Good evening and welcome, MAFS gnomes, to FINAL VOWS (part one)! The purported end to the many weeks of romance-related devastation visited on our hapless contestants, and the moment at which they decide, absolutely performatively, whether they will remain together outside of the experiment. As we all know once these eps are done we are going to be immediately treated to ~the reunions~ AND the MAFS matchmakers have about a 0.00001% success rate in the real world but let’s collectively suspend our disbelief and enjoy three of our brave couples’ last run ’round the romance roulette wheel!

In case you missed last night’s weirdly anaemic episode, Melissa confronted Bryce about the persistent rumour (now apparently confirmed) that he has a “girlfriend on the outside”. He responded in extremely predictable form by chucking a fit and threatening to leave the show. The major outcome was that neither Bryce nor Melissa showed up to the final dinner party, which made for a strangely frictionless event (roughed up somewhat by a juicy phone call to Samantha about Bryce’s alleged girlfriend and the reappearance of that godforsaken Honesty Box).

Where the hell are the two of them? Certainly not completely off the show, if the previews are anything to go by! What a shame.

here’s to independent lizardry

Anyway today everyone will be going home for the first time in eight weeks, to have a big think about whether they want to leave their trauma-bonded partner at the altar later on. Charming stuff.

While all the other couples are waking up in an unfamiliar good mood after the absence of terminal vibe-killer Bryce at the dinner party, he and his brainwashed bride are consoling themselves by reiterating to each other what a good idea it was that they didn’t go. They only barely decided to stay in the whole experiment, remember?

“The only reason I stayed last night is because you begged me to,” says Bryce, immediately giving me a pounding rage-headache.

if we were on my home planet I would not be the one begging

Melissa says she just wants to move past the persistent rumour of Bryce’s infidelity, because we all know it’s so much easier to keep wilfully deluding yourself than to actually cut yourself loose from that fucking negative-charisma dead weight idiot brick of a man. My days of sympathising with our extraterrestrial visitor are certainly coming to a middle.

Kerry, meanwhile, has got her sleuth hat on. Literally.

don’t say Great Mouse Detective don’t say Great Mouse Detective

She wants to know what’s going on with this fucking “girlfriend”! So she and Johnny are doing the thing that only the best-adjusted and least-complicated couple in the experiment would do: they’re going to go have a chat with Bryce and Melissa. Bless.

As soon as Johnny enters their apartment, he’s straight up like, Oh! You’re… still together? I love him. A Labrador among snakes.

?????

Johnny and Kerry fill the others in on what they missed last night: Bryce got brought up at the dinner party, and Johnny was like, Okay but where’s the proof? They called Sam, her best mate corroborated stuff on the phone, and uh… yeah. There’s the proof. Melissa does not look thrilled at this news.

Oh. My GOD. Bryce is like, Well the thing about Samantha is that SHE’S CRAZY. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! I am yelling into every room in my house. Is this fucker reading directly from the gaslighter’s handbook right now?!

“My small group of friends know Samantha from her hairdressing business,” he says, “and they’ve turned around and said to me in a polite way that she’s crazy. She’s known to be a compulsive liar.”

Kerry didn’t get that sleuth hat by being a damned fool. She’s not buying his shit for a second.

I see a game is the foot

To the camera, she accurately points out that Bryce’s protestations only make him look more guilty. At the breakfast bar she asks him how Samantha would know the name of the girlfriend. Oh, he doesn’t know! And what about all the other things that line up, like going to the footy with her and Bec’s story about getting her a present? How does he explain that? He can’t.

Fuck it’s satisfying to watch Kerry get all Poirot on his ass. “I think he’s full of shit,” she tells the camera. J’accuse!!!

you’re nicked you fucking boil

Of course Melissa doesn’t appreciate the work this miniature detective has been doing for her. She thinks it’s just the same old shit. Johnny steps in with his best Youth Pastor delivery to date: “You don’t want to shut this down?” he says gently to Bryce.

“It is shut down,” says Bryce. No – he means with the girl. Doesn’t Melissa want him to talk to her?

“I think it’d be a good idea,” she says. “Something needs to be done about it.”

have you considered acting right for once in your god damn life

Ha ha, you thought!!! “I’m not going to call her on the show. I’m not going to bring someone innocent into it. I can’t force this girl to have a chat,” he says, his voice shaking, because he is a coward. “I know what’s true, so that’s what sits well with me.” Incredible stuff.

To camera, Liss says what we’re all thinking: “That was the opportunity to put it to bed, honestly.” Calling the girl would have given Liss the confidence in their relationship that she really needed, but nope! Truly staggering that the bloke was given a petal-strewn path to redemption and chose instead to squat down where he stood and do a big shit all over everyone’s goodwill.

Ohhhh well, let’s go look at the protagonists left in the experiment. They’re all heading back to their separate homes to think about ~their futures~. Johnny and Kerry are sad to be parting. Yadda yadda, we know! They’re perfect!!! Although the previews were totally hinting that Kerry dumps him at the altar… A twist I would truly live for, actually, but I’m not holding my breath.

sorry babe my detective agency is really taking off

Alana and Jason are packing up the marital terrarium and reminiscing about their horny highs and lows (remember the lingerie cooking incident? A moment Jason will treasure to his dying breath). These simple root rats have really developed feelings for each other. Jason has a sweet little cry about it in between packing up his many hats.

how much headwear can one reptile need

For her part, Alana really needs to think about things. Is their sexual chemistry really enough to make up for all their emotional ups and downs, or their differences in values? My money is on “yes”, because orgasms are fun and criminally hard to come by.

Back in Brick HQ, things have taken a turn for the silent and sullen. Liss reeeeally would have liked him to make that phone call!

but cha didn’t

Ugh gross they’re still hugging each other and she’s still telling him to cheer up. What’s it going to take to get her to drop him? Does she need to see him commit a murder in front of her? Blugh she’d probably say it was faked anyway. I just can’t any more! I only have so many brain cells left and I can’t let the apoplectic rage I feel every time I see these two interact continue to delete them willy-nilly.

They share a lukewarm goodbye that leaves Liss feeling upset, as per usual. “It was rushed, it was almost emotionless,” she tells the camera. “And after the rumours, accusations, the drama, the fighting, all of that, it was almost like he didn’t realise that we were leaving each other to go and make this final decision. So I’m devastated to end the whole experiment on that final note.” Honey, that note has been playing for literally the whole time.

Oy va voy, what ever. Let’s go hang out with Kerry. She’s concerned that she’s been seeing her relationship through rose-tinted glasses, because she and the theatre hottie have been rushed into developing feelings for each other by the experiment.

also her first love will always be the surf, brah

Johnny’s at home crying into his six pack about missing his adorable wife. He’s never fallen for anyone so fast before! It’s kinda scary!

boo hoo, why don’t you do some reps about it

Meanwhile, Liss has also arrived home and is looking absolutely thrilled to bits about it.

~she’s so lucky, she’s a star~

She says she feels like she’s right back where she started, being single and sad and dateless for twelve years. I hate this narrative that insists that any relationship is better than no relationship. Melissa is such a strange, gentle, sweet creature who has endured so much poor treatment from that pillock she got matched with, and yet she still believes that suffering through all that is far preferable to living life on her own.

Fortunately she is still questioning whether Bryce has actually been telling her the truth. She has doubts. Good!

For his part, Bryce is back in Canberra and looking theatrically at pictures of Melissa on his phone. He really misses her, and says he’s not proud of how he acted or the person he turned into on the experiment. He reckons he’ll be forever grateful to Liss for sticking by him throughout everything. No amount of sappy piano music can make me like, trust or empathise with this guy.

am I pensive or am I an unredeemable fuckwit with the acting skills of a doorknob

Jason’s back in Queensland and calling his mum. She’s not being a huge help, I gotta say! She tells him to go with his heart. Coulda saved the call minutes and just watched The Lion King, tbh. Anyway he seems ready to stick it out with Alana – he’s just scared that she won’t reciprocate.

In her own featureless apartment, Alana doing a lot of thinking in slow motion. More importantly, she’s got her hair done! You look great babe!

thenk yew

It sounds a lot like she’s about to call it quits with her lizard lover, but we all know that the MAFS editors take a real bricolage approach to the voiceovers on this show so I’m not calling it either way just yet.

Finally, we are on our way to the last humiliating ordeal for these three couples: the final vows. Kerry and Johnny are up first and wow, she looks good.

get you a sleuth who can do both

You can tell it’s serious because everyone’s in slow-mo. Are we really only halfway through this episode? God they’re dragging this shit out. Where are my Twisties.

Okay at long last they’re in the same room/ostentatious flower venue.

when will Brisbane pay for its crimes

Johnny gives his nice little speech. He calls them “a perfect double act” (we love a theatre call-back!) but says he’s concerned that he likes her more than she likes him. Obviously though, he wants to stay together. He’s falling in love with her! Aww. Jeez. I hope MAFS’ greatest detective doesn’t stomp all over his sweet little heart.

Kerry says he’s the most adorable, cheeky rascal, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s never let her down. She will always appreciate him and their bond will be lifelong. But…? But nothing! She’s falling in love with him too! Fuck yes! Johnny’s crying! I’m crying! Everyone’s crying!

I am just… so relieved. I don’t think I could have handled the two actual human beings on this show hurting each other. Save that for your private lives babes!

It’s Bryce and Liss’s turn now, and I think we all know how this is going to go. We’ve seen the goss, we’ve seen them arrive at the airport together, and we’ve seen (vomit) Bryce shopping for an engagement ring. I cannot stomach it but I am 100% sure they’re staying together. At least Liss is going to look super hot while she gives my best intentions the bird.

*ignores advice smoulderingly*

MAFS is doing its best to squeeze some uncertainty out of the situation though, mostly by doing a hilarious soap opera-style echoey voiceover of all the mean things Bryce has said to Melissa. She reckons her decision is going to shock everybody. I sincerely doubt that.

Inside the venue that will launch a thousand wedding Pinterest boards, Bryce is quietly crapping his dacks. I think he might actually believe he’s about to get dropped. Good.

enjoy your soft-focus suffering, you barnacle

Bryce reads his vows first. I do my best to not tune out from sheer loathing. It’s a list of cliches that don’t deserve any attention anyway. At least he says that he isn’t proud of how he acted, and that he questions how compatible they are. He says she makes him a better person. And ugh, yep, here it comes: he has fallen in love with her. You can’t even say “I love you”? Yes I am finding fault with this guy at every opportunity and no I will not apologise!

Melissa looks like she’s about to pass out. Quick Q: what happens if you change your mind halfway through the final vows ceremony? Do you get to pause everything while you run off and scribble out a new draft? Do you just show up with two versions of your little speech? MAFS! Explain!!

Anyway it’s Liss’s turn, and the music suggests she’s about to bring some vengeance upon her idiot husband. “I need to be completely and brutally honest with you,” she says. I wish you fucken would, babe!

She says the rumours and conflicts that have plagued their relationship have made her question everything. The anxiety was devastating. He knew she feared abandonment, and everything that happened in the experiment only exacerbated those fears. Oof, here comes the “but”: despite all that, “I know deep down in my heart that I have never felt this way about anyone,” she says. She’s in love with him. Yawn, boo and hiss.

disgoostang

Bryce has a delicate little weep on her shoulder and tells her he loves her and he’s sorry for everything he put her through. Too little, too late, you dolt. I hope you fall onto one of those glass floor chandeliers and get a really nasty cut.

Uh oh, here we go: the music is sad, the motion is slow, the white jumpsuit is on, and Alana is getting ready to break up with Jason.

*sombre disco music*

The poor lizard has no idea what’s coming for him. At least it’s been broadcast on national TV that he’s a beast in the sack?

He reminds us that he’s been cheated on in every relationship he’s been in. I forgot about that. No wonder he has trust issues! He reckons they’re strong enough to get past it. Yeesh.

Omg, they’re cuing the Our Lady of Wordless Sorrow soundtrack as though it’s fucking Lord of the Rings and he’s a doomed Rohirrim riding into battle against Saruman’s hordes. Save me from this melodrama!

Gondor calls for aid!

Alana’s already crying in the limo. They’re just not right for each other. “…And that’s like, really sad,” she says. “Oh no. This is going to be horrible.” Yeah, sweetie. It is.

The two of them meet up on some beach that’s definitely meant to be deserted but equally definitely has some red-clad sports dummies cavorting in the background.

oh god he’s right behind me isn’t he

Jason delivers his vows to Alana’s barely-concealed discomfort. He says she’d be a great mother, and she looks like she’d sort of forgotten about how much she wanted kids. He brings up their compatibility issues on the trust front, but he still thinks that after all they’ve been through, they can make it work. He’s scared to completely hand his heart over to her, but – he says through tears – he’s falling in love with her.

shiiiiiiiiiiit

Even after all his shitty Up Da Boiz behaviour, I am not looking forward to watching our lizard friend get trampled to death. Alana is immediately crying and I’m cringing so hard I think my face is stuck.

She reminisces a bit about their wedding and how happy they were. They always chose to stay, even though they argued, and that’s beautiful! Here comes the “however”. She says she started to second-guess his actions. They fight, and she hates the way he talks to her then. There are double standards. He’s been loyal to questionable people, and it’s made her question him. He’s hurt her. She has doubts about trusting him.

shoulda stayed in the terrarium mate

She doesn’t think he’s ready to settle down, and that they’re at different stages of life. She’s doing it! She’s dumping him! And he’s being sweet and telling her that she can get through it! Oh my heart. Not enough cheese-flavoured snacks in the world can ease this pain.

Wait, what – WHAT!? Is she going off-piste? Oh my god! I think she is! She sees a future with him! She likes him! She wants to see if they can work it out!

That wonderful moment when… – Book Bliss

“Did you just change your mind just then?” he says. “Why?”

“You said you were falling in love with me,” she laughs.

“What was on the cards then?” he asks, and she does some REAL romantic comedy shit and CHUCKS THEM AWAY.

a Channel 9 exec just spontaneously climaxed

WELL. Consider me happily floored. God speed, you crazy kids!!!

And that is it – at least until tomorrow night, when we get to go through all the terror yet again with the rest of the couples. The previews seem ominous, but would you expect anything less? God, I feel like I’ve been psychologically body-slammed. Will you excuse me? I need to drink a large glass of wine and have a bath just to get over the emotional beating that was the last [checks watch] 89 minutes. Anyway see ya tomorrow!