It’s I-do-or-die time as the second season of Bachelor in Paradise wraps up, and after arguably the most devastating breakup in franchise history, we’re left with four couples chasing a chance at love.

The eliminations came early and often in the leadup to the final week, including Mackenzie’s self-deportation simply to avoid spending time with Mikey. But none was harsher than Kirk blindsiding Carly, who apparently made the mistake of believing it was okay to discuss kids and the future. You know, chick stuff.

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And he even did that guy thing where you try to comfort and explain yourself to the person whose heart you just broke, and then he somehow twisted her reaction into him being the victim. She was right that he didn’t deserve the conversation he was attempting to force upon her, and I always appreciate when people rip off the band-aid and move along. Nothing was more uncomfortable than when Brooks quit on Desiree and then just sat with her for like a half-hour trying to make her feel better. And that season ended happy.

Love was not in the cards for Kirkly, but that doesn’t mean Janner, Nickantha, Tenlosh and Cassustin are destined to leave paradise alone. Just most of them. We know Jade and Tanner are going to give post-Mexico love a try, but c’mon, you don’t go from NBA baby daddy Rodney Stuckey to Justin Aurelius. 

Now let’s wrap this up with a nice end-of-summer ribbon. Or a way-too-early engagement ring. It’s only an hour because without Ashley I.’s incessant flow of tears and wails, there just isn’t enough footage to fill a two-hour show.

I also want to apologize for missing the previous episode. There was a bit of a last-minute family emergency that needed tending to, but don’t worry, everyone is fine. 

Four Couples, Four Dates

The finale is all about figuring out if the relationships can work without the beach and the booze, and so each couple will be going on a romantic date complete with a fantasy suite invitation. It’s all Carly was looking forward to before the carpet was ripped out from under her, and the ramifications of Kirk’s change of heart are reverberating throughout paradise. 

Particularly affected is Jade, who is Carly’s best friend and a member of this season’s other unbreakable couple. But now she sees how quickly tides can shift, and it’s giving her doubts about the strength of her relationship with Tanner. On the bright side, with only eight people left, it’s the shortest theme song we’ve had to endure.

Speed Dating

Being a 23-year-old single mom and having been on one date in her less-than-a-week-long stay, Cassandra is nervous about the overnight possibilities. She doesn’t want to ruin her relationship with Justin, but she also wants to pump the brakes since she’s known this dude for, like, two days. 

Nick and Sam are up first, and he needs to realize that there is more to dating than just telling the other person how gorgeous he or she is, even if that person is Samantha. I’m not sure there’s much going on under the hood, but you still need other topics to converse about on a date. And am I the only one who sees a little bit of disgust on her face while they’re kissing at the restaurant? I damn near lost my dinner when he tells her to come in for one more smooch. 

Even though he’s a smitten kitten, he has questions about how the Joe situation played out. She claims to be there for the right reasons (a phrase we haven’t heard much of this season), and they retire to the fantasy suite while he muses that the men of America are pretty jealous of him right now.

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To Suite or Not to Suite

Justin is hopeful that Cassandra will accept his invitation, but she feels it would be inappropriate to spend the night together. He’s unsure if that means she doesn’t like him, but she prefers to take things slow. So they decline to forego their separate rooms.

Meanwhile, while Tenley has enjoyed all her time with Joshua, she’s looking back at her dating history and protecting two hearts, since he has never known love or heartbreak. She’s trying to be smart about whether it will work in the real world, but he wants to try because he isn’t ready to say goodbye yet. 

At worst, Josh has restored her faith in believing she can be cared for, but I think we all know this one is destined to fail. Is she really going to sign up for a lifetime of playing “Which tattoo is the worst?” Still, they close the door and hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the knob.

Tanner drops an L bomb on Jade, and she thanks him for “getting” her before returning the sentiment. It’s nice when quickly-formed love blossoms in the triple-digit heat of a tropical paradise. I’ve never seen so many people sweat through their shirts before. Though I think being branded the next Marcus and Lacey would be enough to make anyone consider the single life. 

Back to Reality

The couples head back home for their last day in paradise, and it’s quite tense for all as they debate their futures under a Kirk-inspired pall of fleeting emotions. Chris Harrison swings by to inform the group that these final roses carry extra weight because they come with a promise to build a life together outside this adult summer camp. So it’s time to get introspective and decide if this is something they really want, as nothing is worse than an empty promise.

Tenley is moved to tears, apprehensive of the slim possibilities of success with long-distance relationships. There’s only one weekend between whenever this is taking place and September when she’d be able to see him, and that’s not a great way to kick things off. He wants to try, but she’s being realistic, and it remains to be seen if she will accept his rose.

The Final Decisions

Justin and Cassandra are up first, and he’s feeling insecure since she bypassed the fantasy suite. He tells her they have a strong foundation to build upon, and he’s excited to see what comes next. She accepts the rose and they kiss. She’s looking for trust and honesty, and she’s found it with Justin. They’re new, but she thinks she’s walking away with a great guy.

Nick and Samantha are next, and leaving with her has been his goal since before he arrived. But he still has Joe concerns, and he needs to see if she’s as committed to the relationship. She calls him her Prince Charming, and she wouldn’t be here if she didn’t think they had a future. He makes her realize what it’s like to be with a real man because Joe didn’t treat people with respect.

We’re two for two, but then it’s time for Tenley and Joshua. Her heart wants him in her life, but her head is at odds with that, believing it’s unlikely they could make it work while living in different states. He tells her he didn’t come here expecting to find anything and was just looking to have fun, but then she came along. He’s not sure what she’s been thinking since their last talk, but he’d love to give it a shot. 

She thinks he’s an amazing man who has restored her hope for a great love, but Idaho just isn’t going to cut it. He lives in a one-stoplight town, and she needs friends and busyness, and it would be unfair to try knowing how hard it would be. She’s conflicted, but she knows this is the right thing. They hug and say goodbye, and he’s so sweaty you can see his tats through his shirt. Gross.

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Roses vs. Rings

Saving the best for last are now-in-love birds Tade and Janner (I was going to fix that typo, but at this point, they might as well be the same person), who came to paradise with no expectations but instead found a life partner. She tells him she loves so many things about him and that he makes her feel like the most beautiful, worthy and understood woman in the world.

Then it’s his turn, and he looks like someone dumped a bucket of water on him. Dude is just moist. Still, Jade has changed his life, but he can’t give her the rose because what they have is worth so much more. And so he drops to one knee and whips out a giant rock. She accepts, quivering, and they embrace while the other two couples hoot and holler in the background. And he didn’t even have to ask her dad’s permission. Weak. 

End-Scene Updates

— JJ failed to win back the love of his life, and he is now available on Tinder.

— Months later, Ashley is still obsessed with Jared, and Jared is still obsessed with Kaitlyn.

— Clare is still talking to animals. 

— Joe is still unhappy and single.

–Kirk is currently enrolled in the Witness Protection Program.

— Jade and Tanner plan on moving in together and are looking forward to their wedding in Mexico next summer.

After Paradise Update

— Cassandra is happily in a relationship … with Jonathan! Things didn’t work with Justin because of the distance, so she transitioned to another single father who is more her speed. And Justin calls in to congratulate them.

That’s it for another summer of love for Bachelor Nation, and the finale airing on Labor Day is like a double whammy gut punch marking the official end of the season. Twenty-eight entered, but only six are leaving together. And two of those are Nick and Samantha. 

Do any of them have a chance? Time will tell, but now the focus shifts to Ben Higgins and his quest for love in the 20th season of The Bachelor. Four months seems like a long time to go without the possibility for fairy tale love, but Christmas is right around the corner. See you in 2016!

The Bachelor returns on Monday night in January at 8pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order