Breaking down ‘The Bachelor’ jumping the fence
Welcome to Portugal, the land of tiny fish, extra-virgin olive oil and our 23rd bachelor, Colton Underwood. This week, Colton is poised to get his chance in the fantasy suites, where he will have off-camera time with his finalists and might have sex for the first time.
The prospect of physical intimacy can make for tantalizing reality television, but the bigger moment viewers have been not-so-patiently waiting for all season is much less pedestrian and much more a feat of brute strength and desperation: The moment Colton goes rogue, rips off his mic and jumps over a fence to escape the “Bachelor” holding pen. It’s been teased for months now, and it’s finally here.
But first, Colton will have a completely forgettable date with Tayshia, who loves Colton but doesn’t have the feelings returned. They ride in a helicopter over the picturesque Algarve coast — “a perfect day,” Tayshia calls it — and end their night in the fantasy suite, where it seems they did not do much more than talk all night. And in the morning, she learns he’s never eaten a date before and is creeped out by dried figs. All things one should know before getting physically intimate with someone, so we’re glad Tayshia didn’t get to consummate this relationship.
Afterward, it’s on to Colton’s date with Cassie, which provided most of the episode’s drama. Let’s break down every delicate moment.
A surprise guest
Colton’s downfall started with a surprise guest that he never even saw: Matt Randolph, Cassie’s dad, who came strolling in to the resort where Colton and Cassie are staying. “It’s great to see my daughter, but I came here because I have a concern with the potential engagement that may be around the corner,” he told the camera.
Earlier in the episode, Cassie was not pleased to learn that Colton had not received her father’s blessing for potential marriage during her hometown date last week. So when Cassie sat down with her dad (after being shocked he was there at all), she let him know she was disappointed: “You guys weren’t as supportive as I thought you would be.”
Her dad broke the bad news: He couldn’t give Colton his blessing because, even though he seemed like a swell guy, Cassie didn’t seem as though she was all that into him. He dropped some solid dad wisdom: “There shouldn’t be any hesitation in your mind when you meet somebody that you want to spend the rest of your life with,” he said. “That’s just not the vibe we got.”
Sure enough, Cassie admitted she was having serious doubts about whether he was her soul mate. “I want to feel that 100 percent this is the person for me,” she said, wiping away tears. “And I don’t have that right now.”
Her dad, frankly, looked relieved. “Just be brutally honest, when you talk to him about what you’re going through and what you’re feeling … and let the chips fall where they may,” he said. And, oh, boy, did she ever.
Our Bachelor is literally shaking
Cassie enters the evening part of their date having decided that she needs to send herself home. “I love you so much,” Cassie tells Colton, the words every final-three contestant needs to utter before entering the fantasy suite. “But I’m not in love.”
Sitting with Colton, Cassie repeats “I don’t know” dozens of times. While some “Bachelor” contestants might adhere to overly positive affirmations to manifest love and happiness, Cassie’s mantra is indecision.
In the face of her uncertainty, Colton begins to shake. It’s his fear, unhinged: that he’d get to the end of this, and the person he loves wouldn’t choose him. He doesn’t care that she doesn’t know if she wants to get engaged — he just wants her. And it’s the most direct we’ve ever seen a Bachelor behave when there’s still another beautiful blonde waiting in the wings.
“I don’t want to lose you,” he tells her. “It’s OK not to know.” He begins to break from the confines of the show: He’s OK not getting engaged at the end, he tells her. “I’m sitting here, telling you that I am in love with you,” an admission that doesn’t usually come until the end. Another unwritten rule broken, and another: “I want it to be you at the end of this.” And yet they say goodbye.
There are only six minutes left in the episode as Cassie is driven away in an SUV crying. America leans in with anticipation. The Fence looms over us all; its shadow is dark and cold. But soon, like Colton, we will be free.
Colton locks the door of his fantasy suite, which is inexplicably in some kind of treehouse. His swearing is bleeped out.
“I’m done. I’m done with this,” he says.
But it’s not long before he emerges from his arboreal sanctum. He pushes the camera lens! As if he were Britney Spears facing off against the paparazzi in 2007. He glares. He is done with this, but we are just getting started.
Because he is in a treehouse, Colton’s escape is not simple or swift. He has to fight his way down approximately 52 flights of stairs, with camera operators trailing him closely. There is the kind of shaky camera work that makes for riveting TV. It is raw. It is real. It is finally — finally! — happening.
He rips off his microphone. The closed captioning narrates: “(thud) (object clattering).”
“Can we get Chris?” says a genuinely alarmed-sounding producer. “Call Chris.”
Where has Chris Harrison been this whole time? Not far away, because he emerges almost instantly. He comes out with the manner of Marlon, the best friend in the film “The Truman Show,” to try to coax Colton back into his manicured reality.
But he is too slow. Colton is there, Colton is levitating, and Colton is gone.
“He just jumped the (bleeped) fence,” says Chris Harrison, astonished.
Except, really, it’s a gate. You can go over a gate, like Colton does, or you can go through it. “Is there a button that opens the gate?” asks Chris. There is, but the gate opens slowly, which gives Colton a critical head start. The producers call his name, the dogs bark at the commotion, but it is too late.
“He hopped the fence and took off; I have no idea where he went,” says Chris. “Holy (another bleep). He is gone.”
There is darkness everywhere, but for Colton, there is only light. His destiny has been fulfilled. The spell is broken.
Bachelor on the loose!
Consider Colton on the other side of the wall, on the other side of the fence, the fence that was really just a gate this whole time. Colton walking dark streets, paved, but only just. Dogs are barking, and maybe he thinks, “This is awful. This is all so awful. But dogs, dogs are nice,” the way you sometimes do in the middle of a tragedy when you snap out of focus and fixate on some background detail. Or maybe he is thinking, implausibly, of Robert Frost. Maybe he’s whispering a few lines, memorized long ago: “I have been one acquainted with night./ I have walked out in rain — and back in rain./ I have outwalked the furthest city light.”
Or more likely he’s just thinking about the dark. A dark so total he can’t even see Cassie when he closes his eyes, not even in that incandescent dress she was wearing, that dress made of fabric woven like chainmail, like armor against what was coming. Because she knew, she had said as much when he asked her. “Were you planning on leaving tonight?” And she was. She always was. She always had been, everyone had told him. Sidney had warned him. Katie had warned him. Kirpa had warned him. The ones he had sent home. The ones he didn’t love. He loved Cassie. He loves Cassie.
And Cassie. Cassie. Isn’t here.
The dogs are here. The dogs are there. Out there, barking in the numinous shade, as if calling him home. And somewhere in the distance, Chris Harrison’s voice, calling Colton, whistling, as if he were a dog.