By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jul 13, 2021 at 8:06 AM

It's early and there's still plenty of time to go, but Katie's season thus far has easily been the most fun season I've ... wait, what do you mean we're almost already near the end? What do you mean that, after Monday, we now have barely as many men remaining as we've had episodes?! Well, this absolutely isn't fair. Sure, Matt James' raging dumpster fire of a season got to last approximately seven years – but this entertaining and engaging go-around lasts maybe two or three months. Seems fair. 

Sure, Katie's season appears to be en route to wrapping things up pretty quickly – but that's only because, this week, she pulled the ultimate power move, one that I've wanted to see since I started recapping this glorious excuse for wine-drunkenness on a weekday all those fateful Mondays ago. So I guess I can't be too mad. 

We start the show, and Katie, Kaitlyn and Tayshia are discussing how things are going – and even they can't pretend like Greg isn't the obvious and clear frontrunner right now. I mean, just a week or two ago, Katie did just basically tell Greg that, "Hey, I really like you and am falling for you, but in case you haven't noticed, I'm on this dating show, and am contractually required to give them at least more episodes than 'Loki.'" But then everyone gets distracted because apparently Katie's been streaming Netflix's "Too Hot to Handle" in between dates and wants to test the guys' abstinance abilities. She would like to institute a ban on ... um ... hosting five-on-one dates during their downtime. How they intend on monitoring this challenge, I'd rather not know – but I'm just glad that the aggro slamball sports game came before all of this because if you thought there were a lot of pent-up emotions getting turned into concussions then ... 

Kaitlyn reports the bad news to the fellas that, uh, celebrating Palm Sunday is off-limits. (Boy, could you imagine Harrison having any of these conversations? I choose not to.) Jed Connor seems particularly devastated by this development, while everyone assumes Blake is going to have the hardest time (feel free to add a suggestive emphasis on the word "hard" there) making it through the rest of the show without taking his talents to South Beach. Well that's not the reputation you like to have on a show. Also, who would've guessed the woman who brought a vibrator onto "The Bachelor" would be the one instituting a "no debugging the hard drive" ban on her season? I WAS TOLD WE WERE BEING SEX POSITIVE THIS SEASON! 

Put the "Too Hot to Handle" nonsense away now; it's time for actual "Bachelorette"-ing as Justin graduates from reaction shots to an actual speaking part and a whole solo date. (No, that's not a euphemism this time.) Unfortunately for Justin, it's an annoying date: the wedding-themed one. The guy finally gets some alone time with Katie – basically their first date – and the show already forces them to start writing their vows and trying on tuxedos and wedding dresses. And in case that wasn't enough pressure, Franco comes over and lets Justin know that his vows MUST be something she's never heard before, the most special thing she's ever heard, words that touch her heart and mind and soul and everywhere. HAVE FUN! Guy's gotta apparently write "Jane Eyre" in this forest. 

In the end, he writes some generic but sweet enough vows. Honestly, I love the guy, and his GIFs have been a blessing this season, but I don't think it's happening for Justin. He seems nice, but none of this date is radiating chemistry – and even the episode itself feels like it's getting distracted, heading back to the mansion to check in on the Great Suppression and the latest harrumphing about Hunter. Speaking of which, as it turns out, apparently he's a "Bachelor" superfan, and it's rubbing the guys the wrong way. (NO, NOT LIKE THAT!) And by "the guys," I mean Aaron, Tre and James, because it's always Aaron, Tre and James. They don't like that Hunter's already decided who the top four are and talks like he knows the "Bachelor" playbook. I wish the show had played into that more and gotten more self-referential with a contestant who behaves like they know the cliches and such ... and there I go, also getting distracted from Justin's date. THE GUY'S DOOMED!

Just not tonight (thankfully, for the sake of the reaction GIF industrial complex). Instead, their date goes well as Katie opens up to Justin about how she actually had a hard time on this date because she couldn't help but think while walking down the aisle about her father, who passed away. BUT ALSO she found out that her dad wasn't actually her biological father – and THAT man is actually been reaching out about wanting to finally get involved in her life. Oh wow, that's a lot to unpack. I know this for sure: There's no way that guy's not getting phoned in by the producers and showing up at some point this season for some cheap, uncomfortable drama that would be better suited for a therapy session than a silly ABC reality dating show. But let's not think about that season-sullying nonsense right now and instead listen to this random musical performance and watch Justin get a rose. 

It's now the group date's turn, which is drag-themed – in that we get cameos from drag favorites Monet X Change and Shea Coulee, but also the guys will drag one another in a roast battle. Unfortunately, the fellas won't be competing in drag – a profound bummer because Michael A. was CLEARLY ready and eager to glam up. It's even more unfortunate, though, because none of these guys understood the assignment. The men were told to throw shade – and instead they come into this insult battle with declarations of love and Hallmark poems? Greg, you're a sweet precious baby boy, and we love you, but THIS WAS NOT THE ASSIGNMENT!

Thankfully things finally get spicy as Hunter uses some of his time to announce to the entire world that he is falling in love with Katie – an interesting turn of events considering, just minutes ago while talking with one of the drag queens, Hunter was specifically asked if he was falling in love and said no because he doesn't throw that word around without care. I THOUGHT THIS GUY WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A SAVVY SUPERFAN! Guy's not even gonna get a "Bachelor in Paradise" invite at this rate. Surprising no one, Tre, Aaron and James – this season's easily triggered trio – start deservedly calling Hunter out for talking out both sides of his mouth, with Aaron in particular busting out insults for Hunter and calling him a leprechaun. Finally, somebody understood this was a roast! Even the Canadian Brendan was getting in on the Hunter heckling eventually!

So the date amazingly continues after the world's worst shade battle. (Most upsetting of all, according to ABC's press photos, there was apparently a walk-off at one point and NONE OF THAT MADE IT TO AIR!? WE COULD'VE HAD SASSY AND STRUTTING MICHAEL, AND INSTEAD GOT THAT TELETUBBY-SOFT ROAST!?) Katie and Greg have their now-weekly check-in where the show tries to make it seem like Greg's anxious about how things are going before she reassures him that *psst* he's gonna win and we all pretend that 30 seconds never happened. Good use of time. Meanwhile, Blake explains his full masturbation schedule to Katie – which, come on, ABC, why are we bleeping "whacking off"? – which apparently is a move that works because she asks to make out after he's done elaborating on his daily rituals. "I don't know how tonight could be ruined," Katie happily tells the camera, tempting fate and throwing it a double bird.  

And indeed, in comes James aka Box Man to reveal that Hunter's full of lies and deceit. Tre joins in to explain that he heard Hunter tell the drag queens that he wasn't falling in love right before he announced to everyone that he was falling in love, while Aaron piles on with the idea that Hunter's calculated because he's a superfan. Welp, I guess that's how tonight gets ruined! It's all so much that Katie literally feels sick to her stomach in the bathroom and bails on handing out any roses on the night – so that can't bode well. 

Speaking of things not boding well, it's time for Connor aka Not Jed's long-awaited one-on-one date with Katie – and boy, did the producers go all out for this one! They set up ... a cookout! But really, it's literally just grilling out with Kaitlyn Bristowe and Jason, with occasionally some bad volleyball and a weird couples game where two people try to dry hump a coconut up to their mouths, I guess? It has to be the cheapest date in "Bachelorette" history: just cooking brats with one of the show's hosts and grinding on a coconut (somehow NOT a masturbation euphemism). Poor guy ... but just you wait, because things are going to get A LOT worse for Not Jed. 

As it turns out, while Katie's enjoyed Connor's presence and vibe, she hasn't felt that romantic spark or passion yet with him – and today's VERY fancy date is their final test. She just wants to kiss the man and find out if they're romantically compatable or if they're just friendly. So when they finally get some alone time – albeit "alone time" meaning Jason and Kaitlyn are creepily spying on them from a distance – she goes in for the smooch. The music swells. The orchestra swoons. The camera desperately wants to do dramatic Michael Bay-like circles around the lovebirds. 

And ... it sucked. At least for Katie.

Turns out the loud swooning orchestra playing in Connor's head was actually sad trumpet sounds in Katie's mind. Getting ready for the dinner portion of the date, he's all excited and thrilled and saying ALL the magic doom phrases:

  • "There's no stopping our love story here."
  • "I feel like she can see a future with me."
  • "If there's one thing I know for absolute certain, it's that Katie's definitely not going to come knock on my door with tears in her eyes to break up with me."


Katie indeed comes to Connor's hotel suite with tears in her eyes, sitting him down on the couch and starting off the conversation with a lot of unprompted compliments – also known as the universal sign that a breakup has commenced. And you know what? For a guy who clearly did not see this emotional right hook coming, Connor handles it like an absolute champion. While Katie struggles to get the words out through the tears, apologizing the whole way, he comforts her and tells her, "I know what's coming; it's OK." He's kind and thoughtful and lets her speak her emotions without stepping on them and knows that it's difficult for her as well as for him and WELL JEEZ NOW I FEEL BAD FOR CALLING HIM A JED THIS WHOLE TIME! The man leaves with all my respect now – an impressive feat for a guy who showed up on night one in a furry cat suit complete with paint-on whiskers. 

Connor's barely out of the driveway, though, before the show moves on to another guy: Blake, who sees the tearful former suitor and decides to cheer up Katie by LARPing "Say Anything" with a boombox under her window – blasting the generic country song from their one-on-one date, not "In Your Eyes." Points docked – and also points docked for not turning off the damn boombox when he was done, just dropping it in the driveway blasting away while he shuffles up to see Katie. I know the producers got it – and I know it was the producers' boombox and idea in the first place – but come on, man. Anyways, Katie's in need of cheering up and Blake's just the nice guy to help with that as they have a pleasant conversation and a cute night of making out before sending Blake back home to almost certainly lose the self-gratification challenge that we all care so deeply about. 

One misjudged sprinkler visual metaphor later, we're off to the cocktail party. OR ARE WE!? Yep, Katie shows up to say that she's actually all set and ready to eliminate some dudes, so we're going straight to the rose ceremony. And when I say "some dudes," I mean about a whopping third of the remaining guys. Dang, this season is chugging along fast! She must really just want to marry Greg already!

And now, we reach arguably Katie's finest moment – a bold statement since this season has been utterly filled with strong moments. I've always said that, if I was on "The Bachelorette" and there was drama amongst a group of my guys, I would just clean house – no questions asked. If you're a part of the drama and distracting me from my love journey – BOOM – dropped off the planet, thanks for playing. Of course, the show would never allow for all the drama to just disappear right away ... OR WOULD IT!?

Indeed, Katie first calls Hunter forward, seemingly for the first rose – but jukes him out instead. She doesn't quite go full Thomas "kali ma" heart-ripping, but rather than give him the rose she's almost teasingly holding in her hand, she asks to chat with him outside instead. And he says a bunch of useless nonsense that helps no one – especially him – so he's certainly gone. BUT! So are Tre and Aaron and James, who seem like decent enough guys but who've also spent practically their entire time on this show grumbling about their fellow dudes and helping stir up issues in the house. SHE PULLED THE CLEAN-HOUSE MANUEVER! She too was tired of the drama, and instead of letting the he said/he said bickering confuse her a few more weeks – and exhaust the audience – she just said, "Screw it: All of you are annoying me, so all of you are launched into the sun."

I'm sure the producers are having a bleep-worthy time behind the scenes, but for me, seeing the show hop off the tedious usual "Bachelor" storytelling rails? Not undermining its lead's values and assuredness by keeping around crappy people for the sake of overbaked drama? I loved it.

What I love less? That it sure seems like we're already near the end of Katie's very enjoyable season. Only seven guys remain, and one of them is the mostly anonymous Brendan ... so really only six guys remain. And with "Bachelor in Paradise" premiering barely a month away on Aug. 16, the finish line is clearly in sight. Here's to sticking the landing. If the show can pull that off, they should give themselves a hand. (Dang it, THAT one's a euphemism.)

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.