“Welcome to the THREE-HOUR FINALE of The Bachelor!” Jesse Palmer yells in front of a studio audience. He hits that “three-hour” especially hard, multiple times, like he’s taking real joy in my pain. I’m begging this show to learn how to edit. Get tighter with this shit! Cutting between the actual footage in Thailand and a million studio segments that go on way too long is not it. This was a perfectly fine finale, but when you stretch it to three hours, my goodwill evaporates, and I’m cranky. Let’s get to it.
Right out of the gate, we’re letting Ariel have her little moment. But she heard last week’s rallying cry of “Justice for Ariel!” and came to play. She walks out in a drapey white dress and a high ponytail, serving Princess Jasmine realness. Jesse tells Ariel that throughout the season he was “really in awe” of her—and honestly, we all were, Jesse! They bring Zach out, and Ariel’s first comment is, “I’m sure you just came off a 30-minute shower scene.” Yes, girl, give us everything!
After that season highlight, Ariel launches into her prepared remarks and does not stutter. She tells Zach she had committed to being in an open relationship, but when the parameters changed in an open relationship, it’s critical for both parties to be aware. She tells him he took her agency. That she deserved respect and honesty. All Zach can do is nod and agree and apologize. These studio segments are only interesting if there’s conflict, and Zach knows better than to give it us. Dude is only too happy to diffuse the tension. They part amicably, remembering those sweet moments they shared in the nudist spa, and Jesse says, “We wish you all the best moving forward.” No Paradise mention?! ABC, if Ariel is not on that beach, so help me god.
Of course, the very next thing they cut to is a shower scene. A nice palette cleanser before we meet Zach’s family. “I’m so glad my family is here,” he says nervously. “I need them this week.” To fix your sex fuck-up? His mom, dad, and two sisters are here, and right off the bat, he tells them the overnight dates were hard. “Yeah, we don’t want to hear about that,” one of the sisters interjects, speaking for sisters everywhere. Zach tells them they’re going to meet Gabi first, and the most notable thing about her that he chooses to share is her confidence. “There’s not a doubt in her mind that it’s going to be us.” Um, have you met Gabi, Zach? Her whole thing—and the theme of this finale—is “Gabi has doubts.”
Before she will meet his family, Gabi wants to have a conversation about their exploits last week. She makes the Scarlet Letter reference again, and I have to wonder if she read the book in high school or if Easy A is one of her favorite movies. She asks Zach if he regrets his decision to sleep with her, and he absolutely denies this. He could just so easily reassure her here by saying he only regrets setting the parameters to start the week, but he’s not that quick on his feet unfortunately. Nevertheless, Gabi eventually calms down and they head in to see Mom and Dad.
Gabi, it must be said, crushes this meeting. She seems like the kind of girl that families love. She bonds with his dad over the belief that a partnership is about weathering hard times. After chatting with his sisters, she says she can see herself as part of the family, and tells him she loves him as they say goodbye. “All those things I’ve hoped for and dreams for could become a reality,” she tells the camera. Girl, you’re in danger! We cut to people’s faces in the live studio audience and they agree with me.
Kaity is up next, and Zach’s mom perks up considerably during her visit, commenting on how natural they seem together. Moms always know, I tell you. Kaity cries a lot, mentioning her lack of father figure and trust issues, but everyone finds this charming. Zach’s dad tells her he also didn’t have a father around growing up, but it helped him know what he wanted for himself. Like Gabi, Kaity leaves the family visit feeling more certain than ever of their relationship and also tells Zach she loves him.
“Well, it appears as though things are back on track,” Jesse says as we cut back to the studio. “What could possibly go wrong?” This man is hyping up some serious drama that never comes.
It’s time for the final date portion of the episode! This is truly just filler. Just give the women some ropes of anxiety to hang themselves with. Kaity is up first, and they’re going on a hike to a waterfall. Did no one tell her? Kaity is in sandals in slouchy white pants. The waterfall is pretty, nothing happens, and it’s on to the nighttime portion of the date, where nothing happens again. You think I’m exaggerating, but when we come back from commercial for Gabi’s date, there is NO SOUND. They’re riding horses on the beach, laughing, but we have no idea what they’re saying for a few minutes. After an abrupt commercial break, Jesse returns to apologize for the technical difficulties but tell us we didn’t really miss anything. I can appreciate the honesty.
Back to the date. Zach and Gabi have tied up their horses on the beach and they’re making out in the ocean and lounging on the sand. Girl definitely got the better date, I hope that’s a consolation? Things are going well until she asks Zach how he’s feeling, and the man is honest. “I’m so torn. I don’t know where I’m going to be in two days, but I feel so good that the right thing is going to happen.” Gabi turns cold. She has a gut feeling it’s not her. If it was, wouldn’t he know? They continue this conversation at night, with her pressing him to reveal what’s going to tip the scales. He can’t give her an answer. In his confessional, he says it hurts to not be able to reassure her, but he’s saving his “I love you” until it’s just one person.
Next up is a whole-ass segment dedicated to Sean Lowe and his wife, Catherine. Are you fucking kidding me? Jesse asks Sean how he thinks Zach is navigating the season. “Terribly,” Sean says, before insisting he’s joking. Jesse is clearly still baffled by Zach’s initial decision to not have sex in the fantasy suites and basically asks Sean why he gave Zach such shit advice there. Catherine shares her perspective on what the girls are going through. No one needed this! Just cut to the end!
Before cutting to proposal day, Jesse tells the audience that it will be dramatic. “I was there, and it was very, very sad,” he says so somberly that I laugh uncomfortably. “Brace yourselves. Because this is a rough one.” We see both women getting dressed—Gabi in yellow, Kaity in white—and talk about how terrified they are. A totally healthy way to approach a marriage proposal. The car pulls up, and we know the first person to step out is getting dumped. The door opens, and we see the hem of a yellow dress. A heel wobbles in the sand.
“That’s a really muddy spot—y’all shouldn’t pull in right there,” Gabi scolds the driver. “Don’t do that when it’s Kaity and it matters.” The whole audience gasps. Jesse asks Gabi how she’s feeling as she approaches the beach. “I think I just know what’s about to happen,” she says sadly. Okay, Jesse was right, this is sad. “I think if it were me, I would know it was me.”
Typically, the woman—regardless of if she’s the winner or loser—launches into a speech about how much she loves the Bachelor. Gabi is silent. Zach starts talking about their beautiful journey, and when he gets to the “but,” she stops him. “I know. You don’t have to say it.” He tries to keep going. “I don’t want to hear it,” she says. He keeps apologizing and telling her she has part of his heart, and homegirl is just trying to get back to the car ASAP. She cannot get away from him fast enough. Once the door closes, she breaks down and says she’s humiliated. She has me until she says, “I’ll find love somewhere! Somehow!” You’re 25, calm down.
We must be running behind on the live show because Jesse doesn’t even call her out. Suddenly we’re just back in the studio and Gabi is sitting with him on the couch. She’s in a black number with shoulder pads and a very deep V. Her brows are laminated. She’s ready. “It’s honestly worse watching it back,” she says. “Because you feel those emotions and…” she trails off, I assume because it would be unattractive for her to say, “It’s worse watching it back because now I know I’m not the Bachelorette.”
When Gabi gets her time to confront Zach, she explains that he humiliated her by making her go through the motions of that proposal day instead of just kindly sending her home. She feels violated that he revealed their sex life to the entire world after he promised it would be just between them. She is healing. Zach lets her go on and on, and to his credit, he does not interrupt. When Jesse finally stops her to remind her this is live television and Zach needs a chance to respond, like he did with Ariel, he takes responsibility for his shittiness and apologizes. Before we cut to commercial, he says their relationship is something he’ll never forget, and Gabi’s nostrils flare. Bye, Gabi! See you in Paradise, too!
Back to the beach. “Hello, gorgeous!” Zach greets Kaity, all smiles. She’s got her speech prepared. She knows it’s her. “If it’s not you, it’s not anyone.” Zach blows out a shaky breath and takes his turn to respond. “I can no longer say I’m falling in love with you. Because I’m so in love with you. You are my whole world.” Oh my god, you did the fake out thing? During your proposal? To the girl who has deep trauma about men leaving her? WHY! But hey, they’re engaged! For the first time since the 2020 season, we have a proposal to wrap about The Bachelor. Great work, I guess?
The happy couple joins Jesse in the studio to run through the FAQ. They’re moving in together in Austin this summer. They’re thinking 2025 for their wedding. It was all worth it in the end. Everyone cheers! The spread will be in People magazine tomorrow, and you can expect the joint breakup statement to hit Instagram in four to six months.
Before Jesse releases us, he wants to give us a sneak peek at Charity’s upcoming season of The Bachelorette, which has already started filming. On the driveway at the Bachelor mansion, Charity looks stunning in a sparkly pink dress. Jesse tells her the first man out of the limo will be someone she knows. She recoils. The door opens and…it’s her brother! He’s going to wear a wig and a fake mustache and be “undercover brother” for the evening! FFS.
Oh, I’m recapping that season too? See you all in June.
- Man, no David Puddy (Patrick Warburton, Zach’s uncle) all season? What a scam.
- Zach’s dad’s name is Chap. No joke, just thought you should know.
- Both Gabi and Kaity have moments where they talk the other girl up to Zach, and I think that’s really lovely. My wish for them is that their relationship endures beyond Zach.
- “Neil Lane couldn’t be here,” but Jesse has the diamonds and helps Zach pick the ring. This used to be a 10-minute segment of the finale, and here it was barely 15 seconds.