Bachelor Nation star Nick Viall leads a group discussion that saw several of Katie's guys open up about dark things they've done -- all of which inspires her to share a painful story of a non-consensual experience.
Everyone has a story and everyone has been through some things. Even "Bachelorette"Katie Thurston didn't expect to open up about one of the darkest chapters in her life, but after her guys were so raw and honest with their shares, she felt safe enough to do so.
It was a little surprising for Katie and the show to take things to such a serious place so early, but after Karl dropped a bombshell on Katie that perhaps not everyone was there for the right reasons -- with absolutely no supporting evidence or even specificity -- it also made sense.
Katie Shows Strength in Vulnerability with Powerful Share
If Katie is going to continue to be her authentic, balls-to-the-wall self on this journey, she expects no less from her guys. It was almost as brutal as strapping them into a lie detector test, but at the same time, it was far more impactful this way.
In what was essentially an isolated group therapy setting, with former "Bachelor"Nick Viall serving as moderator/group leader, the guys were basically called out to expose themselves in an unexpected way, by sharing those things they aren't proud of about themselves.
By having them expose some of their ugliest and most shameful stories, Katie could then get a sense about these guys. She could read how they're sharing these stories, gauge their honesty, their remorse, their potential growth from it. As she said, everyone has things they're not proud of in life. Those things don't have to define you, though.
Surprisingly, the guys were totally willing to lay it all bare with stories ranging from prioritizing work over their significant other to getting drunk and cheating on their significant other. Connor B dropped that last bombshell, but he was so earnest in expressing how he'd grown from and learned from those dark days in his life, Katie was moved by his honesty.
She was, in fact, so moved by everyone's honesty that she opened up herself with allegations of a horrific encounter she experienced around the age of 20. According to Katie, she had an encounter with a man while drunk one night and there was not consent.
She said that the situation messed with her mind so much that she actually thought to try and be in a relationship with the man because she didn't want to believe what she knew to have happened really did. Inevitably, that relationship ended, but it impacted her own relationship with sex.
Considering Katie is known as perhaps the most sex-positive Bachelorette we've ever had, totally confident in her own sexuality, her femininity and with who she is, it was powerful to hear what she says she had to overcome to achieve the type of person she is today. She had to understand it wasn't her fault, she did nothing wrong.
Giving a hint as to what she alleges happened to her, she then took a moment to urge to the guys how important it is for her that people understand that guilt tripping someone into sex is never okay, consent is essential and communication should be at the heart of everything.
The guys were clearly moved by the experience, as was Katie. She didn't expect to share her story, but now feels that she's actually grown closer to all of these guys as a result. We couldn't help but feel that energy as well, as if we'd stepped out of the show for a moment to get real.
It'll be interesting to see if that experience, which only included about half the remaining guys, created a lasting strength of connection between them and Katie that might give them a slight advantage in forthcoming Rose Ceremonies.
That group date was attended by Aaron, Quartney, James, Connor B, David, Justin, Thomas, Hunter, Brendan. Connor B, in particular, seemed to have a palpable shared moment with Katie even during the evening portion. Oh, and we'll hold off a second including Thomas in our theory, because there's a lot more to unpack there.
Katie's Men Unite to Protect Her -- Against Themselves
Twice on the night, Katie's guys came together as a united front in an attempt to protect her. The fact that it happened a second time -- that one was still developing at episode's end -- proves that the first time was perhaps not as effective as they might have hoped.
Aaron said it best when he said that there is no true way to know who you can trust. And as with every reality television experience, you never know who might just be looking for a platform to raise their profile, or in the case of this show, be angling for a shot at being the next Bachelor.
The episode picked right up with the aftermath of Karl blowing up the Cocktail Party with his epic display of pomposity for Katie and the guys insisting that he knew for a fact that some of the guys weren't there for the right reasons.
By the time he got back to the guys, he'd reduced that to he was pretty sure and finally reduced it down to one. Now, did he know something or was he just speculating. At this point in the season, it's pretty safe to bet that at least one dude got through the screening process (or was let through) with all the wrong intentions. It's just the nature of the beast.
Katie canceled the rest of the Cocktail Party, which gave our front-runner Greg another chance to shine as he was the first (and apparently only) guy to go out and see how she was doing emotionally with all of this. The rest of the guys seemed content to get into it with Karl.
This dude actually walked off after being flippant and dismissive and actually started shadowboxing like he was going to fight every one of these guys. It was cartoonishly villainous, cementing our belief he was cast to be at least one of the villains of this season. Even the guys weren't sure if he's real -- we're still not convinced.
About halfway through the Rose Ceremony, after receiving his rose, Mike dropped the bombshell on Katie that the guys were united in their belief that Karl was full of s--- about any of them being there for the wrong reasons.
Katie admitted to Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams that she'd been intending to keep Karl, but after this display she did not. So who got that bonus rose? It came down to Aaron and Karl (of the well-known contestants) for that last rose, but we think that was producers creating drama.
There's no way to tell as a few guys who've had virtually no face time made it through. A few of those same guys didn't, with John, Kyle and Garrett joining Karl on their way out the door. As if proving this was all a show, the edit certainly made it look like Karl dissed all the guys and Katie, walking out the door (finally) with nary a word to any of them. It also proves this was all just a game to him.
Unfortunately, it wasn't long before we learned that he was actually right. As part of that group session, Thomas actually shared that he did come on the show with the intention of raising his platform, later conceding -- after being asked four times -- that he even had thoughts about being The Bachelor.
He insisted that wasn't the case now, but with Katie and with the guys, he proved himself as adept as a politician at sidestepping questions to hit his talking points. Rather than detail the red flags he said he might have for Katie, he reiterated how special their connection was.
She called him on avoiding it, because this girl does see a lot more even than the guys give her credit for, but she still uses rhetoric like she's still feeling it with him. The guys, on the other hand, are totally over him. Especially after he stole Aaron's time with Katie the night of that group date to "fix" their earlier chat.
We thought maybe he was going to finally answer her "red flags" questions, but nope! Instead, he talks about fear and love and how passionate he is about her. Even Katie seemed annoyed that he showed up, disrepsecting her and Aaron in the process.
At least he cleared that up by telling Aaron in no uncertain terms that he believes his time with Katie is more valuable than Aaron's. This just means he'd do that to anyone, right? If he wants more time with her, well his time means more than theirs because he's the star of his own movie and they're all extras just in his way.
The episode ended with the guys confronting Thomas about his manipulative behavior, and he again sidestepped Hunter's direct question about his desire to be the Bachelor three times before finally relenting and answering. Can he charm his way out of their crosshairs? And will it effect Katie? The house has already suggested they might unite against him to her just as they did Karl.
Just as Connor B rose up several rankings in our eyes, as well as Katie's, Michael A really opened up as well, sharing the tragic story of losing his wife to breast cancer two-and-a-half years ago.
He'd spoken earlier about it with the guys, setting up his first date at all with Katie, which turned out to be a One-on-One. Here he had the time and the opportunity to really open up with her and share his story.
Michael's wife is the only woman he's ever said he loved. He describes her as "the one," his person, and he knew it from the moment he saw her. It's the kind of love story we can only dream of, and yet it was tragically cut short.
Now, though, his heart finally feels ready to love again. We loved how receptive Katie was, and attentive, to Michael's share. And we especially loved how she said she would never disrespect the love he'd already had, nor would she be jealous of it. She is a strong and confident enough woman, she doesn't need to diminish that experience to share a love with Michaels.
One-on-One dates are powerful and palpable, as it catapults that person so far ahead of others simply because of the time they get to share. Certainly, Michael finds himself in an enviable position now among the guys because he did get that time. And he used it very well, opening up as he needed to get his story off of his chest, and forming a real connection with Katie.
At this point, our favorites on the night are clearly Katie's favorites, too. Michael got the One-on-One date rose, and Connor B picked up the Group Date one, making them the only two guys safe right now. Next up, the guys are going to fight to get Thomas out of the house on Karl's heels.
They confronted him before the second group date of the week. Does this mean they're going to bring this grievance to Katie? She already knows he came on the show for the wrong reason, but seems to understand that he's there for her now. Or maybe she's just playing it cool until she can deny him a rose.
Plus, we finally get to see what happens when Blake Moynes, from Tayshia's season, tries to jump in and join the show for a shot at Katie. Will she allow it? Will the guys unite against him, too? We shall see!
"I'm not a hundred percent sure that a hundred percent of the people here are here for the right reasons." -- Karl
"Of course, no one knows for sure. But at the same time, you can't speculate if it's gonna cause damage." -- Aaron
"Yo, listen. I'm not putting anybody on blast for something I don't have all the facts." -- Karl
"You already have!" --(everyone else)
"It went from multiple people to one. Lie." -- Tré
"I didn't throw a grenade." -- Karl
"He single-handedly made her doubt her relationship with every single one of us." -- Connor B
"This isn't something that we want to do now because of what we've gone through, but we feel, as a unit, it's our job to protect your heart. And we've come together in solidarity that we think that, unfortunately, what Karl said wasn't the truth, and that's -- as a unit, we really feel that's what you need to hear." -- Conor C (after receiving a rose)
"Do you all feel the same way." -- Katie (everyone nods)
"If he gets a rose, I'm snatching it off of you .. you're gone. And if you're not gone, this is going to be a living hell for you, dude; you're gonna wish you were." -- Tré
"I couldn't sit here and look you in the face and say, 'Yeah, when I showed up to this place, I was here for the right reasons,' because I didn't know who you were. And worst case scenario, I give it a shot, and yeah, you can build a great platform from it. And that's just the honest-to-god truth, like, my approach to this." --Thomas (confirming Katie's worst fears)
"How is he possibly grinning like a clown from a Stephen King novel, staring at her right in the face." --Aaron (about Thomas)
"I'm going to do whatever it takes to actually fix this. It might cause a lot of tension with me and the guys in the house: I can live with that. A lot of those guys aren't going to be here next week. I will be." --Thomas (after blowing his one-on-one time with Katie)
"You're saying your time is worth more than mine?" --Aaron (after Thomas interrupted him to get a second chat with Katie)
"Yes. Yes, I will say 100 percent.." --Thomas
"This is confirmation that there's something there. It's not just me picturing it." --Connor B (after getting Group Date Rose)
"I always hear that this ends in an engagement, but it begins at an engagement." --Michael A (during One-on-One)
"Can I kiss you?" --Michael A
"What a blessing to fall in love twice." --Michael A
"This could be the start of me falling in love with Michael." --Katie
"I feel like you know how to have conversations with people, and I feel manipulated." -- Hunter (to Thomas)
Katie opens up more about her past trauma and consent in an exclusive and candid discussion for the Bachelor Nation YouTube page. You can check out that discussion below.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, get help. The National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-4673) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress.