This season’s two Bachelorette stars already had their final men picked out ahead of Tuesday’s season finale. So this should be a breeze, right? Well, more like a breeze that signals the start of a hurricane.
The (three-hour!) finale starts out on an oddly solemn note, with host Jesse Palmer breaking the silence to say he hoped for two happy endings for Gabby and Rachel, but “things haven’t turned out that way.” Uh-oh. He alludes to the “scandal and betrayal” to come, hinting directly about Tino’s “indiscretions” and Erich’s “text messages.” Yikes. He brings out the two ladies for an awkward hello, and then we pick up in Mexico with Gabby seriously spiraling after Erich told her he wants to date her first before getting engaged. She’s firm: “I need him to propose to me.” But after he tells her how devastated he’d be if they split up, she softens a bit, and she seems reassured that they can make it through this. We think!
Rachel, meanwhile, goes to see how Tino is doing after her breakup with Aven, and he says he’s “amazing, without a doubt, per usual.” OK, this guy is way more confident than any human should ever be, but Rachel rushes right past that and tells him he’s the only guy left, and they share a flurry of happy kisses. We can’t help but notice, though, that Rachel is not smiling as she watches this back on the live show. Back in Mexico, she and Gabby share a giddy Champagne toast together and gush about their respective beaus and how absolutely sure they are about them. Rachel even says about Tino: “If it’s not him, I do not know who it could be.” Yeah, we’re being set up for serious heartbreak here, folks. Buckle up.
It’s time for Rachel’s final rose ceremony, and she and Tino are excited as they take each other’s hands. (We did get robbed a bit by knowing who the final guys are ahead of time, didn’t we, Bachelor Nation?) She rattles off all the things she loves about him, and he tells her what they have “is never going away.” (Honestly, we can barely hear them over the rushing fountain and ominous bird screeches in the background. It’s a sign!) It seems sweet and all, but Rachel and her family have death stares on their faces on the live show, so we know it’s all a bunch of lies. Tino gets down on one knee and proposes, and she says yes, and… yay? We’re about as happy as Rachel looks right now watching this. “This is the happiest moment in my life,” a teary Rachel says… and that just means it’s all downhill from here.
On the live show, Rachel explains what happened next: “It was really great for a while” between her and Tino, but they “went through a difficult time” around the time the show premiered. She says she tried her best to hold their relationship together, but “I just wasn’t feeling that support” from him. She hoped they’d be able to patch things up by the finale, but then Tino raised some vague concerns about “relationships from the past,” and in the end, Rachel reveals, “it didn’t really work out. He cheated on me.” We cut to Rachel being consoled by Gabby, who advises her to “kick him in the [bleep]ing balls.” (Now that’s a friend!) Rachel also says Tino told her “I regret telling you,” which is… not great! (We just want to say we never trusted Tino from the start, and we’re feeling very smug right now.)
Tino arrives for a tense sit-down, admitting that he “messed up” and “kissed another girl” — but it only made him want Rachel more? Also, it was “the tiniest thing ever,” so why are we even talking about this? He even brought his journal along so he could quote back to Rachel the things she said that made him think they were broken up. When he says she refused to go to therapy, she says that’s a lie, and they bicker back and forth for a while in ugly fashion. He eventually walks out in anger, with the two of them venting to producers and Tino weeping: “Tell her to break up with me. Let me out.” He finally comes back, but sticks to his story about how “tiny” what he did was, and Rachel sees red. When she catches him in a lie, he acts confused and then steps away again, forcing her to chase him outside and demand answers. He begs for another chance, vowing to make it up to her. But she declares, “I’m done,” handing him back his ring to thunderous applause from the live audience. Tino slinks away in disgrace… and we feel like applauding, too.
After some uncomfortable recapping with Jesse, where Rachel decisively says she does not still love Tino (and her dad Tony looks about ready to punch Tino in the face), they bring out Tino for the post-breakup ritual — and he actually gets booed! He apologizes profusely for everything at first, but he’s still parsing words and defending himself, and Rachel’s not having any of it. When he brings up again how he thought they were broken up, she gets angry, asking, “Do you want to get into that?” She hints at personal things that were edited out of their earlier confrontation (hmmm) and makes it very clear: “We were never on a break.” (Where is Ross Geller when we need him?) Tino is gasping for air here, and the live audience is about ready to throttle him by the time Jesse mercifully cuts it off.
But hey, look who’s here! It’s Aven! He walks out to rapturous applause, with Tino glaring nearby, and offered his sympathies to Rachel, asking her if she wants to “get out of here and catch up.” She happily says yes, and they walk off together, leaving Jesse awkwardly standing there with Tino. So did the producers feel bad about putting Rachel through two devastating breakups in one year, so they set up a manufactured “happy ending” that won’t last a week? Probably! Even Jesse says it: “This is so weird.”
Finally, after all that, it’s Gabby’s turn. She’s still worried about Erich not being ready to get engaged, but she trusts in what they have, and they’re all smiles when they meet at the final rose ceremony — but those birds are screeching again! Is that another omen? Erich knows she needs someone who’s completely there for her, and “I want to be that person for you.” And he takes the plunge, asking her to marry him — and she says yes! We’re definitely rooting for these two, but after that whole mess with Rachel, we’re a little gunshy, too. Will they make it all the way to the live show? What’s up with those text messages Jesse mentioned? Back on the live show, he does tell us that “not everything has been rosy” since that proposal… and we’re just bracing ourselves at this point.
Erich does share a warm kiss with Gabby when he joins the live show, though, so it all seems lovey-dovey. (And his mullet is gone!) They recount their proposal, and it looks like they’re still together, thank goodness. But Jesse does pry a bit into the troubles they’ve had, grilling Erich about an ex-girlfriend of his who claims he only broke up with her to go on the show and “get a career opportunity.” Jesse even puts their text messages up on the big screen (!), with Erich telling the girl the show “isn’t real.” But that was before he went on the show, Erich points out, and he didn’t think he’d meet someone like Gabby. He admits he didn’t handle that breakup well, and Gabby knows it. But she seems to accept his explanation, and the crowd is behind them — and hey, we need a happy ending, dammit!
So… we still have an hour left, somehow? Jesse kills some time by quizzing Gabby about her new stint on Dancing With the Stars and turning to three former Bachelorettes for their advice. (None of whom are still with their final men, but anyway!) Plus, we meet the new Bachelor — Rachel’s ex Zach — and they even start the new season early, with Zach meeting five of his potential women live and viewers at home voting via tweets to give Brianna a first impression rose. Zach didn’t get off to a great start, though, completely blanking when Jesse asked him to recall any of the girls’ names afterwards. Well, you’ve got four months to practice, buddy!
Got thoughts on that chaotic Bachelorette finale? How do we feel about Zach as the Bachelor? Hit the comments and share your thoughts.