A Bachelor Nation “Tell All” special is a tough situation. You may quarantine, only to be entirely cut out of the footage that airs on national television. If you’ve been painted as a villain on the latest Bachelor or Bachelorette season, you’ll spend countless minutes (if not hours) defending your actions to likely diminishing results. The event only reminds viewers of your worst behavior — weeks after many people may have started to forget what, exactly, is so irritating about you.
Thomas Jacobs, the prime villain of The Bachelorette 2021 and a man most famous for admitting he considered becoming the Bachelor when boarding this season, avoided all of those problems — while still appearing on Katie Thurston’s “Men Tell All.” Rather than sit through the taping of the special — which records for much longer than the carefully edited 90 minutes viewers saw on Monday night — Thomas video-called in for a short-and-sweet segment. It was the smartest move he could have made.
For an example of what kind of nonsense Thomas would have been in for at “Men Tell All,” which filmed on July 15, look no further than the experience of initial season 17 baddie Karl Smith. The special rapidly turns into a dissection of Karl’s uncomfortable time on The Bachelorette; during the season, he told Katie “multiple” men weren’t competing on the show “for the right reasons.” Karl never offered Katie the name of one such perpetrator and gave his fellow contestants confusing and contradictory explanations for his pot-stirring. During the special, Karl is called a “snake,” a scumbag” and accused of lying multiple times. He ends the first segment standing up in a macho-off with Brendan Scanzano during a barely intelligible argument about whether he “accepted his fate” during The Bachelorette.
It is ridiculous in the least fun way. All the rest of the men can do is loudly sigh “sit down.”
While Thomas was not in the room for Karl’s failed attempt at vindication, he was the main source of the conversation. Connor Brennan asks Karl what he “knew” at the time of his Bachelorette finger pointing and whether he was talking about Thomas back then. “Of course it was fucking Thomas,” Karl counters… only to be called out. Quartney Mixon says he’ll “take it to his grave” that he believes Karl is lying about pegging Thomas as suspicious. Tre counters Karl smartly, saying, “There’s a big hole in what you’re saying … If ‘Of course it was Thomas,’ then how could you have said ‘There are multiple guys [during filming].’ One of those is a lie.” Karl has no rebuttal.
The Thomas fixation continues throughout the evening without him on the panel. The second segment starts as a deep dive on Thomas’ psychology, motivations, and alleged manipulations. Aaron Clancy directly quotes Thomas. James Bonsall announces that no one thinks Thomas is a “bad guy” and suggests he may be “better off” than Hunter Montgomery, Katie’s final mid-season “villain.” Even Karl, who is sitting right there, does not receive this much attention or effort.
Then there is the most memorable moment, which arrives when Katie appears on stage. Multiple men unburden their emotions and regrets on The Bachelorette, including Aaron. He recognizes that “conflict” dominated his “journey” and promises, “I’m always going to be in your corner.” Katie responds, “Thanks, Thomas.” The entire room erupts in shocked gasps.
Thomas only appears in the final 10 minutes of footage from an unknown and unexplained location. If he does appear on Bachelor in Paradise, which has yet to be confirmed, he would be just a few weeks fresh out from filming, depending on when he left the beach (Paradise reportedly wrapped the weekend of June 26).
“My biggest regret over everything was speaking any sort of doubt or uncertainty into your journey of finding love,” Thomas tells Katie. “A lot of my actions ended up taking away the attention from you and away from a lot of amazing guys in that room. I just want to say I’m so sorry about that.” In return, Katie politely explains why she eliminated Thomas, saying he didn’t feel “genuine.” He thanks her for helping to “transform” him. Katie apologizes for the way she broke up with him, which was a surprisingly brutal rose ceremony bait-and-switch. The exchange, which lasts just about two-and-a-half minutes, is driven by a level of respect and decorum rarely glimpsed on reality TV — let alone this “Men Tell All.”
After a season of drama, Thomas manages to secure a polished reunion appearance where he says precisely what he wants to say — and not a word more. No one even forces Thomas to answer for his Bachelor Nation crime of pondering his Bachelor chances before meeting Katie (a normal thought, if we’re being honest, in a franchise designed to churn out new stars). Unsurprisingly, Thomas’ co-stars were not impressed. “I think he's sorry that what he did had the reaction that it did," Aaron Clancy told Entertainment Tonight. "He's sort of sorry when it's convenient for him." Tre Cooper added, "I’m just glad he was apologetic and didn't double down on what he did... I wish him the best going forward, but I have a tough time believing anything Thomas says."
Whether they believe him or not, everyone is still talking about Thomas — and he’s not even in the room. In Bachelor Nation, that’s power.