By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Mar 27, 2023 at 3:01 PM

Question: Do I have to write a full recap for the most recent "Bachelor" episode? I mean, I COULD recap all of Zach's many fantasy suite foibles from Monday night's penultimate episode of the season ... but I think this iconic "Simpsons" clip would honestly sum up Zach's night better and more succinctly:

I have gotten a memo from my editors that, in fact, no, I am not allowed to just turn in a YouTube clip and call it a day. So FIIIIIIIINE let's talk about Zach's trip to Krabi, Thailand, that left everyone feeling very crabby, indeed.

Before we begin the fantasy suite debacle-ry, everyone needs to take turns walking on a beach while staring longingly out over the ocean. (Except for Kaity, who gets walk-blocked thanks to a pesky rainstorm.) Now that everyone's loosened up, fantasy suite week can begin ... after Zach checks in with Palmer, who politely reminds him that, hey, didn't everything go wrong between you and Rachel during fantasy suite week!? THANKS, PALMER! TOTALLY NEEDED THAT CONFIDENCE-INDUCING REMINDER! 

Zach doesn't snap at the host; instead he has a PLAN. And that plan is to turn Sex Week ... into Not Sex Week. Indeed, for the sake of keeping things as uncomplicated as possible – and for the sake of not totally Clayton-ing things up – Zach declares he's not going to have sex on any of his fantasy suites. Palmer's words say he's encouraging, but his face screams, "Suuuuuuuuuure, buddy." America has never related to Palmer more. 

In case people didn't immediately predict doom for Zach's chastity pledge, his first fantasy suite date is with Ariel, a relationship in which Zach's used just about every word in the thesaurus ("beguiling," "intriguing," "alluring," "captivating") to make his feelings sound deeper, more sophisticated and more complex than just "aroooooooga!" Their Thailand date takes them to a vibrant market where they're about to dine out on as much as they can. And to give his sex pledge the best chance possible for success, they snack on all sorts of bugs. Hard to be turned on when you're seen that mouth slurp larvae and crunch up crickets – though apparently hornets are an aphrodisiac! OH NO, ZACH! Truly when people plan, God laughs ... and cooks up an appetizer of horny-making hornets. Ariel's not big into conventionally romantic dates, so she loves this authentic night out as sparks literally fly (thanks to a local fire-twirler) to close out the first part of their fantasy suite day. 

While Gabi D'Amelio watches from a distance like she's the stalker villain in a Lifetime thriller, Zach and Ariel head off for the nightcap portion of the date – complete with Ariel confessing that she's falling in love with Zach. He thinks that's just swell – and has a fantasy suite invitation to offer, though nothing more beacuse, as he breaks to Ariel, he's not having sex tonight. Ariel's SUPER disappointed, as she isn't one for planning one's emotions and wants to keep the romance going. But despite the two of them being tempted as hell, and despite the sound guy using all his late-night Skinamax "bow-chicka-wow-wow" R&B grooves for this date's soundtrack, the two manage to keep things PG, with only some mild double entendres in the morning before Zach leaves for his next date. ONE FOR ONE! CONGRATS! You've already exceeded expectations.

However, there's still two more dates for Zach's pledge to survive – with Gabi D'Amelio next up, going with the Bachelor to a private island via a pirate ship. Zach better hope that pirate ship's not finding any booty – BA-DUM TISH! Gabi must've known about my terrible joke, because she's not feeling good about this date at all. She's sweating. She's constantly talking about how she doesn't look good and looks "really crusty." And that's all before she really starts struggling, talking to Zach about how she's stuck in her head because she always feels like she's always the second choice in romantic situations – and here she is, on the second fantasy suite date. That's bordering on some tin-foil hat, "The Number 23"-level conspiracy thinking – but it's sadly clear that the high emotions and stakes here are opening up some deep self-esteem wounds. When she eventually takes off down the beach to get a break and talk about how she feels ugly and unhappy – and, worse of all, KNOWS that she's only making things worse but can't stop feeling these ugly feelings – you just want to give her a hug. IT'S JUST ZACH, GIRL! HE'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD; THE MAN THINKS "MOLD WINE" IS A THING!

The two eventually talk things out, and Gabi gets her self-confidence back, explaining to Zach that she was cheated on in a past relationship but stayed because of her self-esteem struggles. But that's the past, and now she's happy – so much so she busts out the L-word for Zach, and he busts out the fantasy suite invitation. Annnnnd his chastity pledge, which Gabi responds to similarly to Ariel with a disappointed "...... ok then." She'll show him her skincare routine instead – KINKY!

Uh oh, must be quite the skincare routine – because the next morning, the two are exceptionally lovey-dovey and Zach keeps talking about how "something really special happened" between them. I IMAGINE IT WAS NOT VERMONT TRIVIA RELATED! Indeed, Zach goes to confessional – aka Jesse Palmer – and reveals that things with his promise, uh, changed, as the two mutually agreed to say, "Screw it: Let's screw." SEE, THIS IS WHY YOU DON'T MAKE SILLY PLEDGES YOU CAN'T KEEP! You LITERALLY did this to yourself. As noble as the intention might be, no one forced you to de-sexify sex week – and then forced you to bail on it because it got too hot. Underpromise and overdeliver, Zach: WORDS TO LIVE BY! You do the opposite, and welp, that's how you end up apologizing to a bunch of women on primetime ABC. 

Here's the thing: I don't know if there's actually a good way to do fantasy suites week. I get Zach's logic here – the situation's always hinky with fantasy suites, so it's smart and noble, at least on paper, to avoid any Clayton-esque messiness – but if you say you're going to do something, you gotta, you know, actually do it. (Or NOT do it, in this particular case.) But also: Yes, Clayton sleeping around was Not Great, but his greater sins were getting sloppy with the L-word and, worst of all, getting defensive and cruel when people weren't comfortable with it. It's Have Sex With The Contestants Week; generally speaking everyone knows what the situation is and knows that the physical aspect is a critical part of a relationship that'd be naive to ignore. Now, is the set-up kinda sleazy as heck and almost certainly dooms these relationships afterward, leaving questions and distrust in its wake? PROBABLY! But either you can play the game and live with the potentially awkward consequences ... or can you try to outsmart it, fall into a trap of your own making and still get stuck with potentially awkward consequences. 

Zach chose the latter, and now he's Wile E. Coyote-ed himself into his own death catapault to the moon.

But hey, why make one decision when you can make ALL THE BAD DECISIONS! Yep, so not only did Zach messily un-pact his pact, but he then decides that he needs to be transparent and honest, and tell all the women about how he had sex. Because you know what significant others love to hear about? ALL THE OTHER SEX YOU'VE HAD! Almost as much as a date loves to hear that your night of meaningful, "love not lust" sex was an oopsy they now kinda regret! I'm sure all of this will go SOOOOO well, Zachary.

He starts with Gabi D'Amelio, dropping by to tell her that – while he totally doesn't regret their night and that it was wonderful – he's going to tell the other women about it in the name of transparency. Shocking development: Gabi's not a fan! For one, she thought that their special private night would be their special private night, not shared with the entire class. But also: You can say how much you don't regret having sex and that it wasn't a mistake, Zach – but doesn't this sense of confession about everything imply that you feel not-great about it? People don't normally feel a need to "confess" things they're proud of.

To make matters even worse, to underline that he doesn't view their fantasy suite as a mistake and that he regrest nothing, Zach busts out the L-word and says that he's falling love with Gabi. OOOH NOOOO! We're now bordering on The Unspoken One territory, using potentially desperate love proclamations to get what you want – in this case, settling Gabi's emotions. If he doesn't end up with Gabi at the end of this – and really, aren't we all predicting that he ends up with Kaity? – Zach might have a bit of 'splaining to do at the live finale. 

So while Gabi – who was already dealing with a lot of emotions BEFORE Zach decided to tattle on himself – stews, Zach goes off to tell Ariel about the situation, right? Considering she's the only other person whose date was actually impacted by this (now dead) pact? Because Kaity's day hasn't yet happened and she doesn't even know a promise was broken, much less existed? No, we're totally ignoring Ariel and just moving straight on to Kaity? YEAH, ZACH E. COYOTE, JUMP ON THAT GIANT ROCKET AND FLY IT INTO THAT PAINTED WALL! SHOULD GO SWELL!

So yes, Zach next goes on his fantasy suite date with Kaity, who's glowingly talking about how Zach is so loyal (lol) and committed (suuuure) and trustworthy. (Welp!) Their date takes them on a paddle boat ride down a Thai river – because CAN'T BE MAD AT ME ON A BOAT! Unfortunately, because the show knows how to set a scene, the weather changes and starts pouring on the paddling couple, so the two retreat dock the boat and hide out under a tree branch. Hmm, trapped in a muddy, drizzly swamp – seems like the ideal atmosphere to drop some uncomfortable news! Love to have something to distract me from the increasing odds of catching giardia.

Indeed, Zach drops the bombshell that, despite his plans to avoid sex, he and Gabi were intimate on their fantasy suite date – to which Kaity's like, "....... greeeeeeat." Honestly, considering how hard Kaity's fallen for Zach and how much she's talked about getting screwed over by men in her life and looking for comfort and safety in her next relationship, she takes the news pretty well. (Minus the fact that she says the word "sorry" a lot, making her usually hidden Canadian accent REALLY jump out and making her sadness accidentally a little hilarious with every "soory.") She starts pretty relaxed, but slowly gets more annoyed, explaining that she knew sex with the other women was technically on the table this week but she didn't need to actually HEAR about it. What's she supposed to do with this information? Say congrats? Or I'm sorry?

Dealing with fantasy suites week means mentally compartmentalizing your experience away from the others. You can only focus on your time; thinking about the others will only break one's brain. And now Kaity can't do that because Zach just blurted it out: Yep, my other girlfriend was just too hot and I had to have sex despite myself – my bad! WELL NOW YOU'VE RUINED THIS ROMANTIC SWAMP DAY, SIR! Well, at least they don't have to awkwardly row back to the mainland togethOH NO!

So what's this mean for the rest of the date? I'm not asking "will it go well" – but "will it happen, period?" Because Kaity seems done with her day with Zach, now that he decided to ruin the mood by talking about all the other sex he's had. Zach sure doesn't seem convinced she's showing up, arriving to pick her up for the nighttime portion of their date in his worst outfit yet: an untucked collared shirt and suit jacket combo except the jacket looks like it too spent some time in that swamp, looking all saggy and lazily held together with a single loose button. THIS IS NOT AN OUTFIT THAT SCREAMS "I AM PUTTING IN AN EFFORT TO WIN YOU BACK!" 

Alas, it apparently works! (Shows what I know about both fashion and human emotions!) Kaity does eventually show up for the date and the two talk out their issues. Zach once again tries to explain that he doesn't want there to be any secrets or distrust during a process he wants to take seriously, while Kaity explains that it hurt her to fall so hard into their relationship – she JUST bust out the L-word at their last meeting – only for him to bring up other relationships and their intimate details during their short allotted time. Really, it doesn't take that much for the two to get through this weird tiff – almost as though they both know they're the ones ending up together and know this is just an odd procedural speedbump. The only negative from the date: There's a pile of utterly scrumptious-looking egg rolls on the table, and THEY DON'T EVEN TOUCH THEM! I wish you nothing but sad swampy dates for eternity for your crimes against deep-fried deliciousness!

It was a messy path Zach made for himself, but he does make it to the episode's rose ceremony with all three of his final contestants in attendance, all dressed in their Powerpuff Girls finest. And despite all the drama getting to this moment (literally in Kaity's case, as a bunch of rascally monkeys try to scare her away while walking to the altar. TAKE THE OMEN, GIRL!) the final rose ceremony's pretty predictable. It has to be Ariel leaving, right? I mean, Zach slept with Gabi and then desperately tried to redeem himself with Kaity – there's a level of investment, physical and/or emotional, with both of them that he apparently didn't share at all with Ariel. In fact, when Zach says at the ceremony that he apologizes for the mistakes he made, Ariel looks like this is the first she's hearing about it. And remember: SHE'S THE ONLY ONE WHOSE DATE ACTUALLY GOT IMPACTED BY THE CHASTITY PROMISE, who Zach told one thing and did another!

Apparently that wasn't worth a chat – nor worth a rose either, as Zach gives his roses first to Kaity and then (after taking a long second look inside the rose as though his next line was in there) Gabi D'Amelio. Wait: DUDE, DIDN'T GABI JUST TELL YOU HOW SHE FEELS ABOUT BEING PICKED SECOND!? And what do you do: PICK HER SECOND! Surely this will ease her troubled mind! To make matters worse, while Zach walks out Ariel (who dies on the show as she lived: waaaay too composed and mature for it), Kaity quietly mutters to Gabi that she knows she was the only one Zach slept with during the whole fantasy suite debacle. Add that to Zach's speech about feeling like a failure during the episode (way to totally make your date sound like a regret!) as well as the fact that Kaity's going to be the one at the end, and I sure hope Zach and this show pay for whatever therapy Gabi's going to need after these final few emotional whiplash-inducing episodes. 

Look at the good side, though, Gabi and those of you who've hated this season: It's finally almost over!

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.