A pretty terrible season in just about every way possible – on screen and off – is almost over. And while I was almost tempted to trade out the wine for popping some champagne to celebrate that on Tuesday night, first we have to get through the worst week of the season: fantasy suite dates. You know, that wonderful time when "The Bachelor" tries to make it seem romantic and wonderful that Matt is going to have a very intimate and emotional night with a woman ... before leaving to have similarly intimate and emotional nights with his two other girlfriends. Anyways, happy International Women's Day!
Before we can get to fantasy dates, however, family crashes the party as Matt invites his dad into the bubble for a conversation – though Matt clearly didn't clarify what kind of conversation as his dad shows up all chipper and excited for his son. He's definitely there thinking he's celebrating his son's celebrity and potential engagement at the end of this. (He clearly had not seen the beard yet.) But jokes, Matt's dad: You're not there for a party! You're there for an exorcism as Matt really needs to have a conversation with you (and the cameramen ... and millions of viewers across America) about how you were a bad dad and worse husband! SURPRISE! (*blows party horn*) You know, relatatively speaking, Tyler got off pretty easy when Matt and Katie just gave him the fake massage prank. He could've gotten all his dirty laundry unpacked on television instead!
So as you might expect, Matt's dad starts off this surprise therapy session mostly on the defensive as his son quizzes him on why he did the things he did in the past and tries to figure out how he can repair their relationship while also not being his dad and free himself of worries about commitment. The dad deflects the hard questions and asks why Matt won't just move on as well as why must they have the conversation now – all while looking around the room with a face that says, "So Chris, we can yell cut any minute now, right?" But sorry, Matt's dad; Harrison let a woman get legitimately slandered on television this season so you're on your own here. So Matt's dad talks about how his father was killed when he was 5, so he knows a bit about growing up without a male role model much like his son did while Matt talks about how he needed a dad, because without that, he feels like he has issues and fears about commitment and what kind of husband and dad he'll be in the future.
It's an intense conversation – one that honestly you wonder if this, a silly reality show broadcast to millions of people, is the best venue for it. On one hand, it's definitely real television – but it sure feels like a conversation that we maybe would be better and more productive if cameras weren't watching and nudging along the drama. Plus, not that they're equal, but there's something hilarious about Matt being like, "Thanks, dad, for having this conversation about being faithful and respectful as a husband and father; now, if you excuse me, I have to go get ready to have steamy sex nights with all three of my girlfriends." But minus that brainworm, the intense conversation ends well with a hug, with the two vowing to have more discussions like this in the future and with Matt realizing that he doesn't have to be the deeply flawed man his father was.
And with that, let's have profoundly intimate and emotional days with three separate women! WEEEEEE!
We start with Michelle, who gets a spa day – much deserved considering she's a teacher in the real world and she's had to spend the last several weeks in one of the most toxic houses we've seen on this show. Good for her; she deserves a good pampering. But, of course, this being the worst "Bachelor" season, they couldn't even do that right. Instead, it's a "Pennsylvania-themed" spa day, so instead of the usual oils and wraps and facemasks and such, Michelle and Matt are supplied with a box of stewed oatmeal, a tub of milk, a pile of butter sticks and other food items. Worst of all, while I'm sure these ingredients are beneficial on some level for one's skin, none of these things come with a masseuse to use this stuff correctly or even just instructions advising them on how any of this stuff works. BUT REALLY, WHAT'S THE POINT OF A SPA DAY IF THERE'S NOT SOMEONE THERE GIVING MASSAGES AND PROVIDING THERAPY!? Michelle can get a bad backrub from Matt or food spilled on her anytime! Way to botch this, show.
Anyways, the two rub melting butter and other stuff all over each other, and it does not look relaxing at all; I'm just thinking about the long shower necessary after this to get all the butter and oats out. And I'm sure the cows are just THRILLED that their products went to such important use.
Their post milk bath conversation is at least significantly better, as Michelle and Matt have an actually really nice conversation about the work of a relationship and the effort that goes into staying in love and evolving as their lives shift and change over time. It's a real, legitimate conversation – one of the few moments where we see a couple on this show grapple with the real world waiting for them afterwards – but also one where they have some fun and playfulness together. One of the great sins of this very sinful season is that Michelle's clearly a lot of fun and very charming, but the show's saved all that material for blooper reels and end-credits clips, seemingly scared to let her be something more interesting than the typical blandly nice and pleasant "Bachelor" finalist. Something I'm looking forward to as the franchise re-assesses itself: letting personalities actually come through on the show instead of dulled them down for the sake of its bland, featureless fantasy romance template.
And so the two have a nice conversation, then go their room for sexy time, waking up happy before Michelle is sent out of the hotel to walk back alone while Matt gets showered, cleaned up and ready to meet up with his other girlfriends. SWOON!
Meanwhile, back at the ladies' main estate, Rachael is having a no good, very bad day – and considering she almost died splattered against the planet's surface, her bar for bad days is pretty high I'd imagine. She's feeling stressed and nauseous because she just discovered the premise of the show and is realizing that her boyfriend is seeing two other people and could dump her at the end of this. Indeed, it's a lot – and it's locked Rachael into a perma-pout as she talks about calling it a day. But of course she's not actually. This all feels like a diversion to create more drama when there isn't any and to make you think Rachael's not going to be selected when it seems more and more like she will be. Her doubts are just killing any doubts I have about her making it to the finale.
But enough about Rachael; it's Bri's turn. So what romantic and one-of-a-kind date will she receive on this week dedicated to fantasy? Sure, Michelle's food fight date was a bit of a botch, but certainly they'll do something better for Bri. NOPE! Instead the two meander around the woods like they're looking for the Blair Witch before assembling a Dick's Sporting Goods tent and camping out in the Pennsylvania forest for a little bit. No, it's not a fancy tent. No, there's not a lot of sexy or cute accessories for their stay. And no, THEY DON'T EVEN LIKE CAMPING! Matt pretends for a bit, cautioning Bri about snakes in Pennsylvania (which is apparently true but not something Matt knows) and making sure she's careful around a "river" – aka a glorified puddle. But Bri catches on as the two putz around with the same tent I had when I was eight years old. Considering the effort the show put into this supposed fantasy date, I think I've got a good idea who's getting sent home tonight ...
But first we get to leave the woods and have dinner and chats, where Bri wants to confirm with Matt that he's ready for an engagement and how he's feeling about that. She did, after all, quit her job to stay on this show, so I'm sure she wants to lock in his commitment. So Matt talks about his dad again and the two in general have a nice night, ending with fantasy suite fun and making breakfast in the morning – during which Bri complains about Matt cooking her eggs with too much butter. Sorry, Bri, I saw Michelle's fantasy suite date, and I now know all too well what too much butter truly looks like.
And one more time, we check back in on Rachael who looks like she's going to ask to see the show's manager. Let's just get this over with already.
So the two finally get their date, but Rachael's not in the mood. In fact, it takes her approximately an hour to merely walk to Matt at the start of the date, so enthusiasm is clearly at a low. Matt asks her how she's doing, and Rachael gives some flat answers – ones Matt can clearly tell mean that she's in her head about something. BUT SCREW THAT; WE'VE GOT POTTERY CLASS! Yep, even though Rachael's clearly in a sulk, Matt's like, "Something's on her mind ... but first, I really want to make a bowl." So an instructor teaches them how to craft with clay while ABC's producers desperately want some "Ghost"-esque romantic magic to break out – and of course it's not because Rachael's in a bad mood and, worst of all, her pot sucks. It's off-balance – gosh, I wonder if that's a metaphor for her emotional state or something.
Eventually, Matt sends the instructor out and the two finally have the conversation Rachael's been begging for since the episode started, as she tries to find certainty that Matt's in love with her and going to choose her. And Matt gives her certainly more than he gives the other two women! With Michelle and Bri, he gives AutoFill answers: "Bleep, bloop, thank you for your feedback, bleep, bloop, that's nice." Meanwhile, with Rachael, he has this big talk about how he's been falling for her and about how he was nervous and really thinking about their relatoinship after he saw her splatter herself against the earth the other day. OK, again: THAT'S NOT LOVE! That's just a human being's normal emotional response to seeing a person almost die right in front of them. Unless you're a sociopath, you're going to have a strong reaction to almost accidentally killing someone with the ground – that doesn't mean that you're in love.
But the conversation about Matt thinking about life without Rachael and how much he doesn't want that makes Rachael feel better – and now they can shape a good metaphorical pot together and do the "Ghost" stuff Harrison and company wanted this whole time. YOU'RE MAKING A MESS OF THAT LADY'S POTTERY EQUIPMENT! They also get a fancy date night at a cabin called Mallard's Landing where they're greeted by a huge fireworks show. Did anyone else get a fireworks show? I think not. One got the dairy section of the local grocery store and the other got a kids first tent. Plus, much like Nick Viall and Vanessa's fantasy suite, they spent so much effort trying to make you think Rachael was in a bad headspace and questioning things that it's clear the show is trying to create drama and intrigue where there isn't any – so gosh I wonder how this season ends.
Indeed, we head to the rose ceremony where Michelle gets the first rose and Rachael gets the last – meaning Bri is gone. SHE QUIT HER JOB FOR NOTHING! NOTHING!!! I would be in a severe sulk about it, but Bri handles this dumping like an absolute champion, crying but saying all the right things – "I can't be mad at that, but I can be sad" – and leaving the show with more grace that it deserves. She could be a "Bachelorette" candidate – but I'm not sure the show let her show off enough personality for audiences to have that strong a connection to a whole season with her. But we're on her side after this, so maybe that's enough.
And thus, it's down to Michelle versus Rachael versus whatever's left of audience's attention spans this ugly slog of a season. Who will Matt choose? How will new host Emmanuel Acho handle the "After the Final Rose" and the show's many troubles? And how much confetti will I throw in the air as the final credits roll? (All of it. All the confetti.)
So here's to the end. Bring your booze; we'll need it.
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.