Bachelorette Season 16, Episode 12 Recap: Farewell, Fantasy

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
After last week's emotionally draining hometowns, this week's Bachelorette fantasy suites were much easier to handle. Instead of a bunch of crying, there were a couple very bizarre dates involving ice baths and body paint. And, okay, a little bit more crying.
The episode begins with Tayshia meeting with former Bachelorette and former Chris Harrison replacement JoJo Fletcher to talk about the final three guys: Ivan Hall, Zac Clark, and Brendan Morais. JoJo tells Tayshia to make sure she talks about real world things in the fantasy suite, like relocating, jobs, and kids. Solid, if obvious advice.
Meanwhile, the guys are sitting around waiting to hear who gets the first fantasy suite date. Usually, the men are separated at this point in the season, which makes things much less awkward. “It’s definitely getting harder to be around you guys,” Zac says. No kidding. 
The first date goes to Ivan, and they have to try to break the record for the World’s Longest, Coldest Kiss. This is week 2 stuff! They might be trapped at La Quinta, but we didn’t have to resort to another one of these world record challenges
Tayshia and Ivan have to sit in ice baths and kiss for over 5 minutes and 16 seconds to break the record while Chris Harrison and an “Ice Bath Kiss Expert” named Big Paulie give commentary. This seems dangerous. Tayshia says in her confessional that she and Ivan developed synchronized breathing that helped them through the pain. They break the record by over a minute. I hate it. 
At dinner, Ivan and Tayshia tell each other that they’re “falling in love.” Tayshia says the fact that she already cried in front of Ivan means a lot to her, because “I am not like that typically.” 
They head to their fantasy suite, which is an airstream trailer with champagne and doughnuts. This was an opportunity to make the trailer look chic and cozy, but instead it looks like it hasn't been redone since the '70s and not in a cute way. They next morning, Ivan says he has “no problem proposing to Tayshia.” She says they spent the night laughing and bonding.
Ivan heads back to Zac and Brendan, and Brendan asks a bunch of questions he doesn’t actually want the answers to, like whether Ivan and Tayshia got to hang out much in the morning (“We saw the sunrise, actually," Ivan says) and whether they slept much (they didn’t).
Zac’s date is next, and they have to paint themselves and a large canvas while wearing white bathing suits. Really, that's all there is to it. Eventually, they spray paint all over each other and make out. Then, Zac makes a perfect meme when, covered in paint, he says, “How did I actually get to this point in my life.” Of course, the natural next step is making out in a shower while washing the paint off. I might take the Coldest, Longest Kiss over this.
At night, Tayshia asks Zac about his mom telling her during hometowns that Zac didn’t want children. He explains that in the past he didn’t and had been telling himself a lie about wanting to be a single “cool uncle." Now, he feels differently and wants kids. Hope he feels very differently; Tayshia wants five. 
Either way, she’s in. Zac tells Tayshia that he’s in love with her, and she says she is, too. In love, not "falling in love." She even says that she’s known it for a while. She’s ecstatic.
Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Their fantasy suite is just a suite at La Quinta, probably a lot like the one Tayshia has already been staying in. Still, it seems a lot comfier than that RV. 
The next morning, Tayshia and Zac are dancing on the bed. “I am totally spun out of control on this girl,” Zac says in his confessional. “I never danced on a bed with anyone.” 
When Zac returns to Ivan and Brendan, his comments are tactful: He and Tayshia “created some art” and “the moral of the story is that she’s the real deal.” 
Brendan’s date is last. He’s been the most open about his jealousy of the other guys having fantasy suite dates, so the producers worked with what they had and tossed him in that third spot. On top of that, Brendan has been openly nervous about the idea of proposing, so of course his and Tayshia’s date is a meeting with Neil Lane to discuss rings. Tayshia’s excited about the jewels; Brendan looks like he’s about to vomit. The best part is when Neil Lane brags to Brendan and Tayshia about how The Bachelor/ette brought him fame and women run up to him to show him their rings. He's clearly relishing in his extra screentime.
At dinner, Tayshia can tell something’s up with Brendan and says she doesn’t know where he’s at. He then launches into a very thoughtful breakup speech.
“There’s a big part of me that’s still broken. There’s a big part of me that still needs time to heal. There’s a big part of me that still needs time to grow,” he says, referencing his divorce. “All I want is to give you my whole heart, but as I sit here today my heart isn't whole.” Tayshia says a younger version of herself might have been mad at him, but she understands where he’s coming from since she is divorced, too. 
At first I think Tayshia is relieved — after all, she loves Zac. But it's soon clear that’s not the case. In her confessional, Tayshia says she thought she would end up with Brendan. She cries as they hug goodbye and as he drives off. Personally, I’m bummed we didn’t get to see what his fantasy suite setup would have been. 
The next day, Tayshia meets with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay to talk about the remaining two guys. Notably, Rachel asks if Tayshia has regrets about anyone she let go. Tayshia brings up Ben Smith and how he didn’t show any emotion when she broke up with him. Rachel suggests that Ben shut down as a defense mechanism. Tayshia says, “I know there’s something there, so it sucks.”
Well, what do ya know, Ben is back. (Or, more likely, never left, because of the whole quarantine bubble thing.) He tells Chris Harrison that he doesn't necessarily want to ask Tayshia to let him back into her life, but says, “I just feel the need to express myself … I’m in love with her.” He knows he closed off his emotions during the breakup, and doesn’t want that to have been their last interaction.
Ben shows up at Tayshia’s room that evening while she’s getting ready for the rose ceremony, because even though Ben met with Chris during the day, the show has to play this as dramatically as possible. After apologizing for being emotionless during their goodbye, Ben tells Tayshia he’s in love with her. “I’m not sure what I’m asking for,” he says. “I don't know what I’m doing.” Tayshia is shocked. “You alright?” He asks. “No, I’m not alright,” she responds. She then says she needs a minute and walks off to talk to a producer. “There’s a rose ceremony. What do I do with that?” 
And that’s our cliffhanger. Tomorrow, we find out if Ben is back in the running, if Tayshia gets engaged, and whether Neil Lane is still in the quarantine bubble. 
Winner of the Episode: Zac. He and Tayshia are in love and their date went very well. Even with Ben’s potential return, I think Zac’s in a good position. 
Loser of the Episode: Sometimes the loser of the episode is someone who is just the worst. (Hello, Yosef.) Sometimes it’s someone who just didn’t have a great week. So, this episode, it has to be Brendan. He got so screwed with that Neil Lane date. It’s a good thing he realized he wasn’t ready for marriage, but I feel for the guy. 

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