Michelle calls out one suitor for trash-talking her behind her back and talking over her to her face -- meanwhile, another gets caught making out with her in the hot tub by her parents!
As Michelle Young narrows down her remaining suitors, revealing the Final 4 that she will take to Hometowns next week, "The Bachelorette" sure seemed to be doing everything it could to set up its next Bachelor for success.
Don't get us wrong, we have no confirmation as to who the next lead might be, but this is probably the most heavy-handed "Bachelor edit" we've ever seen on this franchise. And they're not exactly known for their subtlety.
For us, the commentary from one of Michelle's students during the closing credits clinched it -- and we were at about 99 percent certainly before that. Considering the growth this season, we feel it's a good choice, too. He's someone fans can get behind who seems to have a kind and genuine heart.
That wasn't the case for everyone tonight, though, as Michelle had to escort one guy out mid-date for being two-faced and talking over her. Once the red flags are up, the walls follow right behind. And we've seen all season long, that when Michelle has made up her mind, it's the end of the road.
She was being particularly selective tonight becuase the week featured the last Group Date of the season and it was the last week before Hometowns, where she heads off to meet the family's of her final four suitors. Meeting family is a big deal, so the decisions are even more meaningful.
And yet, Michelle was so certain in her decisions by the end of the week, she didn't even want to have the final Cocktail party, forgoing it entirely to get on with the Rose Ceremony. Either she didn't want to be influenced or, more likely, she didn't want to waste anyone's time with false hope if there was none.
Kids know how to get down to what matters, and they see the world very clearly. They're also extremely candid and honest with their feelings, which could be why Michelle tasked four of her students with taking control of the entire week.
That meant a pop quiz, of sorts, before they selected who they felt was worthy to go on the first One-on-One. After crashing the guy's hanging out, the kids basically started grilling them with important questions about character ("Have you ever been grounded?") and honesty ("Have you farted in front of Miss Young?").
Interestingly, one of the guys really didn't sit well with the kids. Interesting because we've been feeling kind of the same way since he botched trying to explain to Michelle the difference between men and women who are high maintenance.
As we saw footage of him boasting about a date he had with Michelle, one of the kids said in a confessional that she doesn't really like him, having trouble putting a pin on why. She ultimately decided he seemed to be trying to show off -- and he wore too much cologne.
After a lot of hard work from the guys, and a killer fort created with the kids by Clayton that they absolutely loved, they awarded Clayton the first Group Date of the week. Not only did they like him as a person, but they figured he'd be good for carrying groceries with his big muscles, and his fort-building skills were pretty great.
These are important factors, for sure, in choosing your person in life.
"Everybody Moves at Different Speeds in This Process"
The fun continued as the kids packed a limo full of pizza and candy for Clayton and Michelle, sending them to one of their favorite places in the city, a museum Miss Young takes her kids to every year.
They pulled down butterflies to find questions to ask one another and Clayton put his whole heart out there in his first one-on-one opportunity with Michelle after receiving the last Group Date Rose.
He conceded that he probably moves at a slower pace in opening up, generally needing to feel completely comfortable in a situation first. But with her presence inspiring him, he's managed to take that step.
He finally feels ready to put himself out there and feels like he's let his guard down, he's open, he's vulnerable, he's real and he's ready for love. He said he's grown beyond being a people pleaser, and learned how to just be in himself.
When he asked Michelle if she experienced a similar journey during her time as a suitor on "The Bachelor" with Matt James, she said no. She already knew exactly who she was and that wasn't going to waver or change. She was there and ready already.
Perhaps that's why she then made the surprising decision to cut him loose. She even told him that he checked every box she was looking for, except the one that says his name, apparently. There was no real reason to do it, except the Bachelor Nation cliché that she was following her heart.
But even after Clayton got the boot, we weren't done with him. We got to see him getting letters from two of Michelle's students, who were also crushed that he was leaving. They were so sweet (and so children), but the letters had Clayton in tears and even more sure that he's ready for love and family.
It was a whole segment about how much he's ready to fight for love and his future. Basically, it was a "Bachelor" audition tape without really being one. During the closing credits, we got more feedback from another student, who went so far as to predict he'd be the next "Bachelor."
We're basically going to consider that the unofficial announcement, because this was the most obvious "hero edit" we've ever seen. He even had to be perfect in every way as Michelle was dumping him.
The arrogance, the audacity, the misogyny! Let's just say, the Group Date did not go particularly well for one guy who never seemed to learn that loose lips sink ships -- and lead to awkward conversations -- and getting walked out.
The Group Date was actually a pretty fun one, taking the guys to a working dairy farm to see how willing they were to take on something different, milking a cow, feeding calves, churning butter and even scooping dung.
It wasn't a great date for Nayte, who struggled to achieve excellence, by his own standards, and then threw his back out during the dung slinging portion, leaving Michelle to step in and help Rodney out. Nayte thought it wasn't too bad to score a few moments with Michelle, but Rodney actually came out even better.
For Nayte, though, it became a weird competition between him and Joe. What he didn't know, and Michelle only learned about during the evening portion of the date, was that Joe spent time growing up on his grandparents' dairy farm. So, of course he was going to kill those tasks.
When talking to Michelle, Nayte offered up an interesting reveal that his father had basically told him to never bring a date home or introduce him to anyone. Without more context, it sounds pretty callous for a parent to be that way, but there may be more to the story as Nayte didn't seem too bothered by it.
Instead, it was a statement made to emphasize that he's never before really wanted to bring anyone to meet his dad, but that changed with Michelle. If she chooses him for Hometown, maybe we'll all get some clarity as to what his dad is like. We have a few red flags of our own right now.
The biggest moment, though, came when Martin was sitting with the guys. Last week, he tried to explain about high maintenance men and women with Michelle and her face was not having it. But she kept him somehow.
As it turns out, he wasn't all that impressed with how the miscommunication -- which was apparently all on her -- led to her misunderstand the intention behind his words.
What he also told the guys is that Michelle's keen focus on being seen stemming back to childhood trauma, as evidenced by her poem, was actually a weakness in her. He said that she clearly hadn't dealt with it, which he saw as immature.
Olu, meanwhile, saw it as meaning clearly that Martin hadn't gone through something like that. He said as much to Michelle, too, who'd asked the guys to bring anything before her that they felt she needed to know.
Even after that, Martin decided to call her immature to the other guys. Why would they think, 'Yeah, he's a good dude for her,' after he calls her something like that? So Olu was upfront and laid it all out for her, which only confirmed her growing concerns.
Ultimately, when she confronted him and he kept talking over her, denied saying "immature," when we have it on camera, and tried to twist things around so that it was her allowing herself to be manipulated by the other guys -- yeah, he never owned up to anything and she saw enough to know he couldn't be trusted. And that was the end of the journey for Martin.
He showed his true character even more by being a huge d--- after getting eliminated, saying he doesn't care about getting booted at all, instead he's upset at how she handled the situation. He then said she'd regret letting him go, but he wouldn't give her a shot now anyway, as she's not worth his time. So no self-reflection for this bro, bruh.
"I Feel Like I'm the Boyfriend Who Snuck Over in the Jacuzzi"
The last One-on-One date of the week was for Brandon, who got to enjoy ice cream at one of Michelle's favorite local hangouts and then a pretty special trip to her childhood home, where here parents still live.
She assured him, though, that they weren't home and they wouldn't be home. He was pretty grateful, as with no warning he was not at all feeling prepared for that potentially huge moment. Famous last words, as they say!
After spending some time kissing on her childhood bed, Michelle had the idea that they should go swimming, even lending Brandon a pair of her dad's swim trunks (he'll never find out, right?).
Cue parents pulling up as Brandon and Michelle were kissing in the hot tub. And cue camera crew perfectly ready to capture every moment from the car pulling into the driveway to the parents walking through the house and out into the backyard.
Was your boy set up? It may well be that he was, but he actually handled the awkwardness well. Still, if Clayton could get sent home for no real reason at all, this was either a huge step forward for Brandon, or a terrifying explosive step back.
He actually stepped up in a big way, handled the whole thing with as much grace and class as he could muster, and even sent Michelle away so he could ask their permission to marry her, should she choose him. While saying they trusted Michelle's judgment, for what it's worth, he got their blessing.
And at the end of the night, after he admitted that he was falling in love with her, opened up about losing his "best friend" in his grandpa, lamenting that she wouldn't get to meet him during Hometowns, he got the rose, too.
At this point, Michelle had already selected two of her Final Four suitors ahead of Hometowns, and sent home another two. That left two roses and four unadorned guys waiting to hear the good, or bad news.
As it turned out, though, there would be no chances for last-minute pleas. Weighing the gravity of these decisions, as they involve meeting family, Michelle decided she needed no more input from the guys, cancelling the Cocktail Party and moving right into the Rose Ceremony.
By the end of it, she'd managed to make a little Bachelor Nation history, as well. Joining Nayte and Brandon for Hometowns were Joe and Rodney, meaning it was the end of the road for both Rick, who peaked early and slowly faded, and Olu, who never seemed to cross that line from brotherly affection to lover -- he also never got a One-on-One.
As for that history, with her final four revealed, Michelle became the first lead to have all people of color in her final four. As a person of color herself, this opens op an opportunity for some deeply meaningful conversations in these final weeks, as she meets their families and friends, and vice-versa.
"I think some of them might be happy caught off-guard, and I think some of them might be 'Oh crap!' caught off guard." --Michelle (about bridging in her students to meet men)
"We're trying to find out who the bad guys are and who the good guys are." --Kelsey (preparing to ask the tough questions)
"Have you ever been grounded?" --Kelsey (ooh, that hurts!)
"I don't really like Martin. I don't know, I don't know how to explain it. He's trying to show off. I don't know if he's the right one for Michelle, and he wears too much cologne." --Kelsey
"Clayton has big muscles. He'd be really good at carrying the groceries in. He had really good fort-building abilities; probably the best fort I've ever seen." --Luke
"Do they know there's just two of us?" --Clayton (getting into limo packed with food for One-on-One)
"Everybody moves at different speeds in this process. Some guys are a lot quicker to open up. I'm more of on the slow burn side of things, it takes time for me to warm up to my environment. Until tonight, I've finally gotten past that point and I'm very ready for love and I think what's in front of me is it, is everything that I've been chasing after. So, while it is scary, I'm really, really excited." --Clayton (heading into evening portion of date)
"The fear of being alone while in a relationship is significantly more painful than being alone." --Michelle (to Clayton)
"Today, I feel like I really started to get to know you. You continue to show me how you want to be the best for your future family. You completely checked every single box of all the qualities that I'm looking for in somebody. But I know that giving out this rose means I'm ready to meet your family and I don't feel that I'm able to get there with you in time. And this is incredibly difficult for me because not being able to give you this rose doesn't mean that you're not enough. For me, it's about following my heart." --Michelle (to Clayton)
"Everything seemed to be going well and then all of a sudden, it's not. And that sucks. You know, I'm completely vulnerable and this is what happens when I become completely vulnerable. It's like I open myself up to be hurt." --Clayton
"I haven't cried in years but it feels good. It just shows me I want kids one day. I want a family. I just want to find love so badly and have a family. And start that chapter in my life. I want it more than anything else. I'll do whatever it takes to get that. Whatever it takes." --Clayton (after reading farewell letters from Michelle's students)
"It's like driving a car, 8 and 12 but just keep going. There's other things to think about, but I like to think about driving a car." --Rick (about milking a cow)
"Clearly, Joe knows how to handle teats." --Michelle
"I definitely did hurt my back, but it did give me a really good excuse to go talk to Michelle." --Nayte
"You did that on purpose. Get back to work!" --Rodney
"There's been a lot of things that have made me question, you know, what she really stands for, I guess. Going back to her poem, obviously Michelle's gone through some childhood trauma. For her, it's something that's, like, deep inside her that maybe she hasn't worked past. And I think that's immature." --Martin (to the other men)
"Whatever I'm about to tell you is not to benefit me at all. But I do have some concerns, and I don't know if you see it. So Martin, there was a red flag that I saw. When you explained your poem, how you felt unseen. That was your story growing up, and he said that the fact that you haven't dealt with your past is kinda, like, immature. And him saying that is, like, 'Okay? You've never dealt with these issues." --Olu (to Michelle)
"You have to let me speak." --Michelle (to Martin, talking over her)
"When you're talking to me--" --Michelle
"But, my love, now you're putting words in my mouth." --Martin (denying he said "immature")
"No, not 'my love.' When you're talking to me, you talk about me being a strong woman. But words that have been used when you're not talking to me are 'insecurities, 'immature,' so which one is it?" --Michelle
"My personal opinion is that you're letting somebody else dictate the relationship that we have." --Martin
"I think what's difficult is--" --Michelle
"Because for me it's not even that--." --Martin (interrupting her again)
"Mmkay." --Michelle (over it)
"You've cut me off every time I try to talk." --Michelle
"So I apologize for maybe speaking over you." --Martin (maybe?)
"I'm not upset that I'm not going to hometowns and I'm not upset that I'm going home. I'm upset that she handled s--- like that. She'll find out on her own that she made a mistake but at this point, I wouldn't even care to give her a shot. It's sad. That's all it is. I feel sad for her. A woman like that does not deserve my time" --Martin
"I rolled up to you the first day on my bed and now I'm sitting in yours." --Brandon (to Michelle in her childhood home)
"Wait, is it okay with your parents if you have a guy in your room?" --Brandon (kissing Michelle in her childhood bedroom)
"I feel like the boyfriend who snuck over in the jacuzzi." --Brandon
"He's gonna be the next Bachelor." --Jalene (about Clayton)