Welcome back, Bachelorette fans, to another week in
paradise Minnesota…? This week, Michelle and her men are off to the Midwest to learn what kind of corn-fed, homestead folk Michelle hails from. This is rich. Can you imagine waking up in beautiful, sunny Palm Springs only to have to try and feign excitement about vacationing to a city that’s covered in snow and rock salt nine months out of the year? But the men do try their best. You can tell they’re all racking their brains for any factoids about this place off of which they can build a sufficient knowledge base. I fear they got as far as watching the opening credits of The Mighty Ducks before calling it a day.
While the men look indifferent at best about having to fly coach to the crockpot capital of the world, Michelle seems absolutely jazzed about dragging 11 dudes in skinny jeans to her hometown. You can tell this is a real gag for her. The last guy she wanted to bring home to mom ghosted her on the apps, only to reappear randomly when he ran into her while she was vacationing in Palm Spring—oh wait…
MICHELLE: This is the perfect place to show these guys what I stand for
Ah, yes. Outlet malls and movie theaters. You can practically smell the Auntie Anne’s and Axe body spray. I wasn’t aware that her values so closely aligned with the clientele at a Chili’s happy hour, but it’s good that we’re finally getting to meet the real Michelle.
I’ll start with some of the highlights from this episode, which include Minnesota Joe scoring the first one-on-one date of the week. This pick was confusing for me. She chose him so she can show him around the town he’s actually from? What sights could he possibly be introduced to? The view from her cousin’s basement where he plays 18 hours of Call of Duty every day?
I see my intuition was not far off. Michelle spends most of their date giving Joe a tour of her old high school. Again I ask… why? The only way I would willingly set foot in my high school again is if I was bound to some sort of centuries-old witch’s curse that required it of me—and even then I might take my chances. What would I even say to a suitor about high school? “Here’s where my crush asked out another girl right in front of my face because he didn’t know I existed, and over there is where I almost failed remedial math!”
But Michelle is definitely living out some sort of high school horn dog fantasy. While I don’t think she was dating Joe pre-filming, I do think she knew of him (perhaps from his Mr. Basketball days) and had a massive crush on him. It’s the only explanation for how gaga she is when he’s given us nothing but soft-spoken, single-word answers for weeks. For example, I’ve seen them reenact this Love & Basketball-esque pickup game at least once an episode, but I’ve yet to see them actually have a meaningful conversation that wasn’t about him ghosting her.
Eventually Joe does open up to Michelle. During the evening portion of the date, he reveals how harmful the title “Mr. Basketball” was to his psyche, especially when he left his high school glory days behind to play college ball. He says that the transition left him feeling anxious and depressed and (trigger warning) even alludes to being suicidal. I think before this date Michelle was thinking he was just a hot jock, but this conversation cements Joe as a Real Person with Actual Feelings and Human Emotions that exist outside of her Love & Basketball fantasies. You never know, it might just work for these two crazy kids!
Nayte The Great
Despite being at the center of the drama last week, Nayte redeemed himself during his one-on-one date this week with Michelle. I’m not surprised Michelle chose Nayte, one of her favorite boyfriends, to take on a date to one of her favorite places: Lake Minnetonka.
Look, I know that little hobgoblin Chris S. complained about Nayte thinking he “has this in the bag” but that’s because he absolutely does. Nayte has been my one to watch since week one. He became the frontrunner after scoring both the first impression rose and the first kiss. The next step for Michelle? Introducing him to the gals!
After a day of boating, Michelle wants Nayte to meet her two best friends, both of whom look like a walking ad for a Francesca’s jewelry sale. I will say that I’m living for Michelle’s bitchy friend, because I am this friend. While Michelle and Nayte are draped in white linen (appropriate attire for a lake day) the friend is sitting there in her slinkiest black bodysuit ready to wreak absolute havoc. The first words out of her mouth to her bestie’s new BF? “Do you have enemies?” I may have screamed. Cut to Nayte, who looks like he would rather not answer that question until his lawyer is present. I don’t blame him! This crowd is tough.
But eventually Nayte wins them over the way he won Michelle over—and probably every other woman on planet Earth—by
being charmingly authentic whispering into the shell of her ear, “I’m 6’8.”
The Rest of the Men Still Ain’t Shit
Since this is a recap of the episode and not my personal diary, I suppose I must mention the other men competing for Michelle’s attention—or whatever scraps are left of it after those one-on-one dates.
Going into the group date, Michelle tells us that she wants the guys to create “more small moments” with her, to which I say, then she shouldn’t have taken them to a football stadium. First of all, MY GOD, MORE SPORTS?? If I wanted to watch this much athletic prowess I’d rewatch Friday Night Lights. Secondly, the real problem isn’t with the men’s behavior. It’s that Michelle keeps taking them to do things they actually want to do. That’s not how dating works, honey! I don’t take my dog to the dog park and expect her to spend the entire time looking soulfully into my eyes. I take her there so she can start shit with the labradoodle and mark her territory on every other bush. Why Michelle expects her men to act any differently is beyond me.
The group date functions less like usable footage ABC actually thought we would want to watch and more like a propaganda reel to convince us that Clayton deserves to be the next Bachelor. And even that fails in its endeavor when Chris S. takes center stage in the drama (more on that later).
During the date, the guys compete for yet another totally made-up, hyper-masculine title: Ultimate Viking. So, let me get this straight. So far the guys have competed for the title of Maverick, Bella Twin and now… Viking? A competition, mind you, that’s being judged by two guys who definitely stormed the capital on January 6th. What kind of chaotic thematic messaging is happening on these group dates??
While Clayton ends up winning the title of Ultimate Viking (for no apparent reason other than that he’s really good at yelling loudly), it’s Chris S. who ultimately ends up stealing the date storyline—and the show. He spends the majority of the group date pouting over the fact that Michelle gave Nayte the second one-on-one date and just generally overcompensating for his tiny hands. He wonders why Michelle isn’t seeking him out after he so kindly hijacked her rose ceremony last week. Where are her manners!
There’s something about Chris S. that I can’t put my finger on, but I think it’s that he might be a secret incel. Like, he definitely has a little manifesto of all the pretty women who have wronged him in his life. There’s an entitlement to him that feels both laughable and dangerous at the same time. Like the office buffoon who you joke about always hitting on you to your work wives only to find out that he circulated a Photoshopped image of your head on a nude woman’s body to the guys in accounting. He paints himself as a nice guy, as a victim, and then psychologically tries to manipulate women into buying into his narrative. It’s disgusting.
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While Nayte is on his date with Michelle, the camera constantly cuts back to Chris S. at the hotel, quietly seething like the bridge troll he is. It’s clear Chris S. knows he’s going home and is trying to milk his five minutes of drama for all it’s worth. I don’t respect it, but I understand it.
Case in point: Chris S. decides that he needs to confront Michelle DURING HER ONE-ON-ONE DATE WITH NAYTE to grill her about why she isn’t showing him enough attention. Chris says he feels “played” by Michelle and she visibly recoils. Lol I can’t wait for her to verbally stone him on national television. GO OFF, SIS.
MICHELLE: You spoke for me and I can speak for myself.
She politely tells Chris that their journey together has ended, which is the nicest banishment I’ve ever seen. I would have liked more fire and brimstone myself, but I suppose we can’t always have nice things.
Something I’ll note is Nayte’s reaction. It was, after all, his date that was crashed by Lord Farquaad. Instead of starting a fight or calling Chris a little “bitch baby” (*cough* Aaron *cough, cough*) he says that he doesn’t need to know about Michelle’s relationship with Chris or her reasons for sending him home. He wants to focus on their relationship and the rest of their date. See, this is the way you handle insecurities and jealousy: by trusting the person you’re with. Take note, boys.
The last thing I’ll mention is that Martin—and I cannot emphasize this enough—still sucks. He has a conversation with Michelle during the rose ceremony in which he tells her that she doesn’t give him enough unique compliments and that also he hates high-maintenance women.
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I think his exact words were he hates high-maintenance women and all the women in Miami are “verrrry high maintenance.” What’s fun is watching Michelle’s face during this interaction, which says she’s immediately siding with every woman in Miami over Martin. I mean, this is coming from a man with bleach blonde roots and enough layered necklaces to fuel an Uncommon James Instagram ad. You can’t spell high-maintenance without the letters M, A, and N. I’m just saying…
And that’s a wrap for this week! Michelle doesn’t send Martin home just yet (for shame), so I guess my retinas will have to survive another week of the visual assault that is his general appearance. Greaaaat.
Images: Craig Sjodin / ABC; Giphy (4); @bitchelorette_ /Instagram (1); @bachelorettewindmill /Instagram (1)