‘The Bachelorette’ episode 7 recap: Katie chooses her final four — but not without some second-guessing

Katie Thurston’s confidence has been a great asset thus far this season on “The Bachelorette,” but a flurry of emotions rattled her game plan a bit this week.

With pivotal hometowns approaching, the thought of more quality time with Katie was a welcomed relief. In fact, Brendan and Mike, both of whom have yet to receive a one-on-one, were hoping this week could be the start of a new chapter in their respective journeys. “I definitely want the one-on-one,” Mike said. “Because that one-on-one would be leading into hometowns and my family is extremely important to me. And if they like [Katie], that is gonna make me really think engagement, marriage and a future. It’s a big week, but I honestly trust Katie knows exactly what she’s doing.” But does she?

Chatting with Tayshia and Kaitlyn, Katie felt confident about her picks in spite of recent overwhelming events. “It feels good, it feels right,” she said. “I’m actually really excited going into this week with this core group of guys I have connections with and hopes for. It just feels like a fresh start.” Even so, Katie wasn’t ready to reveal who may be on her shortlist. “I don’t know who my final four guys are. I’m struggling a little bit because this week I have two one-on-ones and, in some ways, I want to continue these strong relationships I have and use that to strengthen our relationship especially heading into hometowns. But then, on the other hand, there are two guys who haven’t had a one-on-one. Do I use this one-on-one time to really explore that more? That’s something I’m kind of struggling with.”

Back at the house, Blake, a “Bachelorette” veteran at this point teetering on becoming an annoying know-it-all, particularly reminded Brendan and Mike how crucial a one-on-one is at this stage of the competition. “I’m not going to lie to you — until you have a one-on-one, you are 100 percent behind,” he said. “You need to get that [date]. I know what a one-on-one can do. You have to have it. It’s impossible not [to].” When Blake was denied the first one-on-one, which surprisingly went to Greg, he began to question where he stood. “I have a hard time believing the connection that I have with Katie [is what] she has with anyone else to that extent,” he said. “I can’t see it.”

SEE ‘The Bachelorette’ episode 6 recap: Katie breaks (the guys’) hearts with shocking elimination

Katie and Greg’s one-on-one began with a tribute to her hometown of Seattle, particularly reconstructing the famous Pike Place Market as “Katie’s Place Market” and playing some football for extra measure. At dinner, Greg revealed that since his father passed away, he has become more emotionally guarded, which has been evident. Still, he thanked Katie for being the example of strength he can rely on to get through the rough patches. “In this process, I have had my weak moments and I’ve been scared as hell, but you’ve been the strongest person I have ever met,” he said. “You have been incredible during this and I honestly feel like the luckiest guy in the world. You just amaze me in every way. And if we do move forward into next week, I am really excited to show my family the girl I’m falling in love with.” Happy to hear Greg’s response, Katie gave him a rose, securing his hometown spot among the final four.

Back at the house, it was revealed that Mike received the second one-on-one, particularly crushing Brendan’s spirits to the point that he immediately left the room to find Katie for much-needed clarity. When Brendan arrived at Katie’s suite, he pleaded his case. He was feeling down not having received a one-on-one, especially with hometowns looming. He wondered where he fit in the larger picture, but it was too little too late. “You’ve continued to put yourself out there and gone out of your way to make me feel special,” Katie said. “Even you being here right now and checking on me means a lot. And you are somebody I felt a connection with. But what I will say — that is hard for me — is because of hometowns being next week, I don’t know that we could get there in time. At this point, given you coming here talking to me, I just don’t think it would be right to even make you go through that.” And with that, Brendan packed his suitcase and went home.

On the group date, Kate challenged Andrew S., Blake, Justin and Michael to explore their artistic side by creating a work of sensual, provocative art guided by artist Jacqueline Secor. Unsurprisingly, Blake took the challenge too far, providing a canvas that wasn’t even appropriate for viewing. At the cocktail party, Katie gave Michael a rose, placing him in the final four with Greg.

Katie and Mike’s one-on-one began with Katie admitting the obvious. “I thought I would never date a virgin,” she said. “But [Mike] has continued to amaze me with his perspective on life and the way he carries himself. Every time I’m with him, our relationship gets stronger and stronger. It’s very obvious Mike and I have an emotional connection. Today is about pushing us out of our comfort zones and seeing just how much of a physical connection we have. I think growth happens when you’re uncomfortable and today’s date is going to be a little uncomfortable.”

When Katie and Mike arrived in the woods for a session with Cuddle Queen Jean, a self-described “cuddle expert,” they attempted to learn about themselves as a couple. After a series of intimate hugs and lots of awkward giggles, Katie reiterated how much she admired Mike for his lifestyle choice. “I respect your decision,” she said. “I think that’s really cool. I realize I’ve always been quick to judge people who want to save themselves and you’ve shown me that really means nothing to someone’s personality. It’s just a thing when you have so many other things to offer.” But shortly after, having given the idea of a future with Mike more thought knowing hometowns were around the corner, Katie turned him down. “If I’m being honest with myself and the bigger picture of what this is, I know I do have stronger relationships,” she said. “And it’s tough because today would have had to really taken our relationship to the very top and it didn’t.”

SEE ‘The Bachelorette’ episode 5 recap: Katie and Blake have a ball, but the rest of the guys? Not so much

As Mike drove away, Katie began to grasp the weight of her decisions. “I know what I signed up for, but that doesn’t make it easier,” she said. “This is my real life, this is [Mike’s] real life. I always said I want a good guy then I get handed a group of them. How hard is it to navigate good guy after good guy after good guy? It makes this so difficult. Every decision I make going forward is going to be harder and harder. The one thing that’s keeping me going is the hope that this is all worth it in the end.”

Prior to the rose ceremony, Katie told Tayshia and Kaitlyn she felt like she knew what she planned to do but still wasn’t totally sure. In the end, Andrew was sent home, but Katie did her best to soften the blow before he left. “You are such an amazing man,” she said. “You give 100 percent to everything that you are passionate about and that’s what you deserve. And that’s not something I could give you. I could not look your mom or your sister in the eye and tell them what they would want to hear because they know what you deserve. I know what you deserve. I am feeling stronger connections and you deserve more than what I could give you. It’s really hard to say goodbye because you are truly one-of-a-kind and deserve to find a great love.” “It’s bittersweet,” Andrew replied, “but just know I will forever hold you dear to my heart.” After he drove off, Katie, in tears, confided in one of the producers, saying she didn’t feel confident about her decision. It simply didn’t feel right.

The next morning, the final four guys were happy about their hometown opportunities but also wondered how Katie felt considering how hard it seemed for her to send Andrew home. Surprisingly, Andrew then appeared at Katie’s suite, hoping to leave (again) on a more positive note. “I’m super proud of you and love the woman you are,” he said. “You are just incredible.” After a final embrace, Katie wished him well. But then she read Andrew’s goodbye note: “If you change your mind… I’ll be waiting.” Rushing down the hallway and into the stairwell to catch him before he left the building, she gave him one last embrace followed by a big question. “If there’s a way to stay a little longer, would you want to? You can say no, you can say yes.” His answer: no. “I want my future wife to choose me — and I wasn’t chosen,” he said. “So, I had to say no. I don’t want to go through this with her again. I don’t want to be standing at a rose ceremony waiting for her to not choose me.”

“Today, Andrew offered me the closure I didn’t even know I needed,” Katie said. “It reminded me of all the feelings I have for him. We had kind of had this opportunity to have one last goodbye. And it was hard. If it was Andrew and I at the end of this, I would be so lucky. I really would. And there is obviously a part of me that wishes we could have got there. This journey just wasn’t for us at the end of it. With every goodbye I’m one step closer to finding my husband.”

Next week, the drama thickens as hometowns arrive for Blake, Greg, Justin and Michael, and “The Men Tell All.”

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