By Kristen Baldwin
August 06, 2018 at 11:17 PM EDT
Paul Hebert/ABC
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We’re here at last, rose lovers. Whether you read all the spoilers (I do) or studiously remain spoiler-free (bless your commitment), the end of The Bachelorette’s “journey” is always a time for celebration. Another season in the books! Another “love” story launched into the stratosphere for anywhere from three months to forever (props to the OG queen, Trista)! Another reminder that Bachelor in Paradise starts tomorrow! For this tiny moment, life is good.

We open in the Maldives, where bats lounge in the trees and sunset yoga is optional. Becca is ready to say “I love you” to either Blake or Garrett — she’s just not sure (or so she says) which one will get the honor. Hey look, it’s Becca’s adorable mom!

ABC

“I have two of the best guys in the entire world,” gushes Becca (do you still wince every time she says something like this? I do). “I love them, but I haven’t told them.” Now, it’s up to the family to help the Bachelorette decide which one is the “right” guy for her. Garrett’s up first, and he knows that all of Becca’s relatives — to use the parlance of this franchise — will have their walls up after going through this whole thing with Arie.

ABC

“We saw what happened last season with Arie,” says Uncle Chuck. “So frankly I think we’re trying to challenge [the guys] maybe a little bit more.” To that end, Chuck asks Garrett to explain how his marriage crumbled so quickly, and I’ll bet you can guess Garrett’s answer: I tried really hard, but my ex was the worst and hated my family, essentially. Then something interesting happens: Chuck asks Garrett how he handles difficult times, and the big lug actually gets emotional as he recounts his mother’s battles with cancer and losing his grandpa to the disease.

ABC

“So, have you cried with Becca?” Damn, Uncle Chuck is killing it with these questions! Garrett says Becca has “seen that side” of him, though I think we might need a judges’ ruling to verify that. The waterworks continue when Garrett sits down with Becca’s sister Emily. “I can just take care of her and give her everything she’s ever been lookin’ for,” he says, choking up. “It’s something that I’ve been missing in my life that I’ve finally found.” Of course, Becca’s family members are loving all of the tears – they want her to end up with a man who is in touch with his emotions.

ABC

Hold that thought, sis!

ABC

“He looks like a movie star,” whispers Emily. The producers definitely prepped the family, because they start asking Blake about how hard it was to go from the first one-on-one to a string of group dates. (Honestly, how weird is that last sentence? This show is insane.) When he sits down with Emily, Blake goes on about how he “gravitates” toward strong, independent women — which of course she’s happy to hear. As for which one she’d pick for Becca, Emily decides to remain semi-neutral: Garrett would be a “wonderful father,” while Blake would “challenge” Becca and be more of a “teammate.”

Oh come on! What’s Becca supposed to do with that? (Next: The last chance dates)

“For the longest time, I always said it would be Blake,” the Bachelorette confesses. “Then Garrett kept coming up and up and up… And with Garrett, if I’m being honest, I feel like that relationship would be a bigger risk.” Poor Becca feels “guilty” over her feelings for Garrett because she was ready to choose Blake for so long. Perhaps it’s time to take Mom’s advice (meant for Blake but it applies to all involved): “You will be fine either way.” By the way, Blake does NOT want to hear that.

ABC

“It’s a weird thing to ask,” he says later with a sigh. “Was it that good of a day yesterday with Garrett? I don’t know. Now it’s all I can think about.” Oh Lord, Blakey is shame spiraling again. Then comes the montage of the men in Becca’s family reminding him that there’s a 50 percent chance he will lose and die alone in a salty puddle of his own tears — just to drive the point home. “You all right?” he asks Becca as they say goodbye. “You seem a little different today.” She brushes it off, telling him she’s just dealing with “a lot,” but Blake has a bad feeling — his gut is telling him that Becca chooses Garrett, and his gut is never wrong. “It’s a curse,” he sighs.

Once the guys are gone (and the random drop-by from the Crazy Rich Asians cast is done), Becca’s family weighs in again: Mom and sis think that Blake is a slightly better pick, while Uncle Chuck is rooting more for Garrett. “I think Garrett’s just got a really beautiful soul,” he says, though he knows “he’s a little bit more of a risk.” Emily isn’t sure Garrett will “challenge” Becca enough, which I think is a nice way of saying that while the guy is nice, he’s maybe not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Plus, does Garrett feel “the same passion for the issues that you feel for,” Chuck wonders. Yeah, we all have that question.

Oh no, now everyone’s crying!

ABC

“Be happy,” mom says through her tears. “Just be happy.” Once again, Becca admits she thought Blake was The One for most of her “journey,” but now Garrett seems to be pulling ahead. “I don’t want to hurt anyone ever,” she sobs into her mother’s arms. “Well,” replies mom wisely, “it’s gonna happen.” I love how Becca’s mom somehow manages to sound sweet and loving even as she’s telling it like it is.

Onward to the last-chance dates. Garrett, you’re up!

ABC

Just as Becca and Garrett start having a potentially-real conversation about his visit with her family, a school of dolphins starts frolicking alongside the boat — and, well, who doesn’t love dolphins? “If I could pick a place where I could die, this is where it would be,” says Becca, going a bit dark. “Right here with you, with all the dolphins.” (Note to self: Pitch horror movie script Open Water 4: The Perfect Place to Die to Mike Fleiss.)

That night, Garrett comes full circle from his minivan entrance on night one: “I just think how awesome it could be later on down the road, just maybe changing a kid’s diaper with you as you’re getting ready for work, or being at the grocery store together and picking out what we’re gonna eat.” Translation: He’s not just here for the exotic dates and free international travel — Garrett is ready for the entire rainbow of mundane activities that make up a marriage. As for Becca? Well, she’s almost all the way there. “I’m still kind of upset you’re a big snorer,” she tells Garrett. Don’t worry, hon – you’ll get him back when you’re pregnant. Gestating a human wreaks havoc on your nasal passages. (Next: Becca leaves things to the last minute)

Becca goes on to say how Garett reminds her of her dear, departed dad, and for that reason, “it feels like a little bit of home with you.” Oh sheesh, Garrett’s crying again. “People say they get butterflies… but you give me, like, eagles,” he says. “I choose you every single day and stand by you and guard you and make you feel safe.” Ooooh, Garrett, didn’t you watch Arie’s proposal? Try to stay away from any version of “I choose you every day” — it probably gives Becca a bit of PTSD. Though I did appreciate Garrett saying that he’s willing to have his heart ripped out as long as it means Becca is happy in the end — not sure we’ll be hearing that same sentiment from Blake.

ABC

To be fair, Blake does seem to have calmed down a bit. “There’s no way that she’s, like, changed her feelings for me overnight,” he says. Unfortunately for him, Becca chooses this date to “open up” to him about how “hard” this week has been for her, and how she’s using “every conversation and action” to figure out her final choice. As you can see, Blake does not enjoy hearing this.

The Bachelorette frame grab

Will this be the moment, rose lovers, that Blake looks back on and realizes that maybe she was trying to prepare him to be dumped? Either way, Blake knows, on some level, that Becca’s nerves do not bode well for him. Still, he rallies. “I’m so glad we could talk about this,” he says. “I feel like we constantly challenge each other, and I’m going to challenge you not to be in your head today and tonight.”

The rain is pouring as Becca makes her way to Blake’s room, where he’s waiting to present her with a box o’ memories, also known as a time capsule. Inside, he’s pinned photos and scraps of paper scrawled with his musings about Becca like, “She’s an amazing kisser — the best first kiss I have ever had.” Of course, she LOVES it. “For awhile I’ve been in love with Blake,” she says. “He’s really everything I could want in a partner.” Am I the only one who hears the implied “but” at the end of that sentence? Still, Team Bachelorette wants to keep us guessing, so they wrap the segment on this note from Becca: “I could see Blake… professing his love to me, and me professing it back.”

When proposal day arrives, our Bachelorette is still “in love with two guys,” but a letter from her sister Emily seems to help her find a little inner peace. “Pray to Dad, I know he’s always listening,” she writes. “So make sure you listen back.” Meanwhile, Garrett and Blake are praying to the god of ginormous jewelry.

ABC

Which ring do you like better, rose lovers?

ABC

They’re both a little flashy for my taste, but I think Blake wins by a hair. As you might have expected, sometime during the day Becca went from “I don’t know who I am going to pick” to “I’ve made a decision everything is fine calm down.” Says our Bachelorette, “I feel like I’ve not only found my partner in this — I’ve also found myself.” Good for you, honey. Let’s get on with this! (Next: Could someone PLEASE get Blake a towel?)

So which unlucky man is going to make Becca feel like “such a monster” for dumping him? Footwear says…

ABC

“I wanna hear Becca say she loves me,” Blake says, still blissfully clueless. “It’s gonna be incredible.” Ouch. As per usual, the Bachelorette is compelled to let the runner-up spend far too long professing his love. To be fair, though, Becca was probably waiting to cut Blake off when he started to get down on one knee, but instead he remained standing as he asked, “Becca, will you let me spend the rest of my life making you smile?”

What follows is an excruciating, 2 minute, 21-second long breakup, as Becca slowly informs Blake that while he was “the most solid” and made her “hopeful” about love again, she ended up finding “one piece with somebody else.”

ABC

Is that sweat or pure liquid misery pouring off Blake’s face in rivulets? Becca probably means well by telling Blake that she pictured him at the end “the entire time,” but no doubt it makes him feel even worse. “I didn’t expect this,” he says quietly. “I think you’re making a mistake.” On the way to the Reject Limo, Becca reiterates how sure she was about him… until she wasn’t. “What changed?” Blake croaks, but the Bachelorette doesn’t have an answer for him other than “I’m sorry.” Now will somebody get the poor guy a towel?

ABC

“I can’t believe this is happening,” says Blake, wiping away tears. “I have to go through all this alone.” Then, to make things even more painful, Team Bachelorette cuts from the breakup to the Tealight Candlelit Thunderdome, where poor Blake has just watched that gut-wrenching breakup for the first time since living it — in front of a live audience, no less. “It’s hard to be so sure of something and someone and be so wrong at the same time,” he tells Harrison with a sigh. And damn if this wasn’t a TERRIBLE time for ABC to promote this particular reality show on the bottom right corner of the screen:

ABC

But something tells me that emotionally annihilated young man will bounce back just in time for January. When Harrison asks him if he’s still in love with Becca, he says it’s a difficult question to answer. “I’ll always have love for Becca,” Blake says. “I truly think it was her choice to make, and I truly hope that she’s found that happiness.” And when Harrison brings Becca out for their first post-breakup meeting, Blake remains gracious if a little subdued. He asks if there was a moment she knew (answer: no), or if there was something that concerned her about the idea of their future together (answer: Blake’s tendency to get “in his head” when things were hard made her worry about how he’d handle tough situations like a sick child). After taking all this in, Blake assures his almost-fiancée that he has “no hard feelings” toward her, and he wishes her all the happiness in the world. “If people think that this is going to keep me down, they didn’t watch this season too closely,” he adds. “I’ll learn and grow from this. I’m not going to be scared now of falling in love again.” Sure sounds like someone is ready to be the Bachelor 2019 — what do you think, rose lovers? (Next: Garrett promises to learn from his mistakes)

Now, on to tonight’s big winner, so to speak. “Garrett’s the one for me,” says Becca tearfully. “He’s gonna be my teammate, he’s gonna be the best partner, he’s gonna stand by me every single day. He would be somebody that I could see my dad loving so much.” And so when Garrett arrives, Becca doesn’t leave him in limbo very long. “I reread my journal, and you were the first guy I ever wrote about in it,” she says. “I wrote that you reminded me of home, you reminded me of one of the most important men in my entire life, and that was my dad.” All of this is a long way of saying…

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You know what comes next: A bended knee, a Neil Lane product shot, the Final Rose, and a moment of beachfront bliss.

ABC

And my God, if Costco doesn’t capitalize on this free publicity, their PR team should be fired.

Don’t think you’re getting a bathroom break, folks — because now we’re LIVE in the studio with Mr. Chris Harrison. A round of applause for the happy couple, please.

ABC

“I’m just ready to start life,” gushes Becca. The no-longer-Bachelorette says she didn’t truly realize Garrett was The One until after the hometown dates. On her way home, she was eating a sad “breakfast quesadilla” at the airport and happened to run into Garrett’s sister and nieces, who greeted her with a warm hug. “I just started crying into this quesadilla,” marvels Becca. “Oh my God, I love this man.”

After a cutesy look at Becca and Garrett’s “happy couple” weekend … and a look at the rose bush Garrett and Becca planted during one of their weekends together (uh, okay), we finally get to the question on everyone’s mind: What about those Instagram likes, though? Garrett begins by reiterating his apology from May, saying, “I didn’t realize the effect of a double-tap or like on Instagram… I’m just trying to grow as a person, be a better person on a daily basis.” He went on to say that the things he liked went against what Becca “stands for,” and as a result “it made it really hard on us as a couple.” At that point Becca jumps in to say that she definitely does not “condone” what she calls “the Instagram situation,” and says it was a “major thing” they had to talk about after filming ended. Still, she accepts his apology and his willingness to “learn and grow” as a person. “I just want to move forward,” she says, “and continue to educate ourselves.”

Fair enough, I guess? People should be allowed to learn from their mistakes, I suppose — so I’m choosing to believe that Becca will exert a positive influence over that big ol’ lug beside her. Thoughts, rose lovers?

So what’s next for these two? Becca wants four corgies, a Costco membership, and the ability to walk around in public with her fiancé. And as a parting gift, Harrison tells the duo that they’re getting another free trip to Thailand, plus their very own minivan… complete with an #equality bumper sticker!

ABC

Excellent trolling, Team Bachelorette. Bra-vo.

Welp, rose lovers, thanks for taking this “journey” with me. Before you go, let me know how you’re feeling after this finale. Will Becca and Garrett last? Should Blake be the next Bachelor (if Wills says no, of course)? And did Garrett’s latest apology change how you feel about him? Post your thoughts below! And be sure to get some sleep, because there is no rest for Bachelor Nation: Paradise starts tomorrow!

Episode Recaps

Chris Harrison hosts the romantic reality competition series in which one single woman searches for her future husband amid a sea of studs. Will you accept this rose?
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