At the second Rose Ceremony of the season, Michelle denied roses to Alec Thompson, a 29-year-old engineer from North Charleston, SC; Daniel "Danny" Tully, a 26-year-old firefighter from Austin, TX; Pardeep Singh, a 30-year-old neuroscientist from Brooklyn, NY; and PJ Henderson, a 30-year-old firefighter from Houston, TX.
The Bachelorette broadcast began with the guys gushing about how Michelle is "special and one of a kind." They even toasted to dating "a one in a billion girl," and Michelle was really excited to begin her first week of dates and get to know her potential soul mate.
The guys invited to join Michelle were Daniel; PJ; Brandon Jones, a 26-year-old traveling nurse recruiter from Portland, OR; Romeo Alexander, a 32-year-old mathematician from New York City, NY; Rick Leach, a 32-year-old medical sales representative from Los Angeles, CA; and Will Urena, a 28-year-old academic interventionist from Grand Rapids, MI.
Olumide "Olu" Onajide, a 27-year-old IT analyst from Newark, NJ, also learned he'd accompany Michelle on the group date, as well as Casey Woods, a 36-year-old advertising creative director from Miami Beach, FL; LT Murray, a 38-year-old yoga guru from Bellevue, WA; and Peter Izzo, a 26-year-old "pizzapreneur" from Port St. Joe, FL.
"Today's lesson is love," the card read.
When the selected men traveled to Michelle, she teased how they'd be meeting three of her friends with pretty high expectations, and it turned out she had invited three intelligent fifth graders -- Mia, Riley and Kennedy -- to join her.
Michelle and the kids asked Michelle's bachelors a series of math and spelling questions, and there was one trick question, "How many times is it acceptable to call me 'beautiful' in a day?"
Romeo set the bar high by answering that question "36,000," as he had counted all the seconds in one day.
Michelle discovered Brandon J., who had misspelled "protein," isn't a great speller.
And Michelle noticed Peter was trying his best to stand out throughout the date by shouting and being loud, especially during an aggressive game of "Musical Chairs" -- which the Bachelorette didn't really like or appreciate.
During the Spelling Bee, Michelle asked the men to spell "narcissist," and Will wrote down "Peter," which definitely rubbed Peter the wrong way. Peter called the move a "low" blow and "bullsh-t" since Will had only known him for two or three days.
When the date proceeded to the evening portion, Brandon sat down with Michelle and gushed about her beautiful smile and how he was going to dream about her.
But Brandon laid it on pretty thick with his smooth talk. Michelle laughed about Brandon being corny, but the suitor assured the Bachelorette he's "an old soul" and doesn't read "how to get girls" in magazines.
"There were definitely sparks flying with Brandon. He's somebody who I can start to picture a life with," Michelle shared after kissing the suitor.
Michelle liked to see the men more at ease and said she was developing feelings, proving how this process was starting to work for her.
When Rick got some alone time with Michelle, he wrote a little story for them with words missing in the several paragraphs. He allowed Michelle to fill in the blanks, and the story ended with Rick and Michelle sharing their first kiss.
As Michelle got to know Olu better and complimented his quiet confidence, Peter confronted Will about the tense Spelling Bee, and Michelle could hear the two bachelors yelling over each other from a distance.
Peter insisted he's not a narcissist in the least, but even Casey said he didn't like Peter.
"I think Peter is an insecurity supernova. Every time I see and picture little boys get into screaming matches and d-ck measuring contests, I think to myself, 'This better not derail Michelle,'" Casey told the cameras.
"Not only does she not deserve it, but I want an opportunity to connect with her when all the energy is positive."
Michelle approached Peter about her behavior and said he was acting aggressively, but Peter said it was "inappropriate" and "disgusting" for Will to have called him a narcissist in front of both Michelle and the children.
Michelle said an angry man screaming is not an attractive trait to her, and so she asked Peter to center himself and focus on their relationship going forward. Peter told the cameras he had a major setback that evening because Will had chosen to be "a petty b-tch."
Michelle decided to give the group-date rose to Brandon, who said Michelle must have seen his "authenticity."
"I am falling for this girl, man. I am falling -- and there is no doubt in my mind," Brandon shared.
The next day, Michelle embarked on the first one-on-one date of the season with Jamie, a 32-year-old biotech CEO from San Diego, CA, who said he had no intention of staying on The Bachelorette if he and Michelle weren't able to connect.
Michelle called Jamie "mysterious" and loved his positive and bubbly attitude, but she wanted to see if they could go a little deeper that day.
But the day began with an adventure. Michelle and Jamie climbed rocks at Joshua Tree and enjoyed a picnic at the top of the cliff.
Michelle was clearly nervous about ascending the natural rock formation, but Jamie coached her and supported her the whole way. Michelle noted how it was "very refreshing" for Jamie to take the leadership role in their romance when she typically serves as the coach.
The pair took in a romantic view together once they made it to the top, and Michelle praised Jamie for knowing how to have fun and "not being a complainer." Jamie, in turn, told Michelle that she glows, lights up a room and has a clear sense of self.
"I truly feel so happy and so grateful that [Jamie] is here. We are on the right track," Michelle said in a confessional.
Over dinner that night, Michelle talked about her solid family and joyful childhood thanks to her parents, who have been married for 33 years.
And then Jamie opened up about his family background. Jamie's mother apparently gave birth to him when she was 18 years old and his father was 21. Jamie's parents never got married and then his mother welcomed another child two years after Jamie's birth.
Jamie said when he was young, his mother was "on it" and he was excelling in all of his classes -- but then his life took a dramatic turn.
"My mom had a lot of issues with mental health, so things just kind of started to spiral down. The car got repossessed, bills got hard to keep up with, and we had to eventually move into my grandparents' house," Jamie revealed.
"Things kind of came to a head when I was around 12 or 13. One time, I was just walking by the bathroom and [my mom] comes out and she had a steak knife and she was trying to slit her wrists. And that just changed the whole mess of things."
As Michelle broke down into tears, Jamie explained how his mother couldn't be left alone and so he and his sibling alternated staying home from school with their mother to watch her.
Jamie then missed so many days that he realize he wouldn't be able to graduate, and so he began going to school more often, which resulted in him wondering if his mother was going to take her own life.
"Ultimately, when I was 24, my mom committed suicide," Jamie said. "And that just kind of imploded my entire life. Nothing really mattered anymore."
Jamie said it took him a long time to find out what mattered in life, but he actively decided that "life it worth it" and "people are worth it" and "relationships are worth it."
Michelle told Jamie that while she didn't know him very well, she was proud of him for overcoming such adversity and being the man he is today given his difficult past and having to carry so much weight at such a young age.
Michelle called Jamie a "beautiful" man and opened up about how she felt "so impressed" by him.
"If I'm going to love the man that I am, then I have to love every part of my story that got me here," Jamie told the Bachelorette, who clearly felt emotion and empathy for the suitor.
Michelle thought she and Jamie were "very compatible" and had "a lot of chemistry." She envisioned a life with him being adventurous, vulnerable, romantic and compassionate.
With all that being said, Michelle offered Jamie a rose because she could picture him being her rock through life, and then the couple danced the night away to a private concert by Caroline Jones.
The following day, Joe Coleman, a 28-year-old real estate developer from Minneapolis, MN, learned one of his former basketball coaches had passed away, and Joe cried because this man was apparently a huge inspiration in his life both personally and professionally.
For the date, Michelle -- a former Division I basketball player -- simply played some basketball with a group of guys, and she definitely felt in her element. She was looking for her teammate in life.
The men were introduced to professional basketball players Dearica Hamby and Diamond DeShields, who put the bachelors through some drills.
Men on the date included Joe; Pardeep; Martin Gelbspan, a 29-year-old personal trainer from Miami, FL; Clayton Echard, a 28-year-old medical sales representative from Columbia, MO; Nayte Olukoya, a 27-year-old sales executive from Austin, TX; and Rodney Mathews, a 29-year-old sales representative from Rancho Cucamonga, CA.
Also on the date were Chris Gallant, a 28-year-old motivational speaker from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; Chris Sutton, a 28-year-old commodities broker from West Hollywood, CA; Spencer Williams is a 25-year-old financial crimes analyst from Cleveland, OH; and Mollique Johnson, a 36-year-old academic administrator from San Diego, CA.
Michelle bragged about how Joe was named "Minnesota Mr. Basketball," which is a huge honor for one high school student because it basically suggests he's the best basketball player of his age in the state. Michelle shared how she was runner-up "Minnesota Ms. Basketball."
After Michelle played a game of one-on-one with Joe, the guys played a game against each other -- five on five.
Joe was "a silent assassin" on the court, but Clayton complimented the suitor on being humble and not boastful while Joe showed off his skills on the court.
Although Joe's "Red Team" lost, he won the MVP award and so he was invited to join Michelle and the winning "Blue Team" at the afterparty that night.
The winning team comprised of Chris G., Spencer, Rodney, Nayte and Martin also got to join Michelle at the cocktail party.
Michelle spent quite a bit of time with Joe that night. Joe opened up about losing his former basketball coach, and at one point, the pair played another little game of one-on-one outside.
After the pair kissed again, Michelle told the cameras, "I've never had chemistry with anybody this off the charts so quickly that I was so into getting to know and attracted to."
"I can see [Joe] being my teammate, and today, I felt like he was my teammate," she added.
Rodney pointed out how Joe was taking up a lot of Michelle's time, and Martin seemed a little insecure about sharing a date with Joe given she seemed pretty interested in Joe.
Nayte, however, seemed calm as a cucumber. He shared how he wasn't going to waste his time thinking about Michelle and her other connections when what they personally had going on was so good.
"I'm not worried about it. I'm just not," Nayte said. "I'm just looking forward to my time with Michelle and not focusing on anybody else."
Nayte did, in fact, get his alone time with Michelle, and they certainly advanced their connection. Michelle told Nayte that she was happy he was on the show, and Nayte praised the Bachelorette for being so gorgeous.
Nayte thought his connection with Michelle surpassed the other bachelors, and the pair kissed in the dark, which left Nayte feeling like he was on a cloud. He dubbed Michelle "out of this world" and felt confident in his ability to secure a rose.
Michelle decided to give Joe the group-date rose, and he felt very lucky and grateful.
The cocktail party preceding the season's second Rose Ceremony later commenced, and Michelle conducted a taste test with Rodney to see if he could tell his apples apart.
A group of guys was then shown discussing Michelle and Joe's bond.
"To me, it seems like they know each other from before," Martin said.
"It does seem like something is up. It would almost be shocking to believe that she would have no idea of him since he played at the University of Minnesota and she lives in Minnesota. But time here is limited and there's no chance I spend my time with her talking about it," Spencer said.
Jamie then chimed in and admitted, "Honestly, it is something that bothers me. It's just this running thing, like, 'Do you guys know each other already and are we really starting from the same spot?"
Mollique agreed with Spencer that they shouldn't focus their energy on another man and Michelle's dynamic with Joe was their business.
"What are you doing? No one else cares. Stop making assumptions," Mollique complained of Jamie.
When Mollique asked Jamie if he was accusing Michelle of not being on the show for the right reasons, he replied, "I'm just saying that it seems to be what I'm hearing."
"Is that what you're hearing or is that what you're thinking and feeling?" Mollique countered.
Jamie acknowledged how the situation seemed "odd and suspicious," and he said he wanted to learn the truth from Michelle.
Jamie then told Martin how he had received some "information from a friend that lives in Minneapolis" before appearing on the show.
"He was walking into a bar and happened to see a girl walking out, and when he went back to sit with his girlfriend, they were like, 'Oh, that's Michelle, that's the Bachelorette. She's also boo'd up with a tall, light-skinned baller.'"
Jamie claimed he didn't think about that exchange "at all" until seeing Michelle with Joe on the date.
Jamie told Martin that everybody was talking about Michelle and Joe whenever he entered a room, and so he concluded, "I have to say something to Michelle. It's important this person cares about me and cares about this process and authenticity and appreciates the vulnerability."
Jamie elaborated, "I just couldn't call somebody my partner if they had these things going on and if they didn't bring that information back to me."
Jamie therefore addressed Michelle and said there had been "a whole bunch of talk today" about Michelle maybe knowing Joe prior to the show.
"For me personally, I just don't really care because I feel like whatever happened before getting here has nothing to do with me. But, like, everybody else keeps feeling it," Jamie explained.
"I think given this entire journey is about authenticity and about trust, and that that's the standard that has been set, I think there are people out there that have been questioning that."
Jamie said it was important to relay this information to Michelle, who asked if men were questioning her in a "disrespectful" manner.
"Yeah, I think it's gotten to the point where it's taken on a life of its own," Jamie said. "And I think it's important because it also could potentially extend outside of just this bubble here."
Jamie suggested The Bachelorette viewers may also be skeptical of Michelle by sharing the story about his friend at the bar who has spotted Michelle.
After hearing someone called her "boo'd up with a tall, light-skinned baller," Michelle appeared taken aback and asked to have a minute to herself to figure out how to address the issue.
Michelle said she felt "blindsided" and wanted to put up "every single wall" in that moment.
Jamie thought Michelle had taken the news well and believed that she and Joe had no relationship prior to The Bachelorette, but Michelle was pretty broken up over the conversation.
"What I'm struggling with the most is I don't know who believes in me and who doesn't," Michelle cried, adding that she didn't know who was saying these things and whether men whom she felt connected to were doubting her intentions and questioning her.
Michelle lamented, "My person has to believe in me, and I'm not sure who does right now."
After seeking comfort in The Bachelorette co-host Tayshia Adams, Michelle announced to the group how Joe had ghosted her after two messages on social media.
Michelle also announced how it wasn't fair for people to assume she's dating a man just because she's spotted out with a man of color in public. Michelle said if she was having dinner with a white man, no one would assume they're dating.
Michelle asked the group to open up to her with questions, but no one spoke up and said anything. Michelle therefore excused herself and walked away.
The men then talked amongst themselves about the problem at hand, and everyone wondered which bachelor had talked to Michelle about her past with Joe. The men complained about how no one questioned Michelle's character and one man had started some real drama.
Jamie didn't own up to telling Michelle the story and "blowing it out of proportion," according to Nayte, and Jamie even pretended to be annoyed with the man who had said something when speaking one-on-one with his fellow bachelors.
"I'm not going to jump in and be like, 'Yeah, it was me.' I'm not dedicated to being, like, the nice guy or the good guy," Jamie admitted.
Nayte called this one mystery bachelor "insecure as hell," as Jamie talked about how there was "an accumulation of chatter" rather than one man responsible for it all.
Michelle decided to cancel the rest of the cocktail party since she was feeling "emotionally drained," according to Kaitlyn. Michelle is all about communication, and the guys had clearly failed to communicate their feelings on the subject with her.
At the Rose Ceremony, Michelle declared that she'd try to keep her walls down and stay vulnerable even though she'd love to guard herself at that point. She also asked the men to only accept roses if they trusted her.
Michelle then handed out roses to Nayte; Rodney; Martin; Rick; Leroy Arthur, a 27-year-old biomedical Ph.D. student from Dallas, TX; Spencer; Casey; Chris G.; Mollique; Olu; Chris S.; Will; Romeo; LT; Clayton; and Peter.
The men still wondered who had spoken to Michelle, but they figured the "insecure" and "scared" suitor -- who was called "a rat" -- would eventually be exposed.