The Bachelorette recap: A mishmash of a Men Tell All episode
Well, that was... certainly two hours of television, rose lovers. This week on The Bachelorette, producers Frankensteined together an episode that was part hometown date, part Men Tell All, part Bachelor in Paradise super-tease, and part "promotional consideration provided by" promo for Virgin Voyages, Billy Eichner's movie Bros, and The Kardashians. Oh, and Nate got a chance to rehab his image in the hot seat — just in case producers still want to name him the Bachelor.
Host Jesse Palmer begins this week's odyssey in the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, where a thirsty member of Bachelor Nation dutifully waves a sign provided by a stagehand.
He is happily married, ma'am! Anyhow, it's time for some "unfinished business."
PART 1: Rachel and Aven's Hometown Date
Location: Salem, Mass.
Family members present: Aven's mom, Dawn, and his dad, A.J.
Heading into this date, Rachel is still pretty shooketh about how Tino's family treated her during that hometown visit. Will Aven's family accept her, or will it be another festival of open hostility? "I fully expect his parents to be skeptical," says Rachel. "My fear is that they just won't like me."
This isn't just Rachel being insecure. As you may recall, rose lovers, two episodes ago, Aven told Rachel that his parents had strong negative feelings about his exes — his dad hated one and his mom hated the other. No wonder Rachel is nervous. Perhaps a visit to Crow Haven Corner, Salem's premier purveyor of witchcraft supplies, will help distract her.
As a Masshole myself, I've gotta give Lorelai props for her TOP-NOTCH accent. Because she's a wicked good hostess, the Love Witch offers to perform her patented Love Spell for her guests. "It would be my plezh-ah!"
The ritual begins with a palm reading of sorts. Producers clearly slipped Lorelai a few notes before the Bachelorette and Aven arrived, because she's essentially narrating the status of their "relationship" for the viewing audience at home. Lorelai wants Aven to Open Up™ more, and she informs Rachel that she needs "clarity" — and the only way to find it is to follow her heart. (Sorry, I mean her haaaht.)
"I wish the both of youse the best of luck!" says Lorelai. She's about to take her leave so the lovebirds can be alone, when…
As much as I'd love to blame this on producers, I think Lorelai's flowing gown simply got caught on something and she inadvertently knocked over the table while trying to steady herself. Either way, poor Rachel can't catch a break. "Our love spell just tumbled to the floor. I don't know what that means," she sighs. "I just hope it's not a bad sign."
The big parental meetup takes place at Turner's Seafood. Though they've been separated since Aven was little, both A.J. and Dawn are there to meet his new girlfriend. It's the first time they've ever met one of his significant others together. And they even coordinated their outfits!
After hugs and a wine toast, A.J. brings Rachel to the bar so they can chat alone. First, he wants to know if Rachel can see her relationship with Aven translating to "the real world" — and when she (of course) says yes, dad comes in with the million-dollar question: "Are you earnestly, sincerely, wholeheartedly ready to commit to love with Aven?" To the Bachelorette's credit, she doesn't try to dance around the question. Instead, she tells dad that while her feelings for Aven are "so strong," she cannot in this very moment say that he is her final-rose pick. "Fair enough," replies A.J.
Rachel has a similar conversation with Dawn, and both parents seem to approve of their son's new lady friend. "I like her. She's great," A.J. tells Aven. "I hope it works out." Thus emboldened, Aven decides it's time to drop the bomb on the Bachelorette: "I am, like, falling in love with you." Rose lovers, do I even need to tell you that she LOVES it?
Looks like the love spell worked. Lorelai and her broken table for the win!
With that, we're back in the Thunderdome, where Palmer informs us that all of Rachel's guys got roses after their hometown dates. (Except for Tyler, of course.) "Gabby and Rachel, they decided that after their hometowns, they weren't sending anybody home," explains the host, adding that the rose ceremonies will NOT be televised because "we just have way too many things to get to." (The footage is currently streaming on ABC.com, if you're desperate. Also, imagine being that desperate.)
On to the reunion.
PART 2: The Men Tell All (or: Glow-Ups, Blow-Ups, and Spotlight-Seeking Antics)
Holy crap, what happened to Roby?
Hmmm… is the blond hair an improvement? Don't answer that.
The discussion begins with a recap of the myriad clumsy ways the men of season 19 expressed their preferences for a specific Bachelorette. First, Jacob apologizes for how blunt he was with Gabby — "I was rude, I was selfish, I was ignorant of her feelings, I need to take ownership on that" — and then Meatball tries to explain why he initially rejected Rachel's rose. "Going into that rose ceremony, I thought if I was going to get a rose, it was going to be from Gabby."
Before he can go any further, Roby — who, I'll remind you, was eliminated on night one after spending five excruciatingly awkward minutes with Gabby and Rachel — jumps in with his 24 cents. "If you were more into Rachel, then, like, say that! Be that! Do that! Man up!"
Yikes. It seems that the Magic Man feels like he was cheated out of camera time on night one and he's determined to get it now. "Roby, you had your chance, man!" interjects Ethan. "You were there at the mansion for four hours for a reason. I mean, have some respect for the rest of us who had genuine feelings." You tell him, Ethan!
Naturally, the two biggest jackasses of the season — Chris, who was escorted out on night two after making obnoxious comments about Fantasy Suites; and Hayden, who repeatedly called Gabby and Rachel "bitches" — did not have the stones to appear in the Thunderdome tonight. (And producers still convinced some poor schmuck in the audience to dress up as Rambo, as part of a very lame reference to Hayden's dog.)
But the third biggest asshat is here to explain his bad behavior to Bachelor Nation: Please welcome Logan and his Bosley-hair-transplant-looking bangs to the hot seat!
The guys take turns roasting Logan for hopping from Team Rachel to Team Gabby, but he's not about to apologize. "I saw this moving connection with Gabby, and so I accepted a rose [from Rachel]," he says. "If that's seen as a bitch move, so be it. But I thought it was worth exploring, if it means spending the rest of my life with someone."
But Other Jordan (not the race car driver) isn't buying it. "I think in your mind, you felt like Rachel really wasn't into you, so your next [thought] was, 'If I flip, I can stay longer.' And that's what you did." Correct! Logan continues to deny that his behavior was manipulative, saying that if he misled Rachel it was "unintentional." The closest he comes to admitting any wrongdoing is when Palmer asks if he regrets switching teams. "I wish I had done it in a more graceful way," says Logan. "But I don't regret pursuing Gabby, no."
And why would he? Logan got exactly what he wanted out of this: A spot on Bachelor in Paradise! Congrats, pal. Enjoy the sickly glow of the reality TV limelight while you can.
PART 3: Jesse's Oprah Moment
Boy, Virgin Voyages is really going all-in on product placement this season.
Very annoyed that the camera wasn't on Palmer while he did his best Oprah impression: "YOU get a cruise! YOU get a cruise! YOU get a cruise! YOU get a cruise! Everybody gets a cruuuuuise!"
PART 4: Nate's Bachelor Audition
Look, most of us have loved Nate since night one. Based purely on what we've seen on the show, he's thoughtful, polite, respectful, a devoted father, and someone who was willing to speak up when guys weren't acting right. He's had "potential Bachelor" stamped on his forehead for weeks.
Palmer begins the segment by praising Nate for his "impressive" vulnerability and maturity, so it sounds like Nate's golden boy status with producers hasn't changed, despite the stories that have surfaced about two of Nate's past relationships. (Some of y'all get cranky when I link out to spoiler sites, so I won't do that here, but just google "Nate Reality Steve" if you aren't familiar with the stories.)
The host spends a few minutes asking Nate about his brutal breakup with Gabby, before turning the attention to Nate's daughter, Mila. "To be loved by the little girl is the rawest form of love that I've ever felt," says Nate. "Everything I do is for you. Baby girl, you saved me. You did. I'm a better man because of you." The audience absolutely LOVES it.
Can't blame them. It is very sweet to hear Nate talk about his daughter; he obviously loves her to the moon and back. Now that the crowd is nice and softened up, Palmer gets down to business: "There have been some allegations that you kept your daughter a secret from someone you dated for a year and a half." Nate doesn't deny it. Essentially, he says his behavior was the result of going through a "traumatizing" divorce, which caused damage to the "foundation" of his relationship with his daughter. "It just made me put a wall up protecting my daughter from the instability of my dating life," he says.
Okay, but what about the accusation that he dated two women simultaneously for months and led them both to believe that he was exclusive with them? Again, Nate does not dispute the story. "I'm deeply sorry for the way that I acted," he says. "I should have been more communicative. I should have been more clear in my intentions." Nate wants us to know that he's no longer the two-timing man he was — and that he never once lied to Gabby about his feelings.
Survey says… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯? I don't know, rose lovers. As far as sh---y men apologies go, I'll give that a 6.5 out of 10, maybe? I wish Nate had come right out and said "I'm sorry I lied" regarding the two women he dated, and perhaps showed a little more contrition about keeping his daughter a secret. That said, Nate is an electrical engineer, not an actor — and I believe he was genuine with Gabby. No disrespect to the "once an FBoy, always an FBoy" crowd out there, but I'm still gonna push the button on the right.
PART 5: "The Finest Show on Television" (and The Kardashians)
Look, most of us here are going to waste four hours a week watching Bachelor in Paradise when it starts on Sept. 27, so I'm not going to spend much time on it here. Though I do appreciate that Palmer's voiceover dubbed BiP "the finest show on television" just as THIS was happening on screen:
The most notable thing about this segment is that it revealed additional contestants who were not part of the season 8 announcement: Victoria F. from Peter's season; Hayden from Gabby and Rachel's season; at least one of the Jersey Shore twins from Gabby and Rachel's season; Mara from Clayton's season; Jessenia from Matt's season; Johnny from Gabby and Rachel's season; Rodney from Michelle's season — and those are just the ones I could identify. Who did I miss, rose lovers? Also, the promo seems to confirm that there's a Casa Amor-style twist where the women and men are forced to separate partway through the season.
Palmer wraps things up with a season 2 preview of Hulu's The Kardashians. Say it with me, kids: Synergy!
PART 6: An Audience With the Queens
Oh right, this show is called The Bachelorette! Please welcome Gabby and Rachel to the stage.
The women reiterate how thankful they are to have taken this "journey" together, especially since the whole situation was so "hard to navigate." Mario tells Gabby that he feels like she did him wrong by sending him home after he got the First Impression Rose, but Gabby turns that back around on him. "I'm sorry you think that I did you wrong, because I think I also feel the same way," she says. "To me, it still felt like you were entertaining both sides until I made that decision for you. But I also want to be chosen."
Hey, look! It's Jordan the race car driver!
Awww, remember when he got the first one-on-one date and then Rachel sent him packing that same night? Ah, memories. But Mr. V. has no hard feelings. "I appreciate you so much," he tells Rachel. "I'm just glad I got this opportunity to be a part of your journey." What a gentleman. I wonder if we'll see him in Paradise.
Enough niceties! It's time for Gabby to confront Jacob about that rude rejection. "What would you like to address with him?" asks Palmer. Nope, that's not how this is going to go, Jesse. "What would you like to address with me, Jacob?" asks Gabby instead.
Again, Jacob apologizes for his "hurtful" statements. "I'm sorry for my actions," he says, his voice breaking. "I know you may not accept this apology, but I'm truly and deeply sorry." Good news: Gabby does accept his apology! All is right with the world again.
In keeping with the mea culpa theme, now it's time for Logan to seek Rachel's forgiveness. "I think I was looking for the perfect time to have a conversation where it was private and where I could say everything I wanted to say," he explains. "But I wish I didn't wait for the perfect time or the perfect place… I'm trying to be better." Are you, though? You turned around and went on Bachelor in Paradise. Ain't nothing "better" about that, buddy.
The segment wraps on a heartwarming note, with Tyler praising Rachel for handling their breakup with "class," and Gabby thanking Nate for being "such a leader for all the men in how well you treat women." (The dude is totally going to be Bachelor.) As for the bloopers? I'll just leave you with this:
We've all been there, Gabby.
PART 7: Go see Bros, please.
I'll admit this whole cross-promotional thing took me by surprise, because Bros is a Universal movie — and Universal is not part of the Disney-ABC-Hulu conglomerate. But hey, their money is green, and Billy Eichner is, of course, the most prescient guest star in Bachelor franchise history. Skip ahead to the 2:15 mark:
Billy says he asked Colton that question "as a joke," but perhaps he's just being polite. Anyhow, just as Colton was the first gay Bachelor (that we know of), now Billy and his costar Luke Macfarlane are here to promote Bros, which is the "first gay rom-com ever made by a major studio." Hooray for progress!
Less of a hooray for this extended bit in which Billy and Luke watch clips from this season and rate the interactions as "dating dos or don'ts." For one thing, I did not need to see Gabby and Mario's awkward first kiss again. Nor did any of us need to be subjected to this horror show for a second time:
Not Billy's white pants! "This is the best moment on TV," raves Gabby, as Meatball tackles Billy Eichner to the ground.
By the time the show is back from commercial break, the stage is all clean and Meatball is fully dressed — but he's still got a little sauce ring around the collar. "I'm saving it for later!" he explains. Blech.
PART 10: Coming up on The Bachelorette…
Jesse Palmer says it's "one of the craziest endings EVER" — but it's his job to say stuff like that.
Here are the key takeaways: Something happens after Fantasy Suites to make Zach feel "blindsided," and Rachel accuses him of going back on his word. Erich tries to guilt Gabby into not sleeping with other guys during overnight dates, and someone else makes her feel that she is "hard to love." There's no sign of that moment from a previous promo where Palmer told Rachel, "You're the only Bachelorette here," and it looks like both women do show up to the Proposal Platform:
Only three episodes left, rose lovers! And after this week's installment, I can barely remember who might get engaged to whom, and whether or not I think those hypothetical engagements are a good idea. Still, I have a few questions: Did Nate redeem himself enough to be the Bachelor, or are you not buying his apology? Will you be watching Paradise? And why was the shot of Meatball's socks slipping in tomato sauce on the stage floor even more revolting than the shot of him pouring the sauce on his chest? 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?