One of the many completely insufferable things about me, along with my ability to describe the plot of a Sex and the City episode as if it were an event in my real life, is that I will weep at any emotional moment in a television program. You show me a parent being handed their child for the first time? Tears. You show me a little kid getting up off the ground after being knocked down by a bully in order to stand up for themselves? Full-on weeping. Almost any engagement or wedding on this godforsaken “dating reality show”? It’s teary with a chance of blubbering. But this finale? This finale? This finale? My eyes were drier than the wood used to build Zozobra.
My reaction to this whole affair was, “Ugh, sure. I guess?!??!” At a certain point, it felt like Katie said, “Aww, fuck it,” and threw herself into her relationship with Blake, so why did the whole affair feel so practiced? It seems that the Bachelor Cinematic Universe found a Bachelorette who reads r/thebachelor and was determined to go through every single motion. Instead of abandoning the rigidity of the show and embracing the messiness of love, Katie was determined to jump through every single hoop required of her, and the show was either unable or unwilling to show us the vulnerable, chaotic side of Blake and Katie’s love, to deliver that thing that makes us all clutch our hearts and grab a handkerchief.
I’ve said it before, in these recaps and on various Bachelor Nation podcasts, but the people who put the show together can’t tell a simple, moving love story. Sure, Katie is a little formal, for all of her sex positivity, and I think the fact that Katie and Blake’s shared life philosophy of “Ehn, we’ll get to it eventually” didn’t make for those moments of grand sweeping romance. But The Bachelorette had everything it could have wanted. A Bachelorette saying, “I fucking love you,” right before the fantasy suites so she could finally tell the man she wanted to be with that he was the one? Why didn’t anyone fucking tell Katie that she and Blake could have ridden off into the sunset at that moment? That maybe they didn’t have to get engaged and they could float away blissfully on a cloud instead of watching Blake soil his denim capri pants while picking out a ring with help from his ex-girlfriend? When you’ve made the sale, stop selling!
But unfortunately, I think Katie wasn’t that kind of Bachelorette. She isn’t prone to grand moments of romance. She spent the entire episode reminding us that she doesn’t need Blake and she doesn’t need anyone, quite frankly. It seems like she’s a little more concerned with getting it right than being vulnerable, but the show wants to sell us the fantasy that Katie is living this grand love story. That she’s risking it all for the love of her life, when she really made a calculation and picked the one who fit her life and made her feel the best. Stop trying to tell us she’s a Carrie when she’s really a Miranda, okay?
Let’s get to it.
Okay. Full disclosure: There were several tornado watches in the Chicago area, which is apparently a thing that happens every time it rains now because our planet is dying, and here I am writing about The Bachelorette. So I missed like the first 15–20 minutes of the episode, and from what I can glean on Twitter, there was a pretty big recap of the Gr*g Discourse and maybe Justin had some more facial reactions. My first notes are, “Huh, I guess they’re still doing fantasy suites.”
First up in the Fantasy Suite order is Blake, and oh shit, Justin doesn’t have a chance. Can we have a moment for poor Justin? That dear sweet man with all his eyebrows. They kept you there too long and we probably won’t see you in Paradise. Farewell, Justin. We hardly knew you.
Blake and Katie have the 10 Things I Hate About You date and I guess they didn’t clear the rights to “F.N.T,” but they roll around in the hay and splatter each other with paint balloons for a while. They end up in a hot tub, where Katie tells Blake that she considered leaving after Greg and Michael A. left. Oh, Katie. You don’t have to do that. I understand wanting to be completely honest and transparent, but you don’t need to casually sip champagne while you tell another man, “Yeah, these other two dudes left and I honestly thought about walking away from this whole thing and even you!” Again, Katie doesn’t exactly phrase it as, “I felt so strongly for you and Justin (or just you) that I had to see this through,” and Blake takes two full minutes to react and answer. And his response is just, “… Uh … cool?!?!”
They head to the evening portion of the date and Blake wants to make sure he’s on the same page as Katie and explains why he values the words “I love you” so much. Which, again … cool. There’s a real through-line in these men admitting that they hold all their emotions close to the chest and haven’t really been open in other parts of their lives. Katie seems to be drawn to men who are figuring out for the first time that saying “I love you” and being emotionally honest pays off. Or they’re just in their late 20s/early 30s. Blake realized the moment that he loved Katie was when he saw her gloating during their game of street hockey, and Katie returns his “I love you” with an “I fucking love you,” and these two crazy kids are off to the fantasy suites.
Oh, did everyone else see Blake’s hand on Katie’s neck on the bed while they were kissing before the lights went out?!?! Finally. Some sex positivity. As in, I’m positive these two had some crazy sex.
But now Katie has to break up with Justin. Justin is so excited and so open and wants the fantasy suite so bad! Justin!! Only good things for Justin!! Katie meets him by a gazebo and asks him to sit down so they can talk. Justin should have just gone to get his suitcase at that point. Katie explains everything: She was gonna leave when Michael and Greg left, she’s falling in love with Blake — well, actually, she’s in love with Blake. It doesn’t make sense for Justin to meet her family. He’ll make a great husband. He’ll make a great father. Justin says he realizes what opening up can do for a person and how far their relationship got because he was open with her. Katie thanks him for his contributions to the franchise and sends him on his way.
Conspiracy theory time: Does anyone think that Katie padded her final three or four with Justin because he was someone she was physically attracted to and when it came down to it, he would be easier to cut in order to keep the ones she wanted? Katie has “joked” that she wanted to get Thomas far enough to give him a fantasy-suite date and … that’s doing a lot just to bang someone hot. When she had to send home Thomas to keep the house out of turmoil, did she replace him in her mind with Justin?
Justin’s time on “After the Final Rose” doesn’t hold enough narrative weight to give him that push to be the next Bachelor, and it’s not dramatic enough because Katie just didn’t see it with him at that point, so no real conflict from her there. If I’m choosing to read the subtext in his good-bye, he talks about how his time with Katie came to a screeching halt because he was doing the work to get close to an engagement and she was just treating him like another option.
Plus, some Justin face bloops!
It’s time for Blake to meet Katie’s mom and her aunt, and Aunt Lindsay is not fucking around. Neither is Katie’s mom. These two women have studied the utility of men and found them lacking. One of the first things Aunt Lindsay says to Blake is, “We really don’t care [about you].” Blake explains that he’s basically unemployed right now, but he’ll eventually have to go back to “Africa.” The closed-captioning reads “[apprehensive music]” as Rhonda Lee and Aunt Lindsay start putting things together. Aunt Lindsay says, “You flunked out of the last Bachelorette and neither of them wanted you. So what’s your fucking deal, guy?” And Blake doesn’t really have an answer. He and Katie haven’t figured out where they’re going to live, when they’re going to move in together, how they’re going to handle conflict. What did they talk about during the fantasy suite?!?! Have they talked about anything substantial? Rachel Lindsay had the guys show their Equifax credit reports. Aunt Lindsay says, “You ultimately mean nothing. We have to want you here, because we don’t need you here.” I love this bitch. Let her host Paradise.
Katie’s mom wants to know where they’re going to live and how they’re going to feel in a month and Blake doesn’t really have an answer for that, either. There’s not being reliant on your partner, and then there’s having no idea where they are and when you’re going to see each other next and not involving each other in your plans at all. Again, we can tell the love story between two aggressively independent people building two lives that intersect meaningfully, but … we’re not trying to tell that story. The show is trying to tell the story of two people who can’t live without each other, and Aunt Lindsay is reminding us that men are a burden that should be shed at the first sign of trouble.
I can’t even begin to talk about Zozobra, this weird effigy with glowing red eyes that will accept the fears and anxieties of Katie and Blake and gobble them up in its fiery maw. All I’ll say is one of Katie’s fears is not being good enough for Blake. No disrespect to Blake, but most of us are good enough for Blake. Don’t worry about that, girlfriend, because Blake’s letter to the Zozobra is about how he’s scared of commitment and changes his mind every month.
The next segment of the episode is basically titled “BLAKE IS GOING THROUGH IT but ultimately proposes.” His brain is scrambled eggs and he has a meltdown while picking out a ring with Tayshia. The closed captions read, “[Inception music because Tayshia is trying to incept into his brain that proposing is a good idea].”
It’s time to head to Proposal Bluff and Katie is wearing a good dress! Her color is green and I’m proud of her in this moment. She is not a column-gown girl; she needs an A-line and that’s okay! Because Tayshia and Kaitlyn have personalities and opinions, they insert themselves into the proposal narrative a little bit more and are very invested in Blake and Katie’s happiness. Tayshia is wearing a backless hybrid blazer-jumpsuit and the stylist on this season must be stopped.
Blake heads to the proposal altar to greet Katie. She tells him that he arrived a little late but really, he arrived right on time. Love shows up when it wants, even to spite time, tradition, and expectations. That’s a Capricorn if I ever heard one. She says she’s thankful he fought to be there and he’s given her the love she never knew existed and she can’t wait for their adventure to begin. Blake fakes her out. He says he can’t give her what she came here for because ……………………………………. she deserves the world. He gets down on one knee to propose and Katie screams, “WHAT!” She keeps repeating, “I hate you so much! I love you and hate you!” Oh, boy. What a way to start your life together.
Tayshia and Kaitlyn take credit for their happiness and they cheers some glasses of champagne.
But because we just can’t help it, it’s time for Gr*g’s turn in the hot seat. Oh, boy. Ooooooh boy. Greg seems to realize on some level what he needed from Katie in the moments where they weren’t communicating well, and he’s grateful for the experience even if it didn’t end the way he might have wanted. Katie comes out and doesn’t hug or acknowledge Greg. Good God, woman. This … this is not flattering. Katie is entitled to her anger, her frustration, her disappointment, but she comes across like she’s been diving into the sub-Reddits and Twitter chains calling Greg abusive and manipulative and still hasn’t read the actual definition of gaslighting. She brings up the positively bonkers and insulting idea that Greg was just acting with her and snaps that he’s no Meryl Streep when he tries to explain himself.
For the record, “gaslighting” isn’t “making someone feel like it’s their fault.” That’s just not what it is. It’s making someone question their perception of reality. If someone says, “My feelings are hurt and I think you did that,” that’s not inherently gaslighting. That’s someone expressing a feeling and wanting accountability from their partner.
Again, Katie uses the language of the show to explain how she validated Greg: He got the first-impression rose, he got the first one-on-one, he got another one-on-one. She basically thinks he never wanted an engagement anyway, so he saw an opportunity to leave the show and he took it. She also tells him he doesn’t know the true meaning of love. Oof. Greg explains that he was turning his feelings back on after shutting them down for so long and he just needed something a little more than a rose and a pat on the back. Not an unreasonable want from one human to another, but Katie transcended being human in that moment and became the Bachelorette. How dare a mere mortal ask anything of her. Hometowns were perfect. Fuck you.
This whole segment is not a good look, and you don’t want to see your new fiancée having these kinds of emotions about their ex. You don’t wanna see Katie say “Sure” without making eye contact when Kaitlyn asks if she got closure. Time for Blake to come out!!!!!!
This segment should be titled, “WE LITERALLY NEVER TALKED ABOUT GETTING ENGAGED but we did it!” Katie’s family doesn’t know she’s engaged and … what?! I get you don’t want them to leak but … what? Blake says it’s wild how everything spiraled out of control and now they’re engaged! And he ends the night with all the men in the audience holding up a boom box playing that weird “Memorize You” song while rose petals fall from the sky! It’s like your best friend married her rebound guy and you’re happy if she’s happy! (You’re happy, right?)
See you literally next week for Bachelor in Paradise! Becca Kufrin, why?