Gather ‘round, my children. Come sit by the fire with Grandma Barthwell as I tell you the tale of what it was like to have a normal The Bachelorette finale. No, it wasn’t always like this. The season would have ten episodes and each one would end with a rose ceremony. The finale would be one straightforward episode and the Bachelorette would pick one former athlete and they’d start a house-flipping business in Denver or whatever. It’s not like it is now; there wasn’t always 8 to 12 hours of finale television where the Bachelorette would spend a full week handcuffed to each of her final two and we would watch the raw, unedited footage because it was livestreamed directly into our brains.
Oh, my sweet little ones! Chris Harrison was once a man. He wasn’t always the cybernetically enhanced android he is now. When he would salute fathers for their sons’ sexual prowess, it wasn’t a program written by engineers. That was just a thing an adult human man did on television. Oh, my darling tiny offspring! I wish I knew what marked the decline and exactly when the roses themselves became sentient. What I do know is, whenever we were given a two-part finale of the “most dramatic season ever,” we never needed the extra hours.
The Bachelorette definitely overstates exactly how much Bachelorette we need. My biggest problem with the final episodes of any season is that because so much airtime is sucked up by the early season drama, we lose a chance to get to know exactly why the lead is so in love with her final two. And the BIGGER problem with this season has been well-documented, but it bears repeating: Hannah (and the show) kept a misogynist who was prone to violent outbursts around for so long, they didn’t have enough time to do much of anything else. There were 15 minutes left in the episode and they hadn’t even gotten to Jed’s last one-on-one date and I thought, Oh, fuck, they’re going to punt Jed’s inevitable disastrous date onto another episode, aren’t they? Will this hell never end? But The Bachelorette surprised me by managing to fit into the last 20 minutes of the show the last one-on-one date with the ACTUAL FRONT-RUNNER OF THE SEASON, and an ominous warning from Chris Harrison that we all should get some sleep.
What drives me crazy is that the interaction between Hannah, her family, and Jed gave the episode the only bit of drama, and seeing more of their interaction (especially if Jed was Hannah’s favorite going into the finale) would have been helpful. Did Jed go find his guitar and play Hannah’s dad his dog-food jingle? Did Jed list something he’s good at other than music? Why was he wearing a leather belt with no shirt on that boat? I need answers. I need that footage. Let’s get to it.
We’re STILL at the rose ceremony to get us down to our final two, and Hannah sends Peter home. There’s probably some Freudian analysis of the fact that she sent home the only dude she bragged about having sex with. She sits Peter down to tell him that there is absolutely nothing wrong with their relationship and that he’s a perfect man and there’s no reason for him to develop a complex about that. Can we just not? No one has ever been told “There’s nothing wrong. You’re great” during a breakup and believed it. Tell me what’s wrong with me, or better yet, just let me go back to my hotel room so I don’t have to listen to a TED Talk about your feelings about my heartbreak.
Hannah and Peter’s breakup is … heart-wrenching. Both of them spend the entire time either staring off into the middle distance or weeping into each other’s formalwear. At one point, I think they were both doing both. What’s most painful is that Hannah clearly just wants to kiss Peter the entire time they’re breaking up. She keeps putting her forehead on his face.
Then Chris Harrison sits down in the studio with Peter to have him describe the footage we just saw. Hannah comes out and Peter wants to know what moment changed things for her. Hannah says there wasn’t really one moment … but she can find something if you just let her. Hannah tells him that her love language is “Words of Affirmation” and he should have read that weird book before he went on the season.
Finally, Hannah says that she actually lied to Luke about her time in the windmill with Peter and she wants to set the record straight. Hannah spends a lot of time this episode being honest about something that literally no one requires her to be honest about. She tells us that she and Peter had sex four times in the windmill. No Freudian analysis needed. I think Hannah sent Peter home because they had no time to talk about anything important or emotional.
Chris Harrison chides Hannah for talking about sex in front of Barb, Peter’s mom. This is so embarrassing for Hannah and Barb! But then he stands up and salute’s Peter’s dad and says that he must be puffing out his chest because his son fucks so good. This basically encapsulates America’s entire attitude toward sex. It’s mortifying for adult women and the ultimate proof of manhood. Who are these straight men supposed to have sex with if they keep telling women it’s mortifying?
It’s time now for the two remaining contesticles to meet Hannah’s family and for one of them to completely blow it, as is Bachelorette tradition. Up first is Tyler and, my God, Hannah’s dad was ready to risk it all for Tyler. Hannah sets up her date with Tyler by telling her family that she told Tyler she didn’t want to fuck and he was cool with it! She also says that she doesn’t know if she’s in love with Tyler or falling in lust with him. Listen, all of those feelings are okay, but there’s a way to phrase them so your parents aren’t having to reckon with the desires of your swamp lily.
Hannah’s family does that very annoying thing I do not like where they repeatedly say that marriage is “one and done” for them. Yeah. It is for everybody. No one is going into a marriage thinking they’re going to get divorced. Even the shittiest, worst couple you know who fucking hate each other thinks marriage is forever.
Tyler absolutely STUNS her family and it’s not even fair. Tyler tells her parents that he wants to be her biggest cheerleader and for Hannah to be his wife and the mother of his children. After his date, Hannah tells him that she didn’t let herself feel her feelings for him and was convinced she didn’t love him but was only in lust with him. Hannah! Where we end up is sweet but … you don’t have to say all that.
Up next is Jed’s time to meet the family. Hannah starts the day very nervous and she hopes that her family sees Jed the way she does. Oh, sweetie. You’re always hoping that people are going to like the guys you like. That’s not a good sign. They should be likable on their own.
Jed warms up the family by telling them that he’s a musician and that’s the path he’s chosen but that Hannah is pretty great, too. He says that he’s only got the purest extensions for Hannah. Oh, sorry, purest INTENTIONS. The lines of human romance he wrote on his hand got smudged while he was practicing one of his myriad other skills. Listen, I’m not saying that all of Jed’s lines are rehearsed. What I’m saying is that they’re POORLY rehearsed.
Hannah’s dad sits down with Jed to ask him how he plans to support himself financially, and Jed says, and I quote, “I want to have many facets of income and backup plans.” What kind of unemployed-fuckboy bullshit is this? One of my exes had a seasonal part-time job setting up voting machines and he had more stable income than Jed. Jed’s biggest accomplishment is writing a dog-food jingle. Name literally any dog-food jingle. Dog food doesn’t have jingles. Who paid him? And for what?
Unfortunately, Hannah’s dad brings all this up because he thinks the man should be doing the providing and he shouldn’t rely on the woman. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK. Yikes. Big ol’ yikes. Even more unfortunately, Hannah’s rebuttal is that she’s got all the talents, too. Oh, sweetie. Just say you want to be an Instagram influencer and let’s be done with it. Hannah’s mom can’t help but compare Jed and Tyler, and she says that Jed has qualities.
Hannah goes outside because she’s freaking out and Jed tries to comfort her. I noticed that every time Jed goes to comfort Hannah, he says something like “You know how I feel” or “You know I believe in us.” He doesn’t actually offer how he feels or how much he believes in their relationship. He’s asking her to remember that he does. It’s probably a nervous tic, but he does it so much. He doesn’t generate or offer a single feeling, at least not a new one. She knows what they have. What do they have? Unclear.
Compare that to how Tyler talks to and about her. He says he feels like a giddy little kid and that he wants her to be safe, protected, and loved. He also says he wants to argue with her in Home Depot about paint colors. That is true fucking love.
During their one-on-one dates after meeting her family, Hannah and Tyler ride horses and she smiles so hard her earrings pop off. Meanwhile, she vomits while on a boat with Jed and he complains that her dad didn’t let him explain how he has a system to turn $1,000 into $10,000 and it’s not a pyramid scheme. Hannah and Jed spend the entire day portion of the date talking about the treacherous seas and rough waters ahead … on the catamaran. Yeah, on the boat.
Back in the studio, Hannah and Chris stare directly into the camera and let us know that some bullshit has been going down and they’re going to get to the bottom of it. See you all tomorrow for the alleged finale!