While Kaitlyn’s run as The Bachelorette is winding down, the drama that is her crazy season is far from waning. It’s hard to believe that we’re already down to our final three suitors, with just one Buble Ben cut and an explosive “Men Tell All” before Nick and Shawn strap on their gladiator gear and square off before Empress Bristowe in a Coliseum-style fight to the death.
Are you not entertained?!?
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Who Enters the Arena?
I’m not ruling out a shocking elimination that propels handsome and drama-free non-virgin Ben — my premiere episode favorite — to the final two, but c’mon, that’s just not how Kaitlyn is built. She likes the brutish battles, with the victor sweeping her off her feet and carrying her off to a cave for a night of prehistoric boot knocking. (And a 2008 report suggests that cavemen did, in fact, wear boots.)
It’s also possible that twice-in-the-pants Nick and his leaning Tower of Pisa are sent packing, just to diffuse the escalating tension, because it appears Shawn’s brand of constant “manning up” and projected insecurity are too much for Kaitlyn to quit.
And despite those Pantheon-sized red flags, most readers, it would seem, tend to agree. I’ve been entrenched on Team Nick since day one last season (though I was not a fan of his lower-myself-to-your-level Eskimo brother tattling), but I accept that I am in the minority. Even with Shawn’s inability to understand why Kaitlyn might enjoy Nick’s company and the resulting hissy fits and outcome-pending confrontation, comment after comment and poll after poll reveal a consistent anti-Nick (and also anti-Kaitlyn) sentiment.
Where that leaves Shawn in the minds of the majority is unclear, but the telling sign for me will be his preoccupations in the fantasy suite. Will he be focused on Kaitlyn? Or will good intentions be speared by lingering thoughts of sloppy seconds? I initially gave him credit for his mature handling of the more-than-just-the-tip revelation, but it didn’t take long for him to revert to his needy she-has-to-tell-me-what-I-need-to-hear ways.
A Brief Anti-Bullying PSA
Before we find out which two families will be judging Kaitlyn, I feel it’s important to reiterate that with all the twists and turns of the season, the most surprising thing to me remains the level of slut-shaming that has gone on. Even if you believe she is a slut, the condemnation has been overly harsh. After all, let he or she who is without a one-night stand cast the first stone…
Now, at my signal, unleash hell! (That is also a quote from Gladiator. It turns out there aren’t as many well-known ones as I would have liked. Where is Justin Aurelius when you need him?)
Into the Lion’s Den
We rejoin the delightful fireside chat in Nick’s hotel room, where Shawn is in the process of detailing all the reasons he doesn’t like his main competition. And the fact that Nick absolutely agrees with him and still isn’t phased enrages our resident big baby (and that includes cupcake Chris) all the more. He curses a few more times before relieving himself of Nick’s presence, probably with an ego-boosting feeling of accomplishment.
Meanwhile, Kaitlyn is trying to clear her mind of the Nick-Shawn feud by heading to Galway for her overnight with Ben. She rides a horse for the first time in her life, with Ben begging his steed for help in looking cool on this all-important day. They feed and get chased by donkeys, and here’s to hoping that’s not the only ass Ben gets on this date.
They picnic at a bluff overlooking a lake with a castle, and the kisses are as bountiful as the countryside is green. Ben tells Kaitlyn he’s falling in love with her, and though he’s been skeptical of how he made it this far, he pushes those fears aside in order to stay caught up in the moment.
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Every Fairy Tale Needs a Castle
The evening part of the date continues at Lough Cutra Castle, where Ben offers a toast to love before admitting he turned 26 during the course of the show. And that makes the soon-to-be 30-year-old a bit of a cougar, though he prefers “hot, older woman.” But it’s cool because he’s definitely more mature than the 25-year-old who exited the limo.
There’s more niceties and smooches before they retire to the fantasy suite for “the best sleepover ever.” Each time they’re together, she sees him more and more as a husband, and she’s hoping she’ll wake up in the morning thinking he’s “the one.” You know, like Shawn. Minus all the anger.
The sun rises, Kaitlyn reveals they slept about a half hour and now she’s more confused than ever. She may have even been hoping for a horrible night because she didn’t expect to fall in love with him. But I’m still not feeling “it.”
Avoid the Sand Traps
Next up for Kaitlyn is her overnight date with Shawn, which kicks off with a full round of golf. It’s a shared interest that elevates her in his wifey book, but he has a bit of trouble staying out of the water. Then they play Truth or Dare, and she convinces him to try his short game in the buff. He sinks the putt while she steals his clothes, which leads to a black box-covered chase across the fairway. But unfortunately for Shawn, the games are about to end.
Dinner begins with Kaitlyn asking Shawn specifically why he doesn’t like Nick, and the response is regarding his arrival and questions about his intentions. She asks why he was reluctant to even talk to Nick (or use his name … yeah, the hatred started early), and he says he recently did because he wanted to tell Nick what an (insert expletive) he is, and shockingly, it didn’t go well. Then she mentions the Eskimo brother thing and how she doesn’t want a husband with a “player” side.
He explodes, calling Nick a delusional and terrible person who is acting like a 16-year-old girl (no offense, 16-year-old girls everywhere), and if Kaitlyn ends up with him, Shawn won’t lose any sleep over it because that means she’s terrible too. Now who’s acting like a 16-year-old?
Kaitlyn acknowledges that Shawn is pissed (you think?), and she’s not thrilled either. So she decides they should have the rest of the conversation off camera in the fantasy suite, and she expects to know a lot more about whether Shawn can be her husband in the morning.
When Irish Eyes are Deranged
The morning after, there isn’t any cuddling or gazing out the window at the sunrise together, just Shawn putting up his hood and walking straight to Nick, who asks if he has a few minutes to talk. Nick didn’t get a chance to respond to Shawn’s accusations last time, so after mulling it over, he wants to continue the so-called man-to-man chat.
He starts by saying he was initially shocked but impressed when Shawn showed up at his door because he thought it was an attempt to bury the hatchet, but that’s not quite how things went. And that’s as far as Nick gets before the tirade of anger and obscenities is unleashed, which includes Shawn threatening that if Nick ever says his name to Kaitlyn again, “it won’t be good.” Nick is the last person he wants to see or talk to, and could he please “get the f*** out of my place right now?”
Nick leaves, wondering why Shawn was “man enough” to talk at him for 20 minutes, but not so much to let him get a word in edgewise. He doesn’t see any way that Kaitlyn can keep both of them around at this point because he correctly surmises that she has to be sick of this madness. But that’s not how manufactured drama works, kid.
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A Real Fireside Chat and a Rose Ceremony
Kaitlyn sits down with Chris Harrison to talk about her relationships, which she expected would go wrong but didn’t. Nick brings out the deep conversation in her, while Ben keeps things light and happy. Shawn is a combination of both, but she worries that his jealousy extends beyond the show situation. And while Nick isn’t usually the type of guy she’d fall for, she finds that he has the perfect amount of everything.
Meanwhile, the feud is showing both guys’ immature sides, and even though she doesn’t want that to detract from her feelings, it’s impossible to avoid. Conversely, Ben doesn’t have any of that drama, and he’d make the perfect husband according to the checklist. But you still get the sense that the feelings for him aren’t as strong, even though she wants them to be.
After a tear-filled interlude — because Kaitlyn is on the verge of a breakdown — the roses go to:
Nick (back-to-back top twos — what whaaaaat)
And in true Bachelorette fashion, the saga continues with the last bit of sanity packing his bags. Kaitlyn walks the frontrunner out to be the next Bachelor, telling him that he’s going to find the best girl in the world, and she’s upset that it’s not her. He goes out in a truly dignified fashion, except for the fact that he leaves in a minivan.
Mano a Boyo
Take your pick on who is who, but it’s time for Kaitlyn to meet some families. Instead of heading to hometowns, Kaitlyn flies to Utah, where Nick and Shawn’s relatives will travel. Man, mid-show rose ceremonies, overnights before non-hometowns and only meeting two families? This girl is turning the format on its head.
Nick is up first, and he opens the date by comparing the relationship to what he had with Andi. For him to end up with her, he would have had to take a leap of faith because of lingering questions. But with Kaitlyn, he doesn’t have those same reservations, as he’s completely in love with her more than he can express in words.
Kaitlyn can’t wait to meet the gang and anticipates “it’s going to be a good day,” but the fam is not quite as enthused about getting mixed up in this madness a second time. It’s dead silent in the hotel room as they await the couple’s arrival, with sister Maria hoping he knows what he’s doing and mom in tears over the possibility of her son going through the same soul-crushing situation he did before.
Still, it’s all smiles as Kaitlyn meets his parents, three brothers and four sisters, including little Bella and her tough questions. The family thought he was crazy for going back on The Bachelorette, and after having last spoken to him in New York before he re-latched on, they’re wondering what’s been happening. They’re shocked to learn we’re already down to the final two, but they appreciate him being willing to take the same risk while hoping for a different outcome.
Maria gets the first grilling, and she leaves the conversation on board with the potential and being hopeful, as do the brothers. Bella is a bit tougher to sway, asking what Vancouver is like before jumping right to “Do you love my brother?” And even she walks away feeling like Kaitlyn could be her sister-in-law.
Then comes Mom, who tells Kaitlyn that for Nick to go back, he must have seen something very special with her. She assumes Kaitlyn wouldn’t bring him all this way to break his heart, but she acknowledges that’s not fair for her to say and that it’s just her being protective. Kaitlyn says all the right things, and Mom ends by calling it a nice conversation that was way different than what she saw from Andi.
She’s emotional and anxious as sits down with Nick, who says learned from his overconfidence and naivety last time. He doesn’t get that sense from Kaitlyn, trusting that she’s following her heart, and he’s 99% sure she loves him. Because they complement each other, she brings out his playful side and helps him live in the moment instead of getting lost in it.
His poor mom knows that the next time she sees him, he’ll either be on Cloud Nine or devastated again, and they share some tears over wanting him to be happy. Her only comfort is the way Kaitlyn looks at him, because it is something she didn’t see with Andi. Either way, he says, he won’t regret his decision.
To all those who think Nick isn’t genuine, don’t you think his mom of all people would be able to see through the bullshit? They just seem like a nice loving family anyone would be lucky to join, and afterwards, Kaitlyn feels like she is in love with him and his family. They head back to her room, where he suggests they make babies some day.
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Et Tu, Shawnie?
Shawn is trying to stay positive and not think about Nick because the other guy doesn’t matter as he readies to tell his future wife he loves her for the first time. But it would never work if his family doesn’t approve (“If they don’t, see you later, toots”), so it’s nerve-wracking for all. He expects Jessie, the oldest of the bunch, to be the hardest on Kaitlyn. But it appears Dad is most skeptical of the process.
Mom couldn’t make it, so Auntie Carolyn is taking her place. Shawn opens with a clever ice breaker, telling everyone that of the 25 guys there on opening night, he’s the only one left. Then he breaks the news about the final two, and Kaitlyn informs them that Shawn was the recipient of the first-impression rose.
Jessie wants to know how many relationships Kaitlyn has had and if their connection is more than just physical, while she counters by asking if Shawn is ready for marriage. She discusses fears with sister Megan, and they’re all best buds in the end. Both give Shawn the stamp of approval, before papa bear pulls him aside for a father-son chat that begins with, “What the hell is going on?”
Then it’s rapid-fire questions about how much time they’ve spent together, if she’s changed him and what makes Kaitlyn different. He falls back on his best response, that Kaitlyn told him he was “the one” with, like, 10 guys left, and Dad’s demeanor immediately softens. He tells his son to go for it because when you know, you know.
It all prompts Shawn to “get off his chest before it goes any farther” that he’s in love with her, and the resulting kisses lead to tears because Kaitlyn is more confused than ever.
Who Gets Sacrificed?
Kaitlyn is feeling the weight of her decision, knowing that she cares so much, the guys care so much and now there are families that care so much. So how does she break a heart? And whose heart does she break? I feel like she’s gravitating towards Nick and is distracted by Shawn, and not vice versa.
But before we can get to the drama of the guys meeting Kaitlyn’s apparently anti-Nick family, what you can tell by how a guy picks an engagement ring and Kaitlyn’s final choice, we’ve got the explosive “Men Tell All,” which tackles such questions as “What really happened with Clint after JJ’s bitter betrayal?”, “Why can’t Jared move on with his life?” and “How does Ben H. feel about Kaitlyn now?” And then there’s Ian…
So how will the most talked-about season in Bachelorette history end? Stay tuned.
You can watch The Bachelorette every Monday at 8pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)