The Bachelorette recap: Out of the mouths of baes
Well, that was… interesting, rose lovers. This week on The Bachelorette, Michelle enlisted four of her students to help her pick which men to date, and a little boy named Luke explained what producers like about the next Bachelor: "Clayton has big muscles."
Here's the good news: Now that there are only eight men left, there's a lot more room on those couches.
Now for the bad news: Half of the guys are going to get the boot this week because only four men can move on to hometowns. "This is the most critical week by far," says Clayton. Adds Rodney, "I can't imagine how she's gonna decide." Well Rodney, we'll tell you!
Meet Luke, Kelsey, Ahmed, and Jayleen. They'll be evaluating the remaining men and using their child wisdom to determine who is worthy of the Bachelorette. "These kids have been in Miss Young's classroom," says Michelle. "Day in and day out, my students teach me so much… A child's opinion can be very, very powerful."
With that, the blue-ribbon panel of pint-size husband hunters head over to the guys' suite and begin their interrogations. "We're trying to find out who the bad guys are and who the good guys are," explains Kelsey. The questions are on point: Who has the worst breath in the house? Have you ever been grounded? Can you do a handstand? That said, the kids don't really seem to be factoring the guys' answers into their decisions. Kelsey thinks Nayte might be a good match for Michelle because "like, he's tall, and I think that would be easy to play basketball with." She also has no love for Martin because she is a human female with eyes, ears, and a nose. "I don't really like Martin," she says. "He's trying to show off." Plus…
This kid knows what's up, rose lovers. Ahmed takes a shine to Rodney, even after Rodney admits to shaving his nipples. (Very annoyed that producers made that little boy ask such a stupid question.) "He was really funny," says Ahmed. "We even actually made a secret handshake." When a producer prompts Ahmed to show her the handshake, he shuts it down quick: "It's a secret handshake for a reason." BURN!
Clayton, who still hasn't had a one-on-one (or any interesting screen time), decides to win the kids over by offering to build a pillow fort with them. Not a bad idea, tbh. But if Clayton thought this activity would spare him from the kids' intense line of questioning, he was very, very wrong.
The only acceptable answer to this question is a quick and decisive, "No! Of course not!" Instead, Clayton protests that if he answers truthfully, he might "get in trouble." With a little more prompting from the kids, our future Bachelor looks straight into the camera and makes a horrifying admission.
Can we take a break, rose lovers? I think I need to lie down.
Aaand we're back! Thanks for your patience. Once Luke and Kelsey are done interviewing our flatulent future Bachelor, Luke shares this very astute observation with producers: "Clayton has big muscles. He'd be really good at carrying the groceries in." Okay, sure. But can he do this?
I'm obsessed with the completely Zen look on Luke's face as he perches on this strange adult man's back.
If it were truly up to the kids, I think the one-on-one date would have gone to Rodney or Olu (Kelsey said he made her feel "warm inside, like hot chocolate or a chocolate-chip cookie"!), but producers have a Bachelor to pimp. And the "winner" is…
The Bachelorette, who claims she has no idea who the date will be with or what the activities will be, meets Clayton out in front of the hotel. The "kids" have arranged for a stretch limo — packed with pizza, cookies, donut holes, and an assortment of candies — to pick Michelle and Clayton up for their romantic night on the town. The first stop is the Bell Museum of Natural History, which the couple has all to themselves. They engage in some silly games, like creating their own "mating call" and "catching" little plastic butterflies that are adorned with "get to know you" questions. (Clayton's favorite holiday: Thanksgiving. Michelle's preferred super-power: The power to heal.)
It's pretty clear from the get-go that while Clayton is smitten with Michelle, the Bachelorette is just not feeling it romantically. They share a somewhat chaste kiss in the darkened planetarium, but the chemistry Michelle has with some of the other guys simply isn't there. And so, after six long weeks, the moment we all knew was coming finally arrives.
At dinner, Clayton gushes to Michelle about how "special" the date has been for him, and how the whole night has "put into perspective" how much he does want a partner and a family. After spending so much time working over the last five years, Clayton says he's ready to stop comparing himself to other people and focus on building a future with someone. But… that someone will not be Michelle. "I care about Clayton a lot," she says. "But I'm also starting to get the feeling that something's missing for me." And so…
"You completely checked every single box of all the qualities that I'm looking for in somebody," Michelle explains to Clayton. "[But] I don't feel like I'm able to get there with you in time."
Clayton is disappointed but perhaps not too surprised? Either way, he handles it well — and not in a "great, now I get to be the Bachelor!" kind of way. "I really am thankful for this opportunity and for meeting you," he says. "I know you'll find what you're looking for, and I'm sorry I couldn't be that for you." Michelle assures Clayton that he is "this amazing, wonderful person," adding, "You are enough."
If Clayton were any other suitor, this Reject Limo shot would be the last time we'd see him on The Bachelorette (until Men Tell All):
But this is our future Bachelor, and producers know that we know (even if it hasn't "officially" been announced yet). Producers also know that we're all still like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ as to why they chose Clayton as the Bachelor, so they decided to make his "journey" just a little bit longer. Cut to:
Yep, the next day, Kelsey and Luke stop by Clayton's hotel room to give him "one last hug" and a pair of handwritten goodbye letters that definitely were not dictated by producers. Luke's note praised Clayton for being "really good at making forts" and having "lots of muscles," while Kelsey tells her new adult man friend that she is "real sad" that Michelle gave him the boot. "It surprised me because you are super genuine, and I liked you a lot," she wrote. "I hope you aren't too sad when you go home." Uh-oh, could someone get the big man some tissues?
"I haven't cried in years," says Clayton through his tears. "I just want to find love so badly and have a family." Awww, that's sweet. But I'm sorry, no 10-year-old describes anyone as "genuine." That said, Clayton seems like a nice muscular dude who matches the (all too) traditional Bachelor template. Remember why those groovy record producers chose Greg Brady to be their new star, "Johnny Bravo"? Because he fit the suit. This, rose lovers, is that.
On to the group date! Rick, Rodney, Nayte, Joe, Martin, and Olu meet Michelle at a picturesque local dairy farm. The Suitor Formerly Known as Table Guy, bless him, seems right at home:
"Rick's a natural!" marvels Rodney. Though he himself is not very comfortable milking a cow, Rodney makes a good effort and offers "Bessie" a lot of encouragement and eye contact. Martin, however, is very squeamish, and it does not go unnoticed by Michelle. "He seems like he does not want to have anything to do with touching an udder," she says. Hmmm… sounds like Martin might be a bit — what's the phrase I'm looking for? — high-maintenance.
Once they have the milk, Michelle puts the men to work outside the barn.
"Churning butter is a lot like relationships," says Michelle. "You've got to…" No, no, no. Stop. I refuse to participate in this charade. This has got to be the single most asinine simile producers have ever forced on a Bachelor or Bachelorette. Listen closely, Team Bachelorette: Relationships are not "a lot like" bungee jumping, boxing, farming, painting, dancing, driving, rappelling down an office building, eating Viking Head Cheese, or any other stupid comparison you have made or hope to make in the future. KNOCK. IT. OFF.
Anyhow, Joe wins the churn-off. He also won the milk competition and was the best at bottle-feeding the calves. But how skilled is he in the art of moving manure? After all, a relationship is a lot like shoveling s---: It's exhausting and usually ends up ruining your nice shoes. Nayte hurts his back while scooping up the poop, so Michelle steps in to help the guys out.
"She's no joke!" hollers Rodney gleefully. Turns out he and Michelle also have their own secret handshake, which ends with a little shimmy and a smooch. These two are pretty cute together, rose lovers.
At the post-date cocktail party, Michelle reminds the men that this is their last group date — so if they want a hometown date, they'd better Open Up™, and fast. Nayte takes that order to heart and uses his time with Michelle to explain his "unique family situation." Apparently, Nayte's father made it explicitly clear that he was not interested in discussing girls or relationships with his son, and so Nayte has never once wanted to bring a woman home to meet his dad. Until Michelle, of course! "You come along, and I feel like it would be so easy for me to introduce you to my dad," says Nayte. "What I'm trying to say is, I'm definitely falling for you."
And she LOVES it. "I feel strongly for you," says Michelle. "Really tumbling down a hill so fast falling for you."
Oh boy, looks like Nayte's got that date rose in the bag. Wait a minute… here comes Joe! Turns out he was so good with the baby cows because his grandparents owned a dairy farm! The whole date reminded him of his strong family traditions, the type he hopes to start with Michelle.
Okay, so could Joe be the one to beat? Rodney has a little smooch session with Michelle too, though Rick only got a hug.
Uh-oh, looks like a situation is developing in the holding pen. Remember how Martin stuck his foot in his mouth last week by telling Michelle that women in Miami are "high-maintenance"? Well, looks like he's still stewing about it. Martin thinks the conversation didn't go well because Michelle wasn't "paying attention," and that in fact she "misunderstood" what he was trying to say, which is why she got "defensive." (He's saying all this to Rick, who just nods silently — most likely because he does not want to engage.) Martin then goes on to say that while Michelle has some "childhood trauma" from growing up as a Black girl in a white community, she hasn't "worked past" it yet. "I think that's immature," he sniffs.
Rick and Olu simply cannot believe what they're hearing.
"Martin is honestly the only guy that raises red flags to me," says Olu. "Point blank, he's an a--hole. It is what it is." He's not wrong. And don't forget, out of the mouths of babes:
Same, girl. After listening to Martin's whole rant about Michelle, Olu decides he simply has to tell the Bachelorette that she's in danger of bringing a total d-bag to hometowns. To that end, he uses his one-on-one time with Michelle to inform her that Martin said she was "immature" for not being totally over her past. It's clear, says Olu, that Martin has never dealt with "these issues" — that is, being Black in a world of white privilege. Michelle thanks Olu for this intel; she knows he's "trustworthy" and she has no reason to believe that he's making this up to take out a competitor.
In a truly epic fake-out, Michelle heads back to the holding pen, picks up the date rose, and asks Martin if they can go "chat for a sec." The other men are, in a word, confused.
Don't fret, Nayte. Producers just thought it would be more dramatic for Michelle to bring the date rose when she kicked Martin to the curb. But first, the Bachelorette gives Martin a chance to explain himself. Or, in this case, lie through his teeth. When she asks him if he called her "immature," the frosty-tipped asshat claims that it's "absolutely not true… definitely not true." He starts tap-dancing and deflecting, saying he was talking about "insecurities," not "immaturity," or some BS like that. When Michelle tries to respond, Martin talks over her, and she does NOT love it.
Then the yellow-haired lug nut has the audacity to say this to Michelle: "But my love, now you're putting words in my mouth…" Aw, HELL no. "Not 'my love,'" snaps Michelle. "The whole conversation has been about how you think I should feel about it, and how I misread it. And you cut me off every time I start talking." In other words, you Bargain Basement Justin Timberlake Circa 1998: Get the funk out.
"She's making a mistake," sneers Martin. "I feel sad for her… A woman like that does not deserve my time." Whatever you say, Florida Man. See you in Paradise.
In other news: Nayte gets the date rose. Better luck next time, Joe.
The final date of the week goes to Brandon. She picks him up at the hotel, and they drive to Nelson's Ice Cream, one of Michelle's favorite summer hangouts.
The next stop is even nearer and dearer to the Bachelorette's heart: It's her childhood home! Brandon is overwhelmed and nervous, but he's relieved to learn that LaVonne and Ephraim are not home. "I thought I was meeting the parents," he says shakily. "I was like, okay, you didn't warn me at all!" Come on, Brandon — what fun would a warning be?
Michelle leads him inside, where they peruse the family photos on the wall and smooch a bit in her childhood bedroom. Then the Bachelorette suggests that they "take a dip" in the pool — and she gives Brandon a pair of her dad's swim trunks to wear. Is it me, or is that just a little gross/awkward/uncomfortable/all of the above? Swimsuits are not meant to be shared, people — especially not between fathers and random men their daughter is dating. Shudder.
Outside, Brandon and Michelle soak in the jacuzzi and smooch some more. "I feel like a boyfriend who snuck over," jokes Brandon. "We're having this beautiful moment, the weather's perfect. I'm just like, 'Nothing can go wrong.'"
Oh, Brandon. Now you've done it. Cue the "something going wrong"!
Surprise! LaVonne and Ephraim are home. I love how the show tries to pretend that mom and dad didn't know Michelle was home with a boy. Don't you think the camera crews that filmed their car pulling into the driveway and their entire walk through the house might have been a bit of a tip-off? (For Pete's sake, LaVonne even has a mic pack under her shirt!) But hey, sometimes "reality" TV requires some suspension of disbelief.
"I wish I could have met them for the first time in a better way," sighs Brandon. "But I'm just hoping they accept me for me." Once he and Michelle are dried off and dressed, they all sit down outside for a pleasant, get-to-know-you chat. Brandon scores some points with mom when he mentions that he wants three kids, which happens to be Michelle's preferred number of offspring as well. He also asks LaVonne and Ephraim for marriage advice, and their answers are ridiculously sweet: Marry your best friend, always put your spouse first, talk through your problems. "My parents seemed to really like him," says Michelle.
Everything's going well… but then Brandon asks Michelle if he can talk to her parents alone for a minute. Oh, no. No, no, no. Brandon, not yet! Please don't ask for the blessing now. We're not even down to the final four! (Also, she is not property to be bestowed on a man by her parents; please let's end this outdated "tradition.") Dammit, looks like Brandon can't hear me screaming through the TV.
"I feel so deeply for your daughter… and I want to have the happiest marriage with her," says Brandon. "But I'm an old soul, and I will not marry your daughter unless I have your guys' blessing." Oh, my GOD, rose lovers. My second-hand embarrassment was so overpowering I had to keep pausing this scene to cringe. (Also, does Brandon not know the difference between "old soul" and "old fashioned"?)
Ever the parental heroes, LaVonne and Ephraim tell the nice young stranger that if their daughter chooses him, they will of course support her decision and by extension, him. "She looks so happy," mom whispers as Michelle and Brandon walk away. "I liked him a lot."
You know what? Michelle likes him a lot, too. "You know that somebody is special when going to grab ice cream and going to your parents' house turns into one of the most special days that you've had on this journey," she marvels. "I could see a life with Brandon here in Minneapolis." (Side note: I appreciate that Michelle isn't even pretending like she'd be willing to move anywhere. If a man wants to marry her, he better be ready to buy a Canada Goose parka and settle in for some cold Minnesota winters.)
At dinner, Michelle asks Brandon who she'd meet if he took her on a hometown date. "Well, I'd like you to meet everyone," he says. "But it would definitely be my mom and dad and one hundred percent my brother." Brandon laments that he can't introduce her to his grandpa, his "best friend," because he passed away. "He showed me, like, what love is," he says. "I wanted him to meet the person I was supposed to end up with so bad." Okay, that's pretty sweet.
The night ends with Brandon giving Michelle a bracelet that his mom made for him before he left. "She said if I truly think that you're the one, then give her this bracelet," he explains. And she LOVES it. "That is probably honestly one of the most meaningful gifts I've received from somebody," says Michelle, gazing dreamily into Brandon's eyes. Then comes the cliché icing on the romance cake: "Michelle Anne Young, I'm falling in love with you." Just give him the date rose already!
You know what that means, rose lovers: There are only two hometown spots left, and four men — Rick, Joe, Olu, and Rodney — on the chopping block. Unfortunately for them, Michelle has "decided" to cancel the cocktail party because she "knows what she wants to do."
Rose ceremony roll-call! Our four remaining men are: Nayte, Brandon, Joe, and Rodney. Alas, it means we must say goodbye to two likeable dudes, Olu and Rick. To be honest, I never imagined Table Guy would make it this far — but he turned out to be a lot more than his silly limo-exit gimmick. And Olu! What a bummer. The man is built like a tree trunk, he's sensitive and thoughtful, and he does not suffer fools. Plus, who else but Olu could pull off this ensemble?
"It hurts, but it's a part of life," says Olu. "I've just got to accept that fact." Something tells me Olu won't be single for long… but if he's still not coupled up by the summer, send that man to Paradise!
With that, we have our final four. Can you believe it? Before you go, I have a few questions, rose lovers: Was I the only one dying when Brandon asked for Michelle's parents' blessing? Are Nayte and Joe the obvious final two? And are you sold yet on Clayton as the Bachelor? (Looks like Jayleen was on board months ago.) 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?