“I Felt a Bit Sick Inside:” Sharleen Joynt on Episode 7 of The Bachelorette

Sharleen Joynt—FLARE columnist and former Bachelor contestant—shares her insider POV on the seventh episode of Becca Kufrin’s season

I had two reactions to watching Wills‘s departure last night. In fact, my first draft of this recap was about my first, immediate reaction: I felt a bit sick inside, watching in particular someone like Wills, one of those quieter, less extroverted, previously-been-heartbroken people. He clearly isn’t someone who opens up and falls in love easily, so to have opened up all the way only to have the rug pulled out from under him feels extra painful. Despite the fact that I objectively understand the premise of the show—every contestant minus one must be sent packing in one way or another—once in awhile there’s a breakup that just leaves you feeling a bit ickier than the others.

When I mulled it over more, though, I did the math on the Wills/Becca relationship: They had a natural, easy connection shown back in Episode 2 where he received the first Group Date rose (amongst framed-photo-throwing dramz). He then received his own 1-on-1 date in Episode 4. That’s a reasonably strong start, sure. But then, on the Episode 6 Group Date, he told Becca he was falling in love with her and she gave the Group Date rose to someone else. This week, with three 1-on-1 dates to give out among six men, he didn’t receive one. My point is, Wills’s confidence in Becca and their relationship was disproportionate to the actual validation and encouragement he was getting from Becca, especially in these later weeks when he was suddenly falling so hard for her. If this isn’t evidence of how expertly designed the environment is to make its contestants—even its more reticent ones—collectively believe they’re falling in love with the lead, I don’t know what is. It also gives a glimpse into that producer encouragement. I have to imagine Wills was somewhat distraught over not getting a better response to telling Becca he was falling for her, but his producer very likely eased his worries, dismissed the importance of that Group Date Rose, and renewed his confidence in his relationship. There is a zero-percent chance this same producer truly believed Wills could be the one ending up with Becca. Wills was a lamb being led out to slaughter.

It’s natural to blame production, the environment and individual producers for leading Wills to that state of vulnerability and subsequent heartbreak, but it’s interesting how, if this were a Bachelor season, I’m pretty darn certain the lead would have gotten some flak. In this sense, I do think there’s a bit of a double standard because, as far as I can tell, Becca hasn’t gotten any such flak despite being very much in on that deception. Let’s consider that final “dinner” on last night’s Group Date: Wills doubled down on his “falling in love” profession from last week and told Becca she makes him believe in love again, in a future, in having a family, in hope, happiness and kindness, and in being a great man. Those are some pretty heavy statements. Her response? To make out with him. A lot. Basically, through actions and not words, she led him to believe she felt the same way, only to make him wait what was likely at least another hour or two for the mini dinner table Rose Ceremony, where she gave the rose to Jason.

Let me be clear: I’m not blaming Becca here at all as we all know by now that leading the guys on is literally part of her job. I just would have liked for her to have sent Wills packing (or to have been allowed to send Wills packing) during this evening 1-on-1 time, or when he told her he was falling for her last week. For his particular emotional journey, I feel he deserved special treatment, not the same pre-Hometowns send-off everyone gets.

Sharleen Joynt’s Top Four Following The Bachelorette: Episode 7

Bachelorette season 14 episode 2: A photo of contestant Garrett in a Blue suit jacket and white shirt

(Photograph: Courtesy City)

1. Garrett Yrigoyen, 29: “He solidified his connection with Becca as stronger than the rest”

It would take a lot to bump Garrett from my top spot, to be honest. Earlier in their date I noted a bit of coolness from Becca, along with a few mentions of wanting more depth and to feel challenged. However, by the end of the night, those needs were declared satisfied and she was beaming as they whipped off their mic packs to go canoodle in the ocean. Becca described the chemistry as “undeniable,” saying it’s something she’s never felt before. Garrett, for his part, redeemed himself in my adjective usage rankings, saying, “She’s bubbly, she’s goofy, she’s cute… we complement each other so well.” Garrett’s still the only guy who says this stuff, which not only blows my mind, but also solidifies his connection with Becca in my books as stronger than the rest.

A photo of Bachelorette season 14 contestant Blake in a maroon short-sleeved shirt and grey pants

(Photograph: Courtesy City)

2. Blake Horstmann, 28: “I LIKED how upset he was”

We saw Blake unravel a bit this week but it wasn’t unflattering. On the contrary: I LIKED how upset he was to have to wait for a 1-on-1 and I felt this desire for reciprocation was exactly what he should need this far along. Becca verbally expressed major interest in Blake (in an ITM she actually said, “I do feel the most strongly for him”), but honestly, I’m just not feeling it as strongly as I did earlier. Though these two are still sweet, I see more chemistry between her and all three of the other guys on this list. Nonetheless, Blake was one of three guys to get an actual 1-on-1 which maintains his major frontrunner status.

A photo of Bachelorette season 14 contestant Jason Tartick in a grey stio and qhite shirt

(Photograph: Courtesy City)

3. Jason Tartick, 29: “This relationship is a bit behind the others”

The thing keeping Jason a bit behind here isn’t the fact that he didn’t feel ready to profess his love to Becca. Rather, it’s that he got to Hometowns via a 3-on-1 date. I know this relationship is a bit behind the others—he just had his first 1-on-1 last week, after all—but I still think if Becca were completely over the moon for him, he’d have gotten his own date this week. Nonetheless, I still love this couple and am rooting for Jason to upkeep his fierce dark horse reputation.

Bachelorette season 14 episode 2: A photo of contestant Colton in a black leather jacket and light pink t-shirt

(Photograph: Courtesy City)

4. Colton Underwood, 26: “Husband-material compatibility involves sex”

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Becca’s physical attraction to Colton was so played up in the first half of this 1-on-1. Or how their date activity just so happened to be diving for conch and snacking on its “pistol,” a supposed aphrodisiac. While I don’t think Becca has any personal issue with Colton’s very-hyped virginity, I can imagine this giving her pause as this group narrows going forward. Considering how much of her attraction to Colton has felt physical (to me through my TV, anyway), it’s a responsibility she might not be up for, and would be well within her right not to be. Dating is one thing, but sex with your partner FOR LIFE is another beast, and Becca has been abundantly clear in her intention to find her future husband and life partner throughout this process. That husband-material compatibility involves sex, plain and simple.

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