The Bachelor: The Women Tell All – Is Jillian The Next Bachelorette?

Last night on The Bachelor: The Women Tell All the ascension of Jillian to Bachelorette status rolled on with her devoted cougar kitten fan club delivering a standing O, while Jason Mesnick hemmed and hawed his way through some uncharacteristically tough questioning from host Chris Harrison. Jason did manage to coin a new phrase, however. Despite being mostly a snooze fest with some wake-up calls sprinkled in, “all the clouds were aligning” for what promises to be the most anticipated finale yet.

ABC ignored the rumors swirling around the end of this fairy tale, (Jason dumps Melissa after the finale for Molly) until the very last moment of the show, when Harrison promised the most shocking twist ever on next week’s closer. And during the last week, producers quietly slipped an unprecedented “After The Final Rose: Part 2” special onto next Tuesday’s schedule, fueling speculation that the tale doesn’t end with the predicted proposal to Melissa.

But the big story of the night (no, not Natalie whining: “I didn’t know people didn’t like me! This sucks!”) was the adoration piled onto a blushing, surprised, and beautifully poised Jillian Harris, heiress apparent to The Bachelorette crown.

The 2 hour! show touched all the bases, but truth be told, there were some wild throws that allowed the runners to advance. Did we really need to see a rehash of all the failed hookups? It turns out many of those were consummated off-camera anyway. Local bars and raging hormones ruling once the action moved behind doors left slightly ajar.

ABC managed to trot out the one success story in the nearly 20 seasons of forensic dating when Trista and Ryan Sutter clipped in with a montage of their successful marriage, filmed while the happy couple joyously await baby no. 2. in Vail, Colorado. All the while Chris Harrison kept the show moving, making the most of his one chance to get more face time than the chauffeur of the loser limo. In a nice touch near the end, they brought him on, but I’m ashamed to say I missed his name and everything he said. I was looking at the back of his head with the partition rolled all the way up, crying my eyes out.

Jason entered the arena twice, to wild, enthusiastic mewling, and managed to hold on to his good guy personae – just barely. Erica and Megan roughed him up a bit, but it was the demure Jillian who got in the best dig, asking how he could claim his kiss with Melissa was the hottest moment in a long time. This just a day after Jillian and J really bonded in Fantasy Suite land. “I can only tell you what I was feeling at the time” Jason lamely offers. Now that’s a game face. Still, Chris pressed for some details about those 3 steamy nights in the hot tub. But Jason, ever the gentleman protested, offering only that “I’m not going to talk about this right now!” Some doors need to be left open.

The collection of bloopers made Dick Clark look like a prescient genius, meaning the worst gaffes actually made it to the air. Jason raps like a white boy and loses his pants on the golf course to Melissa. In the “funniest” outtake, Jason nearly gets thrown from a horse. He ends up showing he’s got plenty of swing in those hunky hips as he lands on his feet, well away from a jackass kick. Let’s hope he lands so deftly after this show is nothing more than a distant echo… usually about 2 weeks.

In the end, we didn’t learn much more than that Stephanie is a role model for the grieving widow, single mom, mismatched top and bottom generation. We saw again the touching moment when Jason surprises her with a visit from daughter Sophia, so Steph’s reign as TB Queen of Hearts is secure. And Natalie deserved her distinction as the Wicked Witch Of The Worst, clueless as always to the sneers and rolling eyes from the rest of the pride. All the birds banded together for once to push her out of the tree, especially when she tried to call Jillian out.

And ABC managed to play the DeAnna Pappas card for a last time, dealing from the bottom of the deck as Jason squirms in anguish over the side of his cliffside balcony. Footage of DeAnna showing up in New Zealand and some obviously edited-in audio has Jason experiencing open-heart surgery without anesthesia, when DeAnna drops the bombshell that she may have made a mistake with Jesse. My advice: let DeAnna pick up her own luggage at the carousel.

For a franchise that was on its last legs before this season started, having come whisker-close to cancellation, there’s life in the old champ yet. No matter the outcome, the gamble to go all in with an amiable, well-liked, slightly dim-bulbed single dad has payed off handsomely. But in Hollywood, you’re only as good as your last success.

So what’s next? No. Don’t tell me. Not conversion. Forget it. They’re only comfortable with their own equipment.

Don’t miss The Bachelor finale next Monday night at 8:00 pm, followed by After The Final Rose Part 1 at 10 and the airing of an unheard of Part 2, Tuesday night on ABC.

We’ll be watching on Fancast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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