It really was the most shocking finale ever, as Jason, the biggest tool in ''Bachelor'' history, breaks the land-speed record for relationship flameouts by dumping Melissa ''After the Final Rose''
The Bachelor
Credit: ABC

Okay, so here’s the good news: For once, the hyperbole was true — it really was the ”most dramatic season finale in Bachelor history.” And now for the bad news: As it turns out, Ty’s father is an even bigger jackass than we thought. Honestly, my heart just breaks for that kid.

It’s not like we hadn’t been warned by Reality Steve. Still, up until tonight, I couldn’t quite believe the rumors were true. After all, the producers have promised ”heart-stopping” shocks countless times before and they’ve never delivered, so why would this time be any different? I’m not a conspiracy theorist, though, and I don’t believe producers scripted this or any other finale — if they were in the habit of fixing the Bachelor’s ”journey,” they’d make sure it ended with an insane twist every year. Nope, I think this season they just got lucky — lucky enough to find a Bachelor with a spectacular lack of judgment and self-awareness, and they simply edited his idiotic actions into the most compelling, surprising narrative possible. Once team Bachelor learned that Jason wanted to dump Melissa, did they encourage him to do it on-camera rather than in private like a decent human being? I’m sure they did. But he didn’t have to say yes. As annoyed as we all may be at the outcome, my friends, the producers were simply doing their job: making good TV. Jason might be contractually obligated to have a final rose ceremony — as former Bachelor Brad Womack contests — and he’s no doubt obligated to appear on the After the Final Rose special. He is not, however, contractually obligated to act like an a–hole — I believe he managed to do that all by himself.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning of tonight’s ”journey” and work through our feelings about The Great Bachelor Implosion of 2009 together. We open on a beautiful New Zealand beach, where Jason and Ty have a tearful reunion in the sand. The poor little dude has been shipped half way across the world to meet one of the two ”ladies” his daddy is thinking about marrying. ”It’s so important that I make the right choice,” says Jason. ”And I’m just at the point now where Ty, in his own way, will help me figure it out.” Melissa is first to take the toddler test, and though she is nervous about meeting Ty, she gives off a cuddly, kindergarten teacher vibe that kids respond to — and she was also smart enough to come prepared with an arsenal of knock-knock jokes. Ty seems comfortable enough with Melissa, even when Jason leaves the two of them alone while he fetches a lamb off camera. During those 30 seconds, she manages to keep Ty from choking on his own tongue or otherwise harming himself, so I’m pretty sure that makes her Bachelor-certified stepmom material.

The real test is next. Once Ty goes down for his nap, Jason brings Melissa to meet his mom, dad, brothers, and sister-in-law. Jason’s family grills her on all the predictable topics: meeting Ty, moving to Seattle, her feelings for Jason. They all eye her warily, especially when the topic of her MIA parents comes up. Melissa’s defense: ”Am I OK that they potentially could not meet him before this process is over? No.” Once they’re alone, Mama Mesnick continues to hammer Melissa about her family, prompting the anxious ex-cheerleader to start talking really fast about how close she is with her parents and what ”happy people” they are.

Jason’s brothers are skeptical because DeAnna screwed Jason over before, and here comes another olive-skinned brunette who says she wants to spend the rest of her life with him. ”In the previous show he got DeAnna’s dad’s blessing,” Sean tells Melissa. ”And without your parents… meeting him, potentially he’s not going to propose.” Papa Mesnick’s resolve softens a little when Ty toddles out and says he wants to play with Melissa. ”You and Ty have such a magical chemistry going on, you know, to bring someone into your life like Melissa would only just make it explode even more than it is.” Though I’m not 100 percent sure what he means, it’s going to be hard for Molly to top an endorsement like that.

She’s gonna give it a try, though. Here comes Molly bouncing out of the SUV, chipper, bright-eyed, and ”excited” to meet Ty. Jason explains that Molly ”is not somebody who’s been around little kids a lot,” and it shows. Children are like dogs — they can smell fear — and Molly is giving off the unmistakable stench of terror. Ty won’t give her a high-five or even say hi to her, but it doesn’t really mean anything — he’s three, and while he has more social skills than his father, sometimes he’s bound to be cranky. ”I was freaking out,” says Molly. ”But I just had to be confident and give it my best.” Her best involves relentless smiling and nodding, and eventually Ty allows her to hold his hand as he romps in the water. Molly is almost convincing when she says, ”We’re kind of a little family right now. This is how life could be, and it’s so fun to think like that.” (Good try, toots.)

Hopefully the Mesnick clan can be the tiebreaker. Jason takes Molly to meet the family, and she responds by turning her perky levels up to 11 — which is a little disturbing because her smile and eyes are so wide at this point, she’s beginning to get crazy face. (And I know it’s windy out there, but couldn’t she have run a comb through her ponytail before entering the house?) Jason’s brothers want to know if Molly’s ready to transition into the life of a domesticated stepmom, and she says, ”F— that! I’m packing the brat off to boarding school!” Oh, wait, sorry — she actually tells them what they want to hear: ”I want to settle down with someone now. I’ve been there, done that.”

But can she convince Jason’s mom? Mama Mesnick, unlike her son, has a pretty inscrutable poker face. During her couch time with Molly, she’s not giving up anything other than a steely gaze — especially when Molly says she’s fine to move because ”I can still have my career in Seattle.” Later, when a weepy Jason asks her for help with his decision, mom defrosts a piece of advice that she’s been keeping in the family freezer since the 1950s: ”Here’s a young lady who says she loves you to pieces, and yet she has a career, and career’s important to her. But I think foremost for you, you want somebody who is family oriented, and who’s going to be there for Ty and you.” Yes, that’s right, Donna Reed: Never mind that your son is making his second (soon-to-be-failed) attempt to find a stepmom for Ty on a reality TV show — the real threat to his future happiness is that he may marry a woman who works outside the home.

With the deadline approaching, Melissa calls her parents in an effort to get them to talk to the Bachelor on the phone. They agree, but for whatever reason Melissa waits until the end of her rainy-date date to tell Jason. During another prone make-out session, he gives her the closest thing to an ”I love you” that the Bachelor Code of Conduct allows: ”I’ve never felt this way either, okay?” When it’s Molly’s turn to prove her love the next day, she is ready: ”I just need to put it all out there for him and let him know how I’m feeling.” And by ”put it all out there,” she means mounting him on a rented massage table and tenderizing him with baby oil like the big piece of beefcake that he is.

Once he’s hosed off, Molly hands Jason a homemade dossier called ”A Fairytale Love Story.” It opens with a note that looks like something a fifth-grade girl would pass to her crush in homeroom — she even the draws the ”o” in ”once upon a time” as a little heart. The rest is a scrapbook of plane tickets, date cards, the lyrics to her now-classic ditty ”Jason (You Give Me Butterflies),” and the acceptance letter to The Bachelor — which I transcribed, because I am a total dork:

”September 25, 2008

Dear Molly,

Congratulations! You have been selected to be a part of ABC’s prime time series ”The Bachelor.” We are very excited about your participation and look forward to seeing you in Los Angeles. You should be ready to be entertained in the most unforgettable places, dine in a style reserved for the elite, live in a luxurious mansion, and experience exotic, high-action adventures. This experience will take you from California to Your Town, USA. Be prepared!”

She must have cut off the last line: ”P.S. — Don’t bother packing your dignity. You won’t need it.”

Wow, both ”ladies” really brought their A-game. What’s Jason going to do? Call Melissa’s parents, that’s what. He tells them that he ”completely” understands that they didn’t want to be on camera, and while The Bachelor is ”a crazy way” to meet someone, he wants them to know that ”it’s so real.” It seems to go well enough, and Jason tells us that the conversation gave him ”closure, so I can move forward.”

So all’s well, right? Oh, hells no. As ominous music plays, a black station wagon snakes up the driveway. The door opens, revealing a woman’s toned legs… and what’s this? Aw yeah — the bitch is back, y’all!!! Of course the only one surprised about it is Jason, since ABC has been pimping this moment in promos since January. The producers are working hard to make it seem like DeAnna’s mission is to get Jason back — ”I came here because I lost out on a great man,” she says — but it’s pretty clear that that’s a gross exaggeration, at best. In their awkward chat on the couch, DeAnna tells Jason that she ”got caught up” in the excitement of the Fun Guy, even though she knows a successful relationship is built on more than fun. Jason says he’s facing the same dilemma — and in hindsight, he completely telegraphs what’s going to happen on After the Final Rose: ”I’m faced with two girls, right? And one of them is everything that I was looking for when I came in here… And then there’s the other girl who is more of a wild card, who could be extremely amazing but I don’t know — versus, like, the safer, like, I know bet, you know?” The bottom line, TV Watchers, is that Jason fell victim to human nature and his own immaturity — he tried to make the ”safer” choice with Melissa, but was ultimately seduced by the risk involved with choosing the ”wild card,” Molly. And the American viewing public will reap the benefits of his mistake.

DeAnna tells him as much, saying she chose the ”wild card” and paid a steep price for it. ”If I would have chose you, it would have worked.” But honestly, if she really wanted him back, I think she would have tried a little harder than this: ”I could see myself having a relationship with you. You haven’t proposed yet. You still have a chance. And that’s why I’m here. [Unconvincing shrug]” DeAnna may have had some residual feelings for Jason, but most likely she was just doing the producers a solid by agreeing to come to New Zealand and share her regrets on camera. (Remember, at this point the producers were banking on DeAnna’s Big Return to be their shocking finale moment.) Anyhow, DeAnna didn’t look too broken up — or even fazed — after Jason shot her down, did she? When Jason says he’s going to ”follow his heart”, she offers a quick correction: ”I wouldn’t say follow your heart — I would say lead it. I followed my heart.”

At last, the big day has arrived. Some blonde lady named Emily arrives with a briefcase of engagement rings by Neil Lane, and Jason chooses a monstrous sparkler that’ll likely give his chosen ”lady” carpal tunnel. But he still doesn’t know what he wants. ”I’ve never been so conflicted about a decision in my entire life.” Somehow, after less than a minute of voiceover rumination — all the while standing on the balcony staring at the ring like Frodo at the edge of the lava pit — Jason suddenly is struck with a moment of clarity: ”I’ve made my decision. I know what I’m going to do.” That doesn’t mean he’s not going to cry about it, though. ”I never thought I’d be sitting here right now this hurt.” No time to listen to your gut, pal — just throw a bowtie around your toddler’s neck and go make some bad decisions!

It seems a little pointless, not to mention cruel, to recount what happens next, so I’ll try to be quick. The first limo rolls up the driveway, and Harrison, God bless him, is there to greet poor Molly with his pleasant-but-completely-unreadable expression. After she joins Jason at the proposal post, the Bachelor tells her she is (what else?) ”amazing,” and then he starts to lose it. ”I don’t know how I could ever let you go — but I have to.” For once, Molly stops smiling. ”I think you’ve made a mistake — a big one.” (Kids, this is called foreshadowing.) Once Jason sends Molly off, we finally get that balcony breakdown scene that’s been taunting us all season in the promos. It’s a good thing he ends up dumping Melissa, because Jason would have some serious explaining to do about his post-Molly meltdown if they were still together. Meanwhile in the reject limo, a stunned Molly keeps repeating her theory, which will prove all too true: ”I just think he’s making a huge mistake.”

Oh, look who’s here! It’s Ms. Pinky Ring herself! As soon as Jason, who’s managed to get it together by now, tells Melissa that he’s ”completely in love” with her, she hops up and down and squeals with glee. Of course, you know the rest: ring, kissing, ”Will you accept this rose?” And then sweet little Ty comes running out in his bowtie… Happily ever after, right? I rarely feel bad for people who choose to go on reality TV shows — strike that, I never feel bad for people who choose to go on reality TV shows — but for Melissa’s sake, I really do wish the ”journey” had ended here.

Cut to six weeks later. As Harrison warns us, ”A lot has happened since then.” He brings Jason out on stage to an empty studio — no applause, no squealing women. All it takes is a simple ”What’s on your mind?” from Harrison, and the Bachelor breaks down. Tearfully, Jason admits that since the show ended, things with Melissa ”have been different.” And then comes the bombshell: ”Over the last few weeks I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Molly.” These are his ”real, honest true feelings”, and he swears he hasn’t talked to Molly about anything. (What about texts and emails? Unclear — Harrison doesn’t ask.)

Harrison, who calls Jason a ”good guy,” spells it out for us: ”You are about to officially break up with Melissa. How do you think that’s going to go?” I’m guessing the answer is ”not well,” since good guys don’t dump their fiancées on camera. And now it’s Melissa’s turn to come out to an awkwardly empty studio. While she doesn’t know exactly what’s going to happen, her tight smile makes it clear she knows whatever’s coming isn’t good. As Melissa blinks back tears, Jason explains that ”the chemistry just started changing.” Rightfully, she explodes, blasting him for wussing out once it became clear that their relationship might not be all roses and champagne and fantasy dates — that it might actually take work. ”Something happened!” she demands. ”And you have yet to be honest.” Finally, Jason spits it out: ”I do still have feelings for Molly.” Their fight goes on awhile longer, but I think Melissa sums it up for all of us when she says, ”You are such a bastard!”

So once again, Melissa is the dumpee. She turns to the disgraced Bachelor and issues this withering warning, ”Don’t call me, don’t even text me, leave me alone, please.” Possibly the most tragic thing of all is that Melissa comes out of this whole experience thinking it’s her fault: ”There’s something wrong with me,” she moans, riding away in the reject limo. The only thing wrong with you, sweetie, is that you thought The Bachelor could find you a good guy. I just wish she had kept the ring, sold it on eBay, and sent herself on a nice long vacation courtesy of ABC.

Meanwhile, Molly’s been backstage in an isolation booth or something — Harrison says she has no idea what just went down. Before he brings Jason out, Harrison asks Molly if she’s still in love with the Bachelor. ”All I wanted since I’ve been back,” she admits, ”is for him to call me or knock on my door and say, ‘I made a mistake.”’ She’s about to get her wish. Jason skulks out from backstage, and ‘fesses up that he wants her back. Molly — convinced that she’s the victim of the meanest Punk’d prank ever — looks from Harrison to Jason and back again. Finally, she manages to speak. ”Um, but, what about Melissa?” (Yeah that’s right, girlfriend — what about her? If he’s doing this to her, what makes you think you’ll be any different? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WOMAN, RUN!!) By the end of the commercial break, she’s turned toward Jason. ”I’m very confused,” she says. ”I think we still have a lot to talk about…” And now her hand’s on his knee… ”I think we can see where things go… My feelings never changed for you.” Aaaand now they’re sucking face. It’s over, folks. Cue the orchestra — the circle of crazy is complete!

Okay, let’s all take a deep breath and digest what just happened. Was this the best Bachelor finale ever, or did it completely annihilate the ”integrity” of the franchise? Once you’ve vented in the comments area, be sure to read Chris Harrison’s exclusive blog on PopWatch, where he gives us a timeline of how this whole debacle went down. Finally, check out our exclusive extended scene below, in which Jason’s sister-in-law grills Molly about the moment she fell in love with him. (Surprisingly, the answer is not ”When he dumped my rival on television.”) Okay, everybody, let’s talk Bachelor!

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ABC's "The Bachelor" - Season 22
The Bachelor

This romantic reality competition series follows a gaggle of women vying for the Bachelor’s heart — and a wedding proposal. Will you accept this rose?

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