By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jul 27, 2021 at 8:01 AM

In case Katie's season wasn't going fast enough, I missed recapping last week's episode due to a severe case of Bucks lust that swept through Milwaukee. But I'm back, I've politely forgotten about Mike P. talking WAAAY too much about his mom during an intimate date, I'm once again glugging straight from the Bota Box and I'm ready to talk about the Men Tell All special ... and the weird one-fourth of an episode attached to the front of it. 

Indeed, Monday night's episode was clearly a case of "The Bachelorette" both not having enough dating show material for a full episode AND not having enough studio show material for a full Men Tell All – which the latter is always fine by me. The Men Tell All always sounds exciting and riveting, but then you find out the episode is two hours of blandly vague answers and bros yelling on top of one another while we see bloopers that SHOULD'VE JUST BEEN IN THE SHOW PROPER, DAMMIT! Worst of all, since he's in the final four, Justin and his incredible facial reactions weren't in attendance – and honestly, what's even the point then? The man's face was basically born for the Men Tell All, and instead I was left with ... some guy named Kyle? This man was not on this season; you are lying to me, ABC. You put an intern in a suit to fill a chair, and you cannot convince me otherwise. 

Before we get to all of that, though, we have to pummel your heart into oblivion. 

In the worst thing to happen to my heart since eating the bacon-bottom pizza – why, yes, it is a pizza with a crust made of bacon – Michael has his daily Skype call with his son James only for his son to say on camera, "Maybe Daddy left because he doesn't want to see me." Michael – who is seemingly the best, most delightfully dorky dad ever – tries to explain that he's gone on a "work trip" (well that's confusing, but I guess "I'm away to date a woman on TV along with 30 other guys" is a lot for a toddler to grasp), and James does say "I love you" and all that reassuring stuff. But afterward, Michael can't help but feel guilty and selfish for leaving his child behind for his own personal desires – especially if it's making his son, who did lose his mother fairly recently, feel like he's not as loved as he truly is. So Michael goes to Katie's room and says he's stepping away to be with his son, making the bachelorette cry and punting my heart into the stratosphere.  

Katie's sad because she says she truly saw a future with Michael – the two do seem like equal delightful dorks and talking with Tayshia, she seemed truly excited about the idea of becoming a mother right away. But also, he wasn't Greg – and Greg is clearly the guy at the end of this series getting on a knee in front of Katie. Has been since about ... when was the season premiere again? This season's been great and impressively rejuvenated the "Bachelor" franchise after the worst season of any show ever, but if it's had a hang-up, it's that it's been pretty bad at hiding the fact that Katie and Greg just want to be married seven weeks ago. If Clare and Dale hadn't pulled their shenanigans just a year ago, we might've seen that happen this season.

Anyways, so now with my eyes properly blurred thanks to Michael's parental self-sacrifice, we're off to the Men Tell All – the first one sans Chris Harrison. Tayshia and Kaitlyn did well enough, though the studio show offers some trickier challenges than the show proper, having to sound like a natural interviewer while also wrangling the loud testosterone-offs between contestants, knowing when to let things escalate and how to step in when things get too annoyingly aggro. They struggled here more so than in the show itself (even Harrison, a longtime host, couldn't get it right) but the duo still did just fine, albeit a little stiffer and clunkier than their relaxed regular state. 

But it's the Men Tell All – so time to get to the men. Including Cody! Remember Cody!? He was a person technically on this show at some point! Intern Kyle is there as well – but you know who isn't there? Thomas (and Mike P., but if I was last seen getting broken up with on national television because I couldn't stop talking about my mom during a cuddle session, to the point that even Freud and Norman Bates would say, "This is a lot to unpack," I would probably RSVP no as well). But hey, at least we have Cody – who, as it turns out, was the guy that Aaron randomly got mad at during the season premiere, to the degree that he got him booted the next episode. The two knew apparently knew each other in the real world, with Aaron noting that Cody was "disrespectful to people" and had bad social media posts about soon becoming famous on "The Bachelorette." WELL SO MUCH FOR THAT, GUY I'VE ALREADY FORGOTTEN EXISTED! 

After the show wraps up the Aaron and ... I want to say his name was Trent drama, we move on to something spicier: the Karl kerfuffle. The Karl-fuffle, if you will – the ordeal so annoying that I had to resort to corgi photos to calm myself down. Unfortunately, Karl did not get less frustrating since his early exit – especially since he was technically proven right thanks to Thomas being there for the wrong reasons. So any hope of a humbling was out the window. Instead Karl comes out swinging, say that he was totally right about everything and also ... that Brendan only came on the show for a trip to the U.S. and free beer? Canada's not Utah, Karl; they've got plenty of their own booze up north. 

Speaking of Brendan, the guy really owned the role of "Anonymous Guy Who Had Two Lines During The Season But Has A Lot On His Mind During The Men Tell All." After spending most of the season silent and as the obvious next person gone in the final seven, Brendan worked very hard to be a star on Monday night. We'll see if it pays off in a "Bachelor in Paradise" appearance!

In case the conversation hadn't already escalated so far that a Canadian dared to raise his voice, Karl eventually stands up (he is a public speaker, after all) and tries to give a TED Talk about why he actually isn't a douchebag. It does not take – and, in fact, it just offers a new way for the other guys to make fun of him as Brendan and Tre parody Karl by needlessly standing up as well. It is all very loud and silly, and Tayshia and Kaitlyn looked very scared and confused. Same. 

We move on to lighter, easier topics – starting with Connor, who apparently spiraled upon getting the boot two weeks ago and texted all of his ex-girlfriends afterward to find out if he's really that terrible of a kisser. And apparently he's not – or at least his exes were too polite to tell him otherwise. But in case we needed more proof, a Very Random And Totally Unexpected woman stands up in the middle of his interview with Tayshia and Kaitlyn, hijacking the show to say that she just CANNOT believe that he's not a good kisser – and she will need to kiss him to prove it. WHAT A DEFINITELY ORGANIC AND UNSCRIPTED THING! (*eyes perform flips and rolls worthy of an Olympic floor routine*) The two proceed to super-makeout, and she even gets to sit on the couch and get interviewed about how totally sexy and great Connor is at kissing. Did ... Connor write this segment?

Leave it to internet detectives to discover that this Definitely Not a Producer Plant woman turns out not only to be Insta-buddies with Connor – but she's ALSO a musician who happens to have some new music coming out right now. Oh, well, HOW CONVENIENT! Dang it, we got sneak attack Jed-ed! Anyways, congrats to her for the high-profile product placement – she might as well have worn a shirt with a link to her Spotify artist page – but the only way this whole thing could've been more staged, fake and irritating is if Connor whipped out his ukulele for one final song. 

On to someone far more sincere: Andrew, who last we saw setting up romantic lights and professing his love for Katie only to get punched in the heart. Things may have seemed sad for the overseas football player last we saw him, but judging by his interview, life may be improving quickly as it SUUUURE sounded like he was getting set up as the next "Bachelor." He gave a lot of approved answers about how he's ready to find his love and finally be chosen, and at the end of the chat, Tayshia lingered very dramatically when she told Andrew, "You will be chosen ........ " Sure felt like there was going to be a reveal there – and a welcome one at that; Andrew came off like an awesome guy with Katie, and it would be good to have a Black "Bachelor" season that isn't a complete and utter landfill fire. But maybe they're saving that for another day ... 

Meanwhile, we still have to talk to Michael, who doesn't quite have a Matt James-level sadness beard but he's definitely got scruff now. After a recap of stuff that happened an hour ago on the very television episode we're watching, Tayshia, Kaitlyn and Michael have a characteristically lovely and honest conversation about the stresses of being a single parent and trying to balance your child's needs with your own needs. And if you're wondering, Michael still feels 100 percent the same way about Katie as he did in New Mexico. HMMM!

Welp, sorry, because Katie eventually comes out, and when the topic of Michael still having a place in his heart for Katie comes up, she says that everything worked out great for her the rest of the way so too bad – aka she's definitely engaged, almost certainly to Greg. Cue the sad trumpets for Michael – but yay for Katie, who seems unequivocally pumped about how this show went for her with no regrets. Despite all the tears and angst in the preview footage, I have a feeling this ends with Neil Lane, smiles and endless cameos in future "Bachelor" seasons. (Speaking of which, Jason and Kaitlyn are now engaged via podcast. THE PROCESS WORKS ... in a cumbersome, unexpected and wholly convoluted way. BUT IT WORKS, DAMMIT!)

We move on to bloopers – which normally this would be the part where I complain about why they're not included in the show proper, but honestly they were too genuinely funny to have qualms. I mean, I wish the Michael WOWO challenge confession at the drag debate made the final cut – not only because it was absurdly funny but because it would've made that underwhelming date challenge significantly less boring and disappointing. Then Katie added her own impromptu blooper to the reel by accidentally calling Aaron "Thomas." As one who got very tired of Aaron's aggro guardian routine, I found that moment very enjoyable.

As for the complete opposite of enjoyable, Connor then pulled out his ukulele and played a song, so now I'm doused with acid and deceased. It's been real, world. You've made mistakes when the return of the season's most infamous villain serves as blessed relief. 

Indeed, Thomas does finally make an appearance by the end – albeit a virtual one, so nowhere near as satisfying. And honestly, Thomas isn't even close to the most hate-able villain the show's seen – not even top ten. His sins were merely being weirdly both disingenuous and too honest, not actively harmful like some in the recent past, so his dramatic return didn't inspire the bloodlust producers may have wanted. Plus, he was generally pretty polite and contrite in his comments – and Katie even apologized to him for roasting him at his final rose ceremony.

In the end, it was much ado about nothing – which, frankly, was much of the Men Tell All when it came to drama. As it turns out, when you've got a house mostly filled with good guys, hosted by a woman concerned about their mental well-being and keeping good vibes, you don't have much to fight about afterward. No wonder they had to resort to a "surprise" "makeout" "session."

Anyways, back to the actual show where ... honestly, not much drama there either. Let's get Katie and Sweet Baby Greg hitched already!

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.