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Much like Bryan on his final climb to the top of that castle, I feel like this has been a long journey for all of us. Somehow, we made it through Lucas trying to make “whaboom” happen, Dean trying to make skinny jeans happen, and Lee trying to make racism happen (thankfully, he’s been schooled) to end up in Rioja, Spain, the place where all of Rachel’s dreams will come true. But will she choose the 6’2″ Colombian who’s so charming his own mother is madly in love with him, or the 6’3″ tattooed dream whose greatest flaw is having a solid head on his shoulders? (What? I clearly don’t have a preference.)

Well, let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: She chooses Bryan, but nobody cares about that, because her breakup with Peter is so upsetting. Honestly, aside from like Homeward Bound and any movie about war, HAVE YOU EVER SEEN SOMETHING SO SAD?! Rachel might not have pulled a full Mesnick, but I think I might’ve.

Before we get to the good/terrible stuff, let me share some news that will excite pretty much no one: This year, the live finale is functioning a little differently. In fact, this show is doing something it’s never done before (and that no one asked for)! Rachel is going to sit on stage with Chris Harrison and watch the finale WITH US so that she can share some insight on what went down. Basically, it’s the watch party you didn’t RSVP to and had planned on skipping. Get excited, Bachelor nation!

Finally getting to the show, we pick up with Peter and Rachel’s overnight date. The Cliff’s Notes: Peter equates a proposal with a marriage and therefore only wants to do it once. Because of that, he’s not ready to propose to Rachel just yet. Rachel, however, has no interest in getting out of this show with a boyfriend — which, by the way they use it, might as well be a dirty word on this show. Talking about it, Rachel gets upset, but oddly, that’s just what Peter needed to see. After all, there’s nothing like watching a woman cry to get some clarity! Peter promises Rachel that her tears weren’t shed in vain because they showed him just how much he cares. In other words, he hates to see her cry, but not when it helps him figure some stuff out.

With both of them needing more time to “fix this” — always a good phrase for any relationship — Peter accepts the fantasy suite card, which Chris Harrison has started turning into tiny novels. (We get it, Chris. You wrote a book. You’re a writer now.) While Rachel and Peter head off to the fantasy suite, Rachel claims, “I don’t know where we go from here.” Except you’re literally walking to the fantasy suite, Rachel. For the first time in your relationship, your next step is painfully obvious. Also, is this the smallest fantasy suite ever?

For Rachel, she’s hoping she’ll have clarity by morning. Spoiler: She doesn’t really get it. But she does get a shirtless Peter cooking her breakfast, so if we’re being honest, she got something better than clarity.

With that, she’s off to spend the day with Bryan…but only physically. Mentally, she’ll still be thinking about Peter, and the rest of us will get to watch as Bryan panics when his “charm” doesn’t work for once, despite the fact that he loves Rachel “tremendously.” All day, everything he says quite literally gets blown away by the wind before it reaches Rachel’s ears. (And he should probably be happy that’s all that was blown away with that wind.) She is checked out, and Bryan can feel it.

That night, Bryan addresses the fact that their day felt “off” because he didn’t feel like he had 100 percent of Rachel. Rachel’s happy he called her out on it, but she assures him it had nothing to do with him. She apologizes and attacks him with kisses when he says it made him feel “down.” She doesn’t want to think about Peter; she wants to focus on Bryan. Yeah, and I want to focus on this juice cleanse, but all I’m thinking about right now is a brownie, so we can only control so much, Rach.

Together, they head to the fantasy suite, where Bryan tries to make up for all the charm Rachel missed during the day: “I love you, I’m in love with you, and I want to be with you forever,” he says before ruining it by adding on a “whatever happens happens.” Yeah, that took a turn.

The next morning, the birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing, and the Bachelorette producers are as subtle as ever. As Rachel and Bryan have breakfast in bed, I’m not sure they notice the cameras have returned because she asks him, “What tastes better, the strawberry or me?” THERE IS A MIC IN THE ROOM.

With the two of them closer than ever and the chemistry hotter than ever, Rachel gets ready for her final rose ceremony. After she calls Peter out by saying to all three men that she’s not interested in having a boyfriend at the end of all this, she sends home Eric, and the poor guy can barely hear her goodbye over the sound of her dress sleeves. What he doesn’t hear is her saying that she has stronger feelings for the other two guys, and although she loves Eric, she’s not in love with him. (Next: Bryan’s final date with Rachel)

Eric, ever the nice guy, thanks her for allowing him to be open and experience amazing things. “Thank you for allowing me to get what I need,” he says before promising she’s going to get what she wants — a husband. (Guess he’s Team Bryan.) With one final “I’ll always love you” and an awkward kiss that he really shouldn’t have gone for after she dumped him, Eric hops in his depression mobile unsure of what comes next, because, as he says, “She was the one, for sure.”

Cutting to our present day watch party, Harrison brings Eric out because that’s what Bachelor Nation is all about: Making people talk about being dumped moments after re-watching it on national television. Thankfully, Eric is lovely and all he wants to ask Rachel is whether she’s happy, and the good news is that she is. The bad news is that Chris is there to beat a dead horse as he makes Rachel repeat over and over why she sent Eric home. She loved other people more, Chris! Let it go!

Before he leaves, Eric thanks Rachel for making him a man by introducing him to love. “She fulfilled my heart,” he says, before Harrison once again makes Rachel talk about why she dumped him. Can we please get back to the show now?

The next day, it’s Rachel’s final date with Bryan while Peter spends the day journaling in his teeny tiny journal. For their date, Rachel and Bryan are exploring Rioja in a hot air balloon, which seems to be equal parts them freaking out and loving the moment.

That night, she admits that Bryan scares her because he’s been such a constant factor for her, and that’s not something she’s used to. Now, she’s at a crossroads, and she’s not sure which way to go: Does she pick the steady guy she’s not used to or the relationship that mirrors what she’s done in the past? But Bryan is confident he can make her the happiest. “I think it’d be a mistake if you didn’t choose me,” he tells her. And then, to give her a glimpse of how he’d make her happy, he gives her “Bryan and Rachel’s Spanish Dictionary,” because nothing says love like informative gifts. Inside, the dictionary is filled with key phrases — husband, wife, forever, leap of faith, and finally, “I promise not to steal your son.” Sorry, that last one was me — but let’s be real, Rachel needs to start practicing that one for her future mother-in-law.

At the end of the night, Bryan feels he left nothing unsaid, so good for him.

And this brings us to Peter, who’s spending the day exploring a monastery with Rachel, where the producers have very purposefully selected a monk to have a nice long talk with them about marriage and what it means. You know, just in case Peter didn’t get that he’s being repeatedly hit over the head with the fact that he’s living on a normal timeline.

The very kind monk tries to give them advice not to put too much importance on things that aren’t important, but to be fair, it’s not like they’re arguing about what to have for dinner.

Outside, the two of them sit down to chat, and Peter talks about the life he envisions for them: He pictures football games, baseball games — all the games really — the Farmer’s Market, and wine night with painting. (This is getting oddly specific.) But what he doesn’t picture is a proposal. At least not yet.

Rachel asks him what scares him about marriage, but he claims nothing does. He’s greatly looking forward to marriage; it’s the idea of having multiple marriages that scares him, and because marriages and proposals are the same thing in his eyes…and we’re back to where we started. At this point, Peter’s trying to figure out if Rachel is the “one and only for the rest of my life,” and she agrees he needs to figure that out. The problem is that he has 24 hours to do it. (Next: Rachel makes her choice)

That night, Rachel goes to Peter’s hotel room to once again talk about the future they both want but can’t agree on how to achieve. If only they could make their dream match the way their clothes do.

Peter starts by admitting that he realized something today: “I am in love with you,” he says. But considering he realized that TODAY and, based on the timeline of the show, he’d have to propose TOMORROW, he’s still not ready to get down on one knee. However, he’s not ready to stop being with her either.

Rachel confronts him about his confusing statements and the way that he can so easily talk about their future, vacations, dogs, where they’d live, and even what size bed they’d have — it’s gotta be king, have you seen how tall he is?! — but he isn’t ready to take the biggest step to getting there.

Peter promises he does see those things in their future, but he wants to take those steps in his own time. Yet Rachel’s fear is that they’ll never actually take those steps if they don’t do it now. She wants someone who wants what she wants. They gotta want it all and they gotta want it now!

And here’s where things start to really fall apart. Peter starts talking about how he’ll only have one shot at a proposal, but Rachel reminds him that’s a choice he’s making. Getting emotional, Peter asks if Rachel knows for a fact that he’s the man she’ll spend the rest of her life with, but she quite literally can’t answer that question on the show.

When Rachel asks where they go from here, Peter says, “We’re not breaking up,” but Rachel knows they’re at a point where neither one of them is willing to budge. And why wait until tomorrow if nothing’s going to change?

And cue the bargaining. Scared he’s going to lose her, Peter admits he’d make the sacrifice and get down on one knee tomorrow because even though it’s not the correct time, she’s the correct person. He would go against what he believes to show her how much he cares so that he won’t lose her. (Because every woman wants their man to think of proposing as a “sacrifice.”)

Rachel, kinda considering it to be honest, asks if he’d then be resentful, to which he basically responds “probably.” But Rachel sticks to her guns: She wants someone who wants what she wants, and Peter wishes her luck in her mediocre life if that’s her choice because he’d offer her an amazing life.

With both of them emotional wrecks at this point, Rachel says she can’t go through with tomorrow if he just wants to be her boyfriend, so in that case, he wishes her the very best. “I think we’re both going to regret this decision,” Peter says. At least, he knows he is. Breaking my heart even more, he says, “If you change your mind, you know where you can find me.”

Peter then walks her to the elevator where he does the sweetest/sexiest thing he’s done so far: He looks for the camera, and then turns his back to shield an emotional Rachel from it. In this moment, he finally tells her that he loves her, and she says she loves him too. They kiss some more, and just as Rachel turns to walk away, she goes back for another hug. “I can’t say goodbye,” she says and now I’M CRYING. (Next: Peter and Rachel reunite on live television)

Peter asks her one last time to “take a chance,” but she doesn’t want to pressure him to do anything. After one final kiss, she walks away, and Peter takes off his sweater to wipe his eyes and then sobs as he wonders what’s wrong with him and IF HE IS NOT THE NEXT BACHELOR, THE QUESTION WILL BECOME: WHAT IS WRONG WITH BACHELOR NATION?!

And while we’re on the topic of Bachelor Nation, Chris Harrison is bringing us back to present day to watch Rachel and Peter try not to cry at each other while Chris asks Peter if there’s anything WRONG with him. Um no, but are you feeling okay, Chris?

Peter admits that it was hard for him to get out of his head during this entire process, which prompts Rachel to tell an absolute lie on national television: She doesn’t think this show is for him because of the timeline. And by that, she means he definitely deserves another shot at love as The Bachelor.

Peter says he still has feelings for Rachel and after the two navigate a bit of tension — don’t call Rachel’s life mediocre, guys — he thanks her for giving him the chance to get to know her and develop “feelings of love.” In the end, they both wish each other nothing but happiness. And fun fact: Peter did reach out to Rachel after their goodbye, but his request to chat was turned down. So, that brings us back to Rachel’s big finale…

The next day, Rachel wakes up still feeling the effects of the breakup. She doesn’t regret the decision, but she wonders if things are moving too quickly with Bryan. She’s not sure if she’s ready for this, and thankfully, she has an extra hour to prepare based on the hike in front of Bryan.

Speaking of, after meeting with Neil Lane and then taking a nice leisurely three-mile hike in a suit, Bryan shows up to the very windy top of a castle to bring things full circle and tell Rachel she looks spectacular. “You are everything I could ever want in a woman, a wife, the mother of my children,” he tells her. “I am completely head-over-heels totally absolutely in love with you. I just hope you feel the same.” I was really hoping that was the proposal and that was the final line he’d chosen, but it’s just Rachel’s turn to talk.

Rachel admits that she’s typically been drawn to the excitement of gambling her feelings on complicated relationships, which is why she always felt Bryan was too good to be true. But after some soul searching, she says she realized their “mature” relationship has tested her in ways she couldn’t have imagined. She’s always felt the person she was meant to be with would be the person she couldn’t picture life without, and as she looks at Bryan now, “I see my forever, and I see my future.” (Both of those things!) After she stops him from attacking her face, she says, “I love you and I’m in love with you and I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else.”

Taking his cue, Bryan then hits her with his surprisingly short proposal for a guy who’s all about the charm. “I am the best version of myself when I’m with you,” he says. “You are so easy” — bad place to pause, bud — “and effortless to love, and I just want to love you for the rest of my life.” Getting down on one knee, he asks Rachel Lynn Lindsay for her hand and she says yes. The biggest shock of all this? Her name is LYNN LINDSAY?!

Bryan’s all, “Do you understand how long I’ve waited to hear those words?” And I’m all, “Yeah, six weeks.”

In the end, Bryan got her first rose, and he gets the last…along with a very heavy dress. Now, let’s allow Rachel to enjoy this moment of pure bliss before she realizes she now has to go show her ring to Bryan’s mother. (He better have bought a second one from Neil Lane if he doesn’t want any issues.)

And now for the moment Rachel has been waiting for … she and Bryan get to flaunt their relationship in public as he comes out and joins her on stage. But first, Bryan has to ensure that none of us believe he’s genuine as he once again gets down on one knee and, in front of a literal audience, pulls our her ring and asks, “Will you remarry me?” Boo, Bryan. Boo.

Now that that’s handled, Rachel and Bryan say they’re looking forward to a life of normalcy, which includes dealing with their families, though Bryan claims his mother now loves Rachel. As for Rachel, she says her family has come around, though for her, the moment she had to defend Bryan to them was the same moment she says she knew he was the one.

Have I covered everything? Are we all good? Great. If you’re happy, Bachelor Nation, I’m going to take my week until Paradise and try to convince Peter that I’m a great partner for wine night with painting.

Episode Recaps

The Bachelorette

One single woman searches for her future husband amid a sea of studs in this romantic reality series. Will you accept this rose?

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