By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Nov 17, 2021 at 11:31 AM

A confession: I dreaded Tuesday night's new episode of "The Bachelorette." Not because I thought Chris S. was going to cause an annoying stink (that was assumed) or some other pesky drama was going to suck up show time or because I was low on boxed wine. No, it was because we were potentially going to see Michelle, now back home with the remaining bro-testants, being all chummy with (*deep sigh*) Minnesota Vikings players. A shame that a season that's been this pretty great thus far could get infected by the Vikings' unique brand of time-tested mediocrity. Cue Michelle all of a sudden making bad decisions in the clutch, talking smack with nothing to back it up and blaring a foghorn everytime she did anything remotely competent.

Thankfully, none of that happened. In fact, Tuesday night's episode was another solid chapter for Michelle, with good guys continuing to make a memorable mark and bad guys continuing to drop like flies because Michelle does not have time for that.

So we've left the sunny climes of Palm Springs and ventured to Minneapolis – something that Brandon is FAR too excited about. The man must just love lakes. WELL DO I HAVE THE STATE FOR YOU! Unfortunately, all that enthusiasm does not earn him the first of the episode's two date cards, instead going to Joe. You see, Brandon merely adopted the Twin Cities; Joe was born in it, moulded by it. So Joe and Michelle venture over to Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, to roam around the diamond, snag some sweet new jerseys and throw out the first pitch to a roaring crowd of tens. Was this really a first pitch, or was this just them messing around while the grounds crew was trying to work? No matter the case, it's the most winning thing the Twins saw all last season. 

The two then venture to Michelle's high school for a lay-up drill down memory lane. God, I cannot imagine a more terrifying date for a young relationship than reliving one's high school days and looking back through yearbooks. Just an onslaught of photos of dweeby little me weighing all of 77 pounds soaking wet, probably caked in stage makeup from the year's musical or wearing a choral vest, talking way too much about "Heroes" and quoting the forgotten horror movie "Turistas" for my senior statement. (This is all accurate.) I'd be less painful to spend two hours at a non-stop Vikings horn concert. Luckily, unlike me, Michelle has a bunch of cool stuff to show Joe, like photos from her hooping heyday and the basketball court she reigned over. 

Later on, the lovebirds have a strikingly honest and open conversation over dinner. Michelle noted earlier on the date that Joe's pretty reserved and neutral, but he really cracks open a vein talking about what happened to his basketball career. As it turns out, he broke his fifth metatarsal – an injury that only got worse thanks to a surgical mishap. When he finally healed up, he felt like a shell of his former basketball star, unable to do what he was once capable of. "Ball was life," he explains, "and my life was gone," saying that he fell into a rough depression as a result. It's a heartbreaking story, one that Michelle (as she's pleasantly done all season) truly listens to and engages with.

By the end, Joe gets a rose, the two make out and I start really liking these two as an item – they're the predictable choice, but they just share so much common ground, and the energies seem to mesh and match nicely. 

On the topic of things I like significantly less: Small Boy Energy Chris, who is shocked and stunned to discover that, after his less-than-necessary announcement and gossip last week, Michelle still gave the other solo date to Nayte. His words fell on deaf ears, which really feels like the only healthy way to listen to Chris. 

Unfortunately, things get worse from there as we head to the Minnesota Vikings football stadium. Why you want to spend time in this shiny new cathedral for failure, I do not know. If I hear that god-forsaken horn fart out its nasty pump-up belch, I cannot promise my television will survive the episode. Indeed, the horn burps – but it's not to welcome Adam Thielen and a quarantine-cubed Kirk Cousins to the field. It's to welcome ACTUAL vikings to the field – or at least some cosplayers – to see how the men do showing off important modern relationship traits: yelling and stump-throwing. This is what happens when you let viking warriors – famed for their romantic ways – plan your date night. Still, actual marauders are preferred to having to spend time with the football team. 

If Chris S. was getting vibes that Michelle was done with him before, the show made it VERY clear during this date. First, a viking insults him for his dainty warcry. I've had some lows in my life, but at least I've never been ridiculed on national television by a "Game of Thrones" extra. Then, when the guys get to put on their Winterfell finest, Chris S. gets saddled with playing a horse's ass – quite literally, as his outfit is a blow-up minotaur costume. The message is clear: Chris' gesture last week was received about as well as some stinky fish. Then again, it's not like he's winning anybody over today with his sulky behavior and desire to forfeit the arm-wrestling match before it even begins. The man is reaching Sub-Atomic Small Boy Energy levels. 

On the topic of smelly fish, indeed, the final challenge is eating some famed viking delicacies like fermented herring and jellied animal head chunks. Props for Brandon for digging right in to all of these tasty treats – though his reward is Michelle hilariously wretching away from his goodbye kiss at the end of the date because his breathe was pure fish hatchery musk. I would've rocked an Altoid or five first, my guy – but certainly an A for effort.

However, he doesn't earn the viking helmet trophy, as that goes to Clayton – along with the group date rose. He seems nice enough – but honestly, since it's already been reported and announced that he's the next "Bachelor," I tune out during all of his scenes because I know he doesn't matter this season to Michelle's journey and I already know, without reading any additional spoilers, that he'll probably make it to the final three or four before getting a noble exit. 

The REAL story on the date, though, is continual whine festival Chris S. is throwing for himself. While all the other guys try to make time for Michelle and show her they care and, you know, DATE ON A DATING SHOW, Chris sits back the entire night, simultaneously grumbling about how she didn't listen to him enough while also smugly assuming that he's getting the rose. Huh, assuming you've got things in the bag and not caring enough about Michelle as a result? Gosh, it'd be pretty embarrassing if you made a big, self-righteous speech about this very behavior just last week. If you put in some effort, you might've had a chance – or at the very least got some Swedish Fish out of the night like Brandon did. 

While Chris S. seethes some more, Nayte heads out on his one-on-one date with Michelle out to purify himself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka. But mostly drive boats with Michelle's besties – who, in a refreshing change of pace, are not "Bachelor" alumni but are actual real friends she's met in real life. It's always a little sad when a lead brings out their closest friends, and they turn out to be people they met on a reality show. Like, do you not have a life outside of this bizarre inbred universe? I am happy to report Michelle does. 

You'd think that meeting the friends would be a big clue to Nayte being The Guy for Michelle, but if my memory serves – and the boxed wine is doing its best to make sure it doesn't – the last bunch of contestants to meet the friends and family first didn't end up making it to a proposal. So maybe this is less foreshadowing than it seems. Plus, the friends don't seem that interested in learning much about Nayte. Instead, they seem VERY interested in the drama, asking Nayte if anyone's seemingly not there for the right reasons and if he's gotten in trouble with anyone in the house. WELL AREN'T YOU ALL LITTLE GOSSIPS! Nayte handles it all well, though, smartly dodging the "right reasons" question by saying he's focusing on his own relationship with Michelle rather than others, then explaining the Chris S. debacle and how his words were misconstrued. So hopefully that's all behind us!

(*derpy trumpet music plays*) BAH GAWD, THAT'S SMALL BOY ENERGY'S MUSIC!

Yes, Chris S. isn't done single-handedly bringing down the energy of the episode, deciding that what he needs to do right now is a grand romantic gesture ... never mind that she SPECIFICALLY SAID LAST WEEK THAT SHE'S NOT ASKING FOR GRAND ROMANTIC GESTURES, JUST CARE AND TIME! So after the producers pass along Chris discovers where Nayte and Michelle's date is, the producers Chris finds a car and heads off to be annoying. 

And annoying he is, as he wanders into Nayte and Michelle's date and pulls her aside to ... I don't know, be grumpy? We don't see Michelle's face during much of this, but even just her hand gestures and body language scream "I profoundly regret listening to the producers and keeping you an extra week." He complains about how he didn't feel heard last week and how he warned her about trouble guys (oooOOOOOoo BE SCARED!), to which Michelle sternly says that she doesn't need him to speak for her or defend her from her own decisions.

Plus, he spent the whole group date acting like he didn't want to be there – which, sure, he spent a part of it dressed like a horse, but still. And since even now he doesn't seem to want to be there, he doesn't have to be. THERE'S THE DOOR, SMALL MAN! So he leaves while Michelle rejoins Nayte for some fireworks celebrating Chris' departure – and maybe love too. But mostly the Chris thing.

It's off to the cocktail party, where Michelle breaks the news about sending Chris home and amazingly doesn't have to pause for a 15-minute standing ovation. Instead, we jump straight into cute one-on-one time, with Greg Rick wandering down a Minneapolis street with Michelle, chatting about the future and conveniently finding a random piano man playing music in an alley. (As one does in a city – it's just random Billy Joels everywhere!) Michelle moves from the street to the rooftops for her time with Rodney, who gaze out at the lovely skyline and then scream their approval at it. This episode certainly did love its yelling. You know they were in the Midwest because, with all that shouting in public, all the normals were too polite to yell back, "SHUT UP! WE'RE WORKING HERE!" 

It wasn't all romance during the cocktail party, however – and we couldn't even blame Chris S. anymore. Instead, it was Martin once again talking himself into a hole, using his private time with Michelle to toss off an unprovoked crappy comment about how all the women in Miami are high maintenance. Michelle catches on to the loaded phrase pretty quickly, asking what makes a woman "high maintenance," and while Martin tries to salvage things with some half-hearted feminist-posturing rationale about "women having the power to take care of themselves without a man," it's confusing and cushioned in lame generalizations about half an entire city's population. He also says that women are more likely to expect their partner to do everything than men, to which: Have you met men? And here I was thinking that hairdo would be your biggest crime on this show.

Anyways, Martin, you better hope Michelle picks you by the end because good luck trying to get a date back in Miami after slagging every single woman in the city on national TV. Enjoy your inevitable move to Jacksonville!

Incredibly, despite the flurry of red flags flapping around him, Michelle still gives Martin a rose at the night's rose ceremony. In fairness, though, it seems less because Martin has much promise and more because there were too many other guys that had none – like Dax Krasinski, who gets the axe, and ... Leroy? There was a guy named Leroy here this whole time? Did he say anything ... ever? He might just be a collective hallucination, or maybe a production assistant who got confused and lost on set and just went with it – which, in that case, still went further than Chris! And as we're learning from Martin, saying less is probably better than saying more. 

Even with Chris S. and Martin muddying the waters, though, this was a nice and entertaining episode. (It really helps that Michelle doesn't mess around with villains, so she axes them before they graduate from annoying to annoying AND tiring.) But with the show running out of episodes and raising the stakes with the Elite Eight guys, the Minnesota nice vibes might turn Minnesota nasty sooner than later. 

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.