By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Nov 03, 2021 at 9:26 AM

It was a highway to the danger zone for several of Michelle's men last night on "The Bachelorette" – especially if you spent the first few weeks behaving more Iceman than Maverick. That's right: Michelle has no time for bullies or manipulators, which is terrible news for Jamie, Pete-za and the producers of the show who would like a villain subplot. 

A new day starts with a new date card: a group invite making a reference to "the danger zone." All the bros start wondering what this could mean. The date, they hypothesize, could be referring to something mental or something physical – meanwhile I'm screaming at the television, "IT'S DEFINITELY 'TOP GUN!'" And indeed, the dudes show up at an airbase, greeted by a pair of cast members from the upcoming "Top Gun Maverick" movie. What an exciting movie that people will be able to watch ... next May. Yeah, the sequel was originally scheduled for Christmas this year but instead got nudged to Memorial Day in 2022 – almost certainly after they filmed this episode. So hopefully for Paramount's sake, this date left a half-year's worth of memorable impact!

Anyways, thankfully for everyone's sake, the show keeps everyone grounded and our bros aren't flying fighter jets and smashing directly into the side of the Earth. Instead, after they get callsign nicknames – Lil' Willy for Will, Frosty for Martin, Doughboy for Pete-za annnnd that's all the show had time or interest in – they do some pushups and other exercises. Frosty takes a break, though, to talk with Michelle (and to come up with an excuse to stop doing exercise – relatable). So does he immediately ask who told Michelle the lie about the house's supposed trust issues with her after the Joe situation and explain that it's inaccurate nonsense? NO, WHY WOULD WE DO THAT?! Communication: Who wants THAT in a relationship!? 

After some basic push-ups and such, the "Top Gun" guys raise the stakes with their next activity: a romantic ride in a multi-axis trainer aka a super-spinning chair aka the Puke-a-Tron 5000. Not only do the fellas have to survive the G-force-inducing spins but they have to profess their love to Michelle while doing so. I have a bad feeling these professions are going to look and sound a lot like that morning's breakfast. But incredibly, none of the bros hork – or at least they don't on camera. Thankfully "The Bachelorette" had mercy on its dinner-eating audience. 

Will, however, put that to the test. You might remember Will as the guy who called Pete-za a narcissist (AND IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN!) last week and deservedly giggled about it. But the man was not giggling this episode, no sir. Turns out he's already motion sensitive to begin with – and that's when he's not sitting in a chair spinning and whirling in a circle with no feet on the ground. But somehow he managed to survive, speaking in Spanish – maybe as a romantic gesture, maybe because his brain broke – before ending his ride with the most suave way of saying "No, I don't need the puke bucket" ever. Michelle asks if he needs a bucket, which he counters with, "I need you." MY MAN! (*high fives in slow motion while shirtless playing volleyball*)

Not everyone, however, is impressed. Pete-za is annoyed because he pulled the same routine – the speaking in a Romance Language bit, not the slick vomit bucket line. Listen, Peter: No one was exactly writing "Jane Eyre" in the spinning cyclone of pukey death. I've heard what you guys say when you have two feet firmly on the ground, and let me assure you, none of you are creative. So settle yourself. But no, Pete-za is furious – and only becomes more so after Will smacks him around in the final challenge ("dog-fighting" aka the jausting Q-tips game from "American Gladiators") and wins the "Top Gun" contest, earning a nifty bomber jacket and a ride in Tom Cruise's car from the new movie. COOL REFERENCE I WON'T GET FOR ANOTHER SIX MONTHS!

So while everyone else at the afterparty flirts with Michelle, Will and Peter decide their time would be best spent fighting more, talking loudly over one another and causing Nayte to give the camera a Jim Halpert camera glance because he's tragically stuck in the middle of them. Eventually Will decides to finally start interacting with his girlfriend – but forgets his prized jacket back with the guys. Well I'm sure that'll end fine; THERE'S DEFINITELY NOT A HOT-HEADED PIZZA DOUCHE WHO HATES YOU THERE! And indeed, Pete-za not only steals Will's bomber jacket and tries it on, but he ends up crash-landing the jacket into a nearby pool. NOT WATER! THAT'S GONNA STAIN!

Now, if I was will, I would grab Pete-za's adorable little yacht-club sweater tied around his shoulders and chuck that into said pool AND THEN NOBODY STAYS WARM IF THERE'S A MILD BREEZE. Or, failing that, tell Michelle that Pete-za's a wormy bully with immense insecurity. But instead, Will is the bigger man and doesn't say anything to Michelle because he doesn't want to ruin her nice night with drama. So Michelle walks in, doesn't notice Will's glossy eyes and gives her date rose to Martin while the entire world is yelling, "ASK WILL ABOUT HIS JACKET!" But no, the fireworks never happen. Instead, she and Martin walk about ten feet away to watch an orchestral quartet play the "Top Gun" soundtrack while Will tearfully fishes his sponge-like jacket out of the pool. Hopefully he packed about twelve hairdryers. 

Meanwhile, back at the bro bullpen, Rodney Appleseed finds out that he's gotten the solo date for the week – which Mollique finds absurd. Mollique, you're talking a lot of smack for a person who I literally just discovered is on this show. I think we have an early frontrunner for "the guy on the Men Tell All who has a lot to say despite never existing on the show!"

Anyways, so because the show blew its budget on the "Top Gun" stuff, Rodney's one-on-one date is a glorified tour of their hotel, starting with a blindfolded taste test in the kitchen. He serves up the blindholded Michelle some french fries and a slice of pizza before she accidentally makes him snort whipped cream up his nose like Zicam. I personally would've tried to make her that giant softball-sized saucy meatball and then probably been immediately shown the door.

After a game where they have to open boxes to find the key to their handcuffs (it's like that "Double Dare" obstacle with the giant sandwich and the flag, minus the mess or the fun), they reach the final challenge: Run around the hotel naked. So Rodney takes the bullet, gets butt naked (minus a strategically-placed couch cushion) and goes for a sprint – all while the rest of the cast watches on. THAT'S WHAT YOU GET FOR NOT KNOWING YOUR APPLES! 

After Rodney's hazing, the date proper may begin, with Rodney opening up about how his biggest fear is dying before he gets to be a father and husband (mine is spiders) before asking Michelle what went wrong in her last relationship. Well, you see, she was dating this boring dude named Matt who ended up choosing to date this lady with Antebellum sorority photos and ... oh, I've misinterpreted the question. Instead, Michelle talks about a past boyfriend who didn't understand being Black in America and, when she was called the N-word by a stranger, didn't understand her rage and hurt. It's a compelling conversation between the two – and Michelle agrees, as she gives Rodney Appleseed her rose. 

So we end with a final group date – and Jamie is just smugging it up. He's talking casually about how it would be nice to win so he wouldn't have to unpack and how he has no competition and how no one else has the connection he has with Michelle. It's a lot of talk – but conveniently, this group date is all talk, spoken word in particular. And let me tell you: CHRIS G. IS JAZZED. The episode features guest spoken word performer Rudy Francisco, and Chris G. is THIS close to bailing on Michelle and just hanging with him instead. He's the kind of dude who straight-faced snaps at the end of a poetry reading. 

Incredibly, that's as cringe-worthy as things get as the guys actually embrace the challenge to write a personal spoken word piece, opening up on stage about themselves. Even Michelle busts out an impressively honest piece about growing up, feeling out of place as a Black girl in a white school and being only seen for her athletics. Everyone does great ... except for Jamie, of course, who instead reads some bizarre parable about a girl who gets lost in the woods. Yeah, it ends with her granny getting mauled by a wolf who can talk; I know this one. 

But Jamie thinks he did great not only with the poem but with everything.  He barely even considers the show a competition at this point – but BAD NEWS, BRO, because the group date rose goes to Brandon instead. WHERE IS MY JAMIE REACTION SHOT!? Unfortunately, we don't get that shot of Jamie realizing that his poem sucked and that he's not the only person on this show – but we do get something far stranger as Jamie decides to complain to a producer about Michelle's choice and how it's unattractive to him that she would choose anyone else. BAD LOOK! Also a bad look: That you went to a producer about it. Do you not have any friends in the house you can make these gripes too? Instead, you have to grumble to the person paid to be there? You might be sad, Jamie. 

Weirdly, this is NEVER brought up again – but just because the producer kept the cone of silence doesn't mean Jamie's out of the woods. That's right: Everybody on the show suddenly remember that somebody lied to Michelle last week! Huh, weird how everybody forgot that. Love that our lead talks about the importance of communication, only for the show to undercut her by not letting anyone communicate honestly about last week's confusion.

But finally, somebody cuts through the fog as Rick takes Michelle aside and lets her know that whatever that mystery person said about the house distrusting her was incorrect, that her and Joe's past was barely a topic and that it was just somebody trying to mess with her head rather than an accurate report on the guys' feelings. And Michelle, to her credit, now that somebody's finally brought it up to her, immediately says that it was Jamie who brought the gossip to her attention. So Rick and a few others confront Jamie, who busts out a half-hearted Shaggy-esque "it wasn't necessarily me," while trying to argue that the gossip was growing into its own character ... also something about viewers and episodes? The alcohol might've started kicking in around this point. 

Eventually, Michelle and all the bros get around to confronting Jamie about it – to the lie itself to the fact that he had a chance to own up to it and didn't. He tries to explain that he didn't mean that people distrusted her NOW but that people MIGHT grow to distrust her LATER. Or something. Somehow,  despite having more time than expected to come up with some rationale or excuse, the best he could come up with was this sweaty nonsense. Should've had a brainstorming sesh with his producer buddy. 

Michelle keenly points out that he didn't just say that people were distrusting her because of the Joe situation, but that he'd heard other gossip about her already having a boyfriend back home – a completely irrelevant point that only served to emphasize that people didn't trust her, especially when paired with the Joe (non)drama. So add that all up, and you've got a guy going home – and best of all, Michelle walks him out but doesn't even bother with a goodbye or a final tell-off or letting him get out some last-ditch effort to stay. She gets him to the door, drops him off and turns into a cloud of dust – which is all Jamie deserves. 

Oh yeah, I guess we have a rose ceremony tonight too. Feels a little like an afterthought since the big villain was already knocked down – but Michelle does end up sending four other guys home, including LT (CLINT EASTWOOD'S GRANDSON!?), poor smack-talking Mollique, somebody named Spencer who was allegedly there and Pete-za. The final rose came down to him and Will – and gosh, who will she choose? The guy she's talked to and made out with in Maverick's car ... or the loud pizza guy who keeps yelling and spent last week getting laughed at by children? Quite the Sophie's Choice. 

But honestly, you have to imagine the producer pressure was intense. Two key villains down in the same episode!? Normally in the early going, there's a goofball villain – somebody who everyone knows isn't going to win but is an entertaining wildcard – and a true villain, somebody who's wormed their way into a frontrunner situation despite some nefariousness. And typically the former falls first while the latter gets to stick around, play the heel and cook up some real heated emotions in the audience. But Michelle axed both right as they were barely getting to a boil! It sure seemed like Peter and Will had one more big explosion set up (probably on a football field or boxing ring in some misguided attempt to "loosen things up"), and Jamie appeared like he was going to be a bigger problem, especially with the producer confidante angle introduced perhaps making Michelle feel no longer in a safe space. 

But Michelle killed both those storylines off – and is killing it, in general. And she probably killed a stressed-out producer too, who worked VERY HARD on setting up those villain subplots, dang it. But don't worry: I'm sure they've got more to come ... 

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.