Last night's "Men Tell All"
episode of The Bachelorette
certainly laid to rest some issues remaining from the season, allowing long-gone contestants like David, Juan, Jake, and Tanner F. to get their final say about what turned out to be a very controversial season of the seminal dating show. Though Wes wasn't there to defend himself, ABC certainly made their opinion clear on the matter: snakes make for great ratings, until they vow to fight back. Then it's just best to keep them as far away as possible.
Of course, the whole two hour special is just an elaborate way to promote and delay the finale episode of The Bachelorette
next Monday, when Jillian will choose between Ed and Kiptyn... and Reid! That's right, anyone who caught the promo for Monday night's Hawaiian drama caught surefire, visible proof that Jillian's third choice would be making one last attempt to win her over... ring in hand. This development promises to befuddle the Canadian love-seeker, who dismissed him because she thought he wouldn't commit.
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But Jillian isn't the only one who's confused. After obsessively
following what I believe is the most dramatic (and thus ridiculously
scripted) season of the series to date, I still have lots of questions
about these final three men. What does each of their edits say about
their chances of winning her heart? Who is Jillian's top choice--and
does he feel the same? Which man, if any, seems best poised to fill the
shoes of the "best friend forever" Jillian has been looking for?
I've got questions. Maybe you can help me out with some answers.
Is He the Love 'em and Leave 'em Kind?
Viewers seem split on whether (or the extent to which) they believe Ed's mid-season departure was clever scripting or a real-life emergency. Was he just going along with what the producers told him to do, or putting on his grown-up pants and getting his job done? Either way, both camps now have doubts (as Jillian does herself) that Ed would put Jillian first at all times."E.D." Could Also Stand for Editing Disaster
Just when he was beginning to look like stiff competition, a firm choice for Jillian's future husband, a pleasurable winner of her affections (I could go on...), ABC made Ed the laughing stock of the season when it appeared he couldn't seal the deal in the bedroom. Whether it was his own failure to launch, or the producers' brilliant plot to give E.D. a whole new meaning, his ability to fully satisfy Jillian again came into question. Then again during the "Men Tell All" Special, we saw more bodily mishaps from Ed, whose blooper moments included farting during a rose ceremony and doing a silly drunken dance for Jillian after groggily slurring, "Those are a lot of words you're throwing at me" when she tried to talk about their relationship. Is ABC trying to humanize the otherwise austere tech consultant with this edit, or make him out to be an unreliable (in more ways than one) slob?The L and P Words
Ed is the only man who has verbally told Jillian that he loves her and intends to propose. Which leads us to question, after the roller coaster of a season we've seen so far: if he ends up being Jillian's Final One, where's the suspense? Is he being set up as the right guy for the long haul, a man who will use empty words to win, or the guy who feels deeper for Jillian than she does for him? It seems certain that Ed will propose, whatever the motive. The question is: what will Jillian say?There's Something About Ed
Despite all this, another major storyline this season has been about Jillian's intense infatuation with Ed from the first moment they met. Last night during the "Men Tell All", she spoke about how physically attracted she is to him, and how she felt physically ill when he left mid-season. Which is why she took him back in the first place. Now the two can't keep their hands off each other, and often talk about how their spark has been constant. Could Ed be more of a "what doesn't break us makes us stronger" final winner?Kiptyn
If It Seems Too Good to be True, It Usually Is
If Kiptyn has any blaring flaws as a man or a mate, the show sure doesn't want us to know. Except for one. Over and over, we've seen footage of Jillian raving about Kip's every little thing, from his eight-pack abs to his glowing personality. But she worries that he might be out of her league, or not as into her as she is into him. Kiptyn's Hometown Date also cast Jillian as a big outsider from his family, when she later claimed the visit went great. Is ABC setting us up for a revelation that despite how much they'd LIKE to be with each other, Kip and Jill just aren't compatible?Warm Heart, Cold Feet
Throughout the season, Kiptyn has been vocal with Jillian about his strong feelings for her. But the signs are pointing to the fact that he might not be ready to prove it with a ring. On the show, Jillian seems insistent on a proposal, but during the "Men Tell All," she still kept quiet about whether she's now engaged. Admitting she's engaged would seem to negate the possibilities that Kiptyn or Reid won her over. Could that mean she's actually willing to accept a ringless commitment from Kiptyn, or just staying mum (per ABC's requests, of course) that she sent anyone with cold feet out the door?Charitable Nature
Last night during the "Men Tell All," Kiptyn was approaching sainthood when we saw footage of Jillian's visit to his charity, Step Up For Kids, where we watched him impart wisdom upon troubled youths and bring his co-worker to tears over his amazing, philanthropic soul. I'm not questioning whether any of this is true--in fact, I believe what they're telling me, that Kiptyn is a top-notch guy--but this stark difference between his impression on the audience and Ed's drunken, farting escapades begs the question: from this edit, are we to believe that Kiptyn is the perfect guy for Jillian, or just the perfect guy in general? If the first, then he could be her Final One. If the second... the rumors are probably true that he's being prepped for next season's Bachelor
.The Baby Giraffe
But, as the mixed reactions to former contestant Jake have proven, seeming TOO perfect can also mean being insufferable to us lowly, imperfect humans. During the "Men Tell All," Jillian made sure to talk again about how Kiptyn looked like a goofy, clumsy "baby giraffe" during their ropes course date. Every gal likes a guy who can have fun and laugh at himself. Again, this seems like an attempt to humanize Saint Kiptyn. But to what end--putting him on Jillian's level, or making him accessible to any future Bachelor
Not Ready to Let Reid Go
For every other guy she's sent home, Jillian has given solid reasons afterward for why they weren't right. With Reid, the only one has been that he wasn't vocal enough about his feelings. Even at the "Men Tell All," Jill continued to say how difficult it was to let him go. Is she just trying to keep the suspense alive for when he returns, even though she'll reject him once more? Or will Reid's profession of love knock down their only boundary, and push Jillian to take him back, this time for good? After all, this season has also set up the idea that Jillian is not adverse to giving out second (or third, or fourth...) chances, if she thinks the guy is worth it.The Dark Horse Turned White Knight?
Reid was practically invisible for the first couple of episodes, but then he came out with a vengeance with perhaps the most flattering edit of the three final guys. His interactions with Jillian on screen are electric, and before his dismissal, Jillian seemed to give him the most balanced praises in the bunch: he's not only incredibly physically attractive to her, but she loved his humor, personality, quirks, and family. Could ABC be framing him as the ultimate dark horse who ends up being the perfect white knight... or just a good guy who has to learn "too little, too late" the hard way?Prior "Engagement"
During the "Men Tell All," Chris Harrison claimed that Reid couldn't attend because of a "prior engagement." We now know that Reid will return to try to win back Jillian in the final episode this Monday. There's even this shot of him holding an "eternity ring" in the finale teaser. Is Chris's word choice of Reid's "engagement" a double entendre meant to throw us all off course, or hint at the real outcome to his attentive listeners?The Most Dramatic Finale EVER!!!
At least that's what Chris Harrison is promising us in his blog this week. Chris also makes some interesting statements about next week's finale. First that he was "very sorry Reid couldn't make it" to the "Men Tell All," because "he's a great guy who I enjoyed getting to know this season." Harrison went on, "Jillian also loved him and I hope to be able to bring him back on the "After the Final Rose" special next week so we can get his side of the story." These statements continue to paint Reid in an inconclusive, but still very positive, light. On the one hand, continuing to sing Reid's praises makes clear that he's still a contender. If he wins Jillian back, many will be thrilled, but also angry that he was ever let go to begin with, which screams of producer meddling, and doesn't exactly make our Bachelorette look like the best judge of character. On the other hand, Chris could just be trying to keep the suspense alive for Reid's climactic return, so it will be all the more dramatic when Reid's door is slammed shut a second time. But if Reid isn't going to end up with Jillian anyway, wouldn't Chris (and Jillian) be more open about the reasons they shouldn't be together? To cushion the blow for Reid fans, who are already up in arms against Jill? A fan backlash could be dangerous, and seems inevitable at this point.
But which kind of backlash will it be? It sounds like we won't find out until next Tuesday: Chris blogs, "As you heard Jillian say at the end of the show, she's as happy as she's ever been. I can't wait for all of you to watch the end of this season. I'll be interested to read your comments next Wednesday (that's after the "After the Final Rose" special)." This sounds like we're in for a cliffhanger Monday evening, which will then be resolved Tuesday at the ATFR special. All the more evidence that Reid's return will shake things up--but no guarantee whatsoever about where the pieces will land.
Who do YOU think Jillian will choose? Tell us!
-Meghan Carlson, BuddyTV Staff WriterImages courtesy of ABC