Desiree shocks everyone -- perhaps even herself -- when she finds her happily ever after with a man who's not named Brooks
Credit: ABC

Welcome back to the season finale of The Bachelorette, which may as well be subtitled This is Totally How Pretty in Pink Should Have Ended, You Guys. When last we saw our Desiree, she was in the process of weeping out 90 percent of her body’s water content over Brooks’ departure. Her “journey,” she insisted, was “over.” And things aren’t looking any brighter today as Chris Harrison joins the Bachelorette for a chat on the open-air patio. “I’m okay,” she tells the host, but all it takes is a simple statement of the obvious — “You’re not” — to send Des into another tearful tailspin. “I’m okay when people don’t ask,” she admits. “I just want to go home, to be honest.”

Well, that can probably be arranged, honey. Hey Team Bachelorette, could you ask Paulie to call Des a cab to the airport? Sadly, though, it’s not going to be that easy. “Drew and Chris are still here,” Harrison says. “If you had never met Brooks, if he wasn’t part of the equation, could you see yourself with one of these remaining two guys?” Yeah, come on, Des – love the one(s) you’re with! Bless her heart, the Bachelorette tries to sound enthusiastic while going through the motions of the traditional “they both have such amazing qualities” talk — things with Chris are “comfortable” and “nice,” and Drew is “genuine” and “sweet” — but really, she just sounds numb. Still, Des insists her spirit isn’t broken, and when Harrison asks if she wants to “continue on,” she nods her head weakly. Atta girl.

For some completely inexplicable reason, Team Bachelorette next insists that Des go through with a rose ceremony — you know, the one that didn’t happen last week — so Drew and Chris can learn that they’re officially the final two. Seriously, guys? You couldn’t have just left them a message at the front desk? Of course not, that would have been too humane. Instead, Des is just going to have to march her brokenhearted self out here and tell blondie and brownie that Brooks dumped her while the cameras are rolling. “You may have noticed that Brooks isn’t here,” she begins, her voice quavering. “He actually chose to go home on his own yesterday, and it was a surprise, and…” [She pauses to tamp the tears back down into their ducts] “…it turned my world upside down because we are at this point. It goes to show, though, that…” [She pauses to stifle a sob] “…that love is unpredictable and it is a two-way street.”

Des then goes on to assure Drew and Chris that there’s nothing to see here, they can all just move along in this “journey” because she’s “taken every relationship individually” and isn’t going to let Brooks and his crazy hair “break my spirit.” And then she starts crying like someone with a broken spirit, and begs Drew and Chris to be honest with her when she offers the final two spite roses: “Just please, if you don’t want to [accept], let me know.” Of course they both say yes, and then Des offers a totally hopeless toast to “staying hopeful.”

NEXT: “I need to tell Drew exactly how I’m feeling right now”

And with that we’re back in the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, where Harrison is polling Bachelor Nation about what they think is going to happen. The prevailing belief in the room is that Brooks is coming back. “I think it’s either going to be Brooks or no one,” opines one wide-eyed brunette. “I don’t think she can go into a relationship with Chris or Drew when she already told America and she knows herself that she’s in love with Brooks. I think it’s kind of fake, in a way.” Uh-oh, Team Bachelorette, she said the f-word! Security!

Back to the action. Rather than introducing Drew and Chris to her family, Des has decided she wants one more private date with each of them to see if either guy could possibly fill the void left in her soul by the departure of Brooks’ hair. Drew is up first, and Desiree rides up to meet him at on horseback. Once Drew has climbed atop his steed, Judy, the foursome trot down to Rendezvous Bay, making idle, strained chitchat all the way. (“How was your day?” “Good. Yours?” “Good. Did you go to the beach?” “No.” “Pool?” “Nope. I’ve just been sitting in my room, staring straight ahead like Puddy on the airplane.” And so on.) It doesn’t take long for Des to realize that this whole last chance date with Drew was an exercise in futility. “I wanted to feel excited. I wanted to feel the excitement I feel when I see Brooks love someone,” she sighs. “I need to tell Drew exactly how I’m feeling right now.”

And just in case this wasn’t awkward enough, Drew kicks off their picnic on the beach with a toast from Opposite Land: “To being madly in love and to wanting to be nowhere else than here with you.” Oh man, there hasn’t been a toast so doomed since Rose raised a glass to “making it count” on the Titanic. You know what Team Bachelorette? This is just mean — both to Drew and to Des. And trust me, I know mean. And yes, Des signed a contract so you’re entitled to all footage of her humiliating and heart-shredding moments, including this one — but that doesn’t mean I can’t hate myself for watching/enjoying every second of it. After a little bit of a preamble, Des tearfully chokes out the bad news: “I’d be so lucky to have you in my life, but, like, I don’t know if I see our futures together… I feel like maybe there’s something missing.” (Something like thick, lusciously greasy waves of brown hair, maybe?) Drew is clearly stunned, but he handles the letdown with admirable maturity. “You don’t have to be sorry for not being in love with me,” he tells Des gently. “Just because I see something that doesn’t mean that you have to feel it.”

So Drew is left to take a long, lonely walk back to the Reject Minivan, stopping only to film his shell-shocked confessional for Team Bachelorette. “She’s the most amazing woman I’ve ever met, and now I have to think about a life without her,” says Drew, wiping his eyes. “I don’t expect a perfect life… I just want to be happy. That’s all I ever wanted. But I’ve just got to start over.”

NEXT: Des does a 180

And so do we, rose lovers, because it’s time to watch Des go through the whole thing again with Chris. Or do we? From the moment the baseball-playing greets Desiree with an awkward, “Welcome!” it’s clear our Bachelorette is feeling a little more optimistic about things. “Seeing Chris walk up just felt different from Drew — in a good way,” she explains. “And that makes me hopeful.” The outlook gets even sunnier after Chris starts the date by telling Des that even though he wasn’t able to comfort her and dry her tears at the rose ceremony — “out of respect for Drew” — he will never leave her hanging again. “You’ll have a shoulder to cry on if you have to – you won’t have to just stand there by yourself.” And she LOVES it. “It really melted my heart,” says Des. “We have something that I could see lasting.”

Okay, time out, Team Bachelorette. Are you seriously attempting to craft a “the search is over/you were with me all the while” narrative here? Stop trying to distract us with those weird jumping fish and answer me! How is Chris going to feel if he proposes and then watches Des insist she can’t love him the way she loved Brooks? Not to mention how he’s going to feel when he learns that was he the last man standing for days and no one told him. Even Des is getting a little bit of whiplash from this latest turn of events. “For it to change so drastically is hard to accept — but sometimes life is hard to accept,” she muses. “I’m glad that I made the right decision to continue on and not give up on love.”

In keeping with the theme of the episode, Chris begins the evening portion of their date with a toast, though it gets a bit derailed when Des praises him for being so “calm, cool, and collected.” (Not sure where she gets that idea — the poor guy is usually coated with a thin sheen of flop sweat.) It makes sense that Des described her relationship with Chris as “comfortable,” because the two do have an easy rapport and regularly make each other laugh. As Chris tells Des he knows their relationship is “real” because they always “pick up right where we left off,” you can see the wheels turning in her head: Maybe I will let this guy give me a ginormous Neil Lane ring after all… “After today,” she announces to Team Bachelorette, “I am one hundred percent certain that I want Chris to meet my family.” Miraculously, Chris gets through the entire date without reading any poetry… though he does give Desiree a journal with The Complete Works of Chris conveniently printed in the back.

By the end of the night, Des has all but convinced herself that what she’s feeling is real love for Chris — not just the need to feel loved after being so brutally rejected by Brooks. “I’ve never felt like anyone has loved me as much as I loved them, and I think that’s why it’s hard to feel so loved because I don’t know what it’s like,” she tells Team Bachelorette tearfully. “Now I feel guilty, almost like, how could I not have loved him from the beginning?”

NEXT: Chris meets Nate the Happiness Ruiner

Call me crazy, but it sounds like Des is in just the same spot with Chris as Brooks was with her — she really wants to be in love with him, and feels guilty about not being in love with him, just as Brooks felt guilt about his lack of feelings for Des. Unlike Brooks, though, it looks like Desiree is going to talk herself into falling for Chris rather than facing the truth. (Of course, maybe I’m just a cynic.)

Tealight Candle Thunderdome again. Why does Catherine always look so miserable? Is it because her sisters are so mean? Sean, of course, claims he’s “never been happier” — but he’s probably just scared witless. Then Des’ “friends” Jackie, Lesley, and Lindsay offer their thoughts, which can pretty much be summed up here.

Getting back to Desiree’s “journey,” we’re nearly 90 minutes in and no Brooks. If that guy wants to reappear on Des’ doorstep with an apology, an “I love you,” and a ring, he’d better get a move on. Looks like Desiree is about to introduce Chris to her mom and dad, and her ill-mannered sibling Nate. True to his aggressive nature, Nate barely says hello before he starts pelting Chris with questions. What were your first impressions of Desiree? Did you ever worry she wasn’t into you? Are you confident Des will choose you? Do you want to marry her? In this case, Chris really is “calm, cool, and collected,” and his answers are those of a man who knows what he wants — in this case, Desiree — with complete certainty. (Or, as complete a certainty one can have after 10 weeks.) Nate continues his line of inquiry over lunch, and when he asks Chris what he thinks “of the last one that’s left” (a.k.a. Drew), Des keeps on smiling and doesn’t say a word. (Honey, you’re really gonna have some ‘splaining to do later.)

During his one-on-one chat with Desiree’s dad, Chris does most of the talking. He assures Tony that he wouldn’t have stayed on this “journey” if he didn’t feel something real for Desiree, and eventually works up enough courage to stammer out a request for Tony’s blessing and Des’ hand in marriage. “I’ll answer that question,” replies Tony calmly. “Yes, I give you permission.” And just to make sure it’s official, Tony and Chris shake on it. By the time Chris bids her adieu, Des is looking as moony-eyed and in love as she ever did with Brooks. (Seriously buddy, are you stuck in traffic or something?)

But Des still hasn’t talked to Nate the Happiness Ruiner, so things may change. “Is he the one that you want to spend the rest of your life with?” Nate asks Des, whose answer is an only partially-convincing, “Yeah — in this moment, yes.” (Mind you, Des isn’t going to “settle” and she’s still taking things “day to day,” so she’s got that going for her.) Shockingly, Nate announces that if Des chooses Chris she’ll be “making the right choice,” but he’s also concerned that Chris will forever be the set of steak knives to Brooks’ Cadillac El Dorado. (Glengarry Glen Ross, folks.) Never fear, Nate — Des insists that while she was “really hurt” by Brooks’ departure and it took her “a long time” to “give up” on him, she’s now over it (even though she almost starts crying again just talking about Brooks). Also, “a long time”? Hasn’t it been, like, three days? Then again, since 10 weeks in Bachelorette time is like one year in the real world, three Bachelorette days is approximately 2.2 real weeks. Fair enough, I suppose.

NEXT: “I love you. I love you so much.”

Why hello there, Neil Lane. I see you’ve once again forgotten your tie and neglected to button your shirt to an age-appropriate level. Fantastic. Let’s see the rings, shall we? Chris picks a sparkly one, and we’re off to the races. Des dons her gauzy, blush-colored off-the-shoulder gown and starts the long climb to the Proposal Platform… but there are still a few obstacles in her path: First, the Bachelorette has yet to say she loves Chris (the closest she’s come is declaring that he is “the man I could love for my entire life”; emphasis mine), and second, she’s got to break the news to Chris that he was not, as of a few days ago, her first choice. “I want him to know where I was with Brooks,” she explains. “He deserves to know everything.”

With the drama of who’s getting out of the limo first?? gone, I find my mind wandering: Des is holding the final rose… is that a sign? If so, of what? Chris sounds like he’s doing Lamaze breathing in the limo… Holy crap, I totally forgot he was the guy who did that fake-proposal thing on night one. It was pretty cute… Damn, how tall is he? He’s just towering over Harrison… I feel like Team Bachelorette overdid it with the potted plants on the Proposal Platform…

Eventually Chris rounds the corner, and the first time Des sees him, the small smile that crosses her face conveys giddiness, excitement, and nervousness all at once. Even though the show is called The Bachelorette, it’s Chris who’s expected to speak first, so Des gazes at him silently until he does. First he rattles off the Greatest Hits of their “journey” — dancing to the polka band in Germany, sailing to a private island in Madeira, and, of course, poetry — and then Chris goes in for the kill: “I don’t want to make decisions for me anymore. I want to make decisions with you for us, and our future together. And I want to be that rock that doesn’t break for you.” At this point, if you found yourself screaming at the TV, Who cares if he’s your second choice? MARRY HIM!, you would not be alone. (What can I say? I’m a sucker for a happy ending.)

Instead, though, Des gives Chris the stiff arm as he tries to drop to one knee. “I need to say a few things,” she tells her shaky suitor, and goes on to explain that she booted Drew a few days ago because she knew he wasn’t The One. “So you’re the only one here, and you’re the only one who met my family.” Oh, Chris is so very happy right now! “I was torn apart by Brooks leaving. I loved him, and throughout the journey I was torn between the two of you.” Oh, Chris is so much less happy than he was just a few seconds ago! “I hate it but at the at the same time — I feel like I was blindsided by my feelings for Brooks that I couldn’t see that the one thing I always needed was right in front of me.” Oh, Chris is so very unsure whether he should be happy at this moment! “I thank you every day for never giving up, and you mean the absolute world to me, because I love you. I love you so much.” Okay, Chris feels pretty confident that he can, in fact, be happy again!

NEXT: Des faces Brooks and the Drewbot 4000After a tearful, smoochy hug, Chris and Des break apart, and he gets back to the business at hand. “I have something to say, too… It’s not just a yes or a no. It’s a, Do you want to grow old together? Do you want to share your experiences with me together? Can I share mine with you? Do you want to start a family? Do you want to have kids?” And with that, the poet drops to one knee. “So, Desiree Eileen Hartsock, I want to be your first, I want to be your last. Will you marry me?” And she LOVES it. “Yes, a thousand times!” cries Desiree, pulling her ball player into a joyful, tearful embrace.

So, I guess it’s safe to say that Brooks isn’t coming?

And we’re liiiiiive in the Tealight Candle Thunderdome for After the Final Rose, where a beaming Des arrives in a white minidress that’s almost as sparkly as the rock that’s (still) on her finger. She can’t really explain how she went from suicidal over Brooks to head-over-heels for Chris in just a few days (“Sometimes you do have to go through the hard and the difficult in order to see the good”), and she’s not super clear on why she was hung up on Brooks in the first place (“sometimes you do like the chase”), so if you thought her pending reunion with wolfie would be awkward, you were wrong — it’s going to be super awkward.

Brooks and his hair arrive looking sharp and freshly-oiled, and the audience is polite enough not to boo him. “[To] see that emotional breakup was tough, and it brought back, um, how invested I was in that relationship,” he tells Harrison, as a nervous-looking Des nods earnestly beside him. Miraculously, the Bachelorette does not cry as she speaks to Brooks for the first time since he ripped her heart out and ground it to a mushy pulp beneath his heel — “What happened from hometowns to Antigua that really changed your mind?” — and in fact it’s Brooks who seems like he’s on the verge of a breakdown. “I started to ask myself some of the harder questions knowing that the relationship was progressing that I wasn’t asking myself early on,” he explains. “The head was ahead of the heart.”

The most deliciously ridiculous moment, of course, is when Harrison prompts Desiree to tell Brooks how her “journey” ended, since Brooks was apparently sealed in a sensory deprivation tank backstage while they were airing the finale. “So yeah, after you left, it actually was really good,” she stammers, as the crowd erupts in laughter. “Um, so yeah, I’m engaged to Chris.” To his credit, Brooks doesn’t really flinch. “Oh yeah,” he stammers back. “Congratulations… I’m not entirely surprised. I saw the way that Des looked at Chris on group dates, rose ceremonies, it was very apparent.”

More shaken up by his reunion with Desiree is Drew, who arrives on stage after Brooks and is as buttoned-up as ever — both with his constricting three-piece suit and his general, I’m-so-very-repressed demeanor. “It was a long recovery process, and it’s still happening,” he says. “It’s difficult to watch the last few episodes.”

NEXT: And the next Bachelor is… awesome!

Drew goes on to say that he really had no idea that Des was going to dump him that day — even though he thought she acted a little distant at the rose ceremony (“her greeting to Chris was a little bit more warm than mine”) and was “very closed” on their final date together. So, actually, scratch that — he did have an idea that they were “heading down the street to Breakup Town.” Naturally he’s still smarting over the fact that Desiree can’t really give him a clear answer to the All-Important Question — “When did you know it wasn’t with me?” — but Drew says he’s no longer in love with her. Good for you, sir. Now go forth and reap the dating benefits of getting dumped on TV!

Finally it’s time for Chris to emerge from backstage, and as much as I hate myself for writing this, I can’t help it: Des really does light up when he walks into the room. Harrison quickly gets to the only question that really matters — Um, dude, you still sure about this after watching the episode where she loses it over Brooks? — and Chris is relaxed and confident in his answer, telling the host, “We were building something great on the show, and we’ve built something great since.” To that end, Desiree is moving to Seattle (the news is met with tepid applause from the audience) where she and Chris will settle into a new place together. Awww, that’s great. Well, Godspeed you two! See you… Wait, what was that, Chris? You have a “gift” for Desiree? Oh God, it’s not… yes, yes it is a poem. It’s called “My Girl,” and it’s framed with a bunch of dried rose petals from the rose ceremonies. I mean, I guess I was naive thinking we could get through this without more free verse. Chris and Des, everybody!

With Desiree’s “journey” over, the only thing left to do is find out who Team Bachelor has chosen to move into the mansion in January. And do you know what, rose lovers? Prayers do get answered. Harrison directs our attention to the jumbotron, and the camera pans up slooowly to reveal… JUAN. FREAKING. PABLO!!!!!!!!!!!! In the feature that follows, Juan Pabs jogs shirtless on the beach, talks lovingly about his daughter (“Camila was born February 14, 2009 — she’s my Valentine forever”), and assures us that he’s “definitely ready to fall in love.” By the time Juan Pablo bounds onto the stage, the audience is so whipped into an estrogen-fueled frenzy that it’s shocking his ears don’t start bleeding from all the screaming. He then hilariously — and unintentionally — draws attention to ABC’s motives for selecting him as Bachelor with his response to how fans are treating him at home: “I think Latin people from Miami, they don’t speak much English, so they don’t watch this show,” he tells Harrison, who promptly replies, “I bet they’re gonna watch now!” Yes, yes, one-thousand times yes.

Okay, rose lovers, what say you? Are Des and Chris built to last? Do you think we can convince Brooks to sign up for Bachelor Pad next year? And are you feliz or triste about the Juan Pablo Bachelor announcement? Post your thoughts now! And be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s final blog of the season over on PopWatch when you’re done. Thanks for taking this “journey” with me, folks. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take an Ambien and sleep until January. See you next year!

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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