joins the men for lunch, the most awkward lunch ever televised. Caleb was starving, but couldn't eat. Mike: "Three people don't have anything to talk about?" Rachel begins to crack under the pressure and heads for... somewhere else. She finds herself in another position where she needs the money, but doesn't want to hurt anyone. "This whole thing sucks right now!"

Mike walks with Rachel as they discuss the whole awkwardness. Rachel hopes to see something more, and she wasn't playing the honesty card to just be "his friend". Struggling with 15-second pauses between answers and stuff that Rachel really didn't want to hear, she seems to have her mind made up now... Mike is Rachel's ticket to the money.

But then there's Caleb. She shares his sentiment that "this sucks". She is attracted to him physically, but Caleb just saw right through her ruse. "Somebody has to be (led on)." He then says that both men are convinced that Mike will be the one to win. Rachel tries reassuring Caleb that her feelings toward him are real. "To put forth that much of an effort, she'd have to have some truth behind it." But then Rachel has her doubts. "Maybe he IS here for the money in the end!"  So now we have the final decision: the sure ticket to the money, or a million doubts?

Next day, both men are pondering that night's elimination. Mike wants to be damned ready to commit. Caleb is seriously weighing his risks, with Rachel being the heavier of the two. It's all about Rachel at this point, as both men are escorted into seclusion from each other. Right after some brother-love. Because you know.. it's all about love. Once again, the decisions will be made at the same time thanks to the magic of editing. One thing's for sure. Caleb has made his decision.

But first, we go to Mike. Rachel recaps her time with him and her feelings about him. She keeps wanting more and more, but not really getting it that much. "I've been intrigued by you from the beginning, but..." One.

Next, to Caleb. Rachel recaps her time with him and her feelings about him. She keeps getting more and more, but not really wanting it that much. you know, doubts and all... "Acting like you were doubting me... I was really disappointed in that..."

Back to Mike. "But..." Two. "you kind of scared me, because you said that if you wanted to have fun either way. That does not sound convincing." They go back to the last conversation, in a way saying "Rach, I'm not for you." Mike apologizes. "I think that you do care about me, and I care about you... However..." Does that count? (bell) Okay, that's three. "I don't think that we're for each other." She takes the ring back as we get a faux heart beat in the background. Mike returns to the vault to burn his check... And we get a "Whew!", because he's only out one dollar. And hey, he even pledges to give 110 percent on everything. Good thing to take from this.

Back to Caleb. "But..." Four. "By the end of that date, I was wowed again, and I really see so much of myself in you." Citing the last conversation (that he had an opening for a best friend)... "I knew you were the one from that first date, and you're still the one." Okay, slobbering over, Caleb thanks her for the chance, "But (C-Note: That's five!) now I have something to tell you as well." He reveals the game to her, in all of its detail, including Caleb's first million, his second dollar, and his third mystery. "I am terrified of relationships, that's a huge risk. Bottom line is, I've been waking up every single morning with a million dollar view... and at the end of the day, all I see if you." Hmm... *takes down possible song lyric* He balls up his check and throws it onto the ring platform. More slobber.

But all is not happily ever after just yet. "I have to tell you something actually, too." Rachel gives Caleb the RDV of the past 10 episodes. All Caleb can say is "I knew it." But we're not done yet. "I could really use $1,000,000. My mom doesn't want to work anymore. And I don't have that much money. It's a lot of money. You know what, though? I don't want it." Way to prove yourself, Rachel. So we leave you with Rachel and Caleb, fourteen rings, and possibly $2 million, balled up and chucked like last week's garbage.

Luckily the producers came and unwadded the check so we could see that... there was only $1,000,001 balled up and chucked like last week's garbage.

If anything, this season proved all the shortcomings of "reality" romance as truth, not just because of the format, but also the execution. Could've been one of the better seasons had it not been for everything leading up to this point.

Enjoy the Olympics, everyone! I am OUT!

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