The Bachelor season finale recap: Bait and Ditch
Before we begin, rose lovers, let’s take a moment to think about what we’ve learned this season. First, be careful what you wish for — because you just might get a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot who can’t open his mouth without offending someone (or saying, “it’s okay”). Second, we should probably all just accept the fact that jerky Bachelors make for better TV. I mean, is there anyone out there who can name ONE interesting thing that happened on, say, Travis Stork’s or Andy Baldwin’s season without resorting to Google? If you can, I applaud you. (I am also a little afraid of you.) So let’s just embrace the bad behavior — after all, we do love it so — and bring Juan Pablo’s “adventure” to a close.
¿Dónde está la primera “lady”? Clare is here in her bright fuschia dress, bearing an unruly bouquet of flowers and a nervous smile. Camila rejects Clare’s outstretched hand and instead slaps it hard in what’s either a playful “gimme five” or an angry “back off, Stepmom Barbie!” gesture. When Clare tells Juan Pabs’ mom Nelly that she’s in love with her son, Mama responds with the impassive stare of a sphinx — though she’s honest when Clare asks if Juan Pablo has any problematic personality traits. “He’s hyperactive… He sometimes is very rude,” Nelly continues, telling Clare that Juan Pabs has made her cry with his “honesty, and he say the things a little bit rude.” Clare is determined to hear “my son is a good communicator who shares his feelings freely” instead of “my son has brought me to tears with his nasty personality.” (Side note: Enough with the picture-in-picture feed from the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, Team Bachelor! We get it — you’re liiiiiiive!)
Cousin Rodolfo then asks Clare if she’s in love with Juan Pablo, and upon hearing her answer (yes, duh) he informs her that the Bachelor is the type of guy who will “walk away” when things “get rough” in a relationship. But Clare, her eye firmly on her Latino prize, gushes that if Juan Pablo proposes, it’ll be “the best day of my life.” (I mean, she’s practically “begging for it,” right Rodolfo?) At the very least, she’d get a fantastic father-in-law; Juan Pablo’s dad Saul receives Clare with great warmth and assures her that even if she doesn’t get the final rose, she’ll “be always in my mind.” Ours too, papa. (Or, at least until After the Final Rose is over.)
Nikki wins the Thunderdome audience applause-o-meter, but to be fair both “ladies” receive pretty tepid reactions.
Now, though, it’s time to make mental space for Nikki, who arrives with an identical flower bouquet and a hot pink halter-top maxi dress. And guess what? Within seconds she’s already complaining. The island is “beautiful,” she tells Nelly, “but it’s hot.” Then she starts yammering on about how “life-changing” it’s been to make out with Juan Pablo in various international settings, while Camila — who’s perched on daddy’s lap — studiously avoids acknowledging Nikki’s existence. Saul wastes no time telling the nurse that his son “is not an easy guy,” that Juan Pabs is always focused on what he wants, and that he thinks he’s always right. No worries, says Nikki, she’s “ready for it.”
NEXT: Juan Pablo talks dirty to Clare, and she does NOT love it
Oh really, chica? Mama doesn’t think so. She asks Nikki to describe what she thinks a weekend with Juan Pablo would be like, and the nurse paints a picture of “loving family” activities like trips to the beach and game nights at home. Nelly listens patiently, then crumples up Nikki’s sun-drenched mental image and tosses it over her shoulder. “You want I can tell you how it’s going to be?” she responds. “Juan Pablo wake up, take him breakfast, okay? And stay at home watching TV with the family or with Camila, watching TV… That’s it. He is very simple. You feel he is the kind of guy you want?” When Nikki says yes, Nelly asks again, “You’re sure?”
By the time Rodolfo asks Nikki “how much, like, fighting… can you take?”, a 10-piece color guard may as well be marching through the backyard twirling red flags bearing Juan Pablo’s face stamped with a giant X. Seriously, the amount of effort this family is expending trying to warn these women away from the Bachelor is noble, and yet hilariously ineffective. “I feel so welcome into this family,” gushes Nikki after her visit. “Everyone is so wonderful.” Except, maybe, this Juan Pablo guy… who may not know that polygamy is illegal. Pondering his decision between Nikki and Clare, Juan Pablo muses, “Can I keep both?” Yes, woman in the audience, this really is going south fast. As is this live segment, which is painful. (But loving the bangs, Catherine.)
The first Last Chance Date takes place — where else? — on a helicopter, where Juan Pablo and Clare take in St. Lucia’s emerald mountains and turquoise sea before landing on an expanse dubbed Commerette Point. For some reason, though, this landing happens without audio or cameras — did the crew suddenly grasp the futility of their endeavor and throw themselves into the sea? — and Juan Pablo uses this unrecorded time to whisper something in Clare’s ear. “What I thought was going to be sweet, kind, loving words was not what came out of his mouth, and I’m shocked,” she says. “He chose to tell me something that no woman wants to hear. That he doesn’t know me, and some sexual thing, I don’t even want to repeat it. It was insulting, it was offensive, and it just made me feel awful.” (Smart money says it’s something that rhymes with “I can’t wait to pluck your grains out again”!)
Clare waits to confront him that night in her hotel room — and she’s still so angry she won’t even give him a little besito at the door. Clare tries to get the Bachelor to repeat his dirty talk while the cameras are rolling, but he bobs and weaves — “tell me, remind me” — and then says she “got him wrong.” What he really meant was that they don’t know each other enough — and just when you think his answers can’t get more asinine, he assures Clare that he doesn’t even need a physical relationship with his wife. Wait, so does he want to jump her bones or join the priesthood? Or maybe he’s just trying to give Clare fair warning that she’s not getting the final rose — though his approach is about as humane as a doctor trying to remove someone’s eye with a spork. “The parts that I know [about] Clare, I like,” he tells her. “There’s probably bunches of them that I don’t like. I don’t know… Maybe there are things you don’t like about me that you don’t know.”
NEXT: Josh Krajcik does Juan Pablo’s dirty work
For example, Clare, you probably don’t know — nor are you going to like — the fact that Juan Pablo believes it’s your fault if it turns out your connection with him is just physical. After all, he explains, Clare’s the one who broke her own “no kissing” rule. “You didn’t keep your word,” says Juan Pabs, wagging his finger in her face. “So don’t blame it on me.” He scooches closer and closer to her on the couch, breaking down her defenses with the musky cloud of pheromones that wafts from his pores at all times. “You’re special to me,” he purrs. “I know if I end up with you, we’re going to have a baby in, like, a year and two months.” Eventually she winds up back in his arms, completely convinced that “there’s definitely a lot more than a physical attraction between the two of us.” That’s when Juan Pablo goes in for the kill, pulling up Josh Krajcik’s “No Better Lovers” on his phone — the song they danced to on their first one-on-one date — and triumphantly smacking it down on the table. And she LOVES it. “I don’t want a rose,” she tells Team Bachelor. “I want forever.” Sorry toots, but with this franchise, “forever” is usually just another dirty word.
After a brief stop in the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, where both Sean and Sharleen report that watching Clare cave to Juan Pablo was nothing short of “painful,” it’s time for Nikki’s Last Chance Date. Hey blondie! So glad you decided to put on a shirt on for the occasion. (Ha ha ha — good one, self.) Even funnier than my stupid joke? This statement from Nikki about what she wants to happen on this date: “Hopefully Juan Pablo can tell me he loves me.” (Ha ha ha — good one, annoying blonde pediatric nurse.) Not only does the Bachelor refuse to offer the l-word, he also reiterates Nelly’s assertion that his idea of quality time is sitting on his butt and bathing in the glow of his flat-screen TV. “What’s going to happen after this when you don’t have private islands anymore?” wonders Nikki as the two of them recline on a secluded beach. No problem! “I have a bed, a TV, we can watch whatever — movies, sports… I’ll watch baseball too. I’ll be doing that by myself, probably.” Wow, talk about your happily ever afters. Who says hell is other people?
That night, Nikki dons a slightly unflattering white dress and welcomes Juan Pablo to her hotel room. “It’s almost over,” the nurse says to the Bachelor, with an air of expectation in her voice. She pauses and looks at him, waiting, but still he doesn’t throw her the emotional rope she needs. Nikki drums her fingers on the Bachelor’s knees and tries another angle: “I didn’t think I was going to be this nervous tonight.” Juan Pablo’s all, Oh, you think you’re nervous? Think about how nervous I am! And with that, he’s out the door with a kiss and a casual, “See you tomorrow.” Awww, don’t cry, Nikki… Actually, go ahead and cry. I don’t really have any comforting words for you.
NEXT: “Whoo! I’m glad I didn’t pick her!”
After the commercial break, it’s clear something is very wrong. For one thing, Juan Pablo’s already in his suit, staring gravely at a black velvet Neil Lane box that contains an appropriately gaudy ring. If Team Bachelor didn’t even bother to include the traditional consultation between the Bachelor and the “jeweler to the stars,” well that can only mean one thing: They’ve got way better material. And Juan Pablo does, indeed, look pretty solemn as he stands at the proposal platform waiting for the first “lady” to arrive. Are any of us surprised that the woman who steps off the boat first and loops her hand through Harrison’s arm is none other than… Clare? (I suppose this means we’re really not going to see that DVD message from her dad. Why is life so unfair??)
For whatever reason, Clare talks first, telling Juan Pablo that though there were times that she “wanted to bolt” and times that she would “question things,” in the end she believes they have “something special.” The Bachelor takes his turn next, and it’s all perfectly down-the-middle, could go either way stuff about their “ups and downs” and how “unbelievable” and “amazing” she is… and then comes this: “I wish the earth sucked me today, because this is the hardest decision.” (Unlike that whole “pervert” situation, God willing this malapropism really is due to a language barrier — otherwise this dude is into kinkier sh– than any of us could imagine.)
Clare’s eyes go black, and she rejects Juan Pablo’s goodbye hug. (Cue the applause!) Watch out, buddy, because Mistress BabyVoice is angry — and she needs someone to punish. She begins lashing out with her verbal riding crop: “I’ve saved this moment for the man of my dreams — and I thought that was you!” THWACK! “I’m not done!” SMACK! “Sharleen, she didn’t have the feelings for you… Andi did the same thing.” SNAP! “What you just made me go through — I would never want my children having a father like you!” CRACK! With that glorious exit line, Clare marches down the packed-dirt trail into Harrison’s waiting arms. Back at the Proposal Platform, Juan Pablo reels from the beating he just took but tries to shake it off for the cameras. “Whoo! I’m glad I didn’t pick her,” he says loudly, with a shrug that’s too strained to be genuinely casual.
As she angry-cries through her exit interview, Clare seethes about Juan Pablo’s duplicity (“Don’t tell me how much your family loved me!”) and his dirty mouth (“Don’t tell me you love f—ing me!”), and sends an anguished cry into the universe for the soulmate she deserves: “Where’s the man who makes me feel like I’m worth it?” Hmmm… maybe try your local church?
Okay, blondie — it’s time for your “dream” to come “true.” You’re about to hear Juan Pablo say he loves you. Oh, wait… sorry, we’re getting some new information here… You’re actually going to hear him say he loves a bunch of things about you. “I love how much you care about other people. I love your honesty, so much… I can see you as a good stepmom for Camila.” And now for the big but: It turns out Juan Pablo really was listening when Nikki’s dad Tom politely asked him not to propose if he wasn’t feeling it 100 percent. “That made me think a lot,” he admits. “Honestly, I have a ring here in my pocket, and I’m not gonna use it. Um-mm.” Nikki, who’s been turning redder and redder and nodding faster and faster as her excitement builds during this prelude, blinks twice — hard — and then just keeps on nodding, nodding, nodding.
NEXT: “Don’t get cranky now”
As her soul lies in the dirt, bleeding out through the chest wound Juan Pablo’s words just gave her, the Bachelor delivers the fatal blow. “I like you a lot. A lot,” he says. “So, um, Nikki, will you assept my final rose?” Hey, look! It’s the precise second when Nikki’s heart rips in half! Then, weakly, “Absolutely.” The Bachelor plants a patronizing kiss on her forehead and utters the only four words on the planet that could possibly make Nikki even angrier: “Don’t get cranky now.” Ay, señor, in a few minutes, you’re gonna be praying for cranky. Everybody take a deep breath…
Hey Clare — how you doin’? I hope you can take comfort in the fact that you look lovely tonight. The audience watches grim-faced as she explains how she could have possibly bought the truckload of BS Juan Pablo sold her after the Helicopter Incident. “I should have left,” she admits, but “I trusted that there was a man here that wanted what I wanted… I just wanted to have hope for it.” Now, though, she is ready to put her Bachelor experience behind her — so much so that she politely declines Harrison’s offer to bring Juan Pablo out to face her wrath (yet again) live. Her rant in St. Lucia, she says, was all it took to exorcise any and all Juan Pablo-related demons. “It was so liberating to be able to stand there and say ‘This is exactly how I feel, and it’s not okay!’… That was my closure,” she explains. “I don’t want to sit here on this couch and get fed any more BS.” Man, that is a gross image.
Speaking of, here comes Juan Pablo to defend himself. Lukewarm applause, but no audible boos (at least that my ears could hear). The Bachelor kicks off his image rehabilitation effort by mentioning the recent unrest in Venezuela. (I’d say he was trying to garner sympathy for himself by invoking the struggles of his countrymen and women… but that’d be really tacky, right?) As for Clare and her anger about being dumped, well, Juan Pablo isn’t going to give an inch: “For me, I made the decision that was best for me, and it is what it is.” (Sharleen and Kelly’s betch, please face during Juan Pablo’s monologue is priceless.) Meanwhile, Harrison keeps pressing the Bachelor on his treatment of Clare — so much so that the ever-defensive Juan Pablo jumps in with a “Can I talk?” Not that well, to be honest. I mean, his answer about whether he would have done anything differently in the helicopter — e.g., not been such a jackass — is essentially unintelligible. (Something about how she can talk smack about him, but he has “nothing bad to talk about Clare.”)
As unsatisfying as Juan Pablo’s answers are, there is plenty to enjoy in this ATFR — primarily how much Chris Harrison clearly loathes this Bachelor. He doesn’t really bother to hide it, what with the side-eyes and “Can you believe this guy?” looks to the camera during the live breaks. And the host seems set on getting Nikki to crack when it’s her turn in the hot seat: Even though she insists that she and Juan Pablo are “very happy,” Harrison won’t stop hammering her about the fact that the Bachelor has yet to say he loves her. “He hasn’t ever said those words to you?” he marvels, his brow furrowed in studied concern. “Does that worry you?”
NEXT: Surprise — there is no surprise!
Clearly it does, but Nikki is working harder than her Colorstay lipgloss to convince us that her “relationship” with Juan Pablo is solid, because he’s so “invested.” But Harrison’s not buying it, nor should he — I mean, POWs sound more convincing when they’re reading prepared statements from their captors in proof of life videos. The crowd is completely demoralized by the whole thing, too, it seems, if the reluctant applause that greets Juan Pablo’s reunion with Nikki is any indication. And they really aren’t happy about what comes next: That “big surprise” Harrison has been hyping all evening? The one he said Juan Pablo promised an “ABC executive” in St. Lucia? Yeah, that doesn’t exist.
And just in case that wasn’t a big enough F-U to the network that put his mug on TV, Juan Pablo goes on to declare, “We’re done with this show! We’re are so done.” (That said, Juan Pabs does insist he “appreciates the opportunity” to be handed reality TV fame.) Harrison enlists Bachelor golden boy Sean Lowe to back him up on the whole l-word debate, which he does: “The moment I knew that I was falling in love with her,” he says of Catherine, “I could not wait to tell her that.” (And the crowd goes wild!) “But Juan Pablo and I, we’re two very different people, I think.”
As Harrison and Juan Pablo continue to fight over whether or not JP is obligated to say he loves Nikki, the woman in question watches in silence — perhaps because her soul has left her body and is watching all of this happen from somewhere in the rafters. Eventually Harrison pulls her back down to earth to explain how she’s feeling. “I just feel like, time will tell,” she says. “This is a real relationship to us.”
[Reality check: As delicious as Harrison’s indignation on behalf of the Bachelor franchise is, and as easy as it is to hate Juan Pablo for his douche behavior, isn’t refusing to make a lifelong commitment to someone after eight weeks actually the most reasonable decision a sane human being can make? End of reality check.]
As for now, Juan Pablo says he and Nikki have “private” plans to live their lives, but Sean shuts that idea down real quick: “I don’t want to burst your bubble, but it’s not private after the show!” (Ginger Bachelor for the win!) And sure Juan Pablo is slapping (or biting) the hand that feeds him — but who cares? We got our use out of him, did we not?
Before we end this thing — “Not gonna lie, I’m okay movin’ on,” deadpans Harrison — one last bit of news: Andi is the new Bachelorette. God willing, she will pick one hair color before May.
Well, rose lovers, to paraphrase the immortal words of Tommy Boy: I swear I’ve seen a lot of Bachelor finales in my day, but that… was… really weird and uncomfortably awkward. I suppose that’s why we watch this show. It’s been a long “adventure,” and I couldn’t have done it without you. So before you leave, please let me know your thoughts on tonight’s debacle. Was Juan Pablo the best worst Bachelor ever? Is Nikki being held against her will? Is Andi really the best choice for Bachelorette? And could Harrison take Juan Pablo in a cage match? Post your thoughts now! And a final programming note: stay tuned for Chris Harrison’s blog about the finale and the contentious After the Final Rose on Tuesday evening. (It was a long night – he needed a little extra time.) Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get cranky now.