For one night only, fame thirsty men spill the tea on this season of The Bachelorette and rehash petty fights until someone begs them to stop. But because this show cannot stick to a strict schedule anymore, we instead open the Men Tell All episode with a widower being devastated that his kid thinks he doesn’t want to see him. The Bachelorette can be a real bummer when it wants to be.
Before the Men Tell All portion of the episode, we're back in New Mexico and everyone is getting ready for hometowns. Katie chats with Tayshia about how she wants to save saying “I love you” for the person she chooses at the end. Tayshia’s like, Dude, that’s not how to play this. They need to hear it or else they’ll be freaking the hell out. She’s right.
Meanwhile, Michael explains in his confessional that his four-year-old son, James, won’t be at hometowns, because he’s not ready to expose him to the show. Then, they video chat and Michael tells James he misses him. James responds, “I know what the problem is. Maybe daddy left because he don’t want to see me.” Good lord. Naturally, this throws Michael into flight or fight mode. He says he can handle pain, but "when it starts to affect my son, that’s when everything changes.” He heads to Katie’s hotel room.
Michael’s goodbye speech is like something out of a movie. A good movie. A well-written romance. He tells her what James said, and it’s clear that this wasn’t even a choice for him: His son needs him, so he has to go. Katie’s shocked, and says she saw them "going to the end.” Michael brings up how he gave Katie a stopwatch at limo arrivals, because time is so important. But, he still had the stopwatch because she didn’t have pockets that night. He gives it to her now, and says that time and love are the topics of the show, and “I thought that love was going to be the harder one to obtain.” That is a line.
They share a kiss in the hallway before Michael drives off. In her confessional, Katie says, “I knew what my life would be if I chose Michael and that was a life I wanted.”
And now, it’s time for guys to argue about nonsense. And would you look at that, Michael is already there. Ah, the magic of TV.
Hunter, Karl, and Brendan provided the classic Men Tell All argument.
A big theme this season was a bunch of the guys — led by Aaron — deciding which guy they were going to get booted off each week. Cody, Karl, Thomas, and Hunter all met their downfalls this way. Granted, Cody, Karl, Thomas, and Hunter all seemed varying degrees of suspicious, but some of the guys really focused on getting them out instead of focusing on Katie. The requisite argument-heavy part of the Men Tell All is all about this.
Unsurprisingly, Karl does his best to get screen time, including saying that the mysterious person he claimed to have info on was Thomas — the man who they all hate and who is not in attendance. Brendan, one of the villain slayers, says more than he did all season. Hunter admits that there was some lying when he denied having a top four list in front of Katie. Connor, who was his roommate, defends him being there for the right reasons, though, and I trust our Connor the cat. Speaking of…
Connor the Cat kisses a stranger.
After watching a montage of himself go from a guy dressed in a cat costume to a man sobbing in the back of a car, Connor gets some time in the spotlight. Because Katie said she didn’t feel a spark when they kissed, he admits he texted a couple people he’d kissed when he got home to confirm that he wasn’t really an awful kisser. Suddenly, a woman in the audience named Tara says that there’s no way he’s a bad kisser, and they share a very passionate kiss. Connor said he had been checking her out already. What even? Was this planned? It seems actually on the spot, be she is also clearly equipped with a mic. They even kiss again as hosts Kaitlyn and Tayshia go to commercial.
Andrew gets his second Bachelor audition.
Andrew’s hot seat interview is a second Bachelor audition. He talks about heartbreak. He talks about the honest conversation he and Katie had about interracial relationships. He talks about how he’s a hopeless romantic and grew up watching rom-coms with his mom. He says, “I’m still waiting for someone to just pick me for me,” which, yes, sounds like something a future Bachelor would say, but is not necessarily what he’ll get finding love as the star of a TV show. Andrew is cute and charming, but we have Bachelor in Paradise and another season of The Bachelorette before The Bachelor comes back, so nothing’s certain here.
Michael A. shoots his shot with Katie.
Michael would also make a fantastic Bachelor, but literally had to leave the show because his kid needed him, so that’s not a good sign for him doing even more TV. Asked whether he would be open to dating Katie again if she wanted to, he says “100 percent” and talks about how a theme in their relationship was this idea of “if love exists, it’ll find a way.” Will it? Will it?! Judging by what Katie says later, the answer is "no." Anyway, Michael ends by talking about how he’s now open to a relationship again after losing his wife, thanks to his experience with Katie. I’m a fan of this guy, but also sort of hope that this is the end of his reality TV career. I can’t handle another clip of a kid saying, “Daddy left because he don’t want to see me.”
We get a couple of deleted scenes, as is tradition on the Men Tell All. One is the guys practicing their smack talking during one of the sports-themed group dates. They’re bad at it, but a highlight is Michael telling Mike P. his “eyes are blue like a urinal cake.” We also get an update on the WOWO challenge, but only hear that Michael was out of the competition rather quickly and Brendan was too exhausted to masturbate, because it was hard to get a good night’s sleep while filming. Jeez, they really thought they’d get more out of this challenge, but it landed with such a thud from the start.
Kaitlyn Bristowe shares her engagement video.
In a moment that seems very out of place, Kaitlyn and Tayshia bring out Kaitlyn’s fiancé, former Bachelorette contestant Jason Tartick, and play a video of their engagement. He surprised her during her podcast. He cried. She squealed all of her sentences. It’s cute, but either the men weren't delivering enough drama or Kaitlyn and Tayshia didn't ask as many questions as Chris Harrison used to. They seemed to keep the questions pretty basic and the convos pretty short.
Katie confronts the guys in the not-so-hot seat.
The hot seat isn’t so hot this season. Katie really just gets a bunch of compliments from the guys and accidentally calls Aaron “Thomas”, who he points out is his “mortal enemy.” Connor sings a song with his ukulele, because he can’t not. The song is about bromance. Katie looks awkward from the first note to the last.
Kaitlyn tells Katie about how Michael said he would give their relationship a second chance if she wanted, and almost immediately, Katie offers very straightforward answer about how she has “love and respect” for him, but couldn’t dwell on the past and had to keep going with her journey. But, Katie, you can dwell on the past. Remember Jason Mesnick, who changed his mind and picked his runner-up Molly Malaney? Or Arie Luyendyk, who broke Becca Kufrin's heart to get back together with his wife, Lauren Burnham?
Thomas returns after all... via Zoom.
Thomas does show up eventually, but via video chat. It’s a great move, because he gets to just talk to Katie while avoiding all the men yelling at him. He apologizes for contributing any doubt into her Bachelorette journey as a whole. She apologizes if the way she kicked him off hurt him. (As a refresher, she called his name as though she was going to give him a rose and then told him to scram.)
The episode then ends about three times. First, Katie tells Tayshia and Kaitlyn she has no regrets and things worked as they were meant to, then we get the usual promo for the final Bachelorette episodes, which shows Katie telling Kaitlyn that she wants someone to book her flight home. Judging by the fact that we’ve seen zero clips of Katie in a finale dress standing on the franchise's typical proposal altar, there's a good chance this actually happens. Lastly, we get a kicker that shows Tre, Greg, Andrew, and Hunter all doing fake English accents on a group date, and it’s... hilarious. Andrew explains that Greg spoke in an English accent in the house all the time and would recite poems using the accent while pretentiously swirling a wine class. This. This is what we need to see more of on this show. If the powers that be could cut out half of the “wrong reasons” stuff and a quarter of the “I’m starting to begin to form feelings that could lead to love” stuff, and replace it with goofy accents that make this people actual people, we’d be on to something.
Frontrunner to win: Now it seems like no one. At least not in a traditional way. Maybe Greg leaves, and then Katie leaves, and then they reunite later? That’s my best guess.
Frontrunner for Bachelor: The episode was very Michael heavy. Maybe they can work out some sort of Jason Mesnick situation, where he gets to film some of the episodes in his hometown? Who knows. The next season of The Bachelor is just so, so far away.