Bachelor in Paradise season finale recap: 'My family's gonna kill me!'
What a shame to bid goodbye to Paradise, a place where the humidity never drops below 407 percent and a three-week beach vacation takes a century to end. At least our "journey" concluded with three sure-to-stick engagements and one bromance for the ages.
Part 1: Prom: The Aftermath
The episode begins with the tail end of Paradise Prom, where we left Abigail sobbing in the bathroom after Noah broke up with her. Once she emerges, Abigail reluctantly agrees to continue their conversation, but not before pushing Noah's arm off her shoulder. "I was actually coming here today to tell you that I was falling in love with you, too," she says sadly. Noah still has no explanation for why he professed his potential love only to turn around and declare that she's not his "person" — so really, there's nothing left to say.
Fair enough, girl. Knowing he is no longer wanted, Noah heads for the Exit SUV without saying goodbye to anyone. Abigail, meanwhile, goes back to Prom to share her sorrows with her beach besties. As news of the breakup spreads, the remaining Paradisians mill around, stunned that one of the Strongest Couples on the Beach™ could implode so suddenly. "It does make you wonder, who else could be feeling the same things?" asks Mari. Adds Serena, "It would honestly kill me to be in that position."
Part 2: The Fifth and Final Rose Ceremony
Joe, would you mind setting the stage? "After tonight, we're pretty much going to have three options: Engaged, leave together, or break up." And if that wasn't ominous enough, here comes Wells in a blindingly bright pink shirt with even more scary news: "I'm gonna cancel the cocktail party tonight. Hopefully by now you've said the things you needed to say to each other."
Sorry, floaters, but there will be no life vests for you! Rose ceremony roll call:
Joe --> Serena
Riley --> Maurissa
Kenny --> Mari
Thomas --> Becca
James --> Anna
Aaron --> Tia
Ed --> Mykenna
See ya, Chelsea. And so sorry, Natasha — you deserved much, much better.
Part 3: Last-Chance Conversations
There are seven couples left — or, more accurately, three actual couples, one maybe couple, and three in-name-only couples. It would be great if we could just skip ahead to Fantasy Suites, but ABC has three hours to fill on their schedule. To that end, please welcome…
Oh goody, it's former Paradise vagabonds Dean and Caelynn. (Good news: They no longer live in a van.) "Dean and I are here because we fell in love here," says Caelynn. And they're also here to… tell us what we already know: It's time to decide whether to spend the night together and head to the Proposal Platform™ the next day or get the hell outta dodge. "You need to have a long hard look at your relationships and decide if this is something you want to last after Paradise," explains Dean.
Kenny and Mari go first. Kenny is worried that Mari, 25, will "miss out" on "being single in her 20s and 30s" if she gets engaged to him, but she brushes that concern away: "I always wanted to get married young." Welp, okay then. Becca and Thomas, your turn!
Thomas, for one, wants to keep their relationship going once they're back in the States. Becca, though, is having doubts. "I feel like sometimes it's too good to be true, and that scares me," she says. After two failed engagements, the former Bachelorette is very cautious about going down that road again. "After all of this, I think what's best for both of us is to not continue and not go to the Fantasy Suite," she admits. Thomas is flummoxed — like, You want to end our relationship because it's too good? Me no understand. But Becca doesn't budge: "I feel like I see a part of Thomas, but I don't see all of Thomas."
Awww, now Thomas is crying… and I think I believe his tears? Am I a sucker, rose lovers? "If this is what you need for you to get to a point where you need to be," he whimpers, "I can live with that." He begins to climb the stairs out of Paradise, and Becca chases him down. "I just don't want you to think that what we had wasn't real and special," she tells him. "I have to just, like, trust myself in this decision right now." They share a tearful hug, and then ride away in separate Reject SUVs.
Becca seems to doubt her decision almost as soon as she gets in the car, but more on that at the end of the recap. For now, let's plow through some more of these fake couples. Ed and Mykenna, you're up! It should come as a surprise to no one that Ed enters the conversation hoping that he can persuade Mykenna to stay in Paradise — because if there's one thing this man loves, it's being on television. ("Classic Ed, trying to go to the Fantasy Suite with a girl he met yesterday!" scoffs Kenny.) Mykenna listens to his pitch, but her face says it all:
"I think there's just something missing for me," she says. "I don't think that I can be what you are looking for." In other words, Mykenna ain't your ticket to more camera time, pal. Nor is she interested in seeing you outside Paradise — no matter how many times you talk about the "spark" you feel with her. After hearing Mykenna say some version of "it's time for us to go our separate ways," Ed finally gets the message, and they both leave the beach. Serena says it best: "I don't think this is a shock to anyone."
Speaking of things that aren't a shock: Anna and James will also be leaving Paradise separately. Though Anna really wants to "see where this could go," James doesn't see a future between them. Anna feels like James led her on — and you know what? She's right! That's been James' MO all summer. Rose lovers, let us please take a moment to appreciate the fact that this "bro in a box" managed to stay in Paradise the entire season without "dating" anyone for more than one week! Don't hate the player, hate the game. Sorry, Anna — better luck next season.
James, however, will not be leaving Paradise alone. After giving Anna the boot, he heads back to the patio to ask the true love of his life, Aaron, to "head back to SD" with him. "We came in together, we gotta ride out together," says James. "Let's do it, bro." Aaron simply can't resist James' eloquence. "I gotta talk to Tia real quick, though, first," he says. Riley, for one, cannot believe what he's seeing.
Indeed, it's all very ridiculous. Aaron doesn't even give poor Tia time to sit down while he ends things. "We have to do this fast," he says. "I actually care about you, but James is waiting right now, so we're about to bounce back to SD." Fortunately, Tia takes it all in stride — after all, she's known Aaron for approximately four minutes. Plus, she's been through the whole "dumped by a guy who just wants to be with another guy" thing before. Congrats, James and Aaron… I guess?
Tia, meanwhile, is left to drag her wheelie suitcase through the sand. "F--- this place! F--- this beach! F--- these dudes!" she declares. "I'm never coming here again." Sure, Jan. See you next summer.
When it comes time for Riley and Maurissa to have their last-chance chat, he amps up the drama (no doubt at the request of a producer) by hedging when Maurissa says she's ready to go to the Fantasy Suite. "We have to know for sure if this is something, like, we want to continue. And, like, I've been thinking over and over all day, even up there with the guys. I'm watching people leave, and… [painfully long pause] …all I guess I can really say is, I would love to go to the fantasy suite with you." Maurissa does NOT love it.
"Riley!" she whines. "Why would you do that to me?" But she forgives him, of course: "I love that man."
Finally, it's Joe and Serena's turn. No one expects the prom king and queen of Paradise to break up, so the stakes are pretty low. "I really want to spend the night with you," says Joe. "I want to spend the night with you, too," Serena replies. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy, as my 11-year-old would say. Oh, wait, Serena has one more thing she'd like to say:
"I was gonna say that later!" he cries. "But I love you, too. Very much so." Dammit, I told myself I wouldn't get invested in another Grocery Joe relationship!
Part 4: Fantasy Suites
The three remaining couples head downtown to the Conrad Punta De Mita resort, where they'll each enjoy a private dinner and their own air-conditioned hotel room. Serena and Joe talk about how they're excited to start their relationship in the real world, doing "normal things" like going out to dinner and hosting a Bachelor-sanctioned podcast. (I may have added that last part.) Joe admits he was scared to fall in love again, but now he's glad he stuck around in Paradise.
Over in another Fantasy Suite, Kenny tells Mari that "no one" ever expected him to get married or have kids, but now he sees it as a possibility. And even though he's not really an "I love you" kind of guy — he and his family show their affection through silly nicknames, apparently — Kenny is willing to say those three words to Mari. "It took me 40 years to find the love of my life," he tells us. "And it was worth the wait." Oh man, am I rooting for these guys, too? Damn this stupid show.
Things aren't quite as rock-solid over in Riley and Maurissa's room. Riley says the idea of an engagement makes him nervous — as it should, because he and Maurissa have known each other for only three weeks! "My mom hasn't met you, either," he notes. "Being in love, having kids, everything that you've ever wanted is so close — I don't want to fumble the play." Riley goes on to tell Maurissa about his idea of domestic bliss: Waking up on a Sunday morning and making breakfast for his little girl (and perhaps sneaking her a cookie) while his wife sleeps. "When I see you," he says, "I see Sunday morning."
Oh my GOD, that was incredibly sweet. Call me a fool, rose lovers, but I believe Riley means what he says, and once again I find myself cheering for a couple that met on a crab-infested Mexican beach. Damn! This! Stupid! Show!
With that, each couple retreats to their Fantasy Suite. Maurissa and Riley engage in a little whipped-cream foreplay (gross), while Kenny brings Mari a tray of tacos to get her in the mood. (Joe and Serena do not dabble in any culinary erotica, thank goodness.)
Part 5: Proposal Day
If you're like me, rose lovers, you went into the last hour of the finale thinking, "Surely at least one of these couples will realize that they don't know each other well enough to share a Netflix password, let alone get engaged." And yet…
Sigh. Three couples, three ill-conceived engagements. In the lead-up to the proposals, Riley is the only one who expresses doubts about getting engaged. "I'm gonna think some more today, all right?" he whispers to Maurissa as they say goodbye that morning. This very rational statement sends Maurissa into a spiral. "I wanna be engaged," she says, weeping. "I didn't go through all this for nothing!" Girl, all of what? Getting sand in your mouth after eating whipped cream off Riley's toe? Take a deep breath, honey. No matter what happens, your life will go on.
The only good thing about these engagements is that we don't have to watch the men sit with Neil Lane to choose a gaudy ring from his collection. Unfortunately, we do have to see these two again:
Seriously, Team Paradise? You couldn't pay Lil Jon to stay a few more weeks? Ugh.
Kenny and Mari hit the Proposal Platform™ first. She's wearing a nice floral sundress, he's wearing a heavy gold chain, and they're both sweating profusely. After stumbling around a bit, Kenny finds his voice. "Mari, I am so f---ing in love with you! I literally can't see my life without you."
"Oh man, these old bones!" groans Kenny as he attempts to get down on bended knee, which is a challenge when you're 40 and wearing incredibly tight pants. Anyhow, Mari says yes.
Will things go as smoothly for Maurissa and Riley? She certainly looks worried as she slooooowly makes her way down the stairs to the beach. (Hey, you try walking down cobblestone stairs in stiletto heels!) "This morning Riley said that he may not propose," says Maurissa. "I've never felt this nervous."
Once they're together on the Platform, though, Maurissa manages to make it through her speech about their "fairy-tale" romance (which, she notes, "includes whipped cream and toes"). "I never really believed in love at first sight, but you showed me it truly is possible." Okay, Riley, it's time to kneel or cut bait. What's it gonna be? "Maurissa, I love you," he says. "But I just need to be sure.… [painfully long pause] …That said… [another long pause] …will you marry me?"
Of course, Maurissa says yes… though she is rightfully annoyed that Riley played with her emotions yet again. "I hate you, but I love you!" she squeals, admiring her shiny new rock.
Last but not least: Serena and Joe. As you may have noticed, there's still about 30 minutes left in the episode. Clearly, we're gonna have to sit through some shenanigans. Case in point:
"I know you're probably wondering why I'm here," Kendall begins, before launching into a whole big speech about how she came to Paradise to get closure on their relationship, but it was harder than she expected. Tell us something we don't already know. Why are you here now, Kendall? "I'm really excited for you and Serena," she says. "I felt like I couldn't leave this beach without fully, like, expressing that to you." Well… okay then? Also, do you think production had Kendall wait at the hotel this whole time, or did she fly back to L.A. only to hop a plane to Mexico again? Truly a mystery for the ages.
Once Kendall leaves, Joe takes a little walk on the beach. He's not having second thoughts about Serena, but producers probably told him to take five so they could get a shot of him wandering around and looking like he was having second thoughts about Serena. There's no question: Grocery Joe knows what he wants, and it's the petite Canadian standing before him.
"My ex did just show up on the beach," he reveals. "If anything, it just made me more confident in how much that I do love you."
Did you notice how Joe's voice broke when he said, "Will you marry me?" I'll admit, I got a little misty — despite my best efforts to stay dry-eyed. "Oh my God, my family's gonna kill me," says Serena gleefully. "I'm sure they're gonna kill me first," Joe replies.
Well, rose lovers, it's all over by the time-killing montage of Paradise highlights and lowlights. At least it features an Animal House–style update on where the contestants are today: James and Aaron are living their happily-ever-after as roommates; Noah and Abigail are giving their relationship another try; Becca and Thomas are back together and "in love." Then comes the best update of all:
Karma, she is a bitch.
As for our engaged couples, they're apparently all still together. For now.
At long last, this season's Paradise "journey" is over. But before you leave, I've got a few questions: Do you think any of these couples will last? Is there anyone from this season that you'd like to see back next season? And will you be back here in two weeks for the second Bachelorette season premiere of 2021? Post your thoughts below!
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