There were a lot of lessons you could take home from tonight’s episode of The Bachelorette, the latter third of which was devoted to a tense, tearful blowout between last season’s Bachelor Jake Pavelka and his very ex-fiance Vienna Girardi. First and foremost, no person capable of/interested in experiencing real human emotion (or even a close approximation) would ever seek to find a mate on reality television. But we already knew that, didn’t we?* More revelatory were the tidbits we learned about the unhappy couple: Jake is good at memorizing talking points, but fails miserably when it comes to masking the barely suppressed rage pulsating along his jawline. Vienna has already rebounded and found a groovy kind of love — with the sound of her own rapid-fire, discordant voice. And neither one of these petulant, camera-consuming demons is about to go quietly back to that good day job.
All that said, however, if I had to score tonight’s verbal boxing match, I’d have to give the heavyweight famewhoring belt to Vienna (and I mean that in as complimentary a way as I can say about anything that occurred on my television tonight between the hours of 8 and 10 p.m. ET).
Let me put it this way: I’m not sure if Vienna was ever “here for the right reasons” — as participants of the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise are so fond of saying — but at the very least, during tonight’s interview she was able to recount specific anecdotes of her “life” together with Jake, and point to concrete examples of mistakes that he’d made in their “relationship.” Let’s review: We had Jake’s hurling of the GPS during their drive through Los Angeles, Jake’s meltdown when Vienna suggested shifting the position of their bedroom furniture, Jake’s rage that “a gay guy named Todd” (niiice!) had been in their apartment, and some hard-to-follow bit about the cross-country travel itinerary for a very sick puppy. (No, I’m not talking about Kasey, I mean an actual puppy!) As Vienna so snappily put it: “Can we get a polygraph? ‘CAUSE YOU WOULD FAIL IT!” That moment was brought to you by the word “snap!”
On the other hand, Vienna’s explanation for why she’d chosen to stay in L.A. was about as natural as her hair color. It’s all well and good that she’s now working as a marketing exec — I’ll pause here to let you laugh that one out — for a hair-product company that helps people with cancer. (Vienna! She’s an angel of compassion and commerce!) But I’d have had more respect less contempt for her if she’d just ‘fessed up and said, “Look, since I’m not marrying a guy with a commercial airline pilot’s income, I’ve gotta pay the rent the best way I know how.”
Jake, for his part, seemed to be channeling Terry O’Quinn in The Stepfather, or Terry O’Quinn as Lost‘s Mr. Smokey. His mouth set in an unwavering line, his eyes boilingeth over with fury, he spoke like a man who had come to a streetfight armed with a half-dozen vague and pre-rehearsed anecdotes, and was shocked to discover his adversary was shooting arrows coated in the poison of “40% truth.” I half-expected the dude to announce to Vienna that “Any further criticism of Jake** will result in your immediate strangulation.” Indeed, other than that winning bon mot about Vienna being “like a tabloid,” Jake came off as relentlessly creepy: The way he addressed all his answers to Chris Harrison (not Vienna), the way he spoke about Vienna like a disappointed boss rather than a scorned lover (how about griping she’d participated in an “unauthorized interview”!?), and the way he chanted the words “undermines,” “emasculates,” and “disrespects” like he’d spent two sleep-deprived weeks in a new-age spa praying that his failed fake TV relationship wouldn’t cost him any awesome future gigs on Drop Dead Diva. By the time he shouted “Be quiet while I’m talking!,” I wondered if Vienna fled the scene in tears because of the harshness of his words, or the eeriness of what was going on behind his eyes.
Two final notes: You know that every single former and future Bachelor participant wondered aloud “How did she pull off something that amazing?” after Jake accused Vienna of scoring five tabloid covers in two days.
And as for Jake’s summation — “Unfortunately that is what one of our arguments looks like” — are any of you wishing now that maybe, just maybe, you hadn’t experienced such a splatteringly ugly dose of “reality”? Sound off in the comments below, and to get the whole shebang on tonight’s Bachelorette proceedings, log on to EW.com in the early morning to read Jennifer Armstrong’s hilarious recap. [SPOILERS AHEAD!] Jennifer will have all the deets on who stayed, who went home***, and who disrespected a totally adorable mod-squad dress almost as badly as she treated her suede boots while courting creepy Jake (UPDATE: Click over to read Jennifer’s Bachelorette recap). Plus, don’t miss Chris Harrison’s Bachelorette blog post about tonight’s proceedings. Not to be missed!
*If you answered “no” to that question, please join the therapy circle in the comments section below.
**You know in his mind Jake refers to himself in the third person.
*** Tonight’s evicted gentleman has a name that rhymes with “Bye!”
****Follow Slezak on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak!