By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Sep 07, 2022 at 1:16 PM

How, after a bonus second episode and four total hours of "The Bachelorette" this week, do I somehow still feel cheated? 

Yes, in yet another installment of this season being a sloppily assembled mess, the second part of ABC's two-night extravaganza just ... ended. Not even really a cliffhanger, more like ending before getting to the cliff at all, with Palmer coming out on an empty stage and telling us to take a timeout and eat some orange slices because this episode's been JUST SO EMOTIONAL and what's going to happen next is JUST SO SHOCKING. Don't condescend to me, Palmer. You're "The Bachelorette," not "Schindler's List" – I can handle whatever nonsense is coming next. CERTAINLY I can handle the six more minutes the running time promised me. 

Anyways, I'm getting ahead of myself – because there was plenty of other nonsense, both happy and annoying, to dig into Tuesday night's extra episode.

We pick up right where we left off: Erich on a bridge, doing his best impression of "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and combusting apart. Apparently in between Monday and Tuesday's episodes, he realized that he was being a full-stop moron, getting all in his own head about Gabby going on fantasy suite dates because he's new here I guess. As always, I have sympathy for people who have issues with Have Sex Week because it's not great to know the person you love and hopefully intend to marry is bopping into an SUV to probably sleep with two other people – but also if you think you're going to have an issue with Have Sex Week, don't go on a show that has a Have Sex Week.

But at least Erich KNOWS he's being kind of annoying – and indeed Gabby is annoyed, because she thought they'd parsed this all out already during a private chit-chat on their fantasy suite date, and she's not eager to relitigate it all over again. Plus, she'd rather not have this implied pressure weighing on her shoulders when she's still got one more fantasy suite date to focus on. 

OR DOES SHE!? After all, her final date is with Jason, who last we checked was very confidently telling everyone in earshot that he's SUPER not confident about getting engaged at the end of the show. Indeed, Wantstobeonparadise-itis is running RAMPANT on set right now – time to #StopTheSpread. 

Gabby, however, might just inadvertently know have the cure: a wonderful fantasy suite date that isn't just a random tourist adventure but actually considers the person joining her. So, for Jason, she knows he used to be a big tennis player so they take to the nearby courts and share some chipper rallies before taking to a pool to swim, hang and have so much fun that Erich and his mullet can hear it. More like sadness in the front, pity party in the back.

Speaking of sadness, though, even with the help of tennis, Jason's not feeling ready to get engaged in a week – but he IS feeling ready to finally tell Gabby this information. OH, NOW YOU ARE?! JUST A WEEK FROM FINALE TIME!? Please, take your time, sweetheart; really play this thing all the way out. I'd make fun of him some more – but as a chronic procrastinator, I can relate. So during the dinner portion of the date, he notes that even though "I'm into you" – wow, such passion, what romance – he's not fully there for engagement and forever, mainly because he's not entirely convinced about the reality of the situation. Because, you know (*gestures at the cameras and microphones*). I want to be understanding because, yeah, it's actually fairly responsible and mature to say, "Hey, maybe we shouldn't get married after only knowing each other for two months in this fantasy snowglobe with no idea how we'll handle one another in the real world." And it's rare for a person to just bluntly say that the TV production of it all adds to the uncertainty – normally people use vague terms like the "process" or "crazy situation." 

That being said: DON'T APPLY TO FALL IN LOVE ON TV IF YOU'RE NOT PREPARED TO FALL IN LOVE ON TV! If you don't like the process, DON'T PARTICIPATE IN THE PROCESS! I don't go to a steakhouse, order a steak and then when they serve it, act squeamish about eating cow. Gabby too isn't thrilled that she's just finding out now, in her final three, that Jason's not feeling up to the premise off the show – but after taking some time to herself, the two talk things out and decide to see if a private conversation to really talk about their plans and feelings, without our prying eyes, would help. And I'll be honest: It's a little sweet! I know a lot of people out there (understandably) side-eyed Jason for being like, "Hey, I'm not sure about our relationship – but maybe if we go to the Sex Room, I'll feel better about everything." But as the two went off to the private suite, I felt like this was the rare overnight fantasy suite date where they genuinely would work on their relationship and figure life stuff out rather than have sex. Where they would get down to business rather than, you know, "get down to business."

Welp, I was right: They DEFINITELY didn't get busy. When the B roll for your "romantic" fantasy suite includes a dead bug floating in a glass of champagne, something went VERY wrong – and indeed, the bed is untouched the next morning, with Gabby staring forlorn into the midde distance and Jason's nowhere to be found. Turns out their conversation certainly did provide clarity – mainly that these two DO NOT work together, as apparently they talked and debated in circles until they went their separate ways, and now Gabby's ready to pull the plug on Jason's time on the show. So she goes to officially send him away, feeling bummed out and led on once again, driving away crying about how "she tried so hard to not be reckless with other people ... and he was reckless with her." She's sobbing and questioning everything – including, sadly, her own ability to be loved – and it's just a tragic gut-punch.

On the other side of the hotel, WELL GOSH RACHEL COULDN'T BE HAVING A BETTER TIME – WOO TO THIS PROCESS! Yes, while Gabby's a mess of emotions with only one suitor left, Rachel's got all the confidence in the world and three guys who all seem wholly into her. Jealousy mode: ACTIVATED!

But hey, Rachel does have one more fantasy suite date to do, this adventure with Zach. And it's delightful! No touristy shenanigans, no pesky animals choosing their own adventures, no fake overproduced nonsense – it's just the two of them exploring the city, drinking tequila, snacking on grasshoppers and having goofy natural conversations about how Zach's voice is hilariously low. It's just ... a great date, one that feels pulled from an actual relationship and not from an artificial reality TV world. Sure, they DO visit a fortune teller who tells Rachel that she's still hung up on the past – aka The Unspoken One – but that's only a brief moment. Otherwise, it's charming and ends with the two heading off to the Boinking Suite to wrap things up on a high note. 

Or, uh ... apparently not. 

Jason's morning-after featured a close-up of a dead bug all nasty and legs up in a pool of old champagne – and somehow that WASN'T the worst fantasy suite aftermath of the episode, because Rachel and Zach are AWWWKWARD the next day. The two are terse and silent the whole time – and when they do talk, it's because they can't even agree on whether or not the coffee is good. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED!? Rachel occasionally asks Zach if he's feeling OK about everything and if he feels comfortable – so did, uh, he fail to perform? Did he find old footage of her in an improv comedy troupe? Did she suddenly realize he kinda looks like the guy who played the bad creepo rapist guy in "Promising Young Woman"? WHAT. HAPPENED.

Zach looks like this actor
Maybe? Kind of? I don't know, makes about as much sense as anything else.

The predictable answer? You guessed it: religion and politics. Apparently the two starting talking about life stuff, and they got into that nitty-gritty – and while there's no specifics discusses, it seems like it wasn't a GREAT chat. The less predictable answer, though? Apparently, according to Zach as he confides in Palmer afterward, Rachel brought up concerns that Zach's not ready to get married ... because he's too young. Well, that's fair enough reason; after all Rachel is 26 years old and Zach is just ... 25 years old? Wait, hold on a second – LIKE MAYBE ONE WHOLE YEAR YOUNGER AT MOST?! This answer just gives me more questions – mainly my original question of WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED!?

Clearly SOMETHING odd is happening here – and I think last episode holds the answer. If you remember back to the beginning of Monday night's show, when our two leads were recapping where things stand, Rachel noted that she liked Zach but that she didn't quite feel like she was THERE yet with him. So maybe she wanted to start cutting things off with Zach, or at least lay down some preemptive rationale for a breakup, during the fantasy suite date – but didn't want to say "I don't love you enough" and couldn't come up with any better or more delicate reasoning to tell him, so she stumbled upon "you're just too young." It's the only thing that makes sense; either that or she has a reverse Leonardo DiCaprio issue where she strictly can't date anyone 25 or younger. 

So now Gabby's bummed out, Zach's bummed out and even Palmer's bummed out because he definitely thought the knock on his door was Zach delivering the tequila he asked for in the fantasy suite card – but instead got a man crying on his couch. 

Let's see if we can settle at least one of these sadnesses, though, as Gabby skips over the rose ceremony to chat with a still-nervous Erich. She knows what she wants and what she deserves ... and after a long, tense lead-up, she determines that what she deserves is Erich, telling him that she loves him and wants to be with him. AWWWWW! And then the two have a gigantic cathartic hug and GOSH I'M JUST SO HAPPY FOR THE KIDS! What a triumphant day for terrible haircuts. 

So yeah, uh ... I guess that's the end of Gabby's season? Congrats! How weird – and how lucky we've got a second Bachelorette! 

After Palmer breaks the news that Gabby won't be attending the rose ceremony – which, in classic misleading "Bachelor" tradition, was made in the previews to imply Gabby had bailed from the process but actually she was just all out of guys and had no need for this ceremony; TRICKY TRICKY, PALMER! – Rachel walks into her solo rose ceremony to knock her final three down to two. Will she choose Aven, who seems to be perfect but also too dull for the show to care about his fantasy suite? Will she choose Tino, because duh? Or will she choose Zach, who now switches between refusing to make eye contact with her or making THE ANGRIEST eye contact with her? Seems pretty clear who's getting the ax – BUT WAIT, INTERCEPTION! Just as Rachel's reaching for her first rose, Zach pipes up and asks to take Rachel aside for a conversation. And this is going to SHOCK you, but Tino's whiny about it. 

What's Zach telling Rachel? Does he have some dirt he's been saving for the right moment? Is Tino going to grump his way out of this rose in the final moments? We've got a handfull of minutes left, so I guess we'll find out ... NEXT WEEK!?

Yes, instead of, you know, ENDING THE FRIGGIN' EPISODE, we surprises cut to Palmer standing in an empty studio, looking like he's about to warn us about the dangers of drugs or that what we're about to see is disturbing in nature so viewer discretion is advised. Which ... strangely isn't that far off from what Palmer says, claiming that what's about to happen is just TOO emotional to handle that there are SHOCKING EVENTS coming up that will change Gabby and Rachel's lives forever. Yeah ... probably an engagement. Why are you talking so sternly about this reality show finale like it's a very special episode involving a mass shooter incident or something? WHY ARE YOU BEING WEIRD, PALMER?! 

But yeah, so instead of getting a proper cliffhanger in the final few minutes, we get this weird public service announcement that states that they're gonna pull a Bill O'Reilly and do it live over the next two Tuesdays. Man, what happened to the editing of this show? How did you not assemble this episode right so that the tense and intriguing ending could just be Zach taking Rachel aside? Why did we need Palmer's random PSA to fill the space instead? 

The thing is: Tuesday's episode was actually pretty solid, with some wild drama, big moments and happy romances. But the ending is what people remember, the final impression that audiences take away the clearest. If you hit it right, everything that came before could be trash and viewers could still walk away appeased – but if you hit it wrong, everything before could be "Citizen Kane" mixed with Reese's peanut butter cups and puppies, and viewers will still walk away upset and disappointed. (Just ask the showrunners of "Game of Thrones"!) Thanks to the oddly clunky ending, that's what happened on Tuesday night. Hopefully the opposite will happen with these final two episodes – though considering the sloppiness and raggedy nature of the season thus far, my hopes are lower than Sad Zach's voice. 

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.