The penultimate episode of any Bachelor or Bachelorette season is always a fun one, with high stakes and great drama. It’s the first time couples get to have romantic overnight stays (free of cameras!), meaning they get to know one another a little more intimately, to say the least. It’s often a breaking point for contestants, who spiral as they realize they’re falling in love with the same person as two others. They’re overwhelmed! They’re confused! They’re forced to spend time in close quarters with folks they’re competing against! It’s a lot, it’s awkward and it makes for great reality television. Let’s jump in.
We’re on the beautiful beaches of Mexico, where our three remaining guys—Joe, Nayte and Brandon—are starting to crack under the pressure. Brandon gets the first date of the week, and the two others don’t know how to react. At this point they all feel deeply for Michelle, and the thought of her dating others is (understandably!) a lot to cope with. It’s tense! As Joe aptly puts it: “We went from bros to foes.”
Brandon has always been a sweetheart. He’s earnest, open and seemingly head-over-heels for Michelle—and he’s not afraid to show that. This date is no different, and he’s eager to spend a day horseback riding with her (though he’s not very good at it).
They ride through some forest, then along the beach. It’s really nice. Later, over dinner, Brandon tells Michelle she’s The One, and that he’s ready for an engagement. In fact, he says he’s in love! Michelle is touched and says she’s falling for him, too.
It’s all really nice. No drama, no red flags, no potential problems. They just have a nice day, and when it comes time to decide whether or not they want to spend the night together in the Fantasy Suite, they both say yes.
We meet them again the next morning, as they’re both lying in bed together and eating breakfast. It’s really cute until they start having a food fight, at which point thoughts of “this is sweet” become overshadowed by thoughts of “oh my god you’re wasting perfectly good empanadas and getting crumbs in the sheets.”
Brandon returns to the house with Nayte and Joe. Joe talks about how conflicted he’s feeling. Nayte sulks silently.
Joe gets the next date, in which he and Michelle go ziplining. Joe’s biggest challenge this season (beyond overcoming the fact that he once ghosted Michelle on Instagram) has been the fact that he’s shy and introverted—though he and Michelle have great chemistry, it hasn’t always been easy for him to come out of his shell. But this week, Joe proves just how far he’s come! He tells Michelle that he feels comfortable around her, and you can tell that’s true; he’s cracking jokes and opening up, and it’s really sweet to watch.
The two of them have always had an especially deep bond, partially from sharing a hometown, and that seemingly only deepens this week. They decide to go to the Fantasy Suite, and they have a nice time.
“Joe is my slice of home,” Michelle says the next morning. “Maybe my soulmate.”
Last but not least, Winnipeg Nayte is up. From the beginning, it’s been very clear that Nayte’s a top contender; he got the first-impression rose on the first episode, and Michelle’s been smitten with him since. He’s relaxed, funny and charming! They get along really well! He seems great! But there’s one glaring issue: The Commitment Thing.
During hometowns last episode, red flags shot up around Nayte as Michelle spoke to his family. His mom and step-dad both insisted Nayte isn’t ready for a serious relationship, let alone an engagement, citing his lack of emotional vulnerability and non-existent dating history as reasons. Now, going into their date, Michelle says she’ll need to see hard proof he’s ready.
The two meet up, and oh my goodness Michelle is so into him. Every time those two are on screen together sparks fly around wildly. They ride around on a boat for a while.
Over dinner, Michelle finally asks Nayte some questions to figure out where his head is at.
“Do you have a lot on your mind to talk about?” she asks.
“Not really, no,” he says.
After some prodding from Michelle, he opens up about his feelings towards a potential engagement. He says he knows it’s a lot, and he’s feeling things for Michelle he’s never felt before, and yes! He’s ready for an engagement.
“Any fears or doubts have been resolved,” Michelle says. Nayte is still giving me some red flags (or yellow, at least). Saying you’re ready for an engagement and being ready are two different things! How can he know what he wants if he’s never been in a serious relationship? Why is his family so adamant he’s not ready? Michelle, you should have at least some unresolved fears!! Unresolve them!
Anyways, Nayte says he’s in love with Michelle, and Michelle says she’s in love with him too! Oh my goodness!
Generally, it’s uncommon to hear a Bachelor or Bachelorette say “I love you” before the last episode. They might say something like “I’m falling for you,” but the idea is that “I love you” should be reserved for the person they actually pick at the end. (This actually caused an explosive fight in the last season of The Bachelorette, as Katie Thurston refused to tell her top pick she loved him too early, despite his pleas. He left. It was all very messy.)
This is all to say that Michelle using those three words is a huge deal. In my eyes, it firmly secures Nayte as her top pick, and as the show’s probable winner.
After a night at the Fantasy Suite, Nayte returns to the other contestants, who ask how the date was.
“It was great,” Nayte said. “We definitely vibed out and kicked it.”
Very romantic, Nayte.
Brandon and Joe both thought the date wouldn’t go well and that Nayte was Michelle’s last choice, so hearing that it went well has them both sweating as we get to the rose ceremony. Michelle gives a little speech about how hard it was to make her decision, and how all three men are incredible. She’s about to give out the two roses when Brandon steps forward and asks to speak to her privately. Huh?
He reiterates that he loves her, and that he supports her decision, no matter what it is. He keeps reminding her how in love with her he is. The reaction to this online is pretty split. Some folks think this is romantic—Brandon has always had his heart on his sleeve, and this is no different. He loved Michelle! He wants to support her!
I think it’s selfish. If Michelle does choose to send Brandon home, he’s only going to make her decision more difficult.
Okay, we’re back at the rose ceremony. The first goes to Nayte (duh), and the second goes to… Brandon.
Like I’ve said, all three of these men are great, and it’s clear they all have great bonds with Michelle. But oh my god JOE IS GOING HOME?
Joe has long been a front-runner among Bachelor Nation, and to see him sent home is a little shocking. As great as Brandon is, from the outside it’s always looked like Michelle is smitten by Joe in a deeper way—they seem to have an especially close bond.
Pour one out for Joe!
We’ve been promised an “emotional, live, three-hour finale” for next week, so strap in for that! See you then.