Greg Grippo has his arm around Katie Thurston on The Bachelorette

Bachelor Nation is buzzing after Katie Thurston’s emotional Hometown episode of The Bachelorette, with fans and alumni alike weighing in on the emotional fight between Thurston and Greg Grippo, which ended with the latter leaving the show as Thurston cried to co-host Kaitlyn Bristowe in the bathroom off-camera.

So what exactly happened? Greg Grippo was the front-runner from the beginning, with Katie Thurston even admitting to him on the previous episode that he was her No. 1. But after a really heavy hometown date with Grippo’s family, their thriving relationship took a hard left, with each of them failing to understand why the other was upset. Thurston has since suggested she was gaslighted, so is that what happened? Or did things get too real, too fast, causing one or the other to bail? I need to talk this out, Bachelor Nation, because I think everyone came out of that a little confused. Here’s a clip of the fight, if you didn’t see it or want to refresh your memory.

Ouch. Even if you watch reality dating shows specifically for this kind of schadenfreude, that Bachelorette argument was really frustrating to witness, and almost felt too personal to share with the viewing audience the way it went down. But since we did, in fact, witness at least a part of the argument, let’s break down some of the questions it inspired and try to figure out what went wrong here.

Was Greg Gaslighting Katie?

After the episode aired, Katie Thurston shared an Instagram post titled, “So you want to talk about gaslighting.” Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that makes a victim question the reality of their situation, so was that Greg Grippo's motive when he told Thurston she had just dismissed him saying that he loved her? To me, it seemed more like bad communication, with Thurston sticking to the rules — both The Bachelorette's and her own self-appointed oath to not tell anyone she loved them until the end —while Grippo was clearly no longer willing to work within the show’s parameters.

I say this with the knowledge that editing undoubtedly played into the footage that we the audience were shown. That fight reportedly went on for hours, indicating only a small portion actually made it to air. So if Katie Thurston suggests she's a victim of gaslighting, there’s technically no real way for anybody to argue against that based only on the small portion of the fight that we saw. (At least without her pointing to specific moments.) For some, what we did see was more than enough.

Was Greg Actually Posturing To Be The Next Bachelor?

Is it possible, after a season that centered so much around figuring out which contestants were just there attempting to be the next Bachelor, that one of those men made it to the final three? Some viewers think so! Greg Grippo’s refusal to let Katie Thurston speak, coupled with the way his approach sounded very rehearsed — as if he was angling for viewers’ pity while Thurston sat there looking genuinely confused — are the main factors behind this theory. Season 15 contestant Luke Stone posted multiple tweets questioning Grippo's actions during the episode, with one opining:

I’m getting the strong vibe that Greg is sabotaging this on purpose. If you aren’t into her be a man and tell her you want out rather than gas lighting the situation. My theory: Greg got further than he expected/wanted and pushed the eject button real quick.

It could be said that everyone on The Bachelorette has the back-door goal of landing the starring role in a new season of The Bachelor, but was that truly behind Greg Grippo's frazzled and impulsive actions?

Did Katie’s Feelings Change Under So Much Pressure?

Rather than viewing this as Greg Grippo running for the exit, was it actually Katie Thurston who succumbed to intense pressures? Grippo's whole date centered around the death of his father, with his family saying multiple times that being with Thurston was the first thing that made Grippo happy since the familial loss. That’s a lot to put on someone who was, as much as Grippo didn’t want to admit it, still dating (and trying to stay respectful to) two other guys. Grippo was asking Thurston to commit to something she wasn’t going to say, and it seemed to me like such direct pressure to forgo her principles might have changed the way she felt about Grippo.

Bachelor Nation alum Nick Viall pointed out the change in Thurston's demeanor on his podcast The Viall Files, saying that while Grippo didn’t handle the situation correctly, Thurston's reaction was also confusing.

And then Katie once again for, like, the fourth time this season is just like, ‘You don't seem happy.’ And he just talked about his father and he's crying. I'm just like, ‘What?’ … It didn't add up. I didn't understand Katie's response, like, at all.

Katie Thurston telling Greg Grippo, “I just love looking at you,” had all the makings of someone not wanting to say “I love you” in response — and not because of reality show etiquette, but because the feelings aren't actually reciprocated.

Are Real Life Fights Just Simply Messy?

Another option is that this dose of reality TV was just more real and authentically human than what we’re used to seeing. The Bachelor franchise plays situations out in very scripted ways, with everybody needing to be there for the “right reasons,” for fully planned and structured dates, cocktail parties and rose ceremonies. Contestants have a pretty small window for when it’s acceptable to begin “falling in love,” with most feeling the need to drop the L word no later than Hometowns. But real relationships aren't like that, and we are not our best selves when we’ve been hurt by our partners (which both Katie Thurston and Greg Grippo were at that point).

Connor Brennan, who found redemption from the “bad kisser” label during the Season 17 "Men Tell All,” defended Greg Grippo and spoke to the complexities of real-life relationships.

Relationships are nuanced. Breakups are nuanced. Sometimes there’s not a good guy or a bad guy. Sometimes cameras and tweets can’t accurately capture the complexity of real life. Kindness is free, love is complicated.

This is obviously a show whose fanbase adores pointing out villains among the contestants, and some definitely stand up to such descriptions. But perhaps this was an instance where there wasn't a clear "winner," with both sides equally falling short.

How Can Katie Continue Her Journey After That?

Viewers were left at the end of the episode with Katie Thurston asking to go home, saying her confidence in the process was destroyed. How are we supposed to believe “her person” is either Blake Moynes or Justin Glaze after hearing all the things she told Greg Grippo? According to possible spoilers on her social media, things might turn out okay, but that’s going to be a real job for the show's editors if they want me to believe Thurston is perfectly fine with continuing the process with her remaining finalists after that fight.

One thing is for sure though: We aren’t even totally finished with the Katie Thurston/Greg Grippo fight yet, as Kaitlyn Bristowe teased there’s more to come on “After the Final Rose,” part of The Bachelorette’s three-hour season finale, which starts at 8 p.m. ET August 9 on ABC. Until then, check out our 2021 Summer TV schedule to stay up to date on all of your favorite shows.

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