The Bachelorette recap: No, they're not smarter than a 5th grader
It's never too early for a man to disappoint you, rose lovers. That's the lesson we — and Michelle — learned this week on The Bachelorette when Jamie went from "possible husband material" to "unpleasant liar" in the course of a two-hour episode.
Michelle's "journey" begins, as so many have before, with a tray of breakfast pastries that will remain untouched.
Here's hoping someone on the crew gets to enjoy those croissants once shooting is over.
And the first group date of the season goes to… Brandon, Romeo, Rick, PJ, Will, Olumide, Casey, Daniel, LT, and Peter! On Katie's season, the major theme for most group dates was "sex positivity," because… well, because Katie owns a vibrator. This season, we'll get two group date themes, both of which will appear in this episode. First up:
School is in session, boys! Michelle has invited three of her "friends" (a.k.a. three kids from central casting) named Mia, Riley, and Kennedy to help put her potential husbands to the test.
I tried to do the first quiz question (2,021 x 18) in my head and naturally got it wrong. At least I'm not alone: Peter and Will were wayyyy off with their answers. The children delight in yelling, "WRONG!" at the men any time they flunk a question, which is often. Mia, for one, is particularly stern.
The little taskmaster is very displeased when Peter repeatedly tries to get the Bachelorette's attention during the "chemistry test" portion of the date. "Michelle!" he stage-whispers. "Michelle! Michelle!" Finally, Mia has had enough. "LEAVE HER ALONE!" she stage-whispers back. In related news, Mia is my new queen.
After crapping out in math and chemistry, Peter has one more shot to redeem himself, and fortunately, it's an activity that does not require intellectual prowess.
Turns out, Peter is pretty good at musical chairs — in part because he's more than willing to physically force another grown man to the ground in order to secure a spot. Still, he loses to PJ the firefighter.
Spelling proves to be the final humiliation for the guys. Brandon J. flubs the spelling of "protein," while Peter gets the word "limousine" wrong — and he also fails to impress Michelle with the fact that he owns a pizza parlor. The other guys are getting real tired of watching Peter try to grab the spotlight, so when it comes time to spell "narcissist," this happens:
Dang, shots fired! "He was heated!" giggles Will. "His face was red as tomato sauce. You know it was — I seen it!" He is not wrong; Peter is very angry about Will's mean joke. "I felt like I was shining in that group," he fumes. "He's known me for two, three days — he has no idea who I am!" That's true, Peter. But now is your chance to show Michelle who you are by acting like a grown-ass man and not blowing this situation out of proportion. More on that in a moment.
At the post-date cocktail party, Michelle razzes Brandon for his bad spelling — and he handles it with good humor: "I'm always going to try for you." He keeps almost leaning in to kiss her but can't quite pull the trigger. It's really too bad because if Brandon J. had just gone in for the kiss — which Michelle seems to want — he wouldn't have kept talking and said this, "I'm just trying to remember every single part of you… so I can go home and have a dream about you and wake up and realize, my dream girl is real."
Blech. "Oh my God, stop! That was terrible!" moans Michelle. "You, like, looked that up on the internet, like, 'How to Get Girls.'" Thank goodness she called him out on that garbage. But the Bachelorette clearly likes Brandon J., and they do finally end up sharing a smooch.
"Not a good speller whatsoever," says Michelle. "But there were definitely sparks flying with Brandon."
While the Bachelorette is off chatting with Olumide, Peter decides to pull Will aside to discuss the "narcissist" incident. It's clear from the get-go that this "chat" is not going to go well, which is a shame because these guys obviously have a lot in common. For one thing, they both love shirts with loud, ugly patterns.
"I just thought that it was really inappropriate of you to call me a narcissist when I was completely defenseless," says Peter. Will insists he was just "trying to have some fun," but things immediately begin to escalate, and the guys are just shouting over each other. "Pizza this, pizza that! I'm tired of hearing about pizza!" "I don't have to talk to you about Michelle! Your name's not Michelle!" and so on.
Meanwhile, back at the guys' suite… Knock knock knock! There's an Accent Table of Doom at the door! Who will get the coveted first one-on-one date of the season? Leroy reads the card aloud: "Jamie, I'm looking for someone to be my rock." Oh, okay! Jamie. He seems like a nice guy. Surely, he's going to be excited by this good fortune. Let's listen in: "I think a big portion of this first part is, yo, are you right for me? Personally, I have a wild life. I travel to third-world countries with a day's notice by myself… That one-on-one is important for me, too, to make sure, hey, I'm spending my time in the right place." Uh-oh. The men do NOT love it.
I mean, Jamie has a point — the guys should be evaluating whether Michelle is a good match for them rather than just wanting to "win" her because she's the Bachelorette — but he probably could have expressed these thoughts with a little less of a cocksure attitude.
You guys, sorry to jump back to the date, but I think Michelle really likes Table Guy? And I think I'm rooting for him, too?
Rick's little "homework" exercise was cute, and the Bachelorette does seem to have chemistry with him. Weird, but I'm also okay with it.
Once she and Rick are done smooching, Michelle pulls Peter aside to ask him about the fight he had with Will, which she — and everyone else within a 20-yard radius — overheard. The Bachelorette is not really interested in the whole "he called me a narcissist" situation. Instead, she wants to talk to Peter about how he handles his anger. After all, if they form a relationship, someday she will inevitably make him angry, "and if you're standing there screaming, at that point nothing is gonna come across." This is her nice way of telling Peter, get your rage issues in check, bro, or you WILL get the boot. Michelle knows what she deserves, and she is not about to settle for a shouty a-hole.
She will, however, accept a man who can't spell the word "protein." That's right, folks: Brandon J. gets the date rose!
Sorry, Table Guy (and everyone else who knows that there are many exceptions to "i before e, except after c").
The next day, Michelle dons a hot pink athleisure wear ensemble and picks Jamie up for their date. They drive to Joshua Tree National Park for a picnic… here:
Yep, it's the opposite of the "love is like a leap of faith" date — it's the "love is like a hard, steep, dangerous surface that you must cling to for dear life lest you plummet to your death" date.
Look, I'm not going to make fun of this date activity because there is no way I could make it up that rock face. Jamie does a nice job encouraging Michelle as she slowly makes her way up the formation, and the Bachelorette appreciates it. "I feel like a lot of times in a relationship… I'm the person that coaches," she says. "But today, Jamie was coaching me, and it was very refreshing." Cheers to supporting without mansplaining!
As they sip their champagne and celebrate the fact that neither of them broke any bones, Michelle tells Jamie how much she's enjoying their date. "I'm really glad I brought you," she says. "You are not a complainer, which I really like." (Pssssst: This is what's known as foreshadowing.)
Later that night over dinner, Jamie shares some details about his upbringing, which wasn't the picture-perfect childhood that Michelle had. His mom was 18 when she gave birth to him, and she and his father, who was 21 at the time, never got married. "The beginning portions of my life were amazing," he says. "But then my mom had a lot of issues with mental health, and things just started to spiral down."
When he was around 12, Jamie saw his mother attempt to cut her wrists — which sent his family's life even deeper into crisis. Jamie and his sister dealt with the stress of caring and fearing for their mother throughout their teenage years; she ultimately died by suicide when Jamie was 24. It's a terribly sad story, and Jamie says it took him a long time to figure out how and why to live his own life. Michelle is understandably emotional after hearing this story and marvels at how Jamie developed into "this beautiful person sitting before me" despite experiencing such trauma. "I'm beyond impressed," she says tearfully.
Do I need to tell you that Jamie gets the date rose? Of course not. Unfortunately, I am obligated to inform you that it's time for our first "private" concert of the season, starring a young woman named Caroline Jones.
Shudder. It's never not awkward.
The next morning, before group date number two can commence, Joe gets some bad news from his mom.
It turns out that Ken Novak, Sr. — a well-known basketball coach in Minnesota and one of Joe's mentors — has passed away. "We're about to go on this basketball date," says Joe through his tears. "I think Novak would be the type of person who would want me to go out there and hoop." Awwww, Joe, that's sweet. Do it for Coach Novak!
On the b-ball date today: Joe, Clayton, Rodney, Martin, Mollique, Chris S., Chris G., Pardeep, Nayte, and Spencer. They'll be getting schooled on the court by Michelle and two of her "friends" from the WNBA.
As a former Minnesota Gophers basketball player, and the winner of Minnesota's Mr. Basketball award in 2011, Joe dominates the other men on the court. When it's time for him to go one-on-one with Michelle, there's so much flirty sports banter going on between them, some of the guys seem a little jealous.
Anyhow, this is all leading up to a classic 5-on-5 game, where the winning team gets to spend more time with Michelle, and the losing team must go home covered in shame.
In the Before Times, Chris Harrison and Fred Willard (RIP) would provide the play-by-play for this Bachelorette Basketball Battle — but those days are over. This time around, KESQ sports anchor Blake Arthur steps in to take over the commentary. "Red team looks like they've never been on a basketball court," he notes drily. Indeed, the blue team — Rodney, Martin, Spencer, Nayte, and Chris S. — does seem to be running away with it. When Pardeep misses a three-pointer by about 10 feet, Arthur is not kind: "He couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat, folks."
At halftime, Michelle tries to give the red team a little encouragement. "C'mon, Mr. Basketball," she says, squeezing Joe's shoulders. "Lock it in." The pep talk works, and Joe — with a decent assist from Mollique — begins driving up the red team's score. At the buzzer, though, the final score is agonizingly close, and the blue team beats the red team by one point. Please, please, please have Michelle decide that both teams get to go to the cocktail party… Dang it! Instead, she awards Joe the MVP and invites him to come along while the rest of the red team must head back to the hotel.
Even though he's an interloper, Joe gets the first one-on-one chat with Michelle at the post-game cocktail party. He uses the time to garner a little sympathy by telling Michelle about the death of his beloved coach and how this group date helped him cope with his feelings of sadness. "You don't have to have a game face on all the time," she says, rubbing his back gently. "I do feel like we have this level of understanding. I don't know if it's basketball, I don't know if it's Minnesota, I don't know if it's both." Wouldn't you know it? Joe feels it, too.
They shoot a few baskets and then smooch some more. Meanwhile, back at the hotel suite, the Scarlet Sadsacks have just arrived home.
The other men are surprised to learn that Joe was voted MVP and therefore got to go to the party, even though his team lost. And thus, the seeds of discontent have been planted. The same seeds are sprouting back on the group date, as the men waiting (and waiting) in the holding pen for Joe and Michelle to come back from their alone time are starting to worry that Joe has the advantage. All of them except Nayte, that is, who says he's confident in his "connection" with the Bachelorette. Exhibit A:
Still, Joe gets the group date rose — thus watering the seeds of discontent that were planted earlier. Let the drama bloom!
Michelle, dressed in a metallic magenta gown with a plunging neckline, looks so gorgeous when she arrives at the final cocktail party of the week that the men give her a standing ovation. Rodney, a.k.a. "Granny Smith," gets the first one-on-one meeting with the Bachelorette — but it's actually more of a quiz than a chat.
"I want to know if you can actually pick out a Granny Smith apple," says Michelle. "Because you don't know your apples, and this is something that's important to me." Rose lovers, I wish I could tell you that Rodney redeems himself with this apple test, but his performance is pathetic. He takes a big bite of a Gala apple and immediately declares it a "sour green apple, Granny Smith, absolutely!" Next, he chomps on a Granny Smith apple and announces with confidence that it's a "Fiji red apple." The man can't even identify pizza! ("What is that, girl? Is that lasagna?") Rodney is so bad at this game, I can't help but wonder if he's just trolling us. Either way, Michelle thinks the whole thing is pretty adorable.
While Rodney and Michelle are busy with their apple-based flirting, some of the other guys are standing around gossiping about Joe. "To me, it seems like they know each other from before," says Martin. Spencer agrees that "something's up" and says it would be "almost shocking" if they didn't know each other, given that they both run in the same Minnesota basketball circles. Still, both Spencer and Mollique say they're not going to spend any time investigating this mystery because they need to focus on building their own relationships with Michelle.
Now Jamie jumps in and says the situation does bother him because if Joe and Michelle do know each other, it's not fair to him or the other men. Later, Jamie informs Martin that he heard from a friend who said he saw Michelle leaving a bar in Minneapolis. This friend then met his girlfriend and her friends inside the bar, and they told him Michelle was already "boo'd up" with a "tall, light-skinned baller."
Great, so Jamie is stirring up drama based on a second-hand account from a friend of a friend? Cool, cool, cool. Martin finds the whole thing a little suspicious as well. "Did you kind of like forget about that piece of information?" he asks Jamie, who claims he didn't even think about it until other people started talking about Joe. Sure, Jan dot gif. "I have to say something to Michelle," he tells us. "I couldn't call somebody my partner if they had these things going on."
When he sits down to "address" the situation with Michelle, though, Jamie pretty much lies to her face. "There's been a whole bunch of talk today, about… maybe you might have known Joe before here," he says. "For me personally, I just don't really care because I feel like whatever happened before getting here has nothing to do with me. But, like, everybody else keeps feeling it."
This man even has the nerve to suggest to Michelle that the other guys are questioning her "authenticity" in this "process." And THEN he has the nerve to tell Michelle that the entire viewing audience might be questioning her integrity — which he does by relating the story about his friend's girlfriend's friends saying Michelle was already "boo'd up" with another man. Aw! Hell! No! It's a perfectly executed villain move. Jamie has just set himself up as the Trustworthy Guy™, the one who's willing to share difficult information with her because he just cares so much.
The Bachelorette is understandably upset by this bombshell, and she informs Jamie that she needs to "take a minute" to collect her thoughts.
"I want to find my person, but my person has to believe in me — and I'm not sure who does right now," Michelle says. While she's standing outside contemplating the future of her "journey," producers send Tayshia in to offer counsel. The Bachelorette fills her in on the (false) intel, that "there's been a ton of talk in the house" about her relationship with Joe. "It's hard because you can do all of these things to show your true character, and then it's, like, questioned," she murmurs. "I don't know who to trust." Tayshia encourages Michelle to tell the guys what's up, and that's just what Michelle does.
No, she did not know Joe or anyone before coming on the show. Yes, she messaged with Joe twice and then he ghosted her. And no, just because she's spotted out at a bar or dinner with another Black man, it does not mean they're dating. "Being a woman of color in Minnesota, any time I'm with a man of color, we're a couple — that's what everyone sees it as," says Michelle. "I could have a romantic dinner with a white guy in a restaurant and nobody would say, 'Oh, they're a couple.' But because it's another Black man, we're supposed to be together — and it's frustrating because I'm open to all of you."
Preach it and teach it, Ms. Young! Though she opens the floor for questions, the men just sit in silence — because most of them (except Jamie, Martin, and Spencer) have no idea what she's talking about. When no one speaks up, Michelle excuses herself, and the men are left to figure out what the hell just happened. "Man, did I miss every conversation happening in the house?" wonders Rodney aloud. "I haven't once talked about them two knowing each other." Peter agrees. "I feel so lost," he mutters, while Will realizes the real problem: "She thinks now that we… as a house question her character."
Soon they're all wondering who could have possibly given the Bachelorette that idea. "Does anyone want to own that?" Casey asks the group. "Does anyone want to step up and say they talked about Joe to Michelle?" Pssst, Casey — he's right in front of you.
But Jamie is no fool — he's not about to let this group of angry guys know that he's the one who started this whole mess. "Yeah, it didn't feel very comfortable being the one that everybody's talking about," he admits. "I'm not gonna jump in and be like, 'Yeah, it was me.'" Instead, Jamie fake commiserates with the other men, pretending that he's just as annoyed at the mysterious bad actor as everyone else. Everyone mills around, frustrated and worried that Michelle is so upset she's going to cancel the rest of the cocktail party. Sure enough…
"Michelle is very emotional," says Tayshia. "She feels like her character was in question." Kaitlyn goes on to say that the Bachelorette is just too "emotionally drained" to continue the party, so… rose ceremony roll-call!
Nayte, Rodney, Martin, Rick, Leroy, Spencer, Casey, Chris G., Mollique, Olu, Chris S., Will, Romeo, LT, Clayton, and Peter join Brandon J., Jamie, and Joe in the Circle of Safety™. So sorry, Alec (who?), Pardeep, Daniel, and PJ — looks like you'll have to hold out hope for Bachelor in Paradise season 8. And congratulations to you, Jamie, for getting away with your pot-stirring BS — at least for tonight. By the looks of next week's preview, your secret won't be safe for long.
Now that week two is in the books, rose lovers, I've got a few questions: Is it me, or is Rodney kind of great? Do you think Joe has an unfair advantage after a few DMs? And was anyone else's world rocked by the news that LT is Clint Eastwood's "secret" grandson? 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?