Welcome to “Here for the Wrong Reasons,” where each week I’ll be recapping all of the champagne-guzzling and petty “Can I steal you for a second?”s of the 18th season of “The Bachelorette.” Nothing boosts your confidence about your own love life like watching a bunch of desperate 20-somethings competing for a stranger’s affection! Check in every Wednesday for episode recaps and updates on Michelle Young’s journey to become an Instagram influencer find love. Make your picks in Vanderbilt’s (very un)official Bachelorette Fantasy League.
It’s week two of Michelle’s season of “The Bachelorette,” which means it’s time for some villains to reveal themselves. I like to categorize the two most common breeds of villains on this show as such: first, there’s the hypermasculine villain, who is typically obsessed with working out, aggressively competitive and the guy at the bar who would force you to accept the drink he bought you even if you said no. Think the Chad Johnsons, Luke Parkers and Yosef Aboradys of the world. There’s also the instigator, someone who starts drama with the other contestants and fills in the lead about issues in the house to come across as the good guy. Past instigators include Lee Garrett, Karl Smith and Jordan Kimball. What a crew. Buckle in, Bachelor Nation, because I’m pretty sure we met both of them this episode.
Are you smarter than a fifth grader?
The short answer to this question is a resounding “no.” For the first group of the season, Michelle challenges Brandon, Romeo, Rick, PJ, Will, Olu, Casey, Daniel, LT and Peter to an elementary school-level Battle of Wits, if you will. She’s joined by three “friends”—aka three child actors who didn’t make the cut for Disney Channel—named Mia, Kennedy and Riley.
First, Michelle and the fifth graders test the guys’ multiplication skills and discover that they should probably stick to using a calculator. Next, they do a science experiment; most of the guys successfully get foam to shoot out of their glasses, but Pizzapreneur Peter is too busy doing everything he can to get Michelle’s attention. Fifth grader Mia calls him out on his nonsense, telling him to “Leave her alone!” I’m calling it now: that moment is the start of this season’s hypermasculine villain arc.
As the date goes on, my suspicions are confirmed; during the game of musical chairs, Peter unabashedly shoves the other guys out of the way, although he ultimately loses to PJ. Then, it’s time for a spelling test, and the guys are asked to spell “narcissist.” Will cheekily writes “Peter” on his whiteboard, and our resident pizza man is pissed because he felt like he was “shining in that group.” They’re also asked to spell “entrepreneur,” which our Pizzapreneur aces, but Mia is not impressed by his drawing of a slice of pizza, since it more closely resembles an ice cream cone. Peter tries to defend himself, bragging to Michelle about owning a restaurant, and homegirl is not at all impressed, responding with a dismissive sigh. You tell him, girl. We don’t need any Chad Johnson vibes this season.
At the afterparty, Peter and Will get into a heated argument that goes something like this: “He called me a mean name!”, “All he talks about is pizza!” and “He started it!” Michelle’s fifth grade friends are more mature than they are. Michelle pulls Peter aside and basically tells him to check his rage, or else.
Next, she chats with Brandon, who epically failed, like, all of the tests—I’d be surprised if he can spell his own name—about his grades. You’d think this would be a turnoff for Ms. Young, but she seems into him, and he even gets a kiss and the group date rose for good measure. (Note to Michelle: you can’t fix him, honey!)
One-on-one with Jamie
The season’s inaugural one-on-one invitation goes to Jamie, and the red flags are flying immediately. “I think a big portion of this first part is, yo, are you right for me?” he tells the other guys. “Personally, I have a wild life. I travel to third-world countries with a day’s notice by myself … That one-on-one is important for me, too, to make sure, hey, I’m spending my time in the right place.” A relationship is a two-way street, to be sure, but I’d suggest he leave his humble brags and condescension at the door.
Michelle—who is dressed in a killer hot pink athleisure fit—and Jamie set out to have a lovely picnic at Joshua Tree National Park. The catch? They have to climb up a huge rock formation. They make a good team, with Jamie helping her along the way without the aforementioned condescension. After they arrive at the top, Michelle still looks good, which is just rude, and tells Jamie that she’s looking for her “rock,” pun very much intended.
At dinner, Jamie opens up about his upbringing. Born to an 18-year-old mom with mental health issues, he spent a lot of his childhood taking care of and worrying about her. He also discloses that she died by suicide when he was 24 years old. Michelle is touched that Jamie shared this heavy story with her and gives him the date rose. After all, nothing gets the Bachelorette’s roses (and tears) flowing like the revelation of deep-rooted trauma!
Basketball group date
Like I told you all last week, basketball is going to be a major theme this season. Michelle invites Joe the ghoster, Clayton, Rodney the apple, Martin, Mollique, Pardeep, Chris S., Chris G., Spencer and Nayte to shoot hoops with her and two WNBA players (she also gives them personalized uniforms, because ABC doesn’t know how to budget). Joe, who won Minnesota’s “Mr. Basketball” award in 2011—yes, that’s a real thing—is on the losing red team, but Michelle is so impressed by his skills on the court that she names him the MVP and invites him along to the afterparty with the blue team. The red team is not thrilled about the addition, and they’re even more pissed when Joe receives the group date rose despite Nayte’s confidence in his “connection” with Michelle. All of this tension is great foreshadowing for when the guys arrive back at the mansion and all hell breaks loose.
Get out your “Bachelorette” bingo cards, because we can officially cross off “first snitch of the season.” The snitch is none other than Jamie with the Red Flags, who tells Martin that his friend’s cousin’s dad’s dog saw Michelle leaving a Minneapolis bar, and people inside the bar said that she was “boo’d up” with a “tall, light-skinned baller.” He remembers this information when a couple other guys are already speculating that Michelle and Joe seem to know each other. How convenient!
Jamie chats with Michelle, telling her that other guys are suspicious of her and Joe and questioning her “authenticity,” but not him: “I just don’t really care because I feel like whatever happened before getting here has nothing to do with me.” Could he be any slimier? Michelle is rightfully upset that her character is being called into question, so—resembling an annoyed teacher who got a bad report from the substitute—she sits all of the guys down for a very stern talking-to. She tells them that she and Joe never met before the show and had exchanged a whopping two DMs before he ghosted her.
She is also not pleased that people assumed she was dating someone just because she was seen in public with a Black man. “Being a woman of color in Minnesota, any time I’m with a man of color, we’re a couple—that’s what everyone sees it as,” she says. “I could have a romantic dinner with a white guy in a restaurant and nobody would say, ‘Oh, they’re a couple.’” *Mic drop* Michelle fashionably storms out in her plunge-neck magenta dress.
This speech would have put the guys in their place, but it turns out that none of them—save Jamie, Martin and Spencer—have a clue what she’s talking about. While Jamie gave Michelle the impression that the entire house was buzzing with rumors about her and Joe, it was really just those three. Once the guys piece together what’s going on (Will eventually realizes that Michelle thinks they are all questioning her character), they demand to know who the snitch is, but Jamie plays innocent.
The rose ceremony
At the rose ceremony, everyone’s ready for Pizzapreneur Peter to get sent home (what’s with dudes named Peter in this franchise, anyway?). But as we all know, the producers need to keep him around to stir the pot, so he gets the dramatic last rose. Firefighter PJ, other firefighter Daniel, Pardeep and Alec get the boot, meaning that both of our rising villains are safe until next week.
The episode concludes with the guys still reeling from Michelle’s rebuke, and the promo for next week suggests that Jamie’s cover isn’t going to last much longer. You know what they say, Jamie: snitches get stitches.
Bachelor Nation news
In other news, it’s been a busy week in Bachelor Nation. After years of coaching Bachelors and Bachelorettes through their journeys to find love, ex-host of the franchise Chris Harrison got engaged to Entertainment Tonight reporter Lauren Zima. For my part, I’m dying to know if he proposed with a Neil Lane ring.
Not to be outdone, Katie Thurston and Blake Moynes called off their engagement on Monday, Oct. 25, shocking all two (if I’m being generous) of their shippers. This is pretty embarrassing for Blake, since this brings his tally of “failed relationships with Bachelorettes” up to an impressive three. I think it’s safe to say that Katie’s infamous pink glittery vibrator will be getting a lot more use now.