We have a hybrid episode this week, combining a taste of the hometowns episode with The Men Tell All in order to have TMTA not be a spoiler. It starts off like a real episode, but don’t be fooled. It is a terrible TMTA episode with like 15 minutes of the regular show. Anything that limits the amount of men telling all that we have to listen to is a good thing, so let’s just be happy with what we have?
Speaking of trying to be happy with very little, it is also a strange week because Victor is out of town and unavailable to blog (boo!) and George is stuck in Denver but still able to blog (BOOO!!!!). So you get
Hoynes George. Also, Denver is basically a farm system for the Bachelor. Lots of futures and formers are here, enjoying the scenic insta backdrops and healthy culture. As I type this I am literally the fattest person in Denver. Every single person in this city is either on the way to or the way back from a yoga class or a spin class. Everyone has a dog, everyone is running with their dog, and every dog is having trouble keeping up.
We open on Katie and Tayshia talking about hometowns. Katie notes she never had a hometown date because she didn’t make it to the final four on her season. Katie also notes that she has not told anyone she is in love with them, and thinks that she will only say that to one guy. Then she mentions Michael and how she could become “an instant mom.”
Meanwhile Michael is sitting down for his daily FaceTime with James. Not box-guy James, Michael’s son, who is also named James. Anyway, child-James is very young, and during this heartbreaking FaceTime Michael tries everything to let his son know that he wishes he could be with him and that he wants to make up for the time that they are losing. I believe a promise of Disney World is made (child-James seems not to have been speaking into the microphone). Michael tells his son that he is away to do “just some work.” Child-James says “I know what the problem is, maybe daddy left because he don’t [sic] want to see me.” Michael protests vigorously, but of course child-James has decided this is the end of the call, and Michael’s wide smile as he says goodbye turns to tears the second the phone goes dead. As he stands up, we see a masked production assistant in the background. The PA, whose job is literally to torture Michael, can’t resist hugging him.
We see Michael take an elevator, and we already know where this is going (literally and figuratively). When Katie answers the door to her room, Michael tells her that “something happened that kind of changes things for [him].” Katie recognizes the impossible position Michael is in, and admits that she cannot beg him to stay even though she wants to and “saw [them] going to the end.” It is a rough moment, but Michael says “a boy needs his dad” and then there is a lot of crying. I mean, I think his boy needs Michael in this situation, so let’s pretend he said “this boy named James, not the one you dated, a different James, that James needs his dad, his dad is me.” Katie and Michael say things like “I know it would have worked” and “I’m not leaving because of us” and “there’s so much I want to tell you” and Michael gives Katie a pocket watch that was part of his out-of-the-limo gimmick. Michael says the show was about love and time, and he thought love would be the hard part. But it turned out they just didn’t have enough time. Katie tells the camera “I came on here to meet my person, and it is very possible my person just left.”
As departures go it is pretty sad. Though it certainly did not seem like Michael was “winning.” He was definitely an intriguing choice for Katie, and they did have good chemistry. But neither had met the other’s family or actually left the bubble of the resort. Katie can say “instant mom” to Tayshia, but it is unclear that she really understood what that could mean. Including that it could mean placing her happiness at the mercy of a toddler whose unwillingness to give up his dad for a few more weeks, even for Disney World, meant that Michael was going to be the second guy in as many episodes to seemingly turn down the chance for more time with Katie.
Which brings us to a pattern that is emerging. After Andrew S was semi-offered a chance at being the fifth hometown and turned it down, Michael now turned down a chance at a fourth hometown and what seems like a lock for a fantasy suite. The producers seem to have done Rachel Lindsay dirty on her season by implying heavily in the edit that her first choice refused to propose and caused her to settle for her second choice. Rachel is married to the guy who proposed, and she seems to believe that the show did their best to undermine that relationship to push a narrative. That narrative being “look, the guy the Bachelorette really likes dumped her.” It seems like we might see that narrative again.
With Michael leaving, there are three hometowns and presumably three fantasy suites. It doesn’t sound very dramatic, but the teaser for the next two episodes suggests it very much will be.
The Men Tell All
Tayshia and Kaitlyn will be hosting this episode, which is a real change from the last one when Chris Harrison had the reins. In addition, there is a live audience. That is something we haven’t seen for a while. The men who are going to “tell all” represent about half of the eligible guys (the guys still dating Katie are not eligible). Nor does it include everyone we have gotten to know. Mike P is notably absent, so we won’t be talking about his mom.
In the room are twelve dudes. Michael (the single dad who left to be with his son), Quartney (a guy with a Q in his name and no other distinguishing features), Cody (a guy who knew Aaron in San Diego and had beef with him there), someone named Kyle I literally did not recognize, Karl the terrible motivational speaker, box-guy James (no relation to Michael), Andrew S (the football player who finished fifth), Aaron (prolific beef-haver), Hunter (alleged liar to drag queens), Connor B (cat guy, bad kisser, good ukulele player), Tre (beef-haver), and Brandon (inexplicable 7th-place finisher and a Canadian). There are a lot of people who didn’t make it, which makes the inclusion of Kyle all the more confusing. Is the episode being filmed at Kyle’s house?
Friends, I have watched many men tell many alls in my day, and the pattern is always the same. There is: 1) a rehash of notable beefs, always cut mercifully short; 2) a few Bachelor/Paradise auditions; and 3) the lead coming on the show to re-dump some of the contestants. In the mix are some outtakes and bloopers and teasers for the new show. And maybe your occasional strange audience interaction since we have an audience of strange people (believe me, I am very much in a glass house here).
Kaitlyn and Tayshia lay out the order of the rehash-able beefs. They are: Cody and Aaron; Karl and everyone; Thomas and everyone; and Hunter and everyone. Right now you can see none of these beefs matter one bit. Cody thinks he was there for Katie and that Aaron overreacted to some out-of-context jokes about “getting famous.” Karl has decided after watching the season that when he said “some guys aren’t here for the right reasons” he meant “Thomas.” At the time we noted that Karl was both lying and correct. Some guys weren’t there for the right reasons, and when Karl said that he had no idea which guys. But everyone decided Thomas was bad news and now Karl is pretending to have gotten there first. No one believes him. He and Brandon seem like they want to fight but they don’t, they just want you to remember that once there was a guy named “Karl” and a guy named “Brandon.” Despite Thomas not even being there, everyone wants to remind everyone else that Thomas sucked. And then that Hunter was “just like Thomas.” If you are really into arguing minutiae, Hunter admits he lied about not having a “top four” list but claims he did not lie about “being in love” citing the “being in love vs. falling in love” precedent established in many Bachelor/ette seasons.
If we are being charitable, the things about this discussion that are worth noting are:
Brandon used the term “fake news” four times;
Karl used “witch hunt” only once;
Connor B inexplicably stood up for Hunter “falling in love” with Katie; and
Karl remains a very bad motivational speaker.
This season’s non-love stories seem to have been defined by the men of the house ganging up to take down a different person. If you ignore the occasional Lord of the Flies moments, the majority of the guys seemed to really like each other. They didn’t get to travel much, and had all been isolated (we hope!) due to Covid, and had their own space in the giant resort. They cried when the others left or when they heard sad stories like about Michael’s loss of his wife, they laughed at each other’s jokes, and they seem to have mostly been friendly.
This is most annoyingly shown in the post-credits scene, which is way-too-many video clips of the men mimicking Andrew S’s fake British accent. I think a bunch of dudes doing bad accents would bother me more than them dating my girlfriend, but these guys loved it.
Connor B even sang a song with his ukulele (speaking of things that were annoying yet condoned in the house). The song ended with the line “the guys in this season have got me believin’ in bro-mance.” The other men joined in, because this season was that weird summer camp your friend went to one year and then couldn’t stop talking about people you didn’t know and traditions that made no sense and inside jokes that weren’t funny. “Then Tre joined in with the British accent too! And we all did an impression of Thomas smiling too much, and it was awesome! And then Connor B played his ukulele and we all sang along. I can’t want to go back next summer! I’ve been learning the ukulele and… guys? Hey? Where’s everybody going?”
2) Did I mention there were auditions?
Connor B was up first. I have made a lot of jokes at Connor B’s expense, but the fact remains that things went as well as possible for a guy who dressed like a cat and was dumped for being a bad kisser. Connor B has some actual talent and has a future in the franchise if he plays his cards right and is willing to walk away from all of that 8th-grade-math-teacher money. On the hot seat Kaitlyn asked Connor B if other people thought he was a bad kisser. Connor B claimed that he called some of his exes and they all said he was not. Then a lady in the audience named “Tara” raised her hand and was called on, which is not-at-all suspicious. And then said she knows Connor B couldn’t be a bad kisser before walking on stage and kissing him to prove it. This was presented as “one of those crazy things!” but obviously it’s fakeAF, and not just because I have spent months trying to kiss Connor B on television. Anyway, he and Tara are in love now. The most interesting part was Andrew S screaming “you’re a tiger!” over and over at Connor B.
Connor B was not auditioning to be the Bachelor, but Andrew S was. He took the hot seat and said he wanted someone to “pick me for me.” That is what a Bachelor would say! He spoke kindly of Katie, in particular her response to Andrew S’s conversation about the challenges of interracial relationships.
The other potential lead in the room was Michael, and his televised audition was a bit longer. The hosts rehashed the heartbreaking end to his time on the show from earlier in the episode. We see that Michael has a beard now.
I think the beard makes it appear that this Michael is from the Star Trek Mirror Universe. He remains as sweet as ever, though I can’t shake the sensation that his son James (confirmed NOT box-guy James) will watch this season in ten years and be like “dad, you really made it sound like I stopped you from finding love.”
Kaitlyn tells Michael that they are all hoping he will find love, and Michael says “I’m trying.” I imagine the show is also trying to get Michael to be the Bachelor, though they will need to negotiate with son-James as well. “If we can have your dad for two months, you can join the PJ Masks crew, guest-host Kimmel, and live at Disney World. Every morning you can eat those eggs Baby Yoda ate. We are a big entertainment conglomerate and we want to pimp your dad out on TV, and you hold all the cards, James. You wanna be an Avenger? Help us help you.”
Kaitlyn and Tayshia asked Michael the big question: would you still be into Katie? Michael would. From his perspective, Michael was called away by his most-important duty. I imagine Katie feels differently now, having presumably built some pretty strong connections during hometowns and fantasy suites and possibly when she got engaged to one of Michael’s old housemates.
Notably there were a lot of “bloopers” and “funny moments” and most of them were not funny. But they did showcase Michael’s personality, and I have to admit he seems likeable and clever and beloved.
Because filling two hours of TMTA is hard to do, the show brought out Jason Tartick, Kaitlyn’s fiancé. This was an opportunity to tell the story of how Jason proposed to Kaitlyn, which involved them co-hosting a podcast episode that was just a ruse to allow Jason to film his proposal. This was, believe it or not, the second-most-contrived proposal I have seen Kaitlyn accept on television. But there seemed to be genuine emotion including Jason just crying through his whole thing like a puppy dog that can’t believe how lucky it is. Kaitlyn, unlike her first proposal, swore a whole bunch. It was a nice reminder that Kaitlyn is one of the all-time-great personalities from the show, and we are lucky to have her involved. As she realized what Jason was doing, she yelled “I’m wearing a tequila shirt!” While this was lovely to see, it did underscore the fact that TMTA is an hour longer than it needed to be. I mean, I was promised men telling all, not a video of an almost podcast!
What else was on the list? Oh, right, 3) the ritual re-dumping by the lead.
Katie takes the stage and immediately goes to work. Kaitlyn mentions that Michael isn’t over her, per his previous interview. Katie says Michael is great but she has “moved on” and knows he will too. Michael tells Katie that she made him realize that he could love again, and that is what a Bachelor would say!
Andrew S tells Katie that she “made a man out of [him].” That is… maybe what a Bachelor would say? Andrew S thanks Katie for being great, Katie thanks Andrew S for being great, and then also notes that when she asked him to stay she was kind of caught in a moment with a great guy and not, you know, in love with Andrew S.
Things get a little weird after that, as Tre also thanks Katie for making him a good man. I was going to make a joke that Katie didn’t remember Tre’s name, but then Aaron chimed in to also thank Katie for being great and Katie said “thanks Thomas.” It was very funny and awkward. After that, no one else tempted fate by trying to convince Katie and America that they had been in a meaningful relationship with Katie that somehow just didn’t come through on the TV.
The final guy to talk to Katie was over Zoom. It’s Thomas! Thomas told Katie that his exit “sits with him” and gamely tried to apologize. For what? Who knows? Making Katie feel like he wasn’t there for the right reasons by telling the truth to a house full of guys who hate him? Sure! Katie also told Thomas that she thought he was not genuine based on a conversation where he seemed to smile too much. Thomas said “I respect that” and it seems like Thomas is just a handsome man who wants someone to accept his apology. Katie then offered a semi-apology of her own, noting that “it is unfortunate how things were handled” and she is sorry if “it caused him pain.” The “it” there is, presumably, the time Katie theatrically humiliated Thomas by dumping him during a rose ceremony with the words “your Bachelor audition ends now!”
There we have it! Tune in next week to find out if any of the other three guys dump Katie. We are told the finale is on the 9th, so there are two episodes left. Normally hometowns, fantasy suites, and the finale are all separate, so something has gone right or wrong. One thing we hope will go right is Victor’s safe return to the blog for both of these episodes.