By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jun 15, 2021 at 8:16 AM

Well, it wasn't going to stay good vibes forever, was it? It took all of two episodes, but Katie's "Bachelorette" season ran into its first villain and first real drama of the season – and no, it wasn't Chris Harrison putting on a wig and fake mustache, trying to sneak back onto the show like former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine tried to sneak back into his team's dugout back in the day. And speaking of firsts, I believe we also had one for the entire franchise on Monday night: a charming one-on-one date spent making a toilet! That's gotta be new!

We'll get to that – but first, we return to our mysterious isolated desert hotel complex that I shall now call Alcatraz But Dry. (Pardon me: It's actually called "Hyatt's Alcatraz But Dry.") While Karl is annoying everyone within a five-mile radius – including the wild turkeys wandering around – the fellas get their first group date card, sending them off to a dark conference room with a stage covered in various sexy items: fuzzy handcuffs, lingerie and, of course, "MJ" the vibrator. Out comes Heather McDonald, comedian and podcaster, to quiz our guys on sex and introduce the day's main event: a stage show in which they each perform why they're the greatest lover in the world – with all the props you would imagine. All the bros are having fun, except for Justin – who spends most of the sex quiz portion of the day with the same vacant and confused face I had during all my calculus tests – and Mike.

Poor Mike. He may be a sex-positive virgin, but that doesn't make this date any easier for him, resorting to answering with question marks on the quiz and having a small panic attack about how to broach the topic of his virginity during his performance. He wanted to tell Katie one-on-one on their own time, but now he has to tell her – and everyone else – on a stage, in a spotlight, on a date dedicated to sex and dirty jokes. How do you tip-toe the line between being honest and truthful while also not coming off like an accidental scold or a stick-in-the-mud? 

While Mike figures out his best move, the other guys take to the stage – starting with Connor, aka Cat Man, who busts out an acoustic guitar. Because of course he does. I really want to like this guy – he's a teacher, he's a goofball who showed up in a cat costume and he generally seems like a nice guy – but I cannot shake the vibes that he's a Jed in waiting. Captain Pet Food Jingles really did ruin everything for Nashville dudes with musical hobbies.

Meanwhile, Christian turns on everyone in the room by talking dirty ... dishes, that is, because he knows the true way to a person's heart is talking about how he'll do the chores around the house. MARRY HIM! Speaking of the marrying kind, Justin gives Katie a foot massage while Tre performs a puppet show that's somehow even less kid-friendly than "Team America: World Police." Then it's Karl turn, Jordan Belfort-ing all over the stage and giving a motivational speech about his five-point plan to win over Katie's heart – all while molesting a Katie cardboard cutout with a banana and mispronouncing the word "suffocate." I wish one of his five points was "no longer talking." No one is particularly a fan – especially the guys, who begin heckling his over-long PowerPoint presentation.

It's frankly fatal levels of cringe, so for the sake of my mental health, I'm going to stop talking about Karl the annoying "Bachelorette" contestant and instead focus on Carl my sister's adorable corgi instead:

Carl the corgiX

Much better.

Up last is Mike, who has to at least be pleased that he gets to go after Karl. He doesn't end up needing help, though, as he gives Katie a very sweet, intimate and sly poem that gets across his particular bedroom choices without coming off like a buzzkill and without judging Katie's bedroom choices. He tiptoes the line perfectly, earning everyone's respect as well as earning the group date trophy. That's right: The virgin won the "Vagina Monologues" challenge. Good for Mike! Considering how poorly this show's last notable virginity subplot turned out for everyone involved, I wasn't sure I needed another one – but Mike's turned out to be a good guy, so we will allow it. He's certainly better than Karl, who talks about winning Katie's heart like he's talking to the media after an NBA playoff game. 

Credit Karl for this, at least: Later that night at the date afterparty, he gets interrupted during his one-on-one time just as he was getting into some handcuffed shenanigans, and instead of making a scene about it, he politely just walks away. So that's commendable, I guess. Meanwhile, Connor gets a re-do on his first kiss with Katie because last time he was dressed like Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat and literally pawed up the bachelorette. So they make out again – which seemingly put him in the driver's seat for the date rose, but instead it goes to some guy named Thomas who will be gone by episode seven, when he reveals his horrible secret to Katie: He used to wear a lot of Ed Hardy clothing.

As for the rest of the guys back at Alcatraz But Dry, it's revealed the first solo date of the season goes to Sweet Baby Boy Greg, who just seems so childlike and gleeful about everything that's happened thus far on this show. He's just adorable; he and Katie even accidentally wear matching clothes for their date. The guys have to begrudgingly admit that the two of them are pretty great together, with one of the fellas yearnfully muttering, "That's a good hug, dammit," when the two lovebirds greet each other. Not that we want another Clare Crowley situation this season ... but if Katie just called it a day and picked Greg in episode four, no one would blame her. But who knows, maybe their date will turn out terrible?

Spoiler alert: It did not.

One of the few benefits of these pandemic "Bachelor" seasons is that, with fewer options available, they've had to rely less on silly or forced locales and more so on modest, relaxed dates – like this one, where the two go fishing in a nearby creek. I too once went fishing with my significant other; it was my first time fishing, and I nearly hooked her in the head AND almost slapped her in face with a fish. Safe to say Greg did much better than I did, having good conversation with Katie and never once almost whacking her in the face with a trout. They even manage to be charming while talking about crapping in a forest! That's right: A not-insignificant part of the date is spent making a impromptu toilet by digging a hole in the ground and busting a hole into a bucket. You know they have to be comfortable with each other when they're already OK talking about poop on the second date. 

Somehow, they manage to transition out of toilet talk into genuinely emotional conversation as the two have a heart-to-heart about their families and their fathers – both of which passed away. Normally, the cliche is that the date tells the star about their trauma, and the bachelor/bachelorette blandly thanks them for being honest and open before coldly putting that information into a mental filing cabinet along with the rest of the contestants' factoids. It rarely feels natural and always feels manipulative – except tonight, where Katie turns out to be the one opening up, talking about how this fishing trip reminds her of her late father and the great memories they have. And Greg actually listens and has a conversation with her about it, eventually revealing that his father also passed away just a few years ago. Instead of feeling like the Typical Trauma Conversation, it really feels like two people actually learning about one another, connecting and enjoying one another's company. Cue the "surprise" fireworks and cue me already ordering Greg's wedding day tuxedo. 

OK, we can't quite proclaim him the winner yet. We haven't even gotten through a second group date yet – speaking of which, here come Tayshia and Kaitlyn to wake up the remaining fellas for the next gathering: a mud wrestling competition. Everyone seems to be having fun – except for maybe the person in charge of doing the laundry, watching these guys ruin piles of jeans that were fresh, clean and folded just moments ago. 

All good things must come to an end, though, as Aaron and Cody are conveniently paired up to fight – and the two clearly do not like each other. The two refuse to look each other in the eye, and when they get to mucking around in the mud, it's actually mean and aggressive as opposed to silly and sexy. Now, if you remember from last week, these two were the lone drama from the premiere, having that bizarrely random argument out of nowhere. I assumed it was just the pressure of the night (and also the alcohol) getting to Aaron, sulking about not having enough time with Katie and taking it out on whoever was closest. But as it turns out, there is an actual story here: Aaron and Cody know each other from back home, and Aaron is not a fan. 

Katie's feeling weird about all of this, so she gives Aaron the win in the mud wrestling contest – but basically just so she can get some alone time with him to figure out why these two were trying to literally pummel each other into the dirt. Cody hopes that his rival doesn't tell Katie anything bad and BOY, ARE YOU ON THE WRONG SHOW THEN, CODY! Indeed, the mud-wrestling turns into mud-slinging as Aaron vaguely explains that he thinks Cody's here for the wrong reasons and also that he doesn't handle things well ... whatever that means. In the end, he wouldn't call Cody a piece of sh*t ... but he basically calls him everything and anything besides that. All the while, he seemingly refuses to look at Katie, so maybe the lack of eye contact between him and Cody wasn't anything telling and just Aaron's thing.

Later, while the guys gather for date night and the show's interns take Tide pens to those jeans, Katie takes Cody aside right away to get to the bottom of this newfound rivalry. And while Cody is actually pretty calm and composed for a guy who supposedly "doesn't handle things well," Katie's not entirely convinced that he's as clueless and confused as he says he is about Aaron's accusations. And so, because Katie has no patience for untrustworthy guys and toxic behavior – as we learned ALL too well last season – she cuts things off right away and sends Cody home without hesitation.

Good for her! Many times, "The Bachelorette" tries to set up its lead as a strong, smart and confident woman who knows what she wants ... only to horribly undercut her by forcing her to keep an obviously toxic situation on the show exclusively for the sake of drama. But not so much this season! Now, if it was me, I would've sent BOTH Cody and Aaron home for bringing bad vibes into Alcatraz But Dry – but thanks to Katie's strong personality and the show seemingly learning its lesson from the bullying of last season, this is progress!

Her reward: a visit from sweet and lovely Andrew, the Austrian football player with the respectable British accent, who happens to visit her just as she's standing and staring into the middle distance, waiting for someone to interrupt her alone time. While that was a little staged, their conversation feels pretty authentic and sincere as the two swap notes and stories about their similar struggles growing up poor – an interaction so nice that it earns Andrew the group date rose. What?! But Hunter wrote a romantic note on that disgarded brown grocery store bag for you, Katie! 

With that, we're off to the cocktail party where Katie makes it clear that she's looking for guys here for the right reasons before snagging Michael. Fun fact: Michael is apparently great at making dino nuggets! Huh, the rare fun fact that's actually a little fun. Anyways, Katie has a wonderful conversation with him as well as with John – a good guy last seen smiling his way through getting pounded into the mud during wrestling date. It's all going so well that Katie wonders aloud, "I don't know how tonight could possibly be ruined." OH NO, NOT THE MAGIC WORDS! 

Indeed, Katie summoned the producers and their horrible, evil powers. And the conduit for their terrible misdeeds this episode? Who else but friggin' Karl. KAAAAARRRRLLL!! (*shakes fists at sky*)

Indeed, after Katie gave her brief intro about how she doesn't want people to be there for the wrong reasons, Karl starts pondering that possibly SOMEONE could be a bad guy too – never mind that no one else has been acting poorly or talking about being there for the wrong reasons. Karl, however, doesn't like drama, so to stop to any more drama ... he's about to cause some drama. It's ironic because, if I were to pick the one person remaining on the show who was clearly just here for the Instagram follows and clout, it'd be him ... and now he's off trying to hunt down the phonies in the group. He's basically if the hot dog guy meme guy got dropped into "The Bachelorette."

Hot dog guyX

When Katie gets some one-on-one time Karl, he asks how she's doing ... and then absolutely does not wait to hear her answer before jumping right into a screed about how he gets the vibe that some people still aren't here for the right reasons. Katie, obviously, would like to hear more details about who or what he's talking about, and to that point, Karl ... has nothing. Not one detail. WHO COULD'VE PREDICTED KATIE WOULD ASK FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS!? Karl keeps trying to deflect, saying that he doesn't want to ruin her night with the details and other hilariously obvious lies failing to cover up the fact that he's clearly freewheeling some nonsense. The man yelled "FIRE!" in a theater and now is shocked people would like to know where the fire is. The man is very irritating and hurting my brain; SEND IN THE BETTER CARL AGAIN!

Carl the corgiX

OK, I'm feeling better. He's like a stress ball made of preciousness. 

Anyways, in a perfect world, Katie would immediately see through Karl's facade and punt him out the front door, but instead she makes a second big speech to the group, reminding any liars or clout chasers in the crowd that this is their actual lives, so please leave if you aren't here for a relationship and marriage. She then pulls Aaron aside, and Aaron hilariously is like, "WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS!?" I've never seen a guy on "The Bachelorette" look so annoyed that he's getting to talk with his date – though, in fairness, she's not looking to flirt. She's looking to find some answers, as she now trusts him after the Cody debacle. Not sure I'd trust Aaron completely – honestly, he seemed far more unhinged and bad at handling things than Cody – but he plays everything right with Katie, saying that he has no idea what Karl's talking about. 

Meanwhile, as the rest of the guys try to figure out why Katie's upset once again, Karl reveals to the group that it was his fault because he told Katie that he didn't trust some guys in the house. What particular guys in the house? Uuuuuhhh ... a guy? Maybe multiple guys? Guys who should definitely confess now to what they did! What they did, Karl doesn't know – but they should certainly admit to doing that thing they for sure did! Again, Karl clearly didn't plan for anything beyond chucking a grenade into the house – and now it's blown up in his face as the guys are annoyed he planted distrust for literally NO reason at all beyond the universal fact that sometimes humans can be liars. Aaron especially lays into Karl after he finds out about his nonsense, pointing out that he's ruined everyone's night – especially Katie's – for nothing. 

Unless Karl pulls some magic rationale out of his motivational speech-giving butt and puts blame on some random guy, I don't see how he gets out this alive. Considering all the guys – and probably Katie – know he has nothing, hopefully the next episode starts with him getting literally chucked out of the house and being forced to wander the desert back to society while Katie gets back to fun dates. What do you think about all of this, Better Carl?

Carl the corgiX


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.