Monday’s episode of The Bachelorette was an odd one. It was a “Men Tell All” episode, and most of it used the familiar format for a tell-all — the live studio audience, the gathered contestants, the relitigating of old wounds, the flabbergasted reaction shots. But a whole opening chunk of the episode was a continuation from last week’s Luke P. fiasco, and that topic was so dominant that it really put a damper on the usual silliness of these proceedings.
Let’s take a jaunt through the most noteworthy moments of the night.
Luke showing back up at the rose ceremony!
Again, this is a nonstandard part of a “Men Tell All” episode, but apparently there was so much Luke drama that it had to spill over into this studio audience Q&A format. That would be fine on many Bachelor/ette seasons because often the tell-all episodes are unendingly dull! And it’s sort of all right here — it works well to use a particular segment from the regular season as a launch for the postmortem discussions. People have something to focus on, some specific moment to respond to.
It did, however, lead to an entire first hour of this two-hour episode that was entirely dominated by Luke P. And that dude is a bummer!
Hannah’s masterful job at shutting Luke down
Luke is so manipulative, so mewling, so piteously, infuriatingly, jaw-droppingly self-interested that I’m not sure anything at all could justify him taking up so much space on a widely viewed network TV show. But if anything at all could, it’s the insistence with which Hannah completely refuses to fall for his crap. Some of it is on display in the opening segment, where she makes the fantastic gesture of physically moving the rose podium so that Luke is no longer standing in front of it. If he’s going to crash her rose-ceremony set, she will move the set somewhere else.
But Hannah was even more impressive later in the episode, as she talked with Chris Harrison about her own concerns that Luke has taken up so much airtime this season. Being able to identify the relationship as toxic is already a helpful step. Her ability to be articulate about it, to refuse to find it shameful, and her hope that showing this relationship on TV will help some other person get out of their own toxic situation? No question, best-case scenario for this entire plot.
John Paul Jones’s nuggets
With Luke taking up so much territory, it was impossible for the tell-all to run through its typically exhaustive season-long exegesis. But there was still time for an important fan favorite: John Paul Jones. JPJ … ate chicken nuggets. He also passed them around? He let a woman from the audience come up and cut his hair? JPJ, please say no to strangers who want to cut your hair. You’re better than this, my dude.
Mike’s Bachelor play
Mike is currently caught in a fascinating struggle to position himself for the next Bachelor, and I’ll tell you what, he’s playing the game well. History (and racism) are against him. There has never been a black male lead of this franchise, and the one man of color who’s ever held the position (the ill-fated Juan Pablo) did not do the Bachelor diversity push any favors. Rachel, meanwhile, a black woman and one of the best Bachelorettes in recent memory, also had a season of underwhelming ratings. Her performance was amazing, but Bachelor producer Mike Fleiss was forthright that he felt America’s racial biases were responsible for the poor ratings on Rachel’s season.
So if Mike is indeed pushing to become the next Bachelor, he’s fighting an uphill battle. On the other hand, he’s doing remarkably well. He absolutely nailed the appropriate emotional response in the tell-all, managing to land squarely between believably wounded and sincerely hopeful for the future. He’s gorgeous, he’s sympathetic, and Hannah’s clearly rooting for him. (Her careful language about hoping “the best” for him is not a difficult code to crack.) Maybe he’ll pull it off!
Chris Harrison’s love affair with bloopers
If there is one thing Bachelor/ette host Chris Harrison loves more than direly intoning that what you’re about to watch may shock you, it’s gleefully announcing that the bloopers are about to begin. This guy just dies for bloopers; every single season you can see the twinkle in his eye when he gets going on the blooper segment, and most tell-all episodes include at least one moment where Harrison says, “And of course … bloopers!”
In this installment of Chris Harrison’s Beloved Blooper Reel, several people danced, Hannah swore a few times, the awkwardness of making out while underneath a camera crew was made evident, and at one point Hannah took what looked like a pretty upsetting tumble off a chair. Bloopers!
The best moment in any tell-all episode is usually the very last one, when the show plays a preview for the finale. In this episode, that moment came earlier, just before the preview rolled. Hannah, seated on the tell-all sofa, delivered a direct-to-camera address apologizing for how much of this episode and this season focused on Luke P. She didn’t try to make herself responsible for all of his behavior — he’s clearly at fault for much of what happened here! — but she did acknowledge that much of his presence on TV for the past several weeks was because of her actions, her desire to keep him around. And then she apologized!
It’s maybe the only time that a lead figure in The Bachelor franchise has pointed so insightfully at the deepest flaw of the series: the worst, most dramatic person also gets the most screen time. It becomes The Luke P. Show, and even though the main message is that Luke P. is a hypocritical, misogynistic, emotionally abusive asshole, his presence still defines this season. To let Hannah forthrightly apologize for that? In a season of remarkable Hannah moments, that one is my favorite so far.
Next week is the finale! Given how much weeping Hannah does in the previews, it does not seem like things are going to go smoothly!