After waiting until the last possible moment to make his decision, Sean chooses which "lady" he wants as his bride-to-possibly-be
Bachelor Recap
Credit: ABC
4. Season 5 (Jesse Palmer)
S17 E11

I had the strangest dream, rose lovers. In it, I was recapping The Bachelor, and when I got to the last episode, the freak who showed up in the wedding dress on the first night and the woman who barely spoke for the first six episodes were the final two “ladies.” Odd, right? I should probably cut down on the Lunesta.

After a brief welcome from Harrison — coming to you LIVE from the Tealight Candle Thunderdome — our “historic,” three-hour waking nightmare begins in Chiang Rai, Thailand, where Sean is feeling simultaneously “blessed” and afraid. “My fear coming into this last week is that I’ll realize that I’m madly in love with two women and I won’t know which direction to go,” muses the Bachelor. “I’m hoping my family is going to help me ultimately make my final decision.” Oh, Sean. You clearly have never seen this show.

The Lowe family — Sean’s parents, his sister Shay and brother-in-law, and his niece and nephew, Kensington and Smith — descends on the Bachelor’s temporary pad. Those kids are cute, but man, did they really need to be a part of this again? It’s got to be doing irreparable damage to their understanding of marriage and human relationships. “Smith, what are we doing here to see Uncle Seany?” Shay asks her little boy. “Are we going to help him pick out a girl?” Yes, that’s right sweetie. Uncle Seany has been shopping for almost two whole months and now he needs someone to help him choose between the brown wife and the white one. Smith seems more interested in plunging a verbal dagger into Uncle Seany’s heart: “Emily didn’t pick you!” he declares, as the grown-ups laugh a little too hard.

The Bachelor preps his family for their meeting with the first “lady,” Catherine. “We get each other,” he says. “I’m a little weird, funny, and she’s a little weird, funny. So we bring that out in each other.” Mama Sherry says she’s “excited” to meet bachelorette No. 1, but she also warns her son that she’s not here to cast the tie-breaking vote: “I’m thinking if there’s going to be a proposal, you need to already know in your head, pretty much, which way you’re going to go.” Oh, Mom. You clearly have never seen this show.

Over lunch, Catherine breaks the ice by revealing that she played football on an all-boys team in sixth grade… until she broke her arm. (And Sean’s dad Jay LOVES it.) Mom soon swoops Catherine away for a chat, during which the candidate reveals that she passed Sean notes several to let him know she liked him, and one day he actually wrote back. “It was much more serious after that,” Catherine explains. “At this point I know that all that I can think about is a future with him.” Mom must like what she hears, because by the end of the chat she’s cautiously welcoming Cathy to the family: “I can’t tell you how pleased — and a little relieved — I am.” Next, darling dad Jay poses this head-scratcher to Catherine with the soothing cadence of a preacher: “My question to you is how do you know for sure that you really are in love before you get married?” Unfortunately her answer doesn’t make much sense — and Jay probably only hears the part where she talks about giving herself to Sean “completely” — but that doesn’t stop him from offering this ridiculously sweet reply: “If it’s you that Sean ends up marrying, you will never have a bigger fan than me… I’ll love you like my daughter.” You guys! Am I seriously getting misty already?

NEXT: “Well, shall we vote?”

Well, Lindsay, you’d better hope dad feels the same way about you! “I could be possibly… meeting… my family… for the first time… so I’m a little nervous,” says Lindsay, hyperventilating. Could someone get this woman a paper bag to breathe into? Once inside with the family, though, Lindsay relaxes enough to joke that her wedding dress stunt — which Jay says took “a lot of nerve” — also took “a lot of champagne.” When Lindsay sits down with Sean’s dad for a talk, he asks her the same “How do you know?” question, and her answer is about as lame as Catherine’s. “I just know… I want to hang out with him for the rest of my life.” But the next minute, she expertly drops the p-word (that is, “prayer”) while talking to Jay about what it takes to make a marriage work, and instantly earns 4,000 Jesus Is My Homeboy points. In fact, reveals Jay, he and Sherry began praying for Sean’s wife — wherever she was — the day Sean was born. (Good thing Sean didn’t end up wanting a husband.)

Lindsay’s chat with Sherry seems to go smoothly, too, especially when she tells her potential mother-in-law that she and Sean won’t cohabitate until they’re married. “That makes me feel so good to hear that,” says Sherry. “I want him to end up with someone who has the same values that he has.” Before the day ends, Jay feels so comfortable around Lindsay that he makes a pretty ballsy joke: “Well, shall we vote?” Nice one, dad!

The mood gets a lot more serious once Lindsay boards the shuttle back to the bachelorette holding pen and Sean is alone with his family. Everyone agrees both “ladies” are great, but Mom wants to know, what’s the rush? So what if her boy has voluntarily signed on to star in a dating show that all parties understand will end with a proposal? “Countin’ down!” she warns Sean, tapping her invisible watch ominously. “It’s gotta… just feel like in your heart that it’s the absolute right thing to do, or yeah, you don’t need to be proposing to either one of them.” This advice makes the Bachelor bristle a bit, and he politely tells his mama that he doesn’t need her to like his decision. “More than anything,” he says, “I just want your support.”

Oh, nice work, buddy — now you’ve made your mom cry! “It’s just a huge decision,” says Sherry, as Sean gallantly leads his mom for a walk away from the cameras. (The crew trails behind, naturally.) “I’m not going to do anything unless I’m positive about it,” Sean assures his mom. “I promise you that.” It’s sweet how protective the Bachelor is of his mama, but did he really think this situation wasn’t going to cause her “stress out”? I think “chooses his wife on TV” is trumped only by “gets a face tattoo” and “decides to major in English” on the Mother’s Worst Fears for Her Son list. One patented Bachelor Balcony Shot (minus the cry) later, and we fade to black.

Day dawns on Chiang Rai, and as Sean heads to meet Lindsay for their final date, he can’t stop thinking about Sherry’s advice. “My mom believes that I should know by now which one’s for me, and if I don’t, I shouldn’t propose to either one of them,” he muses. “But I truly believe that my wife is here.” Dude, you keep saying that, but I’m with mom — if you haven’t found her yet, you may want to look elsewhere.

NEXT: “I feel like s–t, to be honest”The date begins with a lazy rafting trip down the Mekong River. Lindsay and Sean smooch and giggle and peer through pretend binoculars as the oarsmen paddle silently and no doubt focus on getting paid. Once Lindsay and Sean reach the hotel, their lovey-dovey banter continues. “What do you think we’re going to look like when we’re old?” she wonders, to which the Bachelor replies: “I mean, I’m going to be frickin’ handsome… I picture you being a hot old chick.”

Things get a little more serious that night, naturally, as it really begins to sink in for Lindsay that this is the last time she’ll see him before the Proposal Platform. “I don’t know what I would do if I lost you,” she tells the Bachelor. Her eyes search his face for any hint of her fate, but all Sean can offer is more make-out time. “When Sean and I kiss it’s very reassuring because his kisses just kind of tell me it all,” reasons Lindsay to Team Bachelor. “That’s why we’re always kissing, because I feel like that’s how he can actually really express himself right now to me.”

Then they write three wishes — “love,” “happiness,” and “family” — on paper lanterns and release them into the sky, per a Thai custom. Sure, it’s romantic… but Ashley did the same thing with Constantine on The Bachelorette, and we all know how that turned out.

When Catherine arrives for her date the next day, Sean is still searching for “a sign.” Perhaps the elephant that strolls in from the bushes has something to tell him? Nope, turns out the poor pachyderm is just an indentured servant of the Anantara Golden Triangle hotel’s “Elephant Camp,” and it’s there to shuttle Sean and Catherine to an open-air patio where they can drink wine and think about their next three weeks 50 years. When evening falls, Catherine knows that it’s her last chance to drop the L-bomb. “I can’t hold anything back,” she tells Team Bachelor. “It’s really important that I get everything out.” And she does, though it comes after a long, somewhat rambling preamble about how great Sean’s family is and how saying “I love you” first has gotten her into “trouble” before. In fact, the Bachelor is almost out the door before Catherine finally spits it out. “I don’t want you to go,” she murmurs as they embrace in the entryway. “Sean, I love you.” After a long pause, he whispers, “Thank you for today,” and takes his leave.

But he’s not alone for long. Chagrined by Sean’s inability (refusal?) to say “I love you” back, a weepy Catherine follows him into the hallway and then just stands in front of him, sniffling. They say goodbye again, and Catherine returns to the confessional suite to keep complaining. “This is one of the most horrible goodbyes I’ve ever had,” she groans. “I feel like s–t, to be honest… I can’t get anything out of him, still!” Man, this is a real nail biter, isn’t it? No wonder the evening ends with Catherine weeping in the fetal position on the bed. “He has to be crazy about both of us at this point,” she tells Team Bachelor forlornly.

NEXT: Who will be first out of the limo SUV?

Oil up those pecs, Uncle Seany, because today’s the day! And whaddya know? The Bachelor is suddenly, miraculously ready: “I woke up this morning and I just knew that there was a woman that I couldn’t stand to live without.” And just in time because — knock knock knock! — there’s an Overly Tanned Jeweler at the door! Neil Lane arrives with his Briefcase of Bling, and Sean chooses the cushion-cut, “micro-pave”-covered ring. As he gets dressed to meet the “ladies,” I have to admit, rose lovers, I’m feeling a little nostalgic. After all, this is the last gratuitous scene of Sean walking around shirtless that we’ll get to enjoy together! Time just flies, doesn’t it?

But before we can see who will get out of the limo first, Team Bachelor wants us to spend a little more time watching a grown man cry. “I’ve never been in a situation where I’m breaking up with a girl yet I have no reason to give her,” says Sean, wiping the tears from his face. “You know, to see the hurt in her eyes? I don’t want to see that.” Back at the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, the audience seems to be rooting for Catherine, if the Shriek-o-Meter is accurate. Harrison polls some of the former contestants for their take on the situation. Lesley predicts that Catherine will take the final rose — “I think couples who multiply together, stay together” — while Sarah tentatively endorses Lindsay. As for AshLee? She still looks great, her forehead still doesn’t move, and she thinks Lindsay just may get the W. I’m sorry, but I’m really not that interested in what Jackie has to say.

Harrison opens the SUV’s door (was there a limo shortage Thailand?) and the Shoe Cam reveals… a tattooed foot in silver heels, meaning it’s Lindsay — sporting a form-fitting silver gown — who is about to have her heart ripped out of her chest on national TV. Harrison escorts her to the Bridal Bridge, but she still has to walk about five minutes on her own before until finally reaching Sean at the Proposal Platform.

It starts out encouragingly enough, as it always does. Sean tells Lindsay she looks beautiful and proceeds to rave about her “courage,” “love,” and “generosity.” To his credit, though, he doesn’t draw things out. “Um,” he begins, before taking a 11–second pause during which we see realization settle on Lindsay’s face like a blanket of volcanic ash. “Lindsay, this is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do,” says Sean quietly, as her mouth opens in silent protest. “I want to give you my heart so bad, but my heart’s leading me somewhere else.” Lindsay pulls her hands from Sean’s grasp as the Bachelor goes on to explain that up until the day before he was “confused” and “praying for clarity,” and “I think I’ve finally gotten it.” My guess is her next thought was, You THINK?, but Lindsay just nods quietly, repeatedly, until Sean takes it one step too far: “I love you — that’s the hardest part. I love you, I know I do.” Lindsay tries to shut him up — “Please, just don’t. It’s okay” — but Sean really wants her to know how bad he’s feeling at this moment. She covers her face with her hands. “Stop. No, stop. Just please… It’s okay. Was it me?”

NEXT: “Oh my gosh, I get this?”

The Bachelor doesn’t stop (“I can’t think of one thing that you don’t possess that I would need in a wife”) until Lindsay finally takes control of the situation in a hilariously direct, yet sad and awkward way. “Okay, we’ll I’m going to go, because this is just really, really painful, and this is my nightmare,” she informs Sean. “I really didn’t see this coming. I’m happy for you… But I honestly can’t imagine my life without you and that’s something that I’m, um, going to have to, um, figure out.” And with that, she rids herself of those uncomfortably high heels and walks five steps ahead of Sean on the way back to the Reject SUV.

“I feel like an idiot!” she sobs bitterly, once inside. “Yeah, let’s dangle everything I’ve ever wanted in front of my face and then take it away! Yes, please, please do that because that’s exactly what I’ve always wanted.” (I have to say, it’s nice to see one of these women show anger, not just abject despair, in an exit interview for once.) Anyhow, Lindsay’s going to be okay. After all, her dad lives on an Army base — surely there’s a handsome soldier there who’d be happy to grow old with the Major General’s daughter.

Back at the Proposal Platform, Harrison makes a surprise appearance to deliver something to Sean — it’s the letter, of course, and it’s from Catherine. (Of course.) Could Sean be getting the “Dear John” treatment? No, silly! Catherine just likes to write notes — and this one’s all “you’re a man of God” and “I’m so excited to build our own family together” and “I truly believe we are perfect for each other” and “I will love you forever if you have me.” All righty then! Let’s get on with it, shall we?

The sun is setting by the time Catherine — clad in gold, in keeping with The Bachelor‘s opposing-color-finale-gown tradition — arrives at the Proposal Platform to meet Sean, and if that doesn’t make her feel confident, the Bachelor’s goofy grin and gushing words must. “I miss you every time we have to say goodbye,” he tells her. “I don’t want to say goodbye anymore. Catherine, I want to spend the rest of my life telling you that I love you.” As Sean lowers himself to one knee, Catherine gulps for air and tries not to ruin her mascara. “Yes! Oh my God!” she gasps, as the Bachelor relocates the rock to her ring finger. “I love you so much,” sobs Sean into her shoulder. “I’m going to tell you every day.” (Simmer down, rose lovers — AshLee doesn’t own the copyright on that phrase.) After a few more smooches, the Bachelor hands out his final rose. Send in the elephant limo! As Sean and his bride-to-be sway atop the great beast’s back, Catherine pats her new hunk of man meat and coos, “Oh my gosh, I get this? I get this?”

Harrison, don’t keep us in suspense — can we keep riding our proposal high or is this “recent update” about Sean’s relationship with Catherine going to harsh our buzz? And is the Bachelor going to take his shirt off? “Not gonna happen,” says the hunk, taking his place on the couch next to Harrison in the Thunderdome. Damn. (Side note: I refuse to acknowledge these stupid tweets scuttling across the bottom of the screen.) (Side note 2: Oh crap, I just did!)

NEXT: Sean tells Lindsay God made him dump her

Before he reunites the happy couple on live TV, Harrison wants to poke Sean’s emotional bruise by making him talk about Lindsay. “I wish I could have given her something to provide her closure,” says Sean, who adds that the last time he bawled like he did that day was when his grandfather died. (Is this flattering to Lindsay or insulting to Sean’s grandpa? I can’t decide.) Lindsay arrives looking subdued and pretty in a lacy cream-colored dress, and she continues to handle the whole situation with surprising maturity. “I just watched the episode,” she tells Sean. “It’s hard to see that, but, you know, I just kind of wonder what happened, you know.”

Sean really doesn’t have anything more to offer her than “Catherine > Lindsay,” and then he kind of tries to blame it on God. “I stayed in prayer constantly that week, like, ‘Lord, what do you want?'” says Sean. “I can’t point to specifics. I can just say there was something there with Catherine.” Lindsay accepts his explanation graciously and repeats that she’s happy for Sean and Catherine, but Harrison wants her to cry some more, so he makes her recount the next few days after getting dumped on national TV. “I had to go talk to my family, tell them how, you know, it didn’t work out,” she says. “That’s what I kind of keep thinking about — what went wrong?”

Naturally Lindsay wants to know when he knew she was perfect but inexplicably not the perfect woman for him. “After our one-on-one date, the final day that we spent together,” stammers Sean. “At certain points God reveals things on His own time and it’s almost like He said, ‘All right, Catherine’s the one.'” (Cut to heaven, where God is shouting at his TV: “Keep Me out of it!”) Still, Lindsay handles herself very well and it seems like maybe she really did learn something from this “journey.” If only her voice weren’t so annoying, she’d make a decent Bachelorette, don’t you think? Too bad the job’s taken. (More on that in a moment.)

At long last, it’s time for Catherine to join her beefy beau in the Thunderdome. “I’m happy we can be public now,” she beams, after showing off her ring for Harrison. She goes on to say that she knew Sean might be The One after seeing his hair caked with snow on their date in Canada. “I knew that I could see him in old age. He looked good!” she trills, adding, “In Thailand, it became obvious.” Indeed, they do look awfully smitten with each other while cuddling with their arms entwined on the couch — and I’ll admit I let out a little “Awwwww” when Sean says he reads Catherine’s letter “all the time.” And I’ll admit that I, too, got a little misty watching Sean and Catherine watch themselves getting engaged on the jumbotron.

And they’ll get married on one too! Sean’s “big announcement” (or one of them, at least, is that they’ve decided to allow ABC to pay for and film their sacred marriage ceremony. “Our relationship started and was developed and cultivated on a TV show,” says Sean. “We’ll have our wedding on a TV show, and ABC will cover the wedding.” And no, Chris, you can’t do it right now just because you were ordained via, or whatever.

NEXT: The next Bachelorette is… in real need of some bangs

Yep, rose lovers, Desiree will officially be the Rose Queen when The Bachelorette premieres this summer. And she’s already crying! In fact, she started crying as soon as the audience began applauding for her! Holy crap, that is going to become really annoying really fast! “If you’re crying now,” warns Harrison, “we’re in for a long season together.”

But first, rose lovers, you and I get a few months off. As always, thanks for accompanying me on this “journey.” One last thing before you go: Let your thoughts about Sean’s decision be heard below! Did he make the right choice? Did ABC choose the right Bachelorette? Are you as excited as I am to see Catherine’s meanie sisters try to pretend to be nice during the wedding special? Post your thoughts now! And be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s blog on PopWatch. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to draft a letter to Desiree. It’s not too late for her to get bangs re-cut before filming starts.

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