Welcome back to your regularly scheduled Bachelorette recap! So regularly scheduled, in fact, that ABC is going to air footage regardless of little things like nationwide travel schedules or annual holidays. GOBBLE GOBBLE BITCHES, The Bachelorette schedule waits for no woman! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d still be watching regardless of where Michelle’s journey fell on my Thanksgiving plans, but I’d rather be watching to actively ignore my drunk aunt humble-bragging about her son’s eight-year college track (“it just takes boys longer!!”), not because I have to. It’s the principle of the thing.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, though ABC has “blessed” us with a new episode (I’m using that term loosely, obviously), we have very little to actually be grateful for. Much like the rest of this season, this week’s episode was the visual equivalent of an Ambien. You would think that whittling her group of eight down to a final four for Hometowns would have inspired some sort of frenzy for
camera time Michelle’s affections, but alas even that couldn’t rouse the men into formation. I worry that at this point they’re just trying to coast by on their good looks and loud body jewelry. Look, all I’m saying is that nose rings do not a personality make, mmkay!
Count Your Blessings: The Kids Are Back
Did you guys know that Michelle’s a teacher? Did you?! It appears that whenever production reviews their footage and realizes that they casted a bunch of well-adjusted duds they turn to a tried-and-true method for producing grade-A television: kids. There’s nothing America loves more than watching a bunch of sweet but sassy children verbally spar with grown men whose IQ levels hover slightly below their own—and honestly, neither do I. At this point the kids are the only thing making this season interesting.
We’re told that Michelle’s students will be planning this week’s dates and will be choosing who deserves to go on her first one-on-one date. Wait a minute. Is this how kids are spending their summer vacations now?? What happened to reading logs and math worksheets? Instead ABC has them entertaining a room full of strange men unsupervised (!!!) and plotting story arcs that even the executive creative team couldn’t come up with. Someone get these twerps on payroll!
As the kids descend upon the men in a plume of Hawaiian Punch and pre-puberty funk, I’ve never seen grown adults look so alarmed. I have a feeling they would take that g-force simulator from week three over this babysitting gig. But babysit they must, because the kids hold their fate with Michelle in their grubby little hands. How will the kids come to their decision? Through a series of nonsensical questions that range from “what’s your dream wedding” to “do you shave your nipples?” The questions serve the dual purpose of scaring the men right into an abstinence pact and entertaining the hell out of me (a tough feat, let me tell you).
Martin especially looks uncomfortable under their line of questioning, though that could be because he’s probably not allowed to be within 200 feet of children. Not for like, legal reasons, but because his personality sucks so much. While the rest of the guys bond with the kids by making fart noises with their hands, Martin entertains little Kelsey with a detailed breakdown of how to gaslight women. Meanwhile, Kelsey is looking at him like he’s the walking talking DARE ad her elementary school counselor warned her about. Run, Melissa, run!
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Out of the mouths of babes!
That Turkey Is Cooked: Clayton’s One-On-One
Though I trust these kids more than Michelle to find a suitable husband for her, I do question their pick for the first one-on-one date of the week: Clayton. Week after week I say I’m going to add a “Bachelor Watch” section to my recap, and week after week I write exactly one bullet note about Clayton that’s usually a variation of “boring,” “idiot,” “nothingburger,” or “why would they do this to us?” Ostensibly this should be the moment we’ve been waiting for all season, the moment where Clayton finally shows us why ABC chose him to be our next Bachelor—and yet, he falls short. Again.
Even Michelle seems disappointed that the kids would choose him over, say, Nayte or Joe or the potted plant in the lobby. She sucks it up for date, though, a Home Alone-esque fantasy in which Ms. Michelle and Clayton are set loose in a museum after hours. What should be a romantic night between two beautiful looking people instead gives off heavy teacher-student field trip vibes. I kept waiting for Clayton to ask if he had permission to open his packed lunch yet. The only thing Clayton gave us at all during this date was the distinct feeling that he has an inner child. And by that I mean an actual child was wearing him like a man suit. Like, I would not be surprised if little Luke Freaky Friday’d him before this date.
Later, Clayton says that he just wants to be vulnerable with Michelle and it’s as if he’s reading straight off some sort of script. Seriously, HOW is this guy become our next Bachelor?? Stock images have more life to them than he does.
Ultimately, Michelle feels the same way. She says that she doesn’t feel like she’s able to “get there” with Clayton before Homewtowns and it’s a sentiment that reverberates through Bachelor Nation. After all, Clayton is the only guy who managed to get sent home after a one-on-one date this season (even Martin finagled his way into receiving a rose and he insulted Michelle right to her face!).
It appears that—just like the kids’ reasoning!—ABC went with Clayton because he has big muscles and can build a really huge fort. Stunning. Production does show us some mediocre footage of Clayton post-breakup discovering some hand-written notes from the children in his hotel room, but it all feels too little too late. I’m sure ABC saw those kid-induced tears and thought they’d hit PR gold. Here’s a grown man who shows emotions! About kids! And he’s not even ashamed about it! Everybody give this big, strong man a clap for his bravery. The problem that ABC doesn’t seem to understand is that we as an audience are asking for more than an emotionally stunted white guy who needed to have fifth graders validate his emotions for him so he could realize that commitment might be a thing he’s into, maybe. Come on. Do better.
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Hateful & Ungrateful: Martin’s Big Exit Moment
Now onto things I’m even less grateful for: Martin. This week, once again, Martin proved that he’s unfit to exist in public spaces or be around people who don’t have the same life goals as a Scooby Doo villain. I have this theory that Martin is actually a barn animal masquerading as a human man and finally, finally, Michelle is starting to see that as well.
Martin landed a spot on the farm themed group date where the only high points included watching the men assault cow udders and Nayte feigning a back injury to get out of shoveling poop. The real show came later in the evening when Martin started running his mouth off again about Michelle. He tells the other men that Michelle often “misunderstands” him and that this shows her immaturity. This is a bold proclamation from a guy whose style aesthetic can only be described as the floor of a Forever21.
I think his way of feeling in control of the situation (i.e. being one of eight boyfriends) is to make Michelle seem less appealing to the other guys. That way if she rejects him, well, that bitch was ugly anyway. Martin’s dating strategy is to basically internet troll an attractive woman into complacency, and it’s time for him to go.
Ulo, being the earth angel that he is, takes it upon himself to warn Michelle that Martin is a walking, talking red flag. Ulo tells her that when Michelle read her poem a few weeks back, Martin called her insecure for not being able to get over a little thing like the systemic trauma of growing up as a Black woman in America.
MICHELLE: Did you call me insecure?
MARTIN: There’s a difference between being insecure and having insecurities, my love.
Michelle’s like, “you haven’t been honest about the fact that you’re a dick.” Well, I think he’s been pretty up front about it. He does look like a visual representation of an Urban Dictionary explanation of a TikTok insult.
Whatever doubts we may have had about Martin’s character are immediately alleviated when he starts railing on Michelle after his elimination. He says that a girl like that doesn’t deserve his attention and it’s just sad, he feels so sad for her, and it’s like has Martin completely lost all control of the demon inside him? If he thinks Michelle’s denouncement of his character was bad, just wait until he finds out what the internet thinks of him!
More Blessings: Brandon Gets Busted
I’ll end on a high note, the final blessed moment ABC grants us: watching Brandon try and hide a chubby in a pair of Michelle’s dad’s waterlogged swim trunks. If that camera work doesn’t win ABC an Emmy, I don’t know what will.
Michelle brings Brandon to her childhood home for their one-on-one date. Tbh Brandon seems a little much for me. I know people will swoon over him after this episode, but he’s so over-the-top about his affections for her it’s almost unbelievable. At one point he’s like, “Michelle is literally walking me through her heart” and it’s like, dude, chill. She’s walking you down a hallway.
Once again I’m reminded that Michelle was an undesirable growing up because she’s way too excited about living out this high school fantasy of having a boy alone in her parent’s home.
MICHELLE: You know what would be so hot? If you wore my dad’s intimates and dry humped me in the family hot tub.
Brandon looks appropriately horrified by the suggestion—as if he knows this adventure can only end in his humiliation. And you know what? He’s not wrong! Seconds after Michelle straddles him and starts getting intimately acquainted with the back of his throat, who should walk in on them but the actual owners of the house: Michelle’s parents. Imagine that! You can tell first impressions mean a lot to Brandon and he was not expecting to meet his maybe future in-laws whilst trying to hide a wet spot. Well, think about it this way, buddy: you can only go up from here.
And that’s a wrap on the recap! Next week we’re headed to Hometowns where Nayte, Brandon, Joe, and Rodney will introduce Michelle to the human embodiments of their intimacy issues. Until then!
Images: ABC / Craig Sjodin; Giphy (2); @bachelorettewindmill /Instagram (1); @tvgoldtweets /Instagram (1)