Tierra returns to defend her existence, but it's AshLee who steals the show with her tales of Sean's intimate confessions

By Kristen Baldwin
March 13, 2015 at 08:57 PM EDT
ABC
S17 E10
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Hello again, rose lovers! And no, that nerve-shattering screeching noise you hear is not the sound of an 18-wheeler being peeled open like a sardine can by a low-clearance overpass. It is, in fact, the lusty war cry of the audience here in the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, in response to Chris Harrison’s opening question: “How many of you think this is the best Bachelor season ever?”

To prove it, Team Bachelor opens this season’s WTA with a taped segment showing Sean and Harrison crashing Bachelor viewing parties, to the shrieky delight of women in the greater Los Angeles area. “It’s an incredible feeling to think that people are so invested into my story and the love that I’m searching for,” marvels Sean. “It’s a very humbling feeling.” At a surprise visit to a UCLA sorority house, the frenzied mob of Delta Gammas were able to bully Sean into disrobing by chanting “Take your shirt off!”, but I was a little disappointed that they didn’t complete the hazing ritual by forcing him to stand on a block of ice while drinking gallon jugs of Poland Spring until he passed out from hyponatremia.

Time to welcome the “ladies”! Say hello to Ashley P., Diana, Brooke, Daniella, Jackie, Kacie, Leslie H., Kristy, Taryn, Katie, Amanda, Selma, Robyn, Sarah, Desiree, Lesley M., and AshLee. (Applause-o-meter winner: Desiree.) After a highlight reel that hits all the rewind-worthy moments of the season (e.g. 50 Shades of Drunk falling down the stairs) and recaps Tierra’s many calamities — while also, notably, taking a quick detour to paint AshLee as a “control freak” who the “ladies” never liked (“She saw Sean on TV, and now she’s in love,” sneers Des) — Harrison turns it over to the women to discuss the epicenter of the season’s many crazyquakes: Tierra. Naturally, most of the “ladies” have zingers at the ready: Selma quips that they kept telling Tierrarist, “Ya gotta hide your crazy”; while Lesley jumps in with “Your sparkle didn’t sparkle that big!” A quick vote of the audience determines that all of America believes Tierra’s fall down the stairs and her “hypothermia” were faked, while Robyn — who new angled bob looks fantastic — admits that she paid less attention to Sean because she was so wrapped up in the Tierrarist drama. “I’m sitting here at Women Tell All, mad all over again!”

After the commercial break, a stagehand draws Tierra a map to the hot seat, and she tentatively makes her way to the center of the Thunderdome to tepid applause. (Thanks, Team Bachelor, for not making us wait until hour two for this main event.) Tierra proceeds to tell Harrison that normally she brings “this joy” and “this smile” wherever she goes, but as soon as she walked into Casa Bachelor with the first rose, she was surrounded by judgey bitches who just wanted to take her down. But other women got roses on dates, Harrison replies, and no one hated them. “I didn’t want to be friends with them,” explains Tierra. “Sean put in my mindset… ‘Tierra, focus on the prize.'” Fair enough, muses the host, but can’t you focus on the “prize” and still respond when someone says good morning? “I felt ganged up on,” squeaks Tiny T. “Every girl on the house talked about one another… You never heard me on the show ever say somebody’s name directly, like, ‘Oh she was a b-i-t… She was this, she was that. Never!'” (Did she peter out back there because she doesn’t know how to spell bitch? Inquiring minds want to know!)

NEXT: Desiree ditches her bangs

Long story short, the Tierrarist regrets nothing. Upon hearing this, the “ladies” roll their eyes, shake their heads in disgust, and whisper among themselves. By the time the commercial break is over, they’re ready to put Tiny T’s head on a spike. “You’re delusional!” declares Robyn, as the audience ooooohs with delight. Jackie chimes in with, “She was there to be fake, to show Sean a good face, and that’s it”; and Selma recounts the much-discussed Good Morning Incident, in which Tierra ignored the proffered salutation. Naturally, Tiny T. claims she does not recall it: “I honestly can’t tell you what, every day, happened in the house.”

Tierra next attempts to deflect the attention to AshLee, saying she only defended herself after her elderly rival kept “picking” at her and lied to her about what she told Sean. Foster Care is not having it: “I take great offense to you sitting here and calling me a liar,” AshLee growls. Let’s be honest, rose lovers, AshLee can be pretty scary; and Harrison wants to know, was she “a bit of a bully” in St. Croix? “Tierra made her own bed, her own cot, what have you,” quips Lesley, the room’s only other eye-witness to the fight, since Catherine’s sequestered somewhere in the Final Two Fortress. “I think [AshLee] was tough, but I think somebody had to be.” Applause all around! Still, despite numerous attempts to break Tierra’s spirit and have her break down in tears the way Courtney did at last year’s Women Tell All, the closest Team Bachelor ever gets to a Tierra meltdown is this half-assed apology: “I think I came into this really scared,” Tiny T tells her adversaries, her eyes shining. “And I didn’t really know how to handle it. And I handled it, I guess, in a bad way. And I apologize.”

And while we may never know whether Tierra’s new fiancé is a real person, we did learn something revelatory about the Tierrarist tonight, and (more importantly) about her SparkleTM: “When I was a little girl, I won Little Miss Nevada.” That kind of explains it all, doesn’t it?

Moving to the opposite end of the humanity spectrum, it’s time for Sarah to get her moment of nostalgic humiliation. “It’s hard to see that and wonder why, what changed in Sean’s head,” sighs Sarah tearfully after re-watching Sean break up with her. “It’s the worst to be told you’re great, but you’re not good enough for me.” Though she can’t help herself from falling back on the “it must be because I have one arm” mindset, Sarah does feel the time she spent on her Bachelor “journey” has taught her to be more “vulnerable.” Hmmm, if she could learn to stop talking through her nose Sarah might not be a bad Bachelorette…

Oh, wait — sorry, that slot may already be taken. Desiree, you’re up! (And I have to say, you’re one of the few people on this planet who may, in fact, look better with bangs. But that’s not important right now.) Des and her naked forehead watch from the corner-cam as Team Bachelor rolls the footage of Sean’s extremely uncomfortable goodbye yet again, and underneath her composed exterior she is still clearly a roiling cauldron of hurt feelings. “I saw our lives lining up,” says Des tremulously. “I pictured ourselves together.” As for her rude brother, Des insists he was just being “protective,” but admits he may have sabotaged her chances with Sean: “I would be curious to see if my brother hadn’t been there, would things have been different?” Harrison calls her “very beloved,” but declines to anoint her as the next Bachelorette… yet.

NEXT: AshLee to Sean: You’re a lyin’ frat boy!

The final “lady” to take her spot in the hot seat is, of course, AshLee, who’s working some quality revenge extensions and a form-fitting blue dress. Her wordless goodbye to Sean, she explains, wasn’t about being “pissed” (“You look pissed!” insists Harrison), but more about feeling colossally misled and blindsided. “He’d been telling me, ‘You’re going to meet my family — you and my sister are going to be best friends.’ So this whole time I’m thinking, ‘Huh, I got this,'” she admits. “And then all of a sudden I didn’t.” AshLee says watching the show back has helped her reel in her feelings for the Bachelor, primarily because he’s a big ol’ phony. (I’m paraphrasing.)  “With me he was just a southern gentleman, and with the other girls — I mean, hate me for this — but he kind of acted like a frat boy,” sniffs AshLee. “Was he just pretending the whole time with me?”

Is it worth trying to explain to AshLee that Sean probably acted differently around her because he didn’t feel comfortable enough to reveal his goofier, frat-boy side? Nah, let’s just toss Sean to the Thunderdome crowd and see how they like his explanation! “There were times where I felt like I couldn’t find that laughter with you,” the Bachelor tells AshLee, once the screaming and catcalls from the audience dies down. “I just had to go with the two women that I felt I could create that family with that I want to.” AshLee lets that “you have no sense of humor” blow glance off of her emotional armor and swipes back with a new attack: Why didn’t he come check on her while she sat alone in her hotel room waiting for the next flight out of Thailand? “But Sean, you’re a gentleman — you’re supposed to be the man here… And knowing how much I’ve given to you, to not just say, ‘Babe, are you okay?'”

Clearly if he had, the answer would have been “Hell no!”, especially given the version of events that AshLee believes she just lived; in that version, claims AshLee, Sean told her he “had absolutely no feelings” for Lindsay and Catherine. A low murmur of oh, guurrrrrrrrrrrl rumbles through the audience.

Sean: I didn’t say that.

AshLee: Sean.

Sean: I had absolutely no feelings for the other two women? I didn’t say that.

AshLee: Twice, you didn’t say that Sean?

Sean: I… promise that I didn’t say that. I didn’t and I wouldn’t say that.

AshLee: Sean, come on.

This goes on for a while, and even after AshLee clarifies her accusation — “Here’s what you said, ‘There’s absolutely nothing between us,’ that’s exactly what was said” — Sean continues to deny saying any combination of the words “feelings,” “absolutely,” “no,” and “nothing.” AshLee continues to insist that she’s “not making that up,” until eventually the whole Tealight Thunderdome is cloaked in a blanket of awkward silence. Um, Harrison, a little help here? “Well, I’m not sure if this helped or hurt,” says the host. “But I am glad both of you got to finally have the talk that you didn’t get to have in Thailand.”

NEXT: RIP Magic.

And they keep having it, even during the commercial breaks. Thankfully, Team Bachelor keeps the cameras rolling to catch Sean and AshLee’s whispered confab. “I would have never said something like that,” he says. Snaps AshLee, “But you did! You did! I want to beat you right now because you said it.” Once everyone’s returned to their assigned seats and Harrison gives Sean the last word, the Bachelor offers one final denial and an olive branch of sorts: “Obviously I must have said something that misled AshLee and I’m sorry if I did.”

Sadly, this year’s blooper reel is far too short — my favorites were the camera operator taking a dive while walking backwards on the wet Casa Bachelor cobblestones, and Jackie panicking over a sinister-looking duck — and before you know it it’s time for the finale preview. Rather, it’s time for an extended season review with just a few scenes from next week’s three-hour (kill me, people) event that we’ve already seen multiple times. Who’s the letter from, you guys? WHO IS IT FROM??

So what did you think, rose lovers? Was AshLee telling the truth, or did she just want to sow seeds of discontent in his current relationship as her last act of revenge? (Or is the truth somewhere in-between?) Should Desiree cut some bangs, stat? And is it me or did Tierra’s dent look less… dent-y tonight? Post your thoughts now! And be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s behind-the-scenes blog over in PopWatch.

As for you Magic, Godspeed little puppy. Your daddy may be an evil genius, but he obviously loved you very much.

Chris Harrison hosts the veteran reality romance series. Will you accept this rose?
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