'The Bachelorette' Premiere Recap: Michelle's Journey for Love Begins
By Paige Gawley
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Michelle Young is ready for love. Season 18 of The Bachelorette kicked off Tuesday night, and ET is breaking down the biggest moments from the premiere in our recap below.
The episode began with Michelle, a teacher, discussing her want to emulate her parents' successful relationship, before viewers got a peek at the men hoping to fulfill that role.
Limo entrances followed -- with two firetrucks, an ice cream truck, and plenty of teacher puns to go around. A guy from Michelle's past showed up next, before another man was outed for having ill intent.
Keep reading for a full recap of the season 18 premiere of The Bachelorette.
Michelle's Journey Begins
Michelle opened the season by explaining, "My parents' relationship is so powerful. They’re the reason I’m still single, because I’m not going to settle until I have a love as powerful as theirs."
Her mom agreed, telling Michelle, "I want you to have someone like your dad, because your dad couldn’t be a kinder person, a more giving person. He is my everything, so I hope you can find your person that puts you first."
As for the kind of guy she wants to be her "soulmate," Michelle said she's looking for someone who's "genuine and passionate, completely authentic."
"I just know that this will be my last time falling in love," she said. "I couldn’t be any more pumped. I’m ready to fall in love. School’s out for the summer, bring on the men!"
Meet the Rumored Bachelor
Chris S. billed himself as a goofy southern gentleman, while Minnesota-based Joe was hoping to use his and Michelle's shared hometown and biracial background to his advantage.
Viewers next got their first look at Clayton Echard, the man who is rumored to be the next Bachelor. (ABC has yet to comment on the speculation. ET previously reached out to the network.)
"I grew up in Missouri. It’s slower paced. I do kind of appreciate that," Clayton said in his intro video. "My family, they are my rock. They are the most important people. I have two younger brothers and we’re so close. Might as well have been a mini fraternity."
"In college I played football, so I’m absolutely excited to meet Michelle. She’s a former D1 athlete, so I think being one myself, it says so much about what type of person she is," he continued. "I love the fact that she’s a teacher. My mom’s a teacher as well, so I have a lot of respect for people that do that."
Nayte also has a teacher for a mom, while Brandon J. expressed that he's ready to settle down, and Chris G. said he "can't wait to fall in love."
Ryan was the last of the intros, and explained in his intro that he works on his family's ranch. He was quickly outed as someone who was potentially there for the wrong reasons when hosts Kailtyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams discovered notes about getting more screen time and how to get a good edit in his hotel room.
The First Impressions
Now that viewers know her men, it was time for Michelle to meet them! The Bachelorette first met Nayte, who quipped, "It's better Nayte than ever."
Romeo and Jack came next, before Clayton made his entrance. The rumored next franchise lead admitted to Michelle that he used to get in trouble in school, telling her, "In case I do get out of line I brought you something," before handing her a ruler and turning around to offer her "one free swing."
After Clayton went inside, Michelle met Jamie, whom she thought had "some swag," before Chris S. opted out of the limo in favor of a school bus, and LT made a statement by showing up in a pair a tuxedo-printed underwear.
Rick made an impression next, as he met Michelle with his head coming out of a room service cart. "I want you to enjoy your appetizers tonight, but when you’re ready for your main course, come and find me," he told her.
Ryan, the man with the incriminating notes, arrived on an ice cream truck, which Michelle thought was "a pretty sweet entrance." Rodney brought the sweetness by showing up dressed as an apple, while self-proclaimed pizzapreneur Peter went the savory route, tossing pizza dough in the air.
Two firefighter entrances followed -- Daniel's on a toy fire truck, PJ on a real one -- before Brandon J. made his first impression by arriving on a bed. Spencer showed up dribbling next, while Bryan dipped her, and Martin did a backflip.
The Drama Begins
Minnesota-based Joe was the last entrance of the night, telling Michelle that he "can't wait to go back home" with her. The Bachelorette noted multiple times that she thought he looked familiar, before asking, "Have I slid into your DMs?"
Joe confirmed that he was the guy she thought he was, and Michelle revealed to viewers that she had "briefly" messaged him about basketball before he "ghosted" her.
After talking with a few other guys, Michelle confronted Joe about the situation. He explained that, at the time they were messaging, he'd been dealing with "a lot of anxiety" amid the aftermath of George Floyd's death.
"I didn’t feel like I was in a place to open up to somebody," he said. "I didn’t know how to express those feelings with you... It’s something that I wish I could’ve handled better, but I’m glad we’re having this conversation now."
Michelle said she understood the situation better than most, and wished he'd communicated his feelings. The fact that he didn't, she said, made her worry that he may "shut down again." Joe promised the Bachelorette that he'd been working on his communication skills in therapy, and Michelle said she'd think everything over.
Michelle soon moved to chat with Ryan, whom she "connected with right off the bat." After the pair had some fun discussing ice cream, Tayshia and Kaitlyn told Michelle what they'd found.
Michelle was quick to confront Ryan about the notes in his room. He first tried to say that he was unfamiliar with the franchise, and a friend's wife had written them to help him out. However, Ryan later confessed to writing some of the notes himself. Michelle asked to see the notes in question, and Ryan agreed.
While Michelle looked through the evidence, Ryan told the cameras, "When I’m watching the episodes I write stuff about Michelle... My friends gave me summaries of what The Bachelor is, and that’s what’s written down there. There’s nothing disingenuous... I’m not trying to do anything for the right reasons. I’m here for the right reasons. I’ve just never seen the show enough."
Michelle wasn't buying it, telling Ryan, "I am not OK starting a relationship on red flags... Unfortunately, I will be walking you out."
Michelle was quick to put the Ryan situation behind her, and have a good conversation with Nayte. While the sales executive admitted to being "a little bit guarded," he eventually opened up about his parents' divorce to Michelle. After their talk, Nayte said in a confessional that he was "ready to tell her everything about me."
Michelle seemed to feel similarly, as she later offered Nayte the first impression rose as she complimented him for pushing himself to be vulnerable. The pair went on to share the first kiss of the season.
"I feel what I came here to feel and that’s sparks, butterflies, and everything you want to feel when you kiss someone," Michelle told the cameras after the smooch.
The rose ceremony followed, and while Michelle wrestled with whether to keep former ghoster Joe around, she eventually decided to give him the final rose of the night.
The episode ended with a season preview, which previously aired earlier this month.