‘The Bachelorette’ episode 9 recap: Another guy self-eliminates, sending Katie into an emotional spiral

Hometowns weighed heavily on Katie Thurston’s heart this week, but that was only part of the drama on the penultimate episode of “The Bachelorette.”

Blake was up first and he admitted he needed to be very vulnerable in terms of love and his overall feelings for Katie. After sharing a few fun moments on their Canadian-themed date, which included an impromptu game of street hockey culminating with smooching in a penalty box, Blake remained head over heels. “Katie is everything I have ever wanted,” he said. “Our relationship is growing exponentially and it’s not fading off. The inevitability of me falling in love with her, it’s impossible to deny what’s happening.”

While Blake and Katie were enjoying each other’s company, Greg happened to catch a glimpse of the duo from afar, which didn’t set well with him emotionally or physically. “I’m sick to my stomach,” he said. “I understand she’s going to catch feelings for other guys, but it’s hard to face those facts. Seeing her with Blake, she looks so happy, and it scared me.”

That evening, Katie met Blake’s mom, Emily, as well his sister, Taylor. Quickly out of the gate, Emily asked Katie at what point did she know she wanted to pursue a relationship with Blake. “The second I met him our chemistry was very instant, natural, very flirtatious,” she said. “Ultimately, I decided to do what was best for me which was to bring Blake on.” Beyond a physical connection, Blake sought to ease his mother’s mind about how his relationship with Katie has evolved. “It’s so weird how much we align outside of our personalities and our outlook on life,” he said. “We don’t even say something — we still both get it,” Katie replied. “It’s really bizarre.”

SEE ‘The Bachelorette’ episode 8 recap: Katie’s final four quickly becomes three and the men (kiss and) tell all

Pulling Katie aside, Emily wanted to get to the bottom of whether or not Blake and Katie were building a relationship based on mere infatuation or were they really digging deep and falling in love with each other. When Katie revealed they hadn’t said “I love you” to each other, it appeared to be a red flag for Emily. “Are you guys a little, maybe, behind because he came in late?” she said. “Are you someone that takes a while before you can tell someone you love them?” “For me, it doesn’t feel right to say it while I’m dating multiple people,” Katie replied. “So, this has been a struggle for me because it’s hard to feel the way I do about Blake and all of a sudden go on a date with somebody else. But I know if it’s Blake and I in the end, it truly is forever.”

Alone with Blake, Taylor spoke for the entirety of Bachelor Nation when she called Blake’s desires and sketchy track record into question. “Before you even met Claire, you [said] ‘I love her, it’s gonna work,’ but that was gone off the table,” she said. “And then Tayshia came in — you’re in love again, like, right away. You get to this point where you say she’s The One — like what do you mean? You think that [Katie] is falling in love with you or you’re falling in love with her? … What has to change for you to know it’s love now and I want to do this for a long time?”

Acknowledging Taylor’s opinion, Blake basically blamed “other guys” and “time,” but also said he wanted to see how Katie interacted with his family. In the end, Taylor chose to trust her brother’s instincts. “I know Blake, and I believe what he’s saying when he tells me he can feel it and that [Katie] is The One. I’m a little bit worried about Blake if there’s a chance it’s not him. He’s going to be completely, just, so blindsided.”

After Blake told Emily he can “100 percent” see Katie as his wife, she offered earthy words of motherly wisdom. “If you really feel it, you need to, almost, like, man the f— up and tell her you love her. It’s your life, it’s her life, it’s your journey together. My job is just to support you. You deserve love.” Before Katie said goodbye, Blake told her “I feel so good about you.” Ouch. That’s a far cry from “I love you.” “I wanted to tell her that I was feeling that way in that moment, but the word love is a scary word to use,” he said. “So, at the end of the night, the way she kissed me, if things keep going the way that they are, I see myself getting engaged to Katie.”

Before Justin’s hometown began, he called his parents, who were unable to attend. It was apparent his mother had serious doubts. “Your dad and I will support you, but I just find it difficult to understand how anyone could get to know someone in this short period of time to propose,” she said. “You have to be mindful of not only getting to know a person, but then that individual’s family because all of those things are important in a marriage and in a relationship.” Justin agreed, but was torn because he wouldn’t be able to showcase his family to the fullest. However, his two best friends, Herb and Tommy, would serve as worthy substitutes.

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

After a hometown tribute to all things Baltimore from graffiti art to seafood, Justin shared his disappointment at not having his family present. Katie took the news in stride but questioned whether or not he was actually ready for a proposal or marriage. When Herb and Tommy arrived, Herb noticed how affectionate Justin and Katie were, which he noted was new for Justin. “Justin’s heart is usually guarded,” Herb said. “He doesn’t allow a lot of people in unless it’s his close-knit circle.” Tommy also confirmed to Katie that Justin was a very reserved person.

Recognizing the severity of telling Katie soon that he loves her, Justin was ready to make his move. “I can’t hold back despite how nervous I am about letting her know how I feel about her,” he told Herb. “It’s something I have to do because I can’t live with potentially going home at this point and knowing I left something on the table.” After telling Katie he was falling in love with her, Justin felt relieved. “I feel incredible,” he said. “Tonight was everything I was looking for. It was another big step to just let Katie know how I feel about her. Kind of a weight lifted off at this point.”

For his New Jersey-themed hometown, Greg, still taken aback by catching a peek at Blake and Katie’s date, took Katie on a tandem bike to sample some of the Garden State’s best dining such as pork rolls and Italian ice. Greg also invited Katie to shoot a few hoops, a sentimental nod due to his late father, who was his former basketball coach for many years.

That evening, Katie met Greg’s mother, Sandy, his brother, Joe, and his friend, Dave. Sandy surprised Greg with video messages from his two sisters as well. Joe revealed that he and Greg haven’t spoken much about their father, which made him impressed with the fact that Greg has been so open with Katie. Alone with Sandy, Katie revealed that not only was Greg frontrunner material but he’ll be in her final two.

But it soon appeared that there was trouble in paradise. During a heart-to-heart, Katie reminded Greg that this stage of the competition was not going to be easy. Even so, Greg was freaking out. “I just don’t understand how you don’t know at this point that it’s me and you at this point,” he said. “I’m just, like, confused. … I’m not losing trust. I’m like losing my sh– here. I’ve never emptied my heart out to somebody like this before. I just haven’t.” “I’ve just never felt like you’ve wanted to give up until right now,” Katie replied.

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

The next day, Greg stopped by Katie’s suite for another chat. He wanted to know why someone who could be his future wife wouldn’t tell him she is falling in love with him or at least feeling that way. Katie told him she hadn’t told any of the guys she loved them, choosing to save those words for the guy who would be with her at the very end. “For you to sit there in the hallway and tell me I’m the one giving up on us, it just hurt me so much,” Greg said. “I’ve never given up on you. I’ve fought so hard for you here. There’s obviously a disconnect here. It’s clear. It’s obvious. As much as it hurts me, I’ve reached my breaking point with this. I gave you everything and I really hope you find something.”

Katie seemed to have difficulty comprehending the magnitude of Greg’s decision, and in tears, admitted she felt “helpless.” “You’ve always been my No. 1 from the very beginning,” she said. “Who cares about the rose, or the No. 1 or the No 2., or who’s getting sent home this week — if it’s not real, it’s not real,” he said. “I just wanted something real. … I just don’t think you get it. I just don’t think you get where I’m at. I’m not a number here. … It makes me sick. … I’ve given you everything I have to offer. I showed you who I am. I showed you what we can be.” And with that, Greg, shedding tears throughout the conversation, stormed out of Katie’s suite.

Chasing after Greg down the hallway, into the stairwell, and outside the resort, Katie told him she still felt confident about their relationship. Basically pleading, she said “This whole thing is for nothing if you leave.” “All I do know is that I deserve more than what I’ve been given on your side,” he replied. “I’m not happy here anymore. I’m done here.” As Greg walked away for good, Katie, sitting on the ground in tears, said, “I’m done. I am done. I want to go home. I am done.”

Visiting Katie in her suite locked inside her bathroom door, Kaitlyn wondered if she’d like to talk. “Do you regret letting [Greg] leave? What shifted your conversation?” Katie explained how Greg didn’t feel as if she respected his openness. “Like today, I’m heartbroken and defeated. It’s like this unnatural feeling of, like, trying to fall in love, but also dealing with, like, the biggest heartbreak of your life, you know?” In the end, it was time for Katie to really assess what she wanted going forward. “Michael left. Greg left. And, at this point, the confidence and the strength I thought I had is, like, destroyed. Destroyed. There’s just no way. … I want someone to book my flight home.

Katie’s emotional journey concludes next week as she decides between Blake or Justin , even as thoughts of Greg linger. “The love that I had for him is real,” she said.

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