Tell me what you want

Tell me what you want

This season of Total Bellas has devoted a lot of time to examining how Nikki Bella ended up compromising herself and her relationship by her innate desire to please everybody around her at her own expense. Now that she’s single, however, her only allegiance is to herself, and this week’s episode tackles the obvious question that stems from that: What does Nikki Bella want? Kids? A career? A new man?

Or, is it all of the above? The notion of a working woman being able to “have it all” can sometimes veer into the realm of cliché (even for reality TV), but Nikki has thrown herself so ferociously into all of her post-breakup endeavors that she’s convinced herself she can juggle motherhood and business by sheer force of will. This places her in stark contrast to Brie Bella, who is starting to lose her grip on her personal and professional affairs while she focuses on being a full-time mom.

Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan reminisce as they depart their Phoenix home: Total Bellas, June 17, 2018

As they say goodbye to their Phoenix home, Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan embark on their latest adventure at their new home in San Diego.

Brie, as the resident realist of the twins, has bought into the notion that there’s little room for anything else in her life besides her daughter. Nikki, as the resident idealist, respects it, but she thinks, respectfully, that her sister might be wrong. So, when Brie leaves Birdie Joe with Nikki so she and Daniel Bryan can pack up their Phoenix home — their first extended stint apart from Birdie — Nikki decides to put her theory to the test. The Fearless One balances personal and business errands with Birdie’s feeding schedule and naptime and even crucially enlists the help of a nanny to help her get everything done — something she’s been trying to convince Brie to do for a long time.

As JJ is quick to point out, Nikki is oversimplifying things just a bit. The family is on hand to help, and Nikki isn’t really playing mom long enough to get the full scope of curveballs and minor emergencies that come with a new baby. But Brie buys into Nikki’s enthusiasm nonetheless and agrees to the nanny idea (Bryan even admits it would make life easier for her career). The dry run is such a success that Nikki is more convinced than ever she could pull off the working mother balance.

The Bella Twins discuss the difficulties of relationships: Total Bellas Preview Clip, June 17, 2018

Nikki and Brie Bella analyze John Cena's "Today" show appearance and how he's handling the breakup.

Of course, there’s one last bit of unfinished business. John Cena remains just out of view, only popping up to remind Nikki from afar that their relationship doesn’t have to be over via a vague “We’re working on it” talk show interview. In previous weeks (and seasons), Nikki would have seen that as a glimmer of hope that she could have the life she wanted with the man she loved. Now, however, she believes that life doesn’t necessarily have to be with Cena.

All of which leads to a dinner where Cena asks Nikki to lay her cards on the table. Does she just want kids, or is she no longer in love with him? It’s the former. And, in a remarkable bit of role reversal, it’s Cena who makes the concession, agreeing to start a family with Nikki if it means getting to keep her in his life. In short, they’re back together, and in a week that is ostensibly about moving on, the Bellas end on starkly different notes. Brie and Bryan bid a healthy goodbye to their old house, opting to leave the memories behind to start a necessary new chapter for their family. Painful as it is, it’s the best thing for everybody. Nikki takes her first steps into a brave new world, then uses her newfound confidence to double back and take another swing at having it all. She gets what she wants — though, perhaps, not what she needs.

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