The Bachelorette recap: Guess who's crashing your dinner?
This week on The Bachelorette, everyone headed to Minnesota, Nayte got the stamp of approval from some of Michelle's friends, and Chris S. learned that "impatient stalker" is not a great look.
Before we begin, quick question: Nayte is from Austin, right? Why does his travel neck pillow have what appears to be a Canadian flag motif?
I'm probably overthinking things. We're off to Minneapolis! Michelle's first stop is her parents' house, where she briefs mom and dad, LaVonne and Ephraim, on the current status of her "journey." The 11 guys left are "mature, grown men," says the Bachelorette, many of whom "check off the boxes of what I'm looking for." Mom and dad seem genuinely happy to hear that their darling daughter is making some "connections." These two are the best, aren't they?
Michelle greets her remaining suitors downtown, and then ditches them all to head off on a one-on-one date with Joe. Side note: I really wish the make-up team had chosen something a little less sparkly (and a little more sweat-proof) when applying foundation to the Bachelorette's décolletage:
The other men are disappointed that Joe, who already has the Minnesota connection with Michell, gets the first hometown one-on-one. Sorry, boys, but it's time to go back to the (promotional consideration provided by) Marquette Hotel while Michelle and Joe take the Twin Cities by storm.
First stop: Target Field, where the Bachelorette throws out the first pitch of the game. (Hey, T.C. Bear called it a strike, so it's a strike, dammit!) Next, they head to Michelle's alma mater, Woodbury High School, and smooch in front of her old locker. I don't know about you, rose lovers, but pretty much the last place I'd like to revisit is my high school. (Maybe I'd stop by the Friendly's we'd hang out at after school.) Finally, Joe and Michelle play a game of one-on-one in her high school auditorium. Her trash talk, by the way, is on point. "It's not about a girl beating you at this point," she tells him. "It's about a girl in a dress beating you." (Burrrrrrn!)
Though Michelle feels a "magnetic energy" with Joe on the court, she also can't ignore the fact that he's kind of a taciturn guy. After the game, she asks him if he's always been so reserved. Joe explains that he takes after his dad in that way; in fact, he's only seen his dad cry once or twice in his entire life. "It's hard for me to really Open Up™ to some people," admits Joe. "I'm trying to take that wall down." And she LOVES it.
Back at the Marquette, the remaining ten men are crammed onto three couches in preparation for the ceremonial Reading of the Date Card. When all the group date names are revealed (Casey, Rodney, Martin, Leroy, Rick, Clayton, Olu, Chris, and Brandon), Nayte is thrilled, because he gets the final one-on-one of the week. Chris, however, is very disappointed by Michelle's choice. "I went out on a limb for her and told her the honest truth, which is what she wanted to hear," he huffs. "Everything I said fell on deaf ears." Simmer down, Napoleon.
Gee, I wonder how the dinner portion of Joe and Michelle's date is going?
Damn! Looks like things are about to take a turn. Michelle and Joe meet up at Betty Danger's Animal Farm (formerly Betty Danger's Country Club), a kitschy theme bar/restaurant/mini carnival. Over drinks, Joe shares the story of his young life. Growing up, he played a lot of sports, and suffered several sports injuries. In college he broke a bone in his foot, and the doctor who performed surgery screwed up royally and "ended up splitting my fifth metatarsal in half." (Oh boy, I don't like this at all. Deep breaths, Kristen. Don't pass out…)
Though a subsequent surgery repaired the damage well enough for Joe to continue to compete in sports, "it wasn't the same," he says. "I didn't want to be out there because I couldn't handle it mentally." After the trauma of his injury and the botched surgery, Joe wrestled with anxiety, depression, and some very dark thoughts. "There was time where I was thinking if I even wanted to still be here," he says, his eyes welling up. "Ball was life, and that life was gone." Fortunately, Joe recognized that he wasn't in a "good place" mentally, and he decided to head home and allow himself to heal emotionally.
As a former college athlete herself, Michelle understands the depth of Joe's hurt. "You woke up fighting every day a battle that a lot of people didn't know about," she says through her own tears. "And you got through it." They share a lingering smooch, and then…
You go, Joe! No, seriously… go and ride that Ferris wheel with Michelle. Producers rented the whole place out, so it'd be a shame if you didn't take advantage of their generosity.
Group date time! And this one is Ted Lasso themed!
Just kidding, it's all about Vikings — the Minnesota Vikings to be exact.
What? These guys are in Minnesota and dressed like Vikings, so they definitely qualify as "Minnesota Vikings." (My guess: Producers blew the budget on renting out the team's stadium and they didn't have any money left over to pay some actual NFL players to appear.) What does all of this have to do with finding Michelle a husband? Nothing, really — but the Bachelorette says she's looking for a man with "bravery" and "heart," so just go with it. On to the feats of strength!
Our next Bachelor, everybody! Once everyone has had a chance to toss the log (that sounds weirdly dirty, sorry), it's time for the men to change into their ridiculous Viking costumes.
Note Chris S. there in the back. "He went from being a horse's ass to having a horse's ass," quips Casey. The next challenge involves a table of "traditional" Viking delicacies, including fermented herring and "Viking's Head Hash," which is a blend of cow brains, tongue, and cheek. Dig in, boys!
"Is it crunchy?" gasps Rodney, horrified, as his fellow "Vikings" attempt to gnaw their way through the fish. The men are grossed out, but most of them at least make an effort to sample each item. Once everyone is feeling good and nauseated, producers make the men face off in the Norse Battle of Arms (a.k.a. arm wrestling). And wouldn't you know it? The first match is between Chris and Olu. "I'm gonna forfeit," Chris mutters. Not an option, sir!
Olu wins. (We love to see it.) Honestly, the only fair match would have been Clayton versus Olu — but our future Bachelor gets paired up with Martin (and wins). Okay gents, go get cleaned up for the post-date cocktail party. (And for god's sake, Brandon, use some Listerine! Michelle deserves better than fish breath.)
The group gathers at the Semple Mansion for drinks, and everyone seems ready to have a nice night. Everyone but Chris, that is. He's still salty that Nayte got the one-on-one date while he had to eat head cheese in a football stadium while wearing a horse butt. More on that in a second. Right now, Clayton needs a little more camera time.
Look, rose lovers, I don't get it either. Clayton seems like a nice, very muscular man. He may even have a personality beyond "muscles." But we haven't seen much from him that screams "make this dude the Bachelor!" We haven't seen much from him at all! It seems like Michelle maybe thinks he's cute? And he blushes a lot around her, so… the feeling seems to be mutual? But you could say that about almost any of the guys here. Tonight, as Clayton basks in the glow of his "Ultimate Viking" win, he wants to make sure Michelle knows that he's "here for her." They chat a little bit about how Clayton is "coming out of his shell," and then Michelle says her father helped instill her with confidence and poise. "My parents have taught me so much," Clayton responds. "They're so important to me."
Let's review what we've learned so far about Clayton:
- He loves his parents.
- He has big muscles.
- He has dimples.
- He thinks Michelle has "all these great qualities."
Cool, cool, cool.
Let's move on to Brandon. The poor guy really chowed down on the gross food at today's challenge, so Michelle rewards him with a plate of… Swedish Fish! (Underrated candy, tbh.)
Awww, these two are adorable.
Back at the holding pen, Chris is stewing. "Tonight, you can tell that Chris S. is just a little bit off," notes Casey. Indeed, Chris is standing outside nursing a drink and staring into the darkness. "Have you talked to her at all tonight?" asks Martin. "No," sighs Chris. "I'm telling you, I feel like I said what I said, and then Nayte goes in there, he immediately gets a one-on-one, and I haven't spoken to her since." Exactly! Dude, that's what happens when you're on borrowed "producers asked me to keep you" time! Martin encourages his friend to tamp down any "prideful," "insecure," or "jealous" behavior… but Chris continues spiraling. Producers help him along by ensuring that every other guy gets a chance to sit down with Michelle, while he continues to wait. "I'm not sure why she's hasn't talked to me yet," he says. "I've put myself out there for her even more than I normally would."
Oh, would you look at that! It's time for Michelle to hand out the date rose.
Congrats, Clayton! And so sorry, Chris. Looks like you're SOL. "I'm in shock," he says. "I'm a fun, goofy guy. I'm playful, and I wasn't that today. You're not going to check in on me at all?" Nope. You got your special attention last week when you hijacked the cocktail party. If I were a betting woman, I'd say Michelle has seen enough. Once Michelle leaves, the guys can see that Chris is pissed. "I'm fearful of another performative display where he thinks he needs to make some sort of bold action," says Casey. "If you thought he was desperate last week, he's way more desperate this week." (Kids, this is what's known as foreshadowing.)
The next day, Nayte meets Michelle on the shores of Minnesota's famed Lake Minnetonka. (As someone who grew up in Wayzata and went to an elementary school that overlooked this lake, well… I'll admit I'm geeking out a little bit, rose lovers. If Nayte and Michelle end up going to Al & Almas for lunch, I may lose it completely.) They cruise on the lake in a pontoon boat for a bit, and then Michelle docks it and informs Nayte that their one-on-one is about to become a group date. But not the kind he thinks.
Meet Allie and Tia, two of Michelle's best friends. "I haven't asked the hard questions in the past," explains the Bachelorette. "Allie and Tia, they've seen that, and they just jump right to the hard questions." Indeed, the first thing they want Nayte to tell them is which men in the house aren't there for the Right Reasons™… because that's a totally normal thing friends would ask and not a planted question designed to help producers construct the episode's anti-Chris narrative. Nayte dutifully fills the women in on Chris's theatrics last week, and how he was targeted as a cocky d-bag — but Nayte also wants Tia and Allie to know that he's confident, not cocky. "When I spend time with Michelle, I know that there's something going on here," he explains. "I had that confidence."
Michelle's friends can see that she and Nayte have "physical chemistry," and the Bachelorette reveals that she once choked up saying goodbye to Nayte. "I like what I see right now," says Tia. "I love the way you guys look at each other," adds Allie. The whole day "went better than I could have even imagined," gushes Michelle. "It made me really excited about him." Okay, you crazy kids — time to "purify" yourselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.
RIP Prince. That night, Michelle and Nayte don matching white outfits and meet up for dinner in an event room at the football stadium (!). They discuss relationship goals — he wants someone who is a good communicator and likes to have fun; she wants someone who's not afraid to be vulnerable — and Michelle reveals that her last serious relationship was so unhealthy, it literally made her sick. As she got worse, her boyfriend eventually bailed, saying he couldn't deal with it. "He basically said, 'I can't do this anymore,'" she recalls. "He did that when I was at my sickest." It was only after she broke up with this toxic boyfriend that Michelle began to recover — and her parents took care of her "every step of the way." All of this is the Bachelorette's way of saying that she will never again settle for a man who does not treat her with the care and respect she deserves.
Meanwhile, back at the Marquette Hotel…
Oh, crap. Who let Chris out of his room? All night the guy has been griping about Nayte and whining about "feeling really played" by Michelle. "I still think she should be making a huge mistake," he says. "I have a lot to say to her and it can't wait." Actually, it totally can… but waiting doesn't make for good TV. Chris climbs into the Stalker SUV waiting for him at the front of the hotel and heads to U.S. Bank Stadium. "She says she wants somebody to make her feel seen and show up," explains Chris. "I'm gonna show up." And that he does.
"Hey, can I please speak with you for one moment?" Chris asks the astonished Bachelorette. "Just one moment. It's important." Nayte seems totally fine with it.
Jk, jk, he's very angry. Michelle is similarly annoyed, but she knows the only way to get rid of Chris is to grant his very bizarre request. "I'll be back in a sec," she tells Nayte, and then heads outside with the interloper. "I feel really insecure being here," admits Chris, launching into a whole speech about how he feels "disappointed" and "played" by her unwillingness to listen to what he had to say about Nayte. "I came to say that I warned you, and I don't want you to make the wrong decision."
Now, if you were thinking that Michelle would absolutely LOVE being yanked out of a romantic dinner to get scolded by a mansplain-y commodities broker… well, you'd be wrong. And it only gets worse. When the Bachelorette informs Chris that she was "caught off guard" and "frustrated" by his showy outburst at the cocktail party, Chris shoots back, "Then why did you put a fake smile on at the group date and be fake with me all day if that was on your mind?"
Wow, what a charmer. It's time for Michelle to shut it down. "I appreciate you wanting to look out for me," she says. "But at the same time, I can speak for myself." Damn right, mama! And right now, Michelle has two words she would very much like to speak to Chris S.:
"I just don't see this relationship progressing," says the Bachelorette. "So, I do need to walk you out." Bye, you weird little man! No doubt we'll see you in Paradise.
Now, where were we? Oh, that's right.
Nayte gets the date rose, and then he and Michelle smooch on the balcony as fireworks explode behind them.
Somehow, there are still like 20 minutes left in this episode. The final cocktail party begins with Michelle and Rick taking a leisurely stroll down the darkened city streets outside the hotel. Rick, who is currently based in LA, says he'd consider moving to Minnesota — but he doesn't sound too convincing. They pass a man playing a painted piano on the street (one of the city's Pianos on Parade, perhaps?), and Rick pulls Michelle in for a dance.
It's a sweet moment. And the piano player's face appeared to be blurred out, so it's possible he was not planted there by producers. "If that ain't a sign, I don't know what is," purrs Michelle, giving Rick a smooch.
Hey, look! It's Brandon's birthday!
Okay, but why would anyone put fruit on cake? Fruit is the opposite of cake, and never the twain shall mix.
The rest of the night is fairly uneventful, until Martin puts his foot in his mouth by telling Michelle that the women in Miami are "very high-maintenance." Oh boy, now you've done it, Martin. What do you mean by that? "Just, like, expecting somebody just to do absolutely everything for them," he stammers. "Just because a man is a man, [he shouldn't] have to do everything for somebody. Because it also takes away from the power that females have."
Nice try, but [loud buzzer noise]. Michelle isn't satisfied with Martin's answer either, and she asks him to explain what makes a man high maintenance. His answer: "Usually a man doesn't go into a relationship saying, 'Hey, you're gonna take care of me.'" And… a woman does? Oh, no. No, no, no. All Michelle can do is laugh in Martin's face. Surely, she'll send this meathead home tonight, right? Right??? Even Martin knows he's in danger after that blunder, though he continues to insist that Michelle just didn't understand what he was trying to say. (Blech.)
Rose ceremony roll call: Rick, Olu, Brandon, Martin (!!), and Rodney join Joe, Clayton, and Nayte in the Circle of Safety™. Okay, WHAT? She chose Martin over Leroy and Casey? Seriously, she chose him over LEROY? HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? Clearly she thinks Martin is hot, but the dude is a walking red flag — HOW CAN SHE CHOOSE HIM OVER LEROY? LOOK AT HIM!
It's going to take me a while to get over this, rose lovers. While I sit over here seething, please take a minute to share your thoughts with me. Is Joe a possible frontrunner along with Nayte? Is there any chance Table Guy makes it to hometowns? And HOW THE HELL DID SHE SEND LEROY HOME INSTEAD OF MARTIN? NO, I WILL NOT STOP YELLING ABOUT THIS! POST YOUR THOUGHTS BELOW!
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One single woman searches for her future husband amid a sea of studs in this romantic reality series. Will you accept this rose?