Somewhere over the dusty desert of New Mexico, an aimless spirit wanders. Unmoored from the mortal plane, untethered to reality and responsibility, the spirit cannot rest. If you listen, when the winds settle, you can hear the rattling and whistling of a lost soul. Because once and for all, the last memory of the spirit has vanished from our minds. The job that specter used to do has been finally taken on by someone else. The moment Tayshia looked into the camera and said, “You’ve been waiting for them and here they are — BLOOPERS!”, that wraith was no longer doomed to walk the Earth looking for reality-TV shows to host or soft-core Christian romance novels to peddle. He is free and more importantly, we are free.
Let’s get to it.
It’s time for the “Men Tell All” special — PSYCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The “Men Tell All” special was, like, 20 minutes because Katie refused to make eye contact with anyone who did not please her and it really sped the whole thing along. No, before we can head to the Bachelor in Paradise Catchphrase Incubator, there is another emotionally devastating unplanned departure we have to get through.
The episode opens with Katie and Tayshia walking around the resort talking about the importance of hometowns. (Was this the day production scared them by trying to trick them with a stick? That’s not a good prank! After a good prank, everybody is laughing.) The edit delivers only Katie talking about how she feels about Michael and how she’s excited to meet his family. She is really into the idea of being an “instant mom” and how Michael has built something and all it’s missing is Katie. Umm … that’s a weird way to put it, but it’s very sweet that you’re so positive about dating a guy with kids. Tayshia says that Zac wasn’t in her top spot going into hometowns, and I hope she prepped Zac at home on the couch before he watched his fiancée be like, “Yeah, I wasn’t really into him until I met his mom.” Because the episode opens with Katie’s optimism and affection for Michael, he won’t be long for this world.
Michael has been telling his son he’s on a work trip and he’ll be home soon. Michael FaceTimes with his son, who asks him, “Daddy, why are you choosing to leave your fate in the hands of a glorified game show when you’re basically an eHarmony ad waiting to happen?” You’re remarkably insightful, young James. Michael knows what he has to do. Y’all, the rom-commification of The Bachelorette continues, but with this breakup, we’ve shot right past a rom-com and landed in the subgenre of a Lifetime TV movie. The kind, slightly dorky widower has to leave the side of the woman he loves to return to his son, whose first-grade teacher is Santa Claus or something. Michael hugs a production assistant. He knows what he has to do …
He heads to a room and knocks on the door and it’s Katie’s room because that’s the only hotel room door we’ve seen all season. Please stop trying to be coy, production. He’s not going to see the head of catering and events. He sits down with Katie and at first, she’s very excited to see him, then slowly realizes what’s happening and sits with a half-smile glued on her face. Michael explains he can’t be in two places at once and he’s sensing that his son needs him. Then he goes into the most romantic speech we’ve seen on the season so far. He tells her that there are only two things that matter: love and time. He hands her a pocket watch and tells her that they just ran out of time. Good God. This is too much. They both say that they really saw being with each other in the end and Michael tells her that she made him better and she taught him how to love again.
KATIE’S CRYING. MICHAEL’S CRYING. I’M CRYING. YOUR DAD IS FULL-ON WEEPING. That’s right. Your father, Craig, who you’ve only ever seen cry at Field of Dreams and the first time Brett Favre retired, wept like a li’l baby whose sleep was interrupted by a passing muscle car when Michael told Katie that she taught him how to love again. And your dad fucking believes Michael.
Katie and Michael hug and share one last kiss in the hallway, and Michael is gone. Katie says she’s sad, she’s mad, and maybe her person just left. Time for the first of many tonal shifts of the episode and I guess the “Men Tell All” special?!?!?
Good evening, Bachelor Nation! Tayshia and Kaitlyn are suddenly on our screens looking amazing. I need their stylists and I need to know if they can source some plus-size gowns. Quartney, Cody, Karl, Tre, Brendan, James, Kyle, Aaron, Connor B., Hunter, Andrew S., and Michael are the contesticles that have shown up for this reunion special. I feel like we’re missing a few guys, but also the concepts of object permanence and holding someone’s face in my memory are incomprehensible at this time. Tre is wearing a white tuxedo, so he wins the best-dressed of the night. The biggest dramas of the season are: Aaron knowing Cody, Karl’s whole thing that led into Thomas’s alleged “manipulation,” and Hunter having a Top Four. Almost all of these “controversies” stem from someone being aware that they’re on a reality-TV program and another person pretending as hard as they can that they’re not on a reality-TV program.
Every fight can be boiled down to “You’re acknowledging the gossamer fourth wall that exists between us and the audience, causing me to have a slight existential crisis so YOU’RE NOT HERE FOR THE RIGHT REASONS, BRO.”
The Aaron/Cody fight is barely a thing. Aaron reiterates that Cody had an Instagram Story where he said he was going to be famous in six months and that was a sin. Even though the entire premise of Instagram is, “You can be famous. That’s right, even you!” Karl points out that the contesticles unionized faster than any other season or industry and used their collective action to push the unwanted guys out of the house. Listen, Karl is not wrong. As much as it pains me to say — he’s right about this.
But Brendan and my man Quartney get on Karl’s ass and ask him who was he talking about when he went to Katie. Karl says that Brendan just wanted a free ticket to the U.S. There is absolutely nothing special or exciting about visiting the U.S. now. If anything, that should prove that Brendan’s motives were pure. Tre points out that Karl went back and forth between saying, “There were multiple people who weren’t here for the right reasons” and, “The only person I was conceivably talking about was Thomas.” Those are completely opposite statements that can’t exist at the same time. I do enough of those Penny Dell logic puzzles to know.
Then attention turns to Hunter, who tries to parse the difference between “falling in love” and “being in love” with someone. Again, this is a purely reality-TV problem because the show has a jargon to track a contestant’s progress with the lead. No one in real life differentiates the moment they “could fall in love with someone,” the moment they “started to fall for someone,” the moment they were “falling in love with someone,” and when they were “in love with someone.” Three of those are completely manufactured to give everyone a four-part journey and let the lead artificially rank their feelings for the contestants. It’s not real. It’s like telling someone there’s a philosophical difference between being a Sephora VIB member and a Sephora VIB Rouge member and how dare you say you’re Rouge when you’re just VIB. Hunter’s biggest crime is being kinda annoying and he admits that if he could do it all over again, he’d say the perfect thing at all times.
Now it’s time for the hot seat. Connor B. is up first and a random woman from the crowd speaks up and says she knows he’s not a bad kisser and they make out. In a whole piñata? That’s about to be a breakthrough case. I kept waiting for the reveal that she was his new girlfriend, but nope, just someone with incredible main-character energy demanding a kiss from a man who wore a cat costume to seduce a grown woman. The guys all chant, “You’re a tiger!” The B in Connor B. stands for “Big Cat.”
Andrew has time in the hot seat and Kaitlyn and Tayshia ask him about his amazing chemistry with Katie. Okay, wow, Connor B. is right there. Then Tayshia asks him about his openness as he talked to Katie about interracial dating. He says that every word that came out of Katie’s mouth was the right thing to say and he was really impressed. It’s not just an open-minded white person’s words or willingness to be in an interracial relationship. It’s their actions in that relationship and especially their actions when their worldview is challenged or threatened. I’ve seen and been with the person whose words were great and their actions didn’t rise to the moment and … it’s not great. Also, Andrew S. says he’s willing to shoulder some of the burden as a Black man. He switches back and forth between talking about what he’s willing to do as a partner in an interracial relationship and what conversations he’s willing to have on TV in a way that’s a little unclear exactly what burden he’s shouldering and for whom. I look forward to him being the Bachelor and ending up with a white lady.
Then it’s Michael’s time in the hot seat. Kaitlyn is weeping at Michael’s montage. Y’all. We just saw this. Michael says that if Katie wanted to give him another chance, he would absolutely do it and there’s much left unsaid. Through tears, Tayshia and Kaitlyn tell him they’re all rooting for him to find love. He has the most compelling Bachelor case out of any of these guys.
To lighten the mood, there’s a montage of the guys attempting to smack-talk before the Blaze Baskin Robbins BlitzBall. Michael says that someone’s eyes are as blue as a urinal cake and honestly, that’s a decent burn. Also, Michael was the only one to admit he failed the WoWo Challenge and had some banter with Aaron about their respective stamina. Why is this happening?
Then to completely change the mood, Jason Tartick comes out as a special guest and they just air Jason and Kaitlyn’s proposal. It’s amazing. I love it. Jason can’t stop getting choked up and Kaitlyn was screeching in a register unable to be heard by human ears. But … we’re just filling time at this point.
Katie comes out wearing a very tricky neon green, but she’s definitely gone a shade darker in her spray tan, so she’s pulling it off. Katie has the opportunity to address the men, and she takes a pretty businesslike tone with everyone. “Thank you for your contribution to the team and we here at Katie Enterprises value and appreciate you.” She tells Michael that she had to move on so they won’t be getting back together. She tells Andrew that there are a lot of what-ifs, but she had to move forward and they won’t be getting back together. Tre talks about how she made him a better person even though his time was “encompassed with drama,” and Aaron basically says the same thing down to repeating “encompassed with drama.” Katie slips up and calls Aaron “Thomas.” Delicious. Amazing. Just what we needed. Connor sings a li’l song and has all the guys join in for the final line, “The guys on this season have got me believing in bromance,” which is a terrible hook. Too wordy.
Thomas joins via Zoom from an undisclosed location and apologizes for his actions and how he took away from the other guys. He regrets causing any doubt in Katie’s journey and he wants to know why she sent him home. When he repeats this emotional grift, should he appear more human or show his abs earlier? Any concrete feedback would be great. Katie says that while she was crying and trying to understand what was going on with their relationship, he was smiling and it felt phony to her. She didn’t want to waste his spot and she wanted to trust the intuition she had early on. Wait … what? Was it just me, or was she the tiniest bit harsh to Thomas? No one is entitled to any mercy or redemption, but her steely demeanor seemed to be revealing that she was VERY upset at Thomas and HE HAD TO GO. Bye Thomas! End Meeting!
It’s time for bloopers, which just means footage of the guys awkwardly dancing during their downtime! Katie doesn’t have any regrets! Only two episodes left! Everyone really thinks that British-accent bit is very funny!