Photo: COURTESY OF NETFLIX
It’s impossible to root for any of these people, individually or as couples (except for Alexa and Brennon). Every week, we pull back the curtain on a deep darkness that lurks beneath the surface of these cast members. Colleen’s determination to fight for Matt, who has now packed his bags and tried to run twice within a month; Zanab’s profound insecurities and grief that taint all aspects of her relationship with Cole; Bartise’s habit of flip-flopping to whatever narrative makes sense for him at the time without taking any accountability for his own actions. Whenever I finally start to come around to a contestant, they do something that makes me immediately revoke any goodwill. I don’t know if I want any of them to get married besides Alexa and Brennon, but I also don’t want to see them walk down the aisle only to say, “I don’t.” Neither option feels good here.
Let’s start with the good news: Alexa and Brennon are doing well. Her friends grill poor, sweet Brennon, but he passes with flying colors. He sits down with Alexa’s dad and Grandpa Barry to learn about Judaism and once again voices his enthusiasm for taking classes to learn more. This family moment is sweet and genuine. She shares a tender moment with her stepmom while wedding-dress shopping and says yes to a gorgeous dress! Her final date with Brennon before the wedding affirms my belief in them as a couple, and I hope they don’t let me down! Brenon says that he’s excited to profess his love for her to the world and that life is just better with Alexa in it. Food tastes better, the sky is bluer, and the grass is greener. As Alexa’s shirt says, Absofuckinglutely.
We finally get to see Colleen leap and pirouette and plié around. I have no clue if she’s talented or what the ballet scene in Dallas looks like, but I am glad she has a creative outlet while dealing with the biggest baby of all time, a man who apparently has the nickname “Two-Date Matt,” which isn’t even quippy. When the couple meets his friends, Matt says something I hope his future therapist notes: He calls himself the little kid who packs up and runs away only to realize that his parents aren’t chasing him and he should probably go home. I am not sure if Colleen, or anyone, can fill that hole.
Colleen’s parents fly in from Pennsylvania and are a hoot. Her mom calls her out on holding in her feelings, and Colleen finally admits that things have been rocky and that she isn’t sure if he’d be there when shit hits the fan. Her parents are rightfully like, WTF? I mean isn’t that one of the nonnegotiables of marriage? Her mom is like I respect your decision, but please think about this seriously…
Things only get worse at the aquarium. I applaud Colleen for opening up about her feelings; she admits she’s scared Matt will run and is questioning not only herself but also them as a couple. Matt’s response here is nothing but red flags. I don’t like his aggressive tone. This isn’t a cross-examination? This is a date with your fiancée and the cast of Finding Nemo! He demands Colleen stop playing games (I don’t think she is — I think she’s just confused and lost) and keeps pressuring her to “say it.” What does he want her to say? That she won’t marry him? Well, he wins that round because she says right now she doesn’t see herself spending the rest of her life with him.
This is all JV shit, though. The absolute worst part comes during the bachelorette party when Colleen confides in the other girls how things are really going. She says she’d take a bullet for him but isn’t sure he’d take one for her. Raven’s face here is everything, and I’m glad she’s there to say that is a sign! You shouldn’t feel that way the night before your wedding! As Alexa says, sometimes guys really are just stupid as fuck.
Speaking of guys who are stupid as fuck, Cole asking Zanab if she’s bipolar during a fight made me gasp so loudly that I startled my boyfriend and dog. I wanted to reach into the screen and wipe that smug look off his face. Let’s rewind. I am no Gottman, but the contempt present in this relationship is strong. In fact, do they have anything but contempt and resentment for each other? For the record, I would also hold disdain for a boy shooting me with a Nerf gun and cooking me a piece of unseasoned chicken, but I digress.
There is a lot of darkness surrounding this pair. I need to know more about why Zanab’s sister couldn’t fly out for the wedding. I am assuming because this was filmed in 2021 and COVID regulations made it impossible, but if Netflix could have made it happen, I’m mad at them for not. When Zanab tries on her wedding dress, she seems nervous in a bad way. This isn’t butterflies excitement; this is terror. I am so relieved for her stepmom, Beverly, who seems to have a good head on her shoulders and is capable of providing Zanab with the support and love she needs.
When Cole tries his hand at cooking them dinner, Zanab intervenes. She can’t stop criticizing him, but at the same time, his culinary skills definitely need criticizing. Cole has the gall to tell her, after pelting her with a Nerf gun bullet, that she makes him feel inferior. This is rich coming from a man who consistently told his fiancée she wasn’t as hot as Colleen. They get into a weird pissing match over their quirks and Zanab asserts that it sounds as if Cole doesn’t want to marry her. He says he’d expect his wife to like him a little bit more. Okay, even a broken clock is right twice a day! Zanab, you don’t like him! Let’s call a spade a spade and move on. But then he keeps on going, telling Zanab he wants her to be sweet and unassuming. I can’t. He really wants a meek wife who does nothing but gas up him and his unseasoned chicken. And then! And then! And then he asks her, in the middle of their argument as a “gotcha,” if she’s bipolar? What. The. Fuck. She leaves, he chases her, and they “solve” their fight by saying they’ll both say “I do” if the other person does… Awesome.
At the bachelorette party, Zanab reveals that she hasn’t met Cole’s family and that his parents have said she’s not the type of girl they’d see their son with. They follow her on Instagram, though! All the women seem to agree, without explicitly saying it, that they’re referring to her physically, which I interpret to mean that his family has racist tendencies. Alexa tells Zanab she’s so much bigger than Cole, who is at best a cute little boy. After Zanab hears her.
And just like that, it’s time to walk down the aisle, which I guess means it’s time to talk about Raven and SK. I am, honestly and maybe a little embarrassingly, shocked that SK said no? All this talk about how Raven is a treasure and their love is complex, and for what? For his mom to mouth, “I do,” and then be mortified when her son rejects Raven in front of everyone? His mom deserves better from both her son and from Raven. (Yes, I’m referring to the moment when Raven says she feels like Cardi B with her gele on). My heart aches for Raven. The morning of her wedding, she sounds so calm and peaceful and in love. Their conversations leading up to the wedding felt real and grounded. SK affirms her, validating her in contrast to the other girlies who aspire to be wifey Disney adults. Their conversation about their fundamental family differences is hard but productive and seems to be settled.
Before the wedding, Raven seems to really love this man. She feels happy and comfortable and ready to say yes. So what in the Carrie Bradshaw just happened? My heart aches for poor Raven going through this without her mom. This girl has to walk out in the rain, wedding dress in hand, alone. Can’t someone help her with the umbrella? What are the producers standing around for? My heart breaks when she starts sobbing and says she never wants to have another wedding. I am deeply thankful SK’s mom visits her, and I hope Raven continues to receive the support she needs from her friends and family. I guess that dead fish was a sign after all.
This does not make me feel good about Bartise and Nancy, I’ll tell you that much. I am cringing in my seat ahead of this wedding, and even though I don’t want them to get married, I am dreading watching that go down. And now I am especially dreading Bartise being the one to potentially say no. Imagine someone wearing that tragic bow tie while they reject you at the altar! This is torture!
I need to take a minute and acknowledge how wild it is that Bartise is now backtracking on Nancy’s ex-boyfriend being involved in her Airbnb business. He had no problem with this earlier when Nancy was going to bankroll him, and I feel he’s pinning other problems on this. The lead-up to their wedding makes me uneasy and not just because I believe Nancy’s mom will murder Bartise if he says no. Nothing sits right with me: Nancy never eating ribs before (while living in Texas!), Bartise’s sister regurgitating a TED Talk in botspeak while accompanying her brother to try on suits, Bartise taking Nancy, a grown woman, to get zapped … Where do do we even begin?
The day of the wedding, Nancy sends Bartise a note and gifts from their journey. He breaks down into sobs and tells a producer, “Everything in that bag is heartbreaking.” He excuses himself to go to the bathroom because his friends have never seen him cry. I am unsure what this is supposed to mean, but it makes me suspect he’s going to say no, and I am not looking forward to finding out. No matter what, nobody wins.