'The Bachelorette' Episode 8 Recap: Michelle Says Her Most Heartbreaking Goodbye Yet
By Paige Gawley
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Michelle Young just made her hardest choice yet. On Tuesday's penultimate episode of The Bachelorette, Michelle had three successful Fantasy Suite dates in Mexico, all of which ET is breaking down in the recap below.
After horseback riding with Brandon, ziplining with Joe, and a day on the water with Nayte, Michelle chose her final two men, breaking the third one's heart in the process.
Declarations of love, unforgettable moments together, and concerns over one man's readiness all led to the devastating rose ceremony, which saw both him and Michelle break down in tears.
Keep reading for a full recap of episode eight of The Bachelorette.
Brandon Says 'I Love You'
Brandon landed the first date of the week, and got to experience "the most romantic thing" he's ever done, when he and Michelle went horseback riding on the beach.
"I continue to be more and more surprised by Brandon every day," Michelle gushed in a confessional. "He’s just somebody that I can see being my best friend. I think that’s one of the most important things to look for when searching for a soulmate."
Brandon was likewise smitten, telling the cameras, "No matter where I am, being with her is so perfect and beautiful. I’m literally the luckiest man in the world right now."
He took it a step further after he and Michelle discussed meeting each other's families, admitting in a confessional, "I am so in love with this girl."
Things only got better when they moved to the nighttime portion of the date, when Brandon expressed excitement about his plan to "literally rip out my heart, throw it on the table, and say, 'Just do what you want with it 'cause it only beats for you at this point.'"
He did just that over their romantic dinner together.
"Michelle, I want you to know that I’m in love with you... I’m truly in love with you. I’m just so sick of keeping it in," he said. "I want you to know, I will always, always put you first. Always. Until I take my last breath, I will put you first. You are such a big part in my world now... I’m in love with you. I am. Everything about you."
"I meant what I said after meeting your family, that I’m falling in love with you, and that’s not something I say lightly. It’s not something that I feel easily, but I do see a future with you," Michelle replied. "I’ve never met somebody who has made me feel so safe, has made my heart feel so safe."
With that, the pair headed off the Fantasy Suite where they enjoyed a fireworks display and a dip in a hot tub. The next morning, Michelle and Brandon were both on cloud nine.
"The moment my eyes shot open, I was excited that Brandon was there," Michelle said in a confessional. "He is somebody who is becoming my best friend and who I have gotten really close with."
"Waking up to Michelle this morning, I felt the happiest I’ve ever been in my life," Brandon agreed. "This is what I want to do every day. I got the perfect glimpse of what life would be like, and that was the best feeling in the world."
Joe Lets His Walls Down
Joe was up next, and got to zipline with Michelle for his date. Michelle was impressed the more and more Joe came out of his shell, which he credited to her ability to make him feel comfortable.
The pair enjoyed a picnic and fed horses as they discussed their feelings for each other and the comfort they find thanks to their shared hometown.
"I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way with somebody," Joe said in a confessional. "I feel that I’m falling more and more in love with Michelle... I want her to know I’m ready for marriage."
Joe opened up even further on the nighttime portion of his date, revealing his hopes for three kids to Michelle, and confessing that his choice of career in real estate was to "set the foundation for a family."
Through his career, Joe said, he also hoped to show that fellow former athletes can translate their skills to more traditional jobs, just as he did.
"I think every time I’m more and more surprised with just how similar Joe and I are," Michelle said in a confessional. "I’ve always said [that] I am here to find my person that’s going to change the world with me, and I didn’t realize how much Joe was already on that journey of changing the world... I feel like I got a lot of the answers I was looking for."
The pair was just as joyful the night after their Fantasy Suite, with Michelle praising Joe for "continuing to be vulnerable."
"I’m falling more in love with you every moment that we get together," Joe told her, leading Michelle to confess that, "in 24 hours, Joe has changed everything."
Nayte Says He's Ready to Pop the Question
As Nayte and Michelle took over for a romantic boat ride, Michelle had lingering questions about his readiness for a proposal following his hometown date. Still, to Michelle, the day was "perfect."
"When I’m with Nayte I feel how you’re supposed to feel when you’re with your soulmate, when you’re with your favorite person," she said. "I don’t want the day to end. I just want to spend time with him."
"Kissing Nayte is magical. I’ve never had a feeling like when I kiss Nayte," Michelle added. "I’m very crazy about Nayte... But this whole engagement thing is in a week, and it’s important for me to know if he can get there."
Despite their great day on the water, Michelle was still concerned that she "could have stronger feelings for him than he does for me" going into the nighttime portion of their date. Nayte was quick to put those fears to rest, though.
"When it comes to you, I am feeling things for you that I’ve never felt for anybody before. It’s easy for me to close my eyes and picture a genuine life with you," he said. "... Falling in love, being in love, loving you, there’s something about you that I’m certain about... I trust that I’m literally falling in love with you."
When Michelle pushed, questioning if he'd really be ready for an engagement, Nayte replied, "Most definitely. With you? Yeah. I don’t see myself pulling away. Not at all... I’m falling in love with you. This is very real for me."
Nayte's assurances left Michelle feeling "safe." The morning after, her feelings had only grown.
"This is something that life could literally be and I want that. This is something that I want to hold onto," Nayte told her. "I’m falling in love with you, I’m in love with you. This is what I want. Nayte is in love."
"I am definitely in love with you too," Michelle replied, before sharing more of her feelings in a confessional.
"Waking up this morning, I was like, 'OK, I’m in love with this man,'" she said. "There’s just something so special about our connection and our chemistry, and I firmly believe that this is what a soulmate feels like."
Though Michelle fell in love with all three of her remaining men, she knew who she had to send home. At the rose ceremony, after she expressed her appreciation for each of the men, Brandon interrupted to pull her aside.
"When I told you that I put you first, I put you first. When I told you that I love you and when I told you that you are truly becoming my best friend, I truly mean that I will be here for you regardless of whatever happens tonight," he told her. "Today might be my last day, but I just wanted to at least look you in the eye and make sure that the woman that I love more than anything is OK."
After sharing a hug, both Brandon and Michelle returned to the rose ceremony. Michelle called Nayte's name first, before awarding the second rose to Brandon, and thus sending Joe home.
Michelle was crying as she walked Joe out, telling him, "I have been falling in love with you. I’m still falling in love with you."
"You understand a certain side of me that nobody understands. I know how much you pushed yourself to open up. I care about you so much," she said. "You have a piece of my heart. I think you always will. I’m sorry. I didn’t want to break your heart."
"As much as it hurts, I know it hurt you too," Joe said. "... I did see that future with you that we talked about. I meant all those words that I said to you. Even though I am definitely sad at the outcome, it’s something that I’ll always hold with me for the rest of my life. I want to thank you for pushing me to be more open, be more vulnerable, and to be the best person I can possibly be."
The pair shared a hug and Joe wished her all the best, before he was whisked away in a car. Michelle sobbed as she watched Joe drive away, while he broke down in tears in the car, admitting, "I am in shock. I’m in pretty big shock right now. I didn’t see that coming. I really thought she was my person."
The Final Rose
Next week's three hour-long season finale will see Michelle question, "When you’re in love with two people, how do you know which person is your person?"
While Nayte believes he's found his "forever person" and Brandon says "there's nothing else" he wants more than Michelle, her dad, Ephraim, worries that one of the men "would become a jealous person" and her mom, LaVonne, isn't "100 percent sure" that Nayte is ready to propose.
"Do you feel like he’s ready for an engagement?" Michelle asks her mom. "To be honest, no," LaVonne replies, as Michelle breaks down in tears.
"I deserve to be in a relationship where someone loves me as much as I love them," Michelle says. The preview then flashes to Michelle crying on the beach, at what appears to be her final rose ceremony.
"Oh, God. What am I doing?" she questions. "This is the hardest decision I’ve ever made."