Paris when it fizzles

Paris when it fizzles

In one sense, a bachelorette party is a last hurrah as the clock to marriage winds down: One final time to cut loose before midnight hits and wedded bliss pumps the breaks on your wilder impulses. The big question of E!’s new Total Bellas — the first of a two-parter — is why Nikki Bella isn’t interested in any of that.

The answer, obviously, is just out of everybody’s reach or isn’t quite ready to be spoken aloud just yet: Thanks to the increasing physical distance between them, Nikki isn’t sure she wants to marry John Cena anymore, and those feelings have intensified to the point where her bachelorette jaunt to Paris feels more like a regular girls’ trip than a bachelorette party. She’s determined to plow ahead and not succumb to those feelings, though, and she’s in pretty good company. Everybody in this episode has blinders on, refusing to acknowledge some kind of issue bubbling just below the surface, some of which carry deeper implications than others.

Nikki Bella completes one of her bachelorette weekend dares: Total Bellas, July 15, 2018

The Bella Twins share a playful moment with a mime on the streets of Paris.

Kathy and JJ, for instance, are along for the bachelorette party and aren’t really sure how they got roped into it — neither of them seems to think it’s appropriate (to her credit, Nikki doesn’t either). So, they have a mother-son day in Paris, despite some nervousness from Kathy that’s very well-founded: The last time she was in Paris, the terror attack at the Bataclan nightclub happened, and she no longer feels safe there. Of course, sipping wine on a Ferris wheel is all well and good to calm the nerves, but JJ is perfectly aware his mother hasn’t properly dealt with her feelings from the last trip. But between a conversation with a local who promises Kathy that the city will always be safe and a visit to the Bataclan itself, they finally confront the issue and put some of the trauma behind them.

This is more than can be said for Nikki and Brie. Nikki is muscling through the weekend and getting glummer by the minute, and Brie Bella has no idea why. Her interpretation of her sister’s mood is just that she’s down in the dumps and getting boring before her time, so she spends the episode trying to goad Nikki into wacky bachelorette antics. None of them gain much traction, save for a handful of dares that just end up being more embarrassing to Nikki than anything. Nikki makes her feelings clear to the camera after a FaceTime with Cena that leaves her oddly deflated (it’s not a bad call, just another reminder that she doesn’t feel as close to him as she wants to), but she crucially hasn’t said anything to her sister, who’s hell-bent on getting Nikki to drop the “boo-boo face” without figuring out why it’s there.

Kathy and JJ share an emotional visit to the site of the 2015 Paris terror attack: Total Bellas, July 15, 2018

Kathy overcomes her fears and achieves closure after her son JJ brings her to the Bataclan theater in Paris.

Her solution, literally, is to cover it up. Knowing that Nikki is a big fan of classy ballroom-type parties, Brie and Lauren arrange for a masquerade ball at the chateau they’re renting, but something gets a little lost in translation, and they’re presented with a risqué variety of “Eyes Wide Shut”-style clothing options. Now they’ve got a ball to plan, hours to spare, and, though they don’t quite know it yet, a bride-to-be who’s having some serious second thoughts. The clock is ticking, in more ways than one.

Watch part two of Nikki’s Paris bachelorette party Sunday at 9/8 C on E!.

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