Earlier this year, The Bachelor saw a fan-favorite contest go home after a seemingly great one-on-one date. The person was shell-shocked but still charming in the classic loser car ride. The elimination happened right before the week of hometown dates. It preceded a tense, fairly strange group date starring that season’s controversial frontrunner. During this eliminated individual’s exit, they perfectly articulated their own romantic narrative despite the emotions clouding their head.
That person was none other than this season's bachelorette, Hannah Brown, during Colton Underwood’s “Week 7” as The Bachelor. On Monday night, history repeated itself almost exactly as Hannah, now the Bachelorette, eliminated beloved contestant Mike Johnson from her own season during “Week 8.” In a frustrating-but-sometimes-funny episode, Mike’s exit was genuinely painful — and it may have set up his much campaigned-for Bachelor future.
It’s difficult to feel like some of Hannah’s season 16 suitors are still on the show for her and her alone. As Garrett Powell says of rival Luke Parker before their “Week 8” three-on-one date, “He loves the idea of winning The Bachelorette. He doesn’t love the idea of falling in love with Hannah” Then, towards the end of the episode, it appears Garrett tells Hannah he loves her — not that he’s falling in love with her or could see himself in love with her — as a last-ditch effort to defeat Luke. At this point the viewing public knows Jed Wyatt, who nabs a rose within the first 20 minutes of “Week 8,” is on the show for The Wrong Reasons.
Too many of these men’s motivations are suspicious as best, if not outright hostile.
With Mike, there was no such question about his feelings. The Air Force veteran has spent season 16 playing by the rules of The Bachelorette. While Mike has been a fun, flirty, and respectful date, he has also bared his feelings and most private traumas. At a base level, he explained to Hannah how important the three ladies in his life — his grandmother, his mother, and his sister — are to him. Then, on a raw emotional level, he detailed to Hannah how his former fiancée’s miscarriage shattered his first engagement. In a season where the Bachelorette demanded bullshit-free honesty, Mike delivered with endearing, non-manipulative pathos.
He continues that tendency in “Week 8” with charm. During his one-on-one date with the Bachelorette, he tells cameras, “I’m definitely 100% feeling Hannah. And I want this so bad.” It’s a genuine statement that has no air of malevolent competition. Then, when he’s describing why the date is important, the Texas native explains, “You’re looking for her heart and her soul,” before admitting he could see himself getting engaged to Hannah and starting a family. In a sea of dubious prospects, Mike is unquestionably one of the good ones.
Then Hannah shows up the Netherlands' Mauritshuis sobbing at The Girl With the Pearl Earring, signaling she is about to let Mike go. The Bachelorette does before the pair can even enjoy a drink during their evening date, announcing she isn’t Mike’s “fourth lady” between tears. He is kind and thanks Hannah for her honesty. She looks heartbroken. Hannah cries all the way to the elevator as she walks Mike out, saying in a confessional, “This is by far the hardest goodbye I’ve had to say, and it’s because of how good of a human Mike is.”
However, simple math is the underlying issue here. With just two roses remaining in play ahead of hometowns, Hannah must get rid of Mike if she wants to keep frontrunners Peter Weber and Luke Parker, who have a three-on-one date to close out the week. There is no way Hannah was ready to lose Peter and Luke during her time with Mike. The only problem for viewers at home is knowing Hannah made this decision despite the fact that Pete reportedly had a girlfriend before Bachelorette filming began — which may not be so bad — and Luke is definitely a master gaslighter who is destined to slut-shame the Bachelorette in an upcoming episode.
It’s rough to know this is who Mike to losing to.
At least there is a silver lining here: Hannah helped set up Mike’s prospective Bachelor narrative in much the same way she crafted her own. As Mike leaves, she says, “Mike deserves to be loved as fiercely as I do.” It’s an echo of what Hannah said following her own elimination (she wanted “fearless” love). Mike adds to his storyline from the car saying, “I know that I’m ready for love, and I know that I was opening my heart up to Hannah and I know that she crushed it.”
A six-foot-something armed forces vet-turned-portfolio manager from the South who is getting over a very cordial, teary breakup and loves nothing more than his grandma? Now that has First Black Bachelor written all over it.