by James Weir
WITH one decision, The Bachelor's Matty J has been lashed by Australia for dumping fan favourite Tara Pavlovic in the penultimate episode of the reality series.
"Here I am heartbroken. I didn't want it to end. I'm devastated," Tara said, holding back tears and trying to compose herself as she said a very short goodbye to the man she began falling in love with.
Matty choked up as he left the bubbly blonde empty-handed after giving Laura Byrne and Elise Stacy roses at the end of Wednesday night's semi final. But he received no sympathy from scorned fans.
For the duration of the series, Matty's expressed no doubts over the 27-year-old Gold Coast native. Instead, he's been enamoured with her. Her elimination with no explanation has come as a shock - and now fans are demanding answers.
Like an angry older brother, Twitter has turned on Matty J for breaking Tara's heart. Within minutes of the decision going to air fans on social media sharpened their hashtags and loaded their emojis, ready to take aim.
The heartbreak comes as a cruel surprise at the end of a rather calm episode that shows Matty taking all of the final three girls on single dates to help reach a decision.
To begin, we open to a deserted beach on an early weekday morning. A flock of seagulls soar over the coastline. A dog runs along the shore, planting paw prints in the smooth, damp sand. The camera pans to Matty J. He's on a surfboard in the middle of the ocean. He doesn't catch a wave. With big decisions looming, maybe he's not in the mood. Or maybe this is all for show and he actually just doesn't know how to surf. Both are valid.
In these still moments, he contemplates everything: Life. Love. If the cosmetic surgery he underwent to have his ears pinned back will ever sporadically reverse itself at an unfortunate time like during sex or at a glamorous social event.
Coincidentally, Laura strolls along a cliff overlooking the exact same beach - perhaps wondering the same thing about the ears.
Matty needs to cut one of the three remaining girls loose - so he takes them all on one final single date to help reach a decision. For Laura, he rents a car from Avis and they drive to a field to cash in a remaining Red Balloon voucher. Today it's a hang-gliding adventure experience.
Laura pretends to be excited and I don't buy it. I'm sick of watching people pretending to like dates that require them to do things and wear helmets. No one likes doing that. I'm a traditionalist: Dates should involve food and alcohol and sitting and sex and going home alone and eating a family-sized block of chocolate and that's it.
"I love things that push me outside my comfort zone!" Laura lies.
I hate the expression "outside your comfort zone". It's just a sly way of trying to get me to leave my house and I don't appreciate being tricked.
Anyway, it's just a super intimate final date for Matty and Laura where they have the opportunity to relish some real quality moments together.
Later on, talk turns to the horrible sketch Matty drew of Laura on their first date and Matty says he's been feeling totally guilty about making her look like a giant bozo. To rectify his actions, he's been taking sketching lessons - and he gifts her with a beautiful second attempt at her portrait.
"I'm utterly falling in love with you, I genuinely am," Laura gushes. And they kiss while Laura 2 watches on from afar.
When it comes time for Elise's date, Matty decides she's only worth a train ticket. So that's what they do. They literally just get on an old timey train and point at trees. It's the ultimate old people's date.
Just as I'm about to body roll out of the carriage and lay my torso on the tracks, we disembark and go sit on the ground somewhere.
As they roast marshmallows, they talk about their feelings and Matty determines Elise is the perfect partner - mainly because she meets his one big criteria for a girlfriend: She'll listen to him bitch about work.
"On a Tuesday night, I can come home and be like, 'Hey Elise, I had a really crap day at work, this happened'. And you'd get it," he tells her.
And I know exactly what he means - this is also my biggest requirement in a boyfriend. Finding a partner who can tolerate you bitching about work is one thing - but when you find a partner who also gives the appropriate reactions, you marry them immediately.
The most important part about the after-work-bitch is your partner's response. A lot of guys don't understand there are really only two acceptable responses when listening to me bitch about the losers I work with: "Ugh, clearly you were right" and "Ugh, that sucks".
I'm not interested in your crappy silver linings or looking on the "bright side".
I'm also not asking you for advice. And if, at the end of my rant, you tell me I was the one being unreasonable, I'll probably scratch you.
When listening to your partner complain about work, you must only agree. That is it. And maybe feed them while doing so.
My point is, it seems Matty has decided he only wants either me or Elise as his partner and it just makes sense.
Elise says she's falling for him. She's positively beaming. I don't want to jinx things, but I think it's a real possibility she's very close to hearing Matty bitch about Janine in sales every night after work. It's exciting times.
Tara's date has a different feel to the other dates.
""Bwoarh! We're in the sky!" she shrieks as their seaplane takes off over the ocean.
They have a good time and they both have feelings for each other - but the day seems to lack the substance of the other dates.
"I know I'm always being silly and joking around, but I really do care and I don't want these other people in the picture anymore. I want to have you all to myself," Tara tells him as they cuddle and watch the sun set. Matty says he wishes he could stay here forever.
They both say it's the perfect day. So what goes wrong?
Unlike the other episodes, we don't attend a cocktail party for five hours before the rose ceremony. Mainly because there's only three girls left and they've literally got nothing left to say to each other. Watching them sit around the drama cabana with no drama would be almost as boring as Elise's old timey-train date.
So we cut straight to the rose ceremony. The decision Matty has to make is huge.
And it doesn't take long before Tara is left standing in front of him alone, empty-handed and heartbroken.
As he walks her out to the patio, she's visibly upset but tries to stay composed. She doesn't want to hang around and their goodbye is swift and gracious.
"Here I am, heartbroken. I didn't want it to end. I'm devastated," she says.
Matty doesn't really give a reason. But anything he says would probably just anger us even more. Besides, how do you explain why you broke up with a beautiful angel who eats a sausage like this in public?
For more observations on family-sized blocks of chocolate and Janine in sales, follow me on Twitter: @hellojamesweir