On paper, Katie's "Bachelorette" finale seems like a perfect happy ending. She got her guy. He proposed; she said yes. Nobody turned out to be a secret racist with bad posts. The process worked. Katie's journey to love had the desired result, and I had just enough wine remaining in my Bota Box to get me through all three hours of the finale. THE STARS INDEED ALIGNED! We even only had one fantasy suite date! All in all, everything seemed to turn out just right.
So why doesn't it feel that way?
Unfortunately, Monday's jumbo-sized finale had unfinished business – floppy-haired, puppy dog faced, recently heartbroken, Jersey-born business named Greg. And even though the show had a happy ending to promote and celebrate, it sure felt like the Greg debacle was the true star and featured event of Monday's mega-show. The result was a finale where the love story found at the end felt besides the point, the guy she chose losing out to the guy who chose to leave, at least in terms of attention. It should've been all sweet vibes; instead all anyone's thinking about is the bitter ones.
In case you somehow forgot, we quickly recap the events of the past week – which, as the show reminds us, not only included Greg's breakdown but ALSO Michael A. deciding to bail to return home to his child. Bad week for Katie, with half of her final four self-immolating before her eyes. She's left crying on the floor of her bathroom begging for a flight home, assuming there's no way things could ever get better. SORRY, JUSTIN AND BLAKE!
Back in the studio, Tayshia and Kaitlyn talk with Katie, who says that she was wondering what she did that could've been so massively ruinous to Greg that he had no choice but to storm off the show. In the end, though, she determines that someone who bails on a conversation and relationship with someone he supposedly loves is "not a man." So I'm thinking we can comfortably cross off "Greg returns, apologizes and ends up with Katie" as a potential ending.
After staring into the middle distance from every part of her room – a balcony, a chair, under the covers in a bed – Katie makes her choice whether to stay or go. Tayshia and Kaitlyn report the news to Justin and Blake, who the show JUST remembered are still around. The verdict: Greg's gone, but Katie's continuing on with the two of them. Blake looks somewhat happy while I was hoping for a far bigger reaction from Justin. WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME FOR MORE JUSTIN FACIAL REACTION GIFS! Thankfully, we still have one more chance as there will still be two fantasy suite dates – although there's a vulture flying overhead so not sure the bird of doom bodes well for this all.
We start with Blake's final one-on-one date with Katie, who plans their day with an exhilarating round of ... paintball balloon fighting, I think? It's just the two chucking and slapping each other with paint-filled balloons while a horse looks on unamused. The two then wash off with a hot tub and some champagne – but it's not all bubbly fun as Katie opens up to Blake about her emotional past few days, explaining the Michael A. and Greg departures. After she finally unloads all that, Blake thoughtfully responds ... by making out with her. Typically it's good to verbalize and acknowledge what your partner's just said – maybe a nice "that sucks" or an "I'm sorry that happened to you" to confirm that you were indeed listening – before moving straight to smushing faces. But I'm a faux professional reality show recapper with a boxed wine problem, so truly what do I know.
Despite their cozy desert hot tub makeout session, Blake actually feels a little funky about where he stands with Katie. After all, they did spend a not-insignificant amount of their final date talking about her exes, and last he checked, she almost bailed on their relationship over one of them. So it's time for him to make things clear to Katie how he feels – and that means finally busting out the L-word, the one his family was chiding him last week for not using already. Over dinner, he explains that he doesn't play games with love – a bold statement for a guy who's now on his third go-around on a reality dating game – before finally admitting that he is, indeed, in love. It's sweet, cute and nice – and to top it off, Katie actually reciprocates the sentiment, saying that she loves him too before going off to get down to business (preferrably without any maple syrup please). WELP, SO MUCH FOR SAVING THE BIG WORD FOR THE FINAL GUY; SUCKS TO SUCK, GREG!
But actually, it sucks to be Justin, who's prepping for a fantasy suite date that's not gonna happen. At least Katie doesn't lead him on and shuts down the date immediately – like, literally immediately, barely even saying hello and instead opening with that dreaded three-word question: "Can we talk?" And that's quickly the end of that.
Back in the studio, Justin opens up to Tayshia and Kaitlyn about how he feels a little bad that he was likely in Katie's final two by default or by accident – seemingly a product more of Michael A. and Greg bailing than any connection with Katie. He also feels like Katie didn't give him a fair shot in the end. OOOH SNAP, ARE THINGS GONNA GET TESTY ON THE COUCH!?
Actually, no. When she joins, Katie reassures Justin that he wasn't there by default (suuuuuuure) and that she did have a connection with him, one that just wasn't seen much in the TV edit. Things end on a happy note – with pleasantries and, most importantly, with a montage of Justin facial reactions. Gonna need him in "Bachelor in Paradise" now – not even to find love but just to provide play-by-play commentary with his facial reactions. Maybe make him the bartender – or perhaps in a picture-in-picture box in the corner the whole time? Make this happen, ABC. We can replace all the David Spade hosting content with bonus Justin; I assure you no one will complain.
Anyways, so at the halfway mark, we're ... basically done! Katie's picked her guy, and the two are in love. Let's call Neil Lane, put a ring on a finger and wrap this thing up early!
Unfortunately, the producers insisted on filling all three hours on Monday night – so for some transparently excessive drama, Blake meets Katie's mom and her aunt Lindsey, who was clearly directed to be as viciously realist and intense as possible. And Aunt Lindsey TAKES NOTES WELL. Too nervous to even remember how to say hello, poor Blake proceeds to tell Katie's family that he currently lives in a different country than his potential fiancee, that he's currently unemployed and that he's planning on flying out to Africa shortly after the show's over for work. Surely all of that will make Katie's family feel better about her getting engaged to a guy she's known for a month or two in a bubble on a reality dating show with a terrible success rate!
Aunt Lindsey is understandably not convinced – and she makes that point VERY clear during her alone time with Blake. Opening by noting that they don't need him in their lives, that he better "be secure as f*ck to come into our family" and then, for good measure, mocking him for getting dumped by two Bachelorettes prior to Katie (lol fair), she berates him for not having concrete plans on how the two are going to make a life together work. Listen, I'm all about pointing out how these people are ill-prepared for the real world coming out of the show, but – and I can't believe I'm saying this – give him a break! Sure, "we'll figure it out" isn't the most reassuring answer, but they've been a little busy entertaining ABC and dating 30 people at once. Sorry they didn't hash out their joint bank accounts and coordinate U-Hauls already.
Save for the brutal delivery, though, these are all fair points. Aunt Lindsey's TRULY bad moment, however, comes when she interrogates Blake about how he plans to handle the unglamorous realities and hard work of a real relationship. He explains that, as somebody who grew up with divorced parents, he knows that relationships can sour and that they require work and dedication – to which Aunt Lindsey COULD NOT CARE ONE BIT. Oh, your parents got divorced, leaving you with emotional scars and trauma that informed your feelings on relationships ever since? NOT ENOUGH! YOU KNOW NOTHING! After that unexpectedly condescending response, I'm starting to think she may just not like Canadians. THEY GAVE US POUTINE; WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE!?
Just as you might expect – and just as the producers hoped – Blake is a bit rattled after getting verbally undressed by Katie's aunt. And despite the best efforts of an energy healer and a giant horrifying gremlin monster named Zozobra that they burn in the hopes of letting go of one's fears, he's still a little uneasy. You're telling me facing a giant evil St. Louis Billikins mascot, flaming like it's literally emerged just from the bowels of hell, doesn't soothe you? Maybe we could've skipped the fiery Muppet kaiju hellspawn and just, I don't know, had a spa day.
Things do not get more relaxing for Blake the next day as Tayshia arrives with a fresh shipment of meteor-sized rings courtesy of – who else? – Neil Lane. As he gazes over the rings – and as the soundtrack plays a pretty solid "Inception" score ripoff, minus the BWAAMs – Blake steps away to try to fight away his nerves.
Tayshia eventually gives him some advice – or really more like an ultimatum: If he's not ready to take the next step, "you have to let her go." OR YOU COULD JUST DATE!? Or you could see how you coexist as partners in the real world, instead of assuming a month or two in a bubble away from any responsibility or sense of reality is enough basis for an engagement? I understand the lack of a proposal takes away some of the stakes of this show ... but I also will never understand why these people can't find out if they're actually compatable in society first. It's almost as though this franchise cares more about drama than it does about creating healthy, sustained relationships! Anyways, I haven't seen a Canadian under this much pressure on television since Kiefer Sutherland on "24."
Thankfully, the big day quickly arrives – and even more thankfully, Blake shows up. BUT WILL HE PROPOSE!? After Katie gives him her whole passionate spiel, Blake goes into his speech, building to the line, "I can't give you what you came here for ... (*world's longest pause*) (*no, really, it goes on for a long time*) (*please say something, Blake*) ... because you deserve a lot more than that." Yes, it was a jukeout, and in the end, Blake proposes with a joyful Katie saying yes, and the two literally ride off into the sunset on horseback. Surely nothing could ruin this wonderful, happy, climactic moment – no, not even Blake ripping his pants trying to get on his steed.
WELL THEN YOU DON'T KNOW "THE BACHELOR"!
You would think the star of the show finding love and getting engaged would be the natural climax of the finale – but instead, "The Bachelorette" saves Katie's confrontation with Greg for after the engagement and the show's resolution. And boy, is it a confrontation – and judging by his happily unaware smile first coming out, GREG WAS ILL-PREPARED FOR ANGER.
After answering a few questions with Tayshia and Kaitlyn, including noting that he regrets nothing that happened, Katie comes out with some logs and a pig on a spit because SHE IS READY TO ROAST. After walking past Greg without a single word or moment of eye contact, the inferno begins as Katie lays into Greg, saying that she believes he never wanted to get engaged, that he was faking his entire time on the show, that he was actually just on the show for acting practice and that he tried to gaslight her. After noting that he's no Meryl Streep, Greg tries to explain why he left, noting that he felt like Katie was stuck playing the Bachelorette instead of being honest and real with him in that moment – but it doesn't play as Katie argues that she gave him emotional validation throughout the entire process. In the end, they both wish each other the best – and clearly Katie is not Meryl Streep either, because no one buys that she wishes him anything besides maybe a run-in with Zozobra.
In the end, as with most relationships, Katie and Greg are both right and both wrong. They both had solid points – and both made those points as poorly as possible.
In Katie's case, Greg did totally meltdown and fail to communicate at all last week, demanding things that she either already gave him or told him she couldn't. She did her best to listen and understand last Monday; it was Greg who seemed like he didn't want to patch things up and seemed disinterested in rebuilding their bridge. "If it was me (you wanted), you would've stopped me," Greg argues during the finale. DUDE, SHE TRIED; YOU WEREN'T HAVING IT! Again, if this is how Greg manages conflicts and arguments in a fake reality like "The Bachelorette," how do you think they'd do in the real world with real things to argue about?
Also, for those saying "you're engaged; why are you still mad," your brain is allowed to process multiple – and often conflicting – emotions at the same time! You can be happy you found your person but still angry at how a different individual did you wrong – not mutually exclusive feelings! Present circumstances do not instantly heal past wounds – something that, considering the amount of discussion and openness about sexual assault that took place this season, you'd wish would be understood.
That being said, I totally understand those who think her takedown last night came off pretty cruel, occasionally even veering into conspiracy territory. Maybe she knows more than the rest of us, but blaming Greg's behavior on acting classes feels like a reach. Also, we as a society need to have a chat about the actual definition of the word "gaslight," because it is not simply a miscommunication or "making someone feel at fault," as Katie defined it Monday night. Greg was a lot of things last week – needy, poor at communicating, selfish, argumentative – but actively trying to make Katie question her sense of reality by denying facts or lying? That feels like another stretch.
We’re devaluing the meaning of the term gaslighting. They were arguing.
When Greg left, he was acting out of emotion and not listening.
Katie was worked up on ATFR and was acting out of emotion and not listening.
Not every power play in an argument is gaslighting.#bachelorette — Noah Trulock (@trulock_noah) August 10, 2021
And now, given actually presenting his feelings in a coherent way, Greg's issues seem clearer: He was upset that Katie froze up in the moment because she was thinking more about her role as the Bachelorette than their relationship. True, Katie did brainfart in that critical scene last week – and I think, when given some more distance from this all, she'd admit that she made a mistake in overthinking her L-word strategy, realizing that in trying not to hurt anybody, she actually made the situation worse. No wonder she course-corrected shortly after and broke her vow by telling Blake she loved him shortly after; she realized the cost of trying to manage all the relationships at once as opposed to managing each relationship in the moment. (Something you wish Greg would've grasped is REALLY FRIGGIN' HARD.)
In the end, they both were understandably hurt, both responded by having unimpressive televised hissyfits ... and both should be happy with how things turned out. This whole mess weirdly proves THE SHOW WORKED! These two clearly would've been TERRIBLE together! For as much as they seemed in love with each other for most of this season, when it comes down to a real relationship, they cannot communicate whatsoever. And somehow, thanks to the pressure cooker of the process, they discovered that sooner than later.
Yet you wouldn't know that from the storylines today.
More so than what Katie or Greg did wrong, it's what the show did wrong on Monday. This whole Greg confrontation should've happened earlier in the night – or even last week in a different episode. The argument stole the spotlight throughout the finale – as clearly the producers' dramatic highlight of the show, saved for near the end, and as the story hogging all the attention the day after. Katie's season was a success! She found a guy she's in love with, and he proposed! But you wouldn't know it. Seeing Katie and Blake together at the end felt like a sidenote – even here in this recap, as it's barely going to get a paragraph! In fact, this is all there is to say: They seem cute and happy, it's probably for the best that Aunt Lindsey didn't find out until now, and nobody is as charmed by the boombox thing as they are.
It's unfortunate because Katie's season really was a great time. For a season that needed to remind viewers why this show was worthwhile after the full-scale traffic wreck that was Matt James' year, this go-around did exactly that. Katie was a charming and charismatic lead. The new hosts brought an enjoyable and relaxed new energy – one I'd love for future Harrison-less seasons to embrace even more. (LET THEM DRINK WINE!) The guys were worth falling in love with, with minimal bullying and maximum heart. And the drama was mostly entertaining. It even ended with a happy love story.
Will it last? I don't know. As I brought up last week, Blake seems like a great, big-hearted guy, but I'm not sure he's the most mature or grounded of the bunch. Then again, Katie isn't either, so maybe they're perfect for each other. Who knows what the future holds – but the show could've at least given them Monday night.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.