Does anyone else feel like this year is suddenly passing them by? It feels like just yesterday we were all waiting for that big boat to get unstuck and now we’re peeping at the fall foliage. That’s right. Wide boat stuck in the Suez Canal? This year. Judas and the Black Messiah? Technically not 13 full years ago. I want you to ask yourself, really ask yourself, “When was the Harry and Meghan interview?” Is your answer “I don’t know? 2005? I felt so young and full of hope at the time.” Incorrect — ALSO THIS YEAR. Same month as the big ol’ boat that got stuck. Don’t believe me? Too bad, it’s true and the passage of time is real and unceasing. So I definitely cannot believe that we are on our fourth season of the Bachelor Cinematic Universe this year.
But what I absolutely cannot and will not believe is that “THIS MAN IS REALLY PUSHING MY BUTTONS, MAN” is happening to me and it’s happening so fast. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t know that this moment wasn’t full of fury, but a moment of profound sadness and disappointment, the exclamation of a wounded man. I was waiting for this, thinking it would be an iconic, campy moment that we’d all be putting on T-shirts and tote bags. But no, it was Will’s darkest moment and I wept with him. Much as we are all carried away by the passage of time, we are carried away by this season of The Bachelorette.
Is it just me or are (most of) the men absolute cuties who seem very chill? And the ones who have absolutely no chill or are aggressively awful are being shown the door? Even Mollique, who had a kinda rude talking head where he was making fun of Rodney (who I love!!!), was sent home! I’m here for a house of very adorable giants who get to smooch Michelle while they all talk about their feelings. Because now that Jamie’s gone, where is the drama going to come from? But an even better question is: Do we need it? The Bachelor Cinematic Universe has had trouble recently just telling a clean, simple love story where two Instagram Super Users come together to launch a lifestyle brand together. Will we finally get some real romance and see a true love story blossom?
Let’s get to it.
Michelle is still reeling from the guys allegedly questioning her character and I’m still reeling from the fact that none of them cleared up the drama! Maybe they need to have a little less chill. Speak up! The guys are waiting for the date cards to arrive, and they’re mostly concerned about the rat in their midst. By the end of the episode, Jamie will be called a rat and a snake. The man is giving off vermin vibes. Kaitlyn drops off the first date card and Martin, LT, Olu, Spencer, Clayton, Nayte, Joe, Rick, Will, and Peter will be heading off on the first corporate-sponsored date of the week. They’re heading into THE DANGER ZONE. Could it be physical? Could it be mental? Could it be sexual? Everyone prepare your safe words and let’s head out.
It’s actually a Top Gun 2: More Planes tie-in and the contesticles are joined by Jay Ellis and Glen Powell. Jay Ellis is of course from Insecure and the platonic ideal of Michelle’s type, and Glen Powell is the guy who goes, “This is the stock exchange! There’s no money here!” in The Dark Knight Rises. Apparently, Top Gun 2: Take Flight! is all about pushing yourself to the limit and putting it all on the line. First things first, everyone has to get a fun nickname because nothing says masculinity like calling another adult “Lil Willy.” Martin gets the nickname “Frosty” because of his frosted tips and Peter gets the call sign “Doughboy.” Olu says that “Doughboy” means something very specific and Peter does not even come close to embodying the “Doughboy” lifestyle.
After a quick push-up competition where Michelle sits on their backs in her flight-suit-inspired romper looking like a full pin-up, Martin pulls her aside and asks her how she’s feeling after the last Rose Ceremony. Michelle appreciates that when she gave him the rose, he said, “You got this.” He’s got too many head accessories and made too many hairstyle decisions, but Martin has a good head on his shoulders.
It’s time for the g-force simulator because this will test their instincts?!? Sure, Glen. Will is scared. He packed his motion-sickness medicine but it’s back at the hotel! There will always be a special place in my heart for people under 45 who have to bring their medicine on vacation. If you’ve ever packed your heartburn medication because you knew you were going to have barbecue that day, just know I’m with you. Also, Rick’s name is Tabletop.
The guys have to profess their love to Michelle while spinning in the g-force simulator. Peter speaks in full Italian and then Will speaks in Spanish. When you’re upside down, your first language takes over, I guess. Peter is very upset that Will copied “his thing” and says the exact same thing. Listen, I don’t speak Italian or Spanish, but I do speak French, which is like the median of those two things, and they weren’t saying the exact same thing. I just need Peter to calm all the way down. Will goes one step further when Michelle asks if he needs a bucket and he says “I need you.” YES!
Clayton gets to show off his bigness during the dogfighting portion of the date, which is just American Gladiators but, ironically, closer to the ground. And after defeating Peter, Will wins… the jacket?
It’s time for the after-party. Clayton shows a tiny bit of personality but still doesn’t justify why he’s reportedly been chosen as the next Bachelor. Michelle continues to have amazing chemistry with Nayte and she says she’s excited to have such amazing men.
Smash cut to Peter and Will screaming at each other.
Will is calling Peter a “Pizza boy” and Peter says, “You should see the checks I cash.” Sir, no one is coming for your pizza business. Peter keeps calling Will a bully but truly the only thing Will has done to Peter was be a little snarky during a fifth-grade spelling bee. Which tracks because Peter has the energy of the kid who got all his Pokémon cards stolen in fifth grade and has decided to enter sixth grade with a new tough energy so no one picks on him again. Will makes the mistake of pointing out that he has a jacket and that’s all it takes for Peter to pounce. Nayte is stressed about where this is going.
Can I just say also that Michelle is initiating a lot of kisses? She is into these men and she’s not waiting for anyone to make out with her. Very excited to have a Bachelorette whose view of sex is not, “The thing that makes me cool” or, “The thing I don’t do so Jesus will love me.”
Then Peter throws Will’s jacket in the pool. Nayte just screams, “WHY? WHY THO?” Yes, why tho. Peter has an absolutely unhinged reaction to everyone being shocked at him, and everyone knows it’s on Will now to be the bigger man. And I wish he didn’t have to! Will knows he earned that jacket and he cries out, “THIS MAN IS REALLY PUSHING MY BUTTONS!” Will decides not to make a big deal about it in front of Michelle and Martin gets the group date rose. And while Martin and Michelle slow dance in front of a string quartet, Will fishes his jacket out of his pool. Stripped of all his dignity.
Speaking of “stripped,” it’s time for Rodney’s one-on-one. Y’all. Rodney is the cutest. He starts the day off by saying he may not be the strongest or the tallest but he’s got the biggest heart and the biggest smile. I DO NOT appreciate how everyone talks about how he’s got to get out of the friend zone. The friend zone is a myth and Rodney is a snack. They head out on a vague truth-or-dare date and Rodney feeds Michelle and they get handcuffed together and have to find the key. Y’know, standard goofy nonsense. For the truth portion of the date, they tell each other their greatest fears and Rodney’s is he’s worried he’s going to die before he becomes a husband or father. Which is very specific language and I would have loved a follow-up question. Michelle’s is that she’s afraid of being complacent and settling.
Meanwhile, the next group date card arrives: “Jamie, Leroi, Chris G, Casey, Mollique, Chris S, Brandon, Romeo, I want a man who can express himself.”
For the evening portion of Rodney’s date, they ride out to a pier on a canoe and have dinner. They talk about how important laughter is in a relationship and how they’re willing to be vulnerable with each other. Rodney talks about being raised by a single mother and watching her work multiple jobs to take care of him and his brother. Michelle talks about how there were moments when she was growing up when she’d witness her mom stand up for her dad, and how her parents protected each other. Michelle also says that in interracial relationships she hasn’t always felt that same level of care and concern from her partners. She describes being called the N-word in a grocery store and her boyfriend at the time making her justify her pain to him and telling her that she was giving the awful racist person power by being upset. (My college boyfriend would do shit like this. I would tell him that his roommate was sending me racist anti-Obama messages during the ’08 election and he would tell me that it was just, “David being David.” Uh, no, sir, your roommate is not “just being David.” He’s sending me 14-paragraph messages about how it’s not racist to ask for Obama’s birth certificate because William Henry Harrison was born in the British colonies or some dumb shit. It’s infuriating, demoralizing, and humiliating.) Michelle is also able to connect that experience to the idea that if you have to explain how you feel in a relationship, it’s not going to work. Rodney tells her that he’s looking for his queen and he knows whatever life throws at him, they can handle it. She offers him the rose by going, “Would you apple-loutely accept this rose?” Michelle is too cute for words and Rodney is a delight.
Now, for this next date, I must admit something: I was a spoken-word artist for several years in my youth. So this date was VERY triggering for me. I competed in the Chicago Teen Poetry Slam and I have used that SPOKEN word VOIICCEEE where EVERY other WORD gets the EMPHASIS in the SENTENCEEEEEEE. Two of my former teammates have gone on to appear in The Boys and The NBA Championship and I have an Emmy. WE’RE ALL WINNERS, BITCH! Chris G is also very excited to see Rudy Francisco, the man who inspired him to get into spoken word, and he cannot contain himself. All the guys are sent off to their corners to write poems that reveal the most emotional parts of themselves. Jamie decides he’s just not going to do that.
THIS DUDE. If anyone is pushing my buttons (in a bad, not Pussycat Dolls way), it’s Jamie. He didn’t forget his notebook. He didn’t decide to freestyle an Aesop’s fable. He decided he was too good to write a poem and didn’t write that poem. It’s really hard to reconcile how candid Jamie was with Michelle in the last episode with how rude he can be everywhere else. It’s like he refuses to show any vulnerability in front of the group of guys, but it ends up making any displays of vulnerability he has with Michelle seem … something not great. Michelle gets onstage and reads a poem that basically any athletic Black girl who attended mostly white schools could have written. Listen, I just said I did competitive poetry, but I related to a lot of what Michelle said.
It’s time for the evening portion of the date and Jamie has decided he’s set the standard for all men on earth and he’s only in competition with himself. Michelle continues to have amazing chemistry with Brandon and she talks about how attracted she is to his mind. He also says he had braces for five years (same, Brandon) and didn’t hit his growth spurt until junior year. Jamie says he’s so intentioned and meaningful when he’s with Michelle and he can tell she’s absolutely captivated. Michelle gives the group date rose to Brandon.
On the way out the party, Jamie grabs a producer and decides to evaporate any and all goodwill he could have possibly had left. He says, “I’m really competing with Brandon for a women’s attention? We’re not even fucking close. I gotta wait six weeks to get to the end of this? That’s the challenging part with Michelle. She’s in spring-break mode. It’s a turnoff.” My guy, are you on some incel shit? Because what the fuck are you talking about? Are you not aware what television program you’re on? You better get that faux-dashiki shirt from your promo picture and get your hotep-ass outta here.
Well, it’s time for the cocktail party and for all of us to see exactly how far ahead this idiot planned. Before we get to that, we get to Nayte telling Michelle he wants to run away with her, and she takes her shoes off so they can go running off into the darkness. ROMANCE! THIS IS ROMANCE!
Meanwhile, the beige bearded coalition of Rick and Casey are starting to put the pieces together and figure out Jamie might be the source of all this drama. Rick decides to take it to Michelle, telling her that the source of the story was Jamie and that no one was questioning her character. Maybe Jamie made all this up to throw everyone under the bus. Michelle is UPSET.
Casey and Nayte are discussing the situation and Nayte says, “Why don’t we just bring Jamie over here?” They ask him what he said to Michelle and Jamie goes, “Uh….uh…umm…ummm.” He didn’t think this part of the plan through? He keeps saying that he knew there were conversations but he didn’t hear any of those conversations but ultimately the conversations created a character and that character came to life like a ghost in a spooky story. Then he says he doesn’t want anyone at home to speculate. Us? At home? Let me assure you — we don’t give a fuck. What did you say to Michelle?!?!
Nayte finally pisses off Jamie when he asks, “Were you worried by Joe?” And Romeo says they aren’t mad he was insecure, they’re mad he tried to obfuscate what he did.
Michelle sits the guys down and says there’s a weird vibe again, and Jamie tries to explain that certain individuals challenged her character but what he said wasn’t from any specific individuals, and if everyone could just leave him alone about it, that’d be great. Michelle calls him out that the “light-skinned baller” thing was his story and it had nothing to do with Joe. He put those two pieces of information together. Jamie is making mad faces. Michelle takes him aside and says she’s got to walk him out. Thank God they don’t let Jamie have an interview in the van because I couldn’t take it.
The rest of the men are turned on with respect.
Time for the rose ceremony! Joe, Rick, LeRoy, Nayte, Casey, Chris G, Chris S, Clayton, Olu, and Romeo all get roses. Everyone rude is gone and all that’s left is the sweeties! Here’s to love!