It's HERRRRRE! The Bachelorette
finale has finally arrived!
Emily's down to her final two guys, Jef and Arie. How is she going to choose? Jef is so cute and playful, like a baby deer, yet Arie is so lean and funny, also like a baby deer! It's an impossible decision, and one that could truly only be made within two days and on national television.
Who knows what will happen? Not us. And apparently not Emily -- at least not yet. We've been through this Jef vs. Arie choice over and over and over
again. And I've recapped enough of these finales to know that, not unlike a truly terrible sexual encounter, most Bachelor
finales are 1 hour and 58 minutes of buildup and two minutes of actual stuff happening -- and by the time that stuff actually happens, you may be too fed up and tired to even appreciate it. But still, there's hope. There's always hope. Just like there's always swooning platitudes set to Spanish guitar.
Not to say that nothing happens before the big rose ceremony. As is custom in this alternate universe, before she can decide which man to marry, Emily must introduce both of them to her family and get their approval and blessing. For BOTH OF THEM. Like these men are two dresses she might wear for a night out. "This one ... or this one? Ahhh, help!" Except instead of dresses, they're people, and instead of wearing one for a night out, she's going to promise to spend the rest of her life with one of them. Like, tomorrow. So since Emily can't decide which guy she wants to marry (always the best mindset for getting engaged the next day), she wants her family's advice for which guy they'd like to invite into the family after meeting him for 30 minutes. That is an extremely weird situation to place any family in, and Emily's father, mother and brother are understandably wary. And, as they know all too well, pretty useless -- as so many Bachelors and Bachelorettes have shown before her, Emily going to do what she wants to do whether her family likes it or not -- and that includes, potentially, getting engaged for a third time before ever dating the man exclusively or off-camera. Her brother lamely attempts to interrogate the men about their intentions, but there's never any doubt that he will come around. Jef and Arie have been having these same conversations for two months now, and they know exactly which verbal buttons to press ("Ricki," "family," "forever," etc.) to win everyone over. It's gotten them this far, hasn't it?
Emily's father, quite logically, says that he doesn't quite believe that you can be in love with two people at the same time. But both Jef and Arie so impress him that he willingly gives his blessing to both men when they ask for it. The family claims that they liked the men equally well, and can't make a choice between the two -- not that they ever could, or would, or should, for that matter, after meeting the men so briefly and under such stressful circumstances.
Which means Emily is right back where she started: Confused.
Emily's mother sits down with her to talk it out, and Emily has the gall to act frustrated with her family for not telling her which man to marry. When her mother (quite reasonably) encourages Emily to wait on an engagement, given her confusion and the fact that neither man has met the little girl they could potentially stepfather, Emily immediately descends into a hopelessness spiral. Mom didn't tell Emily to not pick one, she just said "maybe don't get engaged yet?" -- and that sets Emily off into wondering whether maybe she's having such a tough time deciding who's right because neither of them are. You know how they always say, "When you know, you know"? Emily doesn't know. And that scares the crap out of her, as now her choices are to either get engaged (again) to someone who might not work out (again), or to reject both men -- a move that has been dubbed "the Womack" after one of her ex-fiances. It's a tough call.
Last Chance Date with Jef
This entire time, Emily has been extremely protective of her daughter, bringing her along to some of the destinations on their international sexiness tour, but not introducing her to any of the men. When it's time for the insensitively named "Last Chance Dates," Emily still can't decide whether to let Jef and Arie meet the now mythical, larger-than-life presence that is "Ricki."
For her LCD with Jef, they sit on a beautiful, expansive, lonely beach in Curacao and talk about feelings. Jef is angelically sympathetic to Emily's indecision -- it's like he's actually succeeded in compartmentalizing the fact that when she says "there's just a lot on my mind," she means whether she loves him or the other guy. To his credit, though, he finally forces Emily to confront how weird it is that she plans on getting engaged but never planned on introducing her daughter to the man she would get engaged to. After several drawn out minutes of mental aerobics, Emily finally "decides" that YES, Jef should meet his potential future step-daughter ... and he should do it TODAY! So they walk off the beach in search of Ricki who is, oh I don't know, probably lounging by the pool with Chris Harrison, sipping virgin margaritas and laughing about what a chode that "Kalon" guy was.
This is a game-changer for Jef, who's finally getting some real, hard-hitting evidence that Emily cares about him -- and for Emily, who's now looking at this like a final test. If Ricki doesn't like Jef, that would make her choice a whole lot easier.
I was right -- Ricki WAS at the pool! I guess Chris Harrison stepped inside for a minute to make some more cocktails. Emily introduces her "friend" Jef and the two of them sit on the edge of the pool while Ricki giggles and does flips. She doesn't quite know what to make of this man or this situation, but Jef is sweet and engaging and listens to her cute little girl stories, and then, in beautiful magical little kid friend-making time, they're best pals, and Jef is wearing Ricki's pink goggles, and all of them are playing in the pool together like a happy family!
"He has totally exceeded every expectation that I had," Emily says of Jef as the playdate continues out on the beach. They sit down and have an extended conversation with Ricki about her favorite stuffed animal, "Monkey," just talking and joking and giggling, and it's refreshingly normal -- clearly, we are being shown this because it's so normal. They're a family unit already -- or so comfortable around each other that that's finally a real, tangible possibility. I almost expect Emily to say, "Arie who? Shut it down. We're done here."
A lot has happened, and this date isn't even over yet. Jef and Emily separate and then reconvene in their fancy clothes for an intimate candlelit dinner. They talk about their two month journey to love, and Emily gives Jef a hard time (again) for waiting to kiss her and being standoffish -- and then "it all changed" in London. Jef feels like, in Emily, he's finally found someone who "gets" him. So he GETS her ... a gift! It's a book of photos from all the places they've been -- with Jef's adorably poor stick-figure drawings of them in each location. Emily loves it. They kiss and say sickeningly cute things to each other for a while ... and then Emily leaves to get her beauty rest for her date with Arie tomorrow. Jef calls it "the hardest goodbye" he's ever had to give, because he wants to "love her until he's 110," and he doesn't even know if she'll still love him tomorrow.
Over in the NOW, Chris Harrison is hanging out with 500 sad single women on a sound stage, anxiously awaiting the live After the Final Rose. He speaks to two audience members who can barely contain their love for Jef. Chris Harrison then introduces the next segment of the episode, when Emily got some "help" about her big decision in Curacao ... FROM CHRIS HARRISON.
We cut back to Curacao, and Emily sits down by the pool to talk it out with her thera-host. They talk about how this whole process has been more challenging than Emily expected. But then she introduced Jef to Ricki ... and that's when it all changed. Jef's her guy, and she doesn't want to continue dating anyone else (Arie)!!! (So she DID basically say "Shut it down, we're done here!") But that means she has to let him go. And that's when the water works start. She can't quite be fully happy when she thinks about how heartbroken Arie is going to be. Plus, how is she going to explain how deeply she cares about him (not deeply enough, but still ... pretty deep) when he didn't even GET a Last Chance Date?
Last Conversation with Arie
Oh good grief. So while Emily is crying about how her heart is broken over breaking Arie's heart, he's hanging out with some Curacao mystic making a LOVE POTION out of flowers and dreams and daydreaming about how he's going to feel when he DEFINITELY gets engaged to Emily tomorrow. Poor, poor, ill-informed Arie. No love potion can save him.
Arie's so focused on his love potion (ahhhhhhhh) that he doesn't realize something's up when Emily shows up in an unmarked black SUV, literally wringing her hands and shaking as she approaches him. He's so sweet and friendly and cheerful. He thinks the date is just starting. Emily asks if they can "talk for a second," they sit down on a bench, and she immediately starts weeping and squeaking unintelligibly. I want to reach through my TV and save Arie from this uncomfortable and unexpected and undeserved torture. "Something changed," Emily finally gets out, and explains that although he's great and he did well with her family and she cares deeply for him ... "You don't have to say anything else," he says, practically begging her not to keep rubbing it in.
Arie looks off at a tree or something, anything to keep from looking at Emily's melting face, and tries to absorb this. She tries to explain, but there's really nothing TO explain, so Arie walks away. Emily follows, futilely attempting to "make him understand" and comfort him, when there's just no way that's possible until he A) gets away from the damn cameras, B) goes home, C) hooks up with a few chicks and D) spends enough days back in his normal life that this will all feel like a weird, mostly awesome but then super sh*tty right at the end, dream.
Emily cries as she sends Arie off in the SUV she showed up in ... so wait, how is she getting home? She doesn't even care, she's so distraught on Arie's behalf.
Well, that was awful.
Thankfully, we're back in Chris Harrison's hands with the live audience after the commercial break to check in with a few of the sanest branches from that big, twisted Bachelor family tree. It's for a filler segment, but I'd rather watch filler than more of poor Arie getting dumped. Ashley and JP, last season's still-engaged couple, are in the house, and with her experience in the art of televised dumping, Ashley weighs in on what a brave and heartbreaking experience that must have been for Emily. Former Bachelorette Deanna Pappas is also there -- she experienced the Brad Womack "double dump" before coming back as The Bachelorette, so she knows what it's like to get rejected on the day you think you're going to get engaged. For no reason other than the fact that he's returning for Bachelor Pad season 3 tomorrow, Michael Stagliano is there to wax pathetically about his own unlucky-in-TV-love track record. And Ashley Spivey, who was on The Bachelor with Emily, says that the way Emily talks about Jef reminds her of the way Emily used to talk about "Big Ricky."
Look, Bachelor producers. That was all pleasant enough, but you guys don't have to usher out all your former cast members to CONVINCE me that Emily and Jef are great together! They've convinced me of that themselves. I believe in their love! But also, it doesn't matter if I believe or not. They seem to believe, and that's wonderful for them, and that's also their business. Now let's watch some strangers get engaged.
The Final Rose Ceremony
Before the final ceremony, Jef sits down with Neil Lane to pick out a ring. It's unclear whether he knows or not that Arie is already gone -- I suspect not. He picks out the biggest, most beautiful, expensive and symbolic engagement ring possible, just in case Emily needs one final piece of evidence that he's the right man for her.
Emily gets into her final dress -- a long peach-colored gown with strings of sparkles across the fitted bodice, very beautiful and unique. But am I crazy in thinking that it looks a little (waaay) too long for her? As she walks up the steps to the final rose ceremony altar (yes, seriously, it is an altar), the dress just swamps the stage. But it's fittingly dramatic. Even though there's only one man left, she's still worried that Jef, the man she has been saying for an hour is "THE ONE," might not propose. Or that he WILL propose, but she won't be able to say yes.
It's time. Emily waits. Jef approaches. Both have the biggest smiles on their faces. They know the deal! They take turns complimenting each other's clothes. Then Emily launches into her big speech. You know the one. The one that either ends in, "I love you," or "but..."
And this one ends in "I LOVE YOU"! Emily tells Jef that he was the only one who got to meet Ricki, and she didn't even go on that date with Arie. Now it's his turn. Jef calls himself the luckiest man in the world, and says that they are "meant to be." He promises that Emily will "never feel lonely again," they exchange "I love yous," and kiss.
"I want you to know that what I'm about to ask you is a forever thing," Jef says. His words aren't empty... and NEITHER IS THAT SWEET LITTLE BLACK BOX he pulls out of his coat pocket.
"Emily, will you marry me?"
Then, after like a MILLION seconds ...
Everyone claps. Literally! We can hear the live in-studio audience clapping as they witness the engagement that happened months ago in Curacao. It reminds me of a sitcom laugh track, but still, nothing can ruin this special moment.
Oh, wait, I typed that before Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love," THE THEME SONG FROM THE KARATE KID II, started playing over a montage of Jef and Emily's best televised moments. Ahhhhhhahaha!
Jef puts that massive rock on Emily's finger, then Little Ricki runs out and grabs hold of Emily's hand, and they walk out, a beautiful, blond, happy family.
Just kidding -- now it's time to catch up with Jef and Emily ... and Arie :( ... to see if they're still engaged and devastated, respectively.
The After the Final Rose
They get it out of the way -- Emily and Jef are still engaged and in love. "He makes me feel more confident in myself than I've ever felt. And he inspires me to be better. It's not about the ring. She's in love with Jef as a person.
Then talk turns to Arie. Emily: "I'm happy that I found my best friend, but I'm also, like, you know, sad." Chris asks if Emily still has feelings for Arie, and although she says that he'll always be a part of her heart, it's all about Jef now. Still, she feels guilty for how terribly she handled that breakup talk.
Arie's Awkward Closure Talk
Chris brings Arie out. He looks ... great! Embarrassed, but great. Arie reiterates that he was completely taken by surprise that ended up on the losing end of Emily's big heads-or-tails choice. When he left Curacao, he didn't understand how Emily felt about Jef, and he didn't feel closure.
So Emily gives him closure. "I'm still sorry, and it was really hard for me to watch that," she tells him. (Always start giving closure with talking about how you feel and how difficult this is for you.) Her feelings for him were real, but she was just more confident in what she and Jef had. Arie had convinced himself so well that his buddy Jef wasn't also his competition that it never occurred to him that she might have something stronger with Jef.
Then Arie explained that after he got back to the States, he booked a flight to visit Emily in Charlotte. "I just couldn't deal. I wanted closure, or I wanted a beginning. I wanted it to be off-camera, and I just wanted it to be ... I just didn't think our story was over." But once he got there, he felt weird about bombarding the girl (and her daughter) who dumped him and got engaged to a different guy, so he called Emily ... and then left his journal on her doorstep (huuuuuh?!) and left. And Emily HAS the journal! What does it say? What does it saaaay?
Emily claims she didn't read it out of respect for Arie ... and Jef. SURE. So she gives it back to him. He laughs uncomfortably. "Now that I know that you and Jef are happy, I'm happy for you," Arie says. Chris asks if Arie wishes Emily had read the journal, and he says yes -- at the time.
Emily says, weirdly, that if Jef hadn't been on the show, she and Arie would be sitting there together "so happy." NOT APPROPRIATE. You're engaged to "THE ONE." But her point comes across: Arie didn't do anything wrong, it's just that Jef is her guy, and no lovey-dovey journal entries could change her mind. Arie says that he and Jef are friends, and he called Jef to get even more closure and hear his side of their happiness, and that really "pushed him through to get over it and move on."
Emily and Jef, Sittin' in a Tree...
"Enough of the tough emotional stuff!" Chris Harrison says. It's time for the happy, lovey-dovey stuff!
Before Jef comes out, Emily talks about how great Jef is -- he even called Arie to mend those fences, and never once felt threatened by the awkward stir-up. "I don't know where he came from," Emily says. HEAVEN? UTAH? What's the difference?!
Jef comes out, looking dapper. They hug and kiss.
Jef: "There's so much that I love about her. She's the most amazing girl in the world." He talks about how funny she is (and he wishes they'd shown more of that ... ME TOO), and he can't believe how perfectly they fit together.
What about Ricki? How's the family bonding going? Jef: "We've been able to pretty much every weekend get shipped off to secret locations. A few of them, Ricki's come. She is the sweetest, most fun seven-year-old girl in the world. We've had a blast." Ricki is "Emily's universe, and she's very quickly becoming my universe," Jef says. Ugh, are they the CUTEST or are they just the CUUUUUUUTEST?
Now's the part where we watch Emily and Jef watch the proposal that we just watched. It sounds as redundant as it is. But that doesn't mean it's not still the cutest!
Chris asks Emily what took her so long to answer Jef's proposal, and she says it was her fear that she would be engaged three times and having it never work out. "In that moment, I just said, "Yeah, let's do it!'"
Chris says that he timed it, and it took Emily ten seconds to say yes. Jef: "When I was down there, I was thinking, this is a surprise to her. I was thinking it was because it was such a big surprise, I mean I hope that it was."
Finally, talk turns to "the future."
For their first act as a public couple, Jef kisses Emily. Then he says that they'd like to do a humanitarian trip to Africa, so they're going to do that, with his company (*wink*), People Water.
As for living arrangements, Jef plans to move to Charlotte because they don't want to uproot Ricki from her school, family and friends. He can work from anywhere, so he's going to get a place separately from her, "build their lives together" and work on planning a wedding.
Emily says they're already talking about the wedding, and she's even been checking out locations (Charleston, probably). As for a timeframe, they don't want to set anything in stone, but Emily "would love a spring wedding."
And that's it! Everyone's happy, even Arie. We're all winners tonight! Wellllll ... I mean, those of us who just spent three hours watching a reality dating show finale might not be quite as much "winners." But here's to the happy couple!
What do you think? Was that every bit as romantic and exciting as you hoped it would be? Do you think Emily and Jef will beat the odds and get down the aisle?
(Images courtesy of ABC)