‘The Bachelorette’ recap: The men tell all (about hating Brayden)

GARRETT, BECCA KUFRIN

The Bachelorette‘s Men Tell All reunion episode offers a special kind of agony, rose lovers. We wait weeks for the “villains” and other annoying contestants to get sent packing, only to watch them get another two-hour spotlight on the MTA.

Let’s recap!

The Bachelorette

Back row: Adrian, Peter, John Front row: Tanner, Xavier, Brayden

| Credit: ABC

PART 1: Brayden vs. [Insert Name Here]

After Jesse Palmer welcomes us to the Tealight Candle Thunderdome and introduces the men (nice ascot, James!), he jumps into the main question of the night: Why does Brayden suck so, so hard?

Sean goes first. “I think you were pretty manipulative in the way you were shaping the situation to Charity,” he tells Brayden. “And then you started using her, like, ‘Well, it’s because she’s never off, she’s the Bachelorette, and I can never see the true side of her,’ as an excuse not to get there.”

Michael the yacht captain jumps in to blast Brayden for returning and taking up more of Charity’s time after sending himself home. Brayden, wearing a long, black-on-black sparkly jacket over a black shirt (and of course his signature dangly earrings), says he came back because “I didn’t get to say everything I wanted to.” John the adorable data scientist is like, “But why’d you have to do it during my one-on-one time?” (I’m paraphrasing.)

Brayden’s response is stupid, and not just because of his use of a term that’s offensive to the Romani people. “Bro, you were making out with her,” he says. “I waited for you to wipe the makeup off your face before I even let my presence be known.” The conversation turns to Brayden’s petulant reaction to the record-breaking kiss date, which allows Palmer to work this joke in:

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It truly never gets old.

| Credit: ABC

“We all know what we signed up for,” notes Adrian. Next, a debate ensues about whether or not Brayden called Charity “classless” over the record-breaking kiss date. Brayden insists he never said it. “Do we have the tape or not?” someone asks. Adrian is all, “Nobody else heard it?” I went back and watched the episode, rose lovers, and the man does not, in fact say “classless.” Brayden does, however, say the date was “disrespectful” and “kinda f—ed” and — even worse in my opinion — he flat-out questioned Charity’s character to her face. (“I had a lot of doubt about your character to some degree.”)

The final verdict on “classless”:

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Tanner, who found Brayden very irritating on the “survival” date in Washington, criticizes him for being so “negative” about how hard being on the show was. “You were constantly complaining about your experience,” he says. “I’m like, ‘Dude, I would kill to have the experience you’ve had so far.'” Tanner also doesn’t apologize for saying that Brayden was able to “talk himself out of” any sticky situation he was in.

PART 2: #FP explained

Remember this guy?

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Hello, his name is Peter

| Credit: ABC

Of course, you don’t. His name is Peter, and he was sent home on night one. Apparently after filming, the 33-year-old airline pilot found out that some of his fellow contestants posted their Bachelorette headshots and hashtagged them #FP.  “What it meant was ‘f— Peter,'” he says. “I went to bed that night kind of confused and ultimately pretty upset… To have people put this online for the world to see really affected me.” Here’s an example:

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Sean’s “#FP” post

| Credit: ABC

Sean wasn’t the only one. Xavier, who has plenty to apologize for already, apologizes for this and takes a dig at Brayden, who was the one who told Peter what #FP stood for. Aaron S., the poster boy for toxic masculinity, informs Peter that they all used the #FP hashtag “because you are a bitch. That’s what you are.” Caleb B., the pro wrestler, adds that Peter got on everyone’s bad side because he “said f— you” to anyone who tried to speak to him on night one.

John the adorable data scientist recounts a moment from the first night when Peter positioned himself carefully in front of the camera and then asked, “So who do you think is here for the wrong reasons?” Aaron S. claims Peter was also the first one on the post-production cast Zoom call to ask about endorsement deals, something Peter does not deny.

PART 3: Brayden and his hair in the Hot Seat

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Jesse Palmer and Brayden

| Credit: ABC

Gah, more Brayden? You know it, rose lovers. Sure, we’ve already spent what feels like an eternity rehashing many of the ways Brayden sucked this season, but producers have two hours to fill — so our torture isn’t over yet. 

“What bothered me watching it all back is to see that [Charity] was feeling all those things for me,” admits Brayden. “Once I realized I couldn’t give her what she wanted, I realized I shouldn’t be there anymore.”

Mercifully, this Hot Seat segment is short. It ends with Brayden handing Jesse a pair of clip-on earrings, which the host is happy to try on.

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Jesse Palmer is comfortable with his masculinity

| Credit: ABC

Looking good, sir. Now for the worst-kept secret in Bachelor Nation: Brayden is going to Paradise, because of course he is. We’re treated to (subjected to?) a brief clip of Brayden flirting and smooching with Kat from Zach’s season on one of the day beds. “He has, like, depth,” she says. “He’s like a Golden Retriever, and I love it.” How dare you slander Golden Retrievers like that, Kat!

PART 4: [Boooo!] Xavier in the Hot Seat [Boooo!]

Indeed, the crowd makes their displeasure with Xavier known when he takes his seat next to Palmer. During the highlight reel, the crowd cheers as Charity sends Xavier packing in Fiji. Hell to the no is right, ma’am!

So, what does Xavier have to say for himself? Not a lot. “It’s kind of tough to watch back,” he says. “That conversation just did not happen like I planned it to happen, and I just stuck my foot in my mouth, and I made a mistake.” A mistake, bro? Try several.

Xavier says he was in love with Charity, and since leaving the show, it’s been “difficult” to move on. “I think about our time together literally every day,” he says. “I had to get a therapist because I felt like there was some work that I had to do on myself in order to be ready for somebody that is my forever person.” Better late than never, buddy.

PART 5: Charity takes the stage

And of course, she looks ah-ma-zing.

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Charity is red-hot

| Credit: ABC

After a few pleasantries, Palmer asks Charity what, if anything, she has to say to Brayden. “It was an honor and pleasure meeting you,” begins the Bachelorette politely. “I will be honest; I did not like how you talked about our relationship to a lot of the guys. That was really hard for me to watch back… I gave you a lot more grace than I think I should have given you, if I’m being honest.” Brayden concedes that some aspects of his behavior “could have been better” and he apologizes for hurting her.

When it’s Sean’s turn to discuss his “emotional” goodbye, he invites himself onto the stage and sits down next to Charity. And Palmer is not about to let it slide.

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Palmer calls Sean out for breaking protocol

| Credit: ABC

Yep. Mediocre-white-male entitlement is a hell of a drug. Once on the couch, Sean thanks Charity for being awesome. “You showed us nothing but grace and class the entire time,” he says. “You made all of us better men.” Okay, that’s enough, buddy. “Go back to your seat!” barks Palmer. “You have to be invited up here! He broke the Bachelor Hot Seat code!”

Tanner also thanks Charity, saying that getting to know her “was one of the best experiences of my life,” while John the adorable data scientist admits that he was caught off guard when Charity sent him home. The Bachelorette says it wasn’t anything that he did. “You’re awesome, and I’ve told you that,” she adds.

Enough niceties! It’s time for Xavier to take his punishment! 

“Once thing I want to say is I denounce cheating,” Xavier begins. “I don’t think you should ever cheat.” With that out of the way, Xavier wants Charity to know that in fact he had “no doubt” about her in his heart when they were in Fiji, but his head got in the way. “I can be that faithful person — it just didn’t come out in the right way.”

The Bachelorette responds with her chief complaint — that Xavier waited so long to tell her about his past — which would have saved her “a lot of pain.” Plus, “You were saying, ‘I don’t want to cheat on you,'” she says. “Instead of saying ‘I don’t want to cheat,’ [say] ‘I won’t’!” The women in the audience burst into applause. As for Xavier’s last minute “I love you”? Charity has thoughts. “You had all day. We had a whole date that we spent together,” she reminds him. “And then we get to this dinner, and that’s the timing that you decide to just throw out ‘I love you.’ Saying ‘I love you’ is not going to turn around the situation.”

Amen! Xavier does his best to explain himself — he knew he was going home, he just wanted Charity to know how he really felt, he was insecure because he wasn’t sure how she was feeling, etc. — but obviously nothing he can say is going to redeem his choices during this “journey.”

Knowing that, Xavier essentially keeps apologizing, and he tells Charity that he thinks about their disastrous Fiji dinner every day. He’s even cried about it. “I wish that my answers reflected the man that I want to be in the future,” he continues. “It wasn’t that I was trying to get there to just have sex with you. That was not my goal. My goal was to hear more and deepen that connection that we had.” The Bachelorette listens politely, and then graciously accepts Xavier’s hand-knitted rose.

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Xavier’s handmade peace offering

| Credit: ABC

Charity wishes him the best, and they close the segment with a hug.

PART 6: Bloopers, deleted scenes, and Captain Tom

Truth be told, I could have done without the manscaping segment from the dodgeball date. (Please never say the words “full kitten” in my presence, I beg you.) The bloopers, meanwhile, delivered as per usual.

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Tanner gets catcalled

| Credit: ABC

I also loved Charity mainlining the Listerine Strips before her record-breaking kiss. (Those things are powerful!) And hooray for Captain Tom, who ABC flew to LA so he could sit in the audience and repeatedly refer to the Bachelorette as “Chastity.” The swamp boat captain says that had he been the one to decide which guy deserved the rose on that date, he would have given it to Sean.

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We will accept this rose, Captain Tom

| Credit: ABC

Too cute.

PART 7: OG filler

We’ve reached the point in the program when past contestants and leads arrive to share their words of wisdom. Please welcome Trista Sutter, Desiree Siegfried, and DeAnna Pappas.

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Charity, Trista, Desiree, and DeAnna

| Credit: ABC

Hi, ladies! Bye, ladies! (And happy almost-20th anniversary, Trista and Ryan!)

PART 8: The Golden Bachelor in the (Icy) Hot Seat

I cannot, this man is just too lovable.

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Your Golden Bachelor, everybody!

| Credit: ABC

Rose lovers, if you were not bawling after Gerry’s intro package, please check your pulse. While I can’t say too much about it yet, I have spent some time with Gerry, and I can confirm that he is as sweet and charming and earnest as he seems.

Palmer asks Gerry, who was married to his high school sweetheart for 43 years, if he has any advice for maintaining a long union. “Jesse, if there’s one thing only that I would tell you or anyone else, it’s look at your spouse every day and tell them you love them,” says Gerry. “Because the day comes too soon for one of you, that you can’t do that. And I would give anything to be able to do that one more time.”

Where are the tissues, dang it? I’m crying again. As for what he’s looking for as the Golden Bachelor, Gerry says he’s hoping to find “a new person that will make me whole again.” He’s not looking to replace his late wife, Toni, he just wants a partner for the rest of his life. Godspeed, Gerry!

PART 9: A finale supertease

Tears, kisses, tears, declarations of love, tears, real talk from Charity’s mom: “You’re going to have to come down to one person.” Tears, hugs, kisses, more real talk from Charity’s mom: “Deep down inside you, I believe you know. But you’ve got to make that decision.” Tears, tears, tears. Aaaand scene!

Holy cow, there’s only one week left, rose lovers! And from the preview, it looks like Aaron might still be in the mix for Charity’s final rose. Did this Men Tell All change your opinion about Brayden, Xavier, Sean, or any of the guys this season? Are you excited to see Brayden in Paradise? And will you be watching The Golden Bachelor? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @KristenGBaldwin.

The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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GARRETT, BECCA KUFRIN

The Bachelorette

One single woman searches for her future husband amid a sea of studs in this romantic reality series. Will you accept this rose?

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