By Kristen Baldwin
March 12, 2019 at 10:27 PM EDT
S23 E12
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For those keeping score, rose lovers, the list of “shocking” Bachelor finales now reads as follows: “Bachelor proposes to one woman, then dumps her on TV and proposes the runner-up instead” (Jason Mesnick, Arie Luyendyk Jr.); “Bachelor chooses no one” (Brad Womack, round 1); and now “Bachelor sends two of the final three home early and chases down/begs the woman who dumped him to take him back.”

Chris Harrison welcomes us from the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, and then we rejoin Colton as he pulls a Hail Mary, already in progress. Is it me, or does Cassie not look that surprised to see Colton at her door?

ABC

“I wanted to have another conversation with you,” says Colton. They head outside to the Second-Chance Bench, where the (former?) Bachelor makes his case. “I ended things with Tayshia and Hannah,” says Colton. Now Cassie looks surprised.

ABC

Poll: Is Cassie happy or freaked out about Colton’s revelation? Post your thoughts in the comments. (My vote is on the latter, but I may be in the minority.) Anyhow, the Bachelor goes on to reiterate that he doesn’t need Cassie to marry him right now, he just wants her to give their relationship a “second chance,” and take things “day by day.” Cassie is completely flabbergasted by what Colton is telling her, and it takes her a minute to form a response. “I think being sure of how I feel for some reason is really hard for me,” she says. “[Tayshia and Hannah G.] could give you that, and I couldn’t. And I wanted you to have that… I don’t want you to give up things. I feel like in the future that could make you resent me, too.”

Colton assures her that “compromise” and “sacrifice” are part of love, so he’s fine with rejecting two sure things and gambling on Cassie’s maybe-someday love. “I’m not telling you that I love you — I want to show you,” he says. And she LOVES it, I guess?

ABC

“I don’t understand what’s happening,” says Cassie, who starts to giggle semi-hysterically as Colton tells her about hopping an “8-foot fence” and running away from the cameras. She’s shocked into silence, though, when Colton says he wants to take her to Spain, where his family is waiting to meet his chosen ones… I mean, one. Cassie agrees, with this caveat: “I don’t know what I’m ready for — I feel good right now, though.”

Welp. ¡Vamos a España, rose lovers!

If you were a fan of Love Island (and really, you should check it out), you already know that Mallorca, Spain is the perfect place to fall in love — or “couple up,” as they say on that show. But is it the perfect place to meet your quasi-boyfriend’s parents, especially when they know you recently dumped him and left him heartbroken?

Colton sits down with his family — his mom Donna, his dad Scott, his brother Connor, and assorted in-laws – to deliver us some news that I didn’t see coming.

ABC

[spit take] Holy crap, what?!? The family reacts with embarrassed chuckles. Turns out, though, Colton was just joshin’ — his purity remains, uh, pure. “That’s something you can keep private,” Colton’s dad tells him, and he’s not really joking. The real bomb the Bachelor wants to drop is this: He’s only bringing one woman to meet them, and oh by the way, it’s the one who crushed his heart into misery dust during their Fantasy Suite date. “I went from 30 women to zero, and now to one,” he explains. When dad asks if he thinks Cassie is in love with him, Colton is honest: “At this point, no.” (Next: Cassie meets the parents)

Our Bachelor remains endearingly, tragically optimistic, though. As he walks away to fetch Cassie from her holding pen, Colton says, “If things go well today, Cassie could be in love with me at the end of this week.” No pressure, Cassie! Also, no pressure, Colton’s family! Oh great, Cassie’s not even inside yet and already she’s crying.

ABC

“I didn’t want to let them down,” she says of Colton’s family. “This is probably not what they expected. I want to be able to tell them things that, like, they will want to hear. I just don’t want to go in there confused and I feel like I am.”

Then why did you even agree to go in there, woman? You are obviously not that into Colton! Even if you do like the guy, surely you could have talked him into doing this first meeting later, when your relationship had progressed a bit more, or doing it off-camera? Yes, I know that Team Bachelor already spent the money to fly the Underwood clan to Spain, and they sure as hell were going to do everything possible to make an on-camera meeting happen… but Colton was so desperate to keep Cassie around, if she had refused to meet the family right away, he’d have gone along with it.

Forgive me. I occasionally slip up and attempt to apply logic to this show and the people in it. Let’s move on.

“I want you to be yourself,” says Colton. “They’re going to love you.” No, pressure, everybody!

The initial meeting is, in a word, tense. After a round-robin of hugs, Cassie gives a tremulous opening statement, explaining that she initially dumped Colton because she didn’t know if she could “get there” with him. “It’s been really hard… Even like, coming in here, and knowing that you guys had expectations for what you wanted for him,” she continues. “It’s been hard knowing that I’m not going to live up to that necessarily right now.” The edit makes it seem as though everyone just sits quietly, staring, as Cassie talks.

ABC

Donna finally breaks the silence. “Hey, could we have a minute?” she asks her son, and they walk away from the table, arm-in-arm. “The fact that she left sort of scares me for you,” says mom. “I just don’t want you to get set up for another heartbreak.” Colton seems ready for this, and he assures his mom that Cassie is “different,” that he’s “a different person” than he was during The Bachelorette, and that he’s “extremely optimistic” about their future together. The poor guy also seems to think that because he’s so head-over-heels for Cassie, she’ll eventually have to love him back.

Meanwhile, Scott is doing his best to make Cassie feel comfortable. “There’s something extremely special about you if you’re sitting here,” he says. “I know that when he loves, he loves all the way.” Cassie’s all, Right? That kind of makes me nervous too. “I love him, and I care about him so much,” she hedges, “but I’m hoping for clarity to figure out if this truly is going to work.” When it’s just Scott and the producer, though, his concerns come out: “We still sit with the possibility that he will be heartbroken at the end of this.”

We all know, of course, that the only conversation that really matters is the one between Cassie and Colton’s mom. Donna asks Cassie to walk her through the week, starting with her “decision to bail.” (Tough but fair, mom!) Cassie talks about “pressure” and “different pages” and Colton being “a step ahead” of her — in other words, HE LIKES HER WAY MORE THAN SHE EVER WILL LIKE HIM. Why are we still here, even?

“I love hard and fast,” Colton tells his dad. “She doesn’t. She’s going to take her time, and I’m okay with that.” Great job, buddy — you just made your dad cry!

ABC

“I know how you are when you’re in love,” says Scott, wiping tears from his eyes. “And seeing you hurt after that hurt bad.” Of course, though, Scott and the whole Underwood fam are just going to cross their fingers and hope that Cassie doesn’t break their boy’s heart. Like we all know she will.

With the family visit over, you’d think that Colton and Cassie and the Underwoods would just fly back to America. But Team Bachelor already booked a bunch of non-refundable hotel rooms and scheduled a bunch of lavish dinners for two in eerily-empty public spaces… so these two crazy kids aren’t going anywhere. Plus, producers wanted a deflowering, and as God is their witness, they are going to get a deflowering. “I can’t wait for these next few days,” Colton tells Cassie. “We’re going to make the most of them for sure.”

Which means, of course, that we’re going to have to sit through one last date — producers have two hours to fill, after all — as Cassie and Colton explore the island. Will Cassie be able to figure out “once and for all” whether she loves Colton by spending the day rappelling down a mountain toward what looks like a meager-looking picnic on the beach? It’s hilarious to me how contestants on this show think that “falling in love” is like a switch flipping, something that happens over the course of one outdoor activity or slow dance in front of a bunch of strangers and their cell phones. But once again, I digress. Get your butts down that cliff, you two! We need some metaphors about “taking a leap” without a “safety net”!

ABC

Once they’re safely at the bottom, Colton asks Cassie again what scares her the most about being in a relationship with him. Rather than telling him the truth — Uh, sorry, I’m not that into you — she takes a nine-second pause and then explains that she’s commitment-phobic in general. (I’m paraphrasing.) “I dated someone in college,” she continues. “He had planned out when he was going to propose to me. Then it got pretty controlling.” (You can see this all play out in season 2 of Cassie’s Christian reality series, Young Once — but you’ll have to subscribe to some streaming service called Castle.) After that experience, Cassie tells Colton she’s worried about having another “stifling” relationship. (Next: “I’m gonna need you guys to get out”)

The Bachelor does his best to reassure her: “Relationships are all about compromise,” he says. “I want you to have your hobbies, your interests, have your family, have your circle of friends… I could go have a boys’ weekend and you go have a girls’ weekend and we’d be okay with each other.” Live your life, woman! And then come home to the big ol’ lug sitting next to you.

Cassie’s response is non-committal — “You’re so cute,” she giggles — and honestly, her subsequent interview about this exchange is pretty troubling. “More than ever I feel how much Colton loves me, and I think I’m starting to kind of accept it,” she says. “And it made me excited about the kind of relationship we could have.”

Let’s review, rose lovers: Cassie says that she’s “starting to kind of accept” Colton’s love. Not that she’s starting to reciprocate it — she’s starting to accept it, like it’s a cancer diagnosis or something. Cassie, why are you trying to make this relationship happen? It is never going to happen!

[Insert plug for Chris Harrison’s guest spot on Single Parents here. I’m not mad at it, though — the show is pretty funny.]

Then again, maybe you just need a night in the Fantasy Suite. At dinner, Cassie tells Colton that she’s starting to feel better about everything. “I feel more confident,” she says. “You’ve taught me a lot about, like, what a good relationship looks like.” Though she’s not “all in” yet, Cassie says she wants to be all in – which is something, I guess? Congrats, Colton — you now have a girlfriend who wants to like you! Either way, he LOVES it.

“You knew it was there the whole time?” Cassie gasps after Colton pulls the Fantasy Suite card out from under the woven placemat. Girl, please. Anyhow, Colton says he “couldn’t be more grateful” for this “second chance” to get busy with Cassie off-camera. (I’m paraphrasing.) Naturally, she says yes. “It’s not every day that you feel that kind of love from someone,” she says. Colton and Cassie head to their private room, and after testing the bed out – yep, it’s comfy – Colton shows production the door. Literally.

ABC

¡No molestar, y’all! Just as the happy couple is about to get to business, Cassie has a revelation: “Wait, we’re mic’d!” She and Colton come back out of the room so the crew can remove their microphones. And I practically spit out my diet ginger ale when that bearded dude from production wished Cassie and Colton luck. Mike Fleiss, give that man a raise.

Oh God, it’s filler time.

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So what happened? Perhaps we should take the footage of the birds and the bees as some kind of hint? “I feel very good waking up,” Colton says. “I feel like a new man.” While the Bachelor says he and Cassie had a “great” night and that they “grew as a couple,” he is not about to give the producer the specifics she is looking for.

ABC

Awww, rose lovers, our little baby’s all grown up. I just wish Cassie wasn’t destined to break Colton’s heart. Poor dude’s been through the wringer already. For now, though, he looks pretty happy. As he cuddles with Cassie over breakfast in bed, she wonders, in a whisper, what’s next for the both of them. “We give it our best shot,” Colton replies. “Together.” But are they truly “on the same page,” as our no-longer-a-virgin-Bachelor insists? Let’s head to the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, where the “happy” “couple” is ready (maybe?) to answer all of our questions.

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Is it me or is Cassie the only person who actually looks good in white? Anyhow, Harrison gets right to the point and asks them the status of their relationship. “We’re in love,” declares Colton. “We’re super in love,” Cassie echoes, and she almost sounds convincing. There are no engagement plans yet — thank God — but the no-longer-a-Bachelor just moved to California to be closer to Cassie, and they plan on spending the next year traveling together.

Producers then treat us to some footage of Colton and Cassie doing yoga and practicing sign language during their “Happy Couple” weekend visits. “Things have been completely different since we were in Spain,” says Cassie. She goes on to explain that while she always “felt a certain way toward” Colton, she had trouble expressing it. To illustrate that point, we watch Colton and Cassie watching a video of Cassie, in which she reads excerpts from her journal declaring her love for Colton. So… hooray, I guess?

Never mind that Colton refuses to answer Harrison’s question about whether he did, in fact, lose his virginity (he did) — because you guys AIR SUPPLY IS PLAYING LIVE RIGHT NOW!

ABC

Of course they’re playing “Making Love Out of Nothing at All.” It’s both romantic and the perfect burn. (Next: Meet the new Bachelorette!)

Welp, rose lovers, it’s announce-the-new-Bachelorette time. And the “winner” is…

ABC

Is anyone out there surprised? I mean, there were paparazzi pics of Hannah shooting her Bachelorette intro, so I’m guessing no. Unfortunately for producers, it doesn’t seem like Hannah has made any progress getting over her fear of public speaking. When Harrison asks her how’s she’s feeling, she says: “Oh man… Um, I feel all the emotions” Honestly, whenever the host asks her anything, she has a real hard time stringing words together in the proper order. My favorite non-quote? “For a minute there, it was touch-and-go, during that experience. But I… In my wildest dreams, yeah.” Um, okay?

But hey, let’s meet Hannah’s first five guys! “Potentially, you could fall in love right here, on this stage tonight,” Harrison tells her. “Wouldn’t that be somethin’!” she replies. “How do I stand?”

Don’t worry about it, sweetie. The first five guys are:

Guy No. 1: Luke

ABC

“You’re the only one that I wanted to be the next Bachelorette,” he tells Hannah. “I seriously cannot wait to get to know you on a deeper level.” See, Hannah? Talking Bachelor-ese isn’t that hard.

Guy No. 2: Dustin

ABC

Dustin is first out of the gate with a toast joke, and he tells Hannah he hopes they’re on their way to “choosing each other every single day.” Awww, it’s silly, but he’s cute.

Guy No. 3: Cam

Yes, this white man just rapped. And as we’ll see in a minute, she LOVES it.

Guy No. 4: Connor

ABC

He may be tall, but he looks like he’s about 16. Connor gives Hannah a bedazzled footstool so they can be on the “same level” in their relationship. But seriously, is he old enough to be here?

Guy No. 5: Luke S.

ABC

An unsavory oral sex joke? No thank you x 1,000. “I don’t know if I loved that,” says Harrison, looking nonplussed. Ditto, sir. Send this jackass home on night one, Hannah B.!

Because our new Bachelorette is super comfortable on camera, producers thought it would be a great idea for her to hand out her first rose — and deliver the prerequisite rose ceremony speech — on live TV. There’s a lot of giggling and stumbling over her words, but ultimately she manages to hand one out… to Cam the white rapper.

ABC

I will say, though, I really hope that Hannah ends every rose ceremony this season with “try harder!”

My dearest rose lovers, we’ve made it to the end. Before you go, please take a moment and vent your feelings about this season — Colton’s “journey,” his “happily ever after” with Cassie, our new Bachelorette — in the comments below. And I’ll see you back here on May 13, when the Hot Mess Express leaves the station for the first time.

The Bachelorette premieres Monday, May 13 on ABC.

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Episode Recaps

Chris Harrison hosts the romance reality competition series in which a gaggle of women vie for the Bachelor’s heart — and a wedding proposal. Will you accept this rose?
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