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‘The Bachelorette’ Recap: A New Way to Do Rose Ceremonies

After two-plus decades and thousands of roses, the ceremony got a remix when Katie came up with an alternative method that heightens drama and maximizes the potential for humiliation

ABC/Getty Images/Ringer illustration

The rose ceremony is the signature event of The Bachelorette. Virtually every episode of every season of every Bachelor franchise show is centered on a climactic rose ceremony. Dramatic music blares as a bunch of hot people stand in a line, waiting to hear their name called. If they do, they get a rose and move on. If their name isn’t called, they go home. The suspense can be thrilling—but as a television format, the rose ceremony has some flaws.

Pretty much every other elimination-themed TV show centers its elimination event on the people getting eliminated—“the tribe has spoken,” “you’re fired!,” “you’ve been chopped,” “you are the weakest link,” “pack your knives and go,” etc. But the rose ceremony oddly inverts that process—the lead gives roses to the people she’s keeping, forcing you to use the process of elimination to figure out who’s been sent home. Sometimes, it’s actually hard to tell who has been eliminated. (Part of my recap writing process: Taking notes on which names are said and then cross-referencing that list with the full contestant list on The Bachelorette website to get the full rundown of who has been kicked off.)

It makes sense that a show built around romance would give its lead the opportunity to share a moment with every person they see as a potential romantic partner—but elimination by exclusion can lack oomph. Like last week, when the villainous Karl was eliminated … and his name was never said. He just kinda looked around and walked out, without saying anything to anybody. It was interesting to watch in its own way, but there’s a reason that many of the show’s most memorable eliminations have come outside of rose ceremonies: Hannah finally kicking Luke P. to the curb after an infuriating sex talk; Clare screaming “I became the oldest Bachelorette because I didn’t settle for men LIKE YOU!” And then, of course, there’s every person who has lost a two-on-one date, a dramatic gimmick specifically invented by the show’s producers to make up for the fact that normal eliminations often aren’t emphatic enough.

But Monday night, the rose ceremony got a surprising—and thrilling—update. Most of the episode centered on Thomas, the contestant who has been billed as a lying, scheming, manipulative mastermind. He’s not—he’s actually just the first contestant to be honest about the obvious fact that contestants on The Bachelorette sometimes become the leads on subsequent seasons of The Bachelor. In fact, despite repeated allegations that he is a brilliant wordsmith, he kinda sucks at talking—at one point, he says that he is being “demonsterized,” which (a) is not a word and (b) if it were a word, would probably mean “being made into less of a monster.”

Regardless, 15 guys are extremely sure that Thomas is a sharp-tongued menace whose words are sweet and whose strategic planning is unmatched. There is a long debate about whether to alert Katie to Thomas’s slick devilry, and eventually Tre does. Katie is upset, saying she already pictured going to hometowns with Thomas.

Thomas seems pretty bummed about the whole ordeal, as he quickly realizes that his legitimate connection with Katie is evaporating because he was dumb enough to be honest. At one point, he even tells Katie that he would sign a contract promising to never be the Bachelor. When one of this season’s cohosts, Kaitlyn, hears about the incident, she chuckles and says, “There’s one way to not be the Bachelor, and that’s to tell everybody you want to be the Bachelor.” (File this under the growing list of “funny things Chris Harrison never would’ve said.”) It seems pretty clear Thomas never had the mythical game plan all his enemies accuse him of having—if he were good at strategy, he probably would not have said all the extremely suspicious stuff that made everybody hate him.

There are 12 roses up for grabs in the rose ceremony, but there’s really only one question—will Katie keep Thomas? After handing out 11 roses, she picks up the last one and finally says his name. The contestants are stunned. Aaron, the guy who likes getting caught up in everybody else’s business, lets out an audible “OH FUCK!” Several men make ridiculous faces.

Screenshots via ABC

After a well-placed commercial break, Thomas smiles and steps up, prepping his lapel for its incoming rose. But instead of handing over the flower, Katie decides to absolutely body the guy.

“What I learned about you tonight is that you’re selfish, unkind, and a liar,” Katie says after pulling a savage stepback. “Your Bachelor audition ends today, so get out!” Katie points toward the door, sending Thomas off to better curate his platform. What an unfortunate end for Thomas—A BEACON OF HONESTY IN A SEA OF BACHELORETTE LIES.

I guess it’s never been specifically stated that if you call a guy’s name, you’re legally obligated to give them a rose—but nobody has ever pulled the rose-to-vicious-public-dumping switcheroo before. It’s unclear what happened to the physical rose Katie was planning on giving to Thomas—it disappears after she roasts him, and she doesn’t give it to any of the remaining roseless guys. (RIP to Conor C., Christian’s Boston accent, and David—honestly, they looked pretty chill about being eliminated knowing that at least Thomas didn’t get the rose.)

Katie’s 180 was a beautiful surprise. It was built up with a perfectly timed cliff-hanger after two hours of Thomas-centric television—but more importantly, it was built up by years and years and years of rose ceremony conditioning. The Bachelorette does eliminations differently than most every other reality show—but with a bit of improv, Katie flipped it back around to the way it works best.

Biggest Disaster: Greg’s Sexy Geography Chat

Greg seems like the runaway leader of this season—he got the first-impression rose, he got the first one-on-one date, and Katie has told him that she’s falling in love. But I’m worried he erased his lead in one unfortunate minute on Monday night.

The big group date in the episode is “truth-or-dare” themed—except the men are not given an actual truth-or-dare option, they’re just given various uncomfortable tasks to perform and later told to be honest with Katie. It’s really more of a truth-and-dare situation. One dare involves waxing hairy body parts, which … probably should’ve been done by a professional instead of random guys whose experience is likely limited to seeing The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Another involves eating large amounts of food, like a plate with 5,400 calories of Twinkies. Mike the Virgin, who is ripped, says it’s the first carbs he’s eaten in seven years. (Avoiding sex? OK. Avoiding sex and carbs? What’s the point of being alive?)

But Greg gets caught up on one where the men are instructed to talk dirty into a large sculpture of an ear, which is supposedly Katie’s. The sweet nothings they whisper are being broadcast to Katie, who is watching from several hundred feet away, but supposedly, they don’t know that. Greg steps up to the ear and, in a vaguely Southern accent, begins talking about ... states. Here is an unabridged transcript of his sexy talk:

Oh Katie … why don’t you bend on over and let me show you the 50 states ... we got New Jersey, New Yawk. Everything’s bigger in Texas, and don’t you forget about Florida, baby, it’s nice and long and deep-uh.

I have some questions!

  • Why did Greg go geography-themed? At no point did the prompt mention geography!
  • How many states does Greg actually know? I’m kinda worried by the fact that he had to stop at four.
  • Why the awful Southern accent? The first states he mentioned were New York and New Jersey—not the South—and then followed those up with Texas and Florida. Neither of those states are 100 percent the South, and neither of them necessitates such a bad Southern accent.
  • Has Greg ever had sex before? Does he know what sex is, or what people like about it?
  • Does Greg think women find Foghorn Leghorn sexually irresistible?

On a show that delays sexual interactions until the very end, Katie will now spend over a month thinking about how Greg’s idealized sexual interaction might involve Colonel Sanders listing state capitals. It’s a massive unforced error which should be his undoing.

Least Welcome Arrival: Blake

With Karl and Thomas gone, this season is running low on story lines, so you know what that means: Time to introduce a new—or old—character! It worked on the last season of The Bachelor, when we got two episodes of content out of the return of former sixth-place finisher Heather Martin. Who knows how many episodes we’ll get out of … a guy who finished in eighth place last year on The Bachelorette?

We’re alerted to Blake’s sudden arrival when Tayshia, a cohost this season and the most recent Bachelorette, tells Katie that “someone from her past” has shown up to woo her. She makes Katie’s sexy ex sound so mysterious .... and then it’s just Blake, a guy whose most memorable moment on The Bachelorette was presenting Tayshia with a clay sculpture of a penis. Last season, I described Blake as “a classic 12 guys left guy, but not a four guys left guy,” which I think sums it up pretty well. He’s a goof.

But Katie is a fan of goofs. When she visits Blake’s hotel room to tell him he can stay on the show, he struggles to find appropriate clothing in his room, which he promptly locks himself out of—all things that appear to charm Katie. His top pickup line seems to be yelling “YOU LOOK GREAT!” at Katie as she walks away, which also somehow seems to work. Quite frankly, Blake seems like more of a “three weeks on Bachelor in Paradise” guy than a “shake up a season of The Bachelorette” guy. But without the ability to go on the road, I guess the show is going to keep smashing the “returning contestant” button.

That said, Katie did also mention that she had been DMing with Blake, which probably makes him more likely to win the show than any of the other guys. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from past seasons, it’s that this show is a significantly less effective relationship-building tool than DMs.

Episode MVP: Justin’s Facial Expressions

I honestly can’t remember a single thing that Justin has said on this show. He’s supposedly an “investment sales” consultant from Baltimore, but I don’t know what “investment sales” are, and can’t recall him talking about his hometown. Early in the season, his gimmick was that he painted stuff, but he hasn’t talked about that in a while.

Regardless, he may be this season’s most memorable character—because the man is an absolute legend at making faces. Let’s look at his work from earlier this season:

And let’s look at his reaction at the brief moment when it looked like Thomas might receive a rose:

This guy’s eyes and brows may be the most prominent Bachelor facial features since Olivia’s gaping maw. Every season needs to cast someone with bug eyes and keep them around long after they’ve outrun their romantic arc, just for the reaction shots.

Most Surprising Contender: British Andrew

I won’t hide that the Bachelor franchise is my second-favorite reality TV dating franchise. Love Island has an unbeatable variety of regional British accents and slang, which Bach can’t touch. Unfortunately, while the new season of Love Island debuted today in the U.K. and Ireland, us Americans won’t be able to watch it until it drops on Hulu.

Luckily, we have an oasis. (Not the band, although they’d certainly scratch my Regional British Accents itch.) I’m talking about this season’s most continental contestant, British Andrew. Andrew is not actually British—he’s from Illinois. He does have European vibes, because he plays professional American football overseas—but that’s in Austria, not England, which happens to have a very different accent. (In delightful news, Andrew’s teammates and coaches were very supportive of him missing multiple games to appear on reality TV.) And yet, Andrew has doubled and tripled down on using a British accent while talking to Katie. He’s not good at doing the accent, and he doesn’t seem to know much British slang or what British people might talk about—his main reference for British accents may just be Bridgerton. (In the premiere, he yelled out “I BURN FOR YOU!”) But he’s sticking to it—and somehow, it’s totally working.

Katie immediately sussed out that the accent was fake on Night 1, but clearly she’s not in the game for verisimilitude—after Andrew whispered into Katie’s Giant Ear on Monday night, she said his accent was “sexy.” Upon hearing the accent, Tayshia screamed out “someone call the police, that was hot!,” which is a complete misunderstanding of which emergency services respond to which emergencies, but gets the point across: Everybody keeps treating Andrew like he’s an actual British person with an actual British accent even though he’s very clearly from the Midwest. When he got some one-on-one time later in the episode, Andrew wooed Katie with a platter of cold Taco Bell and Lunchables—a spectacularly American combo—but still, she seems to think of him as worldly and classy.

Andrew probably isn’t the only contestant who can work up a mediocre British accent—but he’s the first one to realize that it works, and now he’s taking it deep into the competition. I can’t wait to see how long Andrew can crack on with Katie using this half-assed gimmick.