Well, here we are again everyone. The principal has fallen for the wrong contestant and you all are going to bear the brunt of my frustrations. No, not this time. You are to be spared. After four consecutive seasons of the principals sabotaging their own happiness, I’ve finally learned my lesson. And, regardless, we have far more important things to talk about.
But, briefly, Tayshia did everything right. She was flawless, as per usual, and Colton, like so many of his predecessors, failed to see what was right in front of him. And, goddammit, I wanted all of Middle America to witness their White savior Colton giving his virginity to a brilliant, capable Black woman.
And now to the task at hand.
Cassie is unsure about her feelings toward Colton. He has told her that he is falling in love with her, but she isn’t yet willing to reciprocate the sentiment. She is unwilling to reciprocate, because she has doubts about their relationship and she isn’t sure that she could spend the rest of her life with him. As a consequence of those doubts, she wants to leave him. What Cassie doesn’t understand is that having doubts is a part of any relationship. Just because she isn’t 100% sure, head-over-heals, falling endlessly into the abyss entranced by him doesn’t mean their relationship is doomed to fail and not worth pursuing.
It is so frustrating to watch the gears turn in her head, because it is incalculably obvious that she should take a chance on this relationship, yet she has clearly been trained to believe that the love she is experiencing isn’t “real” love. This is a phenomenon that is entrenched in her family. The first time we saw it was with Cassie’s sister who demanded that if Cassie even thought for one second that Colton wasn’t one hundred thousand percent perfect for her in every way, then she should look elsewhere. Maybe I was exaggerating. She said, “There are hundreds of other guys out there too, you know? So if he’s not a hundred percent the one. If there’s any doubt, like, don’t shove that down. I know you better than anyone and I literally think that you’re perfect and I want you to be with somebody that’s perfect. Like this actually could be somebody that is forever, you know? And I don’t want you to settle for anything less.” So I was close! (I also like how she said “hundreds” of guys, because out of the 4 Billion men in the world, there are only between 100 and 999 that live up to her standards.) How on Earth are you supposed to approach any relationship when your standards are that astronomical?! Doubts are natural. Doubts are healthy even. But doubts should not be exploited to end a relationship.
And then Cassie’s dad comes into our picture. And this is where the family’s culture of not understanding love is mixed with a miscalculation that leads to a spiraling cycle of anxiety. Cassie’s dad may sense a hint of trepidation in his daughter when Colton arrives at hometowns. He refuses to give Colton his blessing, because he is unconvinced that Cassie is fully committed. A “blessing” (in my opinion) in our modern day (as modern as The Bachelor is) gives a man the approval from the parents to propose to the parents’ daughter. This does not seal a marriage. It merely gives the man the privilege of posing the question to the woman. It is entirely the woman’s decision to accept or deny. Colton is clearly not a Bad Man, which is the main test of the “blessing,” so Cassie’s dad should have given Colton his blessing and left the real decision up to Cassie. This uncharacteristic choice to not give Colton his blessing begins the spiral.
Essentially, Cassie’s dad didn’t give Colton his blessing because he believed Cassie was unsure. When Cassie found out her dad hadn’t given his blessing, she became more unsure. Then when Cassie’s dad arrived in Portugal and saw how unsure his daughter was, he expressed even more concern, which made Cassie yet more unsure about her relationship with Colton. What started as a small hole of doubt had spiraled into an abyss of insecurity.
The source of this doubt far precedes Colton’s entrance into Cassie’s life. It begins with how her parents explained love to her. When Cassie’s dad arrives in Portugal, he gives us a glimpse saying, “There shouldn’t be any hesitation in your mind when you meet somebody you want to spend the rest of your life with. None. […] If you can come to hometown and you were like I know beyond a shadow of a doubt he’s my soulmate, this is the guy, here’s why, all that sort of stuff, it would have a big different conversation.” He is the source of these outrageous expectations. He is unknowingly creating a standard that no one will ever be able to meet for his daughter. How does he expect her to end up happy?
He expects her to end up happy because he is happy and he believes that what he keeps telling her is his history. He explains to her, “You know when I met Mom, I wasn’t looking for a relationship at all. And she came into my life and boom. I was struck. And those relationships don’t come around very often, but when they do there’s no doubt. And it’s the best feeling. But I want that same feeling for you.” He has been in her shoes of being young and single and unsure, and he has proof that the perfect person is out there and you know instantaneously. But perhaps he is viewing his past with rose-colored glasses. I have my extreme doubts that he never for a second was unsure about his relationship with his wife. I think it is highly likely that over the three decades since that relationship was conceived, the doubts have been forgotten. There. Are. Always. Doubts. And, though he may not remember them, he is doing a severe disservice to his daughter by pretending they didn’t exist.
You want to know who probably has doubts in this relationship? Colton! In fact, Colton has such doubts that he is dating two other women still. What comes next is the most riveting half hour in The Bachelor franchise since Arie left Becca. And, arguably, it was more riveting than that.
Colton enters dinner more confident in their relationship than ever. Cassie enters planning to leave.
Cassie expresses her concerns as originally voiced by her father. And yet she says that today was perfect and that she loves him so much, like, so much, but that she’s not in love.
And at this moment, both parties fully realize what is going on.
Cassie continues to try to let him down easy. Colton starts to unveil his true feelings, contrary to the show’s normal format.
Cassie then repeats that she doesn’t know, she doesn’t know, she wishes she knew.
She gets up to leave. She tells a producer that she is having doubts.
Colton tells her that it is okay to have doubts and that he is okay with being patient. He says he doesn’t want to lose her.
She says she’s never been so conflicted in her entire life.
He says he’s not asking her to make a decision and doesn’t want her to make a decision tonight. He says he wants to be with her, he wants to be around her, he can’t stop thinking about her when he’s not with her and that it’s not easy going on dates with other women when all he does is think about her. The last thing he is going to do is give up. The last thing he is going to do is walk away from this relationship.
“I just… I just wish I knew.”
“It’s okay not to know.”
“But I don’t know if it is okay not to know.”
He reminds her of their first one-on-one together and how afterwards he was most excited about their relationship. He didn’t know then, but he knows now.
“What I’ve seen has led me to believe that you do care for me and you do love me and I’m sitting here telling you that I’m in love with you.”
They take a moment to take in what just happened. They look at each other, each terrified. Then they return to the argument about knowing.
And then he says, “I care for you, I love you, I want it to be you at the end of this.” And that’s it. He’s played every card he has.
And it all goes unrequited. And he says it again. And he starts to shake. And she says, you’re shaking, which just makes him shake more. And he says, I don’t want to lose you, and he shakes more.
And she says, Colton, I can’t do this.
And he says, I don’t care if you’re about to leave I’m not going to stop fighting for you.
He walks her out and says, I want so much what’s best for you.
And she says, I want you to be so happy. I want you to be with someone who’s, like, insanely in love with you.
And he steps back with shock at how ill-thought-out that statement was and then says, that breaks my heart.
She says, I’m gonna go.
He says, K.
She asks, are you mad at me.
He says, no.
He says, I love you.
And she says, I love you.
And she leaves.
He goes back to his room to collect himself. He clearly does not collect himself. He leaves his room, goes down the stairs, hits a bottle off a table, pushes a camera out of the way and moves towards the grand, white wall that we have seen so many times before. The producers call in Chris Harrison, crisis manager, to get Colton and settle him down.
Chris Harrison says, Colton.
Colton walks towards the gate.
Chris Harrison again says, Colton.
Colton continues towards the gate.
And then Colton leaps and clears the gate in one fell swoop, a move we have admired and sought after for eight long weeks. Here he is finally vaulting himself over the wood planks. And, just as quickly as he rose, he fell. And, suddenly, he is gone.
Chris Harrison says, “He just jumped the fuckin’ fence,” in what may be the best-delivered line of his professional career. Seriously, go back and watch it.
Chris Harrison, detective, asks, is there are button that opens the gate?
Chris Harrison, sees the gate slightly ajar and pushes it enough to get through.
Chris Harrison says, Colton!
Chris Harrison says, Colton!
Chris Harrison says, there’s a dog barkin’ down there.
Chris Harrison whistles.
Chris Harrison says, I have no idea where he went.
Chris Harrison says, we’re out in the middle of nowhere.
Chris Harrison breaks into a run.
Chris Harrison asks, does anyone have any idea where he is?
Chris Harrison says, “Holy fuck. He is gone.”