If you thought Blake M. would be the big villain on this week’s episode of The Bachelorette, rose lovers, you were only half-right. Though the men were in no way pleased to see the Canadian crash their party, the week ended with even more of the guys annoyed at a totally different dude: Hunter.
Let’s recap! 
It’s a typical morning at Casa Bachelorette. Greg and Connor B. are cuddling on the couch, Andrew S. is doing cobra pose on the leather sectional, and Hunter is using his full bodyweight to help Andrew M. crack his spine.
Little do the men know that Blake M. is waiting in his hotel room, ready to turn this “journey” upside-down. “Today, I’m moving into the house with the guys,” he says. “I have no idea what to expect.” Sure you do, buddy: You should expect hostility, and lots of it! Just listen to Katilyn, who allowed Nick V. to crash her season back in ye olden days (2015). “It was rough,” she warns Katie. “My guys were very hurt… It did not go over well for the people I was really close with already.”
Lucky for Katie, the show isn’t going to make her break the news to the group. Tayshia, time to earn this week’s paycheck!
“A man reached out to me, a man that I know, a man that I trust, and a man that I know has good intentions. And he asked if he can have the chance to join all of you in the quest for Katie’s heart,” explains Tayshia. “Katie has made the decision that she would like to explore the potential of that relationship… And that man will be here soon.” Great job, Tayshia! Just one note: Please stop insisting that Blake has “good intentions.” Repeating something does not make it true.
Hey look guys — Blake has arrived!
The men glare at him. “I know all of you don’t want to f—ing see me here,” says Blake. “I don’t like the tension already, I can kind of feel it.” Well, aren’t you perceptive! While this is “technically” his third go-round on The Bachelorette, Blake insists he’s here for Katie and Katie only, because she’s so special, etc.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Damn, did producers hire Hagrid as their new PA? That date-card knock practically shook the foundations of my house. Anyhoo, because it would be the worst thing in the world if Blake crashed the party and then immediately got the first one-on-one date of the week, I think you all know what that date card says:
Before you start screaming “PRODUCER INTERVENTION, DAMMIT,” remember two quick things: It’s the producers’ job to act as the human incarnation of Murphy’s Law; and if Katie really didn’t want to stick it to the other guys this way, she could have said no. Also, who doesn’t love a mosaic of reaction-shot misery?
With that, it is time for Katie to pick up Blake for his date — but first, she must face her assemblage of disappointed suitors. “How’s everyone doin’?” she asks cheerfully, only to be answered with stony silence. Undeterred, the Bachelorette says she wants to “open up the floor” for questions, comments, complaints. Did Katie and Blake know each other outside of the show? No, minus a DM or two. Did she even consider their feelings before inviting Blake in? Yes, but she has to follow her heart on this “journey” to find “love.” Is she wearing a large plaid shirt or a jacket? Unclear. (That last question’s mine.)
Horseback riding is on the agenda today, though Blake has always been “terrified” of horses. “What’s ‘go,’ Katie?” calls Blake once he’s atop his steed. Come on, dude — it’s a living thing, not a bumper car. They ride through the desert trail, chatting about Blake’s “biggest passion,” which is advocating for wildlife. “I feel like I know her already,” marvels Blake. After all, they have so much in common: They both love the outdoors, travel, and dating on television.
During their post-ride picnic, Katie gushes about how “easy” and “natural” their conversation is, and she tells Blake he’s ticking off a lot of boxes on her potential-mate checklist. Soon, they’re smooching.
“Okay, you’re a good kisser too,” giggles Katie after they stop sucking face. “Check!” What follows is a hilarious sequence in which producers intercut footage of Katie and Blake continuing their makeout sesh in a big pile of hay with footage of Greg and Connor fretting about Katie’s obvious “chemistry” with Blake. 
Uh-oh, what’s this?
Okay, this is interesting. The above warning ran before the evening portion of Katie and Blake’s date. At dinner, Blake — no doubt nudged by producers — asks Katie to tell him about the origins of her “sex positive” attitude. She responds by sharing her story of sexual assault a decade ago, which we first heard about on the group date in episode 3. So here’s my question: If ABC didn’t run a warning before the therapy date (no doubt because they didn’t want to spoil Katie’s emotional reveal), why is viewer discretion suddenly advised now? The content of Katie’s story hasn’t changed. Did the network get blowback from viewers after episode 3? And am I just fixating on this because I really don’t want to listen to Blake talk about how he, too, is “very sex positive”? (Don’t answer that.)
Also, Blake gets the date rose. [deep sigh] Aaand we get our first awkward “private” concert of the season, starring American Idol season 17 winner Laine Hardy. Now that’s some corporate synergy. [even deeper sigh]
And there was evening and there was morning, the next day. Group date guys, you’re up! Greg, Quartney, Aaron, Mike P., Michael A., Andrew M., Josh, Justin, Brendan, James, Connor B., Tre, and Hunter arrive in a stretch bus (or something?) to meet Katie in a big grassy field. It’s a lot of dudes — and two more just arrived! Please welcome “athletic legends” (Katie’s words)…
“I have no idea who these guys are,” says Aaron, speaking for most of America. Wells and Franco are there to serve as color commentators for today’s activity: Bachelorette Bash Ball Battle, which Wells describes as “rugby meets basketball.” Winners spend more time with Katie; losers must slink home while wearing very revealing wrestling singlets.
“Everybody here is shredded. I’m here with my dad bod,” moans Michael A., who calls this the “worst day of my life.” (You sure you don’t want to revise that statement, bud? Your late wife’s family might be watching…)
The red team takes an early lead, and so Hunter decides it’s time to be aggressive, B-E aggressive!
Hope you we’re planning on using that kidney, Mike P.! Justin says that Hunter’s hard tackle “set the tone” for the rest of the game, and soon “we all started just blasting each other,” Mike P. reports. Indeed, Katie’s wince muscles are getting a real workout, as she watches men crash into each other again and again. “It’s getting intense,” she frets. “I’m a little nervous for them.” You should be, ma’am.
No, not Michael A.! Dear LORD, I hope that crunching sound was added in post-production. Our “protect at all costs” widower writhes in pain on the ground, Katie rushes out onto the field to see if he’s ok. “It’s hard to breathe,” gasps Michael A., as the medics attend to him. “I obviously feel terrible,” says Justin, the dude responsible for the tackle. “I’m not out here trying to hurt anybody.” Eventually, Michael A. is able to stand up, which is a relief. Question: Did Justin hit him so hard that his skin started flaking, or is Michael A. also dealing with a bad sunburn?
“I’m calling the game!” announces the wise Bachelorette. “We’re not playing anymore… When you get hurt and leave the bubble, you’re done. You don’t get to come back.” Okay, but who gets this ridiculous, upside-down phallus trophy?
The answer is… everyone! “To me, you all are winners!” says Katie. “And with that being said, I’m inviting you all to the after-party tonight.” Thirteen dudes looking for one-on-one time? Get ready for a long night, Katie.
While the Bachelorette gets the night going by pulling Michael A. for the first chat, Greg — “winner” of the First Impression Rose and the first one-on-one date of the season — is starting to spiral, right on cue. “It’s hard seeing Katie with other guys in this group setting. It sucks,” he says. “I’m just pretty exhausted at this point, worrying about so many other guys.” Poor Greg. If only there had been some way for him to avoid putting himself in this position!
You know who’s not sitting around moping, even though yesterday was his late wife’s birthday and he spent it away from his family? Michael A. “You bring comfort in my life,” he says to Katie. “And I think there’s something special here.” The Bachelorette agrees: “Oh, I know there’s something special.” Poor Michael is too sore to lean over and kiss Katie, so she scooches over to him.
Oh FFS, someone let Connor B. bring his ukulele.
What grown man in the year of our Lord 2021 thinks THAT is a good look? Button your shirt, you asshat! Connor B. thinks Katie is crying because she loved his song, but I’m guessing those were tears of repressed laughter.
Fun fact, back in 2015 when Nick crashed Kaitlyn’s season, producers made sure to position a different guy — in this case, Ian — as the villain by the end of Nick’s first full episode. And guess what’s happening right now? Correct: Now that Blake has arrived, producers are positioning a new dude to be the Bad Guy of the Week.
Suddenly, everyone hates Hunter. “I really can’t stand that guy,” says Aaron. “He’s kind of an abrasive personality… Kind of a ‘f— you’ mentality all day.” But Hunter feels “very confident” and says he’s clearly the best guy there for Katie: “I don’t want to sound cocky or overconfident, but there’s no one else like me here.”
When he gets his turn to sit down with Katie, Hunter tells her that he feels like their relationship is “very serious at this point.” Though he’s never introduced his kids to any woman he’s dating, he is willing to show Katie some pictures of Bennett and Madison. (Their faces are blurred out, no doubt per Hunter’s request. Respect.) Katie LOVES it. “That, like, makes me want to cry!” she swoons. “You are such a proud dad!” They smooch, and Hunter thinks he’s a lock for the date rose.
Back in the holding pen, Michael A. decides to share his story with the other guys. “We’re all here because we want to find a woman to support, share memories with, navigate life with,” he says. “And it’s the most beautiful thing when it happens. And when you find it… you don’t know how long you’ll be blessed with that time. I mean, I’m widowed.” He goes on to tell them about his late wife, how they were together for 16 years, and that the only reason he didn’t tell all the guys in the house right away is because he didn’t want everyone to look at him like “the sad dude.”
Greg is stunned. “You walk around so positive every single day,” he says, his eyes welling up. And just in case you weren’t crying yet, Michael A. comes back with a punch right to the heart: “When you see somebody fighting for their life that you love, and there are so many things outside of your control, you find positive even when your world is falling apart.” Oh crap, I need a minute.
It’s pretty clear what’s going on here, rose lovers. This heart-rending segment is just another brick in the producers’ “make Michael A. the next Bachelor” foundation. Part of me is one hundred percent on board with this idea. Sad widower/single dad finds his own Sleepless in Seattle love story — it could be the best Bachelor season since Jason Mesnick! (Ideally without the bait-and-switch at the end.) On the other hand, Michael A. clearly needs more time to grieve the loss of his wife and really should get as far away from this franchise as humanly possible. I can’t decide which outcome to root for!
Now Michael A. is crying, Tre is crying, Greg is crying, everyone with a heart is crying. Realizing that he should live every day like it’s his last, Greg decides to “step it up a bit” and show Katie how much he wants to be with her. And not a moment too soon! The Bachelorette says she was worried about Greg today, because he has “resting sad face” which makes him look like a “lost puppy dog.” (She’s not wrong.) Greg admits that he has a hard time with group dates, but he promises to suck it up. “I’m going to tough it out for you,” he says. “You are so worth it.” And she LOVES it. “That’s like a huge weight lifted,” says Katie. “Truly, one of my biggest fears is you wanting to leave.”
Still, the Bachelorette gives Hunter the date rose. (Was she wavering between Greg and Hunter, and producers nudged her toward the latter? Probably.) The other guys are very bummed, and Aaron vows to make sure that Katie learns how “fake” Hunter really is.
We’ll have to put a pin in that revenge scheme, buddy, because it’s time for Katie’s one-on-one date with Andrew S.! And the poor dude has been waiting all day, because this is a date that starts in the dark of night. Appropriately enough, Katie arrives dressed like Catwoman.
Leather head to toe! That’s one way to stay warm on those chilly desert nights. She hands Andrew S. a lantern and they walk deep into the woods. “What am I about to do — fight a bear or something?” wonders Andrew S. Nope! Tonight’s we’re-filming-in-a-bubble-just-go-with-it activity is… a kinder, gentler take on truth or dare. Katie and Andrew come to a clearing lit by dozens of string lights. Pink envelopes are clipped high above them, and each one contains a romantic ice-breaker of sorts, like, “Show me your signature dance moves” or “Would you rather tell the truth and hurt your partner, or lie and not hurt your partner?”
From there, Katie and Andrew S. grab some bats and pummel a bunch of ceramic hearts. The first one asks them to name “something you learned from your parents’ relationship” — and because Andrew S. had somewhat of a rough upbringing, it’s a hard question to answer. “I learned not to leave my partner hanging, even when things are tough,” he says. (Reminder: Andrew S. was raised by a single mom who struggled to make ends meet.) “I’ve learned that I don’t think I want to miss any moments with [my family].” Katie says she learned “to not settle” and that marriage is meant to be “forever.”
The date is going well. “It’s so easy being with him,” says Katie. “I just love the energy that him and I share together.” Oh man, you know it’s serious when the grammar starts to fail.
I sure hope those balloons are biodegradable.
At dinner, Andrew S. shares more about his childhood: When he was 6 years old, his father went to prison. Andrew found football, which became an escape for him, but it hurt to see other kids’ fathers in the stands supporting them. “I’m going to be there for my kid because that’s all that matters to me,” he says. “That’s kind of what led me to be who I am today.” Katie, being a child of divorce, can relate.
There is one big difference between them, of course: “I am a Black man, and you are a white woman,” notes Andrew. One of his exes, he says, was concerned about having mixed-race children — and though he insists that this woman isn’t a racist, it was still tough for him to hear. The question for Katie is implicit, and she answers it immediately: “I think our love could be so beautiful, and our children would be just as beautiful as that love. And I don’t give a f— when people want to look at me… To me, all I want in life is love. All I want is to have a beautiful family, regardless of how they look.” Awww, just give him the date rose already!
Don’t worry — she doesn’t try to pin it on his bare chest.
The final cocktail party of the week arrives, and for those guys who don’t have a rose — everyone but Hunter, Andrew S. and Blake — the pressure is real. “It hurt when Blake got the first one-on-one date,” admits Michael A. “And now he’s got a rose going into the ceremony tonight.” In other words, the new guy took someone’s spot! Aaron is so stressed about the situation, he punched his hand through a wall.
I just made that up. The dude probably hurt his hand during Bash Ball. The men sit in tense silence as they wait for Katie to arrive. Her dress is, as the kids probably no longer say, FIRE.
Bachelor Nation stylist Cary Fetman is killing it this season. Justin gets the night started by playing a “would you rather” game with Katie. Why did he draw a sweat sock on the cards, though?
It’s cute. (And I think it shows great restraint on my part that I didn’t make a GIF of Katie saying, “I want sex! Give me the sex!”)
Before anyone else can get time with Katie, Hunter (who, I repeat, already has a rose) pulls her away to gaze at the stars through a telescope. He’s even got some champagne and strawberries on hand to make the interlude even more romantic. “This is like a mini one-on-one date,” says Katie with a smile. James, roseless and annoyed, decides it’s time to put an end to Hunter’s selfish shenanigans. “I’m done sitting on my hands,” he huffs.
But when James tries to interrupt, Hunter pushes back. “I’m going to need at least a couple more minutes, bud,” he says firmly. “I just literally got here.” That’s a lie, but Katie doesn’t protest. James lurks in the background, and returns a few minutes later to pull the Bachelorette away. “It’s a big disappointment,” gripes the greedy Hunter. “Ruined my night.” You know what’s ruining my night, Hunter? Your non-stop sniffling! For God’s sake, try a decongestant, some Claritin, a Neti pot — anything!
When Hunter makes his way back to the holding pen, James, Tre, and Aaron scold him for his selfish behavior. “I hear you. I’m hearing you guys, and that’s all I can do,” Hunter answers. “I can’t take anything back.” Tre scoffs and says he should have waited until the end of the night to see Katie, just as Tre did last week when he had a rose. Hunter just nods and says “Okay,” but in his confessional, he’s defiant. “I’m focused on Katie!” he snaps. “I don’t give a s— what they think.”
Clearly. And anyhow, the damage has already been done. Though Tre, Quartney, and several other men haven’t been able to chat with Katie, the night must progress. Rose ceremony roll call! Greg, Aaron, Michael A., Connor B., James, Justin, Mike P., Brendan, and Tre join Hunter, Andrew S., and Blake in the Circle of Safety. So sorry, Quartney, Josh, and Other Andrew — but your “journey” to find “love” is over. It’s really sweet how much (most of) these guys like each other — look at them clapping for Quartney!
All of them except Hunter, of course. Hunter ends the night on another d-bag note: He straight up interrupts Aaron right in the middle of his toast! Rude. “They will not steal my joy,” Hunter informs us. “I’m not going to let it happen.”
Simmer down, Hunter. No one’s trying to steal your sparkle.
What a week, rose lovers! And it looks like the coming weeks are going to be even more traumatizing for our Bachelorette. (My prediction based on the promo: Michael A. leaves on his own after that heartbreaking, “maybe Daddy doesn’t want to see me” phone call.) Before you go, a few questions: Should Katie have given Blake the first one-on-one? Should Michael A. be the next Bachelor or never go on TV again? And why can’t Franco be the Bachelor in Paradise bartender instead of Wells? Post your (spoiler-free) thoughts below!
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