After three months of race baiting and fake apologies (all from Lee), the time has finally come for Rachel Lindsay to choose her future husband and bring season 13 of The Bachelorette
to its dramatic, rose-filled conclusion.
It's been quite the journey for our first female protagonist of color, from being dumped by Nick Viall and greeting a few potential mates After the Final Rose
to whittling down a gaggle of 31 that included the possible intentional casting of an actual racist to compete for her heart. Now only two gents and Bryan remain.
Surveying the Field
First, there's dancin' Eric, the Baltimore native from humble beginnings who rose above life on the streets. He battled early nerves and man-gossip to outlast expectations, but it wasn't until America met his family that he became a contender.
We expected the worst -- thanks to a low bar set by Eric himself when he confessed that his mother never showed affection -- but all the sudden, it became easier to overlook his raw intensity and the fact that he's never been in love. Still, he appears the odd man out considering it's a rare three-man final episode, and it's possible the edit is to add a bit more diversity to the finale.
Then there's backbreaking bad boy Bryan, who has been a passion-filled favorite since Rachel gave him the first-impression rose. The distributor of never-ending sloppy smooches has played the game well, and even with an overbearing mom it's impossible to pinpoint any glaring missteps.
That being said, it's pretty much universally accepted that something is a bit off with him. And if you don't see it, you probably married the wrong person or legitimately believe it's your fault your ex cheated. Is Bryan a player? Maybe, seeing as he appeared on a reality show called The Player. Either way, he comes across as Josh Murray with a
better job, and we all know how that turned out.
Head vs. Heart
Finally, there's fancy-socked Wisconsinite Peter. The fellow gap-toother is the logical choice, who will offer a stable life and a bright future, albeit one without enthusiasm for dogs, baby clothes or children themselves.
What he lacks in excitability, he compensates for by being down to earth, likable, and most important, not smarmy. The question for him -- other than if Rachel can avoid being motivated by her loins -- is if he's ready for the gravity of a proposal. He is, in my opinion, and this is all manufactured drama to make the inevitable seem impossible.
In another Bachelor Nation first, host Chris Harrison introduces a special guest viewer who will be watching the action along with the audience at the live finale: Rachel herself. Exciting times are ahead, folks. Either that, or the final dates are too boring to fill two hours. Oh, and Juan Pablo is married.
We pick up the action on Peter's fantasy suite date, where Rachel has been moved to tears at the prospect of leaving Spain with a boyfriend instead of a fiance. She solemnly dabs her eyes (daaaamnnn, those are some big fake lashes), and what's supposed to be an overnight of passion has essentially turned into their first major fight.
He thanks her for showing emotion and hopes his "I can't give you what you want" won't be a deal breaker, and despite her misgivings, they forgo their individual rooms -- not for frenzied pent-up expressions of carnal desire but rather to plow only their differences.
Peter wakes up with a newfound clarity, but even though sharing breakfast and coffee helps them feel more like a couple, she remains keenly aware that they are on opposite ends of the spectrum regarding the required longevity of a proposal.
Seriously, these are special circumstances. If the only thing standing between you and your wife is a fake proposal for the cameras, suck it up, bro.
Cue the unsettling Spanish because it's time for Bryan's overnight date. They explore the vineyard on horseback, before discussing his visit with her family over a countryside picnic. He thinks it went well, even though they grilled him incessantly. Still, she's distracted by her inability to compartmentalize her internal struggle over Peter, and he senses that she's not all there.
He confronts her "different energy" over dinner, and while she appreciates his ability to read her, she assures him it's nothing with which he needs to be concerned. The conversation gets her refocused on Bryan, and they head to the fantasy suite to find out if his suave nature extends beyond sweet talk and tongue wrestling.
His "I love you ... and want to be with you forever" certainly makes clear where he
pretends stands, and it's a welcome relief compared to the overthinking she must do with Peter. She can settle in, drama-free, which is what a night sans cameras is supposed to be about.
Something's Gotta Give
It's time for the final rose ceremony, with Rachel rocking a sheer dress and Eric donning a sport coat over his fanciest T-shirt. Peter-related insecurities loom large, with Bryan seemingly the only safe man.
The posies go to:
It's the expected outcome, and Eric is naturally devastated. She walks him out, telling the man who dropped his inaugural L-bomb that she loves him, but she's not in love. He thanks her for all she gave him, opening his world and providing him everything he needed. There's no bitterness, no hate, and it ranks in the annals of classiest heartbroken departures.
After the Final Rose, Incorporated?
The After the Final Rose is usually a separate recap, but it appears to be one giant incorporated finale this time around. And that means Eric is sitting down with the Bachelorette before the next round of dates.
He learned to get out of his own way and accept love, and he was locked in and ready to propose. However, he was confused as the days went on after his elimination, especially after she told him she loved him. She believes they could've had a chance if there had been more time and no distractions (aka "other men"), but she meant everything she said to him.
Eric offers one final thank you for allowing him to receive love and become a man because now he's left boyhood behind and is ready for the rest of his life. She's sure he'll make a woman very happy someday soon.
Bryan Wraps Up a Bride
Rachel and Bryan kick off their final date by floating over Rioja in a hot air balloon, and he whispers sweet nothings as they live the dream together. She confides that he's been her rock of stability through this journey, and he's confident he can make her the happiest.
He vows to spend the rest of his life loving her, and it would be the worst heartbreak he's experienced to lose her. Then he presents her with a Spanish-English dictionary with highlighted words (i.e. "husband") and tells the camera that it'd be "the biggest mistake of her life" if she didn't pick him.
Peter's Swan Song
Peter's last stand takes place at at a tranquil mountaintop monastery, where uncertainty overshadows their guided tour. He wants to propose only once in his life, which is apparently enough to derail his relationship with the woman to whom he wants to eventually propose.
He might not be ready to get engaged, but he's certain he's not ready to say goodbye. He can see a future together filled with everyday occurrences, but 24 hours may not be enough time to make up his mind.
She doesn't get much-needed clarity, and it's clouding her decision-making process. Will she pick Bryan because she's scared Peter doesn't want her? And in that case, will she spend her life wondering what could have been?
Last Dance with Mary Lame
That evening, Peter flat-out tells Rachel that he can't propose, but he doesn't want to stop being with her. His feelings aren't enough to say forever right now, and all he can muster is, "I know I want to try. Hard. Like, really hard."
She points out that he's making this a lifetime decision when it doesn't have to be, and he sternly retorts, "I choose to have one opportunity, and that is my choice." At this point, I'm ready to kick this dumb-ass to the curb, and he is destroying any Bachelor cred that comes with a silver medal. If you're not ready to propose to Rachel, why would you be ready a year from now to a different woman?
An ultimatum follows, and Peter's response is that he would consider sacrificing his values to show her how much he cares and that anything other than him would be "a lifetime of mediocrity." It's a less-than-appealing offer, so they tearfully call it a day. There are final kisses and one last "I love you," and they part ways in a decision that he predicts they will both regret.
Facing the Past
Before Bryan gets his gal, Peter is in the hot seat to rehash the goodbye neither of them actually said. To go from all that to complete silence was hard, and watching it for the first time left him shaking. He knows Rachel was the one, and he still struggles to understand why he couldn't get to the necessary point.
According to Rachel, the editing made it seem like their relationship was all about his inability to propose. But she claims she started to see cracks in the facade much earlier, and there's no ambiguity because she understands that this process simply wasn't for him.
His apology for the "lifetime of mediocrity" comment falls on deaf ears because she's moved on and has no time for what ifs. And watching it back reinforces that she made the correct decision. She's standoffish, and he's taken aback and feels attacked. It's because he expected her to be emotional after all this time, and instead she doesn't give a shit.
The closure is forceful and obvious, and even though there will always be a place for her in his heart, he wishes her the best. Good seeing you, Peter. I doubt we will again.
Chris Harrison indicates that it may not end as expected, but c'mon. Bryan picks out a ring, professes his love (partly in Spanish), drops to one knee and pops the question. She accepts, describing their relationship as perfect simplicity.
He's been her man since the beginning, and she's not going to overthink falling head over heels with what seems too good to be true. She pins the final rose, and it's time to get on with the rest of their
probably brief time together lives.
It's the same path I took to marriage. I chose my wife because the 30 supermodels I was dating all removed themselves from the running. And now we watch The Bachelorette together.
Is the Happy Couple Still Happy?
Bryan kicks off their first public appearance by re-proposing because he loves her as much today as he did when he ring'd her three months ago. The giddy schmoozing continues, and the focus right now is on bringing their lives together in a real-world sense.
They're not rushing anything, with no idea of where they'll call home. But on the bright side, his mom seems welcoming. Her family remains skeptical, however, but she believes that they simply need to get to know him better. They'll have to wait a bit, though, because the newly betrothed are headed back to Spain for an all-expenses-paid vacation.
We cap off the season with a preview of the show that nearly didn't happen: The much-anticipated fourth season of Bachelor in Paradise. The scandals made headlines, but that's a story for a different time.
As always, thanks for turning in and reading along for another season. I'll see you again soon.
Do you think Rachel made the right decision? Should she have waited on Peter or be left alone in the wake of their breakup? Do you trust Bryan, and do they have what it takes to stand the test of time? Will it be happily ever after or yet another failed relationship to toss on top of the always-burning Bachelor trash heap? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.