Y’all. Y’all. It’s all been building to this, and honestly, are we even going to talk about anything else? When we were only 45 minutes into this episode and we’d already seen both Blake and Justin’s date, was there any question about what was going to happen next? So let me just give you my hot take RIGHT NOW.
If I had to pick a side, and I absolutely don’t because this is a television program and I don’t know any of these people …
I’m Team Greg.
I can already feel some of you scrolling down to the comments to tell me that I’m a monster, and I accept it. I welcome it. Nay, I thrive on it. There is so little you people can throw my way to make me doubt what I’m seeing in front of me. And what I’m seeing is two people who are NOT LISTENING TO EACH OTHER. Sweet Christ. I have taught “Using Improv to be a Better Listener” workshops to Fortune 500 CEOs who came in with better listening skills than these two people. Greg, Katie, we’re going to do an exercise now: Before you respond to the other person, you’re going to repeat their entire line back to them. Also, you’re going to make the letters of the alphabet with your bodies at the same time.
Let’s get to it! We’ve already gotten to it? We cannot do anything except get to it and be within it.
Blake and Justin have one-on-one dates, and I guess we can talk about what passes for “Canada” and “Baltimore” in the Thallium resort. Canada means taking a shot of maple syrup and suggesting you’ve once licked it off your lover’s body, and Baltimore means silently riding a carriage through the desert. The chaos of the Canada and Baltimore dates should be the nail in the coffin — if we’re in these pandemmy seasons, we need to do away with the hometown dates. Just let the contesticles design one final date, call it their “Dream Date,” and let them talk about what their life with the lead would look like after the show. Because I don’t think either Blake or Justin would have picked a Party City version of their hometown for their “Dream Date.” Also, my boyfriend, whose family is from New Jersey, perked up when he saw that alleged “New Jersey” date from Greg: “I mean … yeah … it does rain in New Jersey … and are they at a lemonade stand? I guess.”
Blake’s mom looks like Rita Wilson’s character from That Thing You Do in an ’80s-themed reboot and WE ARE HERE FOR IT. Justin’s parents are refusing?!?!??! to join him for hometowns, and even over the phone, without seeing her or hearing her say the words, I heard a Black mom saying, “I’m not risking my life for some little girl you just met. You can do whatever you want, but I’m gonna stay my ass at home.” I’m with you, Justin’s mom. I’m tired of the narrative that someone’s family not participating is some sort of ding against them, and I’m especially tired of it DURING A PANDEMIC and even more exhausted for it being discussed in relation to two people who are probably older and definitely Black. I think the show and Katie are more understanding here than in the past, but the way it still becomes a question of whether Justin is ready to get married or engaged because his girlfriend of two weeks didn’t meet his mom is fully wild. You can take some time and learn each other’s middle names first.
But let’s get to the Greg of it all. O! Has there e’er been a tale with more woe than the tale of some guy named Greg from the shore of Jersey?
One issue that’s happening here is that Katie has made this decision for some fucking reason to not tell anyone she’s in love with them or falling in love with them. No one told her to do that. That’s not a thing anyone is asking you to do. Katie is very concerned with listening to people’s input and doing the season Right and making the Right Choices. In the beginning of the season, you want the lead to be a little businesslike and almost blunt to get rid of the jokers. So you combine that with Katie’s desire to do things in a fair way and you end up with someone who’s swayed by the whims of her suitors and overly concerned with maintaining order in the house. And if you carry that attitude to the final three or four, you end up with a lead who is more focused on adhering to unrealistic and unreasonable standards in order to keep everyone else feeling happy and respected than she is on “surrendering” “to” “the” “process” and allowing herself to fall in love.
That’s what leads to Katie telling Greg’s family that she’s falling for him and that he’s going to be around for a while. And if you’ll allow me to speculate, she probably realized she’d gone a little too far and been a little too giddy and had to rein it back in with Greg to preserve the counterintuitive distance and boundaries she’s set for herself. (There’s also a possibility that she got a talking-to from a producer about how candid she had been with Greg’s mom.)
Here’s how I think the next part went down: Katie told Greg’s family for some fucking reason that Greg is her No. 1 and he’s going to be there next week and Greg has nothing to worry about. Greg’s family told him, “Yo, she is saying you’re high on her list and you’re gonna get a rose, so you might as well tell her that you’re in love with her.” Combined with Greg’s family telling him they haven’t seen him this happy since his father’s death, there’s a whole bunch of stuff in the mix here. So Greg takes the big step to tell Katie that he loves her and tells her that he hasn’t felt happiness since his father passed.
Oh no. Oh, Greg. This was too big of a swing. Tell her you love her, but “You filled a hole in my heart that was felt by my father’s death”? That’s too much. And Katie’s reaction is BAD. I’m sorry, y’all, but it’s BAD. Silence followed by “I just love looking at you” is BAD. Greg said way too much, but Katie said way too little.
I understand that Katie doesn’t want to break the oath she’s pledged to her liege, but has she told any of the guys she’s not going to say “I love you”? They should know and they should be able to push back on that, because Katie can’t expect the emotional openness required to get to a proposal if she’s not willing to return some portion of that vulnerability. Maybe she doesn’t expect that vulnerability! Because she doesn’t seem bothered that Blake and Justin also haven’t said “I love you,” and she’s not looking for it from Greg. Which is WILD.
But again, her reaction is “I just love looking at you.” In Greg’s mind, the disconnect between Katie telling his mom, “Oh, I’m going to accept your son’s proposal” and Katie telling him “You’re cute” when he was vulnerable with her was probably too much to bear. There’s a lot of daylight between “I love you too” and “That’s tight!” when someone tells you they love you. Katie could have responded with, “I know it was hard for you to say that, and I can tell that you really mean it. That means everything to me that you can be that vulnerable with me.” Or, “Wow, your vulnerability with me combined with how welcoming your family has been shows me that you really take this seriously and see what I see in our relationship.” Even just a “Wowie zowie, you sure are neat-bandito!” LITERALLY ANYTHING. Katie’s inability to find something to acknowledge both what she’s been telling Greg’s family and his (real or manufactured) moment of vulnerability is a major error, and Greg is totally justified in having a meltdown as a result.
From that point on, no one’s able to listen to anyone else. Greg’s too wounded and caught in the gap between what Katie told him and what she told his family to respond reasonably or communicate what he needs. He comes close! He goes to Katie’s room and tells her she rolled over his vulnerability, because she did. She did do that. But he doesn’t tell her what she needs to do to patch things up. Katie was probably thinking, “I didn’t break my rule (that I’ve told no one about and no one really seems to understand and doesn’t allow for me to succumb to the power of love), so why is Greg upset?” Katie also clearly has it set in her mind that Greg is always one bad interaction away from leaving — and he might be! But she seems to see him as a delicate orchid whose feelings she has to protect and reads insecurity in everything he does. Both of them claim that he can’t handle seeing her with other men, but maybe he can’t handle the idea of her being emotionally vulnerable with other men when she isn’t able to give that to him.
Greg is unfair when he says that he didn’t recognize the Katie talking to him when he said “I love you.” Katie is unfair when she says he’s giving up on them. Greg needs a moment of reality on this reality-television program, and Katie needs him to hold it together for the cameras for a little longer. Greg’s pride is wounded after letting his guard down, and Katie’s morals are offended by being asked to lower her guard. Neither of them are listening. Both of them are being unfair and holding each other to standards they haven’t discussed. This isn’t an insurmountable problem, but it’s really hard when neither side wants to admit they’re wrong and hurt the other person, and when vulnerability doesn’t hold the same value to each side.
So where do we end up? Where any self-respecting woman has ended up at some point in her 20s: on the floor of her bathroom, crying and talking to a friend on the other side of the door. If you’ve ever wiped another woman’s tears with a rough brown paper towel from a bar’s bathroom, this moment is for you. Kaitlyn comes in to tell Katie that it still can all work out and this part of the process is isolating. Maybe Kaitlyn isn’t the best messenger for The Process when she is currently engaged to someone from Becca’s season, but I guess it’s better than telling Katie, “Don’t worry, the right man will slide in your DMs like three years from now.” Katie says that there’s no way to get him back and Greg is gone, Michael’s gone, what’s the point? You hear that, Blake and Justin?!?!
Kaitlyn asks Katie what she wants, and Katie says, “I want someone to book my flight home.”
The episode ends with an In Memoriam video for Greg and Katie’s love story. You see this shit, Blake and Justin?!? Have fun in the fantasy suites with that!