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The string of manufactured cliffhangers is alive and well in the 21st season of The Bachelor, and it appears there’s no end in sight with a promised on-tap finisher so intense that it will shake Nick Viall and the ones he grabs by the you-know-what to their very plank-shaped cores.

But before we can even ponder the will-he-kick-the-habit conclusion (somebody, get this man the Patchelor — patent pending), there’s one major loose end to be tied up. Namely, will anyone be exiting the Louisiana swampland with undeserved senses of entitlement and dignity?

Yes, Nick chose Corinne after realizing that Taylor lacked the self-awareness to realize that questioning someone’s intelligence quotient can be construed as bullying when you’re intellectually superior. So while she’s not wrong, she certainly isn’t right. But it’s not a lesson she intends to learn before exiting our television screens.

While I hate to be the bearer of bad news, the very serious businesswoman ain’t leaving. The early promos showed her paying a special visit to Nick’s room to ensure a mutual happy ending, and unless we’re all the victims of fancy ABC editing (like they’d ever mislead us), that drama simply hasn’t played out yet. 

Back to the Bayou  

Taylor is not going quietly, determined to defeat the succubus who convinced Nick that lies were merely alternative facts. And so she interrupts the evening meal to speak her mind, telling him that he’s been disrespected and needs to “open his eyeballs.” He appreciates the sincerity, but, you know, he still wants to see her boobies. Again. 

Nick cancels the cocktail party. With Corinne, other favorite neonatal nurse Danielle M. and the Great Black Hope Rachel safe, the remaining posies go to:  

Russian orphan Kristina

Beat-my-cheating-ex-with-a-stiletto Raven

Favorite special-ed teacher Vanessa

Shockingly partially-exposed boutique-owner Danielle L.

NBA dancer and Neil Lane companion Jasmine

Pilates instructor Whitney (who are you?)

That means it’s the end of the line for partial lesbian with a nose ring Jaimi, crazy Josephine

and sharkphin Alexis. Noooo!!! My star is gone, headed back to the dolphins of Secaucus until paradise beckons.

The No-So-Virgin Islands

It’s off to St. Thomas, where the Russian orphan Kristina nabs her first solo date. (Jasmine and Whitney are the only others without one.) She begins to open up over beers, and after a quick dip to show off swimsuit bods, she continues her Disney tale of sadness over dinner. Strap in, folks. 

It’s ironic that there’s a giant lobster on the table because Kristina grew up literally eating lipstick. She lived with her mother in a small town in Russia while her biological sister stayed with her dad, and she was kicked out of her home at age 5 because she broke the apparent rule about ingesting food while her mom was out.

She was in an orphanage within a few weeks, and faced with a future of certain prostitution, she made the decision at 12 to leave everyone and everything she ever knew for a better life in America. “When I was 5, I was crying about going to kindergarten,” Nick says, putting things into perspective before dispensing a rose and smooches.

Her backstory had me questioning my section heading, but at least there’s Corinne to contrast Kristina’s zest for life and appreciation for food that you’re not supposed to wear on your face. She’s back at the resort making the Caribbean Raquel get her snacks and to iron her clothes.

Under the Boardwalk

Despite what the group date card would have you believe, love is not a beach, at least not when six is a crowd. Everyone but partially-exposed Danielle L. and Pilates instructor Whtiney — headed for the dreaded two-on-one — share a catamaran ride to what is supposed to be a fun-in-the-sun day at the shore, but the overcast sky is only the first sign of impending doom. 

Cornhole and shots lead to an overly-competitive three-on-three volleyball game that devolves into a drunken mess of tears the second Nick pays too much attention to a sloppy Corinne. Jasmine gets aggressive and even pushes the serious businesswoman to the ground, while Danielle M., Vanessa and Rachel quit to sit in solitude and pine over the lack of exclusive minutes they are receiving.

Nick recognizes that his plan for a laid-back day has backfired. He worries that not only has the experience failed to bring him closer to anyone but also that it may have driven them all apart. 

Down by the Sea

He attempts to right the ship during the evening part of the date, and Rachel implores him to reciprocate her feelings, lest she relieve us of her company. He does his best to empathize because America needs its Great Black Hope, and she decides to table her anxiety, at least for a bit.

The stress of the day remains evident in his conversations with Vanessa and Danielle. While Raven tries to keep it light, the same cannot be said for Jasmine. She spirals out of control, pissed over feelings of neglect, and her emotional state leads her to believe that a “Don’t you dare overlook me” confrontation will benefit her chances. 

She alternates between expressing her frustration in words and veiled threats of strangulation (both sexually and decidedly not sexually — she even calls it a “chokey”), and it does not go well. The half-terrifying attempt to warm up to Nick by wrapping her hands around his neck ends with Jasmine’s elimination, and she leaves convinced that this process will not end with Nick proposing to anyone.

Oh, and Raven gets the date rose.

A Triple Blind(side) Study

Nick is feeling perplexed and overwhelmed, and it’s not likely that a two-on-one date with Danielle and Whitney (who in two confessional appearances has matched her screen time for the entire season) is the cure for what ails him. 

It’s tense for the girls, who are both confused as to why they’re suddenly on the chopping block, and he talks his way through both relationships in a quest for clarity. The conversations spark the realization that Whitney is behind the eight ball, and Nick and Danielle fly off in their helicopter.

Whitney is blindsided because she’s totes more ready for marriage than the woman consistently popping half a knocker, and despite Nick’s hope of getting back on track over dinner, he finds himself struggling to connect. His lack of eye contact is a dead giveaway, but that doesn’t stop Danielle from admitting that she’s falling in love. 

Hearing those words and knowing he’s not there, Nick breaks the news that no flowers will be distributed. She is heartbroken, while he questions if wanting love so bad is making him force it. 

Iceberg, Right Ahead

The final six are shocked when a Chris Harrison minion wheels out a second suitcase, and it dawns on them that Nick has eliminated three women and two half-exposed melons with nary a rose ceremony. 

He pays them a visit and dissolves into tears, admitting his fear that he’ll fall out of like with each of them as well. After all, there’s nothing worse than hearing a pair of L-bombs when your heart is telling you no.

“I don’t know if I can keep doing this,” he says before retiring to his den of darkness, while his remaining suitorettes plan neurological exams from having their minds so thoroughly blown.

Can Nick right the ship or will he sail off into the sunset by his lonesome? And if not, which lady has the best chance of accompanying him? Were you shocked by all the eliminations or did none of the women sent packing have a chance anyway? 

I still believe Corinne and Kristina will be the next to leave, setting up a final four of Raven, Danielle M., Vanessa and Rachel, with the Great Black Hope becoming the next Bachelorette. What are your predictions and will Nick get the happy ending he so desperately desires? You know, at least without paying for one? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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