About three quarters into the two-hour “Bachelor” finale (not counting the hour-long after show), Ben says that he is just confused as he has ever been about which of the two remaining women he will propose to. In this moment, we become painfully aware that ABC programmed ninety minutes of television intended solely for the audience to fill and refill its collective wine glass. Indeed, a “Bachelor” finale is not a plot-dense event. That being said, no pay-off comes without proper build-up, and Chris Harrison, of all people, knows how to set a stage.
We start live in the company of an in-studio audience: jeweler-to-the-stars Neil Lane is there, Ben’s pastor is backstage and the families of both finalists are in the house. Harrison even teases that Ben might get married on live television that very night.
Next, we cut back to the taped portion of the show in Jamaica, where the two remaining ladies, Lauren and JoJo, talk to Ben’s parents. For the start, Lauren gets the underdog edit — Ben’s mom seems unenthusiastic (“she’s a sweet gal”) — compared to JoJo. But in the end, of course, his parents approve of both.
Then, Ben spends one last date with each of the two women. Ben and Lauren spend their date on a boat, and Ben and JoJo go swimming in another watering hole with waterfalls (which could possibly be the same one from Fantasy Suite week just dyed a different shade of blue, and shot from different angles).
Finally, sick of the blathering and non-sequiturs, JoJo gets restless. While off camera, Ben admits that he also said “I love you” back to Lauren. JoJo is confused and concerned (and deservedly so). Throughout the episode she gets a sympathetic edit — one that sets her up perfectly to be the next Bachelorette.
At long last, Ben is ready to make his decision. JoJo exits the helicopter in a sparkly pink gown to profess her love. “I am never going to run from this — no matter how hard it gets,” she tells him. Ben admits that he has feelings for her. He loves her. He really does. But he loves Lauren more. “I wish I could explain it to you and make it make sense, but I don’t think I can,” he stammers, satisfying virtually no one. “I don’t deserve JoJo,” he tells the camera.
But he gets what he deserves in Lauren, who is now the owner of a gorgeous Neil Lane ring (and Ben’s heart). Though Lauren’s capacity for expressing emotion rarely breaks from monotone, she accepts Ben’s proposal, so let’s just assume that she’s happy. “You’re my person.” they repeat to one another, as every single sweatpant-clad human in America swallows one last bite of ice cream from their sofa, staring at their television longly through an empty glass of wine.
Despite rumors that third-place finisher Caila Quinn would be the next Bachelorette, during the “After the Final Rose” after show, Harrison announces that it’s actually JoJo (and that the new season starts May 23). It’s the right choice considering her sympathetic edit, and general likability on camera. Besides, even if nothing interesting actually happens, the producers never fail to manufacture enough drama to make a killer sizzle reel, which is honestly the best part of any season anyway.
Finally, in typical Bachelor fashion of having no obligation to follow through on a tease, Ben and Lauren didn’t get married on the show after all. Ben’s pastor will have to save his blessing for another time. But Lauren is moving to Denver where they will hopefully live happily ever after looking at one another’s pretty faces, and making average conversation. Until May!