IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

On ‘Bachelorette,’ denial more than a river

Watching the last few episodes of “The Bachelorette” is a lot like being chauffeured around by Toonces the Driving Cat. Everything seems to be going smoothly, and then all of a sudden — LOOK OUT!
/ Source: Entertainment Weekly

Watching the last few episodes of “The Bachelorette” is a lot like being chauffeured around by Toonces the Driving Cat. Everything seems to be going smoothly, and then all of a sudden — LOOK OUT!! — Jillian steers her car off of an emotional cliff. This week, my dear friends, was no exception.

It's hometown week, and first, Jillian's off to Philadelphia to see Reid. She's squealy and excited to meet her coffee-bearing suitor, who's standing in front of some lovely flowering trees (magnolia? dogwood?) — but she's also nervous: ''Are Reid's parents going to like me, are they going to approve?'' Even in a new state, these two have nothing to say to each other. Their conversation goes something like this:

Jillian: ''I'm nervous.''

Reid: ''I'm nervous too.''

Jillian: [long pause] ''I got nothin'.''

Reid: ''Ok, let's make out.''

They head to Reid's house, and on the way he explains to us that family approval is very important to him. ''If one disapproved, I would say that she's not the girl for me.'' Way to be your own man, Reid! But it doesn't seem like approval's going to be an issue. Reid's mom Rhonda wants her boy to get married — NOW! She doesn't even blanch when the Bachelorette refers to ''him and I,'' and when Jillian asks if she's Reid's type, Rhonda offers this artful evasion: ''I think you're adorable.''

After that, Reid's brothers let it drop that he has a commitment issue (''He doesn't have a problem getting women—they just kind of go away'') and it soon becomes clear that Reid uses the ''approval'' issue as an excuse to get out of relationships.

Explains Dad, ''I wish he would just make the decision on his own, but he seems to always ask, you know, what do you guys think?'' (Side note: could Reid's ''yeah'' have sounded any less enthusiastic when his dad asked him if he liked Jillian?) The final warning sign of the evening comes during a surprise 30th birthday party for Reid, when Jillian grabs his face and attacks it with kisses as the family looks on. ''We usually don't see you being very affectionate with people,'' says the squeaky sister-in-law. But he's got no problem mauling the Bachelorette on the front porch when they say goodbye.

Not-so-identical twinsMoving on to NoChanceville (in this case, Valencia, California), it's Michael's turn to bring Jillian home to his family. And how freaking cute is it the way he jumps up and down like a human pogo stick when he sees his family for the first time in the kitchen?

When Jillian arrives, she gives him a friendly hug, but no kiss (sigh). And while Michael goes on and on about how he and his brother Steve are identical twins, it's beyond easy to tell them apart. There's a resemblance, sure, but for one thing Steve's hair is noticeably shorter, and for another, he and Michael have completely different noses.

Still Michael thinks it'd be funny to pull the ''classic twin move — the switcheroo,'' which is doomed from the start. (Though it was worth it just to hear Michael warn Steve, ''Dude, if you kiss her I'll break your face.'') Of course, because Jillian hasn't gone blind between Philadelphia and California, she is not fooled for one tiny second.

During his chat with Jillian, Steve makes sure Jillian knows that he and his brother have always wanted to get married at a young age, because they want time with their wives to ''grow together and learn to love each other'' before kids come along. ''We want to, like, be good husbands... be good fathers.'' Could these boys be any more adorable? After a family room dance party, it's time to leave, and Jillian finally deigns to give Michael a kiss. As much as it pains me to say it, there really isn't much chemistry evident. Dad is right — poor Michael is about to get flattened.

Dolphin squeal! It's time to meet Kipper on the beach in San Diego! The sunny weather belies the dark storm of awkwardness that's coming. It starts when the couple pulls up at Kiptyn's family's home, a gorgeous, rambling estate with a spectacular view — and immediately, Jillian starts to feel like she's not good enough. ''I worry. His family might be the first family that I don't fit in with.''

And Kiptyn's clan doesn't seem interested in making her feel comfortable, given the way they greet her: Ha ha, look at the ''caution'' tape around the hot tub! You know, because Jillian made out with Jason in a hot tub last season! Oh, that never, ever gets old, does it?

To Jillian's credit, she barely blinks before firing back: ''That doesn't stop me!'' It's soon clear where Kipper gets his undercurrent of arrogance, because right after the hot tub gag, Mama Eve tells the Bachelorette that she must she must pass a test by determining which of two wines tastes best with lasagna. Fortunately, she passes, but seriously? This is their idea of a welcome?

The whole thing is doing a real number on Jillian's scant reserves of self-esteem: ''Kiptyn's family is very polished, educated and refined… They're smart, they're intelligent — they might just think I'm just a total hillbilly.''

Mama Eve doesn't appear to think Jillian is good enough for her precious ''Kip.'' First she makes light of the Bachelorette's talk of ''unconditional love'' with a horrendously tuneless imitation of Tammy Wynette, and then she hits Jillian with this question: ''If there was something about you that you could change to make Kip happier, you know, that would also make you a better person, what would that be?'' That said, their conversation ends on a happy note when Eve, apparently having satisfied her appetite for Jililan's dignity, tells her that Kip definitely ''has a little spark'' around her. Repressed dolphin squeal!

‘Wes is a deceiver’About 440 miles north in Carmel, Jillian arrives for her hometown visit with Jesse at his family's winery. Jesse's brother looks kind of like a beefier version of Sawyer from Lost, and he's equally as blunt: ''Do you love this chick?'' he asks his bro, and before Jesse can answer, Jacob adds, ''Does she want babies?''

Jesse mumbles something about how Jillian is a ''honey boo bear'' and then waffles about marriage — the most he will commit to is ''trying to make this work.'' Wow, how generous of you, Jesse! No wonder Jacob tells the Bachelorette that Jesse is ''an emotional ice cube'' sometimes — ''I haven't seen anybody yet who's been able to crack his shell.'' Whatever, let's rock-and-roll in the rec room!

Speaking of ''impromptu'' jam sessions, it's time for the hometown date we've all been waiting for. As Wes waits nervously in a parking lot somewhere in Austin, Texas, Jillian informs us in her voiceover that her goal for this date is to figure out why she still feels like she and Wes are ''holding back'' when they're together.

The country-fried douchebag doesn't hold back for a second when it comes to promoting himself; as soon as the Bachelorette arrives, he opens a big red door and announces, ''Jillian, I want you to meet my... band!''

And she LOVES it. ''This is awesome!'' squeaks Jillian, who proceeds to crack a beer and swoon with a big, goofy smile on her face.

Little does Wes know that a plane carrying a disgruntled ex-bachelor — and some extremely compromising news — is landing nearby. As we all know from the previews, it's Jake. ''Since I left Canada, I've been heartbroken,'' he says. ''Wes is a deceiver... I need to tell Jillian that Wes has a girlfriend.''

At the hotel, we're led to believe that Jake calls Tanner P(ervert) to make sure what he's doing is right, but if Captain Foot Fetish were really on the other line don't you think we would have heard his voice, too? The real purpose of the ''phone call'' is for Jake to reveal to us for the first time that Wes told him ''on several occasions'' that he was in a relationship.

Why didn't Jake just tell Jillian when he was a foot and a half away from her on the damn train car? Is it perhaps because Team Bachelorette called him with this little post-elimination assignment — maybe even dangling the possibility of a reconciliation with Jillian to sweeten the deal? Anyhow, as Jake talks to his imaginary friend, Wes continues to break the land-speed record for most falsehoods told in a single episode. ''I'm not a good liar,'' he says, his eyes shifting cartoonishly, as if to prove his point. ''I'm here for the right reason.''

Later that night, Jillian's waiting in her hotel room for Wes. Though she must know something is up since they're not heading straight to his family's house, she's still totally shocked when — knock, knock! — there's a Producer's Errand Boy at the door. It's Jake, who swallows hard and tells Jillian that she's going to ''have a hard time'' because of one of the guys left.

''Particularly Wes?'' she asks, looking relieved. ''Because of his career and why he's here? Is that why, do you think?'' Jake looks pained as he struggles for words. ''Um...'' [7-second pause] ''It's...'' [8-second pause] Jillian tries to make it easier for him,

''It's ok, just give it to me. Wes is here for his career, Wes doesn't love me, Wes is gay… just tell me what it is.'' Seriously, Jilli? What is the ONE THING you've been trying to figure out for the past three episodes? Oh, let's just let poor Jake break the news: ''Wes has a girlfriend. Her name is Laurel.''

You can almost see Jillian's spirit crumble. ''What goes around comes around,'' she says. ''And I hope he figures his s--t out and he regrets leading me on,'' she rambles tearfully. ''Honestly, I don't deserve all this bulls--t.'' Sweetheart, that is the truest thing you've said all season.

'We're just good friends'Having detonated his emotional H-bomb, Jake leaves. And within one-tenth of a millisecond of Wes' arrival, you can tell she wants to give him another chance — the girl can't help it.

Though she promises us that she's going to ''grill him as hard as I can grill him,'' she instead greets him with a big smile. ''Um, I just need to ask you one more time if there's anything that you need me to tell me about anything.'' (Good job, honey. Eliot Ness would be proud.)

Upon hearing the news that Jake ratted him out, Wes — who suddenly has a need to clear his throat constantly — is at a loss for words for the first time in his slimy Bachelorette career. ''Um... [cough]... that's... crazy.'' (Wait, this is the guy Jake calls ''quick on his feet''?) As predicted, Wes he tells Jillian that he's simply good friends with his ex-girlfriend, nothing more.

All that's left for Jillian to do is use the Imaginary Conversation Phone to call Jake and have him confront Wes in person. Wes immediately lunges like a wounded animal and accuses Jake of having a ''s--t-eating'' grin on his face, and then offers repeated denials. Jake shakes his head in disbelief and chides his former buddy for lying to his face.

Even so, Wes can't hide his disdain for the righteous pilot: ''I know you've been on bended knee talking to God, and this and that…''

Meanwhile, Jillian's head swivels back and forth between them, like she's watching the most mortifying tennis match ever. Before long she kicks Jake out, telling him, ''I just need to follow my gut.'' Good plan, sweetie. It's been a stellar guide so far.

It's too upsetting to go into detail about what happens next, but suffice it to say that Jillian — who asks ''Do I trust the all-American perfect guy, or do I trust the all-Texan bad boy?'' — makes the wrong choice. And with that, it's time to meet Wes' family.

As soon as they sit down to dinner, Jillian lets Wes tell his relatives what just happened, and of course the gaggle of nameless sisters — none of whom probably have any idea what a snake their brother really is — rally to his defense. ''He's just jealous because he got kicked off and you're still there!'' and ''Guys are always fricking jealous of you Wesley!''

And she LOVES it. ''I think Wes' family really verified to me that he does not have a girlfriend,'' says our relieved heroine.

Phew, enough drama for one episode, huh Bachelorette fans? Let's move on to the rose… Wait, what's this? Someone's knocking at the door of Jillian's hotel room. Why, it's Ed — aka Producer's Errand Boy No. 2 — and he's wearing a truly unfortunate argyle sweater. Day-um, Team Bachelorette! Did you not hear her when she said, ''I can't handle any more surprises''?

The conversation is predictable: Ed says he made a ''huge mistake'' and he wants ''another shot,'' and Jillian, whose cranium is barely holding itself together after these repeated assaults on her emotions, agrees. (Was there really any doubt?) ''Of course I have all these concerns that go through my head, but I think that you should come to the rose ceremony tonight.'' Oh boy, it is so too much to hope for that she'll keep Ed and Michael and kick Wes to the curb, isn't it?

At the pre rose-ceremony chat Jillian gets my hopes up: ''There's a lot about [Wes], some major conflicts that I don't know if I'm going to be able to get over.''

But who are we kidding? Kip and Reid are shoe-ins, Jillian basically already admitted that she's going to choose Wes come hell or high water, Michael has no shot... Let's just get this over with: As soon as Ed strolls into the rose ceremony room, you can see from Michael's face that he knows he's toast. Wes gets the ''final rose tonight,'' leaving the break dancer and the wine-making bore with nothing to show for the last few weeks except a thorough knowledge of the Canadian wilderness.

Michael, as always, keeps it classy, even in his grief: ''I can not say a bad thing about the girl… Oh, man, I straight up love that girl, didn't I?'' Yes you did, pal, but don't worry — you'll find someone who truly appreciates your awesomeness. Let's start the movement now: Michael for the next Bachelor!!