On ‘The Bachelorette,’ love is mess that leaves scars

This was it! An episode of “The Bachelorette” that almost lived up to the relentless hype.

There was body-painting, ice-cold kisses, a devastating realization, and the return of Army Ranger Ben. Did you see that coming?

Yeah. Probably.

Let’s dig in:

As the two-night finale begins, Chris Harrison intones in a voiceover, “Will Tayshia finally find her soulmate or will she lose her chance at love forever?”

That’s right, America, if Tayshia doesn’t get a ring by the end of Tuesday night, ABC will forcibly move her down to a shack by the railroad tracks, give her two dozen cats, and condemn her to a life of spinsterhood.

No pressure, guys!

And the three men remaining – Ivan, Zac, and Brendan – are all on edge about the Fantasy Suites – mostly with the idea of other men knocking boots with Tayshia.

Ivan is first up, with an ice cold bath and a chance to break the world’s record for the longest, coldest kiss.

Can Ivan and Tayshia go beyond 5 minutes and 16 seconds as they freeze off their naughty bits?

These crazy kids last 6 minutes and 35 seconds.

It may not be love, but it sure is endurance.

Later, Ivan confesses his love to her. He may have been slow to get there, but he feels it, and the two retire to their fantasy suite –

– an Airstream dropped on the resort property.

Hold up. Why does the Black man get the cheap-ass accommodations?

The “master bedroom” is half the size of your average shoebox.

This isn’t anyone’s fantasy.

Zac’s date involves body painting, and he’s all in. He’s been all in pretty much since day one. While Tayshia finds him a dork (I think she’s saying it an adorable way, meh), she is drawn to his confidence.

Zac is hands-down ready to make her his wife.

For years, he’s been saying he’d be happy being single and being the uncle, but Tayshia has made him realize he wants more, he wants it all, with her.

Tayshia is impressed with his sincerity.

“Zac loves me and I love Zac,” she says.

Their fantasy suite is a Spanish villa-styled duplex with a patio outside the master bedroom. See what I’m talking about? Ivan was robbed, I tell ya.

Brendan seems happy - in this moment. (Photo: ABC).
Brendan seems happy – in this moment. (Photo: ABC).

Brendan’s date suggests the producers hate him. It’s an afternoon picking out engagement rings.

“A girl can never have too many diamonds, right?” Tayshia says.

Brendan seems as if he’s imploding inside, and at the dinner that night, he makes a heartbreaking admission.

As much as he cares for Tayshia, he’s not ready for another marriage.

“There’s a big part of me that’s still broken,” he says.

He thought he was ready, but he knows he needs more time to heal.

“As I sit here today, my heart is not whole.”

Brendan was Tayshia’s first one-on-one date, the guy she connected with first and most, but she acknowledges she fought for someone to love her once before, and she’s not going to do that again.

In the limo ride out, Brendan acknowledges: “Me not being ready comes at a huge price.”

For sure. His fantasy suite was probably a castle flown in from Italy.

But seriously:

It’s terribly sad, and underscores how so much about romance really comes down to timing between two people. There are no bad guys here, just two people at different points in their lives.

The next day, former “Bachelorette” Rachel Lindsay offers support to Tayshia as she struggles with her feelings about her two remaining suitors.

Rachel, through no prodding by the producers, I am so sure, asks Tayshia about the guys she already left behind.

Tayshia acknowledges there is this one guy … Ben.

She knows there was something there between them.

Speaking of America’s favorite stud muffin, Ben has been stewing on that night, and visits Chris Harrison for another chance.

“My brain didn’t work, and I wish I hadn’t shut down in the moment.”

Chris Harrison’s concerned listening face is hilarious. It’s as if he watched Dr. Phil for a week just to find the right pose.

Ben wants another chance to tell Tayshia how he feels.

As Tayshia prepares for the rose ceremony, she gets a knock on her door – Ben, who is looking even more jacked, if that’s possible.

She looks … exasperated. (Does no one on this show ever go home?)

This was a woman who was happy to see Bennett – Bennett! – but she reacts as if Ben is trying to sell her a reverse mortgage.

The two sit down, and Ben finally gets out the words he’s been saying to everyone else but her.

“I’m in love with you. The life we could have together, the thought of that keeps me awake at night.”

He couldn’t leave without telling her.

“I see a life with you.”

Tayshia now seems blindsided.

“I’m not all right,” she tells him.

“Gimme your hand,” he grunts. “Gimme your hand.”

She takes his – for a few seconds – then says she needs a moment for herself.

In another room, she vents to a staffer:

“There’s a rose ceremony. What do I do with that?”

Gurrrrrlllll, don’t you worry. Pretty sure half of America will take Ben off your hands.

Next: The stunning conclusion! Tears! Chris Harrison! Sobs! Will Tayshia get a husband or will ABC force her to walk the earth like a doomed wraith for all eternity?