Both women who caught his eye, and his heart, at the beginning are still remaining.
Nearly every episode, we’ve seen clips of Barb, trembling-crying while urging her son to “bring her home to us,” as if one of these women is already a part of the family. Who is Barb angling for? Is it Madison, whom she’s known since day one? Or is it Hannah Ann, a woman Barb just met?
On Monday night, we finally get the answer to that question, but little else gets wrapped up. That’s right, a “Bachelor” finale never does in one night what it could do in two.
Here’s what went down in the first half of Peter’s season finale.
Does Barb know best?
Barb knows everything about her darling boy. She knows he likes to date around. She knows he “parties.” She knows he had sex four times in a windmill with Hannah Brown last season. (She loved that. She cheered.) She knows what he wants, even when he doesn’t, or when he thinks he does (he doesn’t).
She knows it isn’t Madison. Madison is religious. Her son is “spiritual,” which is a term that we assume Madison’s family would apply to sinners who don’t want to be labeled as such, bless their hearts. Madison has a personal relationship with her lord and savior; Peter has had a lot of, um, personal relationships, if you catch our drift.
She knows Madison is saving herself for marriage. She knows her son is most emphatically not. “I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but he socializes, he parties,” says Barb, a comment more laden with euphemism than Madison’s spidery eyelashes are weighed down with mascara. His brother, too, expresses doubts Peter can save himself for marriage, because apparently everyone in this family has something to say about his unrelenting, implacable libido.
Oh, Barb. Why are you so emphatically standing up for your son’s right to sleep around? Why are you so personally invested in his sex life? Why are you … wait, oh, no, why are you sobbing?
Barb knows that she can get a little carried away sometimes. She told Peter she had been praying to God for the right woman to cross his path — and she believes God sent the less-religious woman specifically for this purpose (which seems like an insult coming from God, but hey, He knows all of His children). She begins to wail, telling Peter to “bring her home to us” — to bring home moon-faced Hannah Ann, a woman who has the personality of an ecru carpet but loves Peter wholeheartedly.
“Madison is a sweet girl, a nice girl. But Hannah Ann is an angel on earth,” says Barb.
Even though she knows far too much about his sexual peccadilloes, she can see what Peter refuses to acknowledge: He and Madison are absurdly incompatible. A mother knows. But Peter doesn’t care.
Madison says goodbye
On Peter and Madison’s date, the pair flies in a helicopter over the massive rock formation Uluru, which looms like an ancient, sleeping mammoth over the Australian landscape, a shaggy thing carved by water and time. Earlier, she had been almost cruel when describing his decision to be, well, “intimate,” with other women, telling him, “This is your journey. And you are a big boy.”
Now, circling this sandstone dream from the air, she is more introspective, confessing in a voice-over, “I do now see that we are very different people. It’s kind of emotional.”
“At this point, I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread,” she’d told him before. “I need to feel confident and sure and at peace and I don’t feel that right now.” As they picnic back on solid ground after their trip around Uluru — drinking sparkling apple cider in deference to her teetotalling tastes — she seems to have found that confidence, that surety, maybe even that peace. “There’s always going to be this level of misunderstanding,” she tells him.
Recalling she had earlier indicated to him she was all but prepared for him to propose to her in their previous date on the Gold Coast, he pushes back. She listens, unbending. “I don’t know that we’re the best for each other,” she says, but you can tell that she has no doubt. And Peter knows that she knows, though he would rather not.
The entirety of their breakup — because that’s what this is — seems to play out at magic hour, that time of day when the sun sits just so on the horizon, gilding all it touches. Here, it cuts through a tree behind the unhappy pair, dappling them in warm light and webs of slow-shifting shadows. It is an implausibly perfect camera setup, and watching it you start to wonder how they even pulled it off, so much so that it is difficult to focus on anything Peter and Madison are saying. You catch yourself wondering whether the producers were rushing them to finish their tense exchange, lest the sun drop beneath the horizon before they sealed things off.
Soon enough, they conclude. He ushers her into a waiting SUV, holding her to his chest so tightly that you can hear their amplified hearts pounding into their body mics. She departs. Peter mopes out into the desert, toward the sinking sun. At dusk, it looms huge as a drooping head, but he still almost blots it out for a moment. Maybe it’s a trick of the camera. Maybe it’s just that he really is a big boy.
Hannah Ann remains blissfully clueless
Poor Hannah Ann — it’s always tough to watch the runner-up who has no idea about the emotional turmoil happening with the obvious front-runner. Blissfully unaware Peter clearly is way more into Madison, Hannah Ann strolls up to meet her possibly future in-laws. Peter describes her as “the perfect combination of that pure, beautiful innocence that combines so effortlessly with all of the confidence in the world” and “the biggest sweetheart you will ever meet.”
“The way you describe her, she sounds like you!” Peter’s father enthuses. Peter, clearly very modest, agrees that they’re so similar “it’s kind of scary.”
Anyway, Hannah Ann has real job interview energy as Peter’s parents and brother quiz her on her intention; she reveals her favorite part of “The Bachelor” experience with Peter is “getting to know him and just see so many different layers to him, and I can’t wait to share with each of you guys how much I love him.”
His family quickly becomes obsessed with her, as his dad deems her a “remarkable young lady.” And let’s remember, during Peter’s mom’s meltdown, she goes with, “Hannah Ann is an angel on earth.” (Wherever Hannah Ann is watching this right now, hopefully she got a big ego boost from this episode.)
Even though his family is Team Hannah Ann, Peter is less sure — which Hannah Ann immediately senses during their final date, in which they go visit a bunch of BABY KANGAROOS and feed them TINY BOTTLES. Even the most adorable scene of the season can’t improve Peter’s mood, given that he and Madison just broke up — a fact he tellingly does not share with Hannah Ann.
“Looking into Peter’s eyes, something is off. I’m scared,” she admits. They wind up in a long, frustrating conversation as Hannah Ann says she’s at her breaking point. “It hurts when I’m so sure and you’re not,” she says. “And I know from my standpoint, I can’t do anything more.” Peter agrees. He mumbles about his heart being pulled in two directions. Of course, one of those directions already up and left.
It’s too simple for Peter to just choose the one remaining. It seems as if God (or the show’s producers) will call Madison back on screen.