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The Champagne Pop Heard Around the World

This week on ‘The Bachelor,’ Hannah Brown finally exits the Bachelorverse and a little bubbly causes an inordinate amount of tears

ABC/Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Monday’s tear-strewn second episode of The Bachelor featured two main sources of conflict. The first was the presence of Peter’s ex, former Bachelorette Hannah Brown, whose lingering feelings for the man she sent home after their one-windmill stand spilled into his season and threatened to derail his relationships with a new group of girls. The second was a wayward bottle of champagne, whose uncorking caused a cascade of emotions that made the mansion into a drama-filled free-fire zone.

Although Peter’s heart-to-heart with Hannah was the climax and cliffhanger of the three-hour premiere, their conversation concluded only six minutes into Episode 2. “You were the one who said no to me,” Peter told Hannah, who famously spurned him in favor of Tyler and duplicitous singer-songwriter Jed. “I’ve never said no to you.” This time, though, Peter would be the one to walk away.

Last week, confronted by Hannah’s revelation that she still had feelings for him, Peter proposed that she join his season as a contestant, which would have been an unprecedented demotion for a former lead (who in this case was already in production on Dancing With the Stars). It also would have made her the mansion’s most hated resident and spoiled the conceit that the contestants start out on a more or less even footing; if the other women resented Kelley for her hotel meeting, they would have hated Hannah for crashing their season after flubbing the finale of hers.

This week, Hannah countered with her own semiserious suggestion: “Selfishly—let’s go catch a flight.” She was right: It was selfish to suggest that Peter give up his own chance to be Bachelor and ditch the women who were waiting for him, all of whom had signed up for a contest that they thought would be a fair fight, not one in which Hannah haunted group dates like the ghost of relationships past. “I don’t know what to do right now,” Peter replied. Hannah sat on his lap to help him make up his mind.

For a few agonizing seconds, the two stared into each other’s eyes, centimeters from smooching, as we watched voyeuristically through a cracked-open door. Then Peter pulled away, declaring, “I can’t do this,” and adding, as if to psych himself up, “I’m gonna get back to the girls.” The season was salvaged, and Hannah, who said, “This was not supposed to happen this way,” had taken the latest in a long series of Ls. As it turns out, dumping a guy on national TV may make him reluctant to take you back.

Although Hannah hadn’t assuaged Peter’s doubts about why she wanted him back, Peter admitted that he’d been tempted to take her suggestion. (Granted, it doesn’t take much to tempt Peter to fly.) But declining her offer was easy compared to his next challenge: Telling the willing women who hadn’t dumped him that he was canceling the rest of their date to regroup from the tête-à-tête with his ex. Even the relief of not having to share the embarrassing sex stories they’d spent the last hour rehearsing wasn’t enough to defuse their frustration with Peter’s willingness to let Hannah play such a prominent role. As Alexa later asked, understandably, “Like, what were you thinking?” It didn’t help that Peter’s face was still flecked with Hannah’s glitter even after she’d left, a visual reminder of the hold she had on his heart.

Although he appeared to win the women over at the gathering that evening with his charm and frank and frequent apologies—even Natasha, who wouldn’t let him off as easy as Mykenna did, warmed to him after a while—one wonders whether the specter of Hannah, if not her physical form, will loom over the rest of the season. Peter proclaimed, “I am moving forward, and Hannah B. is in the past,” but that past is suddenly only one weepy afternoon behind him. There’s no better rebound strategy than being the Bachelor: Being surrounded by beautiful women who want you is probably a pretty good way to move on from one who wasn’t sure. But in the back of their minds, some skeptical women may be wondering whether a guy who had feelings for Hannah after the season started will really be ready to forge a fresh, lifelong connection when it ends.

Biggest Beef: The “Champagne Scandal”

No sooner had Peter dodged the Hannah B. bullet than another former pageant contestant set out to make his week worse. With the question of the Bachelor’s emotional availability temporarily laid to rest, the show got back to the business of squabbles between contestants. The big one this week was the “champagne scandal,” which may have been one of the most senseless conflicts in the history of the series. (And on this series, that’s saying something.)

Conflict on The Bachelor is often amplified by alcohol, but the bottle itself isn’t typically the instigator. This week, it was. Professional clothier Kelsey, still on tilt from not talking to Peter as much as she’d hoped to on opening night, planned to make up for lost time at the second cocktail party by orchestrating a romantic rendezvous at which she would pop a bottle of champagne she’d been saving for a special occasion for more than a year. At least some of the other women, impressed by the incredible restraint she’d shown in her year-plus of champagne abstention, seemed supportive of the plan, but not everyone was aware of it. As Kelsey was laying out a blanket and lighting the candles she’d arrayed around the bottle on ice, Mykenna stole away with the Bachelor, thwarting Kelsey’s plan to pull Peter aside.

In time-honored contestant tradition, Kelsey chose to respond to a shortage of time with the Bachelor by continuing not to talk to the Bachelor and stirring up drama instead. When Mykenna returned, Kelsey—who looks like a cross between Busy Philipps and Megyn Kelly—confronted her. “I feel like there’s a disrespect, and there’s—and you disrespected me,” she inarticulately raged, accusing Mykenna of intentionally sabotaging her champagne picnic plans. As always, the dispute centered on a grievance about inequitable time: Kelsey wasn’t on the group date, whereas Mykenna, who was, had talked to Peter that night. In Kelsey’s mind, this made Mykenna a snake, which she clarified is “my least favorite animal.”

This was already an overreaction. For one thing, Mykenna may not have known what Kelsey had in mind. For another, most complaints about cocktail-party time arise when a contestant who already has a rose takes time away from those who don’t, or when a contestant goes back for a second or third chat on the same night (as Hannah Ann did last week). Mykenna didn’t have a rose, and she hadn’t talked to Peter since the previous day. By Bachelor convention, she was well within her rights to steal him.

As Kelsey stewed, calmer heads tried to talk her down as one would an armed hostage-taker. “Let’s talk about your champagne,” Alayah said in calm, soothing tones, touching up Kelsey’s concealer. “You were so excited about that.” But the worst was still to come. As Kelsey sat and waited for the perfect opening with Peter to present itself—crucially, leaving the spot she’d staked out unguarded, a move that has backfired on The Bachelor before—a fateful pop echoed across the cocktail party, producing the same stunned silence that one imagines may have followed the shot that killed Franz Ferdinand.

That sound could have come only from a champagne bottle being popped. But which champagne bottle? Kelsey, trailed by a retinue of aspiring peacekeepers, stalked toward the scene of the crime. There, her suspicion was confirmed: Her cherished bottle had been violated, and a rival was about to taste the bubbly nectar she’d waited so long to savor. The culprit: Hannah Ann.

Speechless with anger, Kelsey stalked off to cry away the concealer that Alayah had touched up and refused to see Peter when he went to check on her. Then she stalked back to confront and curse out Hannah Ann—who was still sitting with Peter—accusing her of intentionally tampering with her champagne plans (which she vehemently denied). Peter tried to smooth the situation over by taking Kelsey to a second champagne-drinking location elsewhere on the grounds, which had seemingly caused the confusion. Just as it started to seem like the situation could be contained, tragedy struck again. First, Kelsey knocked over the bucket that contained the champagne, but the bottle didn’t break. Moments later, she would wish it had, when her attempt to drink from the bottle backfired and the champagne sprayed all over her face.

After kind of keeping it together during her confab with Peter, Kelsey unloaded on Hannah, calling her fake, “calculated,” and a pretty princess. Hannah’s stock response—“I acknowledge your feelings”—provoked Kelsey further. Although Hannah’s explanation made the mix-up seem like an understandable mistake, Kelsey couldn’t be convinced that Hannah hadn’t plotted against her. Even after narrowly surviving the rose ceremony, Kelsey couldn’t bring herself to make a toast, not trusting herself to get through it without resuming her rant. Spotting an opportunity to twist the knife, Hannah made the toast instead.

The downside of the duel that defined Episode 2 is that there wasn’t much time for anything or anyone else (including a one-on-one date). No wonder ABC included a long teaser for the rest of the season (Costa Rica! Chile!) to remind us that this show isn’t solely about bubbly and fashion-show swag. “I will never look at champagne the same again,” Hannah said toward the end of the episode. Neither will we, Hannah. Neither will we.

Biggest Strategic Mistake: Snitching on Kelsey

Although Hannah was the seemingly innocent victim of Kelsey’s irrational response to Champagne-gate, she brought further trouble upon herself by trying to send Kelsey home rather than letting Kelsey keep digging her own grave. Hannah went into the cocktail party talking a big game about letting bygones be bygones: “I’m not going to let something of the past, something of yesterday, ruin today,” she announced before her private time with Peter, adding, “It’s a new day, and you’ve gotta have a fresh perspective on moving forward.” In her mind, evidently, the best way to move forward was to try to get Kelsey kicked off the show, because she told Peter—not unreasonably—that she had felt bullied by Kelsey, which could have been grounds for dismissal.

Kelsey weathered Hannah’s head-on assault by breaking into tears (again), denying that she’d bullied Hannah, and claiming that she’d previously been the victim of bullying herself. Peter, who probably shouldn’t have kept Kelsey at the rose ceremony—even if Hannah was a purposeful “champagne stealer,” Kelsey’s response still would have been disproportionate—made another mistake by questioning Kelsey about whether she’d bullied Hannah, not about what she’d said to Hannah. The former is a matter of opinion and perception; the latter is a matter of fact. If Peter had pressed Kelsey on whether she’d said the things Hannah claimed she’d said, she would have had to lie or, by telling the truth, inadvertently corroborate Hannah’s account.

Hannah was a front-runner from the start, and in Week 2 she solidified that status, winning the fashion show and earning herself sympathy points for bearing the brunt of Kelsey’s tantrum. If Hannah had taken the high road, Kelsey probably would have eliminated herself. As it is, Hannah not only gave Kelsey another reason to target her, but also allowed Kelsey to plant doubt in Peter’s mind about Hannah’s account. One would think that Kelsey wouldn’t last long regardless, but she does declare her love for Peter in the teaser, which suggests that she may stick around for a while. Hannah probably should have kept her powder dry.

Unlikeliest Alliance: Kelsey and Victoria F.

Kelsey and Victoria F. roughly tied for the lead in total tears shed, albeit for different reasons: Victoria was upset about not being the center of attention, while Kelsey was upset about being the center of unwanted attention. They make an odd pairing: Kelsey yells, and Victoria whispers; Kelsey often enters attack mode, and Victoria describes herself as “meek and shy.” Despite those differences, the duo bonded, both because they seem to lack self-confidence and because they were equally “over” the Bachelor life. When you’re having a hard time, the most comforting companion can sometimes be the other most miserable person, no matter how little alike. And when you’ve alienated everyone around you, you’ll confide in the first friendly face you can find.

Best Product Placement: Revolve

Normally, contestants on a group date compete for extra time with the Bachelor; the winner earns a private audience, or maybe a one-on-one meal. This week, the contestants competed for a fortune in free clothing, and if Peter paid attention, well, that was a plus. The winner of the fashion show, which was judged by Janice Dickinson, Carson Kressley, and a Revolve exec, was entitled to “everything in the Revolve closet,” which translated to 40 shopping bags’ worth of clothes valued at “thousands and thousands” of dollars. No wonder Victoria was so sad to finish second! For a few minutes, a fashion brand made me wonder whether the right reasons were foremost in anyone’s mind.

Contestant I’d Most Want to Watch The Bachelor With: Tammy

For the second straight week, Tammy told it like it was, describing Kelsey as “emotionally unstable” and pronouncing, “I hope that Peter’s smart enough to see she’s a hot mess and she needs to go home.” (He wasn’t.) It was Tammy who dubbed the Hannah-Kelsey conflict a “champagne crisis,” and although she seemed to delight in the drama, she largely stayed out of the fray and avoided aligning herself with either side.

My wife is from Syracuse and was in the tank for Tammy from the start, but her quick wit won me over too. Tammy seems tough enough to win a war of words with anyone, but thus far she’s been too smart to get sucked into any verbal battles. What’s still unclear is whether Tammy—whom Chris Harrison labeled a “badass”—has made any impression on Peter, or whether the sense of perspective that makes her a go-to commentator when the producers need someone to sum up a situation will make it harder for her to fully engage in the fight for Peter’s affection. It’s a sign of good sense when a contestant stays grounded in what life is like on the outside, but at some point, she’ll have to transition from avoiding attention for ridiculous reasons to drawing attention for positive reasons.

Most Inebriated-Looking: Madison

Ironically, the most buzzed-looking contestant in Episode 2 wasn’t one of the central figures in Champagne-gate. Rose Leslie lookalike Madison, the mansion’s most genuine and real resident, also seemed to be the one who had overindulged.

Maybe Madison was still riding the high of becoming a de facto member of the Weber clan last week, which Peter memorialized via a framed photo. After meeting her would be-boyfriend’s whole family on a first date, Madison definitely deserved a drink or three.

This Week’s Lift and Carry: Mykenna

Peter’s go-to makeout move is to lift his lip-lock partner onto the closest horizontal surface. Last week, he hoisted Kelley onto a bar counter to get a more optimal makeout angle. This week, Mykenna was the one lifted aloft. Just as she started to say, “I’m happy that, like, I took this, like—” Peter decided it was time for an unscheduled takeoff.

Stealthiest Nap: Alexa

You may have been blurry, Alexa, but don’t think we didn’t see you catching a few winks while Peter was talking to Kelsey at the end of the night.

Facial expressions can be misleading, but thus far, Alexa has looked like the least interested contestant. Considering how silly Champagne-gate got, she missed a spectacle if she took a cocktail-party power nap.