Relationships are messy, and few more so than those on The Bachelorette.
At this point on screen, Hannah Brown is currently dating nine men, several of whom seem like great guys, and one of whom seems like a jerk with a lot of issues but who, regardless, is still there. For many fans, it's become hard to watch as Luke Parker has dominated the show, especially as we've only really gotten to know a couple of the other men well enough to imagine they might last.
Typically, villains do their thing for a couple of weeks before things erupt and they get sent home, but that has not been the case with the dishonest, manipulative, and occasionally violent Luke, because Hannah's inexplicably (or explicably, depending on how you feel about his face) attracted to him despite everything she's seen and heard about him.
From an outside perspective, she should have eliminated him long ago. He not only bothered the other men, but he's been bothering Hannah. He interrupts her, he tries to follow her to her dressing room, he's gotten jealous of her other relationships, and he was professing love on the very first (group!) date in a way that felt not genuine, but just sort of creepy. And yet he's still there.
Hannah even tried to send him home and asked him to respect that decision, but he returned and asked to stay, and she relented. Luke then caused the biggest meltdown we've seen so far, with Hannah threatening to quit the show. Despite the fact that we've seen Hannah stand up against any and all disrespect any man dares to throw at her more than any other Bachelorette, Luke remains. But why?
The first thing we've all got to remember is that people are attracted to other people for sometimes completely unknown reasons. The second thing we've all got to remember is that the Bachelor franchise is a place where nothing normal happens and no person can behave totally as they would in any normal dating setting. Those two facts already explain a lot, but the Luke P. situation goes further than that.
Hannah will the first to tell you that immediately, she was attracted to Luke. She gave him the first impression rose, she gave him one of the first makeout sessions, and he was very immediately a frontrunner in her eyes.
Hannah opened up about that initial attraction in an episode of Nick Viall's podcast, Viall Files.
"My relationship with Luke P., especially at the beginning, like the instant connection, reminded me a lot of my really long-term relationship and so it was like this initial attraction of like, goo goo ga ga eyes," she said. "And I know that like through what we've seen, I really held on to that. I hadn't had a connection like that in a really long time, and when it had for me, it was like...it was huge. And he is a spark of something that I can see. He's like the brightest light out there and I don't know if the light is like a 'do not come here' caution light, or like the beacon. He's the brightest thing that's like attracting me right now."
So Hannah immediately found herself attracted to Luke, and had to go towards that light to figure out what kind of light it was, because in the sea of 30 men there on night one, how could she possibly ignore the one that stood out in that way?
That was a relationship she was going to have to explore one way or another or she was never going to get over it, but that quickly became hard. Luke was making it hard to fully explore the relationship, as he was declaring his love on date one and looking for validation that theirs was the only relationship that really mattered.
It also got hard because the other men in the house quickly saw Luke as a bad egg, and many took it upon themselves to make sure Hannah knew that, which only made it worse, as it always does. Chris Harrison said it best in our interview with him last week.
"Look, I have kids, so I know the more you tell somebody to run away from them, or if you say, 'Luke P. is bad for you,' what's she going to do? She's going to run to that person. She's going to defend that person, because you're actually attacking her," Chris told us. "And I think the guys need to realize the more they battled against Luke P., the more they made everything about Luke P., the more she's going to defend him because they're questioning her sanity. They're questioning her choices, and that's only going to make someone defensive. I mean it's the oldest trick in the book for a dad. I mean, 'Don't date that guy?' What's your daughter going to do? She's going to date that guy."
Even if Hannah didn't date that guy, there's clearly something about Luke that she can't get out of her head, and if she can't get it out of her head, how will she ever fully date anybody else?
Every time any of the other guys have questioned Hannah's relationship with Luke, it has only irritated Hannah more in terms of being able to trust herself or any of her own feelings. After the night of the rugby game, where Luke P. attacked Luke S. and it became a battle of the Lukes, Hannah was completely distraught.
"Last night was just a constant state of frustration and confusion about Luke P. and it's very obvious that I have feelings for him, probably the strongest. And I don't know if I'm reading him wrong or right, but I just like, see a potential there and I just am mad if I can't even trust myself with my feelings," she said. "It's just really hard, because I want to have a good date with Tyler C. and just focus on Tyler C. today, like that's what I want. Like truly, that's what I want, but I don't know right now if I can."
In last week's episode (the part that was not taken up by a strange, repetitive sit-down interview with Hannah), we saw Hannah reach her breaking point. Garrett discovered that Luke had lied to him about not bringing up any of the other guys during his (disastrous) date with Hannah, and he lost his cool, creating a loud, dramatic argument among all the men.
Hannah had to shut the argument down not once but twice, scolding Luke for making up excuses and trying to make himself look much better than he is, and scolding the rest of the guys for continuing to focus only on Luke and not on their own relationships with Hannah, which is the entire reason they're all there.
"But also, stop the focus on him, because I can figure that out for myself, and focus on me, and know that I'm a grown-ass woman, and I can decide if I want to spend my time figuring all this out or if I don't, but you're not in my conversations with him just like he's not in the conversation with all of you," Hannah said. "So, I'm not defending him in any way, because before any of you all brought anything up to me, there are concerns with him, but it doesn't mean that I don't have concerns with all of you, and I'm still giving you the benefit of the doubt. So please stop pointing fingers at other people, and allow me to do that, and focus on yourself and what maybe I need from you."
She could have stopped there, but she didn't.
"I feel like everybody thinks it's just Luke that makes me feel frickin' psycho and irritated right now," she went on. "It's all of you. It's truly all of you that makes me feel this way. And although I came in here like so ready to get to know you and start sharing things about me that none of you know, none of you know anything about me and why I'm here and what makes me me and things that I've gone through, and so like I don't feel comfortable in any of this because nobody's even asked, because all we do is talk about stupid s--t, and so I don't want to talk to anybody, because at this point, I'm just like really defeated from all of you, so I don't want to do this."
At the rose ceremony, Luke then received a rose, and it made the most sense of all the roses she's given him this season. She's "a grown-ass woman" and she has to decide Luke needs to go on her own terms, without the influence of other men who also want to win her heart (or a bigger role in Bachelor Nation).
It absolutely sounds like we are going to get to that point, as last week's supertease showed what appeared to be Luke's ultimate downfall.
"I wanna make sure that she's not sleeping around. I don't think she would ever do that, but yeah, I gotta make sure," he explained, and then made it even worse on what appears to be a one-on-one.
"So let's talk about sex, and how the marriage bed should be kept pure," he said. "And let's say you have had sex with one or multiple of these guys. I would be wanting to go home."
Harrison told us that religion is a huge part of Hannah's connection with Luke, which makes for a different relationship than she has with the other men.
"There was a bond between that she doesn't have with the other guys, and part of it is their religion, part of it is their faith," he told us. "Part of it is this chemistry, this physical bond they have with each other where she just can't quit this guy, no matter how hard everybody yells and screams and begs her to stop, she just can't."
So if faith is what most connects Hannah and Luke, it makes sense that a difference in faith will be the thing to finally drive him out of her head.
As Harrison says it, Hannah's in the camp of, "This is my body, this is my life, I'm making these decisions, and this is my God who I believe loves me, and everyone else be damned."
Luke apparently does not agree, and that's where we get Hannah's uprising.
"You don't get to decide what I can and can't do because you don't own me. Oh my god, I can't believe you just said that. I'm so mad. I don't owe you anything," she says, before she gets to that crowning jewel, which Harrison says really "encapsulates" the entire argument.
"I have had sex, and honestly, Jesus still loves me."
And then theres's this:
"The Lord made sex to be amazing, and guess what! A man does not control anything that I do. This is my decision."
If this argument is what finally ends Luke P, then it's clearly an argument Hannah was going to have to have with him to finally end his spell, and it's an argument we kind of can't wait to watch them have.
So let's just give Hannah a break and trust that she will, as she said, figure it out for herself. It's not like she hasn't proven that she's capable, and it sounds like she was certainly correct that Luke was not the only guy with issues. Whatever happens, it's going to be a fascinating, "tumultuous" rest of the season.
The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.