?The Bachelorette? 2012 Recap: Romance, Puppets Amble Along In Prague

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The Bachelorette cast and crew went to Prague this week, where a major player was eliminated, and a promised dramatic conflict was anything but.

Emily Maynard gave fellow single parent Doug the axe. (Fans recall that he was the one who alerted Maynard when ex-contestant Kalon referred to her daughter as baggage.) The more reserved and mysterious John also got the axe. Though fans were holding on to the hope that Maynard might end up with another single dad and create the perfect reality blended family, neither elimination came as an enormous shock: Both Doug and John were in the bottom two in last week's episode. Maynard was unable to choose between them, so she handed out an extra rose. Doug made a weepy exit, while John seemed more stunned than sad.

Eliminations aside, this episode was fairly smooth sailing. Maynard continued to spout historical facts about the Czech Republic capital, just like she did in London, although this time it didn't seem quite as scripted or forced.

Her one-on-one date with Arie started off pleasantly enough. He speculated that it would be great to get married in one of these giant cathedrals. But first, Maynard needed to sort out some information about his dating past.

Episode previews showed the Southern belle getting upset with Arie for not disclosing his past relationship with a show producer. (The relationship was brief and took place several years ago.) But what looked like a huge problem in the teaser fizzled pretty quickly. According to show host Chris Harrison, Maynard, Arie and the producer ex discussed the matter off-camera, so viewers were spared the faux melodrama. The couple later ended their date on an upbeat note.

Maynard also had a one-on-one date with Jef, the 27-year-old boyish-looking entrepreneur from Utah who, next to Maynard, looks like he could be a (younger) relative.

Fittingly, he and Maynard spent part of their date in a puppet store. He ended up getting a male puppet and she got a female one. In a grand and sweet gesture, Jef also purchased a girl puppet for Maynard's daughter, Ricki. (She will love that, Maynard told him.) She gushed about Jef to the cameras, saying that he would be a great dad because he's kind of like a big kid himself. Indeed.

They two also spent some time in a historic library, where they flirted and canoodled on a blanket.

It was all very sweet, except at one point they played with their puppets, using the stringed toys to communicate with each other. (A hint of marriage counseling sessions to come?) Jef admitted to the cameras that expressing feelings was easier since we have these puppets, which was both bizarre and thankfully hilarious. (At this point in the show, the contestants and Maynard really have nothing interesting to say about the budding relationships. It's all annoyingly repetitive and overly sentimental. Kudos to Jef for keeping it interesting.)

Sean, he of the massive muscles and lovely blue eyes, participated in one of the most romantic scripted moments of the season. He was feeling anxious and wanted to see Maynard, so he actually ran through the streets of Prague one evening to find her.

This is a nice surprise, she said when she saw him. The two had a short but sweet romantic interlude. Sean, who earlier admitted to being upset that he would have to endure another group date with Maynard and the other guys while in Prague, decided he was now excited for it.

This was another snooze of an episode. Indeed, viewers who were hoping for another Bachelor franchise season of onscreen drama à la Ben Flajnik and Courtney Robertson must be sorely disappointed. At least the show kept production in Prague and didn't try to import another country like they did last week during the whole Scotland-meets-Croatia segment.

Next up: Hometown Week! (And back to the USA.) Maynard will meet Arie, Chris, Jef, and Sean's families. The bachelorette is a mom herself, but will she pass another mother's inspection?

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