‘The Bachelorette’ recap: A shocking and heartbreaking exit rocks the house

ABC/Craig Sjodin

The Bachelorette continued Monday with one suitor’s shocking and heartbreaking exit, leaving the rest of the men doubting where they stand with Katie.

The episode started with a friendly competition for the remaining 12 men, cooked up by Katie and mentors Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe.  The three wanted to find out who among the suitors — to borrow a phrase from a classic Seinfeld episode — was “the master of his own domain.”

Dubbed “Operation: WOWO,” the men made a promise to refrain from “self-care” for the remainder of the competition.

Back to the real business at hand, Justin got the first one-on-one date — a dress rehearsal of sorts for their potential big day in which he and Katie had to write and recite their wedding vows.

Katie admitted the date was tough for her and tearfully explained that her dad, whom she’d lost to cancer, could not give her away.  She also revealed that she’d learned shortly before his death that he was not her biological father.  Despite her real father’s attempt to reach out, Katie said he could never replace the man who raised her.

Justin’s promise to support Katie and be there for her “no matter what,” along with his ability to listen to her, resonated with her.  Katie believed his caring nature would make him a great husband and awarded him the date rose.  Afterwards, they slow-danced to MAX performing his song, “Butterflies.”

Next, Katie enlisted RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars winners Shea Couleé and Monét X Change in a group date that engaged BlakeAndrewMichael A.GregAaronMike P.BrendanJamesTre and Hunter in a “great royal debate” to prove why they deserved to remain in the competition with Katie, instead of the other suitors.

When pressed to pick the man they thought was the least compatible with Katie, Hunter was the unanimous choice, arousing her suspicions.  Later, at the after-party, James, Tre and Aaron used their time with Katie to try and cast more doubt in her mind about Hunter’s character, leaving the bachelorette confused and sick to her stomach — literally.  She abruptly ended the date, informing the men that they would not be getting a rose.

Another one-on-one date, this time with Connor B., started out with a special double date featuring Bristowe and her fiancé Jason Tartick.  Beforehand, Katie admitted that she and Connor are still in the “friend-zone” and hoped the date would change that.  After one last kiss between the two failed to ignite a “spark,” Katie informed Connor he would be going home.

In a break with tradition, Connor personally told the remaining suitors he was leaving, leading to an emotional goodbye that left them all shell-shocked because the Tennessee-based math teacher was once considered the one to beat.  His departure caused everyone to doubt their own futures with Katie.

The tension grew more intense after Katie canceled the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party, revealing she’d already made up her mind.  Fed up with the drama, she sent James, Tre, Aaron and Hunter home.

The Bachelorette airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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