By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Mar 08, 2022 at 6:01 PM

Do you hate your ear drums? Do you want to explode your television's sound bar into dust? Do you want to reunite with the worst people you've ever spent time with, minus any satisfying catharsis? WELL DO I HAVE THE "BACHELOR" EPISODE FOR YOU!

Indeed, this week's two-night "Bachelor"-stravaganza began with the Women Tell All special on Monday evening – but you probably already knew that because if anybody was watching the episode within a 15-mile radius of your house, you could hear it. Everyone was on their yelling-est behavior as all the bad vibes simmering throughout the entire season boiled over one more time – resulting in two ear-punchingly shrill hours that did nobody any favors. Not Clayton. Not Shanae. Most certainly not Jesse Palmer. And definitely not that person in the crowd holding a producer-planted sign proclaiming "Team Shanae" like a LIAR. Being pro-Shanae is like being anti-oxygen: No, you're not.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though.

We start the great eardrum massacre reunion special with reacquainting ourselves with all the women – from villains to heroes to people you're not even sure were ever there and might just be hallucinations. (There was a Hunter?) Jesse Palmer, in the first and only moment he will know peace for the next two hours, starts off the night with a softball question – What was it like to finally meet Clayton? – which evolves, as everything will, into every human in the room yelling over one another. Sure, they talk a little bit about Clayton and love – but we're jumping STRAIGHT into the Shanae nonsense of it all. Because if there's one thing we didn't get enough of these past several weeks, it's Shanae nonsense.

Sierra, in particular, comes in hot. She PREPARED for this moment. This night is her "Rocky" movie – and she does get in a good jab about how Shanae was all comfortable calling everyone "bitches" alone behind a screen but now that she's got to say it to people's faces, she's a lot less courageous and sassy. But, in general, the unrelenting heckling and chaotic howling at Shanae generates less satisfying smackdown moments and somehow – SOMEHOW! – more sympathy. Not that Shanae takes advantage of that, smirking back and responding with that signature absense of wit we've come to know and hate. 

We have other minor villains to interrogate, though, before we get to the featured presentation – so after Jesse Palmer finally gets his hands back on the reins of this wild bucking bronco of a reunion, we chat with Claire. Remember Claire, the woman who night one determined "nah pass" about Clayton and turned out to be ahead of the curve? Bet she thought she would've made a more memorable impact on this season! Anyways, she explains one final time that she just didn't click with Clayton in any way – and the women say that's fine but maybe don't spend the rest of the night badtalking their boyfriend. Fair point, Claire concedes – but have you considered I had a lot of alcohol that night?

Next up: Cassidy, whose redemption tour gets off to a rough start when she explains that "I'm just a forward person" – which nowadays is just code for "I'm a jerk." I'm sure a "I just tell it how it is" got in there too. After that, though, Cassidy argues that, yes, she had a friends-with-benefits situation back home, but who cares what she decides to do before this process? It's an approach that's ... not entirely wrong, especially considering she's going on to a show where a guy's about to makeout with 30 women at the same time. Maybe we shouldn't pretend this process has much sanctity. On the other hand, the fact that you've got a guy on the back burner just in case – and are bragging about it, while mic'd up and surrounded by cameras – doesn't exactly scream "going in with an open mind, ready for an exclusive emotional commitment." If you were dating somebody in the real world and discovered they had a sidepiece waiting in the wings, no one would blink if you broke things off immediately too. 

Anyways, as alleged contestant Kate points out, the ACTUAL problem with Cassidy was that she behaved like a selfish, smug and condescending jerk to the rest of the women and Hilary Duff – while also training Shanae in the dark ways of reality show villainy. And tragically the student became the master. 

So now we reach the featured presentation: the return of Shanae. Unfortunately it was not worth the hassle. There's a few good and enjoyable moments, like Lyndsey succinctly pointing out the great hypocrisy of Shanae – if people were nice to her, she'd call them fake or two-faced, but if people avoided her because their politeness was rejected, she'd call them bullies – and Elizabeth explaining that the alleged "close friendship" she supposedly betrayed was just one very short conversation that Shanae blew up in her mind as a "Beaches"-like unbreakable bond. Also: Genevieve politely standing up and raising her hand was entertaining. LOOKING FOR ORDER, CIVILITY AND SATISFYING CONVERSATION IN THIS CHAOS? Adorable. What do you think this is: the "Love is Blind" reunion special?

But overall, it's just yelling and Shanae – and the show – annoyingly dodging responsibility. For instance, sure is convenient that "The Bachelor" decided to ignore the time Shanae made fun of Elizabeth's mental health. It's almost as though the show wants you to forget that they put that in the show, thinking it'd be fun and sassy drama, only to realize too late that it was enabling toxic behavior and stigmas around mental health. The reunion special also keeps trying to give Shanae the final word and pretending like this all was a misunderstanding with two sides. We all watched the show and saw her brag, repeatedly, about how she was acting and lying and insulting everyone. HECK, YOU GAVE SHANAE HER OWN VILLAIN THEME MUSIC! WHY ARE YOU PRETENDING ANYTHING SHE SAYS HAS VALIDITY!? The show itself's too wishy-washy to actually call her out – as the audience deeply wants – and the women are too disorganized and chaotic to do so effectively either.

It's all a mess, and in a season where every moment required a Shanae reaction quote, the show really misread the room in thinking we needed to hear more from her. 

This embarrassing chapter comes to close with Genevieve and Shanae both getting summoned to the hot seat, where the former actually reveals that they made a pact to not talk about one another to Clayton on their two-on-one date, focusing solely on their respective connections – a pact that was broken immediately by Shanae blindly claiming Genevieve was an actress. SOUNDS LIKE QUITE THE BETRAYAL; ANYONE WANT TO ASK A FOLLOW-UP QUESTION ON THAT? NO?! Yeah, that's what I thought. Instead, we get Shanae ending things by accusing Genevieve of sleeping with Aaron "I Must Be Involved In All Dramas" from Kate's "Bachelorette" season – which, considering it happened after Clayton broke up with her, who cares. It's all bad – and the only thing worse is that the show's DEFINITELY going to bring Shanae back for "Paradise" thinking it'll be fun when really we just all want her toxicity to go away forever.

While we finally, hopefully, leave the Shanae-nigans in the past, we move on to Sarah and the greatest mystery of all: DID CLAYTON ACTUALLY CRY!? Yes, while there's a little talk about the Mara vs. Sarah aspect of things, with Mara condescendingly tellin Sarah to just be cute and quiet, the conversation ends up circling an Agatha Christie-level conundrum: Did Clayton actually cry with Sarah on a date, or did Sarah just make that up to murder people's spirits? Sarah insists that he did; the women are less sure, as they calmly and carefully interrogate Sarah from the hot seat. WHERE WAS THIS FOCUS AND ORGANIZATION WHEN SHANAE WAS UP THERE!? I guess she just breaks brains – something my own noggin knows ALL TOO WELL after this damn season. 

Teddi gets some solo time on the hot seat to discuss how and why things fell apart with Clayton near the end – but the only real key detail here is that apparently Clayton's brother slid into her DMs after she was eliminated from the show. So it would appear being tactless and inept in love is an Echard sibling trait. 

Speaking of Echards, it's time to bring out Clayton, who's immediately asked, "What do you regret?" And when that's the first question right out of the gate, things clearly went GREEEAT this past season. Clayton responds that, "I wish I did things differently." WELL, THAT'S JUST THE LITERAL DEFINITION OF REGRET, CLAYTON! WAY TO DELIVER SOME DETAILS!

But if you think I'm snarky at Clayton, just you wait because the women have been waiting for this moment. Yes, the only person they dislike more than Shanae might just be Clayton, as Sierra jumps in and immediately asks why he constantly believed Shanae over ... all of them. Clayton word-salads some bland answer, but Lyndsey – who secretly was an MVP of the reunion – calls him out, saying that he should just own the fact that he was infatuated with Shanae rather than trying to rationalize his ignorance. Clayton, not taking the hint, tries to explain some more, saying that Shanae throwing the trophy into the bushes (ON A DATE SHE WASN'T EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE ON!) was unacceptable and his last straw. Just one tiny problem: YOU KEPT HER AFTER THAT! At least Clayton saves himself by delivering one final killer line to Shanae: "I believed you, I trusted you, and it's the worst thing I could've done." And with that burn, Shanae was evaporated forever. (Oh, who am I kidding; that would require her, or "The Bachelor," to have any shame. But fingers crossed!)

Our protagonist ties up a few final threads while on the hot seat. He answers the great almighty question: No, he didn't cry, so Sarah made that up. DAMMIT, SARAH, I WAS DEFENDING YOU! Doesn't get easier to defend her, either, as she immediately tries to go back on her previous words and say that Clayton didn't cry WITH or ON her but BY her. Or something. If my brain wasn't fully broken from all the Shanae exposure, some real harm could've happeened. Also, Clayton apologizes to Serene for now allowing himself to reciprocate her love in return. (I'm sure that makes everything better!) Lastly, Kira – a person allegedly on this past season – makes her move, telling Clayton that if he's not engaged, she's down to give it another go. A solid move – and also a telling one that everyone on this Women Tell All special is like, "Oh yeah, this guy DEFINITELY didn't get married on this show." The process, contrary to what "The Bachelor" insists, did not work – and no one's bothering to hide it. 

But enough about that, Jesse Palmer says, because it's time for bloopers! Otherwise known as MATERIAL THAT SHOULD BE IN THE DAMN SHOW! They're the most real parts of this supposed reality television program, humanizing these people in a way your scripted "kooky" bits and stiffly regimented "honest" conversations could never. I can't believe I have to tell a television show this – BUT PUT THE ENTERTAINING STUFF IN THE ACTUAL SHOW! People making mistakes and tripping up is a feature, not a bug. It's reality television; WHY ARE YOU AFRAID OF REALNESS!?

For Jesse Palmer's sake, that brings the chaos of the Women Tell All to an end ... almost, as before we go, Sierra asks Clayton what the remaining three women did to deserve what he's about to do to them. Well, that's foreboding. Teddi also chimes in, saying that she knows what happened and that she hopes he's OK. Oh, OK, we're going all in on ominous vibes then. I, for one, can't wait to find out how Clayton trips himself on the two-yard line – and can't wait to put this whole season in the rearview mirror. 

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.