Welcome back to the best Bachelorette recap you’ll ever read! As we move into week one of the two-week season finale, I only have two questions for you, readers: have you been getting yourself ready? And have you been taking the time to “prepare” yourself for the most dramatic ending yet? I know I have (and not just because on Monday I had an almost Pavlovian urge to douse myself in rosé and self-soothe to Gabby’s vocal fry). Whenever a white dude with the personality of a banana tells you to SHUT UP AND SHAPE UP in any context that isn’t CrossFit, that should send a swift chill down your spine.
Last week, Jesse Palmer sat us all down in his doomsday bunker to threaten us with a particularly upsetting season finale. The mood he created suggested that Gabby and Rachel would have to face off against live tigers before accepting marriage proposals. Or at the very least, they would have to whisper “bloody Mary” three times in front of a mirror and if Chris Harrison appeared, drink in hand and slurring about the “woke police,” then they must spend another six weeks on the USS Fuckboy.
The thing is, Jesse Palmer didn’t have to suggest that some sort of sinister oracular vision was at play in predicting a bleak future for Gabby and Rachel. The numbers speak for themselves. While Rachel still has two men and a bitch baby in play, Gabby is down to her last remaining guy–and that guy has a faux hawk!!! (And a problematic history of other fashion, um, choices.) Out of Rachel’s three guys, Zach would sooner fling himself off a cliff than verbalize what happened between him and Rachel in the fantasy suite, Aven just looks confused, and Tino is still choosing to live in the alternate reality where his family wouldn’t show up to a Thanksgiving with Rachel brandishing garlic and holy water. We have working eyes and ears, Jesse. It’s clear the odds are not really in their favor!
Which brings us to tonight. The showrunners want to emphasize that this footage is BREAKING NEWS. They even got special permission from ABC to extend the episode by 15 minutes, despite no one asking them to do so and, in fact, begging them to do the opposite.
Tonight’s episode will alternate between the finale moments in Mexico and Jesse Palmer’s live viewing party. The viewing party appears to take place in the pits of Hell, where he has summoned his denizens of flying monkeys (the crowd of sad single people and unfulfilled wives) to feed off of Gabby and Rachel’s anguish like it’s half-price wine night.
For once in her life, our favorite coastal grandma (Rachel) looks absolutely stunning. No notes. Gabby looks fine, too. This is all offset by their haunted facial expressions. These women are about to relive special moments with their supposed dream men, and they look like they’re the last two standing in a Final Destination movie. It’s at this point in the evening, as Rachel stares dead-eyed into the crowd and Gabby tries to disappear into her hair, that Jesse Palmer decides we’re ready to watch the
fourth wave of feminism crumble final moments of the season. Let’s get into it!
WTF Happened In That Fantasy Suite
As I’ve mentioned, Jesse Palmer is working overtime for his Christmas bonus. He tells us that tonight we will be shocked, disgusted, and thankful that we never blacked out so thoroughly as to actually hit send on our Bachelor applications. And all of that starts with Zach’s abrupt exit from the rose ceremony.
Up until this point, Zach was convinced Rachel was the Skipper to his Barbie. The two of them were the perfect matching set, complete with some assembly required. But after what happened in the fantasy suite, the two of them can’t even make eye contact with each other.
Y’all. This is WEIRD. They’re speaking words, but those words aren’t adding up to the visceral reactions they’re having to each other’s bodily presence. We are definitely missing something. Zach keeps saying that Rachel wasn’t acting like herself, and Rachel keeps pretending she doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I would still like to know what in the actual fuck went down in that fantasy suite. Like, what could be so bad that the two made a secret blood pact to never speak of it on screen? The meaningful eye contact they keep making has me wondering if one of them proposed eating ass and it gave the other one the ick. I can read between the lines!
Zach sees himself out, but again, there’s no formal dumping. It’s like that Spider-man meme where all the Spider-men are holding guns at each other and slowly backing away. Zach and Rachel are those Spider-men.
Since this is The Bachelorette and the contestants are not living, breathing people, but rather the producer’s personal silly putty, Rachel and Zach must answer for their vagueness. Jesse Palmer invites Zach to the stage, where he and Rachel continue to exchange half-hearted apologies.
RACHEL: I’m really sorry
ZACH: No, I’m really sorry
THANK YOU, JESSE. Finally you’re asking the hard-hitting questions!
Zach confirms what we were all thinking:
the butt stuff got weird Rachel was trying to quiet quit their relationship. She thought she could muster up the energy for one last over-the-clothes fondling, but in the end realized she should have dumped him when he tried to impress her by ordering “uno más” tequila while dressed in head-t0-toe khaki.
Big Tony Is In The House
It’s time for the guys to meet Rachel’s fam or, as I like to call them, the Florida Mafia. You can’t tell me Big Tony has a day job that doesn’t involve blackmail or making cement shoes. I won’t believe it.
Tino’s meet-and-greet is absolutely delusional, but it takes up all of seven minutes of tonight’s 2+ hour programming. Instead, ABC focuses almost entirely on Aven’s date. The signs for all of this going terribly are immediately obvious. First, Rachel shows up for this very important date dressed like she’s about to start her shift at the White Lotus. Seriously, what was her thought process in packing for Mexico?
^^Rachel on this date rn
Then, she tries to tell her family what she loves about Aven, and all she can come up with is that he’s so hot it’s upsetting. Where is the lie though?
She got one thing right at least. Aven is so hot and Big Tony is upset. Big Tony isn’t vibing with Aven AT ALL. I’m not exactly sure what Big Tony wants from him. Perhaps a big declaration of love? Weirdly, I think he expects that declaration to involve Aven challenging a camera operator to a fight for looking at Rachel too much. I mean, his lexicon is very hostile. He keeps saying things like, “No one is going to take my daughter away from me!” Sir, this isn’t that kind of program.
Things go from bad to worse when Aven decides to speak words. Oh, sweetie. Why wouldn’t you let that face and those abs do the talking for you? It’s been working for you your whole life! Why switch things up now? While Rachel is singing his praises to her mom, gushing about how she’s had sooo many conversations about marriage and she 100% trusts him to propose in five days, Aven is telling her friends that he, um, actually would be fine with just leaving here girlfriend/boyfriend. Grab the lighter fluid, ladies; it’s time to hunt the witch.
The thing is, I get what Aven’s saying. He’s 100% serious about Rachel, but the timing of the engagement is negotiable. All very reasonable, normal requests in real life, but this isn’t real life, buddy. This is ABC’s chocolate factory, and Rachel is the Veruca Salt demanding a golden goose of an engagement ring. She doesn’t care how, she wants it right now!
Honestly, I think I would be fine with Aven not proposing to me. I would take that man’s breadcrumbs. But to each their own!
Rachel goes to confront him in the hotel room, and she is so tunnel-visioned on the engagement that she won’t listen to anything he has to say. I get the sense that Aven would propose in five days, even if his heart wasn’t fully into it, because his feelings are that strong for Rachel. And also, ABC is likely holding his loved ones at gunpoint off screen… but I’m sure that has nothing to do with it!
Rachel’s tunnel-vision isn’t totally her fault, either. Traditionally, the franchise has emphasized engagements as clear measures of success. What has the Bachelorette been doing for the last six months without her family, friends, phone, or work, if she doesn’t get engaged? But this is not a normal season. These Bachelorettes have had half as much time as as other leads to get to know their men. For almost a quarter of the journey, these guys were dating both women. Maybe an engagement shouldn’t be the measure for success this season. Maybe it should never be again.
But don’t tell Rachel that—she’s still going on and on about how hurt her feelings are and how embarrassed she was in front of her family. Oh, sweetie. You’re on The Bachelorette. I think they were already embarrassed for you.
They go back and forth for a while before Rachel eventually sends Aven home. This would be a good time to mention that I would like Aven to be the next Bachelor. He’s hot, he’s age appropriate, he’s hot… need I say more? Of course, this is something that I want and ABC has done nothing but take steaming piles of shit on my personal desires. While I, and any living creature with a heartbeat, can see that casting Aven as the Bachelor is a no-brainer, I’m sure ABC will gift it to some loser from five seasons ago. We can never have a nice thing.
“He’s a Little Shit, But I Like Him!”
Gabby gets a whopping 20 minutes of the episode, 15 of which are just ABC fan-girling over Grandpa John. Look, I get it. The man is adorable. The reason why he’s sitting down right now is because he’s been carrying the franchise on his back for the last year of Gabby’s Bachelor/Bachelorette reign. But the fanfare over this grandfather is getting to be a little much. At this point, ABC is all but asking him to sign their tits. It’s embarrassing. At least pretend to have a narrative arc in mind for Gabby’s segment of the show.
Speaking of Gabby, Erich absolutely kills it with her family. It goes so well that Gabby’s aunt even encourages her to be her full, vulnerable self with him. She’s like, “Don’t be afraid to show him how much of an emotional hurricane you really are!” I don’t know, Gabs, you want to save something for the honeymoon. I’m not introducing my forever guy to the internal FEMA that takes place every time I’m mildly inconvenienced unless he’s legally bound to me. That’s just good business.
Gabby is on cloud nine. She’s ready to get engaged, and Erich is ready to propose… right? RIGHT?! Just to double check (the foundation of the hotel has been shaking all day after Rachel’s uncontrollable sobbing registered more seismic activity than a magnitude 8 earthquake), she heads to Erich’s hotel room. She wants to make sure that the blood oath Erich took with ABC still stands, and he is READY for an engagement.
GABBY: I don’t want to put pressure on me or you or this relationship
And boy, is Erich ready to propose. Ready to propose… that they just date after the finale. What the fuck is going on this season? Did the men make a secret pact off-camera to refuse an engagement? Is the work of an anti-engagement union? Is Nick Viall the union rep?
This is unprecedented behavior. Sure, every few seasons we get a singular guy who isn’t ready to get engaged to a total stranger after six weeks. But this season, we’re five days away from a proposal and not one, not two, not three, but FOUR GUYS are refusing to get married at the end of this thing. The audacity of these men. Go on Love Island if you want to fuck around! I don’t have time for it.
Thank you, ABC, for extending the show eight extra minutes so we could bear witness to that footage! Now, instead of going to bed mildly depressed, I can spend the evening lying awake, staring into the dark abyss that is our life and dating culture. Truly, I needed that.
Until next week!
Images: ABC/Craig Sjodin; @thebetchelor /Twitter (1); Giphy (4)