Quick question: What the hell just happened, rose lovers? What began as a fairly standard week of (fake) hometown dates on The Bachelorette ended with one of the most intense and confounding breakups… ever.
Hometown date No. 1: Blake
(Pretend) location: Ontario, Canada
Family members present: Blake’s mom Emily, his sister Taylor, and his brother Cody
For his hometown, Blake says his big challenge is “to be as vulnerable as I can with the feeling of love.” First though, a trip over the imaginary border.
Just as they did with Matt’s “hometown” date with Serena P., producers have decked out a pub in the resort with Canadian accouterments — hockey skates, Maple Leaf flags, and a bar stocked with maple syrup. Down the hatch, Katie!
“I mean, I knew they loved their maple syrup, but ‘taste of Canada’ has a new meaning today,” she quips. But did we need to know that Blake has used syrup in the bedroom before? No, we did not.
A get-to-know-you game of darts reveals that Katie’s biggest fear is spiders and that she *might* move to Canada for Blake — her “always a possibility” answer seems pretty non-committal to me, though.
Okay, so here’s something interesting: As this date is happening, the camera reveals Greg on his balcony, which overlooks the street where Katie just happens to be playing street hockey in Maple Leaf jerseys. Now, it’s entirely possible that producers nudged Greg outside to make sure that he would see Katie smooching Blake in the makeshift penalty box. It’s also possible that it was a total coincidence. My guess can be summed up in that old Twitter saying: The Devil works hard, but Bachelorette producers work harder. Filming hometown dates in an enclosed resort is hard — why not introduce a little intra-suitor drama? And that’s exactly what happens.
“God, I’m sick to my stomach,” murmurs Greg. “Seeing her with Blake, you know, she looks so happy — and it scared me.”
Hold that thought, sir. It’s time to meet the Moynes! First off, Blake’s mom Emily is giving me serious Kathy Najimy vibes.
Emily gets right to the point: “Katie, at what point did you decide, ‘I want to pursue this with Blake’?” she asks. The Bachelorette says their chemistry was “instant,” and Blake adds that their “outlook on life” is very “aligned.” During her one-on-one chat with Emily, Katie admits that she and Blake haven’t said the l-word, but she assures Emily that they’re headed in that direction. “I know that if it’s Blake and I in the end,” she says, “it truly is forever.”
Meanwhile, Blake is sitting with his sister Taylor, whose first question is quite telling: “So, this is the one now?” God bless this woman. She then goes on to say exactly what everyone in Bachelor Nation has been thinking since Blake showed up this season: “Before you even met Clare, you were like, ‘I love her. It’s gonna work.’ Then that was gone… And then Tayshia came in — you’re in love again, like, right away. You get to this point where you just say that, like, ‘She’s the one’ — like, what do you mean?”
EXCELLENT QUESTION, DEAR SISTER! Unfortunately, she doesn’t really pause to let Blake answer. Instead, Taylor plows ahead to discuss whether her brother and Katie are in love. “No one aligned with me like she has — ever,” says Blake. So then why hasn’t he dropped the l-bomb? “That word is going to be used — it’s a matter of when,” insists Blake. “And I feel it, but I’m saying it needs to come naturally.”
Taylor’s all, Okay… good luck, bro. Once again, Emily takes the more direct approach. “If you really feel it,” she says, “you need to man the f— up and tell her you love her.” Then they share a sweet hug. Blake says his mom’s reassurance gave him a “whole new feeling” and that he wants to tell Katie that he loves her. But when it’s time to say goodbye…
So close! Turns out the word “love” was simply too “scary” for Blake at that moment. Still: “If things keep going the way that they are,” he says, “I see myself getting engaged to Katie.”
Hometown date No. 2: Justin
(Pretend) location: Baltimore, Md.
Family members present: None, though Justin’s two best friends, Herb and Tommy, are here
Before Justin goes to meet Katie for his fake hometown date, we see him on the phone with his mom. “Your dad and I will support you,” she says, “but I just find it difficult to understand how anyone could get to know someone in this short period of time to propose.”
Can I get an amen, rose lovers? I certainly don’t know anything about Justin’s parents, but you’ve gotta respect a mom and dad who refuse to endorse their child’s participation in a reality TV charade. Especially when they do it with a firm but loving conviction. “We have always trusted your judgment,” says dad. Justin is disappointed, but he’s a grown-ass man and will have to proceed on this “journey” without mom and dad’s on-camera approval. Anyhow…
Justin takes Katie on a horse and carriage ride past a replica of Baltimore’s “graffiti alley,” before stopping for a big ol’ plate of crabs. (Side note: Today I learned that the green goop inside a crab is not, in fact, poop — it’s actually the crab’s hepatopancreas, which is a digestive organ.)
Eventually, Justin must break the bad news to the Bachelorette: His parents aren’t coming. (He couches it by saying they “were not able to make it” — though maybe he explained the situation in more detail and we just didn’t see it.) But hey, at least Justin’s best friends Herb and Tommy are here!
The Bachelorette is “super bummed” but tries to be understanding. She is worried this could mean that Justin will be less prepared for an engagement… but hey, at this point, none of these people are truly ready to be engaged, so there’s really no reason to worry. Cheers!
After spending some time with Katie and Justin, Herb is impressed. “Seeing Justin holding hands and looking into her eyes — that was all new to me,” he says. “I’ve never seen him so affectionate. PDA is not something that he’s typically up for… It’s possible that Katie could be the one.”
When Herb and Katie sit down alone, he asks the Bachelorette what made Justin stand out in the field of 30 men. Her initial answer is a little vague: Katie says her “chemistry” with Justin is “so much fun,” and that he’s “a great kisser.” Perhaps things could have gone a little deeper if producers hadn’t been so keen on turning the conversation toward the dreaded “but has he said ‘I love you’ yet” question. (I refuse to believe that Herb — or any family member/friend on a hometown visit — brings this up without a little producer prompting.)
Katie informs Herb that she won’t be saying “I love you” to anyone until the very end. “It doesn’t feel right to tell one man that I’m in love with him knowing that there are other men still here,” she explains. Herb seems to like Katie, but he worries that Justin will be “behind the ball” if he hasn’t declared his love yet.
Look, I know this is a contrived situation, but can you imagine urging your best friend/son/brother to say “I love you” to a person he’s known for like six weeks, just so he won’t get eliminated on a reality TV dating show? I know producers need to create stakes, but this whole emphasis on “say I love you or die” feels extra-specially forced this time around. On the plus side, Herb is simply adorable!
Even though his parents chose not to show up, Justin feels good about how the “hometown” visit with his buddies went. So good, in fact, that he decides to go the extra emotional mile before saying goodnight to Katie. “I know I’m falling in love with you,” he says. “That is how I feel, and I don’t want to hold back.” Though she doesn’t reciprocate, Katie does appear to LOVE it.
“I’m proud of you,” she says. “I could feel you fighting that.” Hmmm… did that sound condescending, or reassuring? Discuss.
Hometown date No. 3: Greg
(Pretend) location: Edison, N.J.
Family members present: Greg’s mom, Sandy, his older brother, Joe, and one of his best friends, Dave
Though seeing Katie on her date with Blake left Greg shooketh, he’s determined to have a good “hometown” visit with the woman he wants to marry. “I just need to focus on the most important thing right now, and that’s my relationship with Katie.”
It all starts out well. Greg’s from Jersey, as we know, so today’s pretend trip involves a tandem bike ride on a pretend boardwalk — just like no one does at the real Jersey shore. Then comes a pork roll sandwich and some pretend surfing. The final activity — shooting hoops — is actually pretty sweet. You see, Greg used to play a lot of basketball with his dad, and now he wants to share that activity with Katie.
Greg says he hasn’t played much basketball since his father died, and Katie is touched that he asked her to play with him. “It means a lot that Greg wants to share that with me,” she says. “That he is turning a page in his life and is ready to find his happiness.”
Indeed, Greg does seem happy — especially for a guy with Resting Sad Face. He’s excited for Katie to meet his family and buddy Dave because he knows they’ll be able to see how happy he truly is once he walks in the door. And then, because producers already paid for the rain machine and need to get their full use out of it before returning it to the rental place, this happens:
“Greg is someone that I know I’m falling in love with,” Katie tells us. “He is somebody I very much can see walking away with at the end of this.” Hmmmm… put a pin in that thought, honey. It’s time to meet the Grippos (and friend)!
The visit starts with a video message from Greg’s sisters, Andrea and Samantha. They were not able to come (Samantha just started a new job, and Andrea is pregnant and likely didn’t want to travel), but they do send all their love to Greg and his potential bride. “If you guys are happy and you guys have found love, I wish you nothing but the best,” says Samantha. Adds Andrea, “Gregory, I know dad is so proud of you.” Awww man, can someone get Greg a tissue?
During Joe’s sit-down with Katie, he’s surprised to hear that she and Greg have bonded over losing their dads. “You might have been the first person he talked to about that,” says Joe. “Me and him haven’t even talked about dad, really, like that. So that tells me a lot, too.”
In another room, Greg is pouring his heart out to his buddy, Dave. “I’m like in love with this girl,” he says with a grin. “It’s gonna be me and her.” In fact, Greg says they’ve already “talked out” all of the post-show details. “She’s gonna come to New York, and we’re gonna work it out,” he tells Dave. (Wait, does that mean that Katie is going to move to New York? Actually, never mind. As Rev. Jesse Jackson used to say on SNL, the question is moot.)
Elsewhere, Katie is chatting with Sandy, who wants to know how the Bachelorette feels about her boy. “I hate to use the word ‘frontrunner,’ but Greg is someone I have a strong connection with,” says Katie. “I don’t care if I’m allowed to say this — Greg will be here next week.” She will not, however, answer mom’s question about whether she’s in love with Greg — for reasons she’s already disclosed on this program. Sandy understands, but she’s worried her boy will be hurt. To her credit, Katie does not try to allay those fears. “At the end of this,” says the Bachelorette, “everybody gets hurt except one man.”
Truth bomb! Sandy praises Katie for being “sincere” and “very kind.” She’s thrilled to see her son so happy and therefore worried that he’ll be “crushed” if the “process” doesn’t go his way. Greg assures his mom that he’s in love with Katie, but he admits that he’s “dying” to hear Katie say she’s in love with him — or at least falling in love. “I need her to be fully vulnerable with me and tell me exactly how she’s feeling,” he says.
Oh dear, rose lovers. This is where things start to go sideways. Have you noticed that the last “hometown” date of the week is over, and we still have like 45 minutes left in the episode? Yeah. It’s about to go down, and by “it” I mean, “a long and confusing fight that ends in a breakup.”
Before bidding Katie adieu, Greg sits down with her to debrief on her visit with his family. Katie gets choked up when she tells Greg that his mom said she hasn’t seen him so happy in a long time. And right now, Greg still looks really, really happy. “I just feel like I lost a major piece of me with my dad, seeing him go through that,” he says, his voice tightening with emotion. “I feel like I lost a part of myself during it all, I really do. I haven’t been this happy in the longest time… I didn’t know I was going to fall in love with you; I didn’t know that. And I am in love with you… I see it with you. This is real; this is real to me. Honestly, I haven’t been this vulnerable with anybody in my life. I don’t know what else to show you at this point, or what else to do… I’m not going to get down on one knee twice. It’s a one-deal thing for me.”
And we’ve reached the moment when Greg starts to spiral. The problem, you see, is that Katie’s reaction to this impassioned declaration of love is, in a word, underwhelming. Greg is obviously looking for some kind of reassurance from Katie, but instead, she just smiles at him.
Girl, say something! When Greg prompts her for a response, Katie keeps grinning. “I just love looking at you,” she says. Survey says: GIANT RED X. This was not what Greg was hoping to hear, rose lovers. To paraphrase Bart Simpson, you can actually pinpoint the second when Greg’s heart rips in half.
Having re-watched this moment and the subsequent blow-up several times (yes, I’m pathetic), I really don’t think Katie means to be withholding here. She seems to believe that Greg already knows he’s the one for her — and that’s the only reason she’s not pouring her heart out, too. “You know how I feel about you though, right?” she murmurs. “We’re almost there. Very close. Just hang in there, I keep telling you that.”
Given how Greg’s acting, though, Katie should realize that he has less “hang in there” left in him than that kitty on the poster. “You’re just not happy right now,” sighs Katie, stating the obvious. “It’s been a struggle, and I just like hope it’s something we can get through because we are so close to the end.”
Look, I get that she doesn’t want to say “I love you” to anyone until the proposal, but can’t she throw him a bone of some kind? Of course, I have no idea what she could say now that would keep Greg from melting down. If she does want to pick him in the end, would something like, “You make me happier than anyone ever has” work? Or maybe, “I can’t wait to start our life together”? If she doesn’t want to pick him in the end, though, she needs to pull the plug now — out of mercy if nothing else.
On their way outside, Katie and Greg stop for a “private” conversation in a darkened hallway. Greg says he doesn’t think she understands how hard this is for him. “I do,” she insists. “How do you think I feel going through it, and having to, like, be so committed to you and then have to, like, meet someone else’s family?” Still, Greg is not convinced. “I can’t be there in the end if I don’t think it’s us,” he whispers. Katie’s response is very telling:
“I promise”??? Why would she say that if she wasn’t planning to pick him in the end? I suppose it doesn’t matter because it quickly becomes clear that Greg wants Katie to pull a Clare — that is, say goodbye to the remaining guys and walk off into the sunset with him. No, Greg never explicitly asks her to do this. Instead, he talks around it. “I just don’t understand how you don’t know at this point,” says Greg. “[Know] that it’s me and you at this point, I just don’t get it.”
In other words, If you can “promise” me that I’m the one, why are you going through the motions of hometowns and Fantasy Suite dates with other men? It’s a fair question, rose lovers. If she does know, she could just pick Greg now — the producers will just have to suck it up as they have in the past. If she doesn’t know… well, then Katie needs to stop telling Greg to “trust” in their relationship and rip the Band-Aid off instead. Ultimately, the fight goes nowhere. Frustrated and sad, Katie and Greg share a subdued goodbye hug before parting ways. Standing outside alone, Greg asks the question we’re all asking ourselves: “What the f— just happened?”
The next morning, Greg is still a mess. “When I told her I was in love with her, she really didn’t have any reaction,” he says. “I wasn’t asking for a lot — just the smallest thing to let me know that she was feeling somewhat of the same.” One could argue that Katie was trying to give him that reassurance with statements like “You know how I feel about you, right?” and “We’re almost there,” but it wasn’t enough for Greg. He puts on his coat and heads over to Katie’s room, determined to find out what went wrong. “It’s clear to me that she’s not feeling the same,” he sighs. “It’s clear.”
“On our date, I told my mom that you were the one. I was telling my whole entire family that,” Greg begins. “When I expressed that to you, when I expressed that I do love you, I felt like I was telling that to a stranger… You just completely dismissed it, in my eyes.”
Once again, Katie’s response is… less than emphatic. “I’m sorry that it came off that way,” she says, sounding a bit like Rory after Dean professed his love to her on Gilmore Girls. And it gets worse: As it turns out, Katie didn’t even tell Greg until this moment that she’s not saying “I love you” to anyone until the end. (I’ll take “things that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY” for $500, Alex.)
Learning about Katie’s self-imposed rule doesn’t do much to make Greg feel better. He’s still extremely hurt that Katie accused him of “giving up” on their relationship. “I even feel like right now you’re giving me a surface-level response,” he says. “You already told my family that I’m getting a rose this week — f— the rose! I don’t give a s— about the rose! I was just telling you that you filled a hole in my heart!”
The Bachelorette stammers through an apology, explaining to Greg that she was just trying to “do more listening than talking” during that Very Important Conversation, but her lack of conviction and emotion is telling. “There’s obviously, like, a disconnect here,” says Greg. “I’ve reached my breaking point with this. I gave you everything. I really hope you find something…”
I don’t know about you, rose lovers, but if the man I loved announced that he was at his “breaking point” and all but declared that he was going to leave me, I would probably find myself in a heightened emotional state as I pleaded for him to stay. By contrast, here’s Katie:
“I can’t even, like, comprehend what it is you’re trying to say right now,” she says after a longer-than-necessary pause. “Are you not wanting to stay anymore? Are you done?”
Short answer: Yep. “[We’re] days away from an engagement, and I told you that you filled a hole in my heart,” Greg replies. “And you didn’t even acknowledge it!” The poor guy goes on to reiterate that he told his family that she was the woman he was going to marry because he was that sure about their feelings for each other. Katie, last chance — if Greg is your pick, break your damn rule and tell him you love him. Otherwise, take this relationship behind the shed and put it down. Anything else is just cruel.
Rose lovers, she does neither. “I, like, don’t even know what to say,” says Katie between sobs. “I just feel, like, so helpless.”
My God, are there really 15 minutes left in this episode? By this point, Katie and Greg are just going in circles, and everything Katie says just seems to make things worse. “You’ve always been my number one, from the very beginning,” she says, finally sounding like she understands the urgency of the moment.
Unfortunately, the phrase “number one” seems to trigger something in Greg — perhaps it gives him some unpleasant flashbacks to his “top four” conversation with Hunter. Whatever it is, he’s dismayed to see Katie so “wrapped up” in the mechanics of this reality TV dating show they both signed up for willingly. “Who cares about the rose or the number one or the number two or who’s getting sent home this week,” he fumes. “If it’s not real, it’s not real. I just wanted something real!”
If Katie does in fact love Greg, the sensible response is simple: “This IS real!” Instead, she plays it coy: “You don’t think that this is real?” Ooof. Greg is understandably defeated. “You think I care about a rose next week if it wasn’t real between us?” he says. “I thought that we were more than that. I thought that you thought of us more than that… I’m not a number here.”
Ugh, poor Greg. Having hit his on-camera limit, he abruptly leaves the room. “I’m so done with this,” he mutters as he jogs down the hotel stairs looking for an escape. But Katie is not far behind, and she finds him sitting out on a patio. “I just want to hug you right now,” she whispers, before wrapping her arms around him. “I am so sorry… I don’t even know what to say.” Yes. You. DO! Either say, “You are the one” or “I’m sorry, but I’m going to choose someone else.”
Neither of those things happens. The best Katie can do is tell Greg that if he leaves, “this whole thing feels like [it was] for nothing.” That, rose lovers, is not enough. “All I do know is… I deserve more than what I’ve been given,” says Greg sadly. “I’m done here.” With that, he walks away. Soon after, Katie storms off as well.
Holy Lord, how is this episode not over yet? After the commercial break, we cut to Katie’s room, where she’s sobbing in the bathroom. Kaitlyn arrives and attempts to offer some Bachelorette-to-Bachelorette comfort through the door. “There was one point that I, like, cried into my salad and I said I was done,” she says. Eventually, Katie opens the door and lets Kaitlyn in — and they continue their heart-to-heart behind the closed door. “Michael left. Greg left,” whimpers Katie. “At this point, the confidence and strength that I thought I had is just destroyed.” When Kaitlyn asks Katie what she wants to happen next, the Bachelorette’s response is, at long last, decisive:
Sorry, toots, but you’re on the hook for one more episode, a.k.a. next week’s three-hour (!) finale. The previews don’t show us much — no glimpse of Fantasy Suites or the Proposal Platform, no indication whether Greg returns. We hear Blake fret about whether Katie is “still hung up on Greg,” and see Katie weeping in her confessional about this “heartbreaking” situation. The credits sequence, meanwhile, plays like an In Memoriam reel for Greg and Katie’s relationship. Grim!
Welp, rose lovers, that happened. Do you think Greg will be back? Or will Katie just move on to another guy, like Desiree did after her teary breakup with Brooks? And have you ever cried into a salad? Post your (spoiler-free) thoughts below!
GARRETT, BECCA KUFRIN
One single woman searches for her future husband amid a sea of studs in this romantic reality series. Will you accept this rose?