Could Colton’s tears fill a champagne flute? We think so.
Let’s break down night one of the two-part season finale, in which we witness our leading man unravel as our host revels in the chaos. Colton must be located, after Cassie’s rejection led him to jump over a fence and try to escape Bachelor Land last week.
Where is Colton anyway?
The fence is the mouth of the River Styx, and we know not what awaits Colton on the other side, only that it is The End. Once you cross the fence, even though you can technically go back to the nice Portuguese hotel — the thing all the producers are coaxing you to do, the thing Tayshia and sweet Hannah G. expect you to do — there is no going back. We hear so many dogs barking in the distance, but it is only one dog, with three heads, and it guards the distant entrance to Hades so the dead cannot escape.
Colton has jumped it.
“Colton!” they yell. A producer notes that in the dark, if he were hiding behind one of the stone walls that line the path, they would never find him. “I think we go back and look in the brush more,” one says.
Chris Harrison, talking on his phone to — one imagines — some network brass, says he has no idea where Colton went. “All right, well, we’re going to look for another 20, 30 minutes, then I’ll call the — I’ll have to call the police.” It is immediately apparent that Chris would love nothing more than to call the Portuguese police. “Colton!” he yells, again, and again, and again, but it’s no use.
The legend of the River Styx is that when you bathe in it, you become invulnerable. It’s why Achilles survived so many battles, until he was shot in the heel — the only part of his body that was not submerged when his mother dipped him in the water as an infant. But the further Colton travels into the underworld, the more vulnerable he becomes.
He is found, but he is gone. He is Orpheus, descending to Hades to rescue his love, but in this wine-cooler vocal-fry version of the myth, she’s already told him she won’t follow him. He pushes a producer away from him and toward the road as a car approaches, and, for a half second, we wonder if our Bachelor is about to commit manslaughter.
The vans close in on him.
“I've been through enough of knowing that I'm not enough for a long time,” says Colton.
“Okay, well, we can be done,” Chris tells him.
The vans close him in. It’s only when Orpheus sees the sun again that Eurydice vanishes forever.
Tayshia’s poised breakup
Have you ever had a breakup where, instead of breaking down, you expend all your energy soothing the person rejecting you? That is exactly how poised and calm Tayshia is when Colton arrives at her room to say that his heart is with somebody else … he loves Cassie.
She asks if they can talk without the cameras — and as they slip behind closed doors, viewers can almost smell producers’ glee over the fact that they’re still mic’d up. What do we hear? Tayshia telling Colton that it’s fine — that she’ll be okay even though he’s breaking up with her. We hear the sound of a mature woman who knows that she’ll be okay, that the man rejecting her is the more fragile one here. When the door cracks open, the camera catches a sliver of their faces as they embrace. She thanks him for being amazing. No — thank you, Tayshia, for being amazing and strong.
As they say goodbye, the most notable sound is the th-thumping of what appears to be Colton’s heart, beating in surround-sound as its pulsing gets amplified by their mics — an aural representation of how her pain is muffled in favor of his. Only once he leaves does she allow herself to break down.
And as the van drives away, a single tear rolls down Tayshia’s cheek. Somehow she even manages to make heartbreak look beautiful. Viewers call out for justice: Make Tayshia our next Bachelorette.
Meanwhile, Hannah G. has been journaling!
While the episode is filled with tragic moments, it’s hard to find one sadder than poor Hannah G., in her hotel room excitedly waiting for the fantasy suite, having no idea about the fence-jumping drama or Colton’s emotional breakdown. She’s just been journaling!
Cut to: Colton knocking on her door. Hannah G. is thrilled, but little does she know a grim-looking Colton is steeling himself for his second brutal breakup. They sit down. “You’ve been my rock through all of this,” he tells her, but unfortunately, he has stronger feelings for another woman. “I realized that I love Cassie,” he says, echoing the breakup speech he just gave Tayshia.
Hannah G. is truly at a loss. “I didn’t expect for you to say that,” she manages to respond.
“I thought it was going to be you,” Colton says, his eyes welling up again. “You still remind me of home.”
Hannah G. is shocked but manages to hold it together — and Colton loses it once more. “What the [bleep] am I doing?” he mumbles, just before he starts weeping. “I don’t want to lose you. I don’t know if I’m making the right decision.”
Alas, he leaves. When Hannah G. arrives at her live exit interview with Chris Harrison, the fury and tears are real (unlike Tayshia’s calm and collected demeanor during hers). “To have to watch that, one of the hardest moments that you’ve had in your life — having to re-watch it, and then it just takes you back and those memories back. It’s not fun,” she says flatly. When Chris asks if watching the footage gives her a better perspective, she coldly replies, “No. I feel very confused. More confused than when it happened in Portugal.”
That’s right, Hannah G.; don’t let him off the hook! When Colton arrives, she emphasizes that even though it’s a TV show, it’s still her life, and she’s deeply hurt. And, oh, yeah, she watched last week’s episode. “You told Cassie that you thought about her while you were with other people. That sucked,” she says bluntly.
Colton, obviously uncomfortable, can’t deny it. “That was something I felt, and that’s when I knew I was all in,” he says. “I was 100 percent hers, and I couldn’t do anything about it.”
Ultimately, Hannah G. still looks angry but says she just wants closure and wishes Colton the best. And overall, the heartbreaking experience showed her how strong she truly is, and what she wants out of life and love: “I want somebody to jump a fence for me.”
Don’t we all, Hannah. Don’t we all.
Chris Harrison’s glee
While Colton is the episode’s focus, this is Chris’s night, and he seems to be enjoying every moment of it.
It would be wrong to call Chris Harrison satanic. Satan, after all, was a beloved member of the heavenly host before he came to rule in hell. But Chris? He has always been down there with the doomed souls, enraptured by their agonies.
There is a scene near the start of the episode after the fence-jump when Colton walks away from Chris. For a beat, the camera lingers on Chris and an expression flutters over his face that is almost, but not quite, forlorn. It is the kind of expression you practice, the kind you call up when you’re trying not to cackle.
He knows this is good television. He is already imagining how they will edit it together, how many episodes they’ll string it out for, how it will keep us watching. An architect of the afterlife, he sees Colton’s torment and imagines constructing the long maze of ours.
“That was truly heartbreaking,” Chris says after Colton dumps Tayshia, but his own heart is clearly intact — if anything, it has grown, swelling at the spectacle he has just shown us. Then, of course, he brings them together, the spurned woman and the shattered man who rejected her. This is our host at his most monstrous, always promising the nectar of eternal love but proffering only cocktails of tears.
Sometimes, he is almost casually cruel. At one point he idly tells Colton, who sports coiffure that makes him look as if he confused a blender for his barber, that Twitter is aflutter about our boy’s new haircut. What goes unsaid is that everyone is making fun of his choppily styled locks. (“Colton’s hair looks like it’s trying out for O-Town in 2004,” reads one exemplary tweet.) Here Chris doesn’t so much twist the knife as slip the stiletto in slow, knowing that Colton will only realize later how deeply he’s been cut.
Mostly, though, Chris just seems delighted to be presiding over the proceedings. “For the first time in Bachelor history, there are no more women left on the show,” he announces near the end, hands spread wide like a magician who wants to show you he has nothing to hide, even as his sleeves are full of doves.
And maybe they are, though one suspects he’s more likely to release a colony of bats on the eager studio audience. But first, he has questions aplenty about Colton’s desperate visit to Cassie’s room, one most of all: “What’s the likelihood now of Colton actually losing his virginity?” he asks. If only we did not wonder with him.