Hard Choices

Four guys. Four really good guys.

OK, Evil Genius Producers (EGPs). We see you. We finally see you. After making us slog through fake drama in dull episodes earlier in the season, your casting is giving us real drama now. You put enough quality suitors in there, and Michelle followed her heart well enough to find them that it is hard to see her having an obvious choice. And if Michelle does have a favorite, it’s not clear to Bachelor Nation. On the interwebs last night, Brandon, Rodney, (quiet) Baller Joe, and Nayte all had their stans telling Michelle who to choose.

The tension of which one of the four would be the first to exit more than made up for the lackluster dates:

  • Bad skateboarding (Brandon)
  • Apple picking (Rodney)
  • One-couple Prom ((quiet) Baller Joe)
  • Paddleboarding (Nayte)

The EGPs were wise not to spend much time on the lame dates.

Adding to the tension were the surprisingly normal families. Not that most families aren’t “normal,” and maybe these four families were abnormally normal. We had our usual worrywarts and skeptics, but none were unusually so. We had some comic relief with (quiet) Baller Joe’s family, who felt Michelle made Joe more expressive than usual!

The non-conversation conversation between Joe and Dad was hysterical. Excellent editing, EGPs! And MDD and I LOVED Nayte’s cool, sage stepdad. MDD: “We love a stepdad with a gold shirt and wisdom.”

Make what you will of each of the four families; all the usual “watch out for the crazy relative” tropes were toned down substantially from past seasons and tended to lend credibility to each of Michelle’s potential choices.

Before she had to make that choice, though, there was a guest appearance of Michelle’s Bachelor franchise BFFs: Serena, carefully curated not to show the presence or absence of Grocery Store Joe having put a ring on it; and of greater significance MY GIRL BRI SPRINGS!!!!!!! Be still my heart. (Note to Executive Producers: She needs a role in the Franchise. Pay the girl.)

Wearing another amazing dress (I wish the EGPs had given her better lighting, though), Michelle begins cutting down her Peerless Foursome by eliminating Rodney, a move I predicted early in the season due to his friend-zone vibe. But the EGPs did an excellent job setting us up by having her give a rose to Brandon first. That left us to ponder whether underdog Rodney could overcome one of the two early favorites: (quiet) Baller Joe, due to his (and his family’s) very internalized emotions, or Nayte and his stepdad’s questioning his readiness for marriage.

Rodney couldn’t pull off the underdog upset, and that sets us up for a big finish (and a massive Rodney for Paradise campaign).

With Brandon, Michelle has the greatest relational vibe. With Nayte, she has the greatest physical chemistry. And with (quiet) hometown Baller Joe, Michelle has that “home is where the heart is” connection. While I think she has genuine affection for (quiet) Baller Joe, MDD and I agree that Michelle will decide they are not temperamentally suited for each other. She needs somebody more expressive than him.

But with Nayte, there is that question of whether he is ready to be married (never mind that most of the relationships end soon after the show, anyway). Does that make Brandon the dark horse that none of us were paying attention to until their 1-on-1 last week? I wrote that he was being set up for the Devastated Guy trope, but now I’m unsure.

Excellent job, EGPs. Excellent job, Michelle’s heart. She could pick any of them, and each choice would make sense based on what we’ve seen. I’m excited to see how and who she decides.

See you next week. I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll blog on The Men Tell All. And it’s possible (likely?) that I’ll post a bit late on the Finale.

P.S. This week’s viewing wine: Parcelica Grande, a savory Spanish blend of Merlot, Monastrell, and Garnacha.

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