The summer-long experiment in debauchery ends with a "disturbing" finale that proves money plus reality TV cameras leads to amorality run amok.

By Kristen Baldwin
Updated September 11, 2012 at 05:03 AM EDT
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Final. Rose. Tonight. I’m almost afraid to let myself believe it, rose lovers. After recapping Bachelor/Bachelorette related “content” for the past EIGHTEEN WEEKS, I’m finally about to be free… until January, that is. And you, dear readers, will get a much-deserved respite from Mike Fleiss’ House of Pain as well. God is good, folks!

Of course, the action begins in the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, where Harrison introduces the Padmates, many of whom the audience has long since forgotten, as evidenced by the embarrassingly small smattering of applause they receive: Ryan, Swat, Donna, David, Kalon, Lindzi, Paige, Reid, Brittany & Erica, Jaclyn, Ed, Erica Rose, Jamie, Tony, Blakeley, and Stagliano. After rolling the Embarrassing Flashbacks reel, Harrison quickly directs the conversation towards Kalon and Lindzi. “Where do you guys stand now?” he asks. “How’s it going?” Peachy, says Lindzi, who says her butt-chinned beau was “very overlooked” on Emily’s season and that he’s a “nice, sweet guy.” But Erica Rose is not having it. “I’ve seen Kalon around town at different events with different women,” she warns Lindzi. “Be careful, that’s it.” This type of potential slander is probably nothing new to Lindzi — provided she has an internet connection — and Harrison, not wanting Erica Rose to tarnish one of the franchise’s “success” stories, doesn’t linger in this unpleasant territory.

Mr. Stagliano, won’t you please take your place in the hot seat? And I certainly hope you brought your fireproof underwear, because Team Bachelor Pad isn’t fooling around with his flashback package: After showing footage of a googly-eyed Rachel talking about how she’s “falling in love” with Michael, we see a never-aired conversation between Erica Rose and Stag, where he says he can’t imagine dating her outside of the house, though he loves “hanging out” with her. “I thought it was a summer camp relationship,” he tells Harrison. “She was falling in love, and I just wasn’t.” While he broke the news to Rachel in what he thought was an amicable post-Pad meeting, Jaclyn insists her blonde buddy is still very hurt. “She told me that he called her his girlfriend,” says Jaclyn, as the women in the audience purse their lips and shake their heads reproachfully. “I think it was bulls—.”

Sounds about right. Unfortunately, Harrison doesn’t bring Rachel out right away to confront the tiny breakdancer… because it’s now Jaclyn’s time in the hot seat. (I’ve got to be honest, Jaclyn has grown on me a little bit. God, I even kind of like her hot pink dress with the weird, triangular front panel and severe black racing stripe down the back. What is happening to me? I need this season to end, now.) Anyhoo, Jaclyn relieves her BFF Rachel’s betrayal via the flashback reel, and it seems she’s still feeling hurt. “I really didn’t think she was capable of screwing me over like that,” she says. “It’s one of those, forgive and never forget.” That said, Jaclyn’s still “torn” about whom to vote for when the time comes — especially since she was certain Bachelor Pad was hers to lose. After Harrison listens to her rant, he sums Jaclyn’s attitude up in one word: “Bitter!”

NEXT: Neil Lane strikes again

Speaking of which, it’s time for Blakeley to take a seat next to Harrison. And sure, while she’s currently in love with Tony — who’s apparently attending a Halloween party after the taping, because he’s dressed like a 1940s mobster — Blakeley still has all sorts of animosity for the woman who once rivaled her for Chris’ attention. But before she can even get a word out about Jamie – who is apparently attending a Halloween party after the taping, because she’s dressed like the lovechild of Pocahontas and Cleopatra — Jaclyn jumps in. “I think you’re very socially awkward,” she tells Jamie. “And I think you don’t know how to communicate with girls.” Eventually, Harrison brings the discussion back to Blakeley and her burgeoning relationship with Tony. “He makes me laugh, he makes me smile, he makes me a better person,” she gushes. “And I absolutely love him for that.” Oh Jesus, Tony, why are you getting up and standing in front of the group with Blakeley? Don’t you DARE drop down to one knee… “We’re moving in together!” he announces happily. Phew! “And he has cable!” yells Blakeley triumphantly. Well at least we’re not going to have to witness a propo… Oh, sh–, he’s on his knee. And she LOVES it. (This doomed engagement brought to you by Neil Lane, purveyor of fine diamonds and emotional atrocities.)

At long last, it’s time for the final two couples to make their way to the stage. Rachel, why don’t you begin: On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you hate Stagliano? “You were so into me,” she tells Stag. “All of America saw it… When you tell a girl you haven’t felt like that about somebody since your fiancée, that’s really strong words to hear. Then we got off the show, and you just got really cold towards me… and you ultimately ended things. It confused me, because I thought we were on the same page.” Oh, Stag. What is your damage?? I’ve been your tireless supporter since you first breakdanced your way into our hearts back in Jillian’s season… but I’m afraid I need to end things with you now. There’s no reason you had to lead that silly blonde woman on to win the money — she’s malleable enough that you could have made her do your bidding simply by flirting with her. False declarations of “feelings” and “emotions” weren’t needed, and they were just plain mean.

And Stag isn’t helping his case by getting defensive about his behavior. “As soon as you called me and said, ‘Can you come talk in my hotel?’ That’s exactly why I drove out there — I wanted to be honest right away. I didn’t want to lead her on.” So, why exactly did he spend the night in the hotel and “cuddle” with her all morning? “I felt like we were on the same page after that night,” he explains, and clearly even he doesn’t believe his own words. The audience’s silent disapproval blankets the proceedings — and then Rachel drops the real bombshell. Stagliano, the man who told her he couldn’t handle a long-distance relationship — has been dating some chick in Chicago this whole time. Oh, the humanity!

NEXT: “Don’t vote for me.”

Moving on to the Pad’s second-biggest d-bag, Chris knows he has to act a little repentant now if he’s going to convince anyone to vote for him, so when it’s his turn to speak, he admits that it was hard to watch the episodes featuring his mistreatment of Blakeley and Jamie. “It was really tough for me, not only for me but for my family and friends,” he admits, adding that his family doesn’t “have anything good to say” about his behavior. “[My dad] said, ‘That’s not the way I raised you.’… The game, it got a hold of me.” What do you think rose lovers? Is this a sincere apology or just a last-minute Hail Mary for votes? Either way, I hope Chris’ dad really give him a verbal spanking — though he probably could have used a real one as well.

Eventually, it’s time for the jury to question the final two couples. Jaclyn goes first, and wants an explanation from Rachel about why she let Nick push her into taking Chris and Sarah to the finals. Short answer: Because she’s a wuss. “It kills me that she isn’t sitting up here next to me,” says Rachel weepily about her BFF. “I still feel horrible about it.” Not feeling horrible for his amoral actions? Chris. “It’s a game,” he drones. “I came here to win.” He makes the case that his decision to bring Erica Rose into the voting room was a “game changer” (fair enough), while Sarah pipes up to say he really is “the sweetest person” outside of the Pad. Blakeley can’t believe what she’s hearing. “Do you think he’s really going to share the money, if he were to get the votes?” she asks Sarah, her voice dripping with disdain. Plus, wonders Paige (at least, I think it’s Paige), if Chris knows he acted like a jerk why hasn’t he said he’s sorry? “You can’t regret things you can’t change,” he replies, not realizing that those are the exact things you can regret. “I know you’re not going to vote for me, Jamie, but I am sorry,” he barks. Eventually, though, all of this henpecking wears Chris down. “I hear it every day from my parents and my family,” he says, his voice tightening, “and honestly, I’ve had enough… Don’t vote for me. Vote for Sarah. Vote for her. She did nothing wrong. She played the game, she made it to the end, she deserves to win.” Oh, how selfless! (Except for the part about you almost definitely getting half if Sarah wins.)

And the polls are open! Chris and Sarah manage to pull votes from Kalon, Dave the super fan, and Erica Rose. Stagliano votes for Rachel and Nick (duh), as do Jamie, Ed, Blakeley, Reid, Lindzi (way to have a mind of your own, honey!), Donna, Tony, and (shocker!) Jaclyn. See ya, Pad pariahs! Take a seat and watch as Nick and Rachel enter their separate deliberation rooms to decide whether they’ll vote to keep or share the money. (Short refresher: Two “shares” = both players win, two “keeps” = neither player wins, one of each means the Keeper takes the money, and the Sharer is a sucker.) While Nick and Rachel wring their hands, pretending to agonize over their choice, the rest of the Padmates theorize about what will happen — but only “SWAT” thinks the smart move is to take the money and run. Stag disagrees: “Having an alliance and sticking to it — that is the name of this game!”

NEXT: “I’m a schmuck with $250,000.”

Is it, though? Nick and Rachel are escorted back to the stage by Tealight Candle Thunderdome security, where they gravely reveal their choices. Rachel, honey, why don’t you go first. “I am close to the money right now, but I will say that I didn’t come here to win half the money — I came here to win. But… you can’t win without a partner.” That’s one vote for SHARE! The crowd claps approvingly. Okay, Nick, it’s go time. Like the first two winners before you, there’s no doubt you’ll vote “SHARE” too, right? “Nobody… ever would have put their money on me to be here and win this,” Nick begins. “And it’s crazy to watch the last episode and to see Jaclyn say that I don’t deserve to be here, and to see Ed say that I’m just an anonymous guy in the house… I was on nobody’s radar. Nobody was on my team, and I did this all myself.”

Hmmm… I’m starting to think that Nick doesn’t believe Rachel helped him win. “Rachel never wanted to be my partner,” he continues. The audience begins murmuring, as the camera zooms in on Rachel’s what-the-hell-is-happening-right-now expression. “She tried to leave on me three times, knowing that it would screw me over… Never once did you say, ‘You know what, I’m gonna stick it out for your sake, Nick.'” Rachel tries to disagree, but Nick’s too worked up into a frenzy of action-justifying indignation to care. He flips his placard over angrily and pulls out the card revealing his vote: KEEP, BITCH! And Chris and Sarah LOVE it — in fact, most of the Padmates (Jaclyn and Stagliano excepted) cannot help but laugh at Nick’s straight-up dickhead move. Even the audience of women is on their feet, clapping and cheering for the Pad’s new King of the Douchebags. Wow, folks, way to kick a “lady” while she’s down. “Are you [bleeping] kidding me?” Rachel asks Nick. “I brought you here! You’re here because of me!… You’re a disgusting human being.”

But the personal trainer from Tampa, Florida is riding his a-hole high right now, and he’s not about to let blondie bring him down. “How many of you guys went into this and said, ‘I can’t wait to win $125,000’?” he asks the Padmates, pacing in front of them like a lawyer delivering a closing argument. “Everyone of you were here to win $250,000. That’s what I was here to win, and that’s what I won.” Well, the man’s got a point. He is, in his own words, “a schmuck with $250,000.” Clearly, Nick doesn’t care if he never sees Rachel or any of these Pad-dwellers again, nor should he. “Why are you so mean all of a sudden?” Jaclyn shouts at Nick, who remains totally unfazed by the weeping blonde woman next to him. “This is the end of the game,” he replies blithely. “It’s over.” And to make matters worse, the crowd can’t stop cheering over Rachel’s misfortune. “Can I ask why?” she whines, only to be answered by a lone voice calling out, “We love you Rachel!” Obviously not, though.

NEXT: “What did I do?”

Though Harrison wraps the show up, the cameras keep rolling and follow Rachel backstage, where she begins berating Nick with renewed force. “Are you [bleeping] kidding me? Are you [bleeping] kidding me? What is wrong with you?” His response — “What? What did I do?” — is definitely the quote of the night. “If it wasn’t the best move,” he continues, “why did everybody applaud?” Well, in Rachel’s defense, everybody who applauded didn’t know that two days ago you “vowed” to share the money with her — but then again, it’s a sleazy reality TV game show. None of us should be that shocked that you lied. Eventually he just walks out, duffle bag in hand, and climbs into the waiting Winner Limo, as Rachel sobs in the dark backstage.

Team Bachelor Pad closes the evening with a roundup of soundbites from the housemates over the season, all of whom are drastically underestimating the man who just stole $250,000 from their grubby little hands. My favorite, I hate to admit, is from my former crush Michael Stagliano: “He literally doesn’t say more than 10 words a day. And when he does, it’s nice, like, ‘Hey man, how you doin’?’ And then he just goes and does a bunch of push-ups.”

Well, rose lovers, it’s over. And you know what? Good for Nick. It’s not often that truly boring reality TV contestants turn out to be soulless motherf—ers bent on destroying any semblance of human decency for their own personal gain. Enjoy your cash, sir! As for you, dear reader, perhaps I’ll see you in January when Sean or Minority TBA begins his Bachelor journey. (Who am I kidding? It’ll be Sean.) Until then, stay true to your alliances, folks. They’re all we have in this world.

More Bachelor Pad from EW:

Episode Recaps

Bachelor Pad

Chris Harrison reassembles former rose-contenders for a second chance at reality fame, love, and televised skankiness
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