Going into this season of The Bachelor there is one scene worth sticking around long enough to see: lead Colton Underwood hopping a fence and running off into the night like Stassi Schroeder on a particularly awful birthday. It’s a moment so surreal it barely seems possible. However, the usually tight-lipped production has confirmed the 2019 Bachelor did in fact escape set and disappear. The entire fiasco was so intense, host-slash-Bachelor Nation Svengali Chris Harrison was eventually dispatched to find Colton.
At first, it was difficult to understand what could push Colton to such extreme measures. However, over the last five weeks of Bachelor it seems clear the “process” is getting to the former football player more than he likely expected. His biggest challenge for now? In-house in fighting. As “Week 5’s” tense cliffhanger — which follows a loud battle of words between Onyeka Ehie and Nicole Lopez Alvar — proves, this is definitely a man with enough anxiety to go flying over a fence at any second.
Contestant drama is tearing Colton Underwood apart more than any Bachelor(ette) lead in recent memory — because it's playing to his biggest fears.
We saw the first seeds of The Bachelor season 23’s core problem weeks ago with the Caelynn Miller-Keyes-Hannah Brown battle. A general rule of thumb in the sprawling Bachelor franchise is not to speak about other contestants during the small amount of time one has with the lead. Not only does bad mouthing someone else in the house make a contestant look petty, it removes the focus of a short conversation away from the relationship at hand and onto someone else. So, hypothetically, Hannah’s “Week 3” reveal of her uncomfortable Miss USA past with Caelynn should have been an automatic ticket home. Instead, Hannah’s admission pushed Colton into an episode-long existential crisis that eventually ruined a pool party.
According to editing, Colton spends the minutes ahead of the rose ceremony hiding out in a production tent while spinning out over the “conflicting stories” afoot.
My worst nightmare is trusting my gut, getting excited, really giving these relationships my all, and then getting to the end of this and not being loved back.
This revealing moment gives us some of our biggest insights into Colton, who has been a fairly obscure Bachelor. This is when the he explains, “That is a fear of mine coming into this: ‘Can somebody take advantage of me?’” Throughout the episode — and especially during his emotional chat in the production tent — a visibly agitated Colton complains of “frustration” and a lack of “clarity.” This is a man who just wants someone to tell him the truth.
That is why Colton actually values hearing the contestant drama rather than shunning it at all costs. The Bachelor is petrified of choosing the wrong person — if someone can give him intel that will stop such events from occurring, he wants to hear it. The only problem is, this is The Bachelor. Those kinds of “fact”-finding missions will inevitably devolve into a painful game of she-said, she-said. Hence, last week’s uncomfortable struggle between Courtney Curtis and season spitfire Demi Burnett.
This feud brought about the greatest insult of the 2019 Bachelor: Demi’s “She’s like the cancer of the house.” It also intensified Colton’s leading fears, which he speaks about at length in “Week 4.” When Courtney attempts to defend herself against the “cancer” comment, she tells Colton that Demi is only there for the fame and attention that comes with being on The Bachelor. “For me that’s the worst thing to hear. Coming into this, my greatest fear is someone that’s here to win,” he admits while massaging his eyelids. In a talking head interview, Colton adds, “This is my worst nightmare and my greatest fear coming to life.”
Rather than brushing these scrimmages off as the result of tough production hours, producer prodding, and latent jealousies, Colton is drowning in them. He simply doesn’t know who to believe.
All of this mounting in-house tension brings Colton to “Week 5,” with an unexpected fight between Onyeka and Nicole. The crux of the problem is that Onyeka tells Colton that Nicole is only on the show to find “opportunities” outside of her hometown of Miami. As we know now, that specific brand of manipulation is Colton’s biggest fear. He reminds us as much in a confessional, saying, “My worst nightmare is trusting my gut, getting excited, really giving these relationships my all, and then getting to the end of this and not being loved back. Onyeka really left me worried about getting hurt all over again. ”
Unfortunately, Onyeka’s story is a secondhand claim from Elyse Dehlbom, who left earlier in the episode. The small rumor mushrooms into a shout-y exchange at the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party. It’s so loud that Colton has to cut his mini date with darkhorse contestant Katie Morton short because he can hear the squabble in the background. Colton tries to listen to the argument before realizing he’ll never understand who’s telling the truth, which only fuels his fears more. That’s why he ends the episode storming off from his contestants’ latest argument and walking the beach alone while repeatedly muttering, “I’m done.” Previews for next week suggest the teary aftermath of this drama will spill into “Week 6.”
Of course Colton is “done” — every week, someone new conjures his biggest insecurity in increasingly over the top ways. At this point, a fence jump seems like the least Colton could do to calm his nerves.