Now sitting in a chair in the center of the stage, Chris offers, "Fellas, it's good to see you again." Chris has already spoken more cumulative words in this episode than he has for the whole of the season up until now. Alex McLeod must be fuming that she doesn't get to save face like this. Who's that, you may ask? Well, exactly. Chris exposits, "You know, we've never done The Bachelorette before, so we really didn't know what it was going to be like in that first Rose Ceremony, when the tables were turned." Seriously, I'm going to track down the next person who uses that exhausted expression and personally sever his or her "connection." There are no tables. Sell the tables. Write some new copy. Shut up. "What was it like for you guys?" Bob hazards that it was "crazy." Brook hazards in agreement that is was "crazy." Russ hops to the challenge of making sure no one in either the room or in America will ever like him again, hogging the spotlight with the observation, "Those Rose Ceremonies, you have no control. You feel like you're a piece of meat up there." The crowd goes wild because of the red neon sign that just dropped down just away from the camera's gaze, reading, "Go wild!" Russ smiles wickedly. It's not for you, Russ. It's for turning tables. And, maybe, the meatpacking industry? Difficult to know for sure.
Either way, Russ wins himself an invitation to the "hot seat," which is the other, empty seat right next to Chris's. After Russ and Chris share that handshake/hug/backslap trifecta that signals the opening move in The Nongay Ballet, Russ takes a seat and gets ready for the third degree. And Chris isn't pulling any punches: "Russ, of course, was the first guy to kiss Trista. But it may have been the kiss of death." Now that is a great line. So few lines in reality-show host copy include a silent, cliffhanger-y "dum-dum-DUUUUUM!" just following them.
"Let's take a look at your journey...through The Bachelorette." Hey, who set the alarm for Montage O'Clock? On a video monitor, we work our way through Russ and Trista's very brief, very unloving love affair. He meets her and introduces himself as "Russell." We're reminded for the billionth time in his interview: "When I watched The Bachelor, I turned to my buddy and said, 'I'm gonna date that girl someday.'" We know. WE KNOW! We've heard it six thousand times. Does anybody else feel like there's almost no character more important on this show than the ubiquitous "buddy" to whom Russ offered that precious sound bite? He's like the father whose picture hangs on the wall in The Glass Menagerie, important to all but with no lines of his own. And I'll bet the "buddy" really said it and Russ is just taking credit for it. Or maybe he just said, "Dude, pass the Corn Nuts," and Russ translated it as people talking about him him him him him. Back on Montage Island, Russ gives Trista a bracelet. Russ chisels his way through Vegas. Russ and Trista kiss at Ghost Bar, and the crowd at the reunion show actually squeeeees all over again, as if this is a moment of glee and not something you're supposed to respond to with absolute fucking horror. Russ tells us through a late, drunken haze, "My gut feeling is that I will be the last man standing." The other guys judge him, including Charlie, who notes, "I thought Russ was a [bleep]ing cheeseball the whole time. I mean, there's no doubt about it." And you'd know one when you saw one, wouldn't you, Dippity-Don't spokesman? From inside her soundproof isolation tank, Trista appears in a box at the bottom left of the screen and puts her hand over her mouth in shock at Charlie's comment. Her man, cussing and carryin' on! Or, um, her runner-up, cussing and carryin' on! After all, how am I to know? Brook judges the bracelet. Russ becomes aggressive. Russ and Trista fight in Sedona. Russ gets booted. The audience applauds. Chris and Russ hold for adulating applause for one second too long, giving me the necessary amount of time to note with some level of certainty that the bowl of fake fruit sitting on the table between them has more personality than most of the guys sitting on those couches.