Here for the Wrong Reasons: Episode 9 of ‘The Bachelorette’ Season 18
A recap of the ninth episode of the latest season.
December 21, 2021
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.
Almost Paradise! And I’m not talking about the “Footloose” song that plays at the beginning of each episode of “Bachelor in Paradise” (BIP). This week, Michelle and her final three guys travel to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico—not far away from the Playa Escondida Resort, where “Bachelor in Paradise” is filmed. It’s Fantasy Suites week, and you know what that means: double entendres and innuendos coming for you at every turn. This week, saying “I’m falling in love with you” guarantees you an invite to the Bachelorette’s hotel room, and an “I’m in love with you” gets you a whole lot more than a room service breakfast in the morning. Fantasy Suites are always a master class in the art of metaphor—I think ABC might have a ban on the word “sex”— but that can’t stop the producers from supplying fireworks, footage of crashing waves and cowgirl jokes. Without further ado, let’s get it on. (The recap, I mean.)
Like I always say, the devil works hard, but the “Bachelorette” producers work harder. As if adding sex and the subsequent hormones to the mix wouldn’t be dramatic enough, Nayte, Joe and Brandon have to stay in the same hotel suite. Someone call the International Criminal Court, because I’m pretty sure this classifies as a crime against humanity.
Michelle’s sister wives get the pleasure of watching each other leave to spend intimate time with their shared girlfriend, and the realization that they’re not the only guy in Michelle’s life comes crashing down on them. As Joe aptly tells the camera, “We went from bros to foes.” The awkward silence in this episode is ironically loud.
Fantasy Suite with Brandon
Mr. Safe Choice gets the first Fantasy Suite date, on which he and Michelle jump straight into a scene from a rom-com and go horseback riding on the beach. Just once, I’d like to see couples on this show go to the grocery store and see if they actually like each other in the real world. At dinner, he moves from Golden Retriever territory and nears full-on stalker level, telling her, “Until I take my last breath, I will always put you first.” Something tells me this guy already has their wedding planned down to the font on their Save the Date mailers.
Luckily for Brandon, his “I’m so in love with you I want to wear a locket of your hair” shtick is the golden ticket to the Fantasy Suite, so Michelle proffers an envelope with a handwritten invitation from Kaitlyn and Tayshia. (Now that the hosts are women and not Chris Harrison, it’s not as painfully obvious that it’s written in a female producer’s handwriting.) This season, they’ve majorly increased the Fantasy Suite budget—#NeverForget the airstream trailer Tayshia and Ivan had to stay in—and Michelle and Brandon get to relax in an en-suite hot tub. They gaze out at some fireworks before heading into the bedroom to presumably make some fireworks of their own. In the morning, they wake up, make out and throw food at each other, before it’s time for Brandon to leave. Obviously, he draws her a heart with their initials in the sand below her balcony on his way out.
When he returns to his hotel,
the producers hold him at gunpoint he chooses to sit on the couch next to Nayte and Joe out of his own free will. The guys immediately blow their lids, with Joe serving Brandon major side-eye and Nayte laughing as a trauma response.
Fantasy Suite with Joe
During this date, reserved Minnesota Joe has a lot to prove. Michelle tells the camera that they’ve moved at a slower pace, which is code for, “He hasn’t told me he loves me yet.” (In the real world, this would be a green flag, but we have to suspend our disbelief.) She isn’t sure where she and Joe “are at,” so, in an effort to bring out Joe’s adventurous side, the couple go ziplining down to a romantic picnic. (For a schoolteacher, she certainly ends a lot of sentences with prepositions.) Michelle is pleased to see his more animated side come out, but—and I could be reading way too much into this—her smile seems less genuine with him compared to the other guys.
At dinner, Joe says that although he is slow to warm up, he has a “goofy side,” but he is usually afraid to show it if he doesn’t know how others will react. Michelle pulls out a puzzle analogy—after all, this episode is all about finding your perfect fit—and says she’s still “searching for the last few pieces” with him. Joe is able to give her this last piece when they’re discussing kids, saying that he ideally wants three, which, we learn, is Michelle’s sweet spot. They also bond about how it’s easy to get lost after their sport, but want to set good examples of how to push forward. I’m not entirely sure how Joe accomplishes this in the real estate field, but he gets close enough for Michelle to extract the Fantasy Suite invitation out from under her untouched dinner plate. In the morning, they wake up and make out, with Michelle’s eyes slightly open, à la her ex and former Bachelor Matt James.
While Michelle and Joe are on their date, we get some more awkward sister wife footage. In the biggest fashion faux pas this franchise has ever seen, Nayte is wearing jorts, but this isn’t enough to check his ego. He tells Brandon, “I think third is the best to go,” because Michelle would naturally choose her strongest connection last. Brandon disagrees, saying that she would obviously pick her strongest relationship for the first date, and adds fuel to the fire when he says, “That’s my woman, that’s my wife,” to which Nayte responds, “Not yet.”
Fantasy Suite with Nayte
Michelle arrives on her date (dayte?) with Nayte on a boat, and as she does the classic Bachelorette running-into-every-guys’-arms move, he lovingly murmurs, “My girl.” As they say on TikTok, I hope my next blink is my last. On the water, she and co-captain Nayte steer the boat and hoist the sails together, and she tells the camera that she “feels how you’re supposed to feel with your soulmate … when you’re with your person.” I’m watching this season unspoiled (a first for me), but I’m pretty sure there’s no coming back from this moment for Brandon or Joe.
At dinner, Michelle is a woman on a mission in a stunning blue one-shoulder dress. The mission? To get Nayte to say he loves her. She asks Nayte if he has anything pressing on his mind, to which he more or less responds, “Nah.” They talk around in circles for what feels like hours before Michelle finally forces an “I don’t see myself running away, not at all. You know what I mean?” out of him. (Good thing we’re already calling the International Criminal Court, because forcing a false confession is a war crime too.) In Michelle’s mind, this wishy-washy response translates into, “Nayte is in love with me,” which is the magic password to the Fantasy Suite.
In the morning, Nayte doesn’t even make an attempt at innuendo, proudly sharing that he now feels “so much closer” to Michelle. Michelle, on the other and more wholesome hand, says that she believes “this is what a soulmate feels like.” Even over the live mariachi music playing outside the Fantasy Suite balcony, I can hear poor Brandon’s heart breaking.
When he arrives back at the sister wives’ commune, Nayte tells the other guys that he “definitely vibed out” on the date, and I can’t help but wonder … did he come by that word choice intentionally?
At the rose ceremony, the guys are their usual selves: Brandon is earnest, Joe is quiet and Nayte is cocky (he is six foot eight, after all). Before Michelle can hand out the first rose, Brandon steps forward and asks if he can pull her aside and talk to her.
“When I told you I put you first, I put you first … I will be here for you regardless of whatever happens to me,” he says. “Today might be my last day, but I just wanted to look you in the eye and just make sure that the woman I love more than anything is okay.”
It looks like Nayte was right earlier when he said that the third Fantasy Suite date is a lot stronger than the first … watching both sister wives leave to spend the night with Michelle after he felt so confident about their time together has definitely gotten to Brandon’s head.
As we watch Michelle and Brandon hug it out, we hear a voiceover of Nayte saying, “You only ever Hail Mary when you’re losing and you’re trying to just squeeze in a win.” He may be right, but this is one of the few franchise Hail Marys that have succeeded—after Michelle gives her first rose to Nayte, she gives the second and final rose to Brandon.
Michelle is crying as she walks Joe out. She tells him that she’s still falling in love with him, saying, “You understand a certain side of me that nobody understands.” She continues to twist the knife into his chest, saying, “You have a piece of my heart, and I think you always will.” Note to Michelle—you shoot a dying animal instead of prolonging its suffering. Just finish it off and let the sweet guy have a happy ending, dammit!
Per usual, Joe doesn’t show much emotion in front of her, but we do see some sniffles in the limo as he tells the camera, “I’m in pretty big shock right now … I really thought she was my person. I’m wondering what Brandon said, but I have no idea. You open up your whole heart, and then this happens.” I love Michelle, but I think she just smashed this guy into smithereens. As the limo pulls out of the resort, Joe says, “I just wanna go home.” As his sister-in-law predicted during Hometowns, it’s gonna be pretty awkward when he runs into Michelle at the Minneapolis grocery store.
Somehow, next week is already the climax of the season—the finale and After the Final Rose. If you ask me, it’s pretty obvious who Michelle will choose, but it’s not as obvious what their relationship status will be at the end of the show. Will Nayte commit and make an appointment with Neil Lane? Will Brandon edge him out with another successful Hail Mary? Tune in on Tuesday to find out.