It’s time for the first dates of Katie Thurston’s Bachelorette journey and we’re getting a tour of the franchise's staples. There’s an instance of virginity being used as a storyline. There are emotional conversations about loved ones lost. There’s a potentially dangerous group date. And there is a contestant who is — say it with me — there for the wrong reasons.
The first date begs a common early-in-the-season group date question: “Ugh, god, why is this happening?” The theme is sex and one of the contestants on the date is Mike, who is a virgin. I wish I was surprised. The date is hosted by podcaster Heather McDonald, who gives the guys a sex quiz, during which they have to hold up their answers on a whiteboard for all to see. And while it starts off with questions about anatomy, it soon moves into invasive questions, including the last time they had sex.
In his confessional, Mike explains through tears that he put question marks for some of the questions because he wants to have a real conversation with Katie about being a virgin. So, naturally, the next part of the date is to put on a “presentation” about why they’re great lovers for Katie in front of a live audience consisting of Tayshia Adams, Kaitlyn Bristowe, and all the other contestants. We’re still in COVID times, after all.
The presentations include a variety of props — James the box guy puts his dick in a box, and that sort of thing. The most entertaining effort comes from Connor the cat, who wrote a genuinely impressive, funny song and played guitar. But Mike makes the best of the situation and ends up winning the whole thing. He reads a personal essay in which he reveals he’s a virgin, but, as Katie put it in her confessional, still “acknowledged that he knows exactly who I am” — which is to say, not a virgin and not someone who is uncomfortable talking about sex. While I don’t love people being asked to share their sexual history on national TV, at least this virgin thing wasn’t dragged out as long as it usually is on these shows.
At night, the group date continues. Connor the cat and Katie talk first, and I feel like the season could just end here. They seem perfect for each other. They bond over him changing from Connor the cat to Connor the musician (I reject this), and she tells him he was the first guy she remembered on limo arrivals night. (It was probably the cat costume.)
Katie has another strong connection with Thomas, but their conversation is pretty vague. He says stuff about how their relationship will be “work” but their connection is “magic.” Katie is into him, they make out, and he lands the group date rose. Thomas seems like someone who will stay around for a while, but who will end up being a storyline in which Katie has to ask herself, “Is chemistry enough?”
The one-on-one date is next and it goes to awkward Greg, who got the first impression rose last week. Another contestant even says of him getting the date, “Does anyone else feel like time is money and the rich just got richer?”
Greg and Katie go on a “camping trip,” but, you know, not actually overnight. It’s just an opportunity for the emotional — her late dad used to take her camping — and the silly — Greg can’t set up a tent. Things seem very comfortable and easy for these two, which says a lot because Greg was previously known for being uncomfortable and tense. In response to Katie talking about her dad, Greg says, “I know it’s so soon between us, but I don’t want you to feel like you’re putting a burden on me,” which is sweet. “I feel like we’re dating. I feel like I know him,” Katie says in her confessional. This guy’s going far.
At dinner, things turn even more emotional. Greg reveals that the reason he can understand Katie so well is because he lost his dad two years ago, and one of his favorite memories is his dad waking him up early to go fishing. Both Katie and Greg find beauty in the fact that they were able to bond over this shared memory of their fathers. I’m happy for them, because watching this as an outsider, it’s hard not to think about the production that went into this. How much did producers know about Greg’s memories of fishing with his late dad? Was he asked to not reveal his dad died until the evening portion of the date? It worked out well for Katie and Greg, but it makes you wonder: Is this still exploitative if the outcome is positive?
Obviously, Greg gets the rose, as well as a fireworks show that makes the men back at the hotel jealous.
The second group date is called “Katie’s Big Buckle Brawl” and involves the guys dressing up in cowboy outfits, but then immediately removing their shirts to mud wrestle each other. There appear to be no rules, and they’re judged by a man with a long white beard, who we don’t get to properly meet. The drama in this scenario comes from Aaron and Cody being paired up for a match. As we saw in the first episode, Aaron has a real problem with Cody. While it went unexplained in the premiere, Aaron now says, “Cody and I know each other from back home. I’ve never been a fan of him and he knows it.” Aaron wins the Big Buckle Brawl and gets extra time with Katie, which worries Cody.
And for good reason. Katie tells Aaron that she could sense the tension between them, and Aaron launches into an explanation about how Cody is there to be famous and is “malicious." “There were just some social media posts or things that he did that rubbed me the wrong way,” Aaron says. “The way he handles situations, to me, I find disturbing.”
Katie’s infuriated — someone is there for the wrong reasons! That evening, she pulls Cody aside and tells him everything that Aaron said. Cody stumbles over his response, eventually landing on, “It may be exaggerations.” Oop!
After their convo, Cody confronts Aaron and says, “How would anyone know we knew each other if you kept your mouth shut?” That is not the issue, dude.
Katie gives Cody the boot. She’s very blunt and explains that she already can’t trust him, so there’s no reason for him to be there. Well done, Katie! I also like that this takes away Aaron’s initial source of drama, because I have a sense that he’s still going to be dramatic and it will more easily become clear that he’s got to go, too.
Katie decides to take some time for herself after this stressful situation, and the first man to come find her afterward is Andrew S. They have a great, honest conversation in which they bond over growing up poor. It clearly means a lot to Katie. Then there’s this exchange, dripping with sexual tension: “You got to stop looking at me like that,” Andrew says. “Maybe I’m looking at you like that on purpose,” Katie responds, and they start kissing.
Oh, and I guess some of the other guys also show Katie that they are here for the right reasons, unlike that despicable Cody. But Andrew gets the group date rose.
At the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party, Katie chats with Michael first, because he wasn’t part of any of the dates. Michael, as we found out last week, is a single father. He’s absolutely relieved to hear that Katie felt confident enough in their connection to let him be the one to sit things out this week.
Katie continues her conversations and is happy the night is going so perfectly, which obviously means things are about to take a turn. During this entire episode, seeds have been planted about Karl being a pot-stirrer who no one likes. One suitor said that Karl refers to the whole thing as a “game.” Piggybacking off of the Cody situation, Karl tells Katie that he knows other guys who aren’t there for the right reasons, but he won’t tell her who, even when she asks. (Because he’s making it up and doesn’t actually know.) Katie says in her confessional that she’s not sure if she can trust Karl. She’s very intuitive, but Karl’s words still make her confidence waver.
So, Katie addresses the whole group and does the only think she really can do: beg anyone who is there for the wrong reasons to “get the fuck out.”
She then pulls Aaron aside — he looks like a deer in headlights — but she just wants to see if he knows what is going on. Meanwhile, Karl admits to the group that he was the one who told Katie about the alleged "multiple" wrong reasons people. Their reaction as an entire group is basically, “What the hell, bro?” No one else knows anything about suspicious men in the house. Karl defends himself by saying he’s just not “100 percent” sure that everyone is there for the right reasons. Aaron, back from his chat with Katie, points out that “of course no one knows for sure” and says Karl did “the dumbest thing you could have possibly done.” In this moment, I'm rooting for Aaron.
The episode ends there with Katie outside crying, the men inside losing their minds over Karl, and no rose ceremony.
While the episode ends with me wishing all the guys would team up to explain the Karl situation to Katie, leading to his quick demise, there’s one issue: The preview for next week shows that there are more men who seem to be there for the wrong reasons. A conniving clock is right twice a day, Karl.
Frontrunner to win: Greg. I mean, come on. It’s undeniable.
Frontrunners for final four: In addition to Greg, I’ll go with Connor the cat musician, Andrew S, and Thomas.
Frontrunner for Bachelor: Andrew S. Last week, he was the guy with the fake English accent and the Bridgerton reference. Now, he’s the sensitive guy who’s not afraid to open up. Early signs of a well-rounded Bachelor pick.
Frontrunner for drama: Karl. I mean, he did falsely tell the lead that multiple people are there for the wrong reasons. Plus, the preview keeps showing him shadow boxing as if he’s preparing for a real fistfight.