The Bachelorette recap: Rough road ahead
Breaking news, rose lovers: Sometimes, people who appear on a reality TV show harbor a not-so-secret wish to appear on another reality TV show in the future! It may seem like a common-sense assumption to you and me, but this week on The Bachelorette, the men were shocked — shocked! — to learn that Thomas kinda-sorta thought it might be fun to be the next Bachelor.
Last we saw the men, they were spending their precious minutes before the rose ceremony yelling at Karl — who, as you'll remember, made Katie cry with his vague and manipulative claim about people not being there for the Right Reasons™. And that's where tonight's episode picks up: Katie's crying, everyone's mad at Karl, and that can only mean one thing.
Sorry John, Justin, Tre, and every other dude who didn't get time with Katie tonight. Though the Bachelorette does have time for a pre-rose ceremony pitstop with Greg, who already has a rose. He seeks her out to offer a shoulder to cry on, and she LOVES it. "It means a lot that you came out to check on me," she says, holding Greg's hands. "It still hurts that I can't be confident in everyone else in that room." Dang it, why couldn't this time have gone to literally any other man there (except Karl)? Now all these men can do is follow Michael's lead: Pop a Listerine Strip and hope for the best.
Before they head into the rose ceremony, Mike suggests that it's their responsibility "as a unit" to "protect the queen." Someone please grab Karl from the other room, where he's inexplicably shadowboxing. It's time for the rose ceremony roll call: David, Hunter, Connor C., Mike P… What's that, Mike? You'd like to address the group? Okay, go ahead.
"We've come together in solidarity [to say] that we think that, unfortunately, what Karl said wasn't the truth," Mike informs Katie, as the other men nod silently. The Bachelorette is so irked by the entire situation that she decides to take yet another break. Out in the hall, Tayshia and Kaitlyn appear to offer counsel. "I don't know what I should do because originally I planned to keep Karl tonight," says Katie. If the "hosts" do manage to offer any advice, we don't hear it; instead, Kaitlyn just reminds Katie that it's her decision, and they will back her up on whatever she chooses. So… rose ceremony roll call, take 2!
David, Hunter, Connor C., Mike P., Michael, Connor B., Quartney, Tre, Justin, Andrew M., Christian, Josh, Brendan, James, and Aaron join Greg and Thomas in the Circle of Safety™. Welp, it's time to call the freakin' military because someone needs to drag Karl out of the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa. (He goes quietly — in part because no one wants to talk to him.) Sadly, we also have to say goodbye to John, Kyle, and Garrett. With the farewells over, the men give Katie a round of applause. I have to say, I appreciate that they chose to speak out about Karl's BS rather than taking an every-man-for-himself approach. At least for now.
The next day, the date card arrives, and it's a chilly one:
"She didn't say, 'Love, Katie'?" one of the men asks nervously. That's right Aaron, Quartney, James, Connor B., David, Justin, Thomas, Hunter, and Brendan — this group date is all about emotional veracity. And who better to determine whether these men are full of crap than this guy:
Yep, it's Nick Viall, former Bachelor and current purveyor of essential oils. He'll get to the bottom of all this drama because you can't bulls--- a bullsh---er!
The men and Katie sit down in a circle, group therapy style. "I'm here to hold you guys accountable," Nick announces. "Today's about being truthful." Ghosting, leading women on, cheating, "trying to be the next Bachelor" — Nick plans to cover it all during today's emotional intervention. Okay, but can the first topic be what in the actual f--- is Connor B. wearing?
No such luck. Hunter goes first. He tearfully confesses that his first marriage ultimately failed because he focused too much on work, and not enough on his wife and two kids. "I never imagined divorce for myself," he says through his tears. "I tell you that because when I'm in that position again, I will cherish it, I will never stop maintaining that love." Dayum, way to kick things off with some heartrending honesty, Hunter! From there, the rest of the men start spilling their guts: "I wasn't the man I wanted to be"; "Did I let something slip away?"; "It was a mistake that broke some of the trust with her," and so on. Then it's Thomas' turn.
Thomas admits that when he first got cast, he had no idea who Katie was, and figured he may as well give the show a shot because "yeah, you can build a great platform from it." Of course, he goes on to say that everything changed once he met Katie: "The feelings that I have for you are real." Then, in a brilliantly sneaky flex, Thomas starts confessing to other toxic behavior — because the dude knows it's all gonna come out while the show is airing anyway! "There's people who I've led on," he says. "I went on a date a week before I left." All the while, Thomas is "grinning like a freaking clown from a Stephen King novel," as Aaron puts it. "The speech he gave was like a sales pitch."
Speaking of things that don't sit right, it's Connor B.'s turn to bare his soul. After dropping out of grad school in his mid-20s, Connor began drinking a lot — like, "blackout drunk" drinking. He goes on to reveal that he was a mean drunk who would say "cruel and hurtful" things when he was under the influence. One night, he drank to excess and cheated on his girlfriend at a party. It was like "blowing up my entire life in one day," says Connor. Having hit rock bottom, Connor says he turned to therapy and self-help books to get himself back on the right path. "I used that [incident] to become a better man," he tells Katie.
Good for you, champ. But your shirt still looks ridiculous.
Rose lovers, you didn't think Katie would make the guys go through this therapy session without Opening Up™ herself, did you? "What I'm going to tell you, a lot of people actually don't know — including my own mom," she begins, her voice quavering. "I know you see me today as this very sex-positive woman who's very confident. She hasn't always been here." The Bachelorette goes on to say that 10 years ago, on New Year's Eve, she was "involved in a situation where there wasn't consent." For a long time, says Katie, she was in denial about what happened and even tried to "form a relationship" with the man who assaulted her — but it didn't work out.
Katie says the experience left her with deep emotional wounds, and for years she understandably had a troubled relationship with sex. "It's taken me a long time to get to where I am now," she says. "I just want you guys to know that I've come a long way."
Man, if Bachelor Nation didn't love Katie before… It's hard not to admire a woman who's willing to share such a private trauma with millions of people. Much of the time, this franchise is hot (delicious) garbage — but on rare occasions, it lets important conversations play out on a national stage. "For a long time, I felt responsible for being too drunk… too stupid," says Katie. "But it's not my fault because consent is important, and I did not give it that night." (Cue 10,000 tweets decrying the irony of the Bachelor franchise touting the importance of consent after what went down in Paradise four years ago.)
Keep those Kleenex handy, rose lovers because we're about to hear another heart-wrenching story. Back at the Casa Bachelorette, Michael is chatting with Mike P. and Andrew M. in the backyard gym. As we know, Michael is a single dad, but it turns out the "single" isn't due to divorce — it's because his wife, Laura, died from breast cancer two years ago. Jesus God, what are you trying to do to us, Team Bachelorette? We're all very fragile right now, and these sad backstories are NOT HELPING! Dang it, someone give poor Michael a hug.
"My entire life, 36-years-old, I've only told one girl I love her — my wife Laura," says Michael. "But I came here to find that spark with Katie that's really been missing in my life." (Dammit! Stop making me cry, show!)
Back to the group date! Katie arrives at the cocktail party in a gorgeous silver wrap dress — the woman loves her metallics, and I am here for it — and begins her one-on-one chats with the guys. Oh, for the love of all that's holy, what in the hell is Connor B. wearing now?
Dude, are you kidding? "You have this way of seeing people," he says. "And I haven't felt that seen in a really long time, maybe ever." Katie must have a thing for exposed thoraxes and disingenuous charm because pretty soon she and Connor B. are sucking face. Up next is Thomas, who initially tries to skirt around Katie's question about the "red flags" he mentioned in group therapy — but she holds him to it. "You mentioned you have a whole list of red flags," she says. "I want to hear them."
Just as it seems like Thomas is about to answer, we cut back to the holding pen, where the other guys are talking about (what else?) how much they don't trust Thomas. Nor should they! Because he absolutely does not answer Katie's questions — instead he just keeps backing up the sweet-talk truck. "I don't ever want a second of doubt to come into the feelings that we have," he says. "I want you to know that my intention is we're leaving getting married." The Bachelorette is definitely not buying it, and she refuses to play along with Thomas's "where should we live" game. "To be determined," she says with a strained smile. With that, she stands up and lets Thomas know that he is dismissed.
To his credit, Thomas knows that he completely tanked his time with Katie. "She was asking probing questions, and I wish I had more of a response for her," he laments. "I let that moment get the best of me." Determined to "fix" the situation, Thomas barrels headlong into making the situation worse — by pacing around in the background while Katie tries to have a serious discussion with Aaron. "Sorry, it's a little distracting," grumbles Aaron, who was literally in the middle of telling the Bachelorette about how his father's illness made him "acutely aware" of his own mortality. When Thomas finally works up the courage to interrupt, Aaron looks helplessly at Katie, who looks helplessly back at him — and then he gets up to leave. So, what was so important that Thomas needed to say?
What Thomas actually says to Katie is a bunch of rambling nonsense, but the message is clear enough: I'm falling in love with you. Ugh, and now they're kissing. Naturally, Thomas heads back to the holding pen and informs the men that he just dropped the L-bomb on Katie. Justin, please demonstrate for the group the appropriate reaction to this type of foolishness.
At least Thomas doesn't get the date rose, which goes to Connor B. (And his breastbone.) Once Katie leaves, the other men continue to roast Thomas for being a d-bag. "You gettin' extra time today, it took away from some guys," says Quartney. "It's blatantly disrespectful," snaps Aaron. "I find it disgusting." Connor B. jumps in to accuse Thomas of "toying" with Katie's emotions and "making a mockery" of this whole (air-quotes) process. Thomas, what do you have to say for yourself, man? "I didn't say that I loved her," he counters. "I said that you can't have fear without love." What? Buddy, the cameras were rolling a few minutes ago when you said, and I quote, "I told her I was falling in love with her." Hunter, please demonstrate for the group the appropriate reaction to this type of foolishness.
"That's bulls---," says Hunter. You are correct, sir. On to the one-on-one date!
Today's lucky suitor is Michael, the single dad who we all cried over earlier in the episode. And for today's date, Katie is ready to turn Michael's world upside-down.
Correction: Katie just turned her own world upside-down while trying to make a cool entrance in a dune buggy. But don't worry, folks — she's ok! The drive goes a bit smoother once Michael climbs aboard. They tear down the desert road, and she doesn't flip the car at all. Once they stop for a romantic picnic, Michael begins the process of Opening Up™. "There's something really strangely comforting and familiar with you that I feel like could really be something," he says, adding that as much as he misses his son, he feels like it's important to take time to invest in himself. "I always hear that this ends in an engagement, but… it begins with an engagement." Oh, she LOVES it. "That's so beautiful!" she cries. Yes, Michael, you can abso-f---ing-lutely kiss her!
I dunno, you guys — these two are pretty adorable.
Meanwhile, back at Casa Bachelorette, all the men are packed into the living room so they can gripe about Thomas — who, conveniently, is off in another room getting a talking-to from Hunter. "Your integrity right now is starting to be questioned," he says. "If you have this 'I don't give a s---' attitude, I think that's going to backfire on you." Thomas' response is, essentially, I don't give a s---.
Yes, Michael could have told Katie about his late wife during the picnic, but you know producers always like to have the really serious stuff come out during dinner. And that's exactly what happens. "Sixteen years ago, I saw my wife on campus. Her name is Laura, and when I saw her, I said, 'That's it. That's everything.'" (DAMMIT, YOU GUYS, I'M ALREADY CRYING.) Michael continues his story — married in 2012, had a baby in 2016 — and then, cancer. "We traveled the country aimlessly trying to find a cure," explains Michael, wiping away tears. Still, "in January 2019, she passed away."
Ooof, it's brutal to watch. Michael's weeping, Katie's fighting back tears, I'm on my couch crying like a baby. But… January 2019? That's not very long ago, and Michael's obviously still reeling from this tremendous loss. Maybe this isn't the best time to sign up for a reality TV dating show? Even if Michael insists that he's ready to "open up [his] heart" and create a "unique" relationship with Katie?
Sorry, no time for caution or concern, rose lovers — the Bachelorette has a date rose to hand out. You didn't think she was gonna send him home, did you? "This could be the start of me falling in love with Michael," says Katie, choking up. "And it's so unexpected."
Also unexpected? The fact that this episode is almost over and Katie's talking about going on the second group date. Girl, we don't have time for that — it's almost 10 p.m.! I guess we'll have to spend the rest of the episode listening to the guys rank on Thomas. "He's a pathological liar," notes Brendan — but it's hard to take him seriously when he's wearing this:
Why do all of these dudes have an urgent need to expose their man cleavage? Sheesh. Anyhow, Hunter decides that he's going to call Thomas out before the dudes chosen for the group date leave for the day. "I'm done being kind," he says.
Once the men are assembled in the living room, Hunter puts Thomas on the spot, saying that his slippery behavior feels "almost like a campaign, you know, like you want to be Bachelor. Is that something you've thought about? Have you ever considered that?" It's a simple yes or no question, which of course means Thomas begins to talk in circles: "I want to say I appreciate all you guys for being so honest and I don't have the f---ing right answers, and one of the issues that I face is I always felt I had to say something to everybody and always have those smiles…"
What? Let's try this again. Thomas, do you want to be the Bachelor? "I can't be disingenuine [sic] to you guys, and I'm not going to be," he says. "Yes, coming into this, one of the thoughts on my mind was potentially being the next Bachelor."
Look, Thomas is a douche, but at least he's brave enough to say this out loud — unlike pretty much every other man who ever appears on The Bachelorette. They've all thought about being the Bachelor! That thought alone doesn't make someone a bad person — lying and manipulating does. So, one point to Thomas for telling the truth, and negative 50 points for being an asshat. (Note: Thomas says he's now just here for Katie, not the fame — but none of the guys believe him.)
So what will the Bachelorette do when this shocking (shocking!) news about Thomas comes to light? Will she send him packing, or just "give up on this whole process," as Hunter fears? Tune in next week, rose lovers! Until then, let's discuss tonight's leg of Katie's "journey": Did Michael just overtake Greg as the frontrunner? Is Thomas a sociopath, as Aaron says, or just a fame-o-sexual? And why is Hunter constantly sniffling? Post your thoughts below!
One single woman searches for her future husband amid a sea of studs in this romantic reality series. Will you accept this rose?