Katie Thurston is down to her final three men!
Katie Thurston's journey for love is winding down following Monday night's episode of The Bachelorette. Episode eight of the ABC dating series included a heartbreaking goodbye, awkward conversations, and the resurgence of old drama all of which ET is breaking down in our Bachelorette recap.
The episode began with a shocking self-elimination, before turning to the Men Tell All portion of the night. The highly-anticipated reunion show didn't lack uncomfortable moments, as Hunter, Cody, Thomas and more were confronted with their past behavior.
Katie faced her men, too, revealing if she'd ever give any of them a second chance and reflecting on if she has any Bachelorette regrets.
Keep reading for the full recap of episode eight of The Bachelorette.
Michael A. Says Goodbye
With Hometowns finally here, both Katie and Michael were excitedly looking ahead to the future. The single dad and widower felt as if he was "on cloud nine" after his and Katie's conversation about kids, living situations and more. Katie felt similarly, which left the Bachelorette nervous to meet the business owner's family.
"I feel so strongly about him that I want their approval. He’s been a good husband. He’s a good father. That’s really all I’m looking for. I just picture parenting James together," Katie told co-host Tayshia Adams of Michael's son. "By choosing Michael, I also become an instant mom, and that’s actually something that’s really exciting for me. He’s built something already and all he’s missing is me."
Everything changed, though, after Michael FaceTimed with James. Prior to the call, the proud dad admitted that being away from his little boy was "starting to weigh" on him, a feeling that only expanded amid their chat.
As James questioned where Michael was and why he wasn't home, the business owner told his son that he was on a work trip. James wasn't buying it, though.
"I know what the problem is. Maybe daddy left because he doesn’t want to see me," the tot said.
Michael was quick to shoot down his son's theory and assure him of his love, but immediately broke down sobbing after the conversation.
"James basically asked, 'Why don’t you want to see me anymore?' It just scares me to death," Michael admitted. "He’s the only certain thing I have in my life. I miss him so much. It’s breaking me that I’m here when he’s thinking that. We’ve gone through everything together. To go through losing a mother, I don’t want him to ever think that he’s not enough."
"It’s a lot. I feel conflicted. I feel guilty. I feel selfish. I don’t know what to do," he continued. "I knew this road would be painful, and pain is something I can take. When it starts to affect my son, that’s when everything changes… I’ve come so far with Katie, but you can’t be two places at once. I am at war with myself on what to choose."
Ultimately, though, he chose his son. Michael showed up to Katie's hotel room to break the news, emotionally telling her about his conversation with James.
"With Hometowns coming up, I feel like it’s wrong to give you half of what I could be," Michael told Katie through tears. "It kills me because I see so much with us. I know my decision to leave hurts you too, but I’m going home because a beautiful boy needs his dad."
Katie started crying over the news, telling Michael that she "didn't see it coming." He concurred with the sentiment, lamenting that "what-ifs" in their relationship remained.
"I saw us going to the end, which makes this really confusing for me right now," Katie said. "I had so many things I was going to tell you."
Michael continued the conversation by once again giving Katie the pocket watch he presented her the first night he stepped out of the limo.
"I gave that to you because I understand the importance of time. When you’re here, the two things you constantly talk about are time and love," he said. "I thought that love was going to be the harder one to attain. And it wasn’t. We ran out of time. I can’t help but wish we had more, in a different world or different circumstance 'cause I do think it would work."
"I know it would’ve worked," Katie replied. "I mean, I get it. You’re a good dad. As selfish as I want to be -- I want to beg you to stay -- I just know that’s not an option. I really know that’s not an option. So I support you going home to James."
Michael thanked Katie for her kind words before offering some of his own. "You taught me a lot," he said. "You taught me how to love again."
After sharing an emotional hug and kiss, Michael officially left the show, and a sobbing Katie, behind.
"It’s hard because we were so close to the end. It just doesn’t feel right. Our connection is still there, and our connection is unexplored," she said. "It’s just hard to know the impact of him leaving right now. Michael is someone I saw myself walking away with. I knew what my life would be if I chose Michael, and that was a life I wanted."
"I know that his decision is the best decision for his family, but right now in this moment it f**king hurts. In this moment, I am mad, I am sad," Katie continued. "All I’m looking for is to be in love and find my person, and it’s very possible that my person just left."
Cody and Karl and Hunter, Oh My!
The Men Tell All portion of the episode wasted no time getting to the drama, as Aaron and Cody were quick to relive their feud. Aaron, who knew Cody before going on the show, said the zipper sales manager "rubbed him the wrong way" with a social media post about becoming famous within six months.
Cody claimed the post was taken "out of context," a statement James referred to as "fake news." Karl, though, was on Cody's side, calling Aaron's qualms with Cody a "witch hunt."
Attention turned to Karl next, as the men questioned the motivational speaker over his decision to warn Katie about "multiple guys" in the house, without naming any names or providing any real information.
While Karl claimed that, at the time, he was speaking about season villain Thomas, Brendan and Tre were not buying it. Karl told Brendan to "shut the f**k up" before approaching the firefighter trainee and standing toe-to-toe with him, declaring that he's "not gonna be a rat."
Hunter faced scrutiny next, and the software strategist admitted to lying about having a list of the top four guys, but claimed he did not lie about starting to fall in love with Katie.
"There’s definitely some dishonesty with the top four thing. I’ve got to own that," he said. "… As far as the love thing, though, I was asked if I was in love, then I was asked if I was falling in love. Those are two totally different things. I answered honestly that I did think I was falling… In hindsight, 20/20, I wish I said the perfect things and I didn’t."
The Hardest Breakups
Men Tell All moved into the hot seat portion next, with Connor B. getting called up first. After reliving his "tough" split from Katie, which came after the Bachelorette failed to feel chemistry with him, the math teacher admitted that he'd texted his exes for a review on his kissing abilities.
Connor said he received positive feedback from his former paramours, and that declaration seemed to be enough for one audience member, who stood up from her seat and exclaimed, "I know you can’t be a bad kisser."
The mystery woman made her way to Connor and the pair full-on made out, a kiss she rated at an 11.
Andrew S. had a less eventful turn in the hot seat next, as the pro football player recounted the pain of his multiple breakups with Katie.
"We were always consistently us. I think that’s what made it so hard, 'cause it was such a real thing for us both," he said. "Having to restart again is something you never want to do. Especially with Katie, where I’ve never felt these feelings before. It was far along. I was just like, 'This can’t be happening.'"
"I’m still waiting for someone to pick me for me," he added. "Pick me for 100 percent me."
Michael made his return after that, as the single father solemnly revealed why he had no choice but to say goodbye.
"It’s a constant juggling act," he said of being a single father. "The fact that we were so close makes it harder. But for a single parent, and somebody who’s gone through what James and I have gone through and our family’s gone through, it was my only decision."
Michael added that he was "proud" he put himself out there, noting that he'd be open to trying again with Katie if she did wind up single.
"Katie and I just had this connection that happened right off the beginning. Looking back on it now, nothing’s changed… It feels as though we left so much unsaid," he said. "… There’s tons of hope for me now. It really wouldn’t have existed if I didn’t take this leap."
When Katie came out, though, she virtually shot down all hope of reuniting with Michael or any of her other exes.
"I have nothing but love and respect for Michael, but ultimately I could not dwell on the past," she said. "I had to continue to move forward. My ending is ultimately how everything was supposed to happen. I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason."
A Slip of the Tongue
With the Bachelorette's appearance on stage, Aaron decided to apologize for being at the center of the drama throughout the season as he worked hard to out all the men who were there for the wrong reasons.
"I know my journey really got encompassed by conflict, but hopefully you know that I always had your best interests at heart," he told Katie. "Hopefully it made it easier for you to fall in love with whoever you did. I don’t know how it ended, but I’m always going to be in your corner."
"Thanks, Thomas," Katie replied, accidentally calling Aaron the name of the real estate broker whom he helped to oust. The Bachelorette was clearly mortified by her error, admitting, "I feel like a d**k."
Thomas made his grand return next, appearing via video call to address his Bachelorette behavior.
"My biggest regret over everything was speaking any doubt or uncertainty into your journey of finding love," Thomas said. "A lot of my actions ended up taking away the attention from you and away from a lot of amazing guys in that room. I just want to say, I am so sorry for that."
Katie thanked Thomas for his apology, telling him that she ultimately let him go because he didn't seem "genuine." Thomas, in turn, thanked Katie for the "clarity" and the pair shared well wishes to each other.
As the reunion show came to an end, Katie proudly said that she has no regrets about how her journey unfolded.
"There's obviously going to be what-ifs, but ultimately I'm very happy with how everything turned out. I'm thankful for all the moments I've had with these men," she said. "And so ultimately, I don't have any regrets."
The Bachelorette airs Mondays on ABC. ET has got you covered throughout the entirety of Katie's season with recaps, interviews and exclusives. Check out all of our Bachelorette coverage for the latest.