First things first: Has Peter been tested for the coronavirus? He hasn’t exactly been elbow-bumping everyone.
It’s finally finale time, although tonight is only the first part. Dragging out what’s basically a coin toss with crying is how you rustle up viewers when you don’t have any masked singers. At last we’ll learn the source of all the histrionics surrounding a season ending that’s no more distinguishable than any of the extension cords jammed into my junk drawer. I’m just glad Max von Sydow isn’t here to see it.
Hanging in the balance is whether Peter will choose Madison, the devout virgin who hopes to open an orphanage one day, or Hannah Ann, the beauty pageant contestant who still lives with her parents, so her sex life can’t be much more exciting than Madison’s. What will drive the boyish bachelor’s decision, other than bra size and whether the girl knows how to operate a George Foreman grill? Or will he walk away uncoupled, like an argyle sock on laundry day? Who is Peter’s mom referring to when she beseeches her son to “bring her home to us”? I’m going to guess it’s whichever girl is willing to share her Netflix password.
Peter lets us know this is the hardest situation he’s ever been in his whole life, even that tome when he misspelled part of his flight plan. The previews show us that the gals aren’t having the greatest fun either. What happens next, Chris chortles, is so unexpected that no one knows where Peter’s journey will end, similar to how nobody knew health care could be so complicated. He further claims this will be the most exciting viewing party ever, showcasing events so controversial and shocking that the writers had to buy a new thesaurus.
Establishing shot: Australia, complete with emus, lizards, and kangaroos. Peter recaps the tale of his torn emotions, which even Gorilla Glue can’t repair. “I’m in love with two different women,” he reports. At least it’s not just one with a split personality.
With his family there to guide him, Peter explains how Madison is a virgin, and therefore they didn’t share the Fantasy Suite. Mom and Dad find that concerning, but are apparently pleased that he did shtup Hannah Ann. Now they’re going to meet her. That shouldn’t be at all awkward.
Before we go to commercial, Chris reminds us that this won’t be the most off-putting thing discussed in front of a national audience tonight.
Hannah Ann arrives wearing a cheerful yellow sundress with bows on the straps. I bet her underpants have the day of the week on them. Peter’s mom, dad, and brother Jack greet her joyfully. She hopes to leave the family with the impression that she loves their son, and didn’t just audition to be on a show with any old guy.
Mom wants to know when Hannah Ann first felt strongly about Peter. It was the first night they filmed together, she enthuses, when she fell for his unscarred forehead. Mom sees the couple as mirroring herself and Peter’s dad, only after extensive cosmetic work.
Mom then asks Hannah Ann about her vision for a future with Peter. The girl tears up as she assures Mom that she loves her son. She will be completely present and not hold back with him, even when she has cramps. Mom approves.
Dad reveals he has tentative feelings about this whole debacle after Peter got the kibosh from another Hannah. Hannah Ann assures him of her sincerity, and promises she will never appear on Dancing with the Stars. She explains that she and Peter laugh together, cry together, get muffins at the crafts services table together. They aren’t intelligent enough to discuss dialectical epistemology together.
Dad feels confident that this relationship can work even with the cameras off. Casting a shadow over his satisfaction, however, is the persistent “competing cast member hoping to marry the same guy” issue.
Peter agrees that’s a problem, for him and any fatuous clod who refuses to meet a soulmate at a book club meeting or other respectable venue. He grows tearful telling his dad of the torment of having to choose between Hannah Ann and Madison. Nevertheless, he is pleased with how the family encounter went. As a couple, he and Hannah are in a good place, like that diner that opened near me with the goat cheese and shiitake omelet.
At the studio, Chris recaps the successful Hannah Ann segment without adding an iota of new insight. But now, he intones, the family’s meeting with Madison will not progress so smoothly. Ignoring the elephant in the Fantasy Suite, Peter wants to do whatever it takes to make his relationship with Madison work, especially if she brings the flavored lube.
Before they go in to meet the Webers, Madison tells Peter she’s not feeling good right now. She is frustrated and hurt by his not respecting her feelings. He put his own needs and wants above hers, harshing the mellow she had cultivated over previous episodes wherein she failed to discuss the thing most important to her.
Peter tells her he doesn’t really know how she feels, even though she just told him. They talk at each other for a minute or two, using words like “validate” and “honest,” but Peter cannot get her past her resentment or the Fantasy Suite door.
Madison needs to feel confident and at peace, but right now she is at a loss as to what to do, other than blink her eyelashes and gaze meaningfully into the distance. They do these at-an-impasse conversations better in detergent commercials.
Tropical birds scream as the two brood. “You have to meet me halfway,” Peter suggests. But it’s not that, it’s “all this other crap,” Madison replies, regretting that this part of the journey is not as fun as it looks in Sleepless in Seattle. Nevertheless, Peter believes in her, because she’s a fighter. What’s she fighting for, sending Hannah Ann to a convent?
Now they’re all giggly and pleased with themselves. Tinkly piano music indicates that this seemingly insurmountable obstacle hindering Madison and Peter’s forward movement has been overcome. That little old ant can move that rubber tree plant.
Finally, the couple arrive to meet his family. Peter explains they had a long talk just now because they hit a roadblock after a period of bliss. “We have different expectations,” Madison says forthrightly, describing her dismay at his manwhoring around when she explicitly asked him not to. But she can look past that as long as he wears a chastity belt until they’re married.
Dad senses the strain between the pair, which he confirmed by chatting with a production assistant. He then talks with Madison, expressing his concern over her and Peter’s incompatibility. She describes how important her faith is, and that she feels Peter was on board with it, even with no one identifying what religion he’d be adhering to. What if it’s the Cosmic People of Light Powers?
Peter’s brother wonders if not having sex until they’re “fully married” could cause issues. Bad sex after marriage is also problematic. After all, Peter is not the type to go to evening Bible class when there are spicy wings during Happy Hour. Peter gets defensive. He can be religious when he wants to be, dammit. His brother worries this relationship will turn into a remake of Wise Blood.
Mom addresses the issue head-on with Madison. Peter is spiritual, she claims, but nothing like Madison, with her color-coded Post-It notes marking her favorite Bible passages. Mom points out that this could be a conflict, for example, when she wants to pray and he wants to role play. Madison seems not to comprehend. She suggests that if they cared enough about each other, Pazuzu could have gotten along just fine with Regan MacNeil.
Next Mom comes to Peter, sobbing in despair. “She’s not there for you,” she says of Madison, pointing out that Jesus may get more attention than him on vacations. Mom has clearly put all her money on Hannah Ann for the win. In fact, God put the girl’s 8″ by 10″ glossy in the producer’s file.
Now both parents confront Peter. They don’t understand why there’s any issue deciding between the two girls. Mom is reminded of his experience with Hannah B. She picked the wrong person, and just as Peter is doing now, ignored the perfect soulmate right in front of her. Maybe he should give Hannah B. a call.
Peter disagrees. He can see past this minor ripple in his relationship with Madison, despite generations of people clashing over Hannukah vs. Christmas and whether to permit seitan bacon in a vegan household. Knowing better, Mom bursts into tears. “Don’t let her go,” she weeps. “Bring Hannah Ann home to us.” She’s a little too enamored of that girl. Maybe they found out she has a trust fund.
Peter is angry that he’s getting no support for Madison from Team Hannah Ann.“I know I’m in love with Madison,” he asserts, bitter that his parents are poking their noses into the writers room’s business. I bet he said the same problem after he saw the first Fast and Furious.
What follows this scene will be even more trite and overwrought, Chris promises. Peter is now positively steely about ending up with Madison. The pair meet up to travel to a big rock presumed to be imbued with spiritual meaning, much like Peter’s personality.
Madison feels things are being brought into focus now. She loves Peter, but also sees how different they are. Opposites only attract when they’re those Eskimo figurines with the magnets in their noses.”It’s kind of time to surrender,” she tells the camera offhandedly. What does that mean? Ditch him? Give in to having sex? Agree to appear on Bachelor in Paradise?
Some dingoes stroll by as Madison and Peter pop open some bubbly in the outback. Maybe that’s a metaphor for having their hearts savagely ripped out and gobbled up in the bushes. “I came here to find love, and I did,” Madison says. But she feels she may not be thinking clearly. Can she and Peter truly give each other what they need? Not when he needs nookie four times a night in industrial structures. She has decided she’s willing to walk away so he can find who he wants.
“Why don’t you think you’re that person?” demands a distraught Peter. Madison explains that they want different things. He’s confused. She said she loved him and would marry him, like, 11 script pages ago.
But Madison is seeing clearly now about all their differences. He thinks that doesn’t matter. He was willing to do whatever it takes, even give up avocado toast for Lent.
Madison remains determined that saying goodbye is best. Swatting away outback pestilence, they embrace tearfully and rise to leave. The sound of their mutual sniffles fills the Australian air like the scent of shrimp on a barbie. Somewhere, Mr. and Mrs. Weber are high-fiving.
In Alice Springs, Peter awakes shirtless and devastated by Madison’s decision. He must pick up those pieces, but he doubts how much his heart can take. Time to share his feelings with Chris. Peter points out that he does not surrender when he’s in love, even if he would never be happy at a church potluck dinner to raise funds for new choir robes.
Despite his guts ripped out and lying on the ground like a Nankeen Kestrel’s discarded prey, he must now spend time with Hannah Ann. They are met by a Crocodile Dundee type who takes them to see some baby kangaroos. If anything will heal your pain, it’s baby kangaroos. After bottle-feeding one, Peter suddenly realizes that Hannah Ann is perfect, and that they should start their life together. People should only recover from coronavirus that fast.
Hannah Ann is thrilled. Looking into his eyes, however, she realizes something is off. Maybe it’s just the head injury. She vows to use her remaining time with him to cement their love. Shockingly, Chris suggests the outcome is one we don’t expect, but only if we drank a lot of wine with dinner. Just so long as no kangaroos are harmed in the making of this show.
Night falls on Hannah Ann’s cleavage. Peter is joining her in her suite, where she hopes she can convince him of how much he means to her. Peter raves about what a great time he’s had with her, especially the third time on the Fantasy Suite desk. She’s been a rock for him every step of the way, he tells her. Why is he not telling her that Madison has left the show and broken his heart? It’s embarrassing how she’s going on about her hope of being chosen at the Rose Ceremony.
Peter assures her he’s never doubted what he’s had with her for the last two months, even with large gaps between their public meetings. All he wants for her is to be happy, but he’s being pulled in two directions, and not by scantily clad pole dancers as he’d prefer. She’s finally getting the hint that she’s not first on his grocery list.
Hannah Ann laments that she can’t give any more and get nothing in return. He is no comfort whatsoever, but she promises she will always feel for him as she does right now. He hugs her before he leaves. At least no dinners were wasted for this scene.
Next Chris appears in the studio to tell us we haven’t seen the last of Madison or of Peter’s mom, who is frankly a more interesting person. We’ll be back tomorrow night to see what other drama ensues. We already know that Madison comes back, Mom collapses in ugly tears, and Peter chooses a gaudy Neil Lane ring. Where’s the shocking ending?