The Bachelorette season finale recap: 'In a world of change, I want to be your constant'
On the season finale of The Bachelorette, Katie bounces back from her breakup with Greg and lands in the arms of The One.
Confession time, rose lovers: I read Reality Steve's spoilers in advance, so I knew Katie would end her "journey" by getting engaged to Bachelorette frequent-flier Blake Moynes. And yet I still can't believe it! Girl, I thought you had more common sense! But, you know, congrats to the happy couple, or whatever.
Tonight's three-hour extravaganza begins in the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, where Tayshia and Kaitlyn, backed by a studio audience, offer a brief recap. "At the end of last week's show, Katie locked herself in the bathroom and demanded we book her a flight home," says Tayshia. (LOL at "we." As if our co-hosts do admin work!) "She had officially quit the show after Greg made the difficult decision to end his relationship with her."
LOL at "officially quit the show." It ain't official until the Bachelorette leaves the bubble in a huff — and as we're about to see, Katie is still in New Mexico.
Yep, the Bachelorette has finally left the bathroom. After she bids Kaitlyn adieu, she heads to the balcony for a good old Sad Stare Into the Distance™. "The love that I had for him is… real," she says tearfully. "Which is why today is so heartbreaking."
Suddenly, we're back in the Thunderdome, and Katie is on the couch for a post-meltdown post-mortem. "In that moment I was defeated," she says. As for whether she feels like it was her fault that Greg left, Katie says she absolutely felt that way — at the time. But not anymore. "I regretted not responding differently, and I kept replaying in my head, 'What did I do that was so massive?'" she says. "In that moment I completely blame myself. I am trying everything I can to make him stay. I am literally on my f---ing knees begging this man to stay, and he's telling me it's not good enough."
Sorry, gotta throw a penalty flag on that claim, rose lovers. Based on what we saw last week — and yes, plenty could have been edited out — Katie never once begged Greg to stay. Here's a sampling of what she did say: "I don't know even what to do right now given everything that's happened"; "I don't even know what to say"; "I want to leave if I'm being completely honest." The closest she got to asking him to stay is this: "This whole thing feels like [it was] for nothing if you leave."
You may say I'm quibbling over semantics, but I'm just reacting to the — dare I say it — hypocrisy happening here. If Katie was truly desperate for Greg to stay, if he really was her "number one" — as she says later in the interview — then why in the hell did she get engaged to another guy a few days later? She wants to blast Greg for abruptly abandoning their relationship? Fine. But it sure seems like she's guilty of doing the exact same thing.
Anyhoo, back to the interview. "I never saw that side of [Greg]," says Katie. "I was very caught off guard." The Bachelorette goes on to say that the reason she wanted to go home in that moment is that Greg made her question herself and her worth. "I didn't know how to handle whatever my next step would be," says Katie. Today she still feels a lot of "anger and sadness" about her breakup with Greg. "It's disappointing to see the way I was spoken to, when I'm trying to understand and communicate and save our relationship," she notes. "To watch him talk down to me and twice walk away from me — that's not a man."
Dang, shots fired! I don't know about you, rose lovers, but I believe the old saying that the opposite of love is indifference — and Katie sure doesn't seem indifferent about Greg. Now, let's go back to Katie's "journey," already in progress…
While Katie sips some coffee in her room and wonders how she can possibly go on, producers summon Blake and Justin to the couch so Kaitlyn and Tayshia can update them on current events. "What we're about to tell you will actually change everything," announces Kaitlyn. "Greg has left."
Awwww, one last Justin GIF for the road. But don't worry, pal, because Tayshia has some good news: "You both have the opportunity to spend some uninterrupted quality time with Katie." In other words: Fantasy Suites are a go! "I'm glad that she made the decision to stay," says Blake. "I have no idea what to expect, but I just hope that she's gonna be in a place that she needs to be to move forward and make this work."
Fear not, Blake. It seems that all Katie needed to get over her devastation about Greg was a good night's sleep, a cup of coffee, and a little quiet time staring into space. Now it's time for her first (and only) overnight date of the season — and she's ready for a "fresh start."
But don't let that jump-and-smooch fool you: Katie says she and Blake still have a lot to talk about before they can get engaged. "If I don't see a future with him," she says, "then this could really be the last time we spend together."
The day portion of their date involves paint-filled water balloons, a free-standing hot tub, and some Real Talk™:
Katie fills Blake in on everything that's happened to her over the past week — Michael leaving to take care of his son, and Greg deciding "to not be here as well." The latter departure was truly "shocking," says Katie, especially since she saw him staying for Fantasy Suites and even possibly meeting her family. "There's a part of me that wanted to quit," admits Katie. "I wanted to let you know everything that's been happening… This week was just kind of this huge shift in a lot of things."
Blake listens attentively and then offers this thoughtful response: "That's a lot." Then they make out again.
Good talk, everybody.
Once he's out of earshot, though, Blake reveals that Katie's temporary desire to quit over Greg caught him off guard. "I probably underestimated the amount that she cared or thought about him," he says. "That was the first time where I was completely off as to where I thought her head was at." It's especially worrisome to Blake because he loves Katie "a lot" — and if she can't "match that" level of feeling, then there's no point in getting engaged. At last, Blake and I agree on something!
At dinner, Blake decides it's time to do what he failed to do during hometown dates: Tell Katie he loves her! It's a long, circuitous declaration, filled with explanations (he tends to reserve the word "love" for his mom and dad) and rationalizations ("I tried to express it in ways of affection, and I feel like I show you in other ways") and other general, water-treading preamble ("love comes with feelings"). And then, at long last, Blake unveils the very moment he fell in love with Katie: During their hometown date hockey game, right after Katie scored a point and threw her hands in the air. "You yelled, 'Go America!'" recalls Blake. "And it was when I remembered that moment, and without thinking about it… I said to myself, 'F---, I love her.'"
Then, just to drive the point home, Blake says it again: "I love you, and I'm really f---ing excited about life with you." Of course, Katie doesn't say anything in response because she's vowed not to drop the l-bomb until it's down to the final man, so…
Uh… what now? [holds finger to earpiece] Oh, we're getting word from the control room that Katie has decided to throw caution to the wind and tell Blake she loves him because… he's her pick, I guess? Which makes it all the more confusing why she couldn't have just cut Greg loose last week — or at least explicitly told him that she hadn't made up her mind. It's fine that she didn't want to reciprocate his declaration of love, but she can't pretend that it was just about holding true to her self-created boundaries. And the old "But she needed Fantasy Suites and the meet-the-family date to be sure" argument doesn't work here, because clearly, Katie didn't need either of those things to profess her love to Blake.
It will come as a surprise to no one that Katie and Blake do, in fact, choose to forgo their individual rooms and stay as a couple in the Fantasy Suite. Cut to:
"It still feels like we're in a dream," says Blake. "She made me feel like I was the only person here."
Oh crap, Justin! I forgot all about that poor guy — as did Katie. So now there are only two things left to do before meeting Blake at the Proposal Platform™: First up, a little girl talk with Katilyn about her night with Blake. "It was great. I was plenty… satisfied. Many times," says Katie, as Kaitlyn shrieks in approval. The Bachelorette explains that she knew it was Blake after she told him everything about the Greg blow-up — including that she wanted to quit — and he didn't flinch. "I was like, 'This is it! This is the moment I've been waiting for!'" says Katie. "It was just like the best day of my life."
That leads us to part two, rose lovers: Letting Justin down gently. "I love Katie," says Justin. "And after tonight I'm hoping to get that reassurance that she sees me in the same light." Oh, dear. This is painful. Let's just cut to the chase:
"I know how hard it was for you to tell me you were falling in love," she says softly. "However, I did have my overnight with Blake, and in that, I did tell him that I'm falling in love with him. And that is something that I can only say to one person… Given how I now feel about Blake, knowing that I am in love with him, it wouldn't make sense to have us move forward and go on this date."
Justin is understandably hurt, and it takes him a few deep sighs before he's ready to respond. "I think the world of you," he says, choking up. "I just hope you know how special you are… I hope he knows what he has in you and that he doesn't take you for granted." Awww, we stan a heartbroken gentleman. "I hope everything works out," says Justin, before climbing into the Reject SUV.
"It's crazy — we've spent a month together, getting to know each other, talking about our families," sighs Justin. "And that's it." Dude, think about what you just said: You've known this woman for one month. ONE. MONTH. That's not even enough time to decide whether you want to own the car you're leasing, let alone enough time to choose a life partner.
Back in the Thunderdome, an emotional Justin meets with Katie for the first time since The Dumping. After taking a minute to collect himself, he presses the Bachelorette for clarity. "There are some questions I do have, especially after watching things back," says Justin, wiping away tears. "To see how things unfolded with Michael and Greg leaving, you know, I just at times felt like maybe I was just there by default."
Not so, says Katie. Once again, she explains that she didn't really know it was Blake until their final one-on-one date. "I do hope, Justin, that you do know… that you were there for a reason," she adds. "We did have a huge connection." Justin appreciates her reassurance, and he thanks her for helping him become a "better person." With that — and a wonderful montage of Justin's very expressive reaction shots — it's time to cut to a commercial. Teases Tayshia, "What will Greg say to Katie when they meet for the very first time since he walked away?" Justin, for one, is very curious.
Same, bro! But first (Julie Chen voice), it's time for Blake to meet Katie's family. He's feeling a lot of pressure, especially since he's the last man standing. "I'm excited, but I'm scared and nervous," he says. "There's a lot of pressure on being, like, perfect, in a way."
Katie's mom, Rhonda Lee, greets Blake with a warm hug, but her Aunt Lindsey goes for a polite but somewhat aloof handshake. "She's not affectionate at all," notes Katie. "She's a tough cookie."
Mom dives right in and asks Blake where he lives (Hamilton, Ontario) and what he does for a living (he's unemployed, but planning to work for a non-profit wildlife organization after filming ends). "I do not think they realize the logistics of their situation," says Lindsey, after hearing that Blake lives in Canada and that his upcoming non-profit work will require frequent trips to Africa. Then she puts the million-dollar question to Blake directly:
Oh boy, do I love this woman. And she does not relent. When Blake says he came strictly for Katie because he's "the exact same way," Lindsey pushes back: "Meaning… you too have a vibrator?" Perfection. Sheer perfection. All Blake can do is scramble: He and Katie "just clicked," she really "understands" him, he feels like he's "known her forever," and so on. Well, that clearly worked!
"You'd better be secure as s--- coming into our family," says Lindsey. "At the end of the day, you're here because we want you here — not because we need you here."
Um, okay? Not sure where that heat's coming from. Pretty sure Blake didn't say anything about Katie "needing" him, or any man, to be happy. Wonder how things are going with Katie and her mom?
Hmmm… I'm starting to sense a theme here. Clearly, Lindsey and Rhonda Lee's skepticism about Katie's male suitor is rooted in something much deeper — but it's unlikely we'll ever know the full story. (It may have something to do with Katie's biological father — after all, Rhonda Lee never even told her daughter about him until the man Katie thought was her father was on his deathbed.)
Lindsey, meanwhile, is still hammering Blake on his intentions. What's he going to do if their marriage hits a rough patch? When Blake says they'll do whatever they can to fix things, Lindsey scoffs. "Yeah, that's not how it works," she says with a derisive laugh. Listen, rose lovers, you know I'm not a fan of Blake, but asking someone to offer a detailed plan to fix a vague and hypothetical marriage issue — well, that is the very definition of unfair. She's right, marriage is hard, but it's hard in a wide variety of ways, so that is not a question that can be answered in a vacuum.
"It just seemed like nothing I was saying was the right answer she was looking for," sighs Blake.
Lindsey is equally tough with her niece. She all but scolds Katie for suggesting that she might travel to Canada or Africa to see Blake, and puts it to her bluntly: "My question is, how much is he willing to put into your happiness? Because the rest we don't care about." Mom, for her part, tries to gently nudge Blake in the direction of, "What's the rush? Take some more time to get to know each other." Blake says he'd "love" to move in with Katie right away, but he also knows they have a lot of big questions — for example, where the hell are they going to live? — to sort out. Mom seems to take some comfort in her conversation with Blake, and by the end, she's tearing up. "She seems so happy," says Rhonda Lee. "And that's all that matters to a parent."
After the visit, Blake is a little rattled. "The intent coming in here was to propose and get engaged," he says. "But there's a difference between talking about it and doing it… There's just a lot that I need to take into consideration."
I'm not surprised, buddy. You know what always makes me feel better when I'm stressed? Setting stuff on fire!
You see, Katie has invited Blake out to the desert, where a nice "Energy Healer" named Felicia explains an annual New Mexican tradition: The burning of Zozobra. Participants write down their fears, insecurities, regrets, etc. on paper and stuff them inside the creepy statue — and then set the whole thing ablaze. "They celebrate the release of all things negative, and they bring in new beginnings, opportunity, and growth," says Felicia. Hmmm — I wonder what negative thing Katie wrote down in her journal.
Just kidding, rose lovers. Blake reads his entry first: "The feeling of being stagnant in life I dread… I've been so picky and serious about who I choose to date and eventually marry because I get scared of wanting to change after making a commitment as big as marriage… You have eliminated all of those fears." Katie's entry is equally earnest: "Today marks a fresh start… I fear that I'm not pretty enough, I fear that I'm not good enough for Blake, I fear being alone… With that being said, I'm ready to move past these fears with you next to me."
All rightie then. Light 'em up, you two!
Rather than feeling unburdened by this ritual, Blake feels tense. "What if I'm not ready to propose?" he frets. "It's just stressful. She'll be devastated."
You know who else will be devastated if there's no proposal? Neil Lane. He wasn't planning to head to New Mexico for a few weeks, but Katie's season is wrapping up early — so Tayshia's about to let him know that they're already down to one guy. "I wasn't expecting to call you this early," she says. "I need some rings as soon as possible!" And before you can say, "But does Katie get to keep it if they break up?", this happens:
"You okay?" asks Tayshia, after watching Blake stare at the rings in uncomfortable silence for a few seconds too long. "You seem a little stressed." Blake admits he's nervous and says he just wants "everything to go right" today… no matter what happens. "This is a day that I'll always remember, that Katie is always going to remember, and it's like, making sure that this is the right decision to make." Tayshia's all, Sure, sure — but we're contractually obligated to give Neil a product shot, so chop chop!
Nice work. Too bad Blake's spiraling. "Sitting here, I'm very unsure and uneasy about the decision that I'm going to make," he says. "I love Katie a lot, but the 'I love you' that comes with a ring is just different than another 'I love you.'" With every ring Tayshia hands him to peruse, Blake gets more and more uncomfortable. "You'll be getting on a knee pretty soon here," prompts Tayshia gently. "With the girl that…you were honestly willing to risk it all for."
That was… not what Blake wanted to hear. It seems that it's finally dawning on Mr. "I will keep showing up to new seasons of The Bachelorette until one of them picks me, dammit!" — somebody did pick him, and now he's got to get TV-engaged! Sure, that's not quite the same thing as real-world engaged, but it's still pretty dang daunting. "My head just feels like scrambled eggs," he says. "I don't know if I'm going to be able to do this."
"I have zero doubts. I will be leaving here with a ring on my finger, and a fiancé," announces Katie. "And I feel so confident saying that."
Producers have cut this together as though Katie's SUV ride to the Proposal Platform™ and Blake's ring freak-out in the resort courtyard are happening at the same time — but I think we all know that wasn't the case. "She wants to get engaged," Tayshia tells Blake. "If you're not ready for that… then you need to let her go."
Oh, something tells me that Mr. Moynes has no intentions of letting anything go. This is what he came for, after all — to win a season of The Bachelorette! Any season of The Bachelorette will do.
Weirdly enough, when Katie arrives at the Proposal Platform™, there's no one there to greet her. But when Blake arrives…
Geez, couldn't they have split up so Katie wouldn't have to make the long walk from the SUV alone? That's the benefit of having two hosts, after all. It's actually kind of sweet to see how anxious Kaitlyn and Tayshia are about the possibility that Blake might not propose. "Oh my gosh, my heart just dropped," says Tayshia with a worried sigh. No need to fret, Tayshia! Shall we jump ahead a bit, rose lovers? Yes, let's.
When Blake arrives at the Proposal Platform™, Katie pours her heart out. "You showed up exactly when you were meant to show up. I'll forever be thankful that you fought to be here," she says. "You're caring and supportive and confident and passionate, and you love me for me… You have made me the happiest woman alive and in a world of change, I want to be your constant."
As soon as she's done talking, Blake decides to keep the suspense going a bit longer by pausing for 22 full seconds before opening his mouth. "Since day one, it's been a connection and an understanding that seemed too good to be true, but I knew," he says with a grin. "I know how great of a wife you're gonna be, mother you're gonna be." Then comes the kicker: "But I can't give you what you came here for… [15-second pause] …because you deserve a lot more. You deserve the world, and I'm excited to support you and be there for you every day moving forward."
Ugh. Blake just wouldn't be Blake if he didn't milk this moment for every ounce of drama possible, right?
Anyhow, he pops the question, and she says yes. "We're engaged!" they shout into the wind. Time for a group hug!
"I feel like we're matchmakers!" gushes Kaitlyn, as she and Tayshia clink their champagne glasses. With that, Katie and Blake ride off into the sunset on rented horses… and it's time for the After the Final Rose portion of the evening. (Though weirdly enough the words "After the Final Rose" are nowhere to be found. Everyone just keeps calling it "the Bachelorette finale.")
Now that Katie and Blake are engaged, there's only one order of business left: Putting Greg on the hot seat. He's been pacing around nervously in the wings for the last 90 minutes, and now Tayshia and Kaitlyn finally invite him on stage.
"I've just been hangin' in Jersey, laying low," says Greg with a nervous smile. As for their notorious breakup, Greg's explanation for his behavior is the same today as it was then. "I felt like I was giving her my everything," he says. "And I just wanted at least some bit back in that moment." All he wanted was "to get back on the same page" with Katie, but even though it all went sideways, Greg says he has no regrets: "I truly believe that everything happens for a reason." (Narrator: It doesn't.) Nor does he harbor any negative feelings toward the newly-engaged Bachelorette. "I'm grateful for her," says Greg. "She brought happiness into me when I didn't know it was really missing."
Oh, great! So I guess we're all gonna be adults about this. Then again…
Brrrr, is it cold in here, or is Katie clearly still not over Greg? "I'm already feeling a little tension here," notes Kaitlyn helpfully. You are correct, ma'am!
When Kaitlyn invites Katie to share her thoughts about the man next to her, the Bachelorette immediately lays into Greg, saying she never believed he was there to get engaged — um, she could've fooled us! — and that he walked off even though she gave him validation "every single week" leading up to the hometown dates. (That last part is true.) Katie says it was Greg who did "a 180" at the hometown, despite his accusation that she shut down on him.
"I feel like you were looking for the perfect opportunity to escape because you were never ready for an engagement," she huffs. "You spoke down to me. You didn't even bother to say goodbye. You say you love me, but I don't think you know what love is! Because that was the time I needed you the most, and you ran away." It's an applause line for sure, and the audience claps dutifully. Maybe I'm insane, but isn't all the "that's when I needed you the most" stuff Katie is saying to Greg now the exact same thing he was saying to her before their breakup? And if Katie is "very happy" with Blake, as she insists, why is she still harboring so many feelings — negative though they may be — for Greg? Flame me if you want, rose lovers, but the lady doth protest too much, methinks.
Anyhow, that's when Katie lands her most ruthless blow. She accuses Greg of "using" her for "the experience, the exposure…"
Greg is flummoxed. He tries to laugh it off, but Katie just keeps going, saying his "acting" was "pretty good, up until the end when you kinda f---ed it up and ran away."
For those who are confused, a quick explainer: Since the season began, there's been a vocal contingent on Twitter who insist that Greg is just a wannabe actor who was playing the "sensitive nice guy" on The Bachelorette to show off his chops on national TV. Indeed, the guy did attend the William Esper Studio — a Manhattan-based school for the performing arts — in 2019. Rose lovers, lots of Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants are wannabe actors. Of course they are! (For Pete's sake, you can watch Brendan Morais' acting reel right here.)
Does that mean Greg was acting when he professed his love for Katie? Not necessarily. Does it mean he went on the show because he wanted attention? Yes. Because literally every person who goes on The Bachelor or Bachelorette — including Katie Thurston herself — wants attention. That's why I'm so put off by Katie's "gotcha" attack on Greg. Pot, zip your lip — you and the kettle are both black.
Even though producers no doubt told Greg that his acting history was going to be a topic of discussion tonight, the best rejoinder he can muster is, sadly, pretty weak: "I hate to break it to you, as much as I wish I was, I'm not Meryl Streep," he tells Katie. The Bachelorette is unmoved. "What I've been hearing is that Greg's not this shy-guy act that he's been doing on the show," she tells Tayshia and Kaitlyn. "That he's actually this very cocky, confident boy from Jersey who knows that he's hot s---… I really don't know if I actually know who Greg is."
All Greg can do is protest, apologize, repeat what he's said before. "I'm sorry if you thought I was talking down to you," he says. Katie snaps back, "Gaslighting is the better word." God, these millennials love to throw around the term 'gaslighting' anytime anyone upsets them. Katie defines it as "when you try to make someone else feel like it's their fault." Survey says: Close, but not quite right! Feel free to Google the definition or watch the movie, honey.
Even after Greg apologizes multiple times, Katie still isn't satisfied. (Because she's still hung up on him, y'all!) She blames Greg for talking down to her, while all the while she's scolding him with sarcasm, insults, and a sneer in her voice. Side note: This must be really fun for Blake to watch, huh? Once again, this reminds me of Gilmore Girls, when poor Dean suddenly realized that the reason Rory and Jess couldn't stop insulting each other is because they want to be together.
After the commercial break, Greg tries to make his case one more time: "I shouldn't have to ask the woman that I'm going to possibly marry how they feel," he says, as the crowd applauds. "Yes, I know you're the Bachelorette, but still, that doesn't put you any higher in this relationship and me any lower." More applause for Greg! "I empty my heart out to you on that couch, and all I got was a pat on the back."
They go around and around until Katie gets in one last snarky dig. "My person is not Greg," she snaps. "And when he left, so did everything I felt for him."
Okay, great. Can we end this now? Please? Oh look, it's the "happy" "couple."
"It's tough to celebrate an engagement secretly," says Blake. "We're just ready to get out and, like, live real life now." And when Blake says they've been celebrating secretly, he's not kidding: It turns out Katie never told her mom or Aunt Lindsey that she and Blake got engaged! "They are finding out as Bachelor Nation is finding out," she says. "I couldn't trust them to keep a secret."
Yeah, I'm sure that's it. More likely Katie was worried that Aunt Lindsey would kidnap her, tie her to a chair in the basement, and put her through an intense regimen of Bachelorette deprogramming.
Now that her "journey" is over, Katie says the whole thing was absolutely worth it. "I just really want to thank you ladies," she says, her voice cracking. "Tayshia, for introducing me to Blake… and Kaitlyn, when I was at my lowest point you were there to pick me up. I truly from the bottom of my heart would not have gotten through this if it wasn't for the support of you ladies."
Dammit, that was pretty sweet. I cannot say the same for the ending stunt, in which producers have a bunch of dudes in the audience hold up boom boxes playing "Memorize You," which Katie and Blake danced to on their first one-on-one. Of course, Katie LOVES it.
Cool, cool, cool. Congrats again, you two — and best of luck. And now, without further ado, here is the most important moment from the Bachelor in Paradise super-tease that closed out the night.
Lil Jon in the Rose Palapa? Sign me up!
Welp, rose lovers, another Bachelorette "journey" comes to an end. Some questions for you: Did Katie make the right choice? Am I the only one who thinks she's still hung up on Greg? Speaking of Greg, would you want him to be the next Bachelor, or would you rather hack off your own foot and eat it? Post your thoughts below!
One single woman searches for her future husband amid a sea of studs in this romantic reality series. Will you accept this rose?