'The Bachelorette' recap: Michelle Young decides her Final 4 after sending Clayton Echard and Martin Gelbspan home -- and Brandon Jones asks Michelle's parents permission to propose!
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/24/2021
The Bachelorette featured Michelle Young determining her Final 4 bachelors, Martin Gelbspan saying a woman like Michelle doesn't deserve his time, Brandon Jones asking Michelle's parents for permission to propose marriage, and two men "falling in love" during Tuesday night's Season 18 episode on ABC.
Michelle eliminated Martin, a 29-year-old personal trainer from Miami, FL; Clayton Echard, a 28-year-old medical sales representative from Columbia, MO; Olumide "Olu" Onajide, a 27-year-old IT analyst from Newark, NJ; and Rick Leach, a 32-year-old medical sales representative from Los Angeles, CA.
In the process of eliminating four suitors, Michelle selected her Final 4 bachelors: Brandon, a 26-year-old traveling nurse recruiter from Portland, OR; Nayte Olukoya, a 27-year-old sales executive from Austin, TX; Joe Coleman, a 28-year-old real estate developer from Minneapolis, MN; and Rodney Mathews, a 29-year-old sales representative from Rancho Cucamonga, CA.
The Bachelorette broadcast began with four of Michelle's fifth grade students planning a week of dates for Michelle and her bachelors. Michelle noted how her students teach her a lot and a child's opinion can be "very, very powerful."
The kids therefore met Michelle's remaining men "to find out who the bad guys are and who the good guys are" when determining which two suitors would be going on one-on-one dates with Michelle.
Michelle's students asked the men hilarious questions such as, "Do you shave your nipples?" They got to know the men and whether they've been grounded before and kissed Michelle during the season. The guys were definitely put to the test.
Nayte was asked to do a handstand, and then Michelle's student Kelsey admitted she didn't really like Martin because he was "trying to show off." She wasn't convinced Martin is right for Michelle and added how he wears too much cologne.
Rodney stood out to Ahmed, who made a secret handshake with the funny suitor, and Clayton was asked whether he was truly ready for marriage and wanted children of his own. Clayton revealed he'd like to have three kids.
Clayton then built a fort for all the kids and the gesture went over huge.
"Clayton has big muscles. He'd be really good at carrying the groceries in. He had really good fort-building abilities -- probably the best fort I've ever seen," one young boy said.
After the meet and greet, Michelle discovered the children had chosen Clayton for a one-on-one date with Michelle that evening. The kids gave Michelle and Clayton a limo, and inside the vehicle was pizza, cookies and gummy candy.
Michelle said her relationship with Clayton had "really started to progress" and he was being very vulnerable with her, but she still needed to figure out if their relationship was strong enough for her to feel comfortable to meet his family.
Clayton and Michelle had a whole museum in Minnesota to themselves. Michelle and Clayton played tagged, participated in some games, and shared a lot of laughs. Michelle appreciated Clayton's goofy and playful side, and she even pointed out how he's a good dancer.
The pair also engaged in deep conversation, which strengthened their bond, and Clayton said it felt "magical" to hold the Bachelorette while looking at stars in the planetarium.
"This could be something that I could get used to for the rest of my life. She could be The One... I think everything I've been chasing after is right in front of me, and I'm really excited," Clayton said in a confessional.
Meanwhile, the next Date Card arrived and had the following names on it: Rick, Rodney, Nayte, Joe, Martin, and Olu.
That meant Brandon would be receiving the next one-on-one date, and he was ecstatic.
Back on Michelle's date, Clayton believed he had passed the "slow burn" approach he usually takes in relationships with Michelle, and he shared with Michelle how he was ready to find his partner in life and settle down because he really knows who he is and is confident in that.
Michelle acknowledged how she and Clayton had amazing, romantic moments together and she enjoyed getting to know him better, but she admitted "something was missing" -- and so she ultimately determined he's not her perfect match.
"You have checked every single box of all the qualities I'm looking for in somebody," Michelle told Clayton. "But I know that giving out this rose means I'm ready to meet your family, and I don't feel that I'm able to get there with you in time."
Michelle said this decision was "incredibly difficult" for her and denying Clayton that rose did not mean that he's "not enough." Michelle explained how she needed to follow her heart.
Before Clayton left, Michelle told him that he's an "amazing and wonderful person," however, their connection was just missing something and his elimination has nothing to do with him.
"The last time I was in a relationship, I felt like, 'Where did I go wrong?' And I feel like I'm asking myself the same questions right now, but you know, I can't go there," Clayton said in his final words.
"Everything seemed to be going well and then all of a sudden it stopped, and that sucks. I'm completely vulnerable and this is what happens... I open myself up to be hurt. I stayed closed off for so long because it takes the right person to make me feel comfortable opening up, and Michelle did that."
Clayton admitted Michelle had opened him up but now he wanted to go back into "that shell" in order to protect himself from being hurt again.
Clayton received beautiful letters from Michelle's students following his departure and broke down into tears when a student asked him not to be "too sad" because he'll find a nice girl someday with whom to marry and welcome kids.
"It just shows me I want kids more than anything. I want a family," Clayton expressed through tears.
"I just want to find love so badly and have a family and start that chapter of my life. I want it more than anything else, and I'll do whatever it takes to get that -- whatever it takes."
The next day, Michelle and a group of her bachelors went to a farm, where the guys were asked to milk cows, feed calves milk, and shovel manure. Michelle wanted to make sure her suitors would be ready and willing to get their hands dirty.
Michelle noticed that Joe seemed to be a "calf favorite," and Nayte admitted Joe had outperformed him in every single task, even when churning butter.
Nayte also pulled out his back while shoveling the poop, and so he used his injury as an opportunity to spend a little one-on-one time with Michelle.
At the afterparty that night, Nayte revealed to Michelle how he had never introduced a woman to his father and he was really excited about the idea of bringing Michelle home and having her be the first.
"I'm definitely falling for you -- definitely, seriously, strongly falling for you," Nayte told Michelle. "And I have genuinely never felt this way before."
Michelle responded, "My heart is beating very fast and not in a bad way. I feel very strongly about you and I am really tumbling, like, down a hill, so fast, falling for you as well."
Joe then revealed to Michelle that his grandparents had owned and operated a dairy farm and that's why he felt so "right at home" during the group date.
Rick told Michelle that he didn't have any doubts about her and introducing her to his parents, and Rodney shared how he'd like the Bachelorette to find out why he is the way he is by bringing her to his hometown.
Michelle had promised herself she'd never settle and would only be in a relationship with mutual trust, and she was starting to believe all of her remaining bachelors were genuine.
But then Martin was shown telling Olu and Rick how his previous conversation with Michelle hadn't exactly flowed.
"After having a little bit of miscommunication, you can't help but think about things, like, 'Wait, she hasn't been paying attention," Martin explained, adding how Michelle had been "defensive with him."
"There have been a lot of things that made me question what she really stands for. But going back to her [spoken-word] poem, obviously Michelle has gone through some childhood trauma."
Martin proceeded to say, "For her, it's something that's maybe deep inside of her and maybe she hasn't worked past it, and I think that's immature."
Olu said Martin had "raised red flags" to him and he appeared to be two-faced by telling Michelle one thing and saying something completely different to the guys.
Olu shared with Michelle what Martin had said, saying that he wasn't being forthcoming with this information just to better himself or advance himself in the competition. Olu seemed really bothered by the fact Martin had dubbed Michelle "immature" for allegedly not dealing with her past issues.
Michelle thanked Olu for being honest with her, noting how "that piece of information is huge."
"I just want that right man for you," Olu insisted.
Michelle called Olu "very trustworthy," saying he had no reason to lie about this. Michelle therefore felt "very confused," especially because she had already been feeling some uneasiness around Martin.
Before handing out the group-date rose, Michelle asked Martin to speak in private. Michelle said she had been told Martin was acting one way with her and another with the guys, and she expressed disappointment in him calling her "immature."
"Is that something that came out of your mouth?" Michelle asked.
"That's absolutely not true," Martin claimed. "About you being immature? Definitely not true... I would love to know [where that stemmed from]."
Martin explained there's a difference between being insecure and having insecurities, and as Michelle attempted to speak, Martin kept talking over her. He accused her of putting words in his mouth.
Martin told Michelle that she was letting somebody else dictate the relationship that they had and he truly respected her.
"I thought you did as well, but the whole conversation has been about how you think I should feel about it and how I misread it. You haven't even taken a step back, and you've cut me off every time I start talking," Michelle said.
Martin apologized for speaking over Michelle, who then noted how Martin had not been honest with her.
"You have not listened to why I'm hurting, and my red flags are up and my walls are up. I have to follow the fact that I don't trust you right now, and so I have to walk you out," Michelle told Martin.
Martin said that he hoped Michelle would find her soul mate, but she was angry about Martin apparently finding her past trauma as "a character flaw."
On Martin's way out, he told the cameras, "I'm not upset that I'm going home. I'm upset that she handled sh-t like that... She's making a mistake, and she'll find out on her own that she's making a mistake. But at this point, I wouldn't even care to give her a shot."
Martin added, "It's sad. That's all it is. Like, I feel sad for her. A woman like that does not deserve my time!"
After sending Martin home, Michelle gave the group-date rose to Nayte because she apparently felt very confident in their connection and was looking forward to meeting his loved ones.
The next day, Michelle's students wanted Michelle to take a trip down memory lane by driving through Minnesota and making some fun stops, such as grabbing ice cream.
Michelle said no matter what she and Brandon did together, they were able to laugh and have fun. She could envision him being her best friend in life, and she said that may be the most important thing when searching for one's soul mate.
Michelle then surprised Brandon by taking him to a place where she had created so many wonderful memories -- her parents' home!
Brandon was able to step into Michelle's childhood home and learn a lot about her and her family. He got to see her childhood bed and even hop into the hot tub with her!
Michelle told Brandon to borrow a pair of her father's swimming trunks, and she assured him that they weren't home. But when Michelle and Brandon were cuddling and making out in the hot tub, Michelle's parents suddenly walked outside and interrupted them!
Brandon had to introduce himself to Michelle's parents while wearing her father's bathing suit, and he wished he could have made a better first impression.
Brandon, who was clearly nervous, gushed about how Michelle is the "most special" person he's ever met and she applauded her parents on raising her to be such a strong woman.
Brandon revealed how he'd like to have three kids and really trusted Michelle, and her parents liked everything they were hearing.
"Brandon held his own and he was genuine and sincere, and he stayed true to who he was, and my parents really seemed to like him," Michelle recalled in a confessional after the important conversation.
Brandon then asked to speak to Michelle's parents in private, and he asked them for their blessing and permission to propose marriage to Michelle if he ended up being her final bachelor.
Michelle's parents told Brandon that he seemed very warm and they liked how Michelle looked at him. The couple therefore told Brandon that if Michelle chose him, he could absolutely get engaged to their daughter.
"I'm just hoping I'm her person at the end of all this," Brandon said.
That evening, Brandon and Michelle enjoyed a romantic dinner together. Brandon said Michelle would be meeting his parents and brother; however, his beloved grandfather -- who had taught him so much about life and relationships -- passed away.
In attempt to make Michelle feel special, Brandon gifted Michelle a bracelet his mother had made for him before his appearance on the show.
"She told me that if I truly think you are The One, then give her this bracelet. [She said], 'If I see it on her, then we'll give her the same love that we give you.' And so I want to give you this bracelet. Will you accept it?" Brandon asked.
Michelle called it one of "the most meaningful" gifts she had ever received from somebody and Brandon really succeeded in making her feel special.
"I am falling in love with you. I know it's been so quick, but I am," Brandon told Michelle.
"My heart is going a million miles an hour," Michelle replied, before kissing the bachelor and giving him a rose.
Brandon surprised Michelle with each passing day, and she had seen so many of his sides -- including "the family man" and "the hopeless romantic."
Brandon determined that this was the woman he had been waiting for his entire life, and he said his date with Michelle was one of the best nights of his entire life.
"Brandon's heart is in this, and without a question, he would be there for me," Michelle gushed.
"I know how hard Brandon loves, and that's not something that you come by often. It's very possible that I could fall in love with Brandon, and I think tonight was the start of that."
Michelle then canceled the cocktail party and went straight into the Rose Ceremony, which upset Olu in particular because he was the only guy to not receive a one-on-one date all season long.
Michelle said she knew what she wanted to do, and this was the difficult decision she had yet to make. Michelle then gave out roses to Joe and Rodney, eliminating Olu and Rick.
Michelle therefore determined her Final 4 bachelors, who would be given the opportunity to take Michelle to their hometowns and introduce her to their families.
Olu said it was a pleasure to get to know Michelle, who had helped him grow as a man. Michelle called him one of the most sincere men she had ever met.
"Not hearing my name, it was shocking and hard," Olu admitted, adding that he wanted to be Michelle's "hero" but hurting is a part of life and he must accept the fact he's not going to be Michelle's man.
And Rick told Michelle his time on The Bachelorette had been amazing and the experience really changed him. Michelle told Rick that she cared for him a lot, and the pair embraced before he left the show.
"It's painful. I could see myself introducing Michelle to my mother and my brother. I haven't met many people like Michelle," Rick said in his final words.
"I thought she was the person I could spend my life with and create a family with. I pray that she finds someone who will treat her right to the end of his days, and I pray that I find that too."