So, you’re telling me that this ENTIRE TIME Peter’s mom, the delightful and vivacious Barb, was shouting through tears “Bring her home. Bring. Her. Home” about HANNAH ANN? You are telling me that I’ve been watching that damn clip of Barb, America’s greatest treasure, blubbering about her adult son’s love life, and she’s been blubbering about Hannah Ann, America’s first sentient Snapchat filter?
The Bachelor asks a lot of me. It asks me to give up anywhere from two to six hours of my life a week to watch a bunch of pageant queens and the men that love them pretend to be on the same page about fundamental life questions. It asks me to accept that Chris Harrison is a “skilled” “interviewer” and “television” “host.” It asks me to sit through footage of a live studio audience watching footage that was recorded months ago. But now, The Unmarried Man is asking me to reframe my entire conception of this season and think about how Barb lost her damn mind over HANNAH ANN. Those sons of bitches over at ABC are asking TOO MUCH of me.
Because the only person getting an edit worthy of someone’s mom crying over them is Madison. And we all know that. The only person we know remotely anything about is Madison, and we all know that. Unfortunately, we’ve only gotten to know just how important her saving herself for marriage is to Madison in the last, like … three episodes. So now I’m supposed to watch this whole thing as if Peter’s love for Madison is some act of passionate rebellion against his family’s wishes and not a Delta airline pilot falling in love with some 23-year-old he met at a vacation speed-dating event.
So is this the most controversial and shocking two-night finale? NO! We’ve already seen Rachel and Peter’s tearful breakup, Arie break up with Becca in real time … fuck, Colton jumped a fence, and Hannah B. found out her Mr. Right Guy was cheating on his actual girlfriend with her via People magazine or whatever. No. No. No. This feels like we’re back in college watching our third-most charismatic guy friend trying to get the president of College Instagram Influencers for Life to go out with him.
Let’s get to this.
I mean, is there anything to discuss other than the Madison of it all? But I suppose we have to deal with the Hannah Ann of it all. Ooh, poor li’l Hannah Ann. She’s convinced herself that if she’s able to just blindly accept everything Peter throws at her and defend Peter’s every action, she’ll be seen as a worthy romantic partner. It’s the Jorah Mormont gambit. Hannah Ann even goes so far as to win over every single member of Peter’s family, but, alas, she’s just not Madison.
The production heads to the Red Centre of Australia, and Peter checks into a hotel that can only be described as “Holiday Inn Express–esque.” He says that he loves his family so much and trusts their decision and can’t wait to factor them in. Bitch, do not lie to us.
Peter’s family calls him “Bud,” and later in the episode Chris Harrison calls him “Bud,” and I have to stop and ask myself if Chris Harrison is actually Peter’s long-lost uncle or something. Peter sits his family down and explains how he feels about Hannah Ann: “She’s amazing, she’s perfect, she’s desperately and madly in love with me, BUT DON’T YOU DARE LIKE HER, YOU FUCKING ANIMALS.” Hannah Ann is the first woman he fell in love with, and that doesn’t mean anything. He also says that Hannah Ann is the perfect combination of pure, beautiful innocence and all the confidence in the world. That just means: “She doesn’t look like she fucks, but she fucks.”
Hannah Ann wants to impress upon Peter’s family that she loves him, and she fully starts weeping immediately. Peter’s mom is lightly weeping and saying that the way Peter is draped over Hannah Ann reminds her of Peter’s dad and herself. Hannah sits down with his mom, and she says that she wants to be completely present instead of holding herself back, because she’d regret holding back. His mom says she doesn’t want to speak about negative things, and she can feel the love she has for her son. Hannah Ann tells Peter’s dad that she felt love at first sight, but Peter doesn’t know that. Hannah Ann is positively vibrating with sincerity; it’s almost untenable. Everyone in Peter’s family asks if there’s anything missing from his relationship with Hannah Ann, and he says no. And I think that’s the entire problem.
Peter believes deep down in his bones that a relationship requires some turmoil, and Hannah Ann doesn’t present any turmoil. In a delightful twist of irony, he also believes that his ideal partner should lavish validation and praise onto him. So he’s kept Hannah Ann around to lavish him with validation as he pursued women that presented more of a challenge, that had more emotional turmoil surrounding them. Now he’s at the end, and he’s realizing that his family sees Hannah Ann as a person, and not as a weighted blanket that keeps the anxiety away while he’s making bad decisions. Peter keeps trying to express to his dad that this is a tough decision, and no one is seeing it. Barb tells Hannah Ann that she feels like she’s known her her whole life.
It’s the next day, and Madison and Peter haven’t had a productive conversation in DAYS. So they sit down on a bench outside of the Airbnb rented for Peter’s family and try to hash it all out. Here’s the issue with Madison: She thinks this is about her. And Madison, this shit is not about you. It’s not fair, it’s not right, and it certainly isn’t how an equal and healthy relationship would form in the real world, but you’re not in the real world. You’ve made it to the last round on a game show.
The other issue is Madison wants something extra for what she considers to be her sacrifice. She says that she never complained, said anything, asked Peter for anything, and she defended him, so she should be able to ask for this ONE THING. This one, teeny-tiny thing based in her foundational belief system that she considers the most important moral hurdle a man can clear. This is an entirely early-20s line of thinking. Because she didn’t cause any problems or demand anything from him, she can demand everything just once and he has to comply. I’d also be curious to know if there’s some secret evangelical relationship advice floating around telling young women that the only way to ensure sexual fidelity is to become an emotional snowplow in their relationship.
Madison also doesn’t understand that telling Peter “if you sleep with the other women, I will feel so hurt that I won’t be able to continue” is totally an ultimatum. It doesn’t have to include the word “threat” in order to be a fucking threat. Madison tells him that she knew she loved him on the side of the building, and she was ready to say yes to a proposal in that moment, but the evening portion of their date ruined all of that.
All Peter hears is “she loves me, and she’s ready for me to propose.” He’s literally Jim Carrey from Dumb and Dumber.
Time for Madison to meet the family. Peter told his family about her non-ultimatum, and they’re not looking forward to meeting her. Every single member of Peter’s family asks her if she thinks they’re compatible. You can actually watch as Madison realizes that the word she’s been looking for to describe the problems in their relationship is “compatibility.” Peter’s brother asks him how he sees this relationship with Madison working when Peter loves to bang and Madison is saving herself. How does his brother know that Peter loves to bang? This family is too open. His brother says that Peter loves to go line dancing, and Madison loves to stay in and do … ministry? Am I using any of the right words? This feels like a master class in white hobbies. Peter literally says that relationships are about compromising part of yourself. Not compromising or finding compromise, but “that’s what relationships are. Of course I’m going to be compromising part of myself.”
Peter’s mom reminds Madison that it’s Peter’s choice if he wants to party and bang and no one, not even Madison’s god, is going to keep him from doing that. They all say good-bye to Madison for the afternoon, and Peter sits down to enjoy his family’s praise for the amazing decision he’s about to make, and his mom breaks down crying.
Peter looks at her like she’s lost her goddamn mind. Barb says that she prayed to baby Jesus in heaven to send Peter a sign, and li’l baby Jesus sent Hannah Ann to them. Madison is nice and all, but Hannah Ann is an angel on Earth. Peter’s dad and brother don’t understand how Peter is conflicted about his choice when … y’know … Hannah Ann? Peter turns into a petulant child and keeps saying that they don’t know Madison like he does! Peter’s mom starts crying again, and he starts haranguing her that she needs to stop crying right now and it’s destroying him and she’s being insane. Ah, so Peter’s response to the ladytestants crying is Oedipal. Got it. His mom says she wouldn’t want him to end up like Hannah B. and pick the wrong person. WHOA. SHOTS FUCKING FIRED, BARB. Peter says that maybe he is blinded by love and that’s a good thing! And that’s totally what the saying is, and no one can stop him!
Well … except for Madison herself.
It’s time for the final one-on-one dates, and Peter takes Madison to Uluru in a helicopter. Peter is busy reciting Uluru’s Wikipedia page while Madison is staring directly into the Australian sun hoping it burns her alive before she does what she has to do. Madison keeps saying that she’s been fighting since day one for Peter, but maybe it’s time to surrender.
For everything that happens next, I do not blame Madison, and I can’t be mad at this bitch. Madison wants a certain type of relationship and partner, and Peter isn’t going to give that to her. As much as he wants to, he’s just not into being the faith leader in a family. He’s also too naïve to realize that “all the other stuff” is usually what breaks up relationships. Very few relationships and marriages have ended because the two people just stopped being in love with each other. It’s money or sex or children or religion or Tonya from accounting. Love doesn’t conquer all. Love conquers, like, 67 percent of things, and that last 33 percent is a beast. Madison sees their relationship as being hounded by a fundamental misunderstanding that won’t go away. Madison also says she wouldn’t want to change someone she’s with, and Peter is willing to abandon literally anything and everything about him in order to keep the woman he wants. Madison says she has to think about life outside of the show and about compatibility and Peter asks, “You really believe that?” That’s the encapsulation of Peter’s ethos.
They’re hugging and crying and swatting bugs away from their faces. It’s time for Madison to go, and she tells him, “All I wanted was for it to be you,” and she’s in the van driving away in the Red Centre sunset.
PETER. IS. WRECKED.
They have to bring Chris Harrison in to see if he’s able to have his final date with Hannah Ann or if they need to bring in a fence for him to jump over. Peter keeps repeating that he’s in love with two people, but it’s clear that he’s just telling himself that because it’s apparently the only story line that’s permissible for the final episodes.
Peter pulls it together enough to go with Hannah Ann to meet some baby kangaroos and, honestly, they should have left the date there. Once it’s time for the evening portion of the date, Peter can’t phone it in anymore. He shows up in a hoodie and jeans, and Hannah Ann is wearing a cocktail dress and lighting candles. He says that his night is bittersweet, and Hannah Ann, you in danger, girl.
Peter is only able to talk about how supportive Hannah Ann has been for him throughout the process, and how she’s been so selfless. Hannah Ann has a minor breakdown when she says she’s ready for Peter to reciprocate her feelings because she’s been giving and giving and he needs to give. She’s at her breaking point. Oh, sweetheart. He’s using your emotions to keep himself afloat. He’s not giving anything back. Peter says she deserves 100 percent honesty, and he’s going to follow his heart. He silently gets up and walks to the door. Good night, Hannah Ann!
See everyone tomorrow to watch Madison realize she’s made a mistake!