After last week’s “Bachelor” episode, when nearly half the cast went home — some voluntarily — Colton is racked with indecision. Except, his whole job is to be decisive. That’s all you do on “The Bachelor.” You choose.
But when some of the departing women recite the dreaded incantation, “not here for the right reason,” Colton must figure out whom to trust. We also saw another contestant voluntarily leave — the third this season, perhaps setting a record for the number of women who have dumped the Bachelor of their own accord. First Elyse, then Sydney — and now Heather. We’re down to the final four.
The best moment
In an otherwise forgettable episode, Hannah B. and Heather both turn their goodbyes into lady power moments. First up was Hannah B.’s one-on-one date in Colton’s hometown, Denver. She had previously told Colton she was falling in love with him, and this week her reward was meeting the parents. While she thinks she’s getting a hometown rose, those of us who’ve watched “The Bachelor” before know that meeting the parents before the final three means the Bachelor can’t make up his mind. Colton’s dad’s big advice: Trust your gut.
On to dinner. Hannah B. steps out of the limo in a pink gown she’d clearly been saving for her big moment. (Twitter went crazy for it — the shoulder pads, the sleeves. The $595 price tag. Is that polyester? Where can your recappers buy it?) But Colton wastes no time: “I spent so much time questioning who’s ready, and I didn’t get to look in the mirror and ask myself if I’m ready for … us.” Ouch. But then Hannah turns the whole breakup around with the line that won the night: “I will not allow myself to not feel chosen every single day, and I’ll wait until whenever that is.”
Colton continues on with (unnecessary) words of encouragement: “Just know that there is someone out there for you.” To which Hannah B. responds: “I know that.” And just like that, everyone on Twitter forgot how they felt about her dress. But as if to solidify her spot on “Bachelor in Paradise,” Hannah B. suggestively warns Colton that some of the women left are not here for the right reasons, and steps into the limo. This makes her the fourth woman to say this to Colton. Why does everyone keep saying this? Is this what makes Colton jump the fence?
Nope. On to the group date, where Colton’s big plan is to ask everyone their intentions. But before he can listen to his gut, Heather uses her one-on-one time to send herself home. She says she can’t bring him home to her family because she’s not sure how she feels. But really Heather is setting herself free. Enjoy your 20s, Heather!
The worst moment
Colton is not a confident man. To the contrary, he sometimes seems to be animated entirely by his anxiety. For weeks he’s been intermittently telling the camera (and sometimes the women competing for his affection) that one thing terrifies him above all else: the possibility that he might fall for someone who’s “not ready” for love.
In this episode, he evokes that fear so often that we lost count. An abbreviated sample:
“My ultimate fear in all of this. I’m confident in all the decisions I make. But I just don’t want to make a mistake,” he admits.
“My greatest fear in all of this is I get to the end, I’m crazy, madly in love,” he says, “but I miss something.”
“It’s terrifying for me. If I get down on one knee … and it doesn’t get reciprocated,” he frets. “That’s my worst fear.”
And so on. And on. And on. “It sucks,” he observes, as if summing up his whole season. “This is my greatest fear.”
As this refrain ultimately reveals, what really freaks him out is the prospect that some of these women want anything other than his finite and inevitably divided attention. Of course a few of the women are there for the Instagram followers, for the #sponcon possibilities, maybe even for the chance of being the next Bachelorette! There’s no shame in that, and the only reason they have to pretend otherwise is that the show has told them that the real crime is being there for the “wrong reasons.”
Yet, the mere prospect that things might be otherwise leaves Colton paralyzed with dread. In other words, Colton’s worst, greatest, ultimate fear seems to be one that is framed entirely within the discourse of the show itself. It is as if he has internalized the logic of “The Bachelor” so fully that it has annihilated his own psychic life, leaving him with nothing to fear but what Chris Harrison tells him is fearful. With each repeated complaint, quaking Colton seems to be writing an addendum to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: His is a phobia defined solely by the prospect that a “Bachelor” contestant might be … a contestant on “The Bachelor.”
The weirdest moment
“Bachelor” Twitter, which is both a loving and spiteful place, was mostly preoccupied with the fact that Colton did not yet run away from the show and jump over an extremely tall fence, a moment that was teased in the first episode that the show has yet to deliver.
But on the group date, Heather Has-Been-Kissed got one of the most awkward farewells on the show: After arriving to the group date in an old-timey sightseeing locomotive, she decides she does not choo-choo-choose Colton and voluntarily leaves the show so she can kiss more dudes. The rest of the women do not witness her departure but realize Heather’s time is up when they hear the mournful toooooooooot.
Colton walks her over to the train, and they kiss goodbye. (Kissing! She does it all the time now!) And then she gets on the caboose, which chugs its way out of Bachelor Gulf at an extremely awkward and low speed, banishing Heather to fend for herself as a zinc miner in the Yukon territory. Actually, Heather has probably bought herself a one-way Acela ticket to “Bachelor in Paradise,” where she will go on to kiss many more men. There’s a whole world out there for you, Heather!
With no wall jump, “Bachelor” Twitter latched onto the train ride’s absurdity, filling our timelines with “Thomas the Tank Engine” memes and Harry Potter.
At the hometown visit episode next week, we’ll see which of the four remaining relationships — Cassie, Hannah G., Caelynn, Tayshia — are on the right track.