Bachelorette Blowup: Front-Runner Walks Away, Another Guy Returns — And a World Record Broken?!

“I would let my sister date him. I don’t know about my girlfriend dating him” … It’s Fantasy Suite week!

Just once it would be nice if the producers and editors of Bachelor Nation would get on the same page with the team that makes the teaser’s for the next episode.

This week’s dramatic “Bachelorette” final moment might have had a little more impact if we hadn’t found out the results of the cliffhanger just a few seconds later in the teaser for next week’s “most dramatic ever” season finale.

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It’s totally possible to build all that fake drama and show all those tears and all that confidence and did we mention the tears without spoiling the outcome of that surprising final moment.

And by surprising, we mean only if you’ve never seen this show before. That big shocking twist was telegraphed last week, as was the week’s other big twist. Reality television is still being edited for people who’ve never seen reality television.

Or maybe it’s like Hallmark and Lifetime holiday movies. We know every beat of them before the opening credits even start rolling and there’s comfort in that. In this year of all years, there is something to be said for comfort and familiarity.

But we’d still like a little mystery … even if for less than 24 hours (did we mention the season finale is tomorrow [as in Tuesday] night!?! Because it is!

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World Record Freeze

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It’s Fantasy Suites week, and that also means another round of one-on-one dates for our Final 3 guys. We found Tayshia’s choices of dates — if they were hers — very telling about where she was with the guys, and what she was trying to accomplish.

For Zac, it’s about exploring their deeper connection and seeing just how far down the rabbit hole of that kind of sweet goofiness that can form the building blocks of a strong relationship.

For Brendan, it was about checking just where he was in his relationship, and giving Neil Lane a chance to do more than hawk pretty jewelry. Seriously, Covid gave him his biggest role ever on this show as he actually got to meet with the woman — and still hawk jewelry, of course.

And for Ivan, who actually went first, it was about seeing how far he was willing to go for her. Apparently he was willing to go into the record books with her, which is exactly what they did.

We love that in exchange for beautiful global travel, we get Tayshia and Ivan sitting in respective ice baths and trying to break a record for longest, coldest kiss. For the record, they settled into it and totally did just that.

Not only did they surpass the 5:16 record, they smoked it by more than a full minute, clocking in at 6:35. She sees him as her reliable, loyal guardian and partner. It’s stable, but is it exciting enough?

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Love Will Walk You Out

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It’s been no secret that Brendan is still battling his own insecurities. Even Zac has picked up on it, feeling confident that he’s in a different place romantically than his competitors. While an argument could be made for Ivan, he’s definitely right about Brendan.

So Tayshia put him on the spot and the cameramen and women got to work on their zoom lens as they tried to capture every bit of Brendan’s discomfort and every sideways glance Tayshia made totally catching him in it.

Whether or not this was her idea, it was a brilliant barometer without trying to force him to say out loud that he’s not ready for this. Making him look at wedding and engagement rings put his defenses up so fast he couldn’t hide it.

Had she asked him point-blank, he might have lied (to her and maybe even himself). He thought he was ready coming in, only to realize he was not. To his credit, he was man enough to be honest with her about this, even if it is very late in the game to just walk away.

But we’d rather him walk away here than be yet another male douchebag who lies his way to the finale on this show only to be revealed to America as scum after he’s proposed and give the Nation yet another failed romance.

In fact, kudos to the casting department and Tayshia’s instincts. We fell pretty confident that all of her final guys here were at least making a genuine effort to find love amid a global pandemic, rather than some social media clout and maybe a spot in “Paradise.”

That said, we totally look forward to Bennett and Noah rekindling their bro-feud there! Come on, it’s gotta happen, right?

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Where Have You Ben?

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We saw it coming a mile away, but we’re still glad it happened because Ben needed a redemption moment, even if it’s short-lived, after how poorly he handled his breakup last week.

Yes, he blew it when he didn’t tell Tayshia he loved her after Hometowns. Yes, he blew it again when he told her “maybe I was wrong” during the breakup. And yes, he knows he’s his won worst enemy.

Ben sabotages himself and his relationships as some sort of terrible protection mechanism he seems to have no control over. And even tonight, after fighting his way back into the show to tell Tayshia how he feels — inspired by Bennett, perhaps? — he almost sabotaged himself, again.

When he started talking about how nervous he was, we worried he might freeze up again. Ben’s own defenses and walls are so thick, he can’t even get through them most times. But at least in this instance he did, leaving Tayshia with a tough choice right before a Rose Ceremony.

Will she let him back in? Did you keep watching into the teaser for tomorrow’s finale? Then you already know the answer (stupid editors).

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Penultimate Thoughts

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So what happens next? Can Ben come back and then go all the way? Is Brendan going to come back, too? No, or he’d have gotten a very different edit. And why didn’t we talk about Zac?

At this point, Zac is the front-runner, even if Tayshia herself seemed to think it was Brendan. The editors clearly knew better, because Zac has been getting the hero edit for weeks. The only reason we think it may not be him is because they keep insisting we don’t know how it’s going to end.

But so far, her connection with him feels the most well-rounded, he’s been the most open and vulnerable with her and they look the most relaxed and real when they’re together. There’s a lightness and ease missing with her and Ivan, and Ben is just still so reserved Tayshia would have to work to pull anything out of him.

She also has a glow in confessionals talking about Zac that she lacks with the other guys. Could their obvious discomfort having to share her as Fantasy Suites were underway get in their heads? We’ve seen that before.

Could Ben’s return shake the confidence of Ivan and Zac as to how strong Tayshia’s feelings are for them. After all, if she was really all in with one or both of them, why invite back the fourth-place finisher?

No knock on Ivan, but he’s the most boring of the remaining contestants, but after one marriage and divorce, maybe Tayshia will ultimately be drawn to his steadfastness and reliability. Ivan is good people and he’ll be there for her.

Zac has had a wild life, but he’s also the most seasoned, experienced and settled of the remaining guys. He knows who he is, good and bad, and he certainly seems ready to own every bit of it. That’s a reliability that’s also very attractive, as it means fewer surprises.

Ben, on the other hand, still seems so damaged, so emotionally withdrawn (even from himself), we just think he’d really need to knock some walls down for Tayshia to want to step into what would essentially be a project when she’s got feelings already for people who know how to be real and open and honest and vulnerable.

And who don’t say shitty things when their feelings are hurt or their feeling emotionally overwhelmed. Ben seems like a nice guy, but his defense mechanism is hurtful to people who care about him. It might be good for him to work on himself — as Brendan was self-aware enough to know he needed to do — before bringing someone else into his hurt.

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"Mansion" Chatter

  • “It’s definitely harder to be around you guys.” –Zac (as Fantasy Suites loom)
  • “After this week it’s gonna be weird.” –Ivan
  • “We all know Ivan’s a good dude. I would let my sister date him. I don’t know about my girlfriend dating him.” –Zac (to Brendan)
  • Listening to these other guys, I just think I’m in a different spot … This week isn’t about Ivan and Tayshia or Brendan and Tayshia. It’s about Tayshia, period.” –Zac
  • “How’s this gonna affect his performance in the Fantasy Suite tonight?’ –Chris (during ice bath kiss)
  • “Alright, alright, alright.” –Zac (after Tayshia date card reads, ‘Let’s explore each other’)
  • “Never in my mind would I think I’d be in this position where the day after I tell a girl I’m falling in love with her she’d be going on a date with a different guy. It’s tough to think that she’s going to be open and share her emotions with Zac and Brendan.” –Ivan
  • “I can’t wait to explore. That’s the one thing I can’t wait to do today. Just explore. Explore.” –Zac
  • “Tonight is possibly Fantasy Suite, a few days from her parents being here and a few more days from proposing. So now might be the time to stop being a jackass and actually tell the girl how you feel.” –Zac
  • “You said I was a little different. And when you said that, I said, ‘Okay, I have a shot.’ Because I think it takes a person to understand that.” –Zac
  • “There is no doubt how Zac Clark feels about Tayshia Adams. Number one, I’m in love with this girl. And two, how am I even worthy of this?” –Zac
  • “Going into today, I have certain nerves and feel a little anxious. Preparing myself to be ready for that next step in life and that next engagement and that next marriage is a concern of mine. I’m hoping that today is gonna allow me to take a big step forward to feel really confident and really ready and really at peace with the decision of proposing.” –Brendan
  • “Brendan was my first real connection here and I really feel like he’s husband material and someone that I can see myself with at the end of this with. In fact, I think he was the first guy I started falling in love with.” –Tayshia
  • “I’ve been here before, I’ve looked at rings before, but when I propose to someone for the second time, that person is going to be my wife for the rest of my life.” –Brendan
  • “Knowing you’re ready because you want something so bad — and I want a wife and kids and family more than anything on the face of this earth — but then coming to the realization that 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 needs time to grow. Because I still think there are pieces of myself that I need to pick up. All I want is to give you my whole heart, but as I sit here today, my heart isn’t whole. … You deserve a man who is complete.” –Brendan
  • “I’ve already fought for somebody to try and love me once. I’m not gonna do it again.” –Tayshia
  • “I really thought it was going to be Brendan.” –Tayshia (after walking him out)
  • “I honestly don’t even know if I’m asking to be back in her life. I just feel the need to express myself. … I’m in love with her. I’m in love with Tayshia, and I need to tell her.” –Ben (to Chris)
  • “I’d love to just be able to resolve that really weird breakup that happened. I just need to talk to her.” –Ben
  • “I’m in love with you. … i blew it in the moment by not telling you. I’ve never felt this feeling and so I was just terrified. But I am in love with you.” –Ben
  • “There’s a Rose Ceremony. What do I do with that?’ –Tayshia (to a producer after Ben’s return and before teaser reveals the answer)

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“The Bachelorette” makes her final decision — but does he show up? — Tuesday night on the season finale.

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