But before the women are given the opportunity to tell all, our host with the most Chris Harrison has to make sure he milks Colton’s fence jump for all its worth — forcing us to sit through a montage of crying women being dumped in front of America, from Melissa Rycroft on Jason Mesnick’s season, to the time Chris Soules left Ashley Iaconetti alone in the desert, to the time Carly Waddell was blindsided on her first go ‘round on Bachelor in Paradise. It’s a pretty heavy u-turn from Chris’ usual Happy Bachelor Couples propaganda, but I suppose he only gets so many chances to be right when he promises a season is going to be the Most Dramatic (™) one yet.
Not one to let anything go (ever), Chris then opens Colton’s heartbreak (and yes, the dang fence jump) up to commentary from the women he recently dumped. Shocker of all shockers, Nicole says she was… shocked, and Heather loudly declares that “If I were him I don’t know how he could go on with the show.” Not pictured: a producer (probably) fist pumping when Heather perfectly delivered the line that’ll keep the Colton drama warm for the week that lies between us and the finale.
Finally certain that he’d gotten all he could get out of the fence jump seen ‘round the world, it was time for the women to lust after their ex-boyfriend for a few totally normal minutes. Hannah B., dressed like someone who isn’t not campaigning for Bachelorette, blithely confesses that she found Colton “hot,” and that he “checked off all my boxes.” While Demi continues to be as uncomfortable as possible about Colton’s virginity: “I like to take control in the bedroom,” she says with a cartoonish wink and shoulder shimmy. “It is weird that I was a little bit turned on?” You do you, but it is weird that you’re still talking about your ex-boyfriend’s virginity.
And if you don’t have whiplash yet, the show immediately moved on to a highlight reel of the season’s drama and feuds, which sets the tone for the screaming matches that followed. Ah, Women Tell All, the two-hour special that always makes me question my devotion to this series. After Demi whooped for her own one-liner (“Ding-dong, that bitch is dead”), it was onto Nicole versus Onyeka. Nicole claims that Onyeka bullied her, Onyeka claims she didn’t. Sydney joins in to defend Nicole, claiming that Onyeka stirred up drama at every turn. Onyeka’s defense? Sydney can’t talk because she “gave up” when she left because she didn’t want to date Colton. Ah, very relevant. From there, the “conversation” became a literally incomprehensible screaming match, in which Onyeka said if she’d “cuddled” Nicole more maybe Nicole wouldn’t feel bullied, Nina (who?) says that Nicole doesn’t know what bullying is. And Chris finally, mercifully cuts to commercial.
And from bullying, we move on to the confounding drama that surrounded Caelynn this season. Katie says she felt the need to lob a grenade at the cast by whispering the idea that *someone* wasn’t ready for marriage, without saying who it was, because she just felt that strongly about it (but not strongly enough to be direct, it seems). Now, however, she’s ready to name names, and the women she was talking about not being ready were (drumroll please): The two people we all knew she was talking about this whole time, Cassie & Caelynn!
Katie says her claims stems from the infamous Bachelorette convo that took place on a bus, in which she heard Cassie and Caelynn talking about one of them winning and one becoming Bachelorette. Caelynn is never one to stay quiet, and tries to explain herself and the conversation on the bus that led to this whole mess. “Obviously, Cassie and I were best friends, so we talked about what was going to happen if one of us was going to be engaged,” she says, explaining that assessing the possibilities is just part of this weird process where you and your best friend are falling for the same guy (and, honestly, fair). Caelynn claims she confirmed all this with Katie on the phone. Katie keeps her screen time alive by declaring that to be false, and that “that’s the manipulation Hannah B. warned Colton about.” This is a sentiment Hannah B. supports even though she and Caelynn are “good now.” Caelynn says their disagreements are “water under the bridge” despite Hannah B. calling her a liar minutes before. I guess we should count that restraint as a victory, though.
Isn’t this fun? No? Well it’s not over yet.
Because it’s time for everyone to attack and be attacked by Demi. First, Demi is put on blast for shaming the cast’s “cougars” for being older. “It was not something I just pulled out of my ass, I didn’t come up with that,” she pleaded, to cries that she still used it as a weapon (and in truth, she did). Demi claims that people came after her because she is young, so she was just defending herself. Luckily, we got to wash our hands of this business quickly enough.
Demi then confronts Courtney about why she clashed with her on the show. She says that Courtney approached her on the pirate date and told her to “tone down” her approach, which she found offensive, so she attempted to get Courtney to focus on her relationship with Colton instead of Demi’s antics (not a bad point, but that doesn’t mean I condone any of this). Fueled by the applause she gets for telling Courtney “It’s 2019, and you still haven’t talked to Colton,” Demi then gives Courtney an apology, err, downgrade of comment that Courtney is “the cancer of the house.” She’s sorry, she says, Courtney is more like bed bugs. (Former New Yorker here: Invoking any image of bed bugs is always below the belt.) Courtney didn’t help herself at all by declaring Demi a child and literally shoving a pacifier in her face and telling her to take a time out.
But the “let’s get women to yell at each other for three minute segments” section of the episode finally ends, and it’s time for the series of women in the hot seat, also known as Bachelorette and Bachelor In Paradise testing ground. First up, Demi, in a move practically engineered to make Courtney feel immediately terrible for the pacifier stunt (and later Tracy for agreeing to ask Demi if she truly dared to think she could be ready for marriage):
Demi uses her entire segment to talk about how she truly did care about Colton, and that sharing the story about her mom being in prison was a painful, private secret she often keeps locked away because she was embarrassed that someone as outwardly perfect as Colton might not understand. Okay, she also got in a signature quotable quote about her sex-positive attitude (“It’s 2019, I’m promiscuous. Sorry, Dad”) and Courtney’s claim that she’s a child (“I’m confident in who I am, and I will continue to be that for the rest of my life. I think that’s more mature than whatever people think maturity is”). Luckily for fans of these zingers, Chris says we’ll see Demi again soon and she slyly smiles back. Translation: We know who the queen of Bachelor In Paradise will be this year.
Next is Nicole, who apparently cries a lot. I can’t quite remember this being a plot point this season, but the producers sure have a lot of footage — enough to declare Nicole the new Ashley Iaconetti. “I’m not afraid to show emotion,” she says, pointing out that her mom is a psychiatrist who taught her to do so. Nicole is also up front about how tough it is to be on The Bachelor, but that now, she wants to “make my mom proud, I wanna make my abuela proud.”
Nicole is great, and this hot seat moment seemed to be geared around making her someone we’ll probably see searching for her next great love in Paradise. Until it turned into a set up for Chris Harrison to live out his dream of becoming Oprah: A sponsored ice cream delivery from Halo Top so that Nicole can… ease her feelings? With low-calorie ice cream? Whatever, Chris was living his best life, and then we moved on to Hannah B. who, say it with me, is definitely campaigning to be the surprise Bachelorette.
She confesses that being dumped by Colton “hurt a lot.” It’s not quite enough for Chris, so he drops some leading questions, namely “Well, you fell in love, right?” From there, Hannah B. gets her bearings and delivered a speech that is pretty pitch perfect for the opening sequence of a new season of The Bachelorette. After talking about breaking out of the expected life plan for a pageant queen from Arkansas, Chris guides her to the perfect dismount: He says he loves her line “I want someone to love me fiercely” from her breakup with Colton. Hannah says she has learned so much from this show, and she’s now looking for someone to “choose me no matter what.” We see your hustle, Hannah B.
Next comes Caelynn, who is in tears almost the entire time. She says she’s so hurt, but that she thinks Colton simply didn’t love her back. “I was just left standing there like, ‘What the hell happened?’ How could we go from a relationship and having the best time to nothing?” she asks between tears. Chris, having now given Caelynn a platform to cry, rushes on to the next topic: The fact that Caelynn shared her story of sexual assault on the show. It’s a welcome relief from all the yelling and campaigning to talk about an issue that matters — something Caelynn says is more than a conversation for one episode of The Bachelor. “It’s not a hashtag, it’s a movement” she says, with tears in her eyes, to which Chris responds by immediately switching the subject to the Colton, who is about to arrive to talk to her.
The brisk pace of this show and its kitchen sink of subjects and emotional responses is quite frankly, rude.
But alas, Colton comes to the stage. Demi uses her time to get in one more dig at Courtney, by introducing her to Colton for the first time. From there, we’re immediately asked to switch back to heartfelt mode. Caelynn asks Colton when he knew he didn’t love her, because she felt love for him all the way to the end.
Colton responds like a politician being asked a question they know they can’t answer truthfully. He acknowledges that he didn’t give her anything when he broke up with her, and guess what? He’s still got nothing. On cue, Caelynn throws her hands up. All she can muster? “It sucks.” And yes, all of this sucks. It sucks that Colton can’t seem to give her anything. It sucks that we’ve somehow visited every emotion known to womankind along with five different shades of outrage in a mere hour and 35 minutes, at this point. It sucks that Nicole’s big prize was low-calorie ice cream instead of magnum sized bottles of wine. It sucks that this episode still isn’t technically over.
What doesn’t suck is that Hannah B. is a wily woman who knows exactly what she’s doing when she gets her chance to talk to Colton: Getting that lead role in May. Hannah B. says Colton had every right to approach this process the way he felt was necessary. She says that she is cool with him if he’s cool with her; she says her tagline again, that she hopes he finds someone who chooses him every day, and she finds someone who chooses her; and she throws in a relatable “Don’t get me wrong, you made me mad, but you’re a good dude with a good heart.” Five stars. 10 out of 10. Perfect Bachelorette campaign.
We’re going to skip Chris’ poll about which of the contestants still think Colton is a virgin because I think we’ve all suffered enough through this series’ obsession with the V-card.
And because Chris is apparently a fan of a framing device, the final segment of the night is getting Colton’s explanation of his annoyingly infamous fence jump. Colton explains that it happened because when he got broken up with, he learned something. “Just because you were the Bachelor doesn’t make you invincible to people leaving on their own. You’re not going to end up in a relationship just because you’re the Bachelor,” he says. Chris confesses that he, too, apparently learned this for the first time when the fence jump happened.
So what did it all mean?
Well, Colton is back in the clutches of Bachelor Nation now, says Chris. So clearly, he didn’t get far on foot.