'The Bachelor' Season 18 Finale Recap: 2 Girls, 1 Boat and 1 Likely Failed Relationship
'The Bachelor' Season 18 Finale Recap: 2 Girls, 1 Boat and 1 Likely Failed Relationship
Bill King
Bill King
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
The moment of truth has finally arrived, when a loyal Bachelor nation finds out if it wasted three months on a ball-whacking Latin heartthrob who stole America's heart by not getting much screen time on Desiree Hartsock's season of The Bachelorette.

I'm going to settle the debate definitively and declare that despite the talk, Juan Pablo is not the worst Bachelor ever. Say what you will about now-slightly-less-lovable scamp JP Galavis -- Narcissist ... weemonizer ... attention whore ... human slut monkey -- but you have to admit this season was entertaining.

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Sure, it might have been lacking a bit in the love department, but we had plenty of feuds, unaccepting parents/siblings, lots of skin, two girls who got so fed up they left on their own and, most important, an ocean sex romp and the brush-off that followed. 

And through it all, Juan Pablo maintained just enough sincerity and likability to kiss more women than a drunk college co-ed and breeze past a couple scandals that he could credibly blame on a language barrier regarding the country he's lived in since college.

C'mon. That's just good TV. Ben Flajnik was like watching beige paint dry. And at least we know JP isn't going to pick the villain model just because she's the prettiest girl to ever show him her boobies. 


Crazy Clare or Nurse Nikki

No, for Juan Pablo, it's down to the two girls who didn't leave him, get kicked to the curb or like each other: pediatric nurse Nikki, a gorgeous blonde with an awesome family, questionable fashion preferences and a sexy/gross back tat that splits genders; and hair stylist Clare, a gorgeous blonde with an overprotective family, questionable televised moral preferences and a weird/touching DVD from the beyond recorded by her late father to be played only for the man she is going to marry. How, oh how, can one man choose?

I am firmly entrenched on the sidelines of Team Nikki, in part because she was my first-impression pick on the first episode of the season. Plus, I think Clare is a bit too intense when it comes to the emotional side of things in a relationship, and Juan Pablo needs someone a bit more laid back. Clare will throw lamps when they fight.

And as we learned last week during the "Women Tell All," JP only bothered to get to know the women he actually liked, not wasting valuable time learning pittance personal details about the others. The losers were obviously devastated by this, since each apparently wanted to feel an individual and special connection with him. For Cassandra, this meant he had to learn her favorite color, which is the international sign of a serious relationship. 

But all along, it has seemed like Juan Pablo forged a deeper connection with Nikki, holding actual conversations about actual topics, whereas Clare's relationship seems a bit more physical. It's not like it matters, though, because most people think Juan Pablo is presently single anyway. And he apparently opens his big mouth to say something entirely inappropriate and offensive. Again. There will be tears and heartbreak, but will there be love?

The saga that is The Bachelor finale begins.

The Wake Before the Funeral

As is the custom, we get to be part of the live viewing party (get it, "viewing"?) going on out in LA, complete with studio audience and a collection of former Bachelors and Bachelorettes. But first, it's time to meet the family in St. Lucia. Juan Pablo's mother, father, daughter, sister, brother, niece and perfect-teeth brace-face best friend cousin are all on hand to meet any potential fiance. Clare is up first, and JP wonders if she'll fit into his family.

Clare has been dying to meet Camila (old news for Nikki) and awkwardly offers a handshake, apparently not getting the memo that 6-year-olds prefer high fives. But still, seeing JP be a dad is H-O-T. Clare's whole family is Mexican, but she doesn't know a lick of Spanish. We can see the apathy on the faces of the studio audience members pictured in the lower third box. They are unaware we are watching them like a crazy episode of Big Brother, and this continues throughout the telecast. 

Meet the Fockers

Clare sits down for some one-on-one with the momma Nelly and lays a boatload of un-JP-like baloney about how he really knows her and completes her. She asks to know something that Juan Pablo wouldn't tell her about himself, and Mom responds that he's super hyperactive and wonders about the couple's communication skills. Clare says they had a disagreement but talked it out, and a woman in the audience shakes her head in displeasure. Mom says that he's so honest in expressing how he feels that it comes off rude. 

Brace-face asks straight-up if Clare is in love with his cousin, and she says yes. He drops the bomb that when things get tough, Juan Pablo will walk away and it'll be up to her to keep the relationship together. He thinks she is real and genuine, a sensitive angel. He tells Juan Pablo that she's practically begging to get married, and the audience laughs because it's the most obvious statement of the season. 

Dad tells Clare he would welcome her to the family and would be a father to her, offering to take care of her and love all the members of her family. These are obviously words that mean more to Clare than they would anyone else. Brother Rodrigo thinks she'd be a perfect fit, but he's anxious to meet Nikki too. 

JP's family is sweet, and kisses ensue. But are these the final smooches of a desperate woman?

Nikki Hangs with Her Kid Bestie

Before we get to Nikki's date, Chris Harrison conducts a scientific audience poll and finds that the clearly pro-Nikki crowd is "split down the middle." Margin of error: plus or minus 64 points. Nikki is nervous and desperate to make a good first/second impression with the people she's met briefly before, and JP's family is as welcoming of her as her family was of him. You can tell she's nervous.

Dad gets first crack, and he wants to know what she thinks of JP's single dad status. She says Camila makes him who he is, and she wants a relationship with both of them. Dad says Juan Pablo is bull-headed and thinks he knows everything, and she mentions that she asked him what his worst trait in a relationship is, yet another sign they have real conversations (he said stubbornness). 

Mom warns that JP is a homebody who likes to hang out and watch TV on the weekends, and she says he's simple, which has multiple meanings. Nikki admits she loves him, and she asks Nelly if Juan Pablo is ready for this. The response is, "I think so," followed by another reminder that JP isn't easy to deal with. 

Cousin Braco asks if she's got fight in her because Juan Pablo will bolt when things get rough, and she responds that no fighting equals no passion, but there's a fine line and she thinks they would fight well together. She gets kisses from Camila and the niece before slightly more adult ones from JP.

Rodrigo thinks Nikki is a good choice, but that Clare is also good choice. Overall, the family appears to be more Team Clare, but they all say it's Juan Pablo's decision and they're cool either way. 


The Viewing Party Weighs In

One girl thinks Juan Pablo is bad news and it's going to end badly, because his whole family warned both women. One of the three guys in the audience thinks it will end well and that Nikki seemed more natural with the family. It's the opposite of what happened, but he's a Nikki fan. That guy's wife can't get a read on JP because everything ees okay all the time. Another girl thinks both women should run, but she's team Clare even though neither will work out.

Dog lover Kelly is worried that both girls seem to be ignoring the red flags, and Catherine likes JP as a person but thinks his complacency makes it tough on the women.

Clare's Historic Final Date Fail

Chris Harrison promises that it's nothing like anything we've ever seen, possibly even, dare I say, the most controversial moment in Bachelor history. At least since last week. She's going casual in yellow shorts and a black tank top, and they kick things off with a helicopter ride over the St. Lucian shoreline and through the breast-like Grand Pitons. 

Clare is on cloud nine, until, that is, the helicopter lands. No cameras, no audio, just them and the pilot. Juan Pablo leans over and whispers something to her. She is expecting lovey dovey, kind words, but that's not quite what he delivers. 

She doesn't have words and is moved to tears over something no woman wants to hear -- that he doesn't even know her and some sexual comment. It was offensive and disrespectful, and maybe he's not the man that she thought he was. It sucked all of the romance out of what could be their final date, and if it's only physical, she's out of here. 

Oooh, it sucks that we'll probably never know the specifics about what he said. Did he really cross a line? Or can Clare just not handle the dirty talk? Either way, a swing and a miss with that line, buddy. 


The Aftermath

So what do you say when someone so horribly offends you, but you're still trying to win both love and a reality game show? She still won't repeat the words he used, but says it was something like "I don't really know you, you don't really know me, and I loved hooking up with you." The audience claps because she denies him kisses upon his arrival. 

She asks why he didn't go the romantic route, instead choosing to say something private, and asks what "you don't know me enough" means. He responds that he meant they only know each other in a limited capacity, and there could be many things about each other that they don't know that they could hate, but he was looking forward to getting to know all those things.

Basically, I think we can assume he said, "I don't really know you and you don't really know me, but I do know that I loved f***ing you." Yeah, probably not something any woman wants to hear. But you can't say he's wrong. 

This is a clear division upon gender lines, so let me explain this from a male's perspective. Right or wrong, this is what Juan Pablo is thinking. This show is about me and my quest for love. I am facing a very tough decision between two girls I am attracted to and want to get to know better in the hopes that this could last forever. But the last thing I need is effing drama. You two are supposed to both be all about me, so I can choose between you on your best days, fall in love and learn to tolerate you at your worst (as is the case in any relationship). But the drama before the choice just pushes me towards Nikki. 

For a counterpoint, my girlfriend says the above is "the opinion of an a**hole." Juan Pablo is classless and showing his true colors. His gentlemanly behavior is for the cameras only, and Clare should just leave. Point taken, especially if a proposal could be involved.

And Clare's Decision Is?

Clare is gone if this is just about being physical, which Juan Pablo assures her isn't the case. Still, she needs answers because she no longer thinks they're on the same page or if he even wants her here. He tries to lighten the situation by accusing her of breaking her no-kissing pledge in Korea, but she's not biting. 

He assures her that the relationship transcends physicality, but he can't quite say he's ready to propose. That's the question that everyone in his situation would be asking, but it seems like he already knows that's not the endgame for him. She just wants to know that the person she ends up with wants to be with her (duh), and he finishes diffusing the situation by saying she is special to him and that if he picks her, he knows they'll have a baby in two months. 

He manages to sidestep the issue on this one, while also living up to his cousin's warning. Any sign of a seemingly unnecessary conflict turns him off to the point where he wants to bail. 

They share kisses over the song they danced to in the ice cave, and she ignores that deep down voice, instead feeling reassured and comforted and somehow agreeing with everything he said in the helicopter. Yak!


Back to the Peanut Gallery

Sharleen knows Juan Pablo well-ish, and she found it painful to watch a girl's uncontrollably-pinging intuition be ignored while the person on the other end is patronizing to her. Sean Lowe thinks Juan Pablo was talking in circles, and he could hear the collective sigh in the audience when she started to give in.

Nikki's Last Gasp

Nikki and her bikini are headed out on a catamaran ride, where she hopes to hear an "I love you" from Juan Pablo, even though he is contractually prevented from dropping such a bomb. She mistakes his aloofness for fear of getting hurt, and he shakes his head and says no. "When I feel it, I open up." The only thing she is opening herself to is doubt, because she's been waiting a long time to feel in love like this. 

They lie around on the beach, and he makes a strange comment about how if they end up together, he'll watch sports, baseball and movies by himself sometimes. It seems like he's trying to intimate that he'll need his alone time, and it's just a bizarre thing to say in such a romantic environment. Even I'm starting to believe this guy is full of, err, stuff. 

The Night Time is the Wrong Time

The sunset rendezvous kicks off with kisses and compliments, but really this is Nikki's last chance to hear that she's the one ahead of the final decision. He says that seven weeks ago, everything began with her telling him to listen to her heart, and now here they are.

He asks what she is theeeking, and they muse about how their awkward journey is almost over. She didn't think she'd be this nervous for their final date, and he assures her that he's nervous too and that everything will be okay. In the end, he says, ees always okay. 

She gives him a framed picture of them riding horses on the beach and a sweet note thanking him for the experience, offering appreciation for the memories and telling him she loves him. He responds by kissing her on the forehead, cheek and neck and saying, "See you tomorrow." You can literally see the pain and disappointment on her face, and she immediately starts crying when he leaves.

So much for reassurances. She is crushed. He's a jerk. The studio audience is somber.

What Could Possibly Happen Next? 

Both girls are devastated heading into this final rose ceremony, and Chris Harrison has the gall to ask the crowd if Juan Pablo will propose? JP suits up and stares at a shimmering engagement ring, and I find it telling that for the first time since who knows when, we didn't get to see him pick it out. 

He waits on the beach for his final two women, who arrive by boat, both foolishly confident they're about to start their forever. They both look gorgeous, though I give the nod to girl-next-door Nikki's blue number over the sexier Clare's also blue number.

Clare is up first, which is never a good sign. She hasn't been in love since before her dad passed away, and this could be the day her fairy tale comes true. Juan Pablo has always said, "Trust me, ees okay," so there's no way he's going to let her down now. He makes her feel safe. 

He doesn't even smile at the sight of her, then proceeds to tell her that they've had their ups and downs and communication issues, but even though she's unbelievable and amazing, she's not his choice.

He tries to hug it out, and she pushes him away to the delight of the screaming audience. Minutes after a diatribe about how great they are together, she pulls a 180 and blasts him for the assurances he gave her the other night. She unloads on him as a man and for putting her through all this (which is technically what she signed up for), and there is no way she'd want to raise her children with someone like him.

Based on her reaction, Juan Pablo says, "I'm glad I didn't pick her. Woo!" Cousin warning heeded. Surely, her response is justified, but it's a little much and standard practice that someone has to finish in second.

Is Nikki the One?

Nikki arrives on the same Kika boat, but will her fate be different than Clare's? First of all, holy leg slit. Secondly, it is clearly difficult to walk in heels on the sand. Juan Pablo is waiting for her with a rose, and it's crazy for her to think about the possibility of a proposal. 

She is giddy as she describes how amazing he is and how much she wants to be a part of his family. She didn't expect to feel this way, but she's really glad that she does and can't imagine spending her life without him. She loves him.

JP's turn. There are so many things that he loves about her, including how much she cares about other people and her honesty. It's been a perfect time whenever they're together, and her father's words about him being 100% sure before he proposed to his daughter rung true with him. So he's not going to use the ring, because he isn't 100% certain. But he is 100% sure he doesn't want to let her go, so he offers her a rose and potential. 

Cue a disappointed Nikki and a slow fade out. He tells her she's beautiful, but there's no way that's enough. 

Let's Get to Know Each Other

I guess now it's time to start an uncertain future together, ripe with the apparent dangers of actually getting to know Juan Pablo off camera. It is by no means a shocking result, but really anything was going to be disappointing. Still, it was an interesting season, one that sparked more conversations about personalities and human interactions than normal, at least between me and my girlfriend. 

What do you think about how the season turned out? Is Juan Pablo the worst Bachelor ever? Or is he just the worst person ever? Was Clare's reaction justified or just how the game is played? And is there any future for this couple? Are they even still together? Only the "After the Final Rose" knows. Onward and upward!

(Images courtesy of ABC)



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