We knew it would take a lot to outdo the drama of last week’s episode of ‘The Bachelor” — the night Colton Underwood proclaimed his love for Cassie Randolph, but she broke up with him and then Colton jumped the fence and escaped the show.
This week’s show may have topped all that, at least in terms of tears and raw emotion.
We first started covering this season of “The Bachelor” because it featured Nina Bartula, a Meredith graduate from Raleigh, and Caelynn Miller-Keyes of Charlotte, the 2018 Miss North Carolina USA. Nina left in Week 3 and Caelynn left in Week 8, but we had to see this through to the bitter end.
Monday night’s show was the first of a two-part finale, and it opened with a brief recap, then we picked up on The Search for Colton in the dark, Portuguese night.
The flashlights and the sounds of a barking dog gave the whole thing a “search for an escaped convict” feel. We’re on foot with host Chris Harrison, who’s calling out to Colton; we’re in a search van with “Bachelor” producers; we’re watching infrared cameras scanning the dark roads; we’re listening to Chris explain to someone on the phone that they’ll soon have to call the police.
Then Colton is spotted!
After all this we expect a struggle, for Colton to be wrestled to the ground and handcuffed. Instead we watch a producer walk alongside him on a road asking if he’s OK, while a camera follows behind. He pushes her away: “No, I’m not OK.” They bring in Chris Harrison. He will talk to Chris. Chris catches up with him, winded. Colton: “Dude, I’m done with this s***.”
Chris asks Colton where he’s going. He has no clue. He doesn’t have his phone, but he has his wallet. “I’m ****ing done,” he tells Chris. “OK, we can be done,” Chris says. Then Chris asks him if he wants to be done with the whole thing. “Yeah,” Colton says. We can almost hear the screams of panic coming from inside Chris Harrison’s brain.
Colton says he’s ‘not enough’
When Chris gets Colton to stop and tells him he just wants to make sure he’s OK, we see the tears streaming down Colton’s face.
“I’ve been through enough of knowing that I’m not enough for a long time,” Colton says, in what we assume is a reference to getting rejected by Becca in “The Bachelorette.” “And every reminder of that just makes me stronger, so I’m OK with it.” Oh my, Becca really broke him.
Chris, who didn’t just start doing this yesterday, asked Colton what part of what happened that night makes him feel like he’s not enough. Colton told him every time he puts himself out there he gets rejected. Chris reminds Colton that Hannah G. and Tayshia have said they love him. Colton knows that, Chris, but he loves Cassie. He whispers “I can’t do this” and gets into a black van and is driven away.
Colton will fight for Cassie
We should mention that ABC is airing this in front of a live studio audience for a show hosted by Chris Harrison. When that clip ends, the room is dead silent. They go to commercial.
The show resumes with Chris checking on Colton the next morning and trying to coax him into talking. Colton is giving him one-word answers for awhile, clearly not in the mood to talk. He finally opens up and talks about how every time something good has happened to him it’s followed by something bad.
Colton says he was falling in love with Tayshia and falling in love with Hannah G., but was in love with Cassie. He knows he lost her because of his connection to the other two women — that confused her, he said. Chris asked him, “What if the bottom line is she’s just not that into you?” Chris is apparently finished being gentle with Colton.
Colton answers that he believes Cassie loves him. “I came here for love and I found it,” Colton said. “I feel like life without Cassie wouldn’t be complete.”
He tells Chris he plans to fight for Cassie, even though she broke up with him and left the show. That means Tayshia and Hannah G. have to go.
On the way to see Tayshia, Colton says he knows he must show Cassie that he loves her, not just tell her, and that he knows what he needs to do.
At Tayshia’s bungalow he immediately starts crying. She tries to comfort him and seems to have no idea what’s coming.
Colton: “I owe you the respect and honesty ... I know that I was falling for you, but in my heart I know I can’t love two people, and my heart’s with somebody else. I love Cassie.”
Tayshia asks if they can talk without the cameras and they go inside, shutting the cameras out. But they are still wearing mics! So we hear Colton crying and Tayshia trying to comfort him. Then we hear Tayshia sobbing and saying, “No, it’s fine. ... I don’t want to go through this. I don’t want to.”
We are the grossest people on earth for listening to this, right?
Someone cracks a door, and we can see them hugging and crying. Colton leaves, and we soon see Tayshia get into a black van to be driven away.
Chris Harrison proclaims it one of the saddest break-ups on the show. And it’s not over. Tayshia is there in the studio and will see Colton for the first time since that night. She talks to Chris a little — she’s still very sad — and then she talks to Colton. She asked him the same thing every dumped person wants to know: “What happened?” All he can tell her is that he fell for someone else.
Hannah G. exits
Now we rewind to Portugal to watch Colton dump Hannah G. He goes to her the night before what she expects will be their “overnight date” night. She’s telling the camera that she loves Colton and can’t wait to spend time with him. She’s so dorky and adorable, like Meg Ryan in an ‘80s rom-com.
Colton tells Hannah G. that he realizes he can’t be in love with two people and that his feelings for someone else are “at a stronger point” than they are with her.
“I realize that I love Cassie,” he said. “I didn’t expect for you to say that,” a shocked Hannah G. responds.
Colton tells her he expected it to be her and that she still reminds him of “home.” He tells her he feels sick. She asked him what went wrong, and he tells her he doesn’t have an answer.
The single most shocking thing about this program is how shocked these people are when they get dumped.
Hannah G. says she wants to get out of there because she’s embarrassed and she can’t believe she let herself think this could happen.
Colton has his face buried in his hands: “I’m saying goodbye to somebody who loves me. What am I doing? I don’t know if I’m making the right decision.”
They are both crying again. “You don’t deserve to be anybody’s backup plan,” Colton says, crying. “You don’t deserve to be second. I don’t know what to say. Nothing I can say will make you feel better.”
They embrace and cry. Colton leaves, then collapses against a wall outside and sobs. Hannah G. packs her clothes to leave.
“This is literally how much I love Cassie,” Colton says, wiping his nose. “To walk away from somebody that great.”
Back in the studio, Hannah G is there with Chris. This is the first time Hannah G. has seen how upset Colton was leaving her. She thought he left her and was fine about it, but in the end, it doesn’t help. She said Colton made her think that he loved her, so she let herself be vulnerable with him, and she believed him.
Just before Colton comes out to see Hannah G., she says she is no longer in love with him because she can’t love someone who doesn’t love her. Face-to-face, Hannah G. lays out how he wronged her and can’t stop asking him what happened. She’s angrier than Tayshia. She starts with the “what ifs” and that is hard to watch. His answer to every question is that he was in love with Cassie.
After some former “Bachelor” men come out to discuss what Colton has been through, we see more of Colton saying he still loves Cassie, and then Cassie saying she can’t wait to get home and move on with her life. (Ouch!)
Colton vows to fight for Cassie, and we see him going to her hotel room and knocking on the door.
We’ll have to tune in tomorrow night to see what does or doesn’t happen with Cassie.
The final installment of the Season 23 finale — After the Final Rose — airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 12. This is also where we learn who will be the new Bachelorette (internet rumors say Miss Alabama USA, Hannah Brown).
Previous ‘Bachelor’ coverage
▪ Learn more about this season’s North Carolina contestants Caelynn Miller-Keyes and Nina Bartula.
▪ Our recap of Week 1 of ‘The Bachelor,’ when the women met Colton for the first time.
▪ Our recap of Week 2, when we got the first indications of discord between Miss North Carolina USA and Miss Alabama USA.
▪ Our recap of Week 3, when the battle between Miss North Carolina USA and Miss Alabama USA really caught fire.
▪ Our recap of Week 4, when Caelynn told Colton about the trauma of being raped in college.
▪ Our recap of Week 5, when Colton had it with all the bickering and stormed off the show without a rose ceremony.
▪ Our recap of Week 6, when all three women leaving the show warned Colton that someone left on the show is trouble.
▪ Our recap of Week 7, when Colton was told Caelynn and Cassie weren’t being honest with him, but he picked them anyway.
▪ Our recap of Week 8, when Colton met Caelynn’s family and later sent her home without a rose.
▪ Our recap of Week 9, when Cassie broke Colton’s heart into a million pieces and Colton jumped the fence to escape the show.
▪ Our recap of Week 9’s Women Tell All special, in which Caelynn confronted Colton about her heartbreak.
▪ And going back to the previous season, here’s all of our coverage of Raleigh’s Jenna Cooper, from “The Bachelor” (Arie Season) and “Bachelor in Paradise.”