We knew coming in that this week's episode of The Bachelor would have a brutal reckoning between Nick Viall and his one-night-stand-who-came-back-to-haunt-him Liz, and boy, oh, boy, it did not disappoint. The last half-hour or so of this episode was the most tense stretch of television I've seen since that episode of Mr. Robot where Grace Gummer was trying to find those two hackers before the Dark Army did. It was the kind of jaw-dropping lunacy we watch this show for.
Before that, though, other stuff happened. Some girls got to do a wedding-themed photo shoot, where Corinne settled into her role as public enemy No. 1. Danielle M. and her cute little voice got the season's first one-on-one date, where we learned about her sad history. And the other girls had to pretend to break up with Nick, since getting broken up with is Nick's thing.
Nick's history with the franchise runs through everything he does in a really interesting way. He's always guiding the contestants through the process, telling them what to expect, sharing his experiences. I think it's nice. It probably helps them feel more comfortable in the nerve-wracking situation they're in.
But really, this episode was all about Nick and Liz. We're going to do the awkward moments a little differently this week: Since the Liz debacle was such a complete fiasco, we're going to count that whole thing as No. 1 with awkward subsections. Let's get to it.
6. Alexis keeps getting clowned
On Night 1, Alexis showed up dressed as a shark and kept insisting she was a dolphin. It was hilarious. The next day, the producers seemed to sense they had a down-for-whatever comedian on their hands. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if Alexis is actually a comedian and is here to try to get her comedy career off the ground. If not, this show is disrespecting the ambergis out of her.
While the other contestants on the shoot got tasteful (Danielle L.) or sexy (Brittany) bride or bridesmaid costumes, Alexis got stuck with a "shotgun wedding"-themed outfit, complete with cowboy boots and a fake pregnant belly. She spoke in a fake Southern accent while she wore it. Setting aside that the "shotgun wedding" theme is crass and classist, it kneecaps Alexis. Alexis has no chance of winning, because she's only presented as a clown. And no one wants to marry a clown.
5. The wedding photographer
The guy doing the wedding photography, whose name I don't recall because it doesn't matter, was bugged out. With his mustache and floral (?) geometric (?) onesie (?) with short shorts that showed off his extremely tan legs, he looked like if Anthony Kiedis dressed up as Zoolander for Halloween. I think Sacha Baron Cohen turned down that outfit for Bruno because it was too much. And then he picked Corinne's porny shoot as the best one, so you know he's freaky. If Christen had been there, she would have said he was too sexual for an 8 o'clock Monday show.
4. Miss Corinne if you're nasty
Corinne, the grown woman with a nanny, is this season's villain. No one is less here to make friends. She shored up her villain bona fides when she took her bikini top off and had Nick pose with his hands over her breasts, Janet Jackson-style. Corinne was jealous because Brittany's topless Adam and Eve costume was sexier than hers, so she escalated the situation, much to the dismay of the other girls, who were watching it all unfold.
"My family would kill me if I did that," said Hailey, who told Nick she wasn't wearing underwear by way of introduction — that's how out of line they thought Corinne was. She spoke for everyone who was uncomfortable with Corinne's overtly sexual behavior.
3. Everybody hates Corinne
The drama continued with Corinne during the cocktail party portion of the group date. Corinne, who was wasted by this point, kept interrupting people's time with Nick and generally being abrasive. She got into it with Taylor, trying to provoke the mental health counselor into a confrontation by asking "are we OK?" in the stankiest tone possible. Corrine was moved to address the uncomfortable tone in the room by giving a speech reminding them that they're all here to win.
"You're going to make your friends feel weird," she said, not incorrectly. "You have to be here for yourself."
Nick gave Corinne the group date rose, earning himself zero points with his other girlfriends.
"It looks like she got naked so she got the rose," said Lacey. "If Nick likes someone who's just leading with their sexuality, no wonder it's his fourth time," said Raven, who is clearly not to be trifled with.
2. Nick is not so good with the consolation
On his date with Danielle M., Nick revealed that he's really good at doing traffic reports but not so good at knowing what to say when someone shares something personal with him. Danielle told him that five years ago she was engaged, but her fiancé died of a drug overdose. She didn't even know he was an addict. The best response to this sort of disclosure is something along the lines of, "I'm so sorry, that must have been so hard for you, addiction is a horrible disease."
Instead, Nick said, "I just wanna let you know that not only do I not think less of you, I admire you a lot more now having learned about your past. I don't think that you should ever feel embarrassed about that because you obviously loved him and I'm sure that he loved you and so I wouldn't forget about the good things. The way he made you feel that made you feel special. I think that those are important feelings to hold on to because you should try to replicate that in future relationships." OK.
There may have been some stuff that didn't make the episode where Danielle talked about being embarrassed, in which case what Nick said about that would be fine. But advising someone to replicate the feelings they had in a relationship with someone who was secretly addicted to drugs is bad advice. Active addicts are notoriously mercurial, unreliable partners. Her feelings were probably up and down in an unhealthy way. Remember the good times, sure, but don't seek to replicate them.
1. Liz and Nick go down in flames
1A. Liz says exactly what she's thinking
For the next group date, the girls had to prepare speeches and fake-break up with Nick. Except Liz broke up with Nick for real, and it was SO REAL. Too real. She recounted how they met in detail. Christen, who knew about Liz and Nick's history, was watching with her jaw literally dropped. As was I. It was bonkers.
Liz's speech ended like this: "I hope that when you find the girl you're willing to fight for, you'll fight for her in a way that I wish that you would have fought for me and that every woman wishes that she would be fought for. I know that this is the end of the end of a chapter for us, but I really hope that it's a beautiful beginning for you."
Nick asked for your number and you didn't give it to him!!!!!! You can't do this!!!!!!!!
For his part, Nick wanted the helicopter from earlier in the episode to come swoop him up and take him literally anywhere else. His body language was that of a person who would rather be dead than be having this conversation. He couldn't make eye contact. He was twiddling his thumbs in agitation. When she finished, he couldn't speak. He wanted to say, "Why are you doing this to meeeeeeeeeee on my own shoooooooooow," but he couldn't. Instead he said, "I'm so confused."
1B. Nick knows that they know
"I'm living my nightmare," said Nick. "Liz decided to use this group date to basically tell her version of the night we met." He was worried that Liz might have told the other girls about their history, but didn't think she had. Until he took some time to talk to Christen, who told him that Liz confided in her. When Nick was talking to Christen, he was doing that talking-while-smiling thing that Joel McHale called him out for on Jimmy Kimmel last week. He smiles to keep from screaming.
This was also awkward for Christen, because she now has no chance of winning. She's just the girl caught in the middle.
1C. Nick says goodbye for real
At long last, Nick took Liz aside to figure out what the hell was going on.
"I first want to find out why Liz is here. Why she's really here," he said. "Does she really want to pursue a relationship with me, or has she used our past relationship as an excuse to be on TV?" In other words, Is She Here For The Wrong Reasons (spoiler: of course she is)? They both then smile-talked through an extraordinarily uncomfortable conversation. When he asked why he never heard from her until she showed up on the show, her answer was truly nonsense. She actually said something about how she doesn't like to talk on the phone to people she already has an existing relationship with, which is the most transparent "I don't even know what words are coming out of my mouth" thing I've ever heard on television.
"The more I talk to Liz, the less she makes sense," Nick said.
Meanwhile, the other girls were getting antsy while Nick and Liz were gone for a long time. Christen, whose gossip was so juicy she couldn't hold it any longer, said "I think that Liz and Nick are having a conversation right now about something that they needed to talk about."
Astrid became my favorite when she said "Okay, that sounds non-specific. Let's specify."
"It'll be specified very soon, I think," Christen foreshadowed. "It's not my relationship, so it's not my business to tell."
Finally, Nick dropped the hammer: "I just don't think we have a future. I think it's best for both of us if I say goodbye tonight."
1D. Dead Nick walking
With Liz gone, Nick has to tell the other girls about their history, which he doesn't want to do, because they'll think he lied to them and his doggishness will continue to dog him. But he sucked it up and began the tale of how they met at Jade and Tanner's wedding.
"Liz and I had sex that night.
The Bachelor will return with Nick's descent into madness (and the rose ceremony) next Monday at 8/7c on ABC.