"This Show Has Worked Its Magic:" Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor Finale Part 1!

The former contestant shares her insider’s POV on last night’s episode

Sharleen Joynt

I’m writing this recap from Washington, DC, where I’m (hilariously) watching this week’s two-part finale with a non-Bachelor-watching girlfriend. Before this, she had seen precisely seven episodes of this franchise in total: my time (and only my time) on my season. It’s always refreshing to watch with an outsider (especially one who’s a badass career woman!), particularly when that person doesn’t really know the show as a whole, let alone the individuals on this particular season. She zeroed in a few things that I may not have noticed by virtue of just being so used to things. One thing she struggled with was Colton’s repeated references to “always” getting rejected when he put himself out there. She asked me to explain and, I have to admit, I faltered. Considering anyone who becomes the lead gets there by being rejected, it seems like we’re missing more to Colton’s oft-referenced-but-never-elaborated-on history of being “not enough.”

It was interesting (if not predictable) to observe how the show took what was obviously anger at production and spun it to be entirely about Colton’s heartbreak. Now, of course he was heartbroken, but it was clear to us all last week that his punching a camera, ripping off his mic pack and infamously leaping over the fence were not symptoms of heartbreak. He was pissed at the show and at his producers who had carefully orchestrated the departure of his favourite girlfriend. Whether or not they were just doing their jobs, it had to feel like a betrayal to him. Yet, we heard producers innocently prodding, “We just want to make sure you’re OK.” Even that line deflects responsibility, making it more about his heartbreak than the iceberg of their involvement in causing it. They drove him back to the hotel camera-free and must have spoken with him at length about his plan moving forward, because when Chris Harrison arrived the next morning for their chat, Colton was a different person. He was still upset, of course, but he had clearly been talked off the edge of peacing out, The Truman Show-style. He also seemed suddenly resolute in his new plan to pursue Cassie. The Powers That Be routinely poke the beast, eagerly film while it inevitably reacts and then massage the wound.

Despite how much of the production—and producers—this show has been increasingly willing to show, I still wish we could be shown more. Last night, there was no denying the realest emotions from our star came from his interactions with producers. The night he ran away, we saw Colton shift from angry to sad while the voice of a male producer empathized with him next to a car. (Compare that to the many times he coldly told Chris Harrison, “I’m f-cking done.”) After sending Hannah G home, we saw him appear to be talking to himself when it was obvious a producer was just out of sight. Cameras were at the ready to capture Colton’s crying face, zooming in on his tears, past the faceless female producer he was hugging. It felt like Peanuts, where adults are never shown and the brass of their “mwa-mwa-mwa” is incomprehensible. The thing is, I WANT to hear what they’re saying, how these conversations are going down. What was said between Colton getting into that car last night and Chris Harrison knocking the following morning? I’m not saying we should come to know each producer by name or that I expect regular cameo appearances week after week, but I do think, as viewers, we’ve evolved past this level of pretending. I think it’d be OK for us to hear the voice Colton’s responding to, or to see their faces while a conversation takes place. We’re past the ultra-forced, seemingly staged conversations between Colton and Chris Harrison. Not only did these exchanges feel fake and contrived, Colton couldn’t even get past the stony-faced stage with Chris Harrison, so uninvested is he in their relationship and so little rapport do they have. It’s clear he feels no kinship toward our host, which is fine (to be honest, I actually find it a bit amusing). But, us being force-fed that these two grown men are having a real, substantial heart-to-heart feels a bit insulting to our intelligence. It doesn’t line up with the lengths the show goes to to get real reactions out of its leads, only to then have them describe their emotions in an impersonal and unnatural conversation.

This episode was so wrought with tears it almost felt like an act of schadenfreude to even watch but, on a positive note, I thought every action taken last night was both correct and commendable. Colton was right to not follow through with Hannah G’s overnight date. He was right to have sent both his ladies home so he could pursue Cassie. He was right that it was a risk from the “bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” perspective, but he was also right that risk is necessary; he needs to SHOW Cassie how he feels, not just TELL her. (Show versus tell—what I’m always harping about!) Tayshia was unbelievably kind and understanding in her breakup, while Hannah G was decidedly angrier—both reactions were valid and I thought both women handled and articulated themselves with so much class and poise. (I was particularly happy to see Hannah G’s own “beast” emerge; she didn’t let Colton off easy, and in doing so, we got to see more of her personality in about 10 minutes than her edit showed us this entire season.) In general, it felt like good, reasonable choices were being made in the midst of terrible circumstances.

Here’s hoping it works out for Colton tomorrow night. You’d have to be pretty cold-hearted to not have felt for him and his plight, and I both hope and predict that Cassie will be moved by his efforts. This show has once again worked its magic; yet again, here we all are, on the edge of our seats.

Tune into Citytv tonight at 8:00 EST for The Bachelor Finale: Part 2. Then visit FLARE.com/themorningafter tomorrow—Wednesday March 6—for a new recap from Sharleen Joynt, including her weekly video recap.

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