Dear reader, you are in for a wild ride.
Tonight’s grande finale of “The Bachelorette” has come to an end, and I am here to tell you what happened. No, your ears did not deceive you. This was truly a “three-hour finale event,” as Chris Harrison informed us several times within the first few minutes as if to insinuate, Turn back now, ye faint of heart. Those brave enough to continue on the 180-minute journey to discover who Rachel Lindsay chose — Peter, Bryan, or Eric — first had to overcome one last obstacle … learning that “The Bachelor” Season 18’s star, Juan Pablo (Mr. “I loved f—ing you” himself), has traveled to the depths of the ocean, and scraped off some deep-sea sludge that has committed to tolerating his presence for life. That’s right … he’s married! “Juan Pablo reached out to us and asked us to spread the word,” Harrison said. Bet he did.
From there, we spend the first 49 minutes of the episode with Peter and Bryan, which is how we are almost definitely sure that Eric will be the first of the three to go. The conclusion to Rachel’s sometimes invigorating and other times infuriating season of the show is split between two locations — Spain, and a studio where she sits across from Harrison, live, to debrief her emotions as footage airs.
On the show, Eric aside, Rachel has to make a decision between one man who she seems to adore, but who is not ready to commit (Peter), and another who is overly eager to devote himself eternally to her, but wait, that’s a little freaky (Bryan). To the internet, Rachel is choosing between a creature sent down from the heavens to earth, to bless us with his touch of grey and endearing gap teeth (Peter), and a repulsive, plastic surgery obsessive, ancient ogre (Bryan). Guess this is as good a time as any to just come right out and say it — Rachel eliminates Eric first.
But first, she spends the first hour of programming bedding both Peter and Bryan. Maybe the real estate is absurdly expensive, but we get a peek inside each of their fantasy suites, and they seem pretty average. I suppose we are each entitled to our own definition of “fantasy.”
Then, goodbye Eric! Back in the studio, he is welcomed onstage to hash things out with Rachel. He’s grown a beard, and looks as charming as ever. My personal watch party is entirely won over. “Truth be told, I will always love you,” he tells her. Yikes. “I was a boy, and I’m a man now,” he continues, while we all wish he would have stopped.
Then, the final dates. Rachel and Bryan ride in a hot air balloon, and he gifts her a Spanish dictionary. Then, Rachel and Peter go to a monastery (She loves church, remember?!) and … oh my goodness, things take a turn.
At this point, Peter is still holding onto his idea that he’s incapable of proposing to Rachel during the finale because he thinks the process is too fast. “I don’t think I’m ready to ask you to marry me tomorrow … but I don’t want to stop being with you,” he tells her. Totally fair! But have you ever watched this show? These engagements are — cover your ears, children — basically not real! They get broken off all the time. There are many things in life to take seriously, and this is not one of them. But, alas, Peter does.
Then this banter …
“Do you know right now that I’m the man who you want to spend the rest of your life with?” Peter asks.
“I can’t answer that question,” Rachel responds.
“Why not?” he pleads.
“Because I can’t answer that question,” she says.
It seems strange at the time because I, at this point, assumed that she was still going to choose Peter. It seemed like the obvious choice. The reason she “can’t answer” had to be because she was aware of the narratives that television shows rely on, and she wasn’t about to spoil the ending. I like to consider myself not easily dupable, and I was not about to let “The Bachelorette” manipulate my expectations. And yet.
“I don’t want to do tomorrow and have you tell me you want to be my boyfriend,” Rachel says, to which Peter responds, “Then I have to wish you the very best.”
Rachel and Peter part ways, both in tears. “What is wrong with me?” Peter asks.
Back in the studio, they do what “The Bachelorette” legitimately does best, and drag out the drama for as long as is conceivably possible. There are several references to the fact that Rachel literally cried her fake eyelashes off. “I walked past her eyelashes on the floor for two days,” Peter says. Goodness gracious this show is just really to much sometimes. In the end, Rachel concludes, “I believe in closure. That was it.” Peter is gone.
Little did Bryan know. Apparently, they told him that there was a weather issue, which is why Peter didn’t return. But Bryan remains Bryan. “When we first kissed, it was literally like a chemistry bomb exploded,” he says. The proposal is incredibly windy so there may have been a cry to help lost somewhere in there. But, ultimately, Bryan and Rachel are engaged. “I see my forever, and I see my future,” she says.
At this point the division between the regular finale and “After the Final Rose” portions of the 180-minute television event have blurred. In the studio, Rachel and Bryan half-answer some questions about their future together. They’re “still trying to figure out” where they will move (*cough-Los-Angeles—cough*), and Rachel wants a winter wedding. Otherwise, the program shifts to address what comes next … “Bachelor in Paradise.”
The franchise spinoff become a very … uncomfortable whirlwind filled with murky details surrounding an event involving a sexual interaction between Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson that shut down production. Now, the situation is being described as one that made “headlines around the world” and “trended on social media.”
In a teaser that aired of the upcoming season, other cast members speculate about Corinne and DeMario’s relationship, and the two are shown together in a pool. “All we know is that we aren’t filming,” Danielle M. from Nick Viall’s season of “The Bachelor” says at one point. “So what the f— is happening?”
The idea that they would use a sexual scandal as teaser material for the show instead of addressing the controversy head-on comes off sleazy at best. And yet that is the route that ABC has chosen. Typically the franchise is entertaining fodder to tease and mock, mostly guilt-free. But in recent months, it’s waded into serious territory. And with that, another season of “The Bachelorette” is in the books.
What did you think of the finale? Weigh in below.