Lessons on Love and Lies: Bachelorette 18, Episode 2

Hello hello! Two things to address before we get into the recap this week. First, it appears former Bachelor Nation host Chris Harrison is officially moving on from the franchise and in life with his recent engagement to long-time girlfriend (and Mizzou alum) Lauren Zima. They both made Instagram posts announcing the engagement. Harrison’s in particular came with a completely deleted IG feed and a new bio with no mention of Bachelor Nation. Alls well that ends well I suppose. Love that for them.

Second, Bachelorette 17 lead Katie Thurston and her fiancé of *checks watch* roughly seven months have called it quits. In a shared statement on Instagram Monday afternoon, they announced that they ultimately decided they were not one another’s life partners. Honestly, I didn’t see this coming until very recently. I randomly read a google alert about their relationship last week. In it, Katie shared they were each “doing their own thing,” which is not the best way to keep a relationship going. Probably too soon, but my guess is we’ll see Katie on sand next summer during Paradise. Either way, best of luck to both of them. 

Now, on to the recap! This episode gave us a bit of everything, some drama, the beginnings of love, healthy competition, and a few clear front runners.

We start with Michelle looking out of her hotel window and the guys officially moving into the resort. Quick note: last week I said the producers made Minnesota look nice, but turns out the men are actually staying at a resort in Palm Springs that is not La Quinta, which could explain some of the intense sweating we saw this week. 

The men are talking about their time with Michelle so far, Michelle is talking to Tayshia about her first night. Tayshia says the group dates are how she got to know Zac’s personality the most, which I thought was interesting insight. I love that both Tayshia and Kaitlyn encourage her to give the quieter men a chance. 

Kaitlyn arrives with a date card and of course, all the men want to be on it. Going on the date are Brandon, Romeo, Rick, PJ, Will, Olu, Casey, Danny, LT, and Peter. The card reads “Today’s lesson is love,” which means we’re getting a classroom date and also hopefully means, we’re getting out a lot of the teacher puns, so we can move on.

Are These Men Smarter Than Fifth Graders?

Photo: ABC

We see the guys running towards Michelle, Will and Brandon get their first, and I noticed Olu greets her as queen, a cute touch in my opinion. Michelle tells them she brought three friends and I’m sure the guys are expecting women from past seasons or friends from her hometown, but instead, we get three judgemental fifth-graders standing in a makeshift classroom. Personally, I love to see it. Children can be unexpectedly shady and great judges of character.

Michelle says nothing is more revealing than being in a classroom and that the men are going to be put to the test. They start with math, and this is where I would’ve legit tapped out. I cannot do basic math, not multiple-choice, long division, nothing. I write sentences for a living, we all have our lanes. Obviously, Romeo uses this moment to tell us he majored in math at fucking HARVARD.

Next, the men are in the lab cooking up a love potion. It looks like if they do it right, the liquid in their tubes should erupt and overflow. Most men are able to follow the directions and create this reaction, except Peter, the pizza maker. When we realize he didn’t do it right, one of the kids says “all you had to do was follow the directions,” which is a good point. If he can’t follow fifth-grade level instructions, future listening opportunities don’t seem bright. Which we see later on.

Romeo isn’t just a mathematician, he’s a scientist too! Photo: ABC

The men play musical chairs, and once again, Peter is being annoying, not really following directions, and literally tries to drag PJ off of the final chair so he wouldn’t lose. Not cute.

Finally, to test their knowledge, the men participate in a spelling test. Brandon struggles through this portion, a lot. Meanwhile, Peter uses this portion of the date to tell us he works out and is an entrepreneur. For the final word, the men have to spell narcissist, instead of spelling the word Will writes down Peter on his whiteboard, which gets a chuckle from the kids. We see Peter begin to unravel in his ITM. He’s literally losing it and I’m going to go ahead and call it, Peter sucks and his pizza probably ain’t that good.

At the end of the competition, the kids tell the men that they did an awful job, but there are no losers, so they all get participation awards, which feels right for the society we live in, but wrong for this show.

On to the nighttime portion of the date. We get a casual date night on a makeshift beach. One thing I will say about these bubble/COVID seasons, the set design department hasn’t missed. They’ve been doing a great job given what they have and the progression from Claire/Tayshia’s season to Michelle’s is clear.

Brandon pulls Michelle first and they laugh about his spelling struggles. He also takes this time to say his losses are learning opportunities, which was a smooth way to put his egregious spelling errors. Then he stares at her awkwardly and says some cheesy stuff that she absolutely hates. Clearly, she wanted a kiss Brandon, read the room! Michelle says that despite his horrendous spelling, there are sparks between them.

Next, we get the Will and Peter confrontation. Peter says he thought it was inappropriate for Will to call him a narcissist, then all hell breaks loose. Both men lose their composure, Peter starts getting loud, they aren’t listening to one another. We get this cutaway of Olu and Michelle talking, but we can hear them yelling at one another while she’s speaking to Olu. There’s this moment where Will says “what else do you have to offer besides the slice?” and honestly, I have the same question. I love a man with a job, I love a go-getter, an entrepreneur, but when it’s a personality trait, it gets annoying quickly.

A date card arrives back at the hotel for Jamie, who I still refuse to believe is in his thirties. The card says Michelle is looking for someone to be her rock. Jamie doesn’t seem excited. He says he plans to use the date as an opportunity to see if Michelle can fit into his life just as much as he might be able to fit into hers. Apparently, he has a job that is demanding where he might have to fly to a third-world country with a one-day notice, which seems fake, but okay bro. He’s right, these men should date Michelle as much as she’s dating them, but it was a weird thing to say in front of everyone.

Back to the group date, Rick has some one-on-one time and uses it to do a mad lib story of their first time meeting, which I thought was so cute! He uses it as an opportunity to get a kiss too. Rick is growing on me. I still need to know if he’s wearing eyeliner, not a bad thing if he is, I just want to know, it’s distracting lol. 

Finally, Michelle grabs Peter. I’m glad she didn’t address it as he and Will were fighting. So often the lead gets taken away from genuine conversations and chances to connect in order to squash drama like this, so I’m glad Michelle addressed it after she got time with the other men.

Michelle says it seemed like he was coming off aggressive, while also admitting that she doesn’t know how it feels to be called a narcissist. She takes a moment to acknowledge there will be moments when he may be upset with her, but if he’s going to default to yelling, that’s not going to work. I love this move. She is not playing games and she’s taking these one-off moments as a chance to truly name what she wants and what she isn’t willing to deal with in a relationship. I love that she’s doing this, she’s really setting the bar from the jump and she’s doing it in such a graceful way.

Everyone on the date comes together one last time for the night and Michelle awards the group date rose to Brandon.

Solid as a Rock

Photo: ABC

Jamie’s comments were still swirling in my head when we see him get ready for his one-on-one. On the one hand, Jamie is approaching it very practically, they have to be a fit for each other, this isn’t just the Michelle show (even though it also is). Still, he’s on a show that is inherently impractical, so it just seems weird that he’s here if he’s expecting practicality.

The couple is headed to Joshua Tree National Park and they’re scaling what (to me) looks like a fucking mountain. Is there really not a hilly trail they can climb? I was so shocked by the fact they were casually climbing rocks, that I didn’t fully register that they actually left the hotel for a date! I believe this is the first time we’ve seen this since Peter’s season.

I loved their teamwork throughout the date. They cheered for each other, listened to each other, and trusted one another. It was really cool to see and quite the ballsy first date.

As the nighttime portion begins, they toast to being one another’s rock, a cute pun. They start out talking about doing basic shit together, like going grocery shopping and buying snacks from the store. Michelle shares again how lucky she’s been to have parents who are still excited to do basic shit together after 33 years of marriage. I have to say, there is something blissfully basic about a low-key trip to Target or Costco with your boo.

Jamie begins to talk about how he hasn’t had that same example that Michelle had growing up. He begins to talk about some pretty deep mental health issues and we got no trigger warning. I will not go into complete detail about what Jamie shared, but if you watched the show and would rather not read any thought on his experience, feel free to skip the next three paragraphs (until you reach the line break).

We learn that Jamie’s mom was a teenager when she got pregnant and that his parents never got married. He said despite this, he started out strong in school until his mom began having trouble with her mental health. It sounds like things spiraled pretty quickly, their car was repossessed, they moved in with his grandparents, and then one day when Jamie was 12 he witnessed his mom trying to hurt herself. He began missing school so he could be at home more. Essentially, he and his family took turns watching his mother to ensure she didn’t hurt herself. This lead to several days of missed school, making it hard to keep up and difficult for him to even graduate.

By the time he was 24, his mother died by suicide. Jamie shared that at the time, he felt like he was unsure if he wanted to live. He said it took a lot of time to decide that living was worth it. This was an absolute gut punch. To be so young and pregnant, to potentially feel like she was in it alone, the pressure to raise a Black soon to not be too angry, or too loud, or too whatever else, while also trying to manage your own mental health, I cannot imagine.

I’m so thankful Jamie shared this story with Michelle and with us. We’ve now seen two Black men speak about their mental health and the mental health of those around them on national television and that is huge. Coming from a community that often tells little Black children to pray through depression and trauma, it is crucial that we are seeing these conversations on TV, not just in scripted shows, but on reality television as well so we know these situations are real. It helps viewers watching know they aren’t alone and also communicates that white people aren’t the only ones who can seek help via therapy.

Michelle is moved to tears and says she’s so proud of him and what he’s come through, it felt so genuine and was such a caring way to respond. She gives him the date rose and they share a kiss.

We get our first musical guest of the season, I missed the name of the performer, but it truly does not matter. We’ve had all these Black contestants in the last several seasons and we’re still getting white musical guests? Do better ABC. Y’all have budget. I’m not expecting Lizzo or anything (although the Minnesota tie-in would be nice) but there are plenty of non-white up-and-coming artists, even in LA, and definitely in the hometowns of these contestants. Do your research and pick one.

It’s not lost on me that Jamie’s mention of his jet-set life wasn’t even touched on, but I understand why sharing his family background was more important to highlight.

Love & Basketball

Photo: ABC

Right before the second group date begins, Joe gets a call from his mom. She shares that a former basketball coach of his passed away. He’s crying and says his coach would’ve wanted him to go out and play well, so that’s what he’s going to do.

We’re introduced to Dearica Hamby and Diamond DeShields, two WNBA athletes, one of whom just won a ring with the Chicago Sky, my home team! We also learn that Joe was named Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball in 2011 and that Michelle was the runner-up on the women’s side. We don’t get an explanation of how Michelle knows this, which makes it seem like she knows more about him because their relationship goes beyond the DMs and the show, but this is just the reality of living in a midwestern state/city with a handful of Black people. As soon as she said Joe was Mr. Basketball, I too was reminded who Indiana’s Mr. Basketball was the year I graduated. It’s just a thing, I can’t really explain it beyond that.

We see Michelle and Joe play one-on-one and it’s such a great moment. They’re talking crap like no one else is in the room, it’s so cute.

The Bachelorette’s Basketball Battle begins. It’s a traditional game of 5 on 5 and we got a local news anchor calling the game, which I loved. Of course, they put Joe on the shitty team, but Mollique and he begin to find their rhythm. They still end up losing which means no cocktail party for Joe…until he’s given the MVP award of the date, which earns him a spot at the nighttime portion.

Attending the cocktail party: Joe, Nayte, Martin, Rodney, Spencer, and Chris G. Michelle looks bomb, as usual, and I’m just glad to see a date with fewer men.

After the group toasts, Joe takes some time to connect with Michelle and he shares the news about his former coach dying. He says basketball was his first love and that being on the date released him from his grief. I noticed a few things during their conversation: Michelle was caressing his neck while he was talking, she was actively listening to him, Joe was gripping her thigh, and Michelle said she’d never experienced chemistry this quickly with anyone. They looked so comfortable with one another. She says she could see Joe being her teammate. Joe says the same, but they don’t say it to one another. I fucking love these two. Love them. They are so cute, the way they look at one another, how competitive they are, the game speak they do, the connection is so clear.

The red team is back at the hotel and sitting their nasty sweaty asses on the couch. The men make a few quips about Joe having Michelle’s eye and the men on the date mention that Michelle has spent a ton of time with Joe. Nayte makes it a point to say he isn’t bothered, we know he is though, he’s just smart enough not to talk about it with the other men.

Spencer shares pictures of his son with Michelle, Martin steals a kiss, and Nayte and Michelle sneak off for a little makeout. I’m still side-eyeing Nayte y’all, I think their physical chemistry is on point, but I’m not sure we’ve seen them talk enough beyond the family story he shared last week. 

When it comes time for the group date rose, Nayte was so sure it was going to him, but it went to Joe instead! Love that Nayte was wrong, love that Martin is bothered, love that Joe is back on Michelle’s good side.

Cocktail Party and Rose Ceremony

Photo: ABC

Michelle does it again with the damn dress. My goodness sis, please get your foot off our necks.

She takes Rodney aside to do a taste test to see if he knows what a Granny Smith Apple is, he still does not, which is hilarious. We get to see his personality a bit and we also see their first kiss.

Of course, that moment of levity leads to Martin starting more shit about Joe and Michelle knowing one another before the show. Jamie is bothered too. Spencer and Mollique say it is what it is and in the real world, she’d have the opportunity to date, multiple men, at once, they just wouldn’t know about the other men. When the guys get like this, I wish they’d admit they’re jealous or hurt because they’re starting to develop feelings. I also wonder why they didn’t just ask Joe? What does he have to hide? In most other situations, the men would’ve turned their anger to other men, it’s interesting they came from Michelle a bit instead.

Jamie claims that a friend of his in Minneapolis was walking into a bar and Michelle was leaving with someone who *could have* been Joe. Martin asks him why he waited to share these details and Jamie basically claims he forgot.

Listen, this is a competition. I know we don’t like to look at it that way, but it is. If Michelle is feeling one man over another, it is what it is. All you can really do is focus on your relationship with her.

Jamie confronts Michelle but is shady in his delivery. He says he doesn’t care if she knew Joe before, but he definitely does. He tries to paint it as other people being bothered and concerned about authenticity, but he is the one bothered and concerned about her authenticity. He’s essentially using her words against her while also throwing other men under the bus as if they are the ones who are upset when it was literally only him and Martin (that we saw).

Michelle is caught off guard and clearly uncomfortable, which Jamie totally misses. Now she’s second-guessing her connections and her decision to do The Bachelorette. Meanwhile, Jamie walks away satisfied thinking all is well. Men are literally so dumb.

Frustrated with the news she just received from Jamie, Michelle confides in Tayshia that she doesn’t know who to trust. She feels like multiple men are upset and questioning if she’s telling the truth. 

She addresses the Joe situation, says they exchanged a few DMs and that was it. I believe her, but now this makes me question why she was so upset about him ghosting last year. My guess is, they did exchange a few DMs, but maybe Michelle had a Clare Crawley moment where she spent some time on Joe’s social and began to think about him romantically, so she was bummed when he stopped responding. Like I said last week, May/June 2020 was a really isolating time for many people, especially Black Americans, so his lack of response could have hit her differently.

Michelle also addresses the rumor of her being seen with a Black man and it looking like a romantic partner by saying if the man she was with were white, they wouldn’t even be having the conversation, which is true. I think there’s an assumption of who Black women look like they belong with, versus who they don’t. This is especially true in predominately white areas/cities.

Anyway, Michelle opens the floor for questions, in true teacher fashion, and no one says anything. I appreciate how Michelle handled this situation, but I also wish she would have been like “fuck y’all, either you want to be here or you don’t.” Rodney and Peter say they’re confused after she walks away, Will and Romeo are upset that Michelle is questioning her judgment. The men began asking who said something to Michelle and Jamie is silent. Now, these men are mad and probably about to go on a witch hunt. Buckle up, Jamie.

Tayshia and Kaitlyn address the men and say Michelle is very emotional and feels like her character was called into question, but that she appreciates people feeling comfortable sharing what’s going on in the house. Then the cocktail party is canceled.

On one hand, Jamie asking Michelle to confirm/deny her knowledge of Joe before the show felt necessary. However, him being hyperbolic about the entire house talking about it, was not great. I imagine having to make her rose ceremony decisions without speaking to all the men was tough.

As Michelle begins to hand out roses, Nayte gets the first one, then Rodney, Martin, and Rick which seems like a solid top group of guys. I’ll be curious if this order shifts at all throughout the season. Sometimes the rose ceremony can be shown out of order, but usually, that first rose is telling.

Going home is one of my favorites, Pardeep, the two firefighters PJ and Daniel and Garrett, who probably should have gone home night one if we’re being honest.

In next week’s previews, there are still trust issues, Peter and Will are still fighting, and it looks like Jamie’s storytelling might catch up with him. Can’t wait to see that mess!

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