September 20, 2022
We begin this, the final episode of this disaster of a season in a silent and darkened Bachelor studio, so I guess SHIT’S GONNA GET REAL. Jesse Palmer emerges from the blackness to somberly welcome us to a THREE-HOUR FINALE …
… and warning us that this brutal season has a brutal ending. “Maybe tonight Bob the Builder can convince Rachel that his indiscretions were just a momentary lapse in judgment,” Jesse Palmer posits. “And maybe Mullet can explain away those damning text messages he sent to his girlfriend just a few days before stepping out of the limo on night one.”
WOW. OK. SPOILER WARNING MUCH, JESSE PALMER?
Gabby and Rachel come out to the couches to be forced, again, to watch the episode so that we can watch them watch themselves during the happiest/worst moment of their lives. So fun! Very healthy! Jesse Palmer asks how they are feeling about this season coming to an end and Gabby speaks for all of us: “THANK GOD.”
We return to Mexico where Gabby and Mullet are in the middle of it: he suggested that he just wanted to date, and Gabby had a meltdown. After having stomped out of his hotel room and sobbed to the producers that she doesn’t want to do any of this anymore, Gabby calms down and returns to Mullet’s room to talk to him and hear him out. There, Mullet assures her that he wants to leave with her and that he will do whatever it takes to make that happen
including proposing to her even if he is not actually ready. They literally kiss and make up; crisis averted.
Meanwhile, Rachel heads to Bob the Builder’s hotel room to inform him that he’s the only man left. He’s the perfect match: her family and friends agree
that he’s the only man willing to propose to her. Bob the Builder is thrilled, and declares that he and Rachel are “forever.” Rachel says that it is an amazing feeling to know that Bob the Builder wants to spend his life with her and that she trusts him.
After a “first look” at the new season of The Kardashians …
… Gabby and Rachel meet the morning of Proposal Day o fill each other in on what the hell is going on. They both reveal that they have only one man left: Bob the Builder and Mullet, and they are SO EXCITE that they are about to get engaged! Maybe! Probably! Maybe! What a wonderful nightmare this entire thing has been!
First up: Rachel’s Proposal Adventure.
Rachel performs the traditional Preparing to be Proposed To ritual: Wearing a silky robe, she opens the curtains to stare out of the hotel room window in a 3/4 profile shot before carrying the dress she is about to put on over to the mirror and holding it up against her body for some reason, all the while monologuing some generic shit about having lots of emotions and how Bob the Builder is the “man of her dreams.”
At the proposal platform — which is disappointingly bare. Where are the baskets? Where are the piles of empty vases? Where is the art direction we have come to know and love that screams “STAND HERE AND GET PROPOSED TO”? — Rachel burbles about how Bob the Builder has never given her any reason to doubt him.
Bob the Builder arrives at the COMPLETELY BASKETLESS Proposal Platform and greets Rachel. There, she tells him that this process has been difficult for her: there were times when she felt like there was no one there for her and she wasn’t deserving of the role of The Bachelorette. But she would do it all over again for the chance to have him standing in front of her right at this moment. She’s madly in love with him and can’t wait to spend the rest of her life with him.
Then it’s Bob the Builder’s turn: He reminds her that she has been blindsided in the past, and the last thing that he wants to do is break her heart.
But there’s something he has to say …
… he’s never going away.
Oh ho ho, what a fun fakeout! It’s always a good time to ruin an emotional moment by making someone think you’re about to break up with them on national television.
ANYWAY. Bob the Builder chalks their relationship up to fate and promises to make her the center of his universe before getting down on one knee and giving Rachel the only thing she wanted out of this, a proposal from someone. Anyone, really. She says yes, she offers him the final date rose, and then the Producers, having a sense of humor, force them to get onto a horse.
Y’all, this might be my favorite moment of not just this episode but of this entire season (after Gabby saying that boys are dumb, of course).
JUST LOOK AT HOW AWKWARD AND TERRIBLE THIS IS. They have Rachel riding sidesaddle since she’s in a tight mermaid dress, and then they shoved Tino behind her, bareback, and hanging on to her for dear life. And as we learned a couple of episodes ago, he’s not the most natural cowboy to begin with.
A++++. No notes.
So the thing that I neglected to mention is that during all of this, the build-up to the proposal, the proposal itself, the acceptance, the little picture-in-picture of Rachel (and her mom and Big Tony and Nate) watching all of this unfold? It’s this:
Back in the Bachelor Studio, Jesse Palmer points out that her face watching this back did not match the emotions at the time, before warning all of us — literally — to go get a glass of wine.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO TELL ME TWICE, JESSE PALMER.
When we return, Gabby has left the couch and Rachel is there by herself. Jesse Palmer reminds us that we just watched her get engaged to Bob the Builder, so … what happened next? Because her face suggests it wasn’t great.
Rachel explains that she was so excited for the future and that it was great — for a while. But, as every Bachelor and Bachelorette knows, once you leave the bubble of the show things become more complicated. Long-distance relationships are always difficult — secret long-distance relationships while you’re also doing publicity tours for a national television show are even more difficult. And around the time of the premiere of the season, she and Bob the Builder were struggling with relationship stuff. But then things started getting better! But then Bob the Builder revealed he had cheated on her.
Jesse Palmer expresses his sympathy, and Rachel declares herself to be heartbroken. Jesse Palmer then reveals that DON’T WORRY, VULTURES: the show managed to film Rachel confronting Bob the Builder about this, and we can all bask in the cringe of that moment together.
Somewhere in Los Angeles in a cute little bungalow, Rachel welcomes Gabby for a bitch session, and to further reinforce this idea that the two women are BEST FRIENDS FOREVER and not just two reality show contestants who somehow found themselves thrown together in this ordeal.
Rachel tells her some of the story about how Bob the Builder visited for a weekend and was acting strangely the entire time, and he finally confessed to cheating on her, but then immediately said he regretted telling her. According to Rachel, he never asked for forgiveness or said he was sorry, he just worried about how he would look at the After the Final Rose special.
Gabby plays her part, telling Rachel that she doesn’t deserve this and that she’s shocked that Bob the Builder would hurt her like this and that Bob the Builder deserves to be kicked in the balls. But all anyone at home could focus on was Gabby flashing HER ENGAGEMENT RING. THE ENGAGEMENT RING SHE HAS NOT RECEIVED IN THE EPISODE YET.
Ooooh … someone about to get fired.
Right, so, Bob the Builder shows up, and this Baby Back Bitch, he is armed with a black notebook. Not a great sign.
Rachel shows him inside and he opens with, “So I messed up and kissed another girl. And the second I did, I knew I belonged with you.” He goes on to say that it was a woman he knew in passing before the show, not someone he had dated previously. And this is all fine! — decent opening, taking responsibility. An apology would go nicely here, but maybe he’s saving that for later, the blogger said to herself giving this man the benefit of the doubt for no good Goddamned reason.
Instead, Bob the Builder takes out the notebook and begins reciting to Rachel all of the things that she said that hurt him that led him to cheating on her. Things like how she said that she “didn’t know how this was going to work” and that she “couldn’t do the happy couples weekend like planned” and asking him if he “wanted to be the next Bachelor” and how she “wasn’t going to wear the ring to AFR.”
Bob the Builder this entire summer, apparently:
Rachel points out that each of these comments is being taken wildly and unfairly out of context. And to avoid just transcribing this stupid argument, let me do my best to summarize what happened between these two:
After they left the bubble that was The Bachelorette, they had some relationship growing pains, the typical kinds of things that would be difficult to navigate for most people: namely, the long-distance element and having to keep their relationship secret. Then in July, Rachel started doing press for the premiere of the season, and she was exhausted and stressed out, which just compounded their problems.
They had an argument in which Rachel said she didn’t want to sleep in the same room with him, because she was, again, exhausted, and they may have discussed pulling the relationship back a bit, to just dating. In response, Rachel said she wouldn’t wear the engagement ring to the After the Final Rose special if they were just dating. But in Bob the Builder’s mind, he heard, “WE ARE NO LONGER ENGAGED.”
He then cheats. (And I know he says it was just a kiss, but …)
After Rachel does some therapy, they have another weekend together and it’s great! Things feel right! They are still in love! But because things are great and right and they are in love, Bob the Builder realizes
there is a good chance this girl he cheated with could blow up his spot as soon as this season begins to air he needs to confess everything, and here we are.
At least, I think that’s what happened. I don’t really care.
ANYWAY. Rachel is frustrated with Bob the Builder for lying by omission about things she said; Bob the Builder is frustrated that Rachel won’t let things go, and he asks her if she wants this to work out or not. Rachel points out that he’s never apologized, and wonders if he’s sorry for what he did or sorry that he confessed?
Bob the Builder offers no answer to this, by the way.
Bob the Builder wonders what he’s doing here if she’s made her mind up, and steps outside to go yell at the producers about how Rachel just wants to beat him up, and that this is only about trying to make him look bad.
Bob the Builder pleads with the producers to get him out of this: just tell Rachel to break up with him already and “let [him] out.”
Bob the Builder eventually goes back inside and asks Rachel what she wanted from all of this, and she tells him “answers.” But that’s not really it, if she’s being honest. He was correct with the producers: she wanted to drag him, to make him confess to cheating on her on camera, and to bank the audience’s goodwill for herself. And lest it sounds like I am judging her for that: I absolutely am not.
Rachel (accurately) accuses Bob the Builder of trying to turn the narrative on her, to make her responsible for his actions, and he’s all “Nuh-uh.” They then reenact the iconic Ross/Rachel “we were on a break” argument for a while until Bob the Builder storms out of the house again. This time, Rachel follows him outside to find him on the phone with someone, with his shirt completely unbuttoned, presumably to take off his mic so he can take the call privately.
WHO WERE YOU ON THE PHONE WITH, BOB?
They return inside where Bob the Builder makes one last pitch to Rachel, insisting that he still loves her that he doesn’t want to lose her and that he will spend the rest of his life making this up to her. In response, Rachel takes off the engagement ring and tries to give it back to him: she’s done.
Bob the Builder does not take the ring but instead sighs that she deserves someone who wouldn’t let her down. With that, he wanders out of the house and gets into some strange car, presumably belonging to the person he was calling while shirtless.
Back in the Bachelor Studio, Jesse Palmer is still out here acting as if someone has died, and tells Rachel that he doesn’t know what to say. Rachel notes that she worked really hard to be sitting here on this couch with the love of her life and a ring on her finger, only to be sitting here in the same position she was at the end of The Bachelor and IT SUCKS, JESSE PALMER, NOT GONNA LIE.
Jesse Palmer asks when she knew it was over, and Rachel points to this moment:
Jesse Palmer also asks her if there was anything Bob the Builder could have said or done to save the relationship, and Rachel is like, “I mean, he never really apologized and then tried to blame me for cheating, so I’d say, no, Jesse Palmer, there’s nothing he could have said or done.”
Jesse Palmer then turns to the audience, asking Big Tony for his thoughts, but he’s a man of few words, just meaningful glares. Jesse Palmer then asks Kaitlyn Bristowe what she thinks of all this, and Kaitlyn tells Rachel that she owes Bob the Builder nothing and that she feels like we watched eight different sides of him emerge in a very short period of time. She then tells Rachel that she read on a sign in Bed Bath & Beyond once that people come into your life for a season, a reason, or a lifetime. This was a season; the reason was to teach Rachel how she deserves to be treated; and that she will have the Bachelor family and Gabby’s friendship for a lifetime.
With that, Jesse Palmer brings Bob the Builder out to a light smattering of applause and a few boos. After Jesse Palmer thanks Bob the Builder for being brave enough to show his face here, he asks what he’d like to say to Rachel.
Bob the Builder opens by saying that he really did not mean to blame her for his cheating, his actions are his own and he is accountable. And from the bottom of his heart, he is sorry for what he did and for how long it took him to tell her. He tries to claim that he was just trying to give her context for what was going on in his head when he cheated: again, not blaming her.
But then, after praising her and talking about how “beautiful” their relationship was, he starts talking about how in the weeks leading up to the premiere, things became more difficult and they were both having a tough time. And when they started letting conversations go into “I can’t love you anymore …”
And whatever this is about — and we don’t know because again no context is ever given — it’s bad. Rachel looks like he slapped her:
Rachel asks if Bob the Builder wants to “get into that,” but Bob the Builder protests that he’s just trying to give her the clarity that she claims to want. Rachel counters that he just literally came out here and said he wasn’t going to project this onto her and he insists that is not what he is doing. Rachel and America wonder if we are actually being gaslit on live television. (Yes.)
Rachel points out that he’s bringing up things that were said without context again, and that they were going through a very difficult time and talking about deeply personal things to both of them that neither of them want aired out on national television. BUT IF HE WANTS TO GO THERE, SHE WILL GO THERE.
America: GO THERE.
Whoever finds out the "personal stuff" that Rachel and Tino won't talk about on this finale and releases will be my new god. #thebachelorette— Feminist Killjoy (@canarycailin) September 21, 2022
Bob the Builder insists that he’s just trying to give her context: that when she said she couldn’t wear the ring, he felt “cut down” and “devastated,” and his insecurities and ego took over. Rachel reminds him that she never said that the engagement was over and that they were never on “a break,” and he agrees … before claiming that they were “giving each other space.”
Bob the Builder insists again that what he did was wrong and she deserved better. He apologizes and adds that he didn’t really appreciate how hard all of this would be on her, and how difficult it would be to watch it back, and admits that maybe he should have taken therapy more seriously. Rachel tells him there is no excuse for what he did and he broke her heart.
They continue to argue this point about what she said or didn’t say about wearing the ring which is confusing because they are clearly not giving us all of the information. At some point it begins to feel like they are just continuing to argue to win the fight, not to actually clear the air and Jesse Palmer mercifully cuts in. He gives Rachel the final word. Rachel tells Bob the Builder that what he did was inexcusable, the end.
Except, it’s not quite the end because as Jesse Palmer is trying to wrap up this segment, he hears from the Producers that there is
a stunt in the works someone who “demanded” a chance to talk to Rachel.
And that’s when Junior walks out.
The crowd goes wild.
Junior tells Rachel that she didn’t deserve any of this, and asks if she wants to leave and catch up. Rachel literally leaps at the chance and the two leave the stage together while Bob the Builder desperately looks for an exit.
Before we move on because, OH HEY, WE STILL HAVE A WHOLE OTHER BACHELORETTE TO GET TO …
Let’s just talk about this disaster for one second. People are taking sides in Rachel and Bob the Builder’s argument, some saying that he’s garbage for cheating; others feeling like Rachel was too cruel to him and just wanted to punish and humiliate him on national television. Personally, my feeling on the matter is that I don’t really care that much about the cheating: shit happens and your response to cheating is a very personal thing. Some people can never forgive; others can. At the end of the day, I don’t judge other people’s relationships because, after nearly 25 years of marriage, the one thing I DO know is that you never have any idea what anyone else’s relationship is truly like.
No, what I don’t like about this whole thing, and why I am on Rachel’s side of this — despite not really liking her, either — is that despite what he tried to claim after the fact, this asshole attempted to blame her for his cheating. He should have just apologized, full stop, and waited to see how the chips would fall. Instead, he wanted to try to salvage his reputation by positioning himself as a victim, too. It was gross, immature, and ultimately unsuccessful.
But what people are REALLY worked up about is the Junior stunt during the show. There are a lot of viewers, including former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants, who thought bringing Junior out onto the stage while Bob the Builder was still there was an unnecessarily cruel and manipulative move.
I’m really, truly, upset by the way that moment was handled. It was cruel. We can support Rachel and not absolutely publicly demoralize someone.— Ashley Iaconetti (@ashleyiaco) September 21, 2022
Whatever that was….I hated it #thebachelorette— Nick Viall (@viallnicholas28) September 21, 2022
I don’t disagree in principle, but on the other hand, this is what these series have become. In the past five, six, seven years or so, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have started leaning away from the romantic fantasy of it all, and have begun to lean into the traumatic breakups and petty humiliations. Juan Pablo, and Becca, and Peter, and Colton, and last season with Clayton … it feels like the series are not merely just willing to show that the fairy tale doesn’t always work out, but that they are actually seeking out the heartbreak and the pain.
And I could write an entire essay about how this is just the shows adapting to their reality — it’s one thing to get someone to be the lead of one of these shows who believes that they might really be able to fall in love and get engaged to a stranger in a matter of weeks; but it’s another thing to find 30 people willing to date that lead who actually, truly, really believe it too. These shows have been on for 20 years now with a combined 45 seasons and we’ve had how many successful marriages? Five? It’s a high failure rate, the contestants know it, and the shows seem to becoming aware of that too, and actively using it as part of the story.
Look, since Survivor, Big Brother and The Bachelor debuted in the early 2000s, we’ve been having this conversation about the ethics of reality television and we all unanimously agree: they’re icky. So, this whole gross stunt they pulled on Bob the Builder after he had already been dragged through the mud for a half hour, truly should not have been a surprise to anyone, especially the audience for these shows in particular. The Bachelor and Bachelorette have been humiliating their leads for years now. And the audiences have been eating it up! It’s a ratings goldmine, and the shows are rewarded for stunts like this on social media. So it feels particularly hypocritical for people to be getting upset now, in the 19th season of The Bachelorette, at the idea of the show manipulating and humiliating people. Bitches, they’ve been doing that for 20 years now.
Also, go watch The Rehearsal on HBO Max and then write me a book report on reality television and morality.
SO BACK TO THIS DUMB SHOW WHICH STILL HAS AN HOUR LEFT.
Right, so, Gabby returns to the couch and declares for all of America, “God bless Junior, we love to see it.”
(I mean, if I’m being completely honest, I think Junior deserves a better, more mature partner than Rachel, but he unquestionably is an improvement on Bob the Baby Back Bitch.)
And then we return to Mexico for the end of Gabby’s story:
Gabby skips the 3/4 profile shot looking out the window and heads directly for the “holding the dress up to herself while looking into a mirror” bit while monologuing about how she loves Mullet more than she thought she could love another person.
Meanwhile, Mullet compares two Neil Lane rings, BUT NEIL LANE IS NOT SHOWN TO BE THERE.
You’re telling me that of 3 hours of content tonight they couldn’t slip in a 30 second clip of picking the rings with Neil Lane?? #TheBachelorette— Sydney Arnold (@syd_arnold) September 21, 2022
Bachelor Nation: this show needs to evolve past it’s stupid traditions— 2.0 (@shelly2pt0) September 21, 2022
Also Bachelor Nation: WHERE IS NEIL LANE#TheBachelorette
FREE NEIL LANE!
Gabby heads to the Proposal Platform, improved from Rachel’s moment earlier by the addition of all of the birds in Mexico who decide right now is the perfect time to do a little SCREAMING.
If we can’t have baskets, some screaming peacocks will have to do.
Gabby burbles about trust until Mullet arrives. Once he does, she says — or so I think she says, it’s hard to hear over all of the BIRD SCREAMING …
… that when she first saw him, her heart skipped a beat. She goes on to tell him that he loved her before she knew how to be loved, and says that he “fought” for her so hard. (But did he? I don’t actually remember any fighting. I mostly remember him standing around not saying anything to anyone.) She tells him that she thought he was too good to be true, but now she knows he is too good, but he’s also true.
It’s Mullet’s turn …
He tells her that he wants to be 100% undeniably, unconditionally there for her. Like Bob the Builder, he suggests that fate brought them together and that he came to realize that he had met his soul mate. He tells her that he loves her and that it is going to be them until “the wheels fall off” before asking her to marry him.
She says yes …
or at least I think she does …
In their celebration, in the most wonderful Gabby Windey moment of the entire season, Gabby and Mullet scream back at the birds. They then load up on the back of Mullet’s motorcycle (or alguien’s motocicleta, since I don’t think they flew his actual motorcycle down from Jersey) and ride off into the sunset.
Back in the Bachelor Studio, they bring Mullet out to join Gabby to talk about their feelings through this whole ordeal. (BORING.) They also explain the freakout the night before the proposal was because they hadn’t actually ever discussed whether they were going to get engaged or not. (I DON’T ACTUALLY CARE.)
Jesse Palmer then points out that Grandpa John is in the audience and asks him if he would be the next Bachelor.
We then move on to the more “difficult” questions for Mullet that have arisen thanks to the miracle that is social media.
Namely, there are two issues:
1. Ex-girlfriend drama
2. Blackface drama
We begin with #1: Said ex-girlfriend posted on Instagram that Mullet dumped her to be on the show because he needed a new career path, but wanted her to stick around and wait for him because the show “was all acting.” She declined. He then reached out to her after and sent her flowers to apologize for being a douchebag. Please note that at no time did he suggest he wanted to get back together; methinks he was trying to avoid her leaking, just as she did:
Mullet is like, “well, this wasn’t a relationship that had a future, and honestly, I didn’t know how real the show was until I was a part of it.”
And with that: one crisis averted.
As for Issue #2:
They literally pretend it didn’t happen and that it’s not out here on these internets.
That said, Mullet apologized for dressing up as Jimi Hendrix, complete with Black makeup, in high school which was memorialized in the yearbook, for reasons, presumably exactly this one.
The reality star admits she learned about the photo at the same time as the rest of the world and “I was incredibly shocked,” Gabby says. “[I] just really had to process my thoughts and then think about how we can grow as a couple and learn from this.”
All I’m going to say about this mess is that Mullet is from Bedminster, New Jersey. You know what else is in Bedminster, New Jersey?
Mullet is sent away for one last segment that was supposed to feature Gabby and Rachel together, but Rachel, having escaped with Junior, is nowhere to be found. Jesse Palmer asks Gabby if she imagined everything working out this way, and she responds, “No, I hate men.”
She also calls Mullet “annoying,” truly making her the People’s Bachelorette. I wish she could be The Bachelorette — AND THE ONLY BACHELORETTE — every season.
Finally, they bring out Goose — actually known as Zach, but known in this house as Puddy’s Nephew — who will be our next Bachelor despite his stupid face.
And, look, I did not sign up for recapping The Bachelor right now, I’ve got better things to do with my life like NOT recapping The Bachelor right now. So the TL;DR is that in the last half hour of this already bloated finale episode, right there on the stage in front of the audience and America, they introduce Zach to five women who will be on his cast:
Brooklyn (whose intro is largely bleeped for some reason)
Brianna (who takes a selfie with him)
Bailey (who gives him a little rhyme to help him remember her name)
Cat (who yells at him something about New York)
The gimmick is that America gets to vote on who receives the First Impression Rose. It goes to Brianna, in large part because she doesn’t act like a complete lunatic.
But the moment that will stay with me from this entire segment, is the sheer look of defeat on Zach’s face when Jesse Palmer asks him — not 1 minute after meeting these five women — if he can recall any of their names.
And we are going to leave this entire season — fittingly — on that last awkward note.
I’m still wrestling with what I’m going to do Re: Bachelor in Paradise. I’ll keep you posted.
Until then: Goodbye, Bachelorettes.
Rachel, stick with the therapy, it’s good for you.
Gabby, my love, my favorite, keep your heart open but your guard up. I don’t trust this guy and his mullet for one hot second.
BUT ALSO, NEVER FORGET:
The Men Who Are Soon Going to be Dumped by Gabby:
Mullet = ERICH (ABC/Ricky Middlesworth)
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Who Are Soon Going to be Have Been Humilated by Rachel:
Bob the Builder = TINO (ABC/Ricky Middlesworth)
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The Men Who Have Been Dumped by Gabby:
The Men Who Have Been Dumped by Rachel:
The Men Who Have Been Dumped by Gabby and Rachel:
The Bachelorette is available on Hulu.