MAFS 2023 | James Weir recaps episode 29: Harrison eviscerated before dumb twist

Married At First Sight’s manipulative husband attempts to manipulate us into thinking he’s not a manipulator at Sunday’s commitment ceremony before the experts try manipulating him into owning up to his manipulative ways.

Meanwhile, the wife who declared she had thrown her rose-coloured glasses into the trash promptly fishes them out and superglues them back onto her face.

What we’re witnessing is one of the great love stories of our time. Dolly Parton should write a song about it.

JAMES WEIR RECAPS:Read all the recaps here

‘Tis the final commitment ceremony of the year. At long last! Now we can get back to investing our time in more highbrow television, like old grainy episodes of Just Shoot Me on YouTube.

While all the couples take a whirl on the couch tonight, Harrison and Bronte are the headline act. If this was a P!nk concert at Qudos Bank arena, we’d ignore the 7.30pm start time listed on the ticket and instead arrive at 9pm, completely missing Jessica Mauboy’s opening set as the support act. And then, even after P!nk hits the stage, we’ll walk out whenever she starts singing one of her new songs and line up at the bar for another plastic cup of overpriced white wine. Sorry, but we’re only here for the greatest hits.

Last time we saw Bronte, she was searching Webjet for flights home after dumping Harrison. His manipulation and gaslighting had finally become too much. She’d woken up from a weeks-long haze and realised the nightmare she was in.

But our predictions are correct. She never purchased those flights and she winds up at tonight’s commitment ceremony. Still, she promises it’s not what we think.

“I’ve finally woken up. I’ve finally taken the rose-coloured glasses off,” she promises.

Doll. C’mon. You ditching the rose-coloured glasses is about as likely as Ollie ditching the baby voice.

Producers know we’re only watching to see the demise of Harrison, so they enlist Evelyn to sacrifice her couch time and launch a take-down of her nemesis.

“I think it’s time I make a statement,” she tells the experts, before delivering an impromptu press conference.

“Harrison,” she says firmly.

Everyone gasps.

What happens next? Honestly … we can barely follow. It seems producers completely edit out what’s actually said and instead just air random soundbites of people making vague comments.

“You’re just a rude guy!” Melinda yells.

“Harrison, c’mon man,” Lyndall eye-rolls.

Harrison matches the exasperation. “Oh Lyndall, give it a rest,” he huffs.

Melinda jumps back in. “You’re a grown man talking like that to females!”

Harrison scrunches his face. “Ughhh don’t play the sex card – grow up!”

The confrontation fizzles out and ends with Evelyn thanking everyone for supporting her … well, kinda.

“Thank you, thank you …” she nods to her co-stars before turning to Harrison. “And f*ck you.”

By the time the headline act hits the stage, our patience is wearing thin. We need trays and trays of little plastic cups filled to the brim with warm white wine.

Even the experts can’t believe the two people they paired for the sole purpose of sparking drama have remained on the show this long. Mel Schilling has one question: Whyyyyyyy?

Harrison immediately gets to work delivering a heartbroken monologue to get the experts on his side. His acting is superior – the kind you’d only see in an audition for the role of Susan Kennedy’s long-lost hairdresser in the Amazon reboot of Neighbours.

“I’ve gotta take some responsibility here,” he sighs, shaking his head while staring at the floor. “I feel like I’ve held Bronte accountable for deal-breakers or boundaries that I didn’t articulate and put in place. The boundary that I’ve put into this relationship is, if you say to me that you wanna leave and go home in a moment of anger, that for me is a deal-breaker. Because I don’t express a desire to leave you when I’m upset.”

Now that Claire is gone, Mel Schilling takes over the reactionary cutaway shots to express disgust at everything Harrison says. She doesn’t let us down.

“The other boundary,” Harrison adds, “is venting to family and friends is very healthy – but it’s what you say when you vent that can paint a picture of your partner. And, for me, I’ve always tried very hard to stick to the problems I have with my partner’s behaviour – not their character. I feel like if you start attacking someone’s character – especially if you say really nasty things – sometimes they can’t get taken back. That’s a boundary I’ve had to put in place because I feel like that boundary has been crossed numerous times by Bronte.”

This is when Schill zones in on her target. The only way to beat a manipulator? Out-manipulate them. She gets to work, asking questions in pursuit of answers that she’ll then use to trap him.

What examples can Harrison provide of Bronte badmouthing him? He says his mean wife hurt his feelings when she called out his manipulative gaslighting.

He sulks. “To call someone a manipulator, that’s really damaging to their charact-”

Oh, shut up, you manipulative manipulator.

Then Schill asks Bronte if Harrison has ever trash-talked her to other people.

“Ummm …” Bronte stares at the ceiling. “I guess there was a time, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but apparently he did say to Lyndall that I was fake. That I’m a liar, a gaslighter, that I’m not here for the right reasons.”

Schilling, always the smooth operator, uses this to land her point. “And those would be comments on your character,” she emphasises. “Harrison, did you say those things?”

Harrison ponders the question. “Ahh. I genuinely don’t recall,” he says, emotionless.

By now, Schill’s fed up. “OK, that’s not gonna cut it. You can’t play the amnesia card now. Surely, Harrison, if you called your wife fake and a gaslighter, you’d remember that. They’re pretty powerful words. Why are you saying you now can’t remember?”

His hand is full of amnesia cards. He lays another one on the table.

“I’m asking you a pretty direct question,” Schill pushes back.

Harrison shrugs. “I genuinely don’t remember saying those things.”

“And I genuinely don’t believe you,” Schill slaps him down.

John Aiken sits quietly off-camera, stewing that he didn’t call dibs on this take-down.

It’s about time the experts pulled Harrison into line. And it’s good timing, because Bronte’s about to officially dump him with her decision card. Yep. Bronte’s absolutely going to dump Harris-

“There’s still so much of my life that I want Harrison to see before I make any sort of decision,” she holds up her card with the word STAY! excitedly scrawled across it. “Knowing that homestays are literally around the corner, I really wanna show him where I’m from.”

GOOD GOD BRONTE! A Tyra Banks “we were all rooting for you!” GIF would be so appropriate right now. In lieu of that, here’s a subtitled screenshot of Tahnee saying what we’re all feeling:

Tahnee’s right. This IS a joke. The only thing that would make it even more of a joke is if-

“And I wrote STAY,” Harrison holds up his card.

We’re not even going to pretend we’re surprised that both these Looney Tunes backflipped on their promise of leaving. But what we are surprised at is the unlikely voice that pipes up from the jeering crowd.

“Harry,” someone calls out. We recognise the baby voice immediately. “Did you not say at the boys’ night that you didn’t wanna go to Perth at all?”

Schilling can’t believe some guy who looks like a cartoon teenager is trying to steal her thunder.

Harrison sighs. “Yes. I did.”

Then kajillionaire CEO Melinda jumps in and says something about Harrison bitching to people about Bronte only wanting to stay for hometown visits so she could wear her bikini on camera.

“Yep. Yes, I’ve said those things,” Harrison nods, not caring that the admission contradicts his earlier monologue about the importance of never assassinating a person’s character.

Bronte, girl, would you like us to fetch a Texta so you can amend your decision card? Sadly, we already know the answer.

Just like that, she slides her rose-coloured glasses back on.

Twitter, Facebook: @hellojamesweir

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