Ladies and gentlemen, I need to make my own Bachelorette confession.

I missed the first 45 minutes of “The Men Tell All.”

I know, I know. But it couldn’t be helped; I had a press screening I couldn’t miss. (I promise I will be here for the entire finale next week, come hell or high water.) Fortunately, I had the only person who thinks more deeply about The Bachelorette than me filling in: my brilliant, gorgeous wife. And here’s what she had to say about the first 45 minutes of tonight’s show: It was all about Ian.

Ian, as you may recall, was the dude who decided that if he was not going to win the heart of Kaitlyn, he was going to rip her heart out of her chest, stomp on it, then poop on it, then stomp on it some more.

In the interim between pulling the TV equivalent of nuking the entire site from orbit and “The Men Tell All,” Ian had a change of (stomped-on, pooped-on) heart, and in his big return to broadcast television he tried his best to make amends with his fellow bachelors. To show the depths of his sincerity, Ian actually got down on his knees to apologize to everyone, including Kaitlyn’s mother (later, when Kaitlyn herself took the stage, he got down on his knees to apologize one more time). Chris Harrison was skeptical, but the audience still applauded his gesture (From my wife’s notes: “Auditioning fail.”)

That comment might need an explanation. At this point in every Bachelor or Bachelorette season, my wife and I often discuss which dumped contestants are auditioning to be the next Bachelor or Bachelorette. There’s an art to getting kicked off The Bachelorette; you must be sad, but not ugly sad. You must fall in love, but not hold on to that love in a creepy, possessive way. Above all, you must be heartbroken but you must continue to assert that The Bachelorette “works”; that it is indeed possible to fall in love on a dating show in which one bachelor or bachelorette woos 25 people simultaneously, sister-wives style.

This year, the two prime auditioners were Ben Z. and Ben H. Ben Z. didn’t make it as far in the competition, but he’s arguably the hunkier of the two and the more traditional Bachelor star. He looks a lot like previous Bachelor “Farmer” Chris Soules, with darker hair and a beard. (“I mean he is a beautiful man. His face is chiseled,” says my wife, to my chagrin.) Ben H. lasted longer in Kaitlyn’s heart, had more screen time to earn viewers’ affections, but maybe isn't as stereotypically drop-dead handsome. But Ben H. also has a ready-made character arc; throughout Kaitlyn’s season, he talked about how repeated breakups have made him feel unlovable. The poor sad sack who realizes he’s desirable as 25 women throw themselves at his feet is a great Bachelor story. But, again, Ben Z. is a beautiful man. Who to choose to headline the next season?

In all likelihood, the producers will choose to recycle the gimmick from this season of The Bachelorette and bring both men arrive to next season’s premiere and let the new women decide who they want to pursue (the whole Ben vs. Ben thing will make that extra amusing). But for now, they audition, by smiling big and talking about how The Bachelorette taught them the beauty of being open and honest and how falling for Kaitlyn felt like being on cloud 9, and how they really believe in the power of this process, this journey to find love. (Judging by the studio audience reaction, Ben H. is currently winning the audition. But these things can change.)

What cannot change are the decisions Kaitlyn made through this highly “controversial” season (another buzzword Chris Harrison enjoyed repeating over and over like a mantra tonight). One whole segment of “The Men Tell All” was devoted to the despicable tweets and private messages Kaitlyn has received since this season of The Bachelorette began. Many were shockingly and hideously misogynistic. So of course Chris Harrison read them in front of her while she fought back tears. This is all part of the process; being called the worst things imaginable, then having a dude read the worst things imaginable back to you in front of 25 men you've dated and dumped and a live studio audience. This is a journey to find love, you guys.

After Twitter gave Kaitlyn their worst, it was the men’s turn. A few complimented Kaitlyn and exchanged pleasantries. Others were still hung up on her decision to allow Nick, an interloper and Bachelorette alumnus, to join the show midstream. It was “kind of a slap in the face to all of us,” said Corey. Tanner claimed he understood the decision, but called Kaitlyn’s delivery of that decision “really poor.” They’d made commitments to her, several men argued, so why didn’t she make the same commitment to them?

It’s yet another instance of classic batcrap crazy Bachelorette logic. The show’s all about finding love — according to the arbitrary rules of the show. A sane person might argue that if a woman has feelings for someone outside the confines of the show, she should explore those feelings before things get too serious with another guy. After all, it would be tragic for her pick someone only to wonder “What if?” after the fact. It’s a surefire recipe for a brief, broken relationship. And, hey, guess what happens to most relationships on this show! Yeah, I can’t imagine why.

We’ll find out next week who Kaitlyn chooses, either Nick or Shawn. Whether they actually stay together longer than their stint on television and in the tabloids remains to be seen.

Additional Thoughts:

-Remember Jared, he of “the patchiest beard in television history”? Apparently enough people told him that beard was a nightmare, because when he showed up at “The Men Tell All” it was gone, replaced by a trim, neat Van Dyke. Good move, Jared. The new look’s much better.

-Line of the Night: Kaitlyn, with a sweet putdown after Jonathan called her out for allowing Nick to join the show in progress, and for allowing outside feelings to affect her treatment of the men on the show. “But did you not vote for Britt?” Kaitlyn responded. OH SNAP.

-The Bachelorette always promises that each season finale will be the craziest and most shocking in the show’s history, and this year is no exception. This week, Chris Harrison promised an “unforgettable finale to The Bachelorette” and “an ending like no other” and “the dramatic ending you won’t believe!” My prediction: The final episode turns into a shot-for-shot remake of In the Realm of the Senses. That would be an unforgettable finale like no other you wouldn’t believe.

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