It’s not very often that a family travels from sunny Palm Springs to overcast Minnesota for vacation. But when the family is a queen bee who hails from Minneapolis and her 11 worker-bee boyfriends who may or may not be looking for 100,000 new Instagram followers, Minneapolis really becomes the only place to be.
Michelle’s arrival in her home state finally brings to the forefront a question that I—and all of her boyfriends, I’m sure—have been quietly pondering all season long: Does Michelle want to, like, live in Minnesota? Does she want to continue being an elementary school teacher there? Does she want to pursue a life with no gummy hair vitamin sponsorships whatsoever? A life not even slightly subsidized by charcoal toothpaste?
I love that Michelle prickled at Martin’s “compliment” that she’s “different” from other girls (more on that donut later). Because Michelle knows that most girls, to quote Hailee Steinfeld, are smart and strong and beautiful. And indeed, Michelle wants to be like (Michelle wants to be like) most girls …
… but in the Bachelor World, Michelle really isn’t like most girls. She may look like the girl in a movie who changes out of her basketball jersey to suddenly reveal that she was a supermodel all along, but when she’s not filming The Bachelorette, Michelle wakes up every day, packs a meal-prepped lunch, laces on a sensible shoe, and heads out to an actual day job. Like the rest of the ladies of Bachelor Nation, she might be open to getting a free mattress if Casper comes calling, or attending a few Revolve events in L.A.—she’s human, isn’t she? But Michelle’s life, as we understand it, seems pretty inflexible. I mean, they had to throw a whole other Bachelorette (one with much more standard-to-the-Bachelor-universe stand-up comedy aspirations) on the bill just to accommodate Michelle’s teaching schedule!
This kind of immovability is highly unusual for a Bachelorette who’s dating people from all over the country, and at some point soon, it needs to be discussed. This is a determining factor the likes of which we haven’t seen since Chris Soules was looking for a wife to mend his farming overalls or whatever. I’m sure Tayshia liked her pre-Bachelor career as a phlebotomist, but I also think she was more than willing to make a transition into “the beauty and lifestyle space” when The Bachelor made that transition available to her.
But I don’t see Michelle hosting. I don’t see Michelle doing a capsule collection of jewel-tone dresses with PrettyLittleThing. Maybe she will (I’d personally love a metallic fuchsia gown), but I also know that on Tuesday night, Michelle told Nayte that her dream is to raise a family on Lake Minnetonka. I know that Michelle waited until she arrived in Minnesota to take her two favorite boyfriends on one-on-ones, and only became more obsessed with them the moment they set foot on her home turf.
The feelings in this season—both for Michelle and from Michelle—have grown so serious and so fast that it seems necessary to start thinking through some logistics. Are Nayte and his full décolletage of tattoos going to move from Austin to a Twin Cities suburb? Is he going to get a precious pair of chunky-leather dad sandals like Michelle’s own father? Is Rodney? Is Rick? (Brandon absolutely would—pick Brandon, Michelle!!!) Having two partners who are both close with their families is all well and good until you have to start splitting up Thanksgivings, you know? And I don’t want Michelle to find herself in a Grocery Store Joe scenario where she suddenly realizes that nobody intends on moving to make this relationship work and is forced to mope around Bachelor in Paradise until a gorgeous 23-year-old takes pity on her soul.
It’s not the worst-case scenario—but it’s not ideal either. And Michelle deserves the very best. So let’s turn our attention to Minneapolis and figure out which boyfriend seems most prepared to strap on their water skis and settle down in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
When it comes to a seamless transition, Minnesota Joe is the obvious choice for Michelle …
When it comes to speaking multiple sentences out loud and holding sustained eye contact, however, Joe is not quite on Michelle’s level. He may just be the most reserved Bachelorette contestant we’ve ever spent this much time with, and you have to wonder: If Michelle didn’t know who Joe was before he came on her season, could someone this quiet have possibly lasted this long? Personally, I have a suspicion that Michelle has known who Joe was since they almost won Mr. and Ms. Basketball in the same year, and she’s harbored a little crush ever since…
And while I’m busy writing that fan fiction, the Bachelorette editors are busy scoring the entire first half of this one-on-one to unusually abrasive music because the already-quiet chemistry between Joe and Michelle becomes even quieter as they walk the vacant halls of Michelle’s old high school. But the moment the zany piano melody gets going and Joe and Michelle start playing basketball, the chemistry Michelle is always talking about having with Joe is finally, finally palpable. The halls are alive with the sound of sneaker squeaks and unresolved sexual tension via dribbling.
Finally, after playing some pretty impressive one-on-one basketball and staring silently into each other’s eyes in the bleachers, it’s time for the nighttime portion of the date. I actually have to hand it to the Bachelor franchise: After many fans noted that there should have been a content warning before airing Jamie’s difficult experience with his mother’s suicide, they did take note and provide a content warning for the upcoming discussion of depression and suicidal thoughts.
When Michelle and Joe sit down to dinner, Michelle says, “So, tell me about Joe.” He proceeds to open up to Michelle about his history with injuries, and how he was affected mentally by the one that finally took him out of college basketball altogether. “It was beyond difficult,” he says. “It was anxiety, depression; there were times where I was thinking if I even wanted to still be here, and that was tough for me. Ball was life, and that life was gone.”
After sharing more with Michelle in a few sentences than he’s shared in the last four weeks combined, Joe laughs a little nervously and says, “Thanks for asking.” Michelle tells him that it’s OK to let it out, and that she of course relates to having one’s identity be so wrapped up in playing a sport that eventually has to come to an end. They quietly thank each other for sharing, quietly kiss, quietly ride a Ferris wheel together, and, I think, quietly fall in love. I think that because Joe expresses himself the only way a reserved former athlete knows how: by offering up a paraphrased and uncredited quote. “The best things in life are on the other side of fear,’” he tells the camera, explaining that all of this has been “really fearful” for him, but that Michelle makes him comfortable enough to express himself. As for Michelle, she straight up says this was “the most powerful, special, perfect, stars-aligning date I’ve ever been on.”
Best of luck to all you coastal elites, because Minnesota Joe may have just stolen your layup and your girl.
[We interrupt this regularly scheduled recap to check in with our prescheduled Bachelor, Clayton.]
Of course, we know one man who for certain won’t be stealing Michelle’s heart, and that’s Clayton the Future Bachelor, who has to lose before he can win. But I guess he also doesn’t have to make a lasting impression, or stand out to the audience, or do anything but be 6-foot-5 before he can win—because once again, he is serving “Go girl, give us nothing!”
This “Ultimate Viking” group date does lend itself to Clayton’s generally large and affable characteristics though, leading Michelle to finally fork over the group-date rose.
And yet it must be noted that even when Clayton technically wins …
… he still loses to Rick. Nobody puts themselves out there like Rick.
Fact Checking With Chris S.
This Alex P. Keaton dork; this smug Law & Order assistant district attorney wannabe; this grown-up Little Rascals lackey; this sentient movie poster of Matt Damon’s giant face; this man who does not even deserve his own jaw line!!!
Chris S. makes me so much angrier than Jamie, so much angrier than Peter the Pizzapreneur. Because Chris S. is an everyday kind of villain. He is the man who’s in your Bumble messages calling you a tease for saying hello and not immediately following up on his pleas to send pics; this man is telling his friends, “No, this girl was crazy,” after you declined a third date because he called your bartender a “butter face” when she went to get the check. Chris S. casting himself as Michelle’s hero last week, only to immediately turn around and cast himself as Michelle’s victim when she didn’t do exactly what he wanted her to, is just so very typical. Chris S. thinks he deserves a one-on-one not because he has a strong connection with Michelle, but because he simply decided that she owes him for speaking up for her in a way that she absolutely did not ask for.
Chris S. is as entitled as they come, and it is torture to listen to him whine and complain about Michelle picking Nayte for this week’s final one-on-one after he explicitly told her not to. And since Chris S. spent last week lying about how Michelle “probed him,” I think it’s time we run a fact check on all of Chris S.’s most offensive lies this week:
“Michelle was very grateful for what I said—what I told her validated basically what she was already thinking.”
The only thing that Chris S. told Michelle was that Nayte was overly confident, which had absolutely nothing to do with what Michelle said about not feeling seen during the group date (which, again, Chris S. was not there for, but felt sure he understood better than anyone else).
“I’m disappointed. I went out on a limb for her, and told the honest truth, which is what she wanted to hear, and asked from everyone else in the house.”
You went out on a limb for you, Chris S. If you went out on a limb for her, you wouldn’t expect to be rewarded for it, and you definitely wouldn’t be ticking off all your alleged good deeds on your fingers.
“Everything I said fell on deaf ears—the way things have played out, I feel like I got the short end of the stick.”
How dare you tempt us with that short-end-of-the-stick line! As for the rest of it: Michelle acknowledged “everything you said,” spoke to Nayte about it, and found his confidence both warranted and appropriately tempered after their conversation, you slimy crooked senator from House of Cards.
“To be honest, I’m still upset she gave Nayte the one-on-one.”
THEN LEAVE, DUMMY!!!
“She didn’t say thank you for me coming out and doing what I did last week … and then she speaks with every single person here but me? Like, that’s crazy to me.”
She did say thank you after you gave a sanctimonious speech that accomplished nothing, Chris S. And she didn’t speak to everyone but you—everyone but you spoke to Michelle, because, as you may recall, the thing Michelle was upset about last week was men not speaking to her.
“Right now, I’m in shock. You know, I’m a fun, goofy guy; I’m playful, and I wasn’t that today, and you’re not gonna check in on me at all?”
Hey, Chris S: You are not fun, you are not playful, you are not a goofy guy! You are a guy who plays stupid games … and got stupid prizes.
The Stupid Prizes
Despite all of Chris S.’s moaning and complaining, this season is—as it always has been—Nayte’s bag to drop. He gets the second one-on-one because Michelle has been dying to go on a date with him, and she very obviously wanted to wait until she could show him her hometown, where she could roll up in a boat looking like an absolute babe:
Michelle also invites her two best friends on the date for a while, and they attempt to tough-guy interrogate Nayte before eventually just showing their true Minnesota-nice colors and advising Nayte to “get to know Michelle deeply—she is so worth knowing.” Unfortunately, they don’t ask the one question that everyone should be asking in every episode: Would you move to Minnesota for Michelle?
Michelle actually does ask Rick if he’d move to Minnesota later, and she seems shocked when he says he would—but we all know Rick would do anything for Michelle, including some light murder.
After a day spent “cleansing” themselves in the water of Lake Minnetonka, what is there to say about Michelle and Nayte? As Nayte likes to tell us of his relationship with Michelle, it’s all vibes—they simply get along and have fun being gorgeous together. But Michelle would like to see her relationship with Nayte go beyond “vibes,” so heading into the nighttime portion of the date, Michelle is looking for “something that can be fun and exciting, but I also want to have deeper conversations, and to know where his feelings are.”
But when Michelle asks Nayte what he wants in a relationship and he literally says he wants something fun and exciting … she’s totally fine with that! However, she takes it upon herself to open up more to Nayte, telling him that she was in a relationship for nearly three years where she knew that she was giving more than her partner. The stress of the relationship made her so physically ill that she went to doctors to figure out why she couldn’t eat, and eventually moved back in with her parents because at her weakest moment, her boyfriend told her he “couldn’t do this anymore.” (If this is the same ex-boyfriend who tried to make her feel bad for being upset that she was called the N-word in the grocery store, well, Jake Gyllenhaal is in luck, because my ire for the week has officially transitioned between undeserving men.)
This is when Chris S. shows up, saying that he needs to talk to Michelle because he didn’t get to speak with her on the group date (I’m starting to suspect that interrupting Nayte was his intention all along). Praise the Bachelor gods, Nayte stays in his seat and only snarks out one, “Weird,” because he just can’t help himself.
But Chris S. is not just weird—he’s fully delusional. He actually tries to hit Michelle with this little diddy: “I felt really disappointed last night that I didn’t get the chance to speak with you, and to be honest, I felt really played by this whole situation.”
By “this whole situation,” Chris S., of course, means the situation he created out of a conversation that he was not originally involved in. And by “played,” he means that vilifying Nayte didn’t work out the way he thought it would and that’s not fair. Poor Chris S. has been victimized by a situation he made up in his head, and Michelle is gracious about it, but she’s simply not going to take it on. Her likely future husband—or at least temporary fiancé—is waiting just a few feet away. Michelle tells Chris S. that while she believes he had good intentions (one more fact check: He did not), she was caught off-guard by the way he stood up and spoke for her at last week’s cocktail party. She appreciates his attempt to look out for her, but “as a female, and a female of color, there’s a lot of situations where people speak for me, and my voice isn’t heard—I’m empowered when I can speak for myself.”
With that, Chris S. actually pipes down and walks silently to a car that will drive him far, far away from Michelle so he can be angry and prideful at home. Nayte gets the rose, and for now, the bag stays secured.
When Martin Tells You Who He Is—Give Him a Rose, I Guess?
In the end, I guess we can only assume that Michelle is extremely attracted to Martin—and I can’t say that I don’t get it! I, myself, am a maximalist, and Martin is basically a gallery wall come to life where every piece of art is sponsored by FBoy Island, the Big Sleeveless Agenda, and Monster Energy drinks:
But between this week’s Cocktail Party performance and last week’s defending of Jamie, I’m starting to wonder how Martin consumes enough protein to have those abs when his foot is so consistently taking up all the space in his mouth. (It also makes the constant backflips even more impressive.)
Martin and Michelle’s conversation at the Cocktail Party starts off a little uncomfortably when he tells Michelle that he’s noticed she gives the same compliments to him that she gives to everybody else, and he wonders whether she really means them. Michelle asks if, after everything he’s seen from her, he really thinks she’d “blow smoke up [his] ass.” Martin immediately backs off, just like he did with the Jamie comments last week, and says he’s so grateful for all of the experiences he’s had with Michelle, and wants to create even more romantic moments for her …
Then he steps so fully in shit I doubt he’ll ever be clean again:
Michelle: I’m not too hard to please.
Martin: Really? Not high-maintenance?
Michelle: No! Are you kidding?
Martin: That’s the thing about girls in Miami—veeeeery high maintenance.
I don’t know if anything could make me love Michelle more than this moment when she immediately sides with every single woman in Miami over Martin. Michelle cocks her eyebrow and asks what, according to Martin, “makes a girl high-maintenance.” This is when you know he’s a dead man. Martin tries to say it’s someone who expects someone to do everything for them, but Michelle says, nuh-uh, not on her watch. “What makes a female high-maintenance, versus what makes a male high-maintenance?”
That stumps Martin: Men can’t be high-maintenance! “Because usually a man doesn’t go into a relationship saying, ‘Hey, you’re gonna take care of me,’” Martin explains to Michelle …
Michelle and I—we just laaaaaugh and laugh at hearing Martin say the most untrue thing anyone has ever said. Maybe Martin should check out this very timely, very topical SNL sketch that boils down the emotional labor every woman in a relationship has to shoulder:
Did you know Vin Diesel has a twin brother?!
Of course I did. What I don’t know is why Michelle would keep Martin another week after straight-up laughing at his worldview. But if I had to wager a guess, there was a producer somewhere nearby, hissing that she’d never see Nayte’s dangly earring again if she didn’t keep Martin’s nose ring in her crosshairs for at least another week. So I’ll see you back here then for Olu’s and Brandon’s one-on-ones. (Hey, a recapper can dream, right?)