One time I witnessed a man get knocked off a motorcycle and dragged across asphalt, and that is the only thing to which I can compare the finale of this season of The Bachelor. It was arguably the worst thing I have ever beheld. In the words of Chris Harrison, "I can't imagine the number of TVs that are gonna be bought next week," seeing as, undoubtedly, screens were getting shattered in unison all across the country.
In the final episode, Juan Pabs took both ladies home to meet la familia, y la familia did not have buenas cosas to say about Juan Pablo. They basically tried to convince both girls of two things: 1) Juan Pablo is a bad dude and 2) he will ditch them sooner or later (and let’s be honest, probably sooner).
At one point, Clare actually asked la madre de Juan Pablo (presumably the person who loves him more than anyone else in the world) if there was anything she needed to know about him, and la madre said he was rude and made her cry. I read once that if you want to know how a man will treat you after you’ve been married a decade or two, you should look at how he treats his mom. Hashtag RED FLAG.
Juan Pablo’s primo Rodolfo also had some less than flattering words about his cousin. "I wanna know how much, like, fighting and all that you can take," he said to Nikki. "Cause, uh, Juan Pablo—I mean, I love the guy; he's a really great guy—but sometimes when things are getting rough, he'll walk away from the relationship." (Like the really great guy that he is.)
But instead of running as fast as their perfect legs would carry them in the other direction, both girls said their time with Juan Pabs' family totally confirmed everything they were feeling. Because, clearly, they have reached the point of UTTER DELUSION.
While Juan Pablo's family members were busy saying bad things about him, Juan Pablo was busy not making up his mind about which girl he wanted to marry. (And by "marry," I mean "string along a little longer.") Here we are, t-minus two days until proposal, and that man still had no real preference.
The right thing for Juan Pablo to have done at this point would've been to cut his losses, apologize, and send both girls home right then, but obviously, he wouldn't do that; that would've wasted a perfectly good opportunity to break a heart or two.
Before presenting the final rose, Juan Pabs had to have a final one-on-one date with each girl. The common theme between these two dates was that each girl just desperately wanted to hear Juan Pablo tell her he loved her, and both girls repeatedly expressed this to the cameras.
Neither girl, however, heard the confession of love she had waited for. Clare, in fact, got quite the opposite.
"So as the helicopter’s landing, we have a rare moment together with no camera, no audio," she said. "And Juan Pablo leaned over and whispered something to me. But what I thought was gonna be sweet, kind, loving words was not what came out of his mouth. ... He chose to tell me something that no woman wants to hear—that he really doesn’t know me and some sexual thing that I don't even want to repeat. It was insulting, it was offensive, and it just made me feel awful."
Pardon me while I go PUNCH JUAN PABLO IN THE FACE.
Okay, I’m back.
In that moment I saw a glimmer of hope for Clare. I thought she, like Andi after the overnight date, had finally seen Juan Pablo for what he truly was: A JERK. Realizing the relationship might be only physical to him, Clare decided she wouldn't even give Juan Pablo another besito until he had explained himself.
Why his explanation satisfied her, however, is the great mystery to viewers. Juan Pabs has never exactly had a way with words (read: English), but somehow he managed to convince Clare his feelings were real (whatever the heck that even means) by blaming her for kissing him and by lying to her about his post-show intentions.
The Bachelor is like one huge example of dramatic irony. (Also dramatic everything.) We, the audience, know more than the characters themselves do because we see every relationship and every interaction. It’s what makes the show engaging, and it’s what makes the show painful. It’s what makes us go, “GAAAH. Clare, come on. COME ON, CLARE. See through it. SEE THROUGH IT. He’s lying to you. HE’S LYING TO YOU.”
But Clare won’t see through it. Because she doesn’t know what we know. Because she wants somebody to love her. Because it’s easier to believe lies than it is to believe the truth. That's our final UTOTW right there.
Universal Truth of the Week: We're better at believing lies than we are at believing the truth.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the lies we believe. I believe lies about myself, about other people, about God, about the future, about how much control I really have. When they go unchecked, all these lies together form a sort of wobbly foundation upon which I try to make sense of other things.
I’ve already blogged this season about the way that our feelings mislead us, but I’m becoming increasingly aware of the fact that our thoughts can mislead us just as much—especially the ones we think so frequently that we never question them.
I can only speculate that Clare believed Juan Pablo’s lies because they made sense upon the foundation of other lies she already believed—lies about his character, about her prospects, about what love is. She was incapable of seeing the truth until she was the girl being sent home the next morning.
Though Nikki got Juan Pablo’s final rose, she did not get a proposal or the L-word she had hoped for. Juan Pablo literally said, “I like you a lot. A lot. So, um, Nikki, will you accept my final rose?” And then they just made out.
[I found it amusing that, even though Juan Pabs was shown holding a ring, the producers cut out the Neil Lane diamond-picking segment normally included in every finale. Not even Neil Lane wanted to be associated with Juan Pablo. (Good call, Neil Lane’s marketing people.)]
After witnessing the awful non-proposal, I would’ve been happy never to see Juan Pablo and Nikki again (you know, until they grace the cover of Us Weekly under the headline “NIKKI WISES UP”), but obviously I had to watch the After the Final Rose special that aired live (four months after season filming ended) following the finale.
It was equal parts awkward, painful, and maddening. Nikki and Juan Pablo were not greeted by the audience as the stars of the show. No, Clare and Andi were the stars. Juan Pablo was the unapologetic villain, and Nikki was his delusional and defensive accomplice.
Recalling Nikki’s repeated statements that she needed to know Juan Pablo loved her “to feel confident” in their relationship, Chris Harrison asked her point-blank, “Has he told you he loves you?”
To this she replied, “Um, not exactly, but, you know, I think he—it's not that he doesn't tell me. It's like his actions. Like I know that does.”
I'm sorry, but can we get a collective, "No, he doesn’t" from the audience? I can’t tell if Nikki is also believing lies or if she knows she’s wrong and just won’t admit it. I heard some mentions of Stockholm Syndrome, but to me it looks more like Heidi and Spencer Syndrome—when others’ warnings that a couple’s relationship is unhealthy actually fuel that couple to stick together longer out of sheer stubbornness. (Named for the infamously awful The Hills’ stars Heidi and Spencer Pratt.)
Some seasons the finale leaves you feeling a little cathartic, and you turn the TV off with a sigh and hope the couple actually stays together. This was not one of those seasons. “Another season of The Bachelor has come to an end,” said Chris Harrison. “I’m not going to lie—I’m okay moving on.” You and me both.