After a pandemic delay, two Bachelorettes, and a lot of sweaty dates in the desert, Tayshia Adams handed out her final rose.

By Kristen Baldwin
December 22, 2020 at 09:55 PM EST

Remember when Clare was the Bachelorette? Me neither, rose lovers. Tonight, season 16’s true Bachelorette, Tayshia Adams, ended her “journey” with a ring on her finger — though the pandemic robbed us all of the happy couple’s After the Final Rose reunion. (Perhaps they’ll show up on Matt’s season of The Bachelor?)

Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Lots happened before that desert proposal. Let’s recap!

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Ben is where we left him last night: Waiting anxiously on the couch while Tayshia freaks out to a producer in another room. Will she send him packing once again, or did his “I love you” earn him a ticket to the next rose ceremony? A “shocked” Tayshia finally returns to Ben and asks him why he didn’t declare his love sooner. He’s all, I told Chris Harrison! But that does not help his case. “Down the road, if we’re together — are you going to be there, or are you going to run away every single time something gets hard?” asks Tayshia, who does not really get a satisfactory answer. (“I just blew it” is not sufficient, buddy.)

Still… is that a smile I see on the Bachelorette’s face? Tayshia’s not going to lie — she missed Ben, and she was “almost” in love with him, too. Not only that, she’s going to let him come to the rose ceremony. What a fun, sexy surprise this is going to be for Zac and Ivan! Aaannd now Tayshia and Ben are making out. This night just keeps getting weirder.

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“Ben showing up tonight affects everything,” sighs Tayshia. “And I just kissed him! Why would I kiss him?” Only you can answer that, ma’am.

At last, it’s rose ceremony time. Ivan arrives, and he says that being in the “final two” has him on “cloud nine.” Gah, poor guy has no idea what’s coming. Zac shows up next, and he, too, is feeling great about where he stands with Tayshia. He and Ivan are just two dudes ready to receive the final two roses. Then Ben — now dressed up in a suit — rounds the corner. Ivan’s face says it all.

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“I wanted to just let you guys know that she invited me to the rose ceremony tonight,” Ben tells his stunned rivals. “Interesting,” mutters Ivan to himself. “Wow.” Exactly, sir. Exactly. When Tayshia shows up, she tells the guys that she’s been “praying about clarity,” because she cares about them all. With that, she picks up the first rose… and then puts it back down.

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No. Tayshia… no! Don’t do what I think you’re about to do! Do not choose Ben — who definitely has a lot more work to do on himself before he can be a good partner to anyone — over a king like Ivan. Don’t do it! But that’s exactly what she does. Apparently, during their overnight date, Tayshia learned that she and Ivan don’t share the same views on religion. We don’t really get a sense of what his views are, but apparently, he’s not as serious about religion as she is. “At the end of the day, religion’s part of my morals and my beliefs,” she says. Ivan, bless him, understands that this subject is a “roadblock” for them. “I get it,” he says. “I get it, Tay.” Cut to:

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As the Reject SUV drives him away, Ivan makes a sad prediction: “I think this is a lot harder than Tayshia imagined,” he says. “I think me and her made the most sense… She’s not going to pick anybody, I don’t think.”

Perhaps not. But for now, Tayshia has two final roses — and she promptly hands them out to Zac and Ben (!). Bring on the Bachelorette’s family!

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Welcome Desmond, Rosario, Desmond Jr., and Bryce! What a joy to see them all back on our screens — especially Bryce, who drank his lemonade with meme-worthy confidence during Tayshia’s hometown date with Colton in 2019:

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Papa Desmond gets right to the point: “Tayshia, what are you doing?” Dad, didn’t she tell you? She’s looking for a husband on TV… again! The first man up for inspection is Ben. Tayshia gives her family a brief synopsis of Ben’s “journey” and then goes outside to fetch him.

The chat begins with Tayshia asking Ben to reveal where he went to college (dads love West Point, after all), but this time, Ben isn’t trying to run from the awkwardness. “I’m sure you heard, she dumped me last week,” he quips. Then they all toast to “second chances.” (In a Bachelor franchise first, Tayshia suggests a “toast,” not a “cheers.” Progress!)

Still, Desmond Sr. has concerns. “I don’t want you to have to work so hard to get somebody to be on the same page as you,” he says to Tayshia. Rosario, meanwhile, wants to make sure that Ben sees her daughter as “a forever thing.” Of course he does! Ben proceeds to tell anyone who will listen that he’s in love with Tayshia — and this makes mom and dad very happy. “I probably went from being doubtful of the guy to where I would give him a chance,” says Desmond Sr. Before you know it, the visit is over — and Bryce barely got any camera time! Boo.

The next day, it’s Zac’s turn to meet the family, and Desmond Sr. is ready: “Zac better be the real deal!” Oh man, I know this is off-topic but just look at how adorable Bryce is.

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Bachelor 2030! (Kidding — don’t you dare do it, Fleiss!) Rosario, who has such a sweet and soothing presence, asks Zac all about his feelings for Tayshia, and where he sees them together in five years. (Answer: Married, in love, starting a family.) When he sits down with Desmond Sr., Zac makes it clear that he knows life will be different — and no doubt harder — outside of the Bachelorette bubble, but he looks forward to “supporting each other through these tough times.” He also shares some heartfelt thoughts about how much Tayshia cares about her family, and how she wants a husband who is as strong and loyal as her father. “I need you to know that that doesn’t scare me,” says Zac. “It actually excites me.”

Let me tell you, Desmond Sr. LOVES it. “He’s a good man,” says dad of Zac. “Just to see another man love my daughter the way that he expressed himself made me be at ease.” Then they all sit down and share some (fake) New York-style pizza. Still no Bryce time! What a travesty.

So here’s a question: Will Tayshia get an overnight date with Ben before making her final choice? If not, how is she supposed to make an informed decision? Even before we get the answer to those questions — knock knock knock! — someone’s at Tayshia’s door. And she is not happy about it. “Are you kidding me right now?” wails the Bachelorette as she goes to answer the door. Don’t worry, honey — it’s not yet another spurned suitor showing up to declare his love. It’s your dad! That said, you may not be happy about what he has to say.

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Okay, to be fair, Desmond Sr. doesn’t come right out and tell his daughter not to get engaged, but that’s clearly the subtext of this conversation. “I’ve seen you hurt before and I can’t let that happen this time,” he says. “What I want to make sure is that we can do whatever we can to not go down that path again.” All he wants is to keep Tayshia from making “the biggest mistake of [her] life.”

On that happy note, it’s time for Zac’s Last Chance Date! Tayshia is still clearly stressed out about what her dad said the day before, but she puts on a smile for today’s date activity: Dance lessons! A nice man named William and his fiancée Eden are here to teach Zac and Tayshia a “traditional wedding dance routine.” Fun! Not triggering at all! Though she’s totally tense and distracted through most of the lesson, Tayshia eventually starts to smile and have a little fun. Still, she’s worried. “Zac makes me so happy,” she says. “It kind of bothers me [that] I can’t find any flaws in him, because everything just can’t be perfect.” Just give it 6-12 months — flaws are bound to turn up.

During her final chat with Zac that night, Tayshia unloads all of her fears into his lap: What if they fall out of love? What if she gives up her career (?) to be a stay-at-home mom and he resents that? What if anything about their relationship changes??? Zac, as we know, doesn’t get rattled easily, and he does his best here to talk Tayshia off the ledge with some hard-earned life lessons: “Today, it’s an anniversary for me… nine years sober,” he says. “My sobriety, whatever you want to call it, is the most important thing in my life. And the reason for that is because it allows me to not run away, not run, and actually face life as it comes my way.”

Damn, that is a good answer. Am I 100 percent rooting for Zac now? I mean, yes, because Ben is definitely not ready to be engaged. Still, I’m probably rooting most for the “she picks no one” option. But that’s unlikely. Case in point:

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Welp, Ben, looks like you have your work cut out for you. Good luck!

Actually, never mind. The next day, when it’s time for Ben’s Last Chance Date, Tayshia has already figured out what she wants. And son, it isn’t you. (Side note: Why is Tayshia wearing the same denim dress she had on two days ago when her dad came to visit? Did the breakup we’re about to see with Ben happen before her last date with Zac, and for some reason producers just edited it together in non-chronological order? And why am I even asking these questions like any of it matters at all? Don’t answer that!)

Once again, it’s time for Ben to get dumped on camera. Tayshia arrives at his room and breaks the news gently. “I care about you so much,” she says, “but I just feel like my heart is with somebody else.” Brendan, right? Oh, sorry, she means Zac. The Bachelorette goes on to assure Ben that she “truly, truly” wanted to give them one more chance before making her final choice.

The poor guy is devastated for a second time, but he doesn’t completely shut down. “I saw it going differently,” he says quietly. “But when you love somebody you want them to be happy.” They share a warm hug, and then say a second round of goodbyes. “I’m happy for you,” says Ben. “I’m dead serious.” And then it’s once more into the Reject SUV for Ben, who I hope will spend the next few years taking care of himself off-camera.

Onward to proposal day, rose lovers! You know what that means:

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Neil Lane is back to peddle some bling! Zac goes with the ginormous, emerald-cut diamond and prepares to take a knee. But first, enter the Bachelorette! She looks flawless, as per usual, in a fitted, off-the-shoulder silver gown.

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But Tayshia is very in her feelings at this precise moment. When Harrison greets her for the pre-proposal pep talk, the Bachelorette is almost immediately overwhelmed with emotion. “What’s going on?” asks the host, putting his hand on her shoulder. “I’m just excited,” insists Tayshia, her voice tight with tears. She seems more stressed/upset/nervous/panicked than excited, to be honest. “It’s good,” she assures herself. “It’s really good.” Yep, this is definitely a woman who’s ready to get engaged. All is well. No notes.

Even Tayshia says she’s “stressed” and “overwhelmed” as she arrives at the Proposal Platform. “I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing,” she says. “But I love Zac, and I just hope I’m making the right decision.” So do we, Ms. Adams.

Question: Does Zac know that he’s the only guy left at this point? In all of his pre-proposal voiceover, he makes no mention of another man, nor does he express any concern that she may choose someone else over him. Zac’s only concern, it seems, is whether or not Tayshia will say yes. His preamble at the Platform is a good one — bonus points for “I love you because you’re a total dork.”

When it’s Tayshia’s turn to speak, she damn near gives poor Zac a heart attack. “I know that I told you that I love you, but…” She pauses to collect herself. But? BUT? Don’t leave poor Zac hanging with “But”!!!

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“It’s more than that,” Tayshia gushes after a fraught moment of silence. “It’s this wild, wild love that I have tried to come up with so many reasons to not believe, and you have truly just made me believe… that I deserve a love with a man that won’t run away.”

Brutal fake-out, Tayshia, but well done! Ok camera crew, get ready for the Neil Lane product shot. “Will you marry me?” whispers Zac. “Yes, one thousand times!” responds our Bachelorette. This calls for a fist pump.

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“Gimme your hand!” cries Zac. Awww, she was so happy she forgot to let him put on the ring. Against my better judgment, rose lovers, I’m a bit choked up. Here’s hoping these two crazy kids can defy the odds and make it work. (Please don’t burst my bubble.)

In their final act of recycling, producers have dressed up the cardboard taxi from Zac’s “hometown” date with a “Just Engaged” sign and some tin cans tied to the fake bumper. Tayshia and her fiancé climb in and “drive” off into the sunset. Let us always remember them as they are in this moment: Happy, optimistic, unbothered by reality.

Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

And there we have it, rose lovers. Another Bachelorette “journey” in the books. I’d feel nostalgic about saying goodbye to you, but a new season of The Bachelor is just 13 days away — so we shall all be together again soon. Take a moment and post your final thoughts on the Tayshia and Zac of it all below. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to write Mike Fleiss a strongly-worded letter warning him to stay away from Bryce. That kid must be protected at all costs!

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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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