A pall of apprehension hangs over Grand Mayan Resort in Nuevo Vallarta as the remaining bangtestants prime and primp for the final Fantasy Suite dates. This episode relies heavily on Jade as our window character. She catches us up on the status of all the couples. Her flat affect is hiding the emotional fireworks that are going on inside, and as we’ll see by the end of the episode, she’s rewarded for her normalcy, predictability, and levelheadedness. She doesn’t make for thrilling TV, but damn if that girl didn’t find real love.
The episode starts with everyone reeling after Carly and He Who Shall Not Be Named left Paradise. Carly and HWSNBN leave everyone wondering if that could happen to them. Could your boyfriend reveal that he’s been faking the funk all along and he doesn’t love you?
Yes. Yes, he could. That’s real. Leave him now to avoid the potential betrayal. Love is an illusion, you fool.
It’s time for the final dates. By dates, the producers mean carrying two people on their shoulders and throwing them into a hotel suite like a wedding scene in a movie about an immigrant family in the 1930s.
Justin overlooks the stormy sea and ponders how he can tame her. Can you ever really tame the sea? Justin doesn’t want to lose Cassandra because she’s the full package, has great family values, and can hang. Cassandra is a mom, but she’s not like a regular mom. She’s a Cool Girl Mom. Happy hour is from 4 to 6! There’s no alcohol in these. Why, do you want a little bit? Because if you’re going to drink, I’d rather you do it in the house.
Cassandra looks out over the savage waves and thinks about her relationship with Justin. “I don’t want him to think, Oh, I’m just a friend, but I want to move slow. I don’t want to mess things up with Justin.” YOU MET HIM YESTERDAY. For a show about moving things too fast, Justin and Cassandra’s relationship is moving too fast. She’s stressed about not having sex with a man she met yesterday to prove that she takes the relationship seriously. Huh? Huh, what? The only reason a woman should have sex to demonstrate something about her relationship is to demonstrate she wants THAT D.
Sex is an activity. Not a tool. That D, however, is a tool.
Then Nick explains that Samantha is the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen again.
1. STOP CALLING HER A “THING.”
2. What is the point of these two?
In a previous recap, I once said that Samantha was Vanessa, the sea witch Ursula’s land-based alter ego, but now I’m saying she’s a robot built by BCBG to push hair extensions and trick frat guys into buying expensive jewelry. She’s personalityless. She’s charmless, and she’s incapable of looking excited. Anytime she kissed Nick or looked at him, it was like you asked her to fill out another form at the DMV.
What does she want? Does she have an EDM album coming out soon called “White Rice and No Drama” she wants to promote? Does she do a cover of “Family Affair” by Mary J. Blige because she too is against hateration and holleration in this dancerie?
And then there’s Tenley and Joshua. Oh, these sweet little peaches. These two blond strudels. These dear little baby owls. Maybe it’s because I’m still laughing that Joshua got his hair messed up by Kaitlyn and I want that adorable little lug to find love. Fourteenley is worried about what their life would look like after they leave Paradise. The two meet among the fronds and step over an altar set up by the birds to memorialize Ashley S.’s passing from this world into the next to talk about how often they would visit. As someone who was in a long-distance relationship for over four years (College Ali, WHAT ON EARTH WERE YOU THINKING? HE WAS NOT THAT FINE), that’s a perfectly reasonable concern. Joshua believes in the power of love, but Tenley isn’t part of a frequent flier program just yet.
The overnight dates are mostly uneventful.
Oh, did I say “uneventful”? I meant shows the powerful connection between two people that love each other. Tanner tells Jade that he loves her. Jade keeps mentioning that Tanner accepts her for who she is and understands her. If I could play armchair psychiatrist for a moment, Jade was probably wary of being vulnerable or open with anyone because of the way she was treated by Chris when she told him she was in Playboy (’s online video channel). Lots of the guys this season were also fascinated with her looks and her body. Tanner seemed to treat her like a person and had a personality. Tanner didn’t treat her like a sexual plaything or a trophy, and seemed genuinely interested in her and her life. Jade says I love you, too. Funny how that works.
Cassandra doesn’t bang Justin and worries that he won’t like her because she didn’t have sex with him. They met yesterday.
Jade and Tanner get to have that sweet, sweet “We just said I love you” sex, and wake up the next day in each other’s arms in fluffy luxury bathrobes.
It’s the last day in Paradise, and everyone is about to plunge into the unknown. Will Tenley go the distance for Joshua? Is there enough for Justin and Cassandra to build a relationship on? Can Nick trust Samantha? Can Jade get over her apprehension to embrace her love for Tanner? Host Chris tells the bangtestants that, unlike the Aretha Franklin song, a rose is no longer a rose. A rose is now the symbol of ultimate commitment and signifies your willingness to continue your relationship outside of Paradise. It’s a legally binding contract, y’all.
First up to the Rose Ceremonial Pier is Justin and Cassandra. Justin looks at her and tells her that they have a good foundation, and when he looks in her eyes, he sees someone pure and good. Y’know, cuz … Mom. She accepts his rose. Good for these people who met each other two days ago now.
Next up is Nick and Samantha. Whatever. Who cares? Samantha doesn’t know how to hug, and maybe Nick has been her knight all along. She accepts his rose. UGH, GOOD. Maybe I can stop hearing about this BCBG-bot.
Now it’s time for Tenley and Joshua. Tenley is going into this final Rose Ceremony more conflicted than she’s ever been. I think Joshua represented how a man should make her feel. He was her manic pixie dream welder. She needs to get her feet back on the ground, and she turns down his rose. She hopes she can find another guy like him. That might not be the feeling you want after a breakup.
Finally, it’s time for Tanner and Jade. ABC’s only hope for a satisfying ending. When Tanner and Jade said they missed each other after an afternoon apart, I knew it was over. It was probably at this point that my good friend Claire L. burst into tears because we all knew what was coming. Jade tells him that no one has ever made her feel that way, and he made her feel worthy and understood. Goddamn, Jade, that’s beautiful. Claire L., pass the tissues.
Tanner told Jade that he didn’t want to give her a rose today because what they have is worth more than a rose, and worth more than a million roses, and he wants to keep loving her for the rest of his life.
THEN HE GOT DOWN ON ONE KNEE!
Love is real. Dreams come true. A cynical, sarcastic auto-finance manager and a former Playboy model can find each other in this crazy world.
After a trying-to-be funny “Where are they now” montage, we get a montage of Tanner and Jade making out and playing soccer with adorable little children. Then, before we fade to black, Tanner tells us that this is the happiest day of his life
I think Tanner and Jade are going to make it.
That’s not sarcasm. I’m serious. Why are you looking at me like that! I like them together! I’m not crying! You’re crying!
Thanks for coming to Paradise with me, everyone! If I don’t see you at services at Our Ashley S. of Holy Parrotitude, I’ll see you as I recap Empire here (season two premieres September 23), or I’ll see you for SEASON 20 of The Bachelor, which I’ll also be recapping here.