Bear in mind that I don't mean that title as a spoiler; like you, I have no concrete idea what's going to happen in the next 2 hours. Desiree could just as conceivably pick Drew, and go on to raise a squadron of ice dancers against a backdrop of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane marathons. Or she could marry Chris, and move to Seattle. Who knows how this CRAZY season is going to end?!?
But I have a hunch, as I suspect you do too, that our favorite floppy-haired Mormon Brooks [Insert Last Name] will be returning to Antigua -- or I guess LA -- a changed man, reconciled to this love he feels for Brooks and has felt since the time producers demanded he absolutely come back and propose to Des, god dammit.
Between now and whenever this show ends (9:59pm EST, just before the "After the Final Rose" special!), we've got a lot of ground to cover and no better place but here to reflect. To the finale!
9:59pm: So it turns out the finale wasn't a foregone conclusion
My bad! Chris, a poet who totally knowed it, beat out all the other entrepreneurs, green card hopefuls, and cool dudes for Des' Final Rose. Brooks never even showed up, not even to look sad in the distance as he realized just how powerful Des' love for Chris was and walked slowly away from the scene he'd inadvertently helped create. None of that. Just love, reality-competition style.
I'm too wiped to cover the After the Rose ceremony in full, but maybe a check-in later? Just like The Bachelorette, I'm full of surprises!
9:47pm: The moment we've all been waiting for…
The lights are down. The tension mounting. "Will she be the first Bachelorette ever to wind up alone?" Like, for good? CUE TAPE.
I'm ashamed to say my heart is actually beating fast in anticipation of what might happen here. Deep breaths, Chris, for both of us.
"I will be shocked if something today got in the way of the relationship that Desiree and I have built." DON'T SAY THAT SHIT, CHRIS, YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE IN FOR.
"We're here." "We're here." Chris outlines all the salient moments from their 9-week romance and…I can't be cynical about this, the guy clearly has real feelings for her. "I want to be that rock that doesn't break for you." On like that for a bit, before he's ready to get down on one knee to propose.
"I have a few things to say, too." "I was torn apart by Brooks leaving. I loved him. And I was choosing between you two the entire time. I hate it, but, I feel like I was blindsided by my feelings for Brooks."
"I couldn't see that the one thing I always needed was right in front of me." NICE SAVE! "You mean the absolute world to me. I love you, I love you so much. I want nothing but to spend the rest of my life with you."
Finally, all the drama put behind them, Chris gets down on one knee to ask a "question he's never asked before," which makes sense. That question: "?"
The response? "!"
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A MARRIAGE.
(Thank God the producers had Desiree's ring sized well in advance of this finale!)
Cue bland montage, while I nurse whatever broken heart sits in my chest in this post-Brooks Bachelorette world. "Will you accept the final rose?" "Yes." "Will you grow old with me forever?" "That wasn't part of the deal."
9:37pm: Before the Proposal...
Chris psyches himself up in the mirror before grabbing a baby blue shirt, his favorite color, and marching himself over to the St. James' Club for their full shotgun marriage package. "How nervous are you?" some guy asks. "I'm doing alright."
Chris looks at these things with eyes wider than Zooey Deschanel's. "We've got a big decision here." How many decisions exactly, Chris, I've lost track staring into the mouth of insanity that is this show.
- Is Brooks going to fly in via helicopter?
- Swim up to the proposal spot with a whole squadron of Mormon swimmers?
- Will he be wearing a nametag?
- If Brooks fails to show up with a journal or poetry album or keepsake of some kind that says "I made this with the help of the show's interns," will she even consider his change of heart?
Chris, Desiree's real dad, meets her at her limo. Des cries as she says she's ready to give her heart over to someone. You can tell she's just really, really happy. "I've never felt it so completely (and I don't have a clue what I'm gonna do."
Chris, to his credit, realizes this is either going to fulfill his every wish or break his heart into a million pieces. And that's before knowing ANYTHING about what went down with Brooks, which, holy shit. I think we should prepare for the nuclear option, everyone.
9:30 Des talks with her shitbrick brother
"Million dollar question is: is he the one?" "In this moment, yes." Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
But on the real, why is Des even listening to this guy?!? (Henning, please, you're fully aware of the airtight contracts this show has in place to amp up drama whenever possible. He's as much as guest star tonight as he is Des' biological brother.)
Nate mentions Brooks again. "Are you disappointed. Hurt in any way?" "I was…surprised? It took me a long time to get over that," says Des, obviously totally over Brooks. She "wasn't expecting Nate to bring up Brooks," which is pathologically absurd.
Favorite moment for me: imagining producers' conversations with Nate before this family dinner. "Don't be afraid to really be a fucking dick!"
9:23pm: Meet the (not very chatty) parents
"The last time Des introduced someone to her brother, something bad happened." Des' mom and dad are there, too, and look normal -- but who cares, we're here for the guy that looks like a sex crime waiting to happen!
Nate (the brother) asks if Chris thought of giving up when Chris saw that Des was forming another connection. Chris deflects, saying this is just a weird process where you see the kind of stuff you might not see dating someone in a non-reality show context. I'm honestly taken aback whenever anyone answers a question on this show the way a normal person would. Unexpected.
"Are you confident that Des will choose you?" "Yes."
"You're not a jealous guy, are you?" asks Nate. "No."
"What about the last one, what do you think about him?" "He's a good guy."
"If she picked him, would that crush your heart?" "Fuck you, dude, seriously. Did you get another tattoo while I was in the bathroom?" Oh sorry, that's me talking! Chris continues to be classy.
Noteworthy: Des' mom says literally nothing the whole time
Des' dad pulls Chris aside to have a quick chat. Basically Chris monologues while Des' dad nods and "okay, hmm"s. Then he gives Chris permission to propose. And now I'm not convinced that Brooks will be back, or if the show is going to paint him as some sort of crazy guy who couldn't GET WITH THE PROGRAM. I know I'm defending a reality show contestant right now who doesn't mean much, and I can't tell you how much I hate myself for that.
9:12pm: Realizing there's a whole 53 minutes to go, producers cut back to the Bachelor Nation Battledome
More filler. Des' "friends" from last season are seated in the front row, ready to offer their take on where Des is at, what she should be doing, whether she's of sound mind to be making decisions, etc.
"She was 100% in love with Brooks at the time" confides a person from last season whose name I don't care to learn. She thinks Des and Chris "look great together, which counts for a lot." Everyone claps.
Another former contestant tells us that Des is definitely happy now, because I mean watch the video we just saw! This is all good! Will one of Des' real friends please tell us what she's really feeling. Lindsay?"
"Like, part of me wants to throw a shoe at his head" is definitely a reference to the time that Iraqi journalist tossed his shoe at George W. Bush. Lindsay's got some smarts. "I hope she follows her heart," says Lindsay, in what will not at all foreshadow the stunning conclusion of this final episode.
8:58pm: DON'T WORRY POETRY'S BACK KIND OF
Chris loves how he and Des "pick up where they left off," which is what she just said in an interview. They love that about each other! They're meant for each other!"
Mild weirdness for Chris when it dawns on him that he has to bring up meeting her parents, something she preusmably would have asked if she weren't in love with Brooks. "Do you want me to meet your parents?" "Ummmmm….the past couple of weeks have been so up and down for me? I was a little apprehensive? I was struggling with it?"
But……….yeah, I do want you to meet my family." Big sigh of relief. (Side note: Is there any chance Brooks will be at Des' family home, waiting for her? That would just own.)
But first -- Chris has a present for Des. Could it be a book of poetry?!? Sadly no, it's just a goddamn journal. With an inscription and a quote, and in the back -- no, it wouldn't be a Chris date without some poem of some kind -- all the poems they composed together. Will their children actually be poems?!?
"I just feel so lucky." But you are going to feel friggin' CHARLIE IN THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY lucky when Brooks comes back. "I have never felt like anyone has loved me as much as I've loved them," Des says, crying to the camera.
"How could I not have loved him from the beginning?" And you think to yourself -- what a happy ending. But there's still a WHOLE 53 MINUTES TO GO.
8:48pm: Des heads out with Chris. Will she dump him too?
Not yet! (But probably soon.)
Standing over yet another balcony, in another bikini, Des reflects on having to jettison Drew. "This is the last chance for me."
So thank God she's not immediately ready to dump Chris the way she did Drew. "He feels different," Des notes, in one last final crack about Drew's sexual orientation.
Out on a catamaran, Des and Chris hold each other close and say things like "we're in Antigua! Isn't that weird?" to each other. Chris, the last man standing, does nothing short of pledge his undying soul to Des. She just loves how much he cares, always with the caring. There's no poetry -- not yet anyway -- but after the week Des has had, maybe poetry would be too much.
8:34pm: Des plays H-O-R-S-E with Drew's heart
"This is Judy," Des motions to Drew. "She's your horse today." And we're off!
It's hard to tell that anything's off, right away, considering all of Des and Drew's conversations have tracked like "how was yesterday?" "Good. How was your day?" "Good," like they're passing each other in the teachers' lounge. But the tension soon becomes TOO MUCH for Des, who realizes she's gotta tell the guy how she feels.
Drew tries to toast to "being madly in love and wanting to be nowhere else but here" and I want to SCREAM but before I can, Des begins her assault on his confused, silly heart.
"I never in a million years wanted to hurt you. I just know." Drew takes it in stride, I think. "I'd want you to be as in love with me as I am with you." The great tragedy is that no one gets to enjoy the fantastic spread some Bachelorette intern went to great pains to assemble.
Drew, in his exit interview: "I'm crushed. I'm confused [Me: "OF COURSE YOU ARE"]. I found the woman I was gonna spend the rest of my life with. I really loved her. I really do love her." On the plus side, Drew -- you know how to dress for Antigua.
8:25pm: Chris interviews "Bachelor Nation"*
*A small portion of Los Angeles gathered in a sideroom of the Staples Center, or your retrofitted high school gym. Survivor does it so much better!
Chris takes an informal poll of the gathered ladies to ask who they're siding with now that there are just two men to choose from. "Drew? Anyone?" he asks as everyone just laughs and laughs, except for one women who thinks he's really hot, in that not-that-into-you kind of way.
More than a few of them think Brooks will definitely be back, because they have seen television before. "It's going to be Brooks or no one. If she's not with Brooks, then she hasn't found love yet." When I watch Jeopardy!, I know all the answers but with the knowledge that I'd probably be too freaked out as an actual show contestant to buzz them in correctly. Dating shows pose the same problem for real-life dating.
8:15pm: Des smile-cries her way through a quickie Rose Ceremony
Everything is wrong and the guys can feel it. Desiree, shaken by Brooks' exit, comes at this thing with neglected child level of self-esteem. "If you don't want to accept my rose, just...just let me know" she tells her two remaining suitors. Chris looks, dare I say it, miffed to realize that Des' feelings may not be what he thought. Drew is praying he's not somehow outed in the next two minutes.
But they accept their roses. Love hasn't died YET.
Chris: "When I love someone as much as I do Des, it's really hard to watch them cry."
Drew: "I will never leave Des."
OH BOY THIS IS GONNA HURT.
8:00pm: Chris interviews Desiree the morning after her breakup with Brooks.
She's not happy per se. "Not having Brooks here...it throws everything off." Chris asks, nay, Jedi mind tricks if she could see herself with either of the remaining suitors. "It's in your contract," he comes just shy of saying. "If you don't pick someone you can just imagine how a man with my dead eyes and robotic sense of current men's fashion might do or say."
"Sure," Des says and we're off to the races, sort of, but come on.